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Number of posts: 33
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By Phil Noble:
- believing government is broken and politics is corrupt
- a populist grass roots movement
- convinced that special interest groups control the politicians, not the people
In sports, the Gamecocks wear garnet and black. Clemson wears orange and purple. In politics, South Carolina is red and deep red. These are what are known as “self-evident truths.” Things that just are. While the garnet and orange will probably last until the Second Coming, the red in South Carolina politics is changing – and changing faster than most folks think.
rise above our fears
E Pluribus Unum or out of many, one. This 13 letter phrase became an official part of the Seal of the Unites States by an Act of Congress in 1782. It was the de facto motto of the United States until Congress officially made In God We Trust the national motto in 1956.
But beyond being simply our unofficial motto, since even before 1782, E Pluribus Unum embodied the very spirit of us as a new country. This simple but profound idea is that we are all many – many different people of different origins, different histories, different religions, different colors, and different races – but all one, the People of the United States.
In 1993, Bill Clinton became president of the United States for the first time. The movie “Unforgiven” won the Oscar for the Best Picture of the Year. A 51-day stand-off at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, ended with a fire that killed 76 people, including David Koresh. The Unabomber’s first bomb injured computer scientist David Gelernter at Yale University. The first version of Microsoft’s Windows NT operating systems was released. Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston was the number one song.
Last week in Charleston a large mural of Rev. Clementa Pinckney was unveiled. It was done by 28-year-old Columbia artist Tripp Barnes. It is big and colorful and covers the whole outside wall of a building on St. Phillips Street, a few blocks from my house and from Emanuel AME Church.
In addition to his likeness, the mural also has a short but powerful quote by Clem: “Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history – we haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.”
Ken Burger died last week. He was the most interesting, special and unique son of South Carolina that I have ever known. Period.
If that sounds like graveside hyperbole, consider his one sentence bio: Born and raised in Allendale, Burger graduated dead last in his class at the University of Georgia, has been married five times, is a grateful recovering alcoholic, a cancer survivor and a happy man.
Journalist Ken was a stickler for the facts, so I’ll correct one and add a few. He did not survive cancer and his one line bio does not do him justice.
all tangled up
There have been hundreds of thousands of words written and spoken about the unspeakable tragedy of the nine people gunned down at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. In time, there will be many more; books will be written and countless analysis will be presented seeking to find some meaning in what happened. In time, the events of the tragedy will become a permanent part of the history of Charleston and our people, indeed the whole state and nation.
for every child
Back many years ago when I graduated from high school, my father made me a promise that changed my life and we should make the same promise to all of our children in South Carolina.
As a callow youth with my brand spanking new diploma in hand, I was simply excited about graduating and looking forward to celebrating with my friends. But before things got too far out of hand, my father pulled me aside, looked me straight in the eye and made me a serious and solemn promise. “As long as I’m financially able,” he said, “I will pay for all of the college and graduate education you need to help you fulfill your life’s dreams.”
While I Breathe
I doubt that jazz musician Wynton Marsalis knows our state motto. But recently he provided great insight into how we can make that motto real and meaningful for us as South Carolinians today.
Dum Spiro Spero — While I Breathe I Hope.
I have always loved that motto because it is probably the single most optimistic and hopeful statement a person or a state could possibly make. It says that as long as I as a person or we as a people can draw a breath, we are hopeful. No matter how bad or bleak things may be, if we are still breathing, we are hopeful and optimistic about the future.
Twenty school children and their six teachers lay dead in Newtown, Connecticut. The nation mourns. Most everywhere our leaders – in government, churches, schools and even sports – respond to the single burning question: What must we do to keep our children safe – and might that include some sort, any sort, of gun safety measures?
In South Carolina, our state’s political leaders are silent.
In the next few months, Gov. Haley and the Republican politicians in Columbia are going to be making some very big decisions about providing health care for 513,000 South Carolinians, and there is over $3 billion at stake. These are some very large numbers and let’s hope they make the decisions based on math and not ideological purity. Right now, it looks as if math is losing.
First the numbers: today there are 513,000 people in South Carolina that are not covered under any health insurance program.
Although I suspect that we’re are all glad it’s finally over, last week’s election may well turn out to have been a watershed of sorts, with lots of important lessons for both Democrats and Republicans in South Carolina.
Put simply, this election shows that in South Carolina both parties are heading down a losing path, and it’s only through changing their current parties and challenging their own party leadership – that either party can win in the future.
What About Voter Suppression?
Sometimes things that seem big and difficult, with the passage of time, become small and self-evident. Things that seem murky and uncertain, in time, become clear and compelling.
Thus it is with buses and votes; they are really black and white – on several levels.
