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Noble Column: The New South Carolina Part 1: The People

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

This is the first of a three-part series on how new demographics, economy and politics trends are changing South Carolina.

There is a New South Carolina being born.

You can see evidence of it in a recent Time Magazine special issue featuring the 100 Most Influential. There are four South Carolinians in the magazine – two were chosen among the 100 Most Influential and two were chosen to write short profiles. Who they are and what they wrote says a lot about our state and who we are becoming – the New South Carolina.

How were they chosen? Editor Nancy Gibbs said, “One way or the other they each embody a breakthrough; they broke the rules, broke the record, broke the silence, broke the boundaries to reveal what we’re capable of… each in their own way have lessons to teach.”

So who are the four South Carolinians and what are the lessons they have to teach us?

The first is Gov. Nikki Haley, a 21st Century South Carolinian.  When she was chosen for the list it got lots of media attention, as well it should. She was pictured seated at a big desk surrounded by a crowd of former governors, politicians and church people as she held a pen to sign the bill to take down the Confederate flag.

Haley was born in Barnwell to Indian immigrant parents. She grew up different – not white not black – with all the challenges that brought. From childhood she worked in the family clothing business and she graduated from Clemson with a degree in accounting. Her husband has a military career as an officer and they have two beautiful children.

She’s got a wicked sense of humor, she’s smart and gritty and she made her way to success in the bare knuckle world of South Carolina politics. She was born a Sheik, is now a member of the Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church and is a Republican.

Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote the tribute to Haley. After citing the challenges she and our state faced with the Emanuel and Walter Scott shootings and the 1,000 year flood, he said “…Gov. Haley led with determination, grace and compassion… From shaking up the system to providing kindness and understanding to the individuals and families affected by these tragedies, she put a face on South Carolina that we are all extremely proud of.”

Graham is a traditional South Carolinian; his family roots are in South Carolina. He was born in Central to a hard scrabble family and from childhood he worked in the family business – a restaurant-bar-pool hall-liquor store named the Sanitary Café. Both of his parents died when he was young; he went to USC Law School and had a military career as an officer. He has a deep and wide streak of ‘don’t tread on me… you can go straight to Hell’ South Carolina red neck independence.

He’s got a wicked sense of humor, he’s smart, gritty and he made his own way to success in the bare knuckle world of South Carolina and national politics. He’s single, a member of the Corinth Baptist Church and is a Republican.

The second 21st Century South Carolinian featured in the magazine is probably the most famous South Carolinian that you have never heard of – at least if you are over 35 years old. He’s actor, writer and stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari. He was pictured standing in a white suit against a white background holding a bouquet of wilted purple flowers.

Ansari was born in Columbia into a Muslim family from India; his father was a doctor. He grew up in Bennettsville and went to the S.C. Governor’s School for Science and Math. Like so many bright young folks, he left South Carolina and landed at New York University’s Stern School of Business where he majored in marketing.

He began doing stand-up comedy in New York and his big break came when he stared in NBC’s comedy Parks and Recreation from 2009–2015. Now he plays Dev Shah on the Netflix series Master of None; Ansari created, writes, and stars in the show. The New York Times called it “the year’s best comedy straight out of the gate.” In 2015, he wrote a hot best-selling book, Modern Romance: An Investigation. He was deeply moved by the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 and he performed a benefit concert for the victims and their families.

He’s got a wicked sense of humor, he’s smart, gritty and he made his own way to success in the bare knuckle world of big time television and media. He’s single, was raised a Muslim and is now an atheist and is a Democrat.

The forth South Carolinian in the magazine is traditional South Carolinian Jennifer Pinckney, wife of Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was killed in the Emanuel Nine shooting. She is African American and her family roots are in South Carolina; she grew up in the rural area around Aiken and went to the University of South Carolina.

She has survived the unspeakable horrors of the shooting and its continuing aftermath with the upmost grace and dignity that all South Carolina is extremely proud of. She has two beautiful children, is a member of Emanuel AME Church and she is a Democrat.

Pinckney was chosen to write the profile of none other than Pres. Barack Obama. She wrote lovingly of Obama’s similarities with her husband – “… two God-fearing charismatic black men dedicated to public service and to their wives and two daughters. They were both voices for the voiceless who got up with smiles when they got knocked down.”

These four are the faces and voices of The New South Carolina. They are a combination of traditional and 21st Century South Carolinians – one white male, two of Indian descent, two women, and one African American.

They all share South Carolina values, all are compassionate people, all have their own ideas about religion and politics and all share in the making of The New South Carolina.

There is much of traditional South Carolina that is special, important and good. We need to recognize, protect and nourish it. It’s who we are.

There is much of 21st Century South Carolina that is special, important and good. We need to recognize, protect and nourish it. It’s who we are.

Welcome to The New South Carolina. It’s who we are.

Phil Noble has a technology firm in Charleston and writes a weekly column for the SC Press Association.  www.PhilNoble.com    phil@philnoble.com

Monuments to Politicians Are Everywhere in South Carolina

By PHILLIP CEASE for TheNerve.org
September 26, 2016

Take a trip down any major highway, back road, or waterway and you’ll likely come across the Senator So-and-So Interchange or the Representative So-and-So Frontage Road. State lawmakers love to name roads and structures after each other, with the result that every other road or building in the state has one of their names on it.

