THE ISSUE: The speaker of the House; OUR OPINION: Diluting some power of top position warranted, but term limit may be overreaction
Suspended House Speaker Bobby Harrell has probably lost one of the state’s most powerful positions for good, even if he is exonerated on misdemeanor charges that he misused his office for personal gain and lied to law enforcement about his campaign expenses.
In a case that has seen its legal ups and downs since early 2013, Harrell has suffered irreparable political damage that makes him a liability as a legislative leader. And while all should respect Harrell for fighting the charges if he is as convinced of his innocent as he contends, even the veteran lawmaker knows there are costs associated with scandal and reports of scandal.
While his legal case moves forward, he faces an immediate test on the political front in the form of a Democratic opponent in November’s general election. The district is solidly Republican, but the profile of Democrat Mary Tinkler has been elevated by the Harrell case.
On Tuesday she spoke out on issues that can be expected to bring more attention to her campaign, supporting term limits for lawmakers and changes in the way legislative ethics complaints are handled. And while she would not call for Harrell to drop his bid for re-election, she told The Associated Press: “His trial in the courtroom is months away but his trial in the court of public opinion has now begun. The verdict will be rendered on Election Day.”
WASHINGTON — President Obama should call Congress back to Washington for a special session to vote on authorizing war against the Islamic State. If he does not, Congress should return on its own to conduct this vital debate.
Do your jobs, everybody.
As legal justification for the war, Obama relies on two measures, passed more than a decade ago, that authorized U.S. military action against al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. To state the blindingly obvious, things have changed.
The Islamic State is not al-Qaeda. While the 2001 authorization for war against Osama bin Laden’s terrorist group encompasses “associated forces,” al-Qaeda refuses to have anything to do with the Islamic State. And the 2002 authorization for war in Iraq — targeting a government that no longer exists — says not a solitary word about airstrikes in Syria.
Whether Obama has the right to bomb targets in Syria is also questionable under international law, but leave this aside for the moment. The president has made a long-term, open-ended pledge to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State. He promises there will be no U.S. combat troops on the ground but uses the narrowest possible definitions of “combat,” “troops” and “ground.”
WASHINGTON — It has long been accepted by the conventionally wise that the Republican Party is waging a “war on women.”
Let’s be clear. The war on women is based on just one thing — abortion rights. While it is true that access to abortion has been restricted in several states owing to Republican efforts, it is not true that women as a whole care only or mostly about abortion.
I promise, this isn’t another abortion column, not that the horrific number of abortions performed each year shouldn’t make one’s stomach turn. Instead, extremists on the pro-choice left celebrate the “right” to terminate a 20-week-old fetus. Google an image of this stage of fetal development and try to comprehend the glee we witnessed when state Sen. Wendy Davis, now running for governor, became the belle du jour upon her successful filibuster to protect that “right” in Texas.
OK, sorry, so I digressed just a little. But it isn’t possible to dissect the alleged war on women without mentioning abortion, since this is the entire content of the war as defined by savvy Democratic operatives. It was an effective strategy in 2012, aided quite a bit by some of the GOP’s lesser lights and looser tongues, not to mention good ol’ slut-talking Rush.
On the latter’s offense, and the silliness of the so-called war in general, I defer to Bill Maher, who recently chastised liberals for their selective outrage regarding women’s rights.
Iraq, Afghanistan and the wars before
World situation now and then leaves
so many reasons to say thanks
THE ISSUE: Domestic violence; OUR OPINION: Clemson’s Swinney, Carolina’s Spurrier have zero tolerance that should be policy in every home
Dabo Swinney can recall being pulled out of bed and hurried frantically into a car. He can recall sleeping in that car when his family could not find a safer place to spend the night.
Swinney grew up around domestic violence, so the issue is near to his heart. Now that he is the football coach at Clemson University, he wants it nowhere near his program.
“Zero tolerance. We’re not going to deal with that stuff,” Swinney said a week after surveillance video from an Atlantic City casino surfaced revealing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiance Janay Palmer.
The video induced a multimedia maelstrom that swirled around Rice, the Ravens and the NFL. Criticism swelled widely from those who disapproved and distrusted how the league handled the investigation and punishment for Rice.
When a newborn baby emerges from the safety of the womb to the stark reality of the real world, no parent is ever certain about the child’s future. Bearing children is one of the greatest risks we take, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives.
Almost 29 years ago, I gave birth to a healthy, thriving little girl, weighing in at 8 pounds and measuring 21 inches. She emerged from my womb into her father’s arms, the obstetrician having called him around to deliver his child. This doesn’t happen often.
My husband, however, had made much of the fact that he had birthed calves on many an occasion in his earlier years. The obstetrician, I guess, figured if he could deliver a calf, he could deliver his child; thus, her father enjoyed the most thrilling experience of his life.
Recently, we visited our daughter in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is a new pediatric resident at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Having graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina, she moved to Nashville in June and began practicing her chosen specialty in July.
