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 ...
We noted recently that we don't see much reason for people to own assault-type weapons and magazines that hold large amounts of ammunition. And we certainly don't see any harm to the second amendment in requiring background checks for all people who are purchasing guns. But in the ongoing debate about gun violence in this country, which has reached epidemic proportions, we are all being naive if we think instituting new laws is going to stop such violence. That doesn't mean some measures aren't wise and won't make a small difference in the ownership of ...
We noted recently that President Obama, during his inaugural speech, outlined a liberal agenda of programs he intends to push during his second term. There wasn't much centrism in it, and those looking for a spirit of bipartisan cooperation were probably disappointed. Those same people will no doubt also not be particularly happy with the staff appointments the president is making for his second term, another sign that he isn't going to be in a compromising mood in the years to come.
• 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.
Lawmakers in Washington have long ignored the fact that the Social Security system in this country is broken. On the brink of insolvency, Social Security needs major revamping, whether it comes in the form of benefit reductions, tax increases or both. Congress has refused to consider benefit cuts decades out in the future, even for young adults who are just now starting to pay into the system. They are turning their backs on such simple fixes as delaying the age by a year or two at which people can start receiving their monthly allotments. Bear in mind, we aren't ...
The Republican presidential field is already getting crowded, and the South Carolina GOP primary is often viewed as a bellwether for White House hopefuls. Because this is a conservative state, candidates in past years have often moved to the right while campaigning here. But a new poll shows Republican voters in South Carolina might be moving away from some of the hard-line social issues they have embraced in the past. As a side note, many political observers believe the party "had better get out of people's bedrooms if it wants to broaden its appeal."
• Last week's seizure by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of Old Armory Steak & Seafood on Rutledge Street marks at least the temporary loss of one of Camden and Kershaw County's premier restaurants. It is an unfortunate blow to the downtown Camden economy. Each business provides potential traffic to another and the loss of any one diminishes such beneficial ripple effects. Locals cheered the Old Armory's opening in 2006 so soon after the closing of the previous tenant, The Paddock. Many people and businesses have celebrated the holidays, proms, anniversaries, engagements, weddings, birthdays and more at the Old ...
With Augusta being only a couple hours away from Kershaw County, the Masters golf tournament holds a great deal of allure for this area. The azaleas at Augusta National are famous for their popping colors and their beauty, but they're no prettier than those which are currently at their peak in Camden, we might add. But there's something magical about the Masters, which is ranked by many players as the one tournament they'd like to win more than any other.
There have been many great additions to the Camden landscape in recent years -- to name a few, the statues of Joseph Kershaw and King Haiglar at the Town Green; the Bernard Baruch and Larry Doby statuary at the Camden Archives; and the new pocket park where the former Maxway building stood. All these have added to the town's appearance and ambience.
• Congratulations to Johnny Deal and Richard Walkirch for receiving, respectively, the United Way of Kershaw County's Jake Watson and Ann Dallas awards. Deal, often known as "Mr. Camden" or "Mr. Facebook" around town, is one of many people's favorite personalities. That doesn't necessarily win you awards. What does is a commitment to community involvement, which Deal has in spades, working with the Camden Jaycees, Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce, Community Medical Clinic, Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, the United Way and more. As for volunteerism, we can't imagine a more worthy recipient for the Dallas ...
We're not too high on elected officials who hew to positions on the fringes. Like many, we believe adherence to strict political philosophies is one of the primary reasons for the polarization in American politics today. There just aren't many lawmakers in Washington today who are willing to sit down and work things out despite their political differences, as there were for decades.
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