In Washington, these little vanity projects are called “Monuments to Me.” How many are there in South Carolina? I recently discovered that former Senator John C Land III has the distinct privilege of having not one but two boat landings bearing his name – one on Lake Marion and one on Lake Moultrie.* Who knows how many fishing trips have been delayed or thwarted by hapless fishermen showing up at the wrong John C. Land III boat landing. Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Criticism only causes more negativity

Dr. William Holland

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Like most of you, I watch, listen and read my share of the daily news and I am noticing a perplexing phenomenon that is happening right before our very eyes concerning the upcoming election. Sadly, we realize that all campaigns are composed of arguing and trading nasty rhetoric for the purpose of making the opponent look bad, but I want us to think for a moment about the spirit of deception not only among the political parties but in the voters as well.

When I refer to being deceived, you notice I call it a “spirit” and that’s because it’s a character trait from the dark-side. God’s attributes are honesty, purity, holiness and being absolutely truthful in every way, and since He is light, He exposes the darkness and nothing is hidden from Him. On the other side of the fence we find fraud, corruption, lying, trickery, double-crossing and, well you get the point. Christians realize the human race is void of their own righteousness but also within the realm of spiritual warfare there is strong influence of evil devoted to deceiving humanity. So, whether the masses are following the blindness within their own heart, or they are agreeing with the father of all lies, deception ruins individuals and its underlying intention is to destroy the world.

I was reading an opinion column the other day and to be honest, it was much of the same old negativity that is being dumped out on a daily basis. They proceeded to explain why a certain candidate was not worthy to hold the office of President and I kept thinking, I hope this has a little more substance because so far they are talking about half of the American population. After more scalding personal insults, the article concluded by condemning this candidate for saying hateful things about others. Hmm…talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Hypocrisy is a result of deception and personal verbal attacks never help anything but instead it creates more frustration and chaos. Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous and damaging words stir up anger.”

Criticizing one another is the easiest thing in the world to do, it takes no talent or intellect. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Have you noticed, the one who screams the loudest at a ball game is many times someone who never played? Likewise, when it comes to politics, it’s a shame that all the spectators who claim to know exactly how to run this country do not even know what the stripes on our flag represent. Now is the time when both parties need to stop wasting everyone’s time with endless attacks of hatred and strife and start revealing their strategies to unify and help our nation. It’s also time we the people stop criticizing the candidates and start focusing our energy and passion into asking God to open their eyes so they might see His truth and accomplish His will. To be honest, I’m still waiting for any candidate to declare they are asking for God’s help!

Like you, I am concerned about this country, but it goes much deeper than who is elected to sit in the Oval Office. Actually, our modern political gridlock is not the center of our crisis but merely a result of a deeper spiritual problem. The most important issue has never been which party is in control, but for the nation to repent and turn away from sin. When there is more darkness within the human conscience than the light of God’s truth, the default state of mind will automatically operate in deception. However, when Christ is allowed to intervene, His light allows the people to discern what is wrong and stimulates spiritual conviction to choose what is right. In Second Chronicles 7:14, the Lord promises to hear our prayers and heal our land – but only if we humble ourselves and seek His face.

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com

“No Compromise” by Stuart Neiman

"No Compromise" by Stuart Neiman

“No Compromise” by Stuart Neiman

My Brain on NASCAR: Picking a winner

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

For those who love to argue, e.g. lawyers, and teenagers, the sports world is literally a dream come true.

If I added up the minutes I have spent arguing with my cousin Rob about the relative merits of the Redskins versus the Cowboys (for some unknown reason we have a lone Dallas fan in the family), I seriously think it could add up to a year or more. And don’t even get me started on college basketball.

When it comes to sports, everyone’s an expert.

A lot of people have asked me about my predictions for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and in turn, I have asked a lot of people about theirs. The consensus opinion seems to be that the 2016 title is far from a lock, or too close to call.

But many writers who cover the sport, or talk about it on a personal level, have had the courage to make their predictions, so I guess I’ll go ahead and join the fray.

The 16 drivers still eligible to win the championship this year are, in order of the driver standings as of September 23: Martin Truex, Jr; Brad Keselowski; Kyle Busch; Denny Hamlin; Joey Logano; Chase Elliott; Matt Kenseth; Jimmie Johnson; Carl Edwards; Kurt Busch; Jamie McMurray; Tony Stewart; Austin Dillon; Kevin Harvick; Kyle Larson; and Chris Buescher.

Neither Austin Dillon nor Chase Elliott has won a race so far this year, but they both did pretty well. Dillon earned four top-five finishes, while Elliott racked up eight top-fives.

I’m going to include Kyle Larson in this group, with one win and seven top fives, along with Chris Buescher, who did pick up a win in a fog-shortened race at Pocono Speedway.

These are our up-and-comers, but none of them has enough experience to maintain the level of competition it takes to win a title. Their time will come, but not this year.

The weeding-out process gets tougher at this point, where I have to say goodbye to Jamie McMurray, who with one top five and no wins during the regular season got into the Chase based on consistency. Joey Logano scored a win and 11 top fives, but something keeps telling me he may be a little too “impulsive” to go all the way just yet. Give him another a year or two.

