Category Archives: Protest

About this kneeling thing…

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As reluctant as I am to write about anything that happens on football fields, here goes…

Obviously, we have a different situation than we did when Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand during the national anthem.

Actually, to be technical, we had a different situation when Kaepernick switched from sitting to kneeling, way back when he still had a job. Obviously, kneeling is by definition less disrespectful.

And of course now, it’s no longer about the anthem or the flag, but about Donald Trump making a fool of himself yet again, as he is wont to do. Which is why serious essays on the subject have headlines such as “What Will Taking the Knee Mean Now?

My problem with Kaepernick’s original action — the sitting — was first, that it was so upsetting to my friend Jack Van Loan. Secondarily, it arose from the problem I tend to have with nonverbal forms of protest. My attitude is, if you have a problem with something, use your words.

Words allow us to be very precise about what upsets us and why it does. They allow us to clearly advocate remedies for the problems to which we object.

But what does refusing to stand for the flag, or the National Anthem, say? Since the flag, and the anthem, represent the entire nation, it means your beef is with everything about the country. Your protest is entirely lacking in specificity. You’re saying you’re objecting to the entire country because some white cops committed acts of violence against some black citizens — or whatever legitimate locus of concern you started with.

You’re saying the whole country is as bad as the North Charleston cop who shot Walter Scott. Every bit of it, starting with the Founders and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. You’re dissing Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass along with Robert E. Lee (despite the fact Douglass has been doing such a terrific job lately). You’re lumping in Martin Luther King with George Wallace. They’re all part of America, so you blame them all.

This is not helpful, to your cause or to anything else.

You have a complaint — express it clearly and specifically. Use your words — preferably, quire a few more of them than you could fit on a bumper sticker.

Words aren’t perfect — I can certainly testify to that. Someone will always misunderstand. If you write “up,” you will surely be loudly castigated for saying “down.” But at least with words, there’s a chance of clear communication, and perhaps even agreement– perhaps even changing someone’s mind! (See what a Pollyanna I am?)

Anyway, all that is sort of beside the point now, since obviously the kneeling of the last few days has been about Donald J. Trump. He saw to that. He has managed to focus something that previous lacked focus.

Now, it’s about whether people have the right to kneel — and obviously, they do — and whether the president of the United States is empowered to order them not to. Which, of course, he isn’t.

He’s not too good with words himself, but Trump certainly has a talent for clarifying things…

A discussion Friday about lessons from Charlottesville

Photo by Evan Nesterak obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Evan Nesterak obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

Remember a couple of months back, when I moderated a forum for the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council about the Bull Street redevelopment project?

Well, tomorrow we’re going to have another one that may interest you. It starts at 11:30 a.m. at the offices of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce offices at 930 Richland St.

The topic is “Lessons from Charlottesville.” The idea is to have a discussion about the implications for our own community arising from the issues raised there.

We expect 30 or so people, including Tameika Isaac Devine from city council, J.T. McLawhorn from the Columbia Urban League, and Matt Kennell from the City-Center Partnership.

Bryan came to the Bull Street one, and I think he found the discussion interesting. I did, anyway.

Whether y’all can come or not, I’d like a little advice. I’ve thrown together a short list of questions to offer to the group. The questions are just ways to keep the discussion going as needed. These discussions don’t follow a formal structure, with questions followed by timed answers, or anything like that.

Here are the ones I have. Suggestions?

  1. Could what happened in Charlottesville happen here? If not, why not? And if so, what can we do to prevent it?
  2. Even if we are spared the violence we saw in Virginia, how should we here in the Midlands respond to the issues that confrontation laid bare?
  3. President Trump has been roundly criticized for his response to what happened. What would you like to hear elected leaders in South Carolina say regarding these issues?
  4. Being the capital of the first state to secede, we have more Confederate monuments here than in most places. What, if anything, should we do with them?
  5. Has anyone present had a change of attitude or perspective, something that you’d like to share, as a result of the re-emergence of these issues onto the nation’s front burner?

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Modest demonstration last night for ‘Dreamers’

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You know how Facebook is always putting events on your calendar, whether you want it to or not? Well, it does that to me.

Anyway, for once it put something on there that I was interested in attending — or perhaps I should just say, “checking out.”

It was a “Vigil for DACA and Immigrant Dreamers,” described on Facebook this way:

Tuesday, September 5th is the deadline set by a group of Attorneys General to sue the federal government over DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). DACA currently protects nearly 7,000 young undocumented immigrants in South Carolina and nearly 800,000 nationally.

Because DACA is at risk, join us Tuesday at 6pm in front of the State House to show our support for DACA youth and to pray for moral strength and guidance of our political leaders to come together and pass the bi-partisan DREAM Act. The DREAM Act would provide safety and security through a pathway to citizenship for these aspiring citizens.