• 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 ...
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.
Ernest Kinard, who died earlier this week, was made for the law. Possessed of a keen intellect and a probing curiosity, Kinard practiced law for 24 years in Camden before being elected a circuit court judge in 1988. He remained on the bench until his retirement in 2010, and in a "keep working" program for retired judges, he continued until recently. In all his years as a judge, he never missed a day of holding court, establishing a remarkable record of consistency and longevity. Kinard mentored a number of young attorneys who practiced with him or clerked for him over ...
As we noted Monday, the Camden Planning and Zoning Commission was scheduled to hear a proposal Tuesday night for a rezoning request for the Beechwood property on Knights Hill Road, a move which could lead to a retirement community being built there which would be a tasteful and feasible addition to the Camden community. We hope the project moves forward.
• Depending on one's point of view, it may feel like years or just yesterday since the name "Beechwood" was part of a headline in this newspaper. Nine years ago, an entire movement formed to block the 65-acre Knights Hill Road property's annexation into the city limits of Camden. Later, the same group, Preserve Camden for Responsible Growth, fought against some aspects of the plans to subdivide and develop Beechwood. In 2009, Camden Community Properties (CCP) purchased the property, promising to, eventually, create a retirement village at Beechwood under Planned Development District (PDD) zoning. After six years, it appears ...
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