2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch has a win and six top fives on his 2016 resume so far, but with the exception of 2014 Champion Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing seems to have slipped a notch this season, so I’m going to rule Kurt out … along with his boss. I say this with the utmost reluctance, because I have been a diehard Tony Stewart shipper since the day he climbed behind the wheel of a stock car. He did win a race this year, but I don’t believe that winning a fourth championship is in the cards for Smoke, although a future spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame definitely is.

Eight down; eight to go.

Jimmie Johnson hasn’t looked a lot like the driver we have come to know and love – well, some people love him – this season. Granted he has scored two wins and seven top fives, but the days when the mere mention of his name could set detractors to hissing seem to be coming to an end. He’s still great, but title number seven is probably not in the cards this year.

The entire Joe Gibbs Racing roster is still on the table. It’s unlikely they will comprise NASCAR’s Final Four, so someone has to go. 2003 series champion Matt Kenseth earned his title based on consistency, but we all know that wins are everything. He has been to Victory Lane twice this season, but I don’t think he will make it to the head table in Las Vegas.

Unfortunately, the same applies to Carl Edwards, who also posted two wins in 2016, but will likely have to wait a little while longer for the big trophy and the bigger check. And while it’s always kind of a sucker move to bet against Kevin Harvick (two wins), issues with his pit crew and a tendency toward emotional outbursts may work against him as he attempts to win his second championship.

That leaves us with Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin, the top four after Chase race number one. Truex and Hamlin have three wins each so far this season, while 2012 Champion Keselowski and Kyle Busch, the reigning title holder, have four each.

Hamlin has been a lot of fun to watch over the years, treating us to exciting winning streaks, biting sarcasm, and incredible comebacks from injuries, among other things. In the end, temper and emotion may get the best of him, so I’m crossing him off the list.

Although I really, REALLY don’t want to say this, I’m doing the same with Truex. He started the Chase with a victory, and win or lose, he is the hands-down best story of the year, but these are the playoffs, and I don’t feel that his team can sustain that stellar performance level for nine more weeks. Bummer.

Welcome to the spot between a rock and a hard place, the choice between Keselowski and Kyle Busch. I love to watch these guys race. They are risk-takers, but they are skilled ones; we’ve all seen Busch accomplish things from behind the wheel that seemed almost superhuman. They are also temperamental and retaliatory types, which has created some harrowing and dangerous on-track incidents over the years.

It’s a coin toss, but I’m tossing Keselowski out. Overall I feel that Busch has a few more tricks in his toolbox, and he has proven over and over again that no matter where you put him, or what you put him in, he will end up a winner, and we just may see that happen again come November.

Only time will tell.

Noble Column: Solutions to the arrogance, incompetence and corruption of S.C. politics as usual

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Nothing is more infuriating than seeing another news story about the arrogance, incompetence or corruption that characterizes politics as usual in South Carolina. There were three such stories in only the last few weeks.

We should all be ‘mad as hell.’

What’s most infuriating is that none of this needs to happen and there are a few very simple solutions to preventing many of these problems or fixing them once they occur.

Today, what passes for politics as usual in South Carolina prevents the needed reform.

Let’s begin with the arrogance. In the last few weeks, a Post and Courier investigation revealed that over the last five years, the Clemson and Medical University of South Carolina Board of Directors spend vast sums of money on themselves for fancy dinners, luxury hotel rooms, vintage wine and other personal indulgences.

Clemson’s Board spent the most, nearly $750,000. The expenses listed include entertaining themselves to the tune of over $100,000 at Clemson’s out-of-state football games and dinners in expensive restaurants ranging from $3,000 to $7,000 each.

Though the aggregate number for Clemson was big, the reports did not detail all the specific expenditures as they did for MUSC. While the Clemson expenses are embarrassing, the MUSC expenses are simply outrageous. The MUSC Board spent $560,000 on themselves and another $290,000 on the Board of Visitors for a total of $850,000.

The specifics are as bad as the totals. To name just a few: a $37,430 Christmas banquet with $5,600 for cocktails at Charleston Place, a $6,400 farewell dinner described as ‘unapologetically indulgent’ and multiple $160 a bottle Barolo wines – Italy’s ‘king of wines’ – and on and on it goes.

There are 16 Board members so their expenses average out to $35,000 per person. Usually, the state limits members of state boards to a $35 daily allowance and $25 a day for meals and standard mileage.

And how did the MUSC Board Chair respond when confronted with this scandal? He said there would be “a review of the board spending policies…” How about just refunding the money?

Next is incompetence. In 1988, the Feds mandated that within ten years every state must develop a computerized system to track wages of ‘dead beat dads’ who refuse to pay their alimony and child support. By 2008, SC was the only state that had not complied and now – 26 years after the original requirement – we still don’t have it done. As a result, we have been socked with $135 million in fines (some have been paid by the vendors) on top of the $145 million that has been spent on a system that does not work.

According to one recent published report, “the cost over the next six fiscal years to finally bring this system operational stands at roughly $200 million.” That’s a total of $400 million – if, and it’s a big if, they manage to get it finished on time and on budget. Don’t hold your breath.

There has been repeated speculation that the reasons some of the vendors were chosen to (not) perform these contracts had as much more to do with their connections to powerful legislators and special interest as with their technological competence. Remember, 49 others states got it right a long time ago.

