Archive for category Columns

A Fondness For Old Gas Pumps

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Something about old gas pumps pleases me. I think of them as elder statesmen, as senior citizens left behind by the rush of time itself. When I see a proud old pump, its dispensing days behind it, I feel a surge of pride tinged by sadness. Veterans of another era, they have been put out to pasture.

I have a long history with gas pumps, and I’m sure you do too. Ever wondered how many hours you’ve spent by a gas pump filling your cars over the years? The answer is plenty. Ever worked at a place where one duty was to pump gas? I have.

My first job, outside of working for Dad, was at Goolsby’s store on Georgia Highway 47 bagging groceries, stocking shelves, and pumping gas. I liked the way the old pumps clicked off the increments as gasoline flowed into cars and trucks. I liked, too, the glass bubbles where you saw the gas swirling. Note that this old pump has instructions that read, “Glass must be full before delivery.” And who can forget the old pumps with glass globes atop them. The old pumps amount to works of art; consider them sculptures. I’ve had a fondness for old gas pumps ever since.

Only once did pumping gas concern me. Down at Goolsby’s Store I pumped regular into a car whose owner wanted “high test.” The way he reacted to receiving regular made me think I had mixed nitro and glycerin and that car would explode when he started it up. Of course all was fine.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Last race

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Well, it’s finally here; the last race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. Every year I complain about the length of the season, and then every year I’m sad to see it end. When that checkered flag waves at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19, Jimmie Johnson’s championship reign will end – temporarily – and he will be replaced by either one of three former champions, or one shiny new one.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out, since we all know that in racing, as in real life, one small error can make a huge difference. For example, isn’t it strange – and kind of terrifying – how just one word can land you in a big pile of trouble, regret and, in my recent experience, embarrassment?

In this case, the word in question is “late.” The bad news is that in last week’s column I described legendary comedian Jackie Mason as being late … and I didn’t mean he was tardy. The extremely good news is that I was wrong. Fortunately for comedy lovers – and especially fortunate for Mr. Mason – he is very much alive, and as honest as ever.

“The key is that I’m always relevant,” he said. “Some of these comedians have nothing to say. They don’t have any ideas … so they give you a whole series of swear words and it’s really just a way for them to get themselves out of trouble when they can’t come up with anything. They’re irrelevant and ridiculous.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Let us exalt His name together

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family but many times I become distracted from the intended purpose. I also confess that sadly between football, conversations, and pumpkin pie there is not always a lot mentioned about being thankful. Unfortunately, many have forgotten or maybe they have never known the history of human suffering that is associated with the Pilgrims. It’s been recorded that the new colony were focused on giving God thanks for His blessings and protection as William Bradford is quoted. “Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. Thus, out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of God have all the praise.” Clearly, the pilgrims of the Plymouth colony worshiped God and appreciated Him for all they had, but today the meaning of Thanksgiving is almost completely lost under an endless avalanche of media hype, sales advertisements, marketing gimmicks and aggressive commercialism.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Can’t Fight the Fever

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

NASCAR’s playoffs – which I’m still stubbornly calling the Chase just because I think it’s a better name — are nearly finished, and I’m not feeling so great.

A friend once told me she is unable to enjoy the last day of a vacation because she worries about going back home. This feeling is totally understandable and not all that uncommon. In fact, I’m guilty of exactly the same thing, but it hits me earlier in the week.

Around Day 4 of a week-long trip, I start preparing for the return journey, which I affectionately refer to as “the ordeal.” First, I make sure my important documents, stashed in the hotel safe and locked with a combination that I check and recheck a half dozen times each day, really are safe. Then I do it again; you know, just to be on the “safe” side.

Midway through the week, with plenty of fun still left to be had, I inevitably open my mouth and chirp, “So, where do you want to go next year?” I realize this throws a wet blanket on even the sunniest of days, but I can’t help myself.

I review which items I have worn so far and regretfully pack them away. I know I will enjoy some of them again next year, in a different locale or with another style of shoe, but for now I have to set it all behind me and move on to the next day at the beach, the next night on the town … or the next race. This worry-wart syndrome is by no means exclusive to vacationing fashionistas. Among NASCAR fans, it is a veritable epidemic with no apparent cure.

