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 ...
• Diplomatic posts have always been plum political prizes for presidents to hand out to supporters and donors; over the years, about 30 percent of such jobs have been awarded to people who were willing to pay for them. This year, with President Obama having a hefty list of well-to-do supporters, the price is higher than ever, one news outlet reports. Being called "ambassador" and receiving a post to a safe country with a stable political environment is quite a catch. Of course, Obama's doing nothing different than his predecessors have; it's just that the price tag has gone ...
During the last week, we have published two reports on KershawHealth. The first, growing out of the hospital's most recent board of trustees meeting, focused on its market share. It is relatively healthy, thanks to KershawHealth's being the only hospital in all of Kershaw County. More people living in the county turn to KershawHealth for emergency care than anywhere else. However, the report -- broadly speaking -- noted a decrease in market share in outpatient services and only slight increases for inpatient services.
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.
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