Now this is not just my poor imitation of Lewis Carroll and the illusive truths of Alice and Wonderland but a reflection on the story of the Freedom Riders of the civil rights era and voting rights issues of today. Let me explain. This week in Anniston, Alabama there was the fifty-first anniversary…
Jim Crow Redux
The recent court ruling on South Carolina’s voter ID law is both good news and bad news.
The good news is court ruled that the state’s voter ID law will not be in force for this election. The bad news is that voter ID is still a very bad idea, for any election.
On the surface, the state’s new voter ID bill ‘seems right’ – require a picture ID to stop voter fraud. Sure, stop fraud and IDs are no problem. What’s the big deal, everyone already has a driver’s license or state issued photo ID, right?
$500g for Golf?
Today, there are 643 foreign affiliated companies providing over 117,000 jobs operating in our state today. We are number one nationally in foreign controlled manufacturing companies, with the greatest concentration of these along the I-85 corridor in the Upstate.
And it goes far beyond simply business and industrial development. Just one example: international tourism. When the PGA tournament was in Kiawah last week…
Nation’s Whoopee Cushion
Ten years is a long time, especially in the digital age. A preschool child can grow into a strapping teenager; a tech company can go from start up to a global power; and a new idea can take root and begin to change a culture.
In ten years, a state can build a strong reputation as dynamic and progressive – or it can stagnate and even slide to the point of becoming an object of national ridicule.
Unfortunately, the latter is what has happened to South Carolina.
A Strong Voice for Reform
Rep. Boyd Brown, aged 25, is retiring from the Legislature after serving two terms. He was a forceful advocate for change and reform, honored as a “Rising Star’ by the SCND and a speaker at our events. This is an excerpt of his farewell address delivered June 7, 2012.
Creating a better South Carolina is why I ran for office in the first place. It’s why I came here and refused to sit on the back row and stay silent. I chose to come to Columbia and speak up with a strong voice. I chose to come here and fight for what I believe in. Ladies and gentlemen, South Carolina has all the tools to be among the best states in the nation. I believe that and I know you do too. But unfortunately, it is lacking in two critical areas: Leadership and vision.
To claim that anyone is America’s greatest teacher is very audacious. To make that claim about a man who has been dead for 172 years, and that virtually no one has ever heard of, is perhaps ludicrous. But I believe it’s true, and here’s why – his students.
Experts might differ on what makes a great teacher but ultimately it’s about the students they taught. Did they learn, and more importantly, did they leave their mark in this world? If this is the standard to judge teachers, few would dispute that Waddell was America’s greatest.
Imagine you picked up the newspaper and saw that in some little country in the developing world, in the middle of an election campaign, 180 candidates were thrown off the ballotfor a ‘legal technicality’ and none of them were incumbent office holders.
“Typical banana republic” you would say; and you would be right. Welcome to the banana republic we call home – South Carolina.
Vending Machine Legislation
I am a Democrat, and I am proud of it. However, the S.C. Press Association distributes this column, and neither they nor I want it to be a weekly partisan rant — there’s far too much of that in both our national and state politics already.
That said, this column is about one thing: the corruption of the Republican leadership in the S.C. House of Representatives. Yes, that’s harsh. And, yes, at least in a sense, it’s partisan. But what they have just done with so-called “sales tax exemption reform” is, in fact, completely corrupt – and it should be labeled as such.
Do South Carolinians hate government? Is there something within our political DNA here in the Palmetto State that causes us to hate government – all governments?
Some recent polling numbers would seem to say there is and we do. As with so many things in our state, we first need to look at our history, and our history has generally been open hostility against government – most every government.
Cheating Our Schools
I have never met Howard Rich. And I expect that if I ever did – say, at a party or a backyard cook out — I’d probably think he was ‘a nice guy’. No doubt he loves his children and grandchildren and he is probably nice to dogs, too.
That said, what Howard Rich is trying to do to the school children of our state is pure evil – it’s bad, wrong and politically corrupt. He is using political campaign contributions as little more than legal bribes to get politicians to let him use our children like laboratory mice in his radial social experiment. And it all goes by the innocuous name of ‘private school vouchers.’
People's Republic of SC
The filing period for Democratic and Republican candidates running for the upcoming SC State House and Senate elections closed last week. We will not know the exact election returns until November, but this we already know: the ‘Good Old Boy Party’ has won.
Yep, that’s right, over 50% of the current members of the legislature will be returned to the State House with no opposition in either the primary or general election. And, if you add in the incumbents that have only token opposition, probably 80-85% of incumbents will win easily.
There is a whole generation of heroes that are dying and their heroic deeds are being forgotten. They are the quiet heroes of our state’s and country’s most recent revolution – the civil rights revolution.