We wait all season long for the Chase to begin. Endless discussion of points and paint schemes and potential performances of drivers with new teams begins long before the green flag drops on the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. The 10 races that comprise the championship battle manifest themselves as nothing more than a low-grade fever at this point, a slight tickle in the back of the throat. Still, we know we’re definitely coming down with something.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Train up a child and continue praying

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Every child, whether they turned out wonderful or less than desirable, is to some degree the product of a mom and dad. It’s true that some parents have invested very little enthusiasm into their children’s development, but generally speaking, mothers and fathers dearly love their kids and want the best for them. Unfortunately, things do not always go as planned and many wayward children have caused their family much worry, sadness, and disappointment. Spectators are quick to blame the parents, but I do not believe that all liability can be laid at their doorstep. Moms and dads have the perfect opportunity to present constructive thinking and a sense of right and wrong into their children’s mind and spirit within the formative years, however this does not always guarantee the child will continue in the direction they were pointed. It’s a common fact; sometimes good parents have children that are rebellious, uncontrollable, and are an embarrassing shame.

Children are like sponges when it comes to learning and are very curious about what they observe, which gives every parent the duel opportunity to not only be the instructors but also the responsibility to demonstrate what they believe in front of them. We must also include that children are vulnerable to outside influences and will choose their own way. So, how important is it to pray over our children? Many experts agree that the first six years in a child’s life is his or her most important years of mental, emotional and spiritual development. It’s believed that the foundation that is laid within the individual’s conscience during this crucial period of time becomes the decision filter they will use for the rest of their life.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Country Club Like No Other

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Down near Yemassee is a country club like no other. Harold’s Country Club proclaims that it is “in the middle of nowhere but close to everywhere.” That’s true. You’ll find it off Highway 21 at 97 Highway, 17A. I did when I pulled up in front of a faded sign that’s seen its share of Lowcountry sunlight. Nonetheless it’s colorful. A grill full of ribs, chicken, and a huge steak fill one side, a frosty mug of beer the other, and in the middle a graphic: a circle around a bespectacled Harold and words: “Harold’s Country Club … Bar & Grille, Est. 1973.” The likeness of Harold Peeples looks like a sheriff from a tough county in South Georgia.

At the right, front corner of the building stands an old Fire Chief gas pump. Gives the place character. I walked up to the front glass door with a sky blue paper note stuck to the glass: “Benton’s Fresh Boiled Peanuts.” You could smell salt in the air.

As I stepped inside rules caught my eye. “You are required to pay for every steak you order.” “Please clear table.” In the poolroom, a list served notice that improper behavior would not be tolerated. “No Smoking.” “No Hitting Sticks On Tables.” “No Sitting On Pool Tables.” And then in lowercase: “follow the rules or you will be barred from playing pool.” Over near the bar some advice: “Win or lose, stick with booze.”

Locals heeded that advice. At 3:30 in the afternoon a cast of characters sat around the bar. “Like a scene from Andy of Mayberry,” I mused. On the flatscreen at the bar’s end a NASCAR race was underway. No one paid it any mind. At the bar’s opposite end, a giant plastic parrot on a perch watched the race. Well, it appeared to.

Harold’s is family friendly. That doesn’t preclude a poster in the poolroom of a woman with fabulous legs promoting a vampire movie, Bordello of Blood “Where customers come in, but they don’t come out.”

Well, no worries, you’ll come out of Harold’s Country Club in good shape but know that when you walk in you are stepping in high cotton. A touch of fame attends this venerable old way station. Celebrities have trod here. Harold left us in 2003 but in his day he had a special friendship with movie producer Joel Silver who owns nearby Auldbrass Plantation of Frank Lloyd Wright fame. Joel often stopped by on Sundays to have coffee with Harold.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Letting go of hatred and unforgiveness

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

How much grace does it take to love our enemies? Well, that is a good question. Tragedies are happening all around us and it’s true we are very heart-broken and alarmed, but what if one day our family is harmed? I admit that I do not always have the character of Christ when I’m being threatened or provoked to anger. Many times, my first reaction is to retaliate because that’s a strong part of our human nature. I realize that people need to be punished for their terrible acts of violence but the problem within our soul is the temptation to hold unforgiveness against them. Life is filled with challenges and situations that attempt to lure us into bad attitudes but for the serious Christian, it’s the forgiveness of Christ that can teach us and lead us into the peace that passes all understanding.

