Archive for category Columns

Living on Purpose: Protecting our spiritual sensitivity

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

A couple of months ago, we brought a new English Bulldog puppy into our home and he has been such a wonderful addition to our family. When we bought him, they told us he was 8 weeks old, but after finally receiving his papers from the breeder, we noticed he was actually only 6 weeks old at the time. He was a healthy bruiser and we would laugh at him stumbling and being uncoordinated, but now we realize it was just because he was such a young baby. We would sit on the front porch in the evenings and watch him investigate around the front yard. He was so happy as he would roll around in the grass and explore his new surroundings, but when he would hear a loud commotion or a noisy car passing by, it would scare him and he would come running to us. After a while, he gradually became more used to the traffic sounds and lawn mowers and eventually it did not bother him at all. As I was spending time with him one evening, it dawned on me that our conscience is also sensitive to what we see, hear, and think about and how each of us can choose to remain tender-hearted or we can become calloused and indifferent. When we are confronted with sin, maybe we should consider running to God for protection.

When we consider our spiritual life, we have been called to guard and protect our conscience from the darkness of iniquity. A huge part of accepting Jesus as the Lord of our life is to respect His holiness and for us likewise to attempt to live a pure life. You see, the idea is that God hates anything that resembles sin and we are also to feel the same way no matter how tempting and desirable it may seem. Unfortunately, many individuals are convinced this concept is old fashioned and not really that important. Have you noticed lately that people in general do not want to hear about self-discipline or messages that contain topics about changing the way we think and live? In our defense, we consider this intrusion as meddling and no one’s business, including our creator. The Bible defines this as conviction which are the uncomfortable feelings that we feel whenever we know we are doing something wrong but love it too much to stop. I can relate to this daily battle because I struggle just like everyone else. Our old human nature is opposed to virtuous living and is always willing to fight for its independence.  Read the rest of this entry »

South Carolina’s Nuclear Scandal, ‘Legal’ Bribery and Silence

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

With each new revelation, our state’s ongoing scandal of SCANA, Santee Cooper and their political dealing is providing new insights into how thoroughly corrupt our state’s political system has become.

What we are learning is really disgusting – and it’s getting worse.

With the Watergate scandal, we learned that the best way to uncover and understand a political scandal is to ‘follow the money.’

When we follow the money in our state’s utilities scandal, we find that Gov. McMaster, the Legislature and our Congressional Delegation are essentially wholly owned subsidiaries of the utilities. The utilities have ‘bought’ the support or silence of these politicians who are supposed to be looking out for the people’s interest.

This week, The State did a devastating story that followed the money. Here’s a summary of what they found:

  • SCANA has donated at least $1.25 million to S.C. lawmakers and statewide candidates since 2000.
  • Other contributions — almost $80,000 — went to legislators on a committee that names the members of a state board that regulates SCANA.
  • Still other contributions — more than $90,000 — went to 31 of the 32 legislators now trying to unravel how the plan to add two reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville failed.
  • SCANA’s contributions skyrocketed by almost 300 percent — to $110,000 — in the year before state lawmakers passed the 2007 law that allowed the utility to charge its customers in advance for the Fairfield County reactors.
  • In June, SCANA and its subsidiaries, political action committees and employees showered the state’s chief executive (Gov. Henry McMaster) with at least $115,000 in donations. It is the most the company has given to one candidate in at least two decades, records show, driving speculation the company was trying to buy political cover.
  • Since 2009, SCANA has spent $1.5 million on Statehouse lobbyists, employing from eight to 10 in any given year.
  • SCANA has given money to more than 320 state candidates since 2000.
  • Those donations include more than $1 million since 2006, the year before S.C. lawmakers passed the utility-friendly Base Load Review Act.
  • Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, the Edgefield Republican who co-chairs the Senate panel investigating the V.C. Summer debacle, has received $7,300 since 2006. Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, the Lexington Democrat who co-chairs than panel, got $6,250.
  • The company (SCANA) also has paid an unspecified amount to a powerful political consulting firm, Richard Quinn & Associates. That firm, which also helps elect legislators and statewide officials, is under investigation as part of an ongoing Statehouse public corruption probe.

Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Being thoughtful – on purpose

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Over a 12-year span at UCLA, American college basketball coach John Wooden won ten National Championships and their total of 11 remains a record today. Wooden is regarded as one of the most successful coaches in sports history, and more importantly an even greater person. He was a man of integrity and character and was highly respected on and off the court. He believed in discipline and felt strongly about teamwork and demonstrating appreciation for those around him. This attitude of being outwardly gracious became the foundation of his coaching philosophy and played a huge part of his team’s success.

Wooden taught that each time a player scored, they were to personally congratulate whoever helped make the play. At first, this seemed sissy and awkward to the arrogant players, but the coach explained that even the slightest gesture of recognition would encourage the individual and create a stronger unity within the entire team. This awareness is now openly seen in every sport with high-fives and the various gestures of open acknowledgment. This reminds us of how powerful our attitude can be as it has the potential to motivate or deflate those around us. Inspiring words can build self-esteem, confidence, and hope but they only have a chance to be effective when they are released. Imagine what a difference we could make by simply developing a determination to show our gratitude and be an encouragement to everyone.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Dear Danica Patrick

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Dear Danica Patrick,

Hey, girl! I just wanted to drop a note to let you know how sorry I was to hear the news of your “departure” from Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the 2017 season. (Good job on your decision to get ahead of the story and make the announcement yourself on Facebook, by the way. Gutsy move.)

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I have to admit I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t see this one coming.

It’s a bummer for sure, but you have a good racing resume to fall back on, so I know you’ll be fine. Remember that time when you became the first woman to lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500, and when you won that IndyCar race in Japan? That was cool. So was that one top-ten finish you’ve scored so far this season in the NASCAR Cup Series. And winning that Daytona 500 pole back in 2013? What a great story that was.

I guess maybe the problem with that list is that all of those achievements — leading laps, earning poles and most importantly, winning races — are all just part of the job description for professional race car drivers. They shouldn’t carry more weight, or garner bigger headlines, when they are achieved by a woman.

Those pesky sponsorship problems don’t help matters, either. After all those times you had to wear skimpy outfits in those racy — get it, “racy?” — TV commercials you did for Go Daddy, they up and left you; they were Gone Daddy.

When you posted those photos of your perfect, healthy yoga-fied figure all over Instagram, I’m sure it was just part of promoting your health and fitness initiative, and not meant to be intimidating at all.  And when Nature’s Bakery jumped ship on its sponsorship agreement two years early, that had to sting.  Read the rest of this entry »

Do We Have State Sanctioned ‘Child Abuse’ in South Carolina?

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Suppose you had a neighbor next door that did not adequately feed their children; and they did not provide adequate health care to them; and they did not provide their children with the economic support needed to have a decent life; and they did not provide them with reasonable family support.

And, suppose that this neighbor did this year after year. And, suppose that you regularly had a talk with your neighbor and showed them how they were not measuring up and told them there were resources available to them to do better.

Now suppose that from time to time, your neighbor did a few things to make the situation a little better but sometimes things got worse. And, suppose that in 27 years, overall things only got just a tiny bit better – and the kids were still worse off than over 80% of the other kids in the neighborhood.

Would you call this systematic “child abuse?” Well, thus is the status of children in South Carolina.

For the last 27 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been issuing their authoritative Kids Count Report (KidsCount.org) that measures the well being of kids in all 50 states on a wide variety of indexes. From year to year, they crunch literally hundreds of thousands of data points that give a clear and accurate picture of what’s happening from state to state and from year to year.

The good news is that South Carolina is at an all-time high. The bad news is we are ranked 41st of the 50 states.