Now let’s move on to corruption. One of the basic revenue sources that funds the expenses of state government is the sales tax. For the last year that data is available, we got $2.4 billion from sales tax but we lost more than $3 billion in sales tax exemption…. i.e. we gave away more than we got.

South Carolina has 213 sales and service tax exemptions and we exempt 62% of all items sold in our state from taxation, leaving only 38% of items bought and sold subject to tax. Put another way, we have a Swiss cheese sales tax system – there’s more holes than cheese.

Now most would argue that some of these exemptions like those on food and medicine are a good thing but the real problem are the many special interest tax exemptions. In 2010, for example, a commission appointed by the Republicans recommended repealing, amending or modifying more than 60 tax exemptions, which cut state revenues by $3 billion a year. Legislators never acted on most of those recommendations.

And virtually every one of these exemptions were the result of a paid special interest lobbyist working their way on the legislature to get the special tax break for their client. Add in the related corruption of special interest campaign contributions, consulting contracts and legal retainers to legislators and… well you get the picture. It’s called politics as usual.

So, what are the solutions? No reforms will solve all the problems but let me begin with four simple, specific suggestions:

  1. Require all members of state boards and commissions to pay their own travel, food and lodging expenses above $2,000 a year. Remember, it’s supposed to be about public service not public profit.
  2. Eliminate special interest Political Action Committee contributions to all candidate and political parties and party organizations.
  3. Require legislators to release the names of all their clients that do business with state and local government and how much they are paid by these clients.
  4. Require legislators to abstain from doing business with state and local government. You can be a legislator or you can do business with state and local government – pick one, you shouldn’t do both.

Will the legislature pass a tough ethics reform bill with these requirements? Does the expression ‘when pigs fly’ come to mind?

But, individually legislators could voluntarily make these disclosures and agree to these limitations. They could do it tomorrow – if they wanted to. Will any legislators do this…think pigs again.

The types of usual arrogance, incompetence and corruption as detailed above are – well, the usual arrogance, incompetence and corruption that plagues Statehouse politics.

It does not have to be this way.

Phil Noble runs a technology firm in Charleston and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association.  www.PhilNoble.com   phil@philnoble.com

Living on Purpose: Destiny awaits those who will persevere

Dr. William Holland

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Have you ever made plans to do something but it did not work out? I’m sure that most of us have. Disappointment is not a stranger, especially to those who are ambitious. In fact, they say the more a person tries to accomplish something, the more failures they will encounter. This does not mean that all the doors are locked forever, but included within the process of advancement, it’s necessary to learn self-control while experiencing frustration and distress. Sometimes our diligence brings success while on other occasions we discover that our imaginations are not going to be fulfilled. Even though this is deeply painful, it does not imply that we should go to bed and cover up our head. On the contrary! We do not have time to waste with feeling sorry for ourselves because there is much work to do.

This next intersection is where many people cannot seem to figure out which way to go. Instead of making a choice and proceeding, they end up building their house right in the middle of the road and living there. A crossroad is a place of decision that allows us to keep moving. Staying active even if we miss the mark is better than lying on the couch and hoping that opportunity will fall out of the ceiling. Being honest with ourselves and trusting God can adjust our view and this will go a long way toward aligning our attitude. Number 1: Sometimes our failures are trying to reveal the truth that our dreams are not a part of God’s original plan for our life. So, if our vision is not God’s will, we can simply change it into one that is. Number 2: If we are convinced we are on the right track but still waiting for our breakthrough, then let us patiently keep pressing forward in faith and keep our eye on the prize.

We have heard the story told many times about one of the most successful inventors of all time, Thomas Edison. It is said that he was responsible for over one thousand patents and became famous for his ideas but he is equally respected for his perseverance and his perspective on failure. It is true that humans have variations when it comes to mental “wiring” and in Edison’s brain there was a bulldog determination that had the ability to view consistent failure as simply another stepping stone on the pathway to success. It is true that most people after several valiant attempts, are more than willing to throw in the towel but unlike the average person, it seemed that disappointment did not quench his burning passion to succeed. With several years of research and experimenting, it took 10,000 failures before Edison finally perfected the light-bulb. However, rather than accepting failure the other 9,999 times, he is quoted as saying, “I did not fail, I merely discovered 9,999 ways that do not work!”

Without going into a history lesson, actually there were several more people involved with inventing the light-bulb, but my point is that he made up his mind and was simply never going to give up. Today, there may be something you are sensing in your heart that God has called you to do and I want to encourage you that it can be done! Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Is there anything that God cannot accomplish through you? One of the most common disappointments I hear is from people who are not happy with their life and the answer is always that we have a choice to change or remain the same. Whatever is keeping you from trying is the very obstacle that only you can deal with. To succeed one must come to the point where fear cannot prevent and discouragement cannot persuade. Michael Jordan, considered to be one of the best basketball players of all time missed over half the shots he attempted but the important fact to remember is that he was never afraid to shoot! Destiny awaits those who will persevere.

