With Hurricane Irene having come and gone, and with Kershaw County and South Carolina having been spared, the second-guessers in other parts of the country are coming out of the woodwork. When it comes to hindsight, there's perhaps no area more fertile than weather -- specifically, severe storms. It's easy to assess blame after the fact, whether it's for lack of preparedness or over-reaction, and there is no shortage of people who are willing to do so.
• We're glad to see Camden native Larry Doby honored with a postage stamp in his honor, one of four Major League baseball players to be so recognized; Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, is another, and the final two have yet to be chosen. Doby was the first black player in the American League and carved out an enviable career record. He died in 2003.
Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, used to be an engaging figure, what we in the newspaper business called "good copy." Now Harpootlian's more of a loud bore. His latest rant involves his excoriation of Gov. Nikki Haley for hiring campaign staffers for high-paying government jobs, which is exactly what Democratic governors have also done. Harpootlian basically says it was all right for Dems to do that, but it's not OK for Haley because she said she was going to be a different kind of governor.
Ernest F. Hollings served decades in the U.S. Senate from South Carolina, and he was one of those who were in Washington during a time when politicians from both parties were still willing to step across the aisle and compromise. That seems long ago. But Hollings, despite decades in Washington, never lost his penchant for picturing himself as an outsider. In speeches to Rotary clubs and other organizations across the Palmetto State, he railed against "those boys up in Washington," as if he had never stepped foot in the nation's capital.
• "Spin" has become an inexorable part of the political process, and if you hear President Obama tell it, his bus tour through Iowa isn't a campaign trip, saying instead that it's a way to take the pulse of the country. But it has all the trappings of a political hoorah, and of course that's what it is. We're not blaming the president for that, only noticing that when it comes to spin, the White House is as accomplished at it as any politician at any level.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry quickly discovered that national politics is a whole different game than statewide politics -- even in as huge a place as the Lone Star State -- shortly after he formally announced his presidential candidacy in South Carolina. Perry said Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, was acting in a "treasonous" way with national monetary policy. He also said that were Bernanke down in Texas, he'd be treated "pretty ugly" because of his job performance.
For many families here in Kershaw County, all this talk about the federal budget and the national debt involves numbers so huge as to be inexplicable. Families think in thousands of dollars, while the government thinks in trillions. Someone passed along to us recently one of those missives that make their way around the country, and unlike many such messages with their wild inaccuracies, the figures in it are a pretty valid picture of what's going on in America. Consider:
• Recent Wisconsin recall elections spurred by people dissatisfied with Republican efforts to downsize government and diminish the role of unions in politics failed to wrest control away from the GOP in that state. A record amount of money was spent in the normally liberal state but Democrats failed to achieve their goal of unseating at least three of the six state senators who were being recalled. Some experts say that sends a national message.
It's a sad sign that a committee of 12 has had to be appointed to try to deal with the debt crisis in America, the result of Congress' inability to move the country forward during these trying times. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, composed of six Democrats and six Republicans, is charged with devising a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, and if it fails, then automatic cuts are to take place. We recall that the last time such a committee was formed, headed by Democrat Erskine Bowles and ...
Camden City Council is wise to consider the role and development of city boards and commissions, and an overall restructuring of the process would be a good idea. City Manager Kevin Bronson, at council's last meeting, laid down several guidelines that should be followed in appointing boards and commissions, all of which made sense. But it was an off-hand remark by Council member Walter Long that perhaps was most cogent of all -- that the city is not receiving minutes from some boards because they aren't meeting regularly. And therein lies a premise: that the city doesn't need ...
• We note with sadness the death last week of veteran horse trainer Charles "Charlie" V.B. Cushman Jr., whose name is synonymous with the horse industry both in Kershaw County and abroad. A twist of fate thrust Cushman from race spectator into the saddle at the 1949 Carolina Cup as a fill-in for an injured jockey. He went on to capture third place in that spring classic, and it seemed his fate with riding and Camden was sealed. Cushman built on his expertise, riding for Hall of Fame trainer W. Burling "Burly" Cocks and training such racing notables as Explode ...
Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews has been sued for the third time since taking office only a few months ago. While we aren't legal experts, we do see a few interesting developments here, the first one being that Matthews has been no shrinking violet when it comes to making statements about the way the department was run prior to his election. Of course that's not uncommon in South Carolina law enforcement circles; after all, sheriffs are elected and not appointed, and politics is part of the process. Some say Matthews continued his criticism of former Sheriff Steve McCaskill ...
It is difficult for children in Kershaw County today to even imagine the Jim Crow era, when African-Americans had to use separate bathrooms, couldn't eat in most restaurants, endured poor facilities and often had a difficult time even voting. That was just a bit more than a generation ago, and one of the towering figures who fought such injustices was Matthew Perry, who died earlier this week at age 89.
• TV personality Alex Trebek is well known for asking "answers" on "Jeopardy!" but not as much so for chasing down intruders, which he did last week after someone invaded his hotel room. Alas, Trebek suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon while chasing down the violator, and he has undergone surgery. We hope he'll soon be recovered, as we (and legions of other "Jeopardy!" fans in Kershaw County don't want to have to miss him behind the lectern of any episodes.
An anonymous group has sent a letter to Kershaw County Board of School Trustees Chairman Joey Dorton charging that the school district -- its top officials, who make employment decisions -- had decreed who would be hired, or at least which races would be hired, before interviewing began for three principal's positions in the county.
• It looks like it's full steam ahead for KershawHealth and its strategic plan. In recent weeks, we have reported on the creation -- after several years of hard work -- of a general surgery division; the recruitment of a new orthopedic surgeon; the signing of an agreement with Orthopedic Advantage to create a top-level orthopedic center in Kershaw County; and an already established agreement with Team Health to transform KershawHealth's emergency department in order to fast-track non-emergent patients allowing staff to focus on those in true emergency situations. Dr. T. Chris Tran, the new orthopedic surgeon, joined Camden Bone & Joint ...
President Obama, who promised the most transparent administration in history, has delivered perhaps the least transparent. Following the trend of other recent presidents, Obama has kept a tight lid on the press, rarely interacting with reporters in a spontaneous fashion and instead relying on the spin of his White House press directors. And it has gotten worse the longer Obama has been in office; one report last week indicated that the administration was denying access on a variety of subjects with increasing regularity. The Associated Press reported, "In category after category -- except for reducing numbers of old requests and a ...
Attorney General Eric Holder's recent statement that race plays a part in some Americans' opposition to President Obama's policies has stirred strong reaction from both liberals and conservatives, and reaction has highlighted the fact -- no surprise here -- that blacks and whites often look at issues of race differently. We suspect that Kershaw County would mirror the national opinions of a recent Gallup poll in which people were asked whether this country's criminal justice system is biased against blacks. More than two-thirds of whites said no, while about the same percentage of blacks said yes.
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