When we fall into a negative mind-set, our joy (which is our spiritual strength), evaporates and we become weak and discouraged. Anger and the desire for revenge can emotionally, mentally and spiritually hold us in the bondage of misery. If we allow Ourselves to become weighed down with animosity, our relationship with God suffers which is why it’s so important to not become entangled with resentment and hatred. To those around us, everything may seem fine but inside we are full of anger and contempt. The battle we choose to fight in our conscience is something we want to do because we feel we are justified in our hatred. However, if we continue to embrace the desire for vengeance we are allowing the darkness of sin to control our thoughts and hold our soul hostage to contempt. Sadly, many would rather live in agony, brooding thoughts of hostility instead of releasing them to God and allowing Him to execute justice His way.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The People’s Champion

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

There’s a giant billboard currently on display at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) proclaiming that “Chase Elliott is the People’s Champion.”

This creative – and largely unsubstantiated, based on the fact that Elliott has won zero NASCAR Cup Series races to date — piece of advertising is the track’s response to a heated post-race exchange between Elliott and Denny Hamlin at Martinsville on Oct 29. Hamlin wrecked Elliott from the lead with two laps remaining, earning the ire of fans and allowing Kyle Busch to claim the checkered flag and a guaranteed spot in the championship final four in the process.

That was quite the triple whammy. Good job, Hamlin.

While fans were probably still trying to exit Martinsville’s parking lots after the race, TMS went to work, taking advantage of this fledgling rivalry. Despite the events at the historic track nicknamed “the Paper Clip,” Hamlin and Elliott remained in the top eight and are still eligible to win the championship. Cue the fireworks; things are only going to get better from here.

TMS’ decision to fan the competitive flames by bestowing the somewhat grandiose “People’s Champion” title on Elliott, in addition to being a fantastic case of deliberate pot-stirring, is really kind of brilliant on a number of levels. Hamlin has earned the reputation of being rather volatile during his racing career, so I’m guessing that seeing his much less experienced competitor being so highly touted isn’t sitting very well.

And Elliott, while wildly popular with fans, still has a lot to prove on the track … winning a race would be a good place to start. Duh.

Taking advantage of controversy to drive ticket sales is hardly a new strategy. Almost two decades ago, the late Jim Hunter, who then served as president of Darlington Raceway, took masterful advantage of what could have been a discouraging situation for a track promoter. Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Mercy is the result of humility

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

It’s easy to be suspicious and though it’s wrong, unfortunately it’s common to judge unfairly and display negative emotions toward others. If we could only remember that many people are going through some type of painful trial and difficulty which usually explains their unusual behavior. I am regularly involved with those who are struggling with serious problems and it changes your perspective when you know the circumstances. As Christians we are called to be a light that represents the nature of Jesus and this includes patience, mercy, long-suffering, forgiveness, and love. This is so that everyone can see Christ within us and hopefully inspire them to learn more about who He is. When we act ugly and rude, we are actually turning others away from the message of grace that we proclaim is the spiritual compass the lost world desperately needs. You have probably noticed that people around you are carefully observing your every move which by the way is having a direct impact on what they think about you and God. It’s true, how we live reveals much more about us than even what we say.

