With all the scent of change in the air in Washington, D.C., there's still an unpleasant aroma of business as usual in the nation's capital. Despite all the talk about cutting spending and the profligacy of earmarks, the U. S. Senate refused last week to outlaw them. We don't pretend to say banning earmarks would solve the country's deficit problems, but it would be a symbolic first step; Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has referred to them as "the gateway drug to spending addiction."
Backers of a Kershaw County local-option sales tax which was rejected by voters earlier this month say they aren't giving up and that they will again pursue efforts to get the penny tax passed, perhaps in a scaled-down version. Voters turned the proposal down by a significant margin during the general election, sending officials a message that this isn't the right time to be raising taxes.
* With professional football playoffs set to begin soon, along with college bowl games, there's one statistic that tells the tale as far as how many advertisements and dead time there are during TV game telecasts. A recent examination of one NFL game that took more than four hours to play revealed that the ball was in play less than 11 minutes. That's a lot of time to eat and sip. Watch those calories!
We had hoped, as no doubt all Kershaw County residents had, that the economy during this Thanksgiving season would be more vigorous than it actually is -- that fewer people would be unemployed, that the housing market would have rebounded, that small businesses would be prospering more than they are and that the stress caused by economic turmoil would have eased. But even under present circumstances, we have much to be thankful for.
Today, during the peak of the holiday traveling season, workers employed by the Transportation Security Administration, the agency charged with trying to keep terrorists off airplanes, will endure a great deal of criticism and short tempers from Americans who don't like the new measures effected by the TSA, including full body scanners and pat-down searches for passengers who don't want to be scanned.
• Poor Charles Rangel. Though the 20-term Congressman was found guilty of breaching 11 different ethics rule in the U. S. House of Representatives, including failing to pay taxes on a vacation villa for 17 years, and despite the fact that he will receive a rare U.S. House of Representatives censure, he said last Monday that he wasn't a crooked politician and he wanted to restore his reputation. Rangel is like the other politicians who get caught with their hands in the cookie jar in that he's contrite only after being caught.
It didn't come as a surprise to many people in Kershaw County when former County Administrator Bobby Boland and current Utilities Director Russell Wright filed a federal wrongful arrest lawsuit recently against Kershaw County Sheriff's Office Capt. David Thomley. The resolution of the suit -- whatever that might be -- will bring to an end an unfortunate chapter in Kershaw County politics and law enforcement.
Earlier this month, Americans provided one of the most resounding no-confidence-in-government votes in history, turning out the majority party in nearly unprecedented fashion. Voters in the 5th District, which includes Kershaw County, sent home Rep. John Spratt, a Washington fixture who portrayed himself as a fiscal conservative but was a part of the big-spending Washington culture. Only a few days later, the Bipartisan Commission on Deficit Reduction floated some of its proposals to lower the murderous deficit that both Republicans and Democrats have run up in the past few years. No sooner were the recommendations made public that members of ...
• Former President George Bush was refreshingly candid in last week's interviews with NBC and other media outlets; he was doing a series of drop-ins to promote his new book, "Decision Points." Even those who thought Bush didn't do a great job in the Oval Office will have to admit that he's exhibited good character by refusing to criticize his successor, Barack Obama. Unlike Jimmy Carter, who seems to make a habit of spouting his opinions and denigrating presidents, Bush has displayed an admirable restraint.
When Republicans handed Bill Clinton's hat to him in the 1994 election, gaining control of Congress in a GOP landslide, the former Arkansas governor moved deftly to the middle of the political spectrum. It was a spectacular turnaround following his and his wife's failed health care initiatives, and it not only saved his presidency, it made him a model for other elected officials who learned to listen to what voters said and adapt their own policies to the mood of the country.
Voters here in South Carolina have had to put up with a contentious relationship between the General Assembly and the executive branch for the last eight years, an oddity considering that both are controlled by the Republican Party. But Gov. Mark Sanford and legislators have often crossed swords, with legislators blaming the governor for showboating (remember the pigs he brought to the state house to symbolize pork spending?) and the governor decrying "business as usual" by legislators.
• The political correctness police force is active in San Francisco, where an ordinance has been passed decreeing that McDonald's Happy Meals can't contain a toy unless the meal meets certain nutritional standards laid down by that city's authorities. We aren't sure what the city plans to ban next, but such actions are political correctness run amok.
Unlike 1994, when a Republican landslide was somewhat of a surprise, Tuesday's GOP tsunami had been widely predicted by pollsters, nearly all of whom had detected a wave of discontent among voters weary of partisanship and a stagnant economy. Kershaw County voters reacted as did their counterparts across the country, helping to toss out longtime 5th District Congressman John Spratt. Camden's Vincent Sheheen was one of the few Democrats to fare well here, along with county officials Harriett Pierce and Robin Watkins.
Most Kershaw County residents will breathe a sigh of relief this morning because they'll no longer be subjected to the constant bombardment of negative political ads which have dominated the airwaves for the past couple months. The so-called political operatives who run campaigns insist negative ads are used because they're effective. We challenge that; such commercials might have worked a few years ago, before they were used by nearly every candidate, but we'd wager that for most voters, they have lost their power.
• Politics is a cruel game. With Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, locked in a tight battle for re-election, there's already a lot of squirming going on in Washington about which senator will become the majority leader if the Democrats retain control and Reid is defeated. It's bad form, of course, for those interested in the position to be too overt, so Chuck Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois, both of whom are said to be desirous of being majority leader, are quietly spreading around campaign funds to many different candidates and states, all ...
Kershaw County Council was scheduled last night to hold first reading on an ordinance which would allow Sunday alcohol sales in the county. Both the towns of Camden and Elgin have in past years changed their laws to allow Sunday sales, and businesses in unincorporated areas are now left at a disadvantage in not being able to match those sales.
• As the C-I continues to report on the Briana Rabon murder, there is a lot of speculation about how she and her accused killer, Stephen Ross Kelly, knew each other. Officials have, so far, only said that they both attended Lugoff-Elgin High School and were acquaintances, but not involved in a romantic relationship. Rumors abound, however, which we always check out but rarely get confirmation for publication. That's fine. Frankly, it's best that rumors stay out of the newspaper as we let the investigative and judicial processes take whatever time is needed to bring justice for Briana and ...
The last couple weeks have brought astounding new developments in treatment of babies born with AIDS, raising for the first time the hope that perhaps a treatment has been found that will eradicate the disease in newborns who are born to mothers infected by the HIV virus. The first such case was reported last year, but there was skepticism among many in the scientific community. Earlier this week, a second similar case was reported. The first child, dubbed the "Mississippi baby," is now 3 years old and still virus-free; the second one shows no signs of HIV nine months after ...
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