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com

“Maybe Cut It Off” from The Times and Democrat

"Maybe Cut It Off" from The Times and Democrat

“Maybe Cut It Off” from The Times and Democrat

“Transparency” from The Times and Democrat

“Transparency” from The Times and Democrat

“Transparency” from The Times and Democrat

“Chronic Problems” from The Times and Democrat

“Chronic Problems” from The Times and Democrat

“Chronic Problems” from The Times and Democrat

“False Rumors” by Stuart Neiman

“False Rumors” by Stuart Neiman

“False Rumors” by Stuart Neiman

Denny Hamlin Wins Epic Federated Auto Parts 400; Claims Third Series Victory At Richmond

By: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com

Denny Hamlin claimed the final victory of the regular season in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Hamlin started on the pole for the race and led 189 laps on his way to Victory Lane. The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota, a Virginia native, took home his third victory at Richmond International Raceway. With 29 career wins, he moves up to 25th on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series all-time wins list.

“It was great,” Hamlin said. “I’ll tell you, our cars were really running well. Wheels and the whole group just gave me a great car. Really got it tuned in there the last half of the race. Just good restarts, finally everything just kind of worked well for us all day. I didn’t think staying out was the right thing to do, but great call there, and actually I got this from one of our Toyota guests on his birthday day today.”

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet, started and finished in the second position on Saturday night. This was Larson’s third top-three finish in a row, after claiming his first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Michigan International Speedway last month.

“It felt like a video game on rookie mode, having fresh tires like that,” Larson said. “That was fun. Our Target car was probably a eighth to tenth car most of the race. I was really good on short runs. I could pass a few cars every restart which really helped us. It seemed like we could never get the race going there at the end of the race, which helped us. Fun, fun last restart, get all the way to second. I thought I could get to fourth, but second was a little bit better, so that was great. I had a blast there during the last couple laps.”

Last weekend’s winner, Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the No. 78 Tanger Outlets Toyota, claimed the last podium position with a third-place finish at Richmond International Raceway. Truex, Jr. led 193 laps over the course of the 407 total laps. Following the race, Truex Jr.’s car failed post-race tech in the Laser Inspection Station.

“I think it all started with him (Denny Hamlin) getting out of the pits in front of us and it translated into all those cautions coming out of those short runs,” Truex Jr. said. “It seemed like I would feel like I just got even with him or typically all night I was off a little bit from a few of those guys, for five or six laps on restarts, and then I’d maintain and then I would start to reel them in and I could pass them within 10 laps. Just never got that opportunity. The caution would come out every time before it happened, and then at the end, I don’t know at the end, I think I used my tires up having to get back by the 18 (Kyle Busch) and the 42 (Kyle Larson) that had passed me on restarts. All in all, it was an awesome night for us.”

Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano completed the top-10.

With a record-breaking 16 cautions for 89 laps in Saturday night’s event, the final race of the regular season was tough-and-go for many teams trying to battle their way into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

On lap 364, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, who had made contact at multiple points in the race, collided entering Turn 3. Stewart dove to the low line ahead of Newman, making hard contact with the hood of Newman’s car. The collision collected multiple cars, including Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Chris Buescher, Brian Scott, AJ Allmendinger and Dylan Lupton. Stewart’s car came to a halt and caught fire along the frontstretch. The pile-up brought out the red flag, freezing the race for 20 minutes and 23 seconds.

“Tony Stewart ran across my nose twice in one lap,” Newman said. “The second one cost him and me. It’s unfortunate. He has got issues. We all know he’s got issues. He proved it again tonight. I was clearly inside of him getting into Turn 1, he cut across my nose, I was on the brakes, on the apron and I hit him coming off of Turn 2, but only because I got loose, I was on the apron. The next thing I know he is driving across my nose on the back straightaway because he’s Tony Stewart and he thinks he owns everything. It’s unfortunate, but shouldn’t expect anything less from him.”

Newman, who was battling for a Chase position, failed to make it into the top-16 in the points standings, and will miss out on the 2016 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Stewart had already locked himself into a position to race for the championship with a win at Sonoma Raceway.

While the leaders were about to take the white flag, the caution was brought out by the No. 7 of Regan Smith, after he made hard contact with the outside wall. The caution set up a Green-White-Checkered finish for the field in NASCAR Overtime. After taking the green flag with two laps remaining, Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Ford EcoBoost Ford, was spun and made contact with the inside wall before being shuffled to the bottom of the track. The caution was not thrown and the field continued to battle as the race was able to finish under green flag conditions.

With a chance at entering the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on the line, teams battled for every position they could in the extended race. Twelve drivers had already claimed their spots in the Chase through wins over the regular season, including: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex, Jr., Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch. Racing to get into the Chase, were four drivers: Chris Buescher, who had a win but had to finish top-30 in points; Chase Elliott; Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray.

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 on Sunday, September 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET. Tune-in to the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) for coverage of the first race of the Round of 16.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Rookies Chase Elliott And Chris Buescher Battle Adversity In Richmond For Chase Seed

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

RICHMOND, Va. – Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher became the first Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders on Saturday to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup since Denny Hamlin did so in 2006.

Heading into the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night, Elliott’s and Buescher’s seasons were on the line. Elliott had the best scenario out of all the Chase bubble drivers, but he wasn’t absolutely secured. As for Buescher, he entered the weekend 30th in the championship standings, and with a win at Pocono Raceway back in August, he had to leave Richmond within the top-30.

Elliott started 34th towards the back of the pack, but he ran inside the top-25 for the majority of race. As the Georgia native was making his way through the pack, he brought out the caution on lap 96 after pounding the outside wall in Turn 1, following a cut left front tire.

