NAACP announces rally against cuts in Columbia, Jan. 17

The NAACP will hold a rally in Columbia in honor of Martin Luther King on Monday, January 17.  In keeping with the NAACP’s focus on carrying forward the activism of the civil rights movement the rally will stress the protection of immigrant rights, and the preservation of Medicaid for South Carolinians and the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.


2010 Columbia King Day Schedule

NAACP rally to target health care and education cuts

By JOHN O’CONNOR – joconnor@thestate.com
The State. Published Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010.
The South Carolina NAACP will use its annual January State House rally to oppose cuts to state health care and education programs as well as a proposed Arizona-style immigration bill.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally also will renew the S.C. NAACP’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds and for groups to boycott S.C. tourism until the flag is placed in a museum, S.C. chapter president Lonnie Randolph said Wednesday.

The civil rights group also plans to use the rally to counter myths about the origins of the Civil War, which began 150 years ago in South Carolina.

“We don’t celebrate atrocities of any kind,” Randolph said, referring to a recent gala to mark the 150th anniversary of South Carolina’s secession. “Things don’t heal that easily. … We take it seriously.”

The NAACP has rallied at the State House on King’s national holiday for a decade, hosting prayer services and marching through downtown Columbia.

The rally originally was organized to oppose the Confederate battle flag that flew atop the State House dome until 2001. The event continued after lawmakers moved the flag to a Confederate monument on the State House grounds – a compromise the S.C. NAACP opposed.

In addition to the flag, Randolph said this year’s event would encourage attendees to oppose other forms of injustice, such a state immigration law or cuts to the state-run Medicaid health care program for the low-income and disabled.

Bills have been introduced in many states, including South Carolina, to crack down on illegal immigrants, a federal law enforcement issue. The proposals have been modeled after a recent Arizona law, which would allow police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop. That law is being challenged in federal court.

Columbia attorney and former lawmaker Tom Turnipseed said an Arizona-style anti-immigration law would encourage racial profiling of immigrants. Passing such a law also likely would spark a lawsuit, he said, adding the state could find better ways to spend the money that would be needed to defend and enforce the new law.

“It’s just totally political,” Turnipseed said. “It’s just going to cost us money.”

Original article: http://www.thestate.com/2010/12/30/1624107/naacp-rally-to-target-health-care.html

The State doesn’t mention a time or place for the rally, a little surprisingly.  Post and Courier reporter Yvonne Wenger does provide rally info and adds the following details:

“We will not sit back quietly,” Randolph said of the events at the state capital. He was flanked during the announcement at NAACP state headquarters by youth members of the group and others, including Tom Turnipseed, a Columbia attorney and former state senator.”

“As many as eight bus loads of people recruited by Detroit radio talk show host Mildred Gaddis will travel from Michigan to join the protest and show support for the NAACP’s boycott.”

Post and Courier article: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/dec/30/naacp-will-not-sit-back-quietly/

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Philadelphia Weekly: Greens growing as resistance to austerity mounts

The Pennsylvania Green Party is making inroads into the one-party stronghold of Philadelphia. Union activist Hugh Giordano is creating a Green political network to push back against the government policies that target working people.

This is an example of the kind of work that will be needed in SC, as budget shortfalls give politicians like Nikki Halley the opportunity to defund social programs.

Hugh ran for the PA State Assembly against an entrenched Democrat, receiving 18% of the vote. The campaign has not stopped on election day. The Philadelphia Greens are continuing to campaign, as the Philly Weekly article describes.

Giordano’s vote was hurt by the straight ticket device, which we also have in SC.   He rails against it in the first paragraphs of the article…and he’s right to.   The straight ticket vote hurts independent voting all down the ticket.   An analysis of the 2010 South Carolina Senate vote by the SC Green Party shows that 85% of the Democratic vote came from straight ticket-voters.

It’s Easy Being Green (With Help of Labor Unions)
Third-party candidates emerge as champions of the working-class.

By Randy LoBasso, Philadelphia Weekly

Hide your unions, Democrats, because the Green Party is coming to take them away.

Union support and third-party candidates don’t usually mix (especially in this union-backed Democratic stronghold), but a recent state representative race that you probably missed entirely suggests that that could change.