It has been fifty-seven years since Rosa Parks refused to move on the bus in Montgomery and sparked the bus boycott that propelled a twenty-five-year-old Baptist preacher to greatness. It has been forty-seven years since a twenty-five-year old sharecropper’s son named John Lewis walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on the road that would lead his people to freedom and himself to Congress.
When we in South Carolina get national attention, it is usually because some politician has done something stupid, immoral, or illegal – and we are all very embarrassed. This story is about a group of Upstate women that have done something 100% good, inspiring and important – and we should all be very proud.
It all started with an individual woman and a really simple but powerful idea. Marsha Wallace is a mother of four and a former nurse who lives in Greenville.
Stupid Is That Stupid Does
South Carolina has a good vision for education. Three recent news stories show how this vision is failing. And three words tell us why – stupid Republican policies.
First the vision. The last time that South Carolina did anything really big and bold to improve K-12 education was way back in the 1980’s when Gov. Richard Riley pushed through the Education Improvement Act to seriously reform education and the Education Finance Act to pay for it. These reforms were hailed as a national model for dramatically reforming education. (Full disclosure: Gov. Riley was the founder of the SC New Democrats).
Cut Special Interests
It is often said that South Carolina is a one-party state, and usually this is understood to mean the Republican Party. However, in many areas, it’s really the ‘good old boy’ party that is in charge – the party of legislators in both parties that are committed to protecting the status quo of corrupt special-interest, business-as-usual politics in our state.
In no area is this clearer than with our state’s current service and sales tax exemptions policy.
Some issues are a close call – it is hard to know what is the right thing to do. Technology and education is not one of these issues. It’s obvious that technology and education are the keys to success in the global economy of the 21st century, both for us as individuals and as a state.
The only question is: Why is SC so stupid about figuring this out and doing the right things?
Because of the convergence of a number of factors – God, global economics and good luck – South Carolina is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the emerging global wind industry, unless our politicians blow it. And they may.
Let’s start with God. The good Lord created a natural environment that makes our state ideal for the development of the wind energy industry. Just off our coast, up around our border with North Carolina, the ocean winds blow at consistent speeds that may be ideal for windmills that generate electricity. Plus, the ocean is not very deep in this area, thus making it fairly easy to build stable windmills in relatively shallow water.
The Cost of Democracy?
We hear a lot about lobbyists and special interest money in South Carolina politics but no one ever seems to talk about the hard numbers. So, here are a few numbers gleaned from 2011 lobbyist reports that are publicly available online at the SC Ethics Commission web site.
Read ‘em and weep.
SC has 542 registered lobbyists, and 545 lobbyist principals (the people who pay the lobbyist)
This may seem odd coming from a Democrat who lives in the city that led the Confederate Rebellion, but one thing is very clear from the Republican presidential primary – our state and nation desperately needs to see the return of the party of Lincoln. It will be good for Republicans and Democrats, and most importantly, good for our state and country as a whole.
As with so many things in our state, first a little history. Most people think that Lincoln was the first Republican Party candidate for President; in fact, it was John C. Fremont, who first ran on the Republican Party label in 1856. Born in Savannah, Fremont was the bastard son of a socially prominent Virginia planter family
Many years ago as a small boy sitting at a crowded and noisy Thanksgiving Dinner, I learned a valuable lesson about turkey, politics, and priorities. It is a lesson that our national and state politicians have yet to learn – and it’s hurting all of us
As with most families, Thanksgiving has always been a big deal in our house. The women (yes, it was always the women) began planning and cooking for the big event days in advance. The relatives would come from far away and we would see those distant cousins that we really didn’t like but were expected to be nice to and play with at family holiday gatherings.
The Elephant in the Room
According to the most recent census, South Carolina is 66% white, 27% African American, 5% Hispanic, 1.4% Asian and .6% other, but rarely do we hear anyone raise the issue of race absent some media-hyped incident. It’s time we did and I’d like to offer a simple idea of how we can start.
We all know the pattern: some episode between blacks and whites, or occasionally Hispanics, occurs and it gets outsized news attention. Immediately, all the pundits and talking heads on cable TV – the usual suspects – are trotted out to give their predictable opinions and it’s all the talk around the water cooler at work. A few days later it fades and gets replaced by Kim Kardashian’s wedding or some such non-event.
In other words, nothing happens. There is no new information, rarely, if ever, is an opinion changed and everyone returns to the status quo.
The two political groups that have the most energy, vitality, and interest both nationally and in South Carolina today are the Tea Party and the much newer Occupy Wall Street.
Quick quiz: Which of these two groups could generally be characterized as:
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