A state Senate bill that would allow early voting in South Carolina makes perfect sense and will benefit thousands of Palmetto State voters if it becomes law. Many other states already allow people to cast their ballots several days before an election, but South Carolina voters haven't been allowed to do that unless they were able to provide one of 18 different reasons to cast an absentee ballot. In reality, those wishing to vote early haven't had a problem in doing so by designating one of the basketful of absentee-voting reasons, but it's a needless process. This ...
• There is something comforting about tradition, and the election of a new pope -- with the tell-tale white smoke billowing from a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel -- is about as traditional as it gets. With 1.2 billion members, the Catholic church is facing both challenges and opportunities as newly elected pontiff Pope Francis begins his tenure. He has won adherents from the beginning because of his humility, and it will be interesting to see how he takes on the challenges of the church.
Supporters of President Obama say the ratcheting up of a group called Organizing For Action is simply a way for the president to get his message out and pressure Congress to adopt his agenda. Critics say it's a way for big-money donors and special interest groups to buy access to the White House. As the controversy swirls, we are reminded of the Clinton presidency and the brouhaha around "the Lincoln bedroom," which was the practice of allowing large donors to have a sleepover in the White House.
There's an interesting situation working up in Charlotte, where the owners of the Carolina Panthers are asking the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina for more than $200 million to fund stadium renovations at 17-year-old Bank of America Stadium -- a facility, by the way, that was built not with the owners' investment but primarily through the sales of "permanent seat licenses" to those who bought season tickets, along with some funding from the city of Charlotte.
• 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.
• We stand with Kershaw County Council in recognizing Bobby Jones on his long years of service not just to his hometown of Bethune, but the entire county. From his many years as a teacher, coach and principal to his time on and chairing the S.C. Department of Transportation Commission to serving as a counselor at The ALPHA Center, Jones epitomizes public service in Kershaw County. He is also a very nice man, giving hugs to men and women alike, and surprising folks with pound cakes, mostly of the lemon variety. But it is his contributions, large and small, to ...
Lawyers, court officials and others who end up spending time in criminal courtrooms in Kershaw County and elsewhere have no doubt heard many defendants' attorneys try to burnish their image after they've been convicted of crimes. The purpose, of course, is to try to grab a bit of leniency from the judge or jury which is going to hand down a sentence. "He's a good boy" is one of the favorites, often portraying the convicted person as a high knight of society who just happened to make a mistake, perhaps murder or armed robbery. "I just snapped" is ...
In the last 42 years, Kershaw County has had a number of sheriffs, some of them who performed more efficiently than others. Over that entire period, nearby Lexington County had only one -- James Metts, who was sentenced to prison Monday after pleading guilty to taking money in return for letting two illegal immigrants out of jail. Though he had no direct connection to Kershaw County, many here were familiar with him through his long service in another Midlands county and a great deal of publicity he received.
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