It would be wonderful if we could know what is going on within the lives of those all around us but most of the time we can hardly deal with our own problems. I published a book last year called “A lifestyle of worship” that is about developing a spiritual awareness of God’s presence and how this discernment can drastically change the way we see life. I am convinced we will not grow in our compassion for people until we draw nearer to God. It only makes sense the closer we are to Him the more concern we will have for others. When I’m focused and trying to do God’s will, I am more humble and have no desire to judge others. It’s when we are distant from Him and filled with arrogance that we gravitate toward negative and critical reactions. Rick Warren is quoted, “God’s mercy to us is the motivation for showing mercy to others. Remember, you will never be asked to forgive someone else more than God has forgiven you.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living On Purpose: Fond memories with my Grandparents

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

An older man was telling a story the other day about his grandparents and it caused me to think back to when I was a kid and the relationship I had with my mamaw and papaw. Now that I’m older, I realize that grandparents look forward to spoiling their grandchildren and are usually just as excited. When I was growing up, my dad and his dad worked together in their own construction business and every so often in the summer, my papaw would take me home with him. Sometimes, I would stay for a whole week and those adventures were some of my most cherished childhood memories. On the way to the country, it was not uncommon for me to become car sick because the roads were so curvy, but hanging my head out the window did bring some relief. When we arrived, I would feel weak and my grandmother would say I looked as white as a sheet, but with her administering every remedy she could think of, it didn’t take long for me to recover. You see, I was the first child and the first grandchild, so with being the center of attention you could say I was a little spoiled. They were always squeezing me and kissing me so much that I could hardly breathe, but it’s a good feeling to know you are loved.

To a boy of seven or eight years old, houses and yards seem huge, but have you noticed when you grow up how everything seems to shrink? I drove by a few years ago and hardly recognized the place. It was so tiny and even the land which seemed like a vast plantation to me back then was actually more like five acres. As a kid, their house looked beautiful to me but it was really just an old farmhouse that my papaw had tried to patch and piece together. The front yard seemed as big as a football field and I remember one day my papaw wanted to see if he could beat me in a foot race from the driveway to the garden. I can still feel the hot summer air against my face while out of the corner of my eye I could see his bare feet flying past me. I slowed down and started laughing as I knew he was not feeling well. He had a debilitating kidney disease and I discovered later that even though he did not say anything that day, the overexertion caused him a lot of pain and we never did that again. He did it because he loved me and just wanted to play and have some fun with me. In behind the house, the yard steeply dropped off into what many people call a holler, and if you were willing to climb down a steep cliff, you would find yourself on the bank of the Kentucky river. Across the road were fields of tall grass as far as you could see sprinkled with patches of large trees and if you were real quiet sometimes you could hear them majestically sway in the wind along with the lonely sound of a cawing crow. Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Simply Awesome

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Like different types of music, conversations can have their own distinctive rhythm.

I learned this from experience. In any given verbal exchange, the moment the other person knows you have an affiliation with NASCAR – no matter how small — the same two things invariably happen.

First comes the inevitable driver question. There’s a small amount of wiggle room on this one, but ninety-nine percent of the time this blank is filled in with, “Do you know Dale Jr.?”

The next level in this two-step process has a bit more verbal Spandex, stretching to fit the speaker’s dimensions. Usually it’s a suggestion. You know it’s coming, because it’s always prefaced by the query, “You know what NASCAR needs to do?”

I don’t know that, actually, but folks don’t mind one bit offering their opinions to help me figure it out. They have informed me that NASCAR should remove all road courses from the schedule; do away with the current scoring system in favor of “the guy with the most points at the end of the season is the champion, just like the old days” system; throw all the restrictor plates into a box and sell them off for scrap metal; and ban Kyle Busch from racing. In any series. Ever.

There is something to be said for consistency. If you’re forced to address something on a regular basis, it can turn anyone, regardless of age or gender, into a Boy Scout: always prepared.

The problem with thinking that you’re “always” anything, though, is that you never really are. So a couple of days ago, when someone asked me, “You know what NASCAR needs to do?” I mentally readied my defense of road course racing and said, “Nope. Tell me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Learning to read our heavenly blueprint

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I recently spent an afternoon with a young man as he was sharing about his search for personal direction. In his attempt to discover what type of life God wants for him, he’s hoping that he will eventually find happiness and contentment. I truly respect anyone (especially a teenager) that is trying to do the right thing and willing to invest the time it takes to search until they find it. I remember a few years ago reading about another young man named Guiseppe, who was also trying to find his place in the world. His parents had come to America from Sicily and his father was from a long line of fisherman (no pun intended). His father was very proud and considered it an honor to carry on this profession and he expected all of his sons to continue just as all the generations before. The problem was that even though he wanted to please his father, the Sea and the smells of dead fish made Guiseppe nauseated. Instead of this type of work, he had a passion to play sports. Sadly, throughout his teenage years, his father was very disappointed and constantly declared Guiseppe was lazy and would grow up to be good-for- nothing. Nevertheless, in spite of the emotional hurt and pain, he continued with his vision and surprisingly ended up more successful than anyone in his family could have ever dreamed. You may have heard of him, his full name was Guiseppe Joe Dimaggio.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The SV Talladega

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

On Sunday, October 15, NASCAR Cup Series racing will return to Talladega, and we’re already wondering what will happen this time around.