Of course, we’ve talked with her often since her move, but there is nothing like seeing in person the kind of adult your child has become. Most who read this column know that she did not have an easy road getting into medical school. The last time she applied, she had to seriously consider what other profession she might pursue if she did not gain entrance. That time was rough on her and on her parents.
THE ISSUE: SCaledown.org; OUR OPINION: State initiative against obesity has no down side
Just weeks after the latest rankings showing that South Carolina’s youth have the second-highest obesity rate in the nation, and adults rank 10th nationally, the state has decided it’s time to “scale down.”
The report issued by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that more than 21 percent of young people in the state between ages 10 and 17 are considered obese. Obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat compared to lean body mass.
Among adults, the obesity rate is almost 32 percent. That’s up from 25 percent a decade ago and 12 percent in 1990.
For South Carolina, a state whose population already ranks high nationally for health problems, doing something about obesity is a primary issue for human well-being and the economy.
We all have a gift for ingratitude. It’s so easy to take for granted how we live today, and to forget that our ancestors lived much harder lives.
In earlier generations, people died at every age, including newborns, children, teenagers, and women in childbirth. Epidemics like cholera, for which there was no cure, cut a lethal swath through cities; chronic malaria afflicted hundreds of thousands. American life expectancy is now 80 years — childbirth and childhood have never been safer, killer epidemics are rare and American malaria has vanished.
Why the change? Because of the industrial revolution. It improved standards of living and brought innovations in nutrition, medicine, and public health. It transformed a situation where poverty and vulnerability were normal into one where they were exceptional. Even America’s poorest are rich by historic standards.
The only way out of mass poverty is industrialization. Every rich country is industrial. All the poorest ones are not. We can only understand the global warming debate by keeping this basic truth in mind. If the governments of China and India seem uncooperative, that’s because they understand a lesson many Americans seem to have forgotten — that their first and greatest task is to overcome mass poverty. Only when their citizens can stay alive will they take an interest in overcoming the side effects of industry.
In India, life expectancy in 1960 was just a little over 42 years. Today it’s 66. The figures for China are even more dramatic, with life expectancy increasing in those years from 36 to nearly 76. Both countries have been industrializing rapidly, and there’s a close cause-and-effect relationship between more productivity and longer life. Millions who would have died owe their lives to a system that burns fossil fuels and pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It’s a paradox but it’s also true.
About 5 p.m. Wednesday, I was with my girlfriend and my sister in my back yard when a pickup truck pulled up to the vacant house for sale next to us. As we still were talking, a second pickup truck pulled into the back yard of the vacant house. This guy who got out of the second truck started using racial slurs toward us, saying, and I quote, “N——, God these N——! Here.”
As he was saying this, he rolled his eyes at us and proceeded to go inside the residence. I began to become angry and could not believe what I, my girlfriend and sister had just witnessed.
The businessman, who is white, came back outside and walked toward the three of us, saying he spoke out of anger but that the anger was not directed at us. He apologized.
But I myself was just dumbfounded and outraged at why someone would do such an obscene thing. I am mad and outraged at what would cause him to call me, my girlfriend and sister such names and say such things. I don’t even know the guy and I have done nothing to this guy.
I was simply talking in my back yard to two friends. Even though he apologized, I am outraged by the fact that I was just minding my own business and he would take the time out his day to say these obscene and hurtful things.
THE ISSUE: National Hunting and Fishing Day; OUR OPINION: Region should be appreciated as outdoors paradise
In few places in America are hunting and fishing more popular than Orangeburg County and around The T&D Region.
If guest speakers in our community aren’t talking about trips here to hunt dove or quail, the state Department of Natural Resources annually reports our region at or near the top again in scoring for deer racks. We’re a leading hunting place in a leading hunting state.
Fishing is much the same. One has only to mention the Santee Cooper lakes here and elsewhere to know how big the sport is.
Hunting and fishing are understood here. While there are opponents of both sports and abusers of both in our community, we don’t need a poll to tell us most people understand that the most avid of hunters and fishermen are among our leading environmentalists and conservationists.
WASHINGTON — President Obama began his presidency with a call for a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” He will end it as a reluctant but unapologetic warrior, using U.S. military force to smash Islamic extremists and the “network of death” they have planted at the heart of the Middle East.
The speech Obama gave in Cairo in 2009 and the address he gave at the United Nations on Wednesday can be seen as bookends. In the heady months after his election, Obama hoped to be remembered as the president who forged a new peace between the Western and Islamic worlds. Now, while not completely abandoning that hope, Obama says there first must be war against jihadist “killers” who understand no language but “the language of force.”
The passages of Obama’s U.N. address dealing with the horrors committed by the Islamic State — the self-styled jihadist “caliphate” now being blasted by U.S. airstrikes — were strikingly vivid, especially in light of reports that the president wrote much of the speech himself.
“This group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “Mothers, sisters, daughters have been subjected to rape as a weapon of war. Innocent children have been gunned down. Bodies have been dumped in mass graves. Religious minorities have been starved to death. In the most horrific crimes imaginable, innocent human beings have been beheaded, with videos of the atrocity distributed to shock the conscience of the world.”