And, when you dig a little deeper, the news is overall bad as South Carolina is not really getting better. Essentially, the rest of the states are getting worse. The summary numbers for the last five years tell a depressing story:

Economic Well Being – overall South Carolina ranks 37th. We are worse in the number of children in poverty (289,000 children) increasing from 22 to 27%. For children whose parents lack secure employment (356,000 children) we are worse, going from 30 to 33%. For children living in households with a high housing cost burden (346,000 children) the numbers have increased from 31 to 32%. And for teens not in school or not working (19,00 children) we have improved fractionally from 8 to 7%.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Diligence requires less talk and more action

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Success is not easily understood or there would be more of it! Learning and demonstrating certain principals can make the difference between watching others succeed and enjoying the blessings of success in our own life. One of these fundamental principles is that your God-given talent will make room for you! Proverbs 18:16 is a powerful statement that is worth considering; “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” What does this mean? If we will pursue and practice whatever we are good at to the point of becoming our best, others will recognize our talent and will be more than willing to promote us and declare to the world about what we can do. Proverbs 22:29 say’s, “Do you know a person diligent in their business affairs? They shall be presented before kings and shall not stand before mean tyrants.” Allow me to include that our talents are truly opportunities but as we are reminded of the 10,000-hour rule, they must be developed. Very similar to being an athlete, it will require vision, hard work, and determination to become outstanding. How does a marathon runner increase their stamina and endurance? Certainly not by laying on the couch and eating Cheetos! They run every day to build strength and fortitude.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Labor Day Weekend

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Part three of a three-part series on Darlington Raceway

Labor Day weekend 2017 at Darlington Raceway was the best of times … and then it got better or, depending on where your personal driver allegiances lie, it got worse.

Either way, it was definitely eventful.

Let’s begin by mentioning one of the most interesting features of any NASCAR race: the outfits.

A speedway fashion statement generally consists of a T-shirt, cap or both, emblazoned with the name, car number and sponsor of the wearer’s driver of choice.

It’s generally just your normal, mainstream racing apparel, although I do have to tell you that as we were attempting to persuade overnight guests to exit the infield the morning after a particularly memorable Mother’s Day weekend at the track “Too Tough To Tame” a few years back, I was greeted at one RV door by a lovely grandmotherly lady sporting a tank top and a pair of Dale Jr. boxer shorts. That one’s kind of permanently burned into my brain.

Most of the drivers seem to truly enjoy Darlington’s throwback theme; they definitely embrace it. It’s like NASCAR Halloween, and it’s great to see competitors, who become so focused and fierce when they strap into those cars, sporting vintage fire suits and big ‘80s sunglasses with mustaches to match, laughing together and slapping one another on the back before the race. I can’t help but think that the very atmosphere itself is a throwback to the golden age of racing.  Read the rest of this entry »

S.C.’s Nuclear Scandal, Political Corruption and Accountability

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

The current scandal of SCANA’s (S.C. Electric and Gas parent company) and Santee Cooper’s nuclear debacle is arguably the biggest scandal in our state’s history in the last 100 years.

It involves over $9 billion in wasted money which millions of South Carolinians are being asked to pay and the wholesale corruption of our Statehouse that enables it all to happen.

It is a sorted scandal of long term political corruption, short term corporate incompetence (or worse) and the total denial of responsibility by all who are at fault.

If this isn’t the biggest scandal in our state’s history, please tell me what is.

And, the great irony is that it did not have to happen. It was totally preventable.

My recent columns on the nuclear scandal have generated a lot of response. Below, is an email that says it all:

Dear Phil,

I read the subject article, written by you, as part of a personal Google search launched to better educate myself on the shutdown of the V.C. Summer project.  I am not a resident of your state or an investor in SCANA or any firm associated with the project.  My interest comes from a life spent working in the nuclear industry.   I have been blessed with opportunities as a Senior Reactor Operator, senior manager of multiple nuclear departments and executive positions in nuclear generation and support companies.  I am committed to the view that nuclear generation is a carbon free source of electricity needed to maintain living standards in developed countries as well bring a better life to underdeveloped ones.   Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: We are passionate about what we love

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

A while back, a good friend wanted to know if I would teach her husband how to play the guitar. Though I have led worship in church for years, I am not really what you would call a guitarist. I enjoy writing songs and using the music as a vehicle to relay messages about the Christian life. Anyway, she had an old guitar in the attic and thought it would be wonderful to hear her husband develop a musical gift. He is in his mid-sixties and up to this point has never mentioned anything about playing and singing. But, nonetheless, she announced for his birthday that she had paid me for several lessons and went on to say how excited she was to see this come to pass. With being put in such an awkward position, he pretended to be thrilled and as it is commonly called was, “a good sport about it.” In the first lesson, I was able to speak to him privately and asked if this was really something he wanted to do. He would just laugh and sigh as he struggled with the chords that were killing his fingers. Each week I would bring more homework for him to practice and I could tell this idea had turned from being comical into more of a burden.