It’s no secret that Steven Spielberg is a great cinematic tease, a master of the slow build, giving audiences little glimpses and hints of a monster before finally hitting them with the thing all at once.

In the classic thriller Jaws, audiences didn’t get the full effect of the terrifying (well, it was terrifying for the 1970s, anyhow) shark until well into the film, when our unlikely trio of hunters — police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled World War II vet Quint (Robert Shaw) — least expected it.

The mixture of shock, humor and dread that followed encapsulated everything that’s great about the movie, and Scheider played it perfectly, famously ad-libbing the oft-quoted line, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” without dropping his cigarette.

Nobody told NASCAR founder and CEO Bill France Sr. that he needed a bigger racetrack, but he was determined to build one anyway. His masterpiece, Daytona International Speedway (DIS), was going like gangbusters and had inspired the construction of several new speedways, effectively pushing traditional dirt tracks aside in favor of bigger, faster and more lucrative venues.

But DIS didn’t quite satisfy Mr. France. He had a “go west, young man” type of vision: to make NASCAR a national sport with a racing schedule that stretched from coast to coast. He wanted a bigger, faster racetrack, and in 1968, ground was officially broken on Talladega Superspeedway, now widely considered NASCAR’s biggest, fastest and most dangerous track.

The project had its issues, of course. The land was located smack in the middle of nowhere, and the two-lane country roads one took to get there were, let’s just say … rustic.  Read the rest of this entry »

How Long South Carolina, How Long….?

Phil Noble

EDITOR’S NOTE: MR. NOBLE ANNOUNCED HIS CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR ON OCT. 10. THIS WILL BE MR. NOBLE’S LAST COLUMN UNTIL THE ELECTION IS OVER OR HE WITHDRAWS HIS CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR.

By Phil Noble

In 1934, Gov. Ibra Blackwood signed legislation to create the South Carolina Public Service Authority that become known as Santee Cooper. This state-owned enterprise grew to become the state’s largest power producer serving all 46 counties in the state. Thanks to a special law passed by the legislature in 2007 that essentially eliminated all financial risk, Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric and Gas tried to build two nuclear reactors at a cost of $9 billion.

Today, the project is dead – mired in scandal and corruption. Estimates are the failed project will cost the average South Carolina family of four $9,000 that they will be paying for 60 years. The disgraced president of Santee Cooper (a state employee) left with a $16 million golden parachute and the five senior executives of SCE&G paid themselves $21 million in ‘performance bonuses’ during the time the project was failing.

How long South Carolina, how long must we wait for honest power companies that fairly serve the people of South Carolina and not themselves – and an honest and independent legislature that we want, need and deserve?

In 1993, 39 largely rural school districts in what became known as the Corridor of Shame, filed suit seeking to have the courts rule that their students were being denied an adequate education and asked the courts to mandate that the legislature provided a reasonable education. In 2014 – 21 years later – the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the students were not receiving a ‘minimally adequate’ education and mandated that the state legislature enact measures to remedy the inequities.

Today, three years after the court’s ruling, the legislature has done virtually nothing and recently U.S. News and World Report ranked South Carolina’s schools the worst of any of the 50 states.