Hugh Giordano, a 26-year-old, Roxborough native and food workers’ union organizer for UFCW Local 152, ran on the Green Party ticket against Democrat Lou Agre for a seat in the 194th. He lost, but garnered 18 percent of the vote (23 percent in Philly)—an unprecedented number for a third-party candidate. He may have his district’s attention, but Giordano and the Green Party of Philadelphia want everyone to know that when it comes to the ballot, three isn’t a crowd. What’s more, they’ve got heavy union support—typically an automatic vote for Democrats—to help them.

“They want you to be stupid,” he says of the “party button,” which essentially allows citizens to vote along party lines without looking at who’s up for election. “It’s a way to control the voter. If you go in there and you think you’re a Democrat, you hit the Democrat button and don’t think about anyone else [in the two-party system]. Republicans and Democrats don’t identify themselves as voters. They identify themselves as a party. The party system is very slick.”

Giordano’s disgust with the system compelled him to approach union workers across the city. He wrote an open letter to them, and in it he blames both the Democratic and Republican parties for turning their backs on the working class: “Union brothers and sisters,” he wrote, “when any one of us becomes “fearful” or “controlled” by a political party—it’s time to step down and pass the torch on. WE are the voice of working people, and WE should be telling these politicians what to do; not the other way around.

We owe the Democrats and Republicans NOTHING, because they have done NOTHING for our members, for our contracts, and for the movement. How much longer are we going to support a bunch of failures?

Read the rest at: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news-and-opinion/Its-Easy-Being-Green-With-Help-of-Labor-Unions.html

Rev Neal Jones on threats of “austerity” in South Carolina: There is no more to cut

On December 25, The State published an anti-austerity column by the Rev. Dr. Neal Jones of Columbia. He opens with a Bible passage appropriate to Christmas Day, Matthew 2:8-9: Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, report to me that I too may come and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went their own way.”

Dr. Jones develops the point that South Carolina’s elected officials are like Herod, in that seek to destroy what they pretend to serve.

Have you noticed what the Herods of our state are saying about the $1 billion shortfall in the upcoming state budget? They’re certainly not considering a tax increase for the wealthy. No, what you hear are more cuts, despite the fact that we have been cutting back our state budget for the past three years.

There is no more fat to cut from our state budget. We have been cutting through muscle, and now they are proposing to crack open the bones and suck out the marrow.

What will further cuts mean? It will mean fewer teachers, fewer remedial programs, larger classes and a shorter school year. It will mean that universities will have to raise their tuition, pushing a college education beyond the reach of more middle-class students. It will mean our children’s education and their future will be shortchanged. It will mean that court calendars will get longer, our law enforcement will be diminished, and our jails and prisons will get more crowded. It will mean that justice will be deferred, and justice deferred is justice denied. It will mean fewer sick people will receive Medicaid and fewer poor people will receive welfare, on top of the 20 percent cut in welfare benefits just enacted. It will mean that more people will die unnecessarily.

Voices like Dr. Jones’ are sorely lacking in the pages of The State…and in the media generally. More typical is this pick-up column in today’s paper from the Washington Post’s Robert J. Samuelson. Somewhat confusingly speaking about about Medicaid and Social Security.

But politicians fear making major changes. They dread an assault from the AARP, the main senior lobby, and the rage of millions of retirees and near-retirees. Public opinion is hostile. It’s high on reducing deficits and low on changing the programs that create the deficits.

Samuelson makes basic mistakes: he presumes what the “major changes” should be budget cuts and since he believes that Medicaid and Social Security “created the deficit” then then those programs must be cut.

There is a mania for cutting now. Columnists and politicians raised on GOP talking points associate cost-cutting with prosperity. The growth in military spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is contributing mightily to the budget deficits, without contributing to the well-being of people at home. Even some right-wing stalwarts like Grover Norquist seem to realize that Defense spending must be cut, though they believe that savings will come from privatizing the V.A.!

Controlling costs in military spending can best be achieved by reducing the U.S. commitments abroad to pre-2001 levels. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t improving U.S. security. They are horrendously expensive and as long as they go on, will be used as a national security argument for reducing social spending.

Meanwhile, Medicaid’s contribution to the national debt (and the disparity between skyrocketing costs and Medicaid payments) could be addressed by a national insurance program. Controlling the costs of procedures by eliminating marketing and insurance overhead without reducing quality of care, or the income of health professionals.