I’m not declaring it’s impossible to learn something new when we are older, because we certainly can, but I am saying if we have never been passionate about a particular subject our entire life, this is probably not our calling. Gifts and talents are given by God and usually placed within our heart when we are filled with energy and enthusiasm. In this particular case, the individual had never felt a stirring deep within his soul to play music, and was only trying to make someone else happy. It was obvious he was not practicing during the week and of course was not advancing in his ability to play. Eventually he gave up just like everyone else that attempts to do something on a whim. Gold medals are not won by demonstrating a mediocre interest and a half-hearted effort. We can appreciate others when they attempt to persuade and offer suggestions about our life but ultimately, it’s our responsibility to discover what God has called us to do. I believe that unless we have a relentless passion and a driving determination to accomplish something, we will end up reminiscing about what could have been. It would be like a father telling his son how he wants him to become a body builder. The dad converts the basement into a gym, plans all of his meals and then relays to everyone about what a champion his son will be someday. This just does not work unless a burning desire is embedded within the heart of the individual who can not only see the vision but is consumed with a fervent aspiration to succeed no matter what it takes.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Part two of a three-part series on Darlington Raceway

I’m not even going to pretend to be unbiased on the subject of Darlington Raceway. “The Lady in Black” is simultaneously NASCAR’s greatest and most flawed structural achievement, a lop-sided Southern belle with a mean streak 1.366 miles long.

Like a doomed and dramatic high-school romance, she regularly and with great relish demoralizes would-be suitors, perhaps as some sort of payback for those who over the years have called the fabled egg-shaped oval everything from a dinosaur to a dump.

Ah, the sweet taste of revenge. A rash of improvements over the past couple of decades has the track “Too Tough To Tame” looking anything but prehistoric. Gone are the wooden bleachers of her early years, replaced by gleaming, high-rise grandstands. The former press box – an elevated platform enclosed by chicken wire where sportswriters were treated to “gourmet” lunches of pimiento cheese sandwiches (still a Darlington meal-time tradition) with a side order of flying rubber, has been replaced by a state-of-the-art media center and catering services.

Just outside of the Turn 3 retaining wall, rows of graceful palmettos – South Carolina’s state tree – line the hospitality village, where the movers and shakers of the corporate world entertain their customers and employees prior to the races.

Drivers, crew members and fans requiring medical attention are treated by a team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in a modern infield care center, similar to a small trauma hospital, including 24-hour helicopter transport service if it is needed.  Read the rest of this entry »

S.C.’s Nuclear Scandal, Politicians and Clean/Dirty Hands

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

For a columnist like me, the state’s nuclear scandal is the gift that keeps on giving. It is no exaggeration to say that there could be a column every week (or several times a week) on the growing scandal – and it’s likely to be so for months and even years to come.

There will be thousands of news articles written by journalists, millions of words spoken by politicians and utility executives, and billions of dollars in payments to rate payers are at stake.

As we begin (and we are just at the beginning of the beginning) to work our way through this $9 billion scandal effecting millions of people in our state, there are two basic facts that we should never lose sight of – and two necessary first steps that must be taken in dealing with this gigantic scandal.

The two basic facts:

  1. Those responsible should be held accountable. SCANA (parent company of South Carolina Electric and Gas), Santee Cooper and the politicians that passed the legislation to enable this to happen (and got paid for it) – will all be blaming each other when they are all at fault. Their hands are dirty.
  2. Those not responsible, the rate payers, should not have to pay. The people with absolutely no responsibility for this disastrous scandal – the rate payers – are being asked to pay billions of dollars, perhaps for as long as 60 years. This is wrong. Their hands are clean.