“Very lucky our tire cut down when it did, was able to get up against the wall and kind of get slowed down before I had a big hit,” Elliott said. “That was just luck, I guess, and how that worked out. Like I said, we’ll take it, and we’ve got to capitalize on it now.”

The 20-year old’s tire was cut after contact with four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon. Ryan Newman got into the back of Gordon as they dove into Turn 1. Gordon then slid up the track, making contact with Elliott. Not long after, Elliott’s tire went down as he entered Turn 1. The No. 24 3M/American Red Cross Chevrolet SS pounded the outside wall, and the car began to bottom out as Elliott limped around the track. Although Elliott was fairly safe to making the Chase entering the race, the cut tire and hard contact with the outside wall could’ve been catastrophic to his chances.

“I just think we have to first off be thankful that we were able to get in tonight after the night we had,” Elliott said. “I can’t thank my guys for working as hard as they did. I’ve never had to go through ‑‑ I’m sure they haven’t, either, all the stuff we went through tonight, so hats off to them, fixing our car multiple times. I appreciate our 3M NAPA group for doing that and we’re excited about these next 10. We have to go in with the mentality that we can give ourselves a chance at Homestead, and if not then we should have let the next one in.”

Chase Elliott battled his way into the top-20, and he received the free pass, placing him back on the lead lap during the seventh caution of the night on lap 266. Elliott was able to salvage a 19th place finish, and he will now be seeded 14th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Elliott kicked off the season with the pole in the Daytona 500, but on lap 19 of the prestigious race, he crashed on the frontstretch. The 37th place finish put Elliott into a huge hole, but by the 11th race of the season at Kansas Speedway in May, he made his way into the top-10 in points, where he stayed until mid-July, when three back-to-back-to-back finishes outside of the top-30 dropped him to 11th in the championship standings. This past weekend’s race at Richmond International Raceway was just another obstacle for the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet SS team, but now that they’ve made their way into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, all of the hard work has begun to pay off.

As for Front Row Motorsports’ Chris Buescher, he already had a win, but finishing out the regular season inside the top-30 was no easy task. On Saturday, Buescher entered the race only nine points ahead of David Ragan, who held the 31st position in the championship standings. Buescher went a lap down early in the Federated Auto Parts 400, but ironically, it was the caution that came out for Chase Elliott that earned Buescher the free pass.

Like Elliott, Buescher made his way into the top-25 early in the race. Buescher also had his share of drama in the race as well. On lap 364, the caution came out for a crash involving eight cars in Turn 3. The accident began when Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart made contact entering Turn 3. Both drivers crashed, collecting Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Brian Scott, AJ Allmendinger, Dylan Lupton and Chris Buescher. As the cars scattered in the turn, Buescher almost made his way through unscathed, but hit right front bounced off of Newman’s car.

“It was a crazy race,” Buescher said. “I can’t believe how many cautions we had. We got involved in one of the accidents, had a tire go down, just a very eventful day. Just so proud to be here.”

Buescher was involved in the wreck, but on the flip side for the driver of the No. 34 CSX – Play it Safe Ford Fusion, Ragan’s car was heavily damaged, and he was unable to continue. In the end, Buescher finished 24th, only 21 points ahead of David Ragan. Buescher will be seeded 13th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup beginning this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

“Now we talk a different strategy,” Buescher said. “We get a lot of things changing now. Just really cool to be a part of it at this point. We look at this first round, and we want to make it past that round. We want to move through the Chase, and then we can reevaluate from there. If we can keep going farther and improve our program each and every weekend, that’s always going to be what we’re aiming to do. That’s the plan. We’ve got to do and try and progress through the Chase and see what we can pull off.”

The start of Chris Buescher’s rookie season was much different than Elliott’s. The Texas native won the rained shortened race at Pocono Raceway in August, giving him a chance at making the Chase, but even after the victory, he was only 31st in the standings. Two races later at Bristol Motor Speedway, an impressive fifth place finish propelled Buescher into the top-30. The next three races at Michigan, Darlington and Richmond were all about survival for the team.

Now that the two drivers are competing for the championship, it’ll be interesting to see how they perform in the final 10 races of the season. Elliott is piloting a top-notch Hendrick Motorsports car, and Buescher is the defending NASCAR XFINITY Series champion. If the two drivers can survive the opening Round of 16, then there’s a chance that one, if not both of them can capture a competitive finish at Talladega Superspeedway, catapulting them into the Round of 8. At that point into the Chase, the heat will be on to see who will be one of the Championship 4 as the series visits Homestead-Miami Speedway for the final race of the 2016 season in November.

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins on Sunday, September 18 at Chicagoland Speedway. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 12:30 p.m. ET.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

“Excuses” from The Times and Democrat

"Excuses" from The Times and Democrat

“Excuses” from The Times and Democrat

“NFL Protest” from The Times and Democrat

"NFL Protest" from The Times and Democrat

“NFL Protest” from The Times and Democrat

“Help List” from The Times and Democrat

"Help List" from The Times and Democrat

“Help List” from The Times and Democrat

“My Honey” by Stuart Neiman

"My Honey" by Stuart Neiman

“My Honey” by Stuart Neiman

How Others See Us: S.C. Must Start Expecting More of Itself

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Scottish poet Robert Burns once wrote, “To see ourselves as others see us! It would from many a blunder free us.”

