• We note with sadness the death of longtime Camden resident Ed Bracey, who was a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He was also a civil rights pioneer, helping pave the way for the integration of South Carolina's public universities, and he was a tireless advocate -- sometimes through his columns here in the Chronicle-Independent – for justice. He leaves the world a better place.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has been an outspoken critic of the ideological stalemate in Washington, and Graham, who's taken considerable political heat from the right fringes of his own party because of his willingness to reach across the aisle, played a key role in a Wednesday night Washington dinner in which President Obama sat down with GOP leaders to discuss the sequester and the ongoing fight over the budget.
South Carolina has a reasonable concealed weapons policy which allows law-abiding people to carry handguns after going through a relatively simple permitting process, which includes training in the proper way to safely carry firearms. A proposal to scrap that system in favor of one that would allow anyone to carry concealed weapons without any kind of permit has been introduced in the General Assembly. The bill, sponsored by two Republican lawmakers, would be a step backward for the state; present law doesn't infringe upon the constitutional right to bear arms.
• We note with sadness the recent death of Van Cliburn, pianist extraordinaire, who captured the world's attention at age 23 when he won the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, wowing judges and the public alike with his incredible keyboard talent. He was honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York -- back in the days when there really was ticker tape -- and sold countless records before burning out on a commercial career and retreating to a more solitary life.
Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are considering a challenge to the nation's signature voting rights act, which was passed in 1965, during an era when many states did whatever they could to deny the right to vote to blacks. The issues are complex, but the cogent question is whether or not Congress, in reauthorizing certain provisions of the act in 2006, were correct or incorrect in using a formula based on historic practices and voting data from elections that were held decades ago.
Three years ago, President Obama, freshly ensconced in the White House, appointed Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to draft a plan to cut the nation's huge deficit. In choosing reasonable men of two parties, Obama left everyone with the impression that he was flexible and ready to deal with fiscal issues in an even-handed way. The men headed a committee that came up with common-sense and workable solutions to reduce the deficit in an even-handed way -- both cutting spending and raising taxes.
• Kudos to the Big Ten conference, which is considering requiring its member schools to stop scheduling "powderpuff" teams; the move comes as resistance increases to the popular practice of schools padding their non-conference schedules with smaller schools which have little football prowess. The practice makes final records look good and it provides a big payday for the small schools, but with ticket prices at high levels, the fans get soaked for watching runaway games.
A bill that would allow guns in restaurants and bars is making its way through the S.C. Senate, but the proposal is vague, aimless and filled with potential for trouble. As one senator remarked, "Alcohol and guns don't mix," and the same lawmaker said he hadn't talked to a single law enforcement person who was in favor of it. We doubt he'll find many.
The government sequester which is set to take place next week unless Congress can agree on budgetary matters has been a source of countless news reports. In simple terms, it's a way of dealing with government spending cuts, and it's newsworthy -- and imminent -- because of the failure of Congress to come to an agreement on fiscal policy. It's looming now because the "fiscal cliff" agreement made not long ago didn't solve the country's spending problems.
• Three separate bills have been proposed to the S.C. Senate and House of Representatives education committees that would alter the way high school sports are regulated in the state; all were reported out of committee to be addressed by the General Assembly. Lawmakers have much more important things to do than nitpick with the S.C. High School League, which is the governing body of athletics. These bills should die on the vine and legislators should get back to dealing with issues of real importance in the Palmetto State.
Folks with a little age on them in Kershaw County -- and across the country, for that matter -- are often fond of saying, "They don't make things like they used to." There's nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia, but the real truth, in most instances, is this: no, they don't make things like they used to. They make things much better.
A bill is making its way through the S.C. General Assembly that would allow quicker and less expensive access to public records for all citizens of the Palmetto State. It's a reasonable compromise involving a bit of give-and-take on the parts of both those who proposed it and those who would have to live with its provisions in providing such info, and we hope to see it sail on through the lawmaking process.
• A story detailing the closing of Home Furnishing Co. in Camden appeared in this newspaper last week; the store is shutting down after 93 years in business. Founded by Gus Beleos and run for decades by his son, Likie, and his wife, Connie, the store was for years an anchor in the downtown Camden business community. Such locally owned establishments are falling by the wayside, not only here but across the country. We wish the Beleoses the best in their retirement.
"There are no winners in this," a Columbia attorney said last week after his client was sentenced to five years in prison for his part in the death of another man during an altercation following a 2010 University of South Carolina football game against Alabama. Indeed.
A circuit court of appeals in Washington recently struck down the process of "intra-session recess appointments," which President Obama used last year as an end-run around the Senate confirmation process. Recess appointments were originally intended, back in the days when travel to the capital was long and grueling, and communication was poor, to allow presidents to fill vacancies that occurred while the Senate was not in session, thus avoiding the "advice and consent" decree in which the Senate must approve presidential appointees. Chief executives have abused that power off and on since 1823, but President Obama took it to a ...
• What a boon the S.C. Equine Park has been for Camden and Kershaw County! And now, with word that a second, larger covered arena will be built -- possibly as soon as this winter -- the park should ultimately bring even more people to the area than it already does. Think on this: even with the arena already in place, the equine park has been booked an average of 30 weekends each year, with an economic impact of $4 million. Imagine if, with the second arena, the park could be booked 45 or even 50 weekends each year. How much would ...
Elgin is certainly not the same community that it was a few decades ago. The sleepy little crossroads that existed then has now become the primary growth area in Kershaw County, with housing developments having sprung up all over West Wateree. The area is populated not only with citizens who were born and raised in Kershaw County but many who have moved across the county line from neighboring Richland County, and others who have found their way there from throughout the United States.
Folks in Kershaw County were excited a year or so ago when Chick-fil-A opened a store between Camden and Lugoff. The fast-food restaurant is one of the favorite quick eateries in the United States, especially in the South, where fried chicken has been a staple for centuries. We note that Truett Cathy, the founder of the 1,800-outlet chain, died recently at the age of 93.
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