How long South Carolina, how long must our children wait to receive the type of education they want, need and deserve?  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Choosing to give our stress to God

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

It may seem insensitive, but the idea of stress being an issue we can control is worth considering. Many within the medical world agree that stress is not a monster that forces us to be afraid but rather our worries originate as a response from within our own mind. Thus, if we can learn how to re-wire the way we think, we can begin to walk in victory over the stress which we blame for ruining our happiness. In some way or another, we have heard about going to our “happy place” a seemingly magical location where we can take shelter from whatever is threatening our security. But just what is this well-intentioned advice really talking about? It can mean different things to different people but to many, it’s a place in the deepest part of our conscience where we can commune with God and embrace the safety and joy of His presence. I remember a movie where a young girl was experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks whenever a stressful situation would present itself. Her family would lovingly remind her to go to her happy place, and she would close her eyes and begin to control her breathing. As she blocked out what was happening around her and focused on comforting thoughts, she would eventually calm down and return to a peaceful state of being. As Christians, we are reminded that Jesus is a type of strong tower where those who are afraid can run into Him and be safe. Psalm 91:1 says, “They who dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God in Him will I trust.” If we stop and think, we realize that everyone has a choice to either emotionally wrestle with their problems or immediately give them over to God and let Him take care of them. If you notice when we become entangled with these external circumstances and allow them to hold us in the bondage of stress, we are consumed with hopelessness and can hardly focus on anything else. However, when we embrace God’s truth by faith and allow Him to carry them for us, our confidence is renewed as we press forward in the freedom of His peace which passes all understanding.  Read the rest of this entry »

NASCAR presents … Snark Tank

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

It’s October, and only seven races remain in NASCAR’s playoffs. (On a side note, I’m still stymied regarding the reason why NASCAR changed the name of its post-season competition. The Chase was a pretty cool moniker, once you got used to it. The Playoffs, well, that name is just done to death.)

Anyhow, yet another random act of tweeting during the race weekend at Dover reminded me once again of one of my favorite things about NASCAR: When the going gets tough, the tough get snarky.

Although stock car racing has seen its share of physical altercations over the years – Cale Yarborough vs. the Allisons is always the first and best one that comes to mind – in recent years most of the competitors seem content to engage in wars of words rather than the harsher, and more painful, alternative.

Let’s take Kurt Busch and Jimmy Spencer, for example. It’s common knowledge that these two were never the best of buddies, but after an on-track incident in 2002 at The Brickyard, when Spencer wrecked Busch, taking him out of the race, Kurt expressed the opinion that Spencer was nothing but a “decrepit old has-been.” He later softened up and changed his mind, deciding instead that Spencer was actually a “never-was.” Ouch.

Another great (and by great I mean silly) incident was the verbal scuffle between Boris Said and Greg Biffle at Watkins Glen in 2011. Said felt that Biffle was racing him too aggressively for someone who was multiple laps down. Things got testy after the race when Boris really got out of line, going on a verbal tirade that included calling The Biff an “unprofessional little scaredy-cat” and “a chump.”

Wow. Call the censors. Language that salty simply can’t be tolerated on national television. There are kids watching.  Read the rest of this entry »

Corruption is Crippling South Carolina

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

The ever deepening and broadening corruption scandal that is unfolding daily across the front pages of newspapers is crippling our state.

It is crippling us in ways big and small – seen and unseen.

It does not have to be this way.

Let’s begin with an ever so brief summary of the scandals by putting things in two different but interrelated (slop) buckets: the legislature and the utilities.

First the legislature. We see daily how the legislature has kept all the money and all the power in the Statehouse where they can auction it off to the highest bidder. By all accounts, the biggest auctioneer is Richard Quinn and Associates and his legislator son, Rick Quinn, who keep a generous cut of the auction price for themselves.

The folks on the ‘selling’ side are Quinn’s clients who include: Gov. Henry McMaster, Sen. Lindsay Graham, Rep. Joe Wilson, Attorney General Alan Wilson, Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Superintendent to Education Molly Spearman, Pres. Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell, and more than three dozen members of the legislature and other elected politicians in our state’s Congressional Delegation in Washington.