The two necessary first steps:

  1. The legislators, statewide elected officials and Congressional politicians with dirty hands must ‘come clean.’ This means they should disclose all of their financial dealings with SCANA, Santee Cooper and the electric co-ops – and give the money back. They should return all campaign contributions since the scandal began in 2007 and they should disclose and return all of the retainers, consulting contracts and other unreported payments they and their immediate families have received. (Better than returning the money, they should give it to charity.)
  2. Those utility leaders with dirty hands who are directly responsible should resign. This means that all of the boards of directors and senior management of both SCANA and Santee Cooper should resign. They should also refund any bonuses, stock options or other extra payments they have received since the beginning of the scandal in 2007. When they leave, there should be no severance payments or golden parachutes. None.

Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Asking for the gift of wisdom

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

When I think about having wisdom, I am reminded of king Solomon. If you remember the popular story about David and Bathsheba, Solomon was their only son and also became king of Israel after David passed away. In I Kings chapter 3, we read that Solomon sincerely loved God and obeyed His laws. Verse 4 records him offering 1000 burnt offerings upon the altars at Gibeon and as the story continues we notice that something very special happens to him. “The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, ask whatever you want and I will give it to you.” We must admit this is a huge opportunity and temptation especially for a young person, which is why it’s so impressive when we hear his request. How would we respond if God offered to give us whatever we wanted? Money, fame, super-powers, long life? Amazingly, Solomon gives a very mature and humble response as he simply desires more wisdom and understanding so that he can be a good king. Verse 10 says that Solomon’s reply pleased the Lord and listen to this, “And God said unto him, because thou hast asked this thing, and has not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked for riches for thyself, nor hast asked for the life of thine enemies; but has asked for understanding to discern judgment, behold I have done according to thy words.”

This is truly awesome, but the encounter does not end here. God continues to declare that Solomon will not only become the wisest person in the history of the world but will also receive all the things he did not ask for like riches and honor beyond the imagination. Scholars say that Solomon wrote thousands of clever sayings and songs and we can read some of his brilliant writings in the books of Proverbs, The Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. However, we also know that when he became older, he made some critical mistakes as it seems that he allowed his wealth and authority to distract him from his original passion. It’s unfortunate that he strayed away from focusing on God’s commandments by carelessly allowing his wives to publicly worship their pagan idols which made God very angry. Solomon was just like everyone else in the fact that walking with God requires a strong personal commitment and is more serious than a casual religious lifestyle.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The (Egg-shaped) Oval Office

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Part one of a three-part series on Darlington Raceway

Regardless of our personal opinions on the current government administration, I’m pretty sure there’s one thing on which we can all agree. From the smallest of businesses to the greatest nation on earth, success or failure depends on one thing … and no, it’s not Twitter. It’s leadership, and Darlington Raceway has boasted some of the very best.

“The Lady in Black” will celebrate her 68th year of NASCAR Cup Series racing on Labor Day weekend; not too shabby for a weird-looking racetrack carved out of a peanut field by a local sand-and-gravel guy born with a load of something we could all use a lot more of: gumption.

That man was Darlington’s first president, Harold Brasington, who after returning from a trip to the Indianapolis 500, decided that stock cars needed their own premier racing venue … so he just hopped on a bulldozer and built one. As what once had been farmland slowly began to resemble an actual racetrack, naysayers simply laughed and scratched their heads, nicknaming the facility “Harold’s Folly.”

(It is important to note that those same detractors brought their lunches out to the construction site almost daily to watch the work in progress. Darlington Raceway was the biggest tourist attraction in town before she hosted a single race … and she still is.)

In the end, Brasington got the last laugh after all, as the inaugural Southern 500 in 1950, expected to attract about 5,000 fans, drew a crowd of 25,000. It was, to say the least, a spectacular success.  Read the rest of this entry »

Charlottesville: What You Can Do Now

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Most everyone was outraged by what happened in Charlottesville. If you are in that tiny sliver of humanity that was not outraged, well…

It is only human to react by asking, “What can I do?”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been successfully fighting the KKK, neo-Nazi and white supremacy organizations since 1971. If you don’t know about them and their courageous founder, Morris Dees, you should. (www.SPLCenter.org). Go to their site and learn about hate groups in the county and in South Carolina, and what you can do. Make a donation, too.

