When the modern food stamp program began as a pilot project in 1961 -- it was authorized as a permanent program three years later -- those in charge probably never envisioned a day when people might walk into fast-food restaurants, order up a huge container of French fries and then pull out their food stamps to pay. But that's what's happening in some places today, and restaurant owners are pushing for a bigger share of the pie.
Nearly a half-century after the death of President John F. Kennedy, there remains a fascination with him and his family. The young Massachusetts senator won a narrow victory over Richard Nixon in 1960, and his brief administration has become known to many as "Camelot," a reference to the verve, idealism and sense of idyllic happiness that surrounded his time in office and the mood of the country at that time.
• This month's award for poor taste goes to the Pima County (Arizona) Republican Party, which is planning to raffle off a gun like the one used to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Our dim view of this has nothing to do with second amendment rights, but rather spotlights an exercise in poor judgment, given the tragedy that occurred in Rep. Giffords' district in January, in which a gunman killed six people and wounded 13 others.
The late comedian Lewis Grizzard, whose column appeared in this newspaper, was an oft-married guy who used to joke that there was a bumper sticker reading "Honk If You've Been Married To Lewis Grizzard." Taking a new tack on an old theme, we're going to start looking for stickers announcing, "Honk If You've Sued Sheriff Jim Matthews."
We're glad to see that work sessions of Camden City Council will be recorded from this point on; the change was made after council member Willard Polk requested clarification on the state's Freedom of Information Act. Jay Bender, the pre-eminent FOI expert in South Carolina, said work sessions, even though official votes aren't taken, constitute a meeting under the statute's provisions and that such sessions should be subject to the law. City Attorney Charles Cushman had earlier opined that work sessions didn't fall under the purview of the state's FOI Act because they were ...
• Actress Daryl Hannah and others were arrested last week in front of the White House during a sit-in to protest a new oil pipeline from Canada. The activists called for clean energy investments, instead. We doubt there's a single American who's not in favor of cleaner energy, but the clear reality is that the country can't meet its needs with high-tech energy. In fact, one recipient of a recent government loan guarantee of half a billion dollars, solar energy company Solyndra, declared bankruptcy last week. We can't object to the idealism of those who would like ...
At last there's a hint of hope from Washington -- a tiny but palpable sign that just maybe, lawmakers are getting the message that people are weary of the logjam which prevents decent legislation from being passed. Democratic and Republican members of the Joint Select Committee On Deficit Reduction have agreed to name a longtime Senate staffer to assume the job of running the panel. The man they've chosen is Mark Prater, chief counsel for Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee. We're glad to see him named not because he's a member of the GOP but because ...
With Hurricane Irene having come and gone, and with Kershaw County and South Carolina having been spared, the second-guessers in other parts of the country are coming out of the woodwork. When it comes to hindsight, there's perhaps no area more fertile than weather -- specifically, severe storms. It's easy to assess blame after the fact, whether it's for lack of preparedness or over-reaction, and there is no shortage of people who are willing to do so.
• We're glad to see Camden native Larry Doby honored with a postage stamp in his honor, one of four Major League baseball players to be so recognized; Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, is another, and the final two have yet to be chosen. Doby was the first black player in the American League and carved out an enviable career record. He died in 2003.
Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, used to be an engaging figure, what we in the newspaper business called "good copy." Now Harpootlian's more of a loud bore. His latest rant involves his excoriation of Gov. Nikki Haley for hiring campaign staffers for high-paying government jobs, which is exactly what Democratic governors have also done. Harpootlian basically says it was all right for Dems to do that, but it's not OK for Haley because she said she was going to be a different kind of governor.
Ernest F. Hollings served decades in the U.S. Senate from South Carolina, and he was one of those who were in Washington during a time when politicians from both parties were still willing to step across the aisle and compromise. That seems long ago. But Hollings, despite decades in Washington, never lost his penchant for picturing himself as an outsider. In speeches to Rotary clubs and other organizations across the Palmetto State, he railed against "those boys up in Washington," as if he had never stepped foot in the nation's capital.
• "Spin" has become an inexorable part of the political process, and if you hear President Obama tell it, his bus tour through Iowa isn't a campaign trip, saying instead that it's a way to take the pulse of the country. But it has all the trappings of a political hoorah, and of course that's what it is. We're not blaming the president for that, only noticing that when it comes to spin, the White House is as accomplished at it as any politician at any level.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry quickly discovered that national politics is a whole different game than statewide politics -- even in as huge a place as the Lone Star State -- shortly after he formally announced his presidential candidacy in South Carolina. Perry said Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, was acting in a "treasonous" way with national monetary policy. He also said that were Bernanke down in Texas, he'd be treated "pretty ugly" because of his job performance.
For many families here in Kershaw County, all this talk about the federal budget and the national debt involves numbers so huge as to be inexplicable. Families think in thousands of dollars, while the government thinks in trillions. Someone passed along to us recently one of those missives that make their way around the country, and unlike many such messages with their wild inaccuracies, the figures in it are a pretty valid picture of what's going on in America. Consider:
• Recent Wisconsin recall elections spurred by people dissatisfied with Republican efforts to downsize government and diminish the role of unions in politics failed to wrest control away from the GOP in that state. A record amount of money was spent in the normally liberal state but Democrats failed to achieve their goal of unseating at least three of the six state senators who were being recalled. Some experts say that sends a national message.
Kudos to our various law enforcement agencies for working together to get some folks off our streets who needed to be stopped. At the top of our list are Bethune Police Chief Joey Cobb, Kershaw County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) and U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for arresting two people (and there may be more to come) for the June 23 armed robbery of Sandhills Bank in Bethune.
Well, the S.C. General Assembly certainly took its time. Finally, a state budget's been hammered out and sent on to Gov. Nikki Haley for her signature.
Nearly eight years ago, nine heroic Charleston firefighters lost their lives in a tragic accident fighting the Super Sofa store fire. Last week, nine wonderful Charlestonians' lives were snuffed out, this time in the Emanuel AME Church shooting. However, this time the tragedy was no accident.
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