On the ‘buying’ side are those that benefit from the favorable actions of the politicians and include: South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee Cooper (more on them later), The State Ports Authority, University of South Carolina, S.C. Trial Lawyers Association, a variety of health care companies and dozens of others.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: The way we think defines who we are

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

When we talk about life being filled with possibilities, we usually imagine someone stepping into our situation and helping us achieve our goals. It’s easy to fall into the habit of hoping that another person will provide what we need or figure out the solutions to our problems. True, there are times when we can depend on the generosity of others but God has given each of us a sound mind and unlimited potential if we can only learn how to activate these internal resources. A common spiritual principal is to pray and wait, and there is validity in that process, but I have also learned through the years that many times God is actually waiting on us to take the initiative to press forward. When we place our trust in Him and allow Him to change our attitudes into a positive force, that which seems unattainable moves into the area of possibility. Romans 12:2 points out that we have a responsibility to be transformed by the renewing of our mind in order that we may prove and demonstrate God’s perfect will. We must allow the Lord to change our mind from fear to faith as learning to believe is the basic foundation for success. If we focus on being the best we can be, good things will come but if we expect the worse, we release the powers of negativity that can diminish our joy and hope. With every situation we can respond with a positive confidence or a negative skepticism and these mental choices will always determine whether we live in spiritual peace or emotional misery.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Tom Reichert

By Dr. Tom Reichert, Dean of the USC College of Information and Communications

Fake news. It’s a phrase that became the most memorable takeaway from Election 2016 and the political hangover that still resonates today. It should come as no surprise that Oxford Dictionaries proclaimed the 2016 word of the year to be “post-truth,” an appropriate adjective for an era in which some news consumers are less concerned with whether or not something is true than they are with how it makes them feel.

Like buzzwords, the term “fake news” has been tossed around indiscriminately. No one is immune from the accusation. Even rigorously investigated stories from The New York Times and The Washington Post have been labeled outright falsehoods by consumers who’d prefer news that confirms their own biases. But fake news does not originate from newspapers. In reality, it’s often generated by companies looking for an easy profit, pushed out through social media newsfeeds and fanned by extremists and foreign governments.

While fake news isn’t a new phenomenon – just look at the political forward emails that made the rounds 20 years ago – America’s shift toward online news sources has made consumers susceptible to dangerous misinformation. A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that more than 60 percent of U.S. adults get news from social media. That trend might seem innocuous, but when one news story can go viral and ignite a cultural movement in a matter of minutes, truth matters.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult for consumers to differentiate between what’s true and what’s not. Compounding the problem are politicians and other powerful figures who seek to discredit honest journalism. Regardless, newspapers are not the ones peddling fake news. Open a local or national newspaper and what you see is the product of trained journalists bringing you carefully sourced stories about crime, government, business, sports and issues of public interest. These stories impact our lives. Most journalists are trained at universities and programs like our School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. For 94 years, we have been teaching students to write, make sense of data, interview, and dig deep to hold those with our public trust accountable. The only agenda our students and alumni possess is a passion for the profession and a sense of service for our country.  Read the rest of this entry »

For South Carolina and Democrats, Crisis is Opportunity

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble and Roy Willey

In the Chinese language, the symbol is the same for crisis and opportunity. For both the state of South Carolina and for the Democratic Party – this truly is a time of both crisis and opportunity.

First our state’s crisis. Anyone who reads a newspaper knows our state is at the beginning of a political corruption and ethics crisis the likes of which we have not seen in a generation. And, add to this the huge related $9 billion nuclear scandal with SCANA, Santee Cooper and the Legislature.

There is not enough space in this column (or dozens of columns) to detail what’s happening, but it’s bad and deep. This corruption is a disease, it’s infectious and it’s spreading across our state. It is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

So far, the scandal has seen the indictment and/or conviction of Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, former Majority Leaders of the House Jim Merrill and Rick Quinn and Senator John Courson. Perhaps dozens of others are lying awake at night with the cold sweats. There will surely be many more indictments to come and the questions of their guilt or innocence will be played out in the media for months and years to come.

Next, the Democrats’ crisis. It is no exaggeration to say that the Democratic Party in South Carolina is on life support. A Democrat has not won a majority in a statewide election since 2006. Democrats have lost seven of the last eight governors races and the last win was in 1998. Since 2000, the Republicans have had a majority in the both the state house and senate, and since 2004 Republicans have held both US Senate seats and all but one of the Congressional seats.  Read the rest of this entry »