• Kudos to Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, who's been chosen to attend the Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership program, which is conducted by the Aspen Institute, a public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C., and not in Colorado, as its name might lead some to believe. The program annually brings together 24 elected officials from around the country, and one of the things it encourages is civil dialogue and bipartisan cooperation, two things which are in short supply in politics today.
We commented Wednesday on the majesty of presidential inaugurations -- President Obama's, to be specific -- but noted that oath-taking day is one in which all Americans can take pride in the way our government operates. With the exception of Beyonce's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner -- was she lip-synching or not? -- there was little controversy to be observed.
Oh, that every day were Inauguration Day. There is little that can compare with a presidential inauguration in this country -- the pomp, the pageantry, the expectancy, and most of all, the feeling of security that democracy marches on in an orderly, peaceful fashion. On Monday, there were no armies pulling coups, no insurrectionists -- just the reassuring sight of the nation's highest-ranking legal officer administering the oath of office to the country's elected chief executive.
• Evidence continues to mount that climate change caused by human activity is already affecting life in this country, with a prediction of more frequent and intense heat waves, heavy downpours and, in some places, floods and droughts. The National Climate Assessment, which is presented to the president and Congress every four years, does not paint a pretty picture. Hard scientific evidence is hard to argue with, and that's what this is.
President Obama is a gifted speaker -- quick on his feet, personable, ready with a quip. And we'll give him high marks for political courage in trying to establish new gun controls; it's a volatile issue, and he has little to gain politically by taking it on. But he's pushing forward with it, and whether you agree with him or not, he deserves credit for delving into a policy that can engender hard feelings on both sides and can cost him political capital.
When the city of Camden proposed using hospitality tax funds to help construct a new YMCA, the proposal met with a great deal of opposition from many who felt that wouldn't be an appropriate use of the funds. That controversy boiled over for quite awhile and Mayor Jeffrey Graham eventually lost his re-election bid to political newcomer Tony Scully. Now a new proposal for hospitality tax funding has been brought before council, and whether or not members decide to fund it, there can be no argument that it would be a proper use of such money.
• Political correctness run amok raised its head again recently when ESPN apologized for comments of broadcaster Brent Musberger, who was complimentary of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's girlfriend during the national championship football game. The woman, Katherine Webb, was shown in the stands, and Musberger said, "What a beautiful woman. Wow!" We're still trying to figure out who was offended by that statement, but one thing is sure these days: you can't say anything without offending someone.
No matter how you feel about climate change -- whether you think global warming is caused by humans and is driving the planet towards ruin, or whether recent warmer temperatures are just a part of natural weather cycles -- it's hard to deny the enjoyment of a winter spell in which temperatures rise far above normal. That's what is forecast for the next few days in Camden, with highs in the mid-70s, which is more like late spring than the height of winter.
Looking ahead to 2013, this county, state and nation all face major issues and problems; that, of course, isn't peculiar to this year but occurs regularly. Here at the Chronicle-Independent, it's our responsibility to comment on these issues in editorials, and as we have in the past, we won't be hesitant to do so. We've noticed for a long time that many newspapers are like politicians in that they adhere to certain philosophies or dogmas and seldom swerve away from them. With many papers, it's possible to predict which side of an issue they'll ...
• The new Congress sworn in last week in Washington is the most diverse ever, with membership gains by women, minorities and gays. In addition, the House will have its first Hindu member, its first female combat veterans and its first openly bi-sexual member. The Senate will have its first Buddhist. And, of course, Tim Scott of South Carolina becomes the only African-American in the Senate. We hope all the new officials will do a better job of leading this country than those they join in Washington.
Though members of Congress avoided pushing the United States over a temporary fiscal cliff, they did virtually nothing to solve the long-term financial problems facing this nation. So when you see them on television talking about how much they accomplished over the New Year's holiday, you can dismiss that as just another blast of hot air. President Obama and members of Congress made no difficult decisions.
The recent death of Robert Bork no doubt brought memories for many Kershaw County residents who recall his 1987 nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court and the vicious attacks on him that led to a new word -- "borking" -- being added to the dictionary. As columnist Gordon Crovitz related in a recent piece, Bork's treatment by the U.S. Senate was the first in what has become a normal procedure, that of trying to demonize court appointees who don't meet a certain political standard. Up until that time, presidents enjoyed the power to appoint justices with a great ...
• If you plan to watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve, you'll probably catch a glimpse of One Times Square, an office building that is mostly vacant. But don't shed tears for the building's owners; according to The Wall Street Journal, the building will generate more than $23 million in revenue this year as a spot to hang billboards and other advertisements. Its clients include Anheuser-Busch, which will pony up $3.4 million to for beer signs, and Dunkin Donuts, which is paying $3.6 million to feature its goodies.
As the gun debate has mounted following the tragic school shootings in Connecticut, many who have strong opinions are speaking out -- some who favor a total ban on guns, others who prefer no controls whatsoever. But there's no easy solution to this problem, and the best one lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
Almost any reasonable measure which makes government more open and accessible to South Carolinians is good, so we're glad to see Rep. Bill Taylor once again offering a bill that would prohibit tax-supported agencies from charging excessive fees for providing documents and would require them to respond more quickly to public requests for information.
Lawyers of every political persuasion are lining up in Washington to have their say on the legality or illegality of the plan President Obama intends to implement regarding amnesty for illegal aliens who are in the United States without proper authorization, with one major network saying the president's plan to take the immigration system into his own hands "is a daring test of the limits of presidential power."
Operating under the simple premise that citizens have a right to know as much as they can about how their government officials operate, and how that affects governmental agencies as a whole, we almost always favor laws and regulations which require transparency in government. Transparency, of course, is an overused word, but it basically means that government agencies must operate in a way that allows citizens to observe what's happening, and even to have input about what's taking place.
• Once again, we mention the good work of Brian Mayes in this space. Seven years ago -- in response to the death of Camden High School student Michael Smith in Kershaw County's only gang-related shooting -- Mayes said the community had to become "a better gang than the gangs." What he meant is Camden and Kershaw County had to offer young people alternatives to gang life and choices which could land them in jail, or worse. Two events this month prove Mayes has planted good seeds we hope will bear fruit for generations to come. First, the official ribbon cutting ceremony ...
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