Dear Mr. Noble:

I read your article in The Lancaster News, about S.C. needing to expect more of itself, with great interest.  I am from Massachusetts, and I married a woman from Greenville.  Her father’s family is deeply rooted in Kershaw.  I visit the family’s pine tree farm in rural Lancaster County once or twice a year.  In the ten years I’ve been going down there, I’ve struggled to understand the residents and the culture of South Carolina.  People are unbelievably polite, yet you can’t get a straight answer out of anyone.  From a New Englander’s perspective, I find everybody has a wall up, so you can never know what a person is really thinking.  Polite, but fairly suspicious.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand the people of this land, including learning about the local history, but can’t seem to get a fix on Southerners.  I read a fascinating book about the white settlement of the Waxhaws area, called “World of Toil and Strife: Community Transformation in Backcountry South Carolina, 1750-1805” by Peter Moore, and in that book I think I finally got some understanding.

The settlers and residents of the Waxhaws have had a history of wars that I think shows its effect on them to this day.  The Scotch Irish settlers were deliberately settled near Indian towns, to be a buffer between the Native Americans and the plantations.  During the American Revolution, one side or another would blow through and burn down the farmhouses of loyalists or rebel supporters.  I can’t quite imagine what the Civil War experience was like from a Southern perspective.  As a northerner, we think nothing much of either side, just that a lot of people died in a war about slavery.  We never learned much about Sherman’s March.

So, along with this idea that South Carolinians are polite but suspicious and guarded, perhaps from their own historical experiences, I came to another theory recently, that South Carolinians must think all government agencies are useless and corrupt, because they don’t have much experience with good government.  I often hear it said in the South that government is useless and corrupt and wasteful, etc.  I have never understood the anger and complete lack of faith behind these words.  Such disrespect, summed up by Joe Wilson’s “you lie” comment (or substitute any in the long list of embarrassing remarks by South Carolina Republicans).  When South Carolina’s government was found to have stored SSN’s and addresses of nearly every resident in an unencrypted form on a website that was hacked, Nikki Haley, instead of taking responsibility, blamed the Feds, because they required this information from the state.

I began to think that this state of mind may exist because, in South Carolina, the government really is poor.  The roads are in horrible shape.  I’ve been reading the reports on deficient bridges.  When I see road work being done on rural roads, the same antique methods are used, similar to what I’ve seen done on rural roads in Ireland.  Nobody really thinks government can solve problems, or innovate, so government never rises to the occasion.  Government really is broken, and corrupt, so therefore, people must think this is the case everywhere with all governments.

I live in Somerville, Mass.  We have an amazing mayor, Joe Curtatone.  He does astounding things, and has taken a poor city, with low tax base and a dull government (and some corruption), and turned it into a success story, a model of efficient and responsive city government.  But that experience seems less uncommon here in New England.  We have corruption like everybody else – a familiar fault in our species – but I think we generally have a belief that our government can help us and the society we live in.  Even if the last three Massachusetts Speakers of the House (Democrats) were each convicted of felony crimes.

You are absolutely correct that the citizens need to expect more, and demand more, from their politicians, but this requires that they have faith in the institution of government, despite ineffectual leadership and outright corruption.  How do you get there?  One way would be to circulate your column far and wide!  South Carolina is more than just a state that lost a Civil War, as you point out.  Instead of proudly wearing T-shirts from the Dixie Republic in Traveler’s Rest, its citizens need to think of themselves and their state’s future – their future.  Let’s hope!

Well, thanks again for such a great article.  If I’ve offended you by getting something wrong, please let me know.

Name withheld by request
Somerville, Massachusetts

 

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. www.PhilNoble.com    phil@philnoble.com

Living on Purpose: Learning to obey and follow God’s way

Dr. William Holland

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Obedience to God has always been the foundation to living a peaceful and successful life. We can go all the way back to Adam and Eve and see that following instructions is crucially important if we desire to be happy and live under the umbrella of His blessings. Of all the voices in our life, I am sure we can agree His voice is the most essential. When someone becomes a follower of Jesus, they learn how their life has been purchased and redeemed which means they are technically no longer their own master. The life of independence and making one’s own decisions are now a thing of the past because they have agreed to allow God to become their Lord and lead and guide them according to His plans and ideas. Truly, one of the most significant questions that everyone must answer within their spiritual journey is; when will I finally learn to trust Him and do exactly what He says?

I remember back in the mid-eighties, I was writing songs and recording albums about the Christian life. I traveled as a guitar playing evangelists, singing and speaking God’s Word and one Friday afternoon, a pastor from Eastern Kentucky called and wanted to know if I would come and hold a service for a group of young people the next day. He said they would provide lunch and were hoping that I could make it so I hesitantly accepted. The reason for my reluctance was because I had planned on working overtime the next day and needed extra finances.

I was troubled the rest of the evening and as it became dark, I was seriously contemplating calling back and canceling because I was just not sure I had made the right decision. I stepped out into the backyard and looked into the night sky, waiting in the quiet night air, straining my ears to hear His still small voice. I told the Lord I had planned to work and make the extra money but I would willingly go to Prestonburg if this was what He wanted. After a while I felt a peace in my soul and sensed a calm reassurance that He wanted me to share His message and for me to simply trust Him. I came back in and told my wife we were going to obey – in faith.

