As much as we would all like to believe that judges are not influenced in any way by politics, the real world just doesn't work that way. Those who sit on the bench can't help but be influenced by the philosophies they have developed over their entire lives. So with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear arguments about the fate of President Obama's health care plan, we can all brace ourselves for a firestorm of rhetoric from pundits, commentators and strategists, many of whom will see a sinister plot in the entire episode. Compounding ...
• We note with sadness the death of South Carolina native Joe Frazier, who was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world during the 1970s and fought memorable bouts with Muhammad Ali. "Smoking Joe" beat Ali and then lost to him in Manila in one of the epic fights of all times. He struggled thereafter with being Ali's whipping post but finally assumed forgiveness for the cruel taunts that Ali rained down on him. Frazier was, by all accounts, a thoroughly decent man, and he earned a spot in boxing history.
South Carolina voters have gained a reputation over the past few years of being able to accurately pick the Republican presidential candidate who will end up with the party's nomination. Candidates have recognized that, crisscrossing the Palmetto State in an effort to woo voters here. But with only a couple of months left before the state's first-in-the-South primary, voters in South Carolina haven't locked in on a particular candidate, which probably is a powerful statement about how ambivalent people are about the GOP field.
The conviction earlier this week of Michael Jackson's physician on a charge of involuntary manslaughter brings to an end one of the most spectacular-yet-bizarre careers ever witnessed in the glitzy world of show business. Jackson was an immensely talented individual whose life became increasingly eccentric as time went on, with well-publicized incidents which highlighted his abnormal behavior as an entertainer and in his private life.
• We're glad to see that President Obama has finally kicked the cigarette habit. Obama, once a regular smoker, has been struggling with cigarettes for years, but his doctor said recently that the president is now tobacco-free. That's a good thing.
Kershaw County has all sorts of unique things that make it a good place to live. One of those is the series of lakeside worship services that's held each summer on the shores of Lake Wateree. The project was begun more than 30 years ago as an outreach of Liberty Hill Presbyterian Church; Gene Rollins was not yet the pastor there, but he came to the church shortly afterward and helped spur phenomenal growth not only at the church itself but at the lakeside services.
There is little pressure that can rival the heat of a presidential campaign, and Herman Cain isn't doing the greatest job of dealing with the scrutiny aimed at White House hopefuls. Cain has great appeal -- he's a plain-spoken guy who doesn't apologize for his positions, he has a concept that would radically change the country's impossibly complicated tax system and he retains a certain populist position that is playing well with many voters during these turbulent economic times. Cain, a virtual unknown only a few months ago, is running neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney in Republican polls.
• "It ain't brilliant, but at least it's heading in the right direction," was the comment of one leading economist after the latest figures on the U.S. economy were released. Ian Shepherdson was commenting on a growth rate of 2.5 percent, as opposed to the 4-percent growth many would like to see. We'll share his optimism and hope the latest figures are proof that the country isn't heading into a double-dip recession. We'll also give him credit for being darned original in his manner of speaking, a trait not often seen in the dry ...
It will come as no surprise to most Kershaw Countians that the so-called Washington "super committee" which is charged with coming up with a plan to rein in runaway deficits is not only failing to make progress but now has been witnessing back-and-forth sniping between its members. It's just the latest chapter in a rancorous debate between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, with the loser, of course, being the American taxpayer.
Most Kershaw County residents will no doubt recall the dot-com bubble of about 15 years ago, when a host of new Internet-based businesses saw their stock prices soar to stratospheric levels, only to come crashing violently to earth a short time later. Many of these companies had dizzyingly fast ascents on the stock market even though they produced no profits; some were barely more than concepts. The investing world declared that such a thing would never happen again, that investors had wised up to such pie-in-the-sky behavior.
• We're glad to see that the U.S. Marine Corps has lifted its ban on bracelets which honor U.S. troops killed in combat. Top officials announced last week that Marines in uniform are now authorized to wear killed-in-action bracelets recognizing friends who have died in combat or from battlefield wounds. The change was made after an uproar from Marines when top officers recently began enforcing a ban on the bracelets. Marine brass widely decided the former rule was an outdated one and changed it.
South Carolina is now one of 16 states which don't ban sending text messages while driving. In recent years, more and more states have prohibited the dangerous practice -- 13 since the beginning of last year. It's time for the Palmetto State to step forward and join what is a common-sense practice by banning texting while behind the wheel. Republicans who control the General Assembly will sometimes say they don't want to add any more government regulations, but a ban on texting makes just as much sense as a speed limit or a law to prevent passing on ...
As most Kershaw County residents realize, there's a huge fight going on in Washington over how to solve the immense budget deficits that are plaguing the country. Those on the far left seek large tax hikes -- that's no surprise -- while those on the far right want nothing but spending cuts. Lawmakers in the middle, who are more and more scarce these days, realize that there has to be some compromise if the country is going to thrive economically.
• If you don't think things change rapidly in the political world, you need look no further than Herman Cain, who was a mere blip on the Republican radar a few weeks ago and is now leading the polls. Only time will tell whether his star will fade, and there are many who criticize his "9-9-9" economic plan, advocating 9 percent income tax, 9 percent corporate tax and 9 percent sales tax. But one thing's for sure: the U. S. tax code is so burdensome and unwieldy that it needs a complete revamping. We wish other candidates would give ...
Years ago, when non-traditional license plates were first authorized in South Carolina, they were called "vanity plates" because many people who bought them put their initials on them. Since then, the specialty plate trend has grown to the point that the Palmetto State has more than 300 different varieties, ranging from NASCAR fans to Boykin Spaniel owners to Jimmy Buffett mavens. Law enforcement officers are finally starting to say enough is enough, the problem being that the plethora of plates is aborting the original mission of having them: to identify cars.
• We are comforted when justice is served, and we believe that happened Thursday afternoon when a jury found 33-year-old Willie Thomas Starnes, of Bethune, guilty of armed robbery and murder. The jury found Starnes guilty of deliberately using his vehicle a year ago to knock Alan Thomas Robinson, 67, also of Bethune, off his moped, stealing and loading that moped onto his vehicle and then turning around and running Robinson over. Robinson died the next day. Starnes is then accused of selling the moped for money he used to buy drugs. In fact, Starnes was under the influence of drugs ...
Whenever the subject of guns is brought up, it engenders strong opinion on both sides -- from those who believe in absolute Second Amendment rights, and from those who believe that nobody should be allowed to own a gun in any circumstances. Like most people, we fall somewhere in the middle, solidly on the side of Americans to own firearms but a bit dubious about why it makes sense for people to own Uzis and other automatic weapons that are made with the express purpose of killing people.
We comment on sports issues in this space on a regular basis, because athletics are so ingrained into the culture of Kershaw County and South Carolina. This week marks the kick-off of college football season in the Palmetto State, and several developments highlight the changing culture of the pigskin pastime here.
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