It has been a frustrating year for all Kershaw Countians and Americans who believe that compromise is the building block of decent government, as our divided officials in Washington have had blinders on and have refused to acknowledge any position but their own. And now we find ourselves in a government shutdown that benefits nobody. (By the time you read this, perhaps the stalemate will have been broken, but it could go on for an extended period of time.)
• President Obama's approval rating is at its lowest point since he took office, and positive public opinion of Congress is barely a blip on the screen, yet Democrats and Republicans continue to hold the country hostage in their political game of one-upsmanship. The term "crying shame" isn't used much anymore but is appropriate in this case.
Insurance companies in the United States are, in increasing numbers, cancelling the homeowners' policies of people who keep aggressive breeds of dogs. Industry statistics say that about one-third of insurance claims arise from dog bites, and companies are starting to tell people they won't insure them if they insist on having breeds that are known for their volatile nature. We don't blame the companies.
We have lost count now of the number of times Congress has come to the brink of shutting the government down. We now find ourselves in the same situation we have on other occasions, with dysfunctional Republicans and incompetent Democrats heaving insults back and forth at each other in Washington while American voters shake their heads in dismay.
• Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State pedophile who was found guilty of molesting many boys who were under his care in various programs, has never admitted guilt despite overwhelming evidence and the unanimous guilty verdict of a jury. His lawyer continues to ask for a new trial for the former coach. Sandusky is serving up to 60 years after losing on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Behind bars is exactly where he needs to be unless a bombshell of new evidence turns up.
One of the offshoots of our politically divided nation is a similarly divided Supreme Court. We would all like to think that justices ponder every case on its own merits without letting political philosophy jaundice their thinking, but that is not the case. And most justices appointed in recent years can be reliably predicted to come down on a particular side of an issue; that often revolves around so-called liberal or conservative doctrine. The "swing vote" justice is becoming a rare breed, indeed.
Most people here in Kershaw County -- and across the country, for that matter -- would have a ready answer if they were asked where most of the tax breaks in the United States go. They'd probably answer that large corporations get them, at the expense of individuals. But a recent study compiled by a national publication reveals that more than 90 percent of all tax breaks go to individuals, and that personal tax breaks have risen seven times faster than corporate breaks, to the point that such tax "payments" now amount to nearly $1.2 trillion a year.
• Betty White is one of the funniest women in the entertainment business, and at 91 she has set a record for having the longest television career of any woman. Starting in 1939, when TV was still a novelty, White has starred in a number of shows and never fails to bring laughs to her audience. She's been at it for 74 years, and we wish her many more.
In a business landscape that changes in the blink of an eye, it's not unusual to see companies come and go. Some that have been around for decades can't keep up with the new marketplace, and they die. Start-ups come wheeling into existence and in a matter of a few months become worth billions of dollars in market capitalization. Few people are surprised when long-standing corporations become "buggy whip companies," the original term given to companies that were overtaken by time and technology.
Kershaw County Council was scheduled last night to hear presentations from 18 different candidates who wish to serve on the board of directors of KershawHealth, and then to question those candidates. What just a few years ago was a fairly humdrum appointment -- important, of course, but without a lot of fanfare -- has morphed into a visible process because of recent controversy at the hospital.
• We voters here in Kershaw County and across the country can get ready for another debt-limit controversy in October. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is already warning of rattled financial markets if the vote to call the government to borrow more money doesn't pass smoothly, and there will be Republicans who say they won't go along. This is becoming a tiresome exercise and it would be nice if Congress would adopt reasonable fiscal policies that would help avoid this kind of mess.
For years we've bemoaned on these pages the lack of initiative of automobile manufacturers in bringing the same diesel-engine efficiency to the United States that exists in Europe, where mid-size cars often get close to 50 miles to the gallon while getting more than adequate power and a lack of the bothersome noise that the first generation of American auto diesels produced.
Of course we're not naive enough to believe that the United States is still caught in a 1950s time warp when it comes to the entertainment business -- or anything else, for that matter. Times change, and so do values and mores. It's been a long time since married couples on television were forced to sleep in twin beds lest an audience get the idea that they actually might be intimate. The innocence of Leave It To Beaver and Ozzie and Harriett are long gone. Yet the continual pushing of the limits of good taste troubles some people, and ...
• The U.S. Congress is a picture of inefficiency, and as we all know, members seem to bear little inclination to compromise. But lawmakers in Washington look like the model of decorum when compared to the Thai Parliament, which descended into chaos last week, with a brawl erupting between police and some members of that body after Parliament debated controversial proposals to amend the country's constitution. Perhaps an old-fashioned fistfight is what we need on Capitol Hill; our elected officials could perhaps beat some sense into each other.
Chris Paul, the former Wake Forest basketball star who is now regarded by many as the best point guard in the NBA, has taken over the presidency of the troubled NBA Players' Association. Many people have more than a little trouble understanding why athletes who are paid millions of dollars a year for playing a game even need a union. We won't open a debate on that, but one issue on which Paul could have a positive influence is the ridiculous "one and done" rule which affects college basketball.
There are many things we like about Gov. Nikki Haley, chief among them being her determined focus on economic development. Haley has been a tireless campaigner for South Carolina when it comes to attracting business to the Palmetto State, and it's paid off in lots of jobs and significant tax revenue. We also like the fact she's a female of Indian descent who helps the diversity picture in South Carolina.
In this day of polarized politics, you rarely hear a member of one party criticize a member of the same party, and you seldom hear a compliment thrown towards a candidate from someone who resides in the opposite camp. But earlier this week, as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas kicked off his 2016 presidential campaign, Rep. Peter King of New York, a Republican just like Cruz, was free in dismissing Cruz as "a guy with a big mouth and no results." Going on to liken Cruz to a carnival barker, King verbally eviscerated the Texas senator. Of course, there's ...
• Friday, we reported a grand jury finally indicted 22-year-old Stephen Ross Kelly for his alleged kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of Briana Rabon. We say "finally indicted" because Briana was killed more than a year ago. While we cannot be certain -- grand jury proceedings are secret, and for good reason -- we suspect the indictments were handed down now because the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) only recently completed its forensic examination of evidence it and the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office collected. Briana, by all accounts, was a bright young lady who, at 18, had her entire life ...
Kershaw County Council Chairman Julian Burns, in the infancy of a four-year term he says will be his only one, isn't making any secrets about his No. 1 priority: economic development. Burns is hanging an "open for business" sign out for Kershaw County, and he's making the rounds to drum up support. Good for him.
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