The next morning my wife and I along with our son Joshua who was about three at the time, started on our way in a thunderstorm where it rained so hard we could hardly see. When we finally found the church, we discovered it was on top of a mountain and yes, it was a winding and steep mud road. I was a little discouraged but we pressed on. I remember it being very humid as I was ministering and they had opened the doors and windows to let in some air. Sweat was pouring down my face and while I was singing, a man with long hair and a beard came through the back door in wheelchair and just stared at me. The service went great and as I was greeting people and getting ready to eat a sandwich, this man rolled up to me and told me how much he had enjoyed it. He handed me a folded piece of paper and it looked like a check so I just stuck it in my shirt pocket and continued the conversation. My son was pulling on my pants saying he needed to use the bathroom and I excused myself to take him. While I was waiting for my son, I remembered the check and hoped it might be enough to help with my fuel. I opened it up and it was for two thousand dollars which was a lot of money thirty years ago and the perfect amount to take care of all our needs that we had been so worried about.

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian outreach minister and chaplain. Each week, look for his faith column, “LIVING ON PURPOSE” to find thought provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com

Noble Column: The Politics of Trickle Down Neglect in S.C.

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

The true test of political leadership is about making the hard, long-term and right decision instead of the easy, short term and wrong decision.

Said differently, do our political leaders genuinely work to solve problems or do they just kick the can down the road?

Unfortunately for our state, kicking the can down the road has been the unofficial sport of the Statehouse crowd for nearly a generation. Can kicking results from politicians who refuse to look down the road further than the next election. For too many, making tough decisions is just not in their nature.

The irony is that most politicians face few serious challenges to re-election. In some election years, over 90% of incumbents who seek re-election win. Their campaign fundraising is easy in that they have a couple of fundraisers in Columbia and the special interest groups ante up. The vast majority of funds raised by most members of the legislature is from the Statehouse special interest folks and not their constituents back home. And, once they build up a big war chest, they are less likely to be challenged either in a primary or a general election.

So let’s talk specifics, what does this can kicking look like in concrete terms?

First is education. I don’t think there is anyone in this state who would stand up and say “South Carolina has good schools.” The simple truth is our schools are failing. Yes, there are some good schools (even great schools) and yes there are a lots of dedicated teachers (some are great teachers) and yes many of our school buildings are new and modern (some are great) – but overall our state’s schools are failing our children.

There are a multitude of reasons why the schools are failing but the principle reason is simply long-term neglect. Back when Richard Riley was Governor from 1978-86, South Carolina was known as one of the leading education reform states in the country. People came from far and wide to study what we were doing. (Full Disclosure: I serve as President of the SC New Democrats and Riley was our founder). But, since then our governors have generally seemed to just care less and less about education – not all, but most.

During the recent recession, South Carolina’s legislators cut both K-12 and higher education spending by a greater percentage than any state in the union. And, just this week when Gov. Haley said there would be a budget shortfall of $200 million, she proposed to cut education spending by $100 million.

Now a lot of our education problems won’t be solved by money alone, but ask any teacher who reaches into their pocket each month (and most do) to buy needed schools supplies for their students if they support these cuts.

Schools don’t deteriorate in a few years and test scores don’t fall over night – it’s about long-term neglect.

Second is roads. Let me put this succinctly, we have among the worst roads in the country. A recent study found “throughout South Carolina, 46% of major roads and highways are in poor condition, a significant increase from 2008 when 32% of the state’s major roads were rated in poor condition. 20% of South Carolina’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete … (this) costs each S.C. driver as much as $1,250 per year … or $3 billion statewide.”

And yet the legislature refuses to support sensible solutions like raising the gas tax to fix the roads – our gas tax is among the lowest in the country. And, the problem with roads is not just one of money. Most objective observers would say that the Department of Transportation should be renamed the Department of Corruption – and it’s been that way for a very long time.

Roads don’t deteriorate in a few years and systemic corruption does not develop overnight – it’s about long-term neglect.

Third is pension. There are today 558,000 former state employees, teachers and police officers who depend on their state retirement to put food on the table, buy their medicines and sustain them in their daily life. And, their pension fund is $20 billion in the hole – and the hole is getting deeper. Just last year alone, the hole got $1.4 billion deeper.

Several years back, an analysis found that we were paying exorbitant fees to fund managers to manage the money, among the highest of any state, and they gave us about the lowest return on investment of any state. This can largely be explained in one word: corruption.

Sen. Kevin Bryan, chairman of a new committee charged with figuring out what to do called the unfunded pensions “the state’s biggest problem of the decade.”

Pension funds don’t deteriorate in a few years and deficits don’t grow overnight – it’s about long-term neglect.

When Bryan says pensions are the state’s biggest problem of the decade, he’s right – and he’s wrong. Yes, pensions are the biggest problem – and education and roads are the biggest problem as well.

We have three huge ‘problems of the decade’ – and we have to solve them all at once.

So, back to my opening line – the true test of political leadership is about making the hard, long-term and right decision instead of the easy, short term and wrong decision.

Our political leaders have failed this test – and the question is what will they do now?

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. www.PhilNoble.com   phil@philnoble.com