Full disclosure: Morris has been a personal hero of mine and inspiration for over 40 years. There is no human being alive in America today who has risked their life more directly and longer in the fight “to ensure that the promise of the civil rights movement becomes a reality for all.” We first met and worked together on Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign and later he helped get my father’s book published, “Beyond the Burning Bus”, about his experience in civil rights in Alabama in the 1960s.

Right after Charlottesville, the SPLC published “10 Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide” and bought full page ads in many major newspapers around the country to get people involved. Below is a summary of the 10 Ways. On their website, there is much more detailed information about each of the 10 Ways and some specific things you and your community can do.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Sympathy is not a substitute for action

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We do not have to look very far to find someone that needs a miracle. Many are suffering some type of crisis with everything from health problems, their children, and grieving over a loss, to finances, marriage issues and addictions. When difficult situations are presented, we become sympathetic, but how often do we consider that God may have brought these individuals to our attention so that we can not only pray but to intervene and help meet their needs? Instead of just discussing the situation and having pity, maybe we can become the miracle they are praying for. James chapter two talks about the difference between having faith without becoming involved and demonstrating our faith by our willingness to take the time and actually help them.

Have you ever been discouraged or in trouble and you cried out for God to please send somebody to help? If someone responded, you knew they were a Godsend, right? But if no one came, we assume someone was called upon but was probably just too busy or maybe they simply did not want to take the time or money to become involved. I believe this reveals more about what life is really about than we care to think about. Many people are convinced they are free to do whatever they want and I can understand this point of view for a non-Christian. However, for those who are followers of Jesus Christ, the Bible clearly explains that we are called to radically change from only thinking about ourselves to listening and obeying God as our highest priority. This transformation will produce generosity and compassion as we develop a willingness to become more like Christ in His attributes and character. I Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” When we accept the life-changing gift of salvation, we are called to let go of our old self-centered nature and become focused on the greatest commandment which includes loving God and others as ourselves.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Sour Grapes

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, nicknamed “Happy,” didn’t sound the least bit jolly when recently addressing the subject of NASCAR’s deteriorating popularity, not to mention its dwindling fan base.

Harvick apparently knows exactly who is hurting NASCAR, and it’s a friend of his … or perhaps a former friend, at this point. He isn’t a green-eyed monster, but he did a pretty good impression of one while making the following comments on his Sirius/XM radio show, Happy Hours:

“… I believe Dale Jr. has had a big part in stunting the growth of NASCAR because he’s got these legions of fans and this huge outreach of being able to reach different places that none of us have the possibility to reach, but he’s won nine races in 10 years … and hasn’t been able to reach outside of that.

“I know those aren’t the most popular comments, but those are real life facts that you look up and see on the stat sheet. Imagine how popular he’d be if he had won two or three championships.”

Yikes. Does Kevin Harvick, a terrific driver and an intelligent fellow by all accounts, really believe that one man can single-handedly stunt the growth of an entire professional sport? That’s just silly.

Harvick later backtracked a bit, claiming the comment was taken out of context, and that people were reacting to it without taking the time to go back and listen to the actual show (Happy Hours airs Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. ET on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Ch. 90).

“The one thing I wish people would have done is really listen to the whole segment, because it actually started with a fan question as to what I thought Dale Jr. needed to do to become more competitive in his final year,” he said. “That conversation led into the difference between Jeff Gordon’s last year and Dale’s last year. And my opinion was just that it was strictly performance and that was why it seemed like there were so many more Gordon fans – and racing fans in general – that turned out because Jeff was having a good year performance-wise.  Read the rest of this entry »

Political ‘false choices’ are crippling South Carolina

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Neil Robinson is a man who should be listened to.

He is an eminent Charleston attorney with a prestigious statewide law firm. He is highly respected by his peers and community as testified by a wall crowded with commendations and accolades. With his head full of white hair, his well-tailored suits and his air of quiet confidence, he has a distinguished and slightly imposing bearing.

But none of this is why we should all listen to him.

