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.
• As you settle back to enjoy holiday football, we have a startling statistic for you regarding the size of college football players. A recent survey which focused on linemen over seven decades revealed the average lineman today weighs more than half again as much as his 1950 counterpart. Over that time, according to a recent news report, the average offensive and defensive lineman grew to just over 290 pounds from just above 190. We can't even predict how big they'll be in another 50 years.
Most of us here in Kershaw County are caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season -- shopping, family gatherings, baking and all the other traditions of Christmas. And there's nothing wrong with that. But as we observe a holy day of Christendom, let us pause to recall the true meaning of the season, as related in the second chapter of Luke, from the King James Version of the New Testament.
Rep. Tim Scott became the immediate front-runner to succeed Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina after DeMint announced he would resign to run the Heritage Foundation, perhaps the pre-eminent conservative think tank in the country. (As an aside, we've seen lots of philosophical mumbo-jumbo come out of think tanks, both conservative and liberal, but very little workable policy.) Other names were bandied about, the strangest one being Jenny Sanford, former wife of the Palmetto State's philandering ex-governor, Mark Sanford.
• We've commented before on the merry-go-round of coaches in professional sports, and that some who get fired manage to get new jobs no matter how bad their teams have been in the past. A news story pointed out recently that Norv Turner, coach of the NFL's San Diego Chargers, has managed to coach 234 games while compiling an overall losing record. Now that's what we call a survivor.
While President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner continue negotiations in an attempt to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, Americans across the country -- including, of course, many right here in Kershaw County -- are voicing their concerns about the irresponsibility of the federal government. But surveys of voters show a curious trend, and if we Americans want to look at one cause of the huge national debt and the dysfunction of Uncle Sam, we need look no further than ourselves.
The U.S. government has never been known for efficiency, as indicated by the staggering amount of red ink under which Uncle Sam is struggling. And there's no easy way to reconcile changes that will bring the deficit under control. But there's one action that's extremely simple and effective: changing the way the government measures inflation, which affects how fast government payments rise under a variety of programs.
• Little noticed last week among all the "fiscal cliff" talk was the death of former Rep. Congressman Jack Brooks of Texas, who spent 42 years in Washington and is perhaps best remembered as the man standing behind Jacqueline Kennedy as Lyndon Johnson took the presidential oath of office aboard Air Force One following the assassination of President Kennedy. Brooks was one of a kind -- described in one news story as an "irascible, cigar-chomping … swashbuckling Texas character" and by one Johnson aide as one of the only men LBJ was ever afraid of." Brooks came from a different era, but he ...
Nobody here in Kershaw County or anywhere else in the country would rationally assert that President Obama's victory last month transformed the United States into a one-party country. After all, Obama won by a skinny percentage (though by a wider margin in the antiquated Electoral College), and the U.S. House of Representatives is still controlled by the GOP, as are a majority of governorships. However, the protocols of presidential politics are creating a more difficult path for Republicans to win the White House unless the party steps back and takes a fresh look at itself.
There's an old saying that a cat has nine lives, but in politics, there's probably nobody who has more lives than Hillary Rodham Clinton. It's a measure of her resilience that as she completes four years as secretary of state in the Obama administration and prepares to step down from that post, her popularity is high, even among many who considered her almost the devil incarnate for a long while.
• There's a legitimate reason many Republican lawmakers in Washington oppose the potential nomination of Susan Rice as secretary of state. There are too many unanswered questions about her statements following the attack on the U. S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Many in the GOP say they'd be more comfortable with Sen. John Kerry, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004. Kerry has long years of experience and significant expertise in foreign affairs. Unless President Obama simply enjoys picking fights, he'd do well to go with Kerry.
No couple in America stirs emotions like Bill and Hillary Clinton, so when she showed up at an Iowa political festival acting more and more like a presidential candidate, it caused quite a flap among those who have begun such movements as "Ready For Hillary," and also among those who'd rather see anybody than her become president. But it proved one thing: that even after decades in the spotlight of the political arena, she still commands attention.
It was another black eye for South Carolina last week when Rep. Bobby Harrell, speaker of the House of Representatives, was indicted by a Richland County grand jury on nine counts, including illegally using campaign money for personal expenses, filing false campaign disclosures and misconduct in office. Harrell suspended himself -- how's that for an oddity? -- and will now face his government accusers. South Carolina certainly doesn't have a monopoly on political malfeasance but the Palmetto State has had more than its share of governmental scandal. We say that fully recognizing that Harrell is innocent until proven guilty.
• 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 ...
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