While wealthy commentators like Samuelson and Norquist advocate long-term pain for no short-term gain. As a people we should be looking for ways to make the government serve the people. When we reduce spending on social services at any time we throw people into deeper poverty. That isn’t just an expression, deeper poverty means an early death for many. As Rev. Jones says:

We are on the verge of losing our precious democracy, not to communism or socialism but to oligarchy — the rule of the rich. We are ceasing to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people and are becoming a government of Goldman Sachs, by Exxon Mobile and for Citicorp.

Jones is correct. We have to argue against austerity now for the sake of the people already living with next to nothing in SC.

So let’s be absolutely clear: there are no saviors who are going to look out for us in this crisis. Certainly not Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the companies that will benefit most from his proposed bailout (which is actually a stick up). The only hope of preventing another dose of shock politics is loud, organized grassroots pressure on all political parties: they have to know right now that after seven years of Bush, Americans are becoming shock resistant.

Naomi Klein wrote that two years ago, before the 2008 election. We have to include Obama and Bush in the equation now. No help is going to come from the top. We have to resist austerity ourselves.

Associated Press on New York Green Party

As part of a longer article on minor parties in New York, AP discusses the recent success of the Green Party of New York:

The Green Party pulled 59,928 votes. Their effort was led by the strong performance by the party’s candidate for governor, Howie Hawkins, in the only debate of the campaign. An eye-catching TV and Internet ad had New Yorkers asking, “Where are the (expletive) jobs?” Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate and former Green Party presidential nominee, also stumped for Hawkins in New York.

Hawkins told supporters now is the time to create a more organized and better-funded party.

“We give people a real alternative,” said Hawkins, who has run for several offices, including Congress, under the Green Party.

The Green Party will have a stronger voice for revising the income tax so wealthier New Yorkers pay more, charge a stock transfer tax on Wall Street, fight against layoffs of unionized workers and ban the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract gas from wells in the Southern Tier, a process critics say could threaten drinking water supplies.

Hawkins said ballot status also gives the party more time to back candidates in special elections between election terms and other advantages.

“It makes a big difference in how you run your campaigns,” he said.

Hawkins ran on a platform the campaign called the “Green New Deal”, most of which can be found here: http://howiehawkins.com/2010/platform.html.

The full article, which also discusses the Conservative, Working Families, Independence and Libertarian parties can be found here. It’s worth noting that only the Green and Libertarian parties ran independent campaigns. The other parties endorsed Democrats (Independence and Working Families) or Republicans (Conservative). The Rent is Too Damn High Party also gets a mention.

Jack Bass in the Post & Courier: History shows secession was about slavery

Published Sunday, December 26, 2010 in the Charleston Post & Courier.

URL: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2010/dec/26/history-showssecession-wasabout-slavery/

By Jack Bass

Jack Bass is a South Carolina author, journalist and historian and one of the most respected chroniclers of our state. Perhaps best known for his work on the Orangeburg Massacre, Bass has also authored biographies of Strom Thurmond (Strom) and Judge Frank M. Johnson, as well as a history of the implementation of Brown v Board of Education across the South (Unlikely Heroes). His wife, Nathalie Dupree, ran a Charleston-based write-in campaign for U.S. Senate against Jim DeMint, Alvin Greene and Green Party nominee Tom Clements.

Now that the Sons of Confederate Veterans have held their Sesquicentennial Ball, which may remain as Charleston’s most widely reported commemorative event (The Washington Post’s story drew more than 400 reader comments), perhaps the time has come to remember how 116 South Carolina historians have assessed the causes of secession. They researched and issued their statement near the peak of our state’s great debate a decade ago over removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse dome.

The chief author was Charles Joyner of Coastal Carolina University. He is among three signers elected as president of the Southern Historical Association. They and the 113 other signatories speak with authority about this central issue.

Here’s what the historians concluded a decade ago:

“The crux of the present controversy is not in the flag itself but in conflicting interpretations of the meaning of the Civil War. Some South Carolinians deny that the Civil War was fought over slavery, maintaining that it was fought over the rights of the states to control their own destinies. Slavery, they believe, was incidental.

“But when South Carolina delegates walked out of the 1860 Democratic National Convention in Charleston as a prelude to secession, their spokesman William Preston minced no words in declaring that ‘Slavery is our King; slavery is our Truth; slavery is our Divine Right.’ And a few months later when the signers of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession issued their Declaration of the Causes of Secession, they specifically referred to the ‘domestic institution’ of slavery. They objected that the free states have ‘denounced as sinful the institution of Slavery.’ They charged that the free states had ‘encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain have been incited by emissaries, books, and pictures, to hostile insurrection.’

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