He is the Chairman of the State Education Oversight Committee (EOC). The EOC is an independent, nonpartisan group made up of 18 educators, business people and elected officials who have been appointed by the legislature and governor to enact the South Carolina Education Accountability Act of 1998. The Act sets standards for improving the state’s K-12 educational system.

When it was passed, the legislation was sponsored by all the right people in the Legislature and was approved by both the House and Senate unanimously – not a single dissenting vote.

One would assume that therefore the EOC would be extremely powerful and effective in shaping and reforming education in our state – but one would be wrong.

As Robinson explains, the EOC has very little real power to affect change. They can study issues, make recommendations, gather data and research, and consult with the best experts in South Carolina and around the country.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Let’s Play Chicken” by Stuart Neiman

“Let’s Play Chicken” by Stuart Neiman

Living on Purpose: We can be aware without being afraid

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Lately, people have been asking me about the coming eclipse and now the situation with North Korea. It seems whenever strange or crisis events are predicted, people become nervous. Of course, it’s only natural to wonder what is going to happen and I am reminded of the famous Y2K scare that was a huge topic in 1999. We all know this ended up being a false alarm like the boy who cried wolf, but it doesn’t take long for the masses to forget about it and embrace the next doomsday prediction as the hype starts all over again. I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of these events or be disrespectful toward those who are panicking but rather offering the suggestion to take a few deep breaths and rest in the comforting thought that God is in control. We can find peace in God’s presence no matter what will come as we are reminded that fear is the opposite of faith. Let us remember that fear is seeing God through the eyes of circumstance while faith sees circumstances through the eyes of God.

When it comes to discussions about the end of the world, the religious crowd commonly refers to this as signs of the end times. Christianity believes the Bible is filled with indicators which reveal when certain events will happen. These predictions are called prophecies but unfortunately, many of these guideposts are so shrouded with symbolism they are difficult to interpret. For those of you who are students of eschatology you have no doubt discovered there are countless opinions and disagreements about time-lines and how everything will fit together. Nonetheless, I believe the Bible is true and with serious prayer we can at least have some general clarity about what the future holds. Most importantly we are reminded in II Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  Read the rest of this entry »

South Carolina’s Nuclear Meltdown: What Next, Who Pays?

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Here’s the issue: SCANA (the parent company of South Carolina Electric and Gas) and Santee Cooper (the state-owned utility that provides power for 11 local electric co-ops) tried to build two nuclear reactors and failed. They just pulled the plug on the projects costing $9 billion and 5,000 jobs – so far.

Here’s the question: Who is going to pay for this disaster?

This is obviously a huge and complex mess and the answer to ‘who pays’ will be an ongoing issue for years to come and it directly affects the family budget of 2.2 million SCE&G and co-op customers in all 46 counties. The bill could be as high as $9,000 for a family of four.

Over the coming months and years, there will be a host of accusations, finger pointing, charges and counter charges, law suits and counter suits. But, there are two things we know now for certain.

  • The people with absolutely no responsibility for this disaster – the rate payers – are being asked to pay billions of dollars, perhaps for as long as 60 years.
  • Those who are responsible – SCANA, Santee Cooper and the politicians that passed legislation to enable this to happen (and got paid for it) – will all be blaming each other when they are all at fault.

As this issue continues to unravel, there will be lots of new information about who is responsible for what. Based on what we know now, here’s what I believe should be done.

SCANA and SCE&G – Over the last ten years, SCE&G has hit their customers with nine rate increases and customers are already paying 20% of their bill to pay for the nuclear facilities – among the highest rates in the country. Now, they want to stick rate payers with a bill of $2 billion (others say the final number could be as high as $8 billion) to cover the cost of their failure over the next 60 years.

What they should do: The entire board of directors and senior management should resign. They should return all pay raises, bonuses and stock options they received since the project began in 2008. Last year the top five senior managers made on average $2.8 million and CEO Kevin Marsh made $6.1 million and $28 million over the last five years. When they leave, they should get no golden parachute or severance of any kind. To avoid disruption at the company, it could be done over time but completed within one year.

They should also roll back their rates to consumers to 2008 levels, plus inflation. And, how will they pay their debts? That’s their problem; it’s called capitalism.  Read the rest of this entry »