The next lines echoed the Manichaean worldview we so often heard from George W. Bush: “No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning — no negotiation — with this brand of evil.”
In the early morning of Sept. 23, American air forces — joined by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Jordan — began striking targets in Syria as part of ongoing operations against the terrorist group ISIS. Nearly a week earlier, Sept 17, marked the U.S. Air Force’s 67th anniversary as a separate service. It remains the world’s foremost military instrument capable of striking globally in support of American national security interests.
At the conclusion of World War II, the Air Force achieved status as a separate and distinctive military service in the afterglow of two irradiated Japanese cities. This testified to the Air Force’s potential for military decisiveness. With the United States plunged almost immediately into a global Cold War, the Strategic Air Command provided a credible deterrent upon which American foreign policy rested for a half century. With the end of the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command morphed into Air Combat Command, a potent force better suited to a multi-polar and still very dangerous world.
Since 1947, air-power advocates have often exaggerated its potential to end wars quickly by striking critical industrial, military and political infrastructures. President John F. Kennedy had pursued a vigorous foreign policy to bear any burden, support any friend and oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty. President Lyndon Johnson’s priorities focused domestically on instituting the Great Society and implementing a vigorous civil-rights agenda aimed at salvaging the Democratic Party’s political hold on Southern states. The domestic context also included a resurgent conservative challenge in the 1964 elections. Meanwhile, the specter of global conflict hovered over decisions concerning military forces. Johnson, fearing a blunder leading to a larger confrontation with Russia or China, bragged that U.S. pilots couldn’t bomb an outhouse in North Vietnam without his approval.
During the 1964-65 Washington debates over Vietnam, Army and Marine generals warned that a war in Southeast Asia would last years and involve hundreds of thousands of soldiers with the potential for thousands of casualties. As an alternative, air-power leaders offered quick results from a limited application of force by attacking 94 targets in a 28-day aerial campaign with minimal losses due to the still-primitive condition of North Vietnamese aerial defenses.
Theoretically, under the right circumstances, air power can render decisive results. Speaking at the Air Force Academy in the late 1980s, former Air Force chief of staff and architect of the Strategic Air Command, Gen. Curtis LeMay, declared a concerted air-power campaign against North Vietnam could have ended the war “in any two-week period you care to name.”
Hanging upside down in a seat belt, you get a whole new perspective on the world. I sort of felt like a bat hanging from the ceiling of a cave.
For what seemed like eternity, I hung there in the eerie silence thinking about, of all things, how surprised I was to see the wristwatch I thought I had lost forever suddenly appear on the ceiling of my truck. It was lying there with an assortment of ink pens and change that once hid under the driver’s seat.
It takes a person a few minutes to get her bearings when she suddenly finds herself dangling upside down from her seat belt. Only a few seconds before, I had been heading back to Bamberg so I could get in the darkroom to develop the photo for the next edition of the newspaper.
I was passing through the intersection in the middle of the town, only a couple of blocks from the school where I had taken the photo when — BAM! — something crashed into my truck, rolling it twice. The truck seemed to roll in slow motion. I remember wondering if I was going to die, and I began to pray to God to let me live. Then the truck came to rest upside down.
As I was slowly beginning to grasp what had happened, I began to hear voices. They could have been the voices of angels and, in a way, they were. The sweet voices were coming from the upside down townspeople in Ehrhardt who were coming to my rescue.
THE ISSUE: S.C. first in lowest spending per mile; OUR OPINION: Making improvements that people say they want will be costly
Here’s some news South Carolinians may find confusing: The state is ranked fourth best in the country for the overall performance and cost-effectiveness of its highways.
The latest Annual Highway Report by the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation is based on the most spending and performance data submitted by state highway agencies to the federal government
South Carolina’s highways rank 49th in fatality rate, 22nd in the percentage of deficient bridges, 13th in rural interstate pavement condition, 15th in urban interstate pavement condition and 29th in urban interstate congestion.
On spending, South Carolina ranks first in total disbursements per mile and sixth in administrative disbursements per mile. To be clear, the top rank means the state’s total spending per mile is the lowest in the country. Combine that with such a small state having the fourth largest system in the country and the confusion ends: Our system is in desperate need of new dollars.
THE ISSUE: Threat to tigers in the wild; OUR OPINION: Clemson using identity to further worthwhile cause
The adage is that news is made when the man bites a dog, not vice versa.
When it comes to creatures such as tigers (as with sharks), it is in news when humans are “bitten” because of the potentially lethal force involved.
Such is the case on Tuesday with news from New Delhi, India, about a man climbing into a zoo enclosure housing a white tiger and being killed by the animal. The man went into the tiger’s domain and the tiger behaved naturally, observers said of what happened.
“The tiger was just being a tiger,” said Belinda Wright, who has spent years working to protect India’s dwindling numbers of wild tigers. “An unusual object fell into his domain. ... He’s a wild animal in captivity. It is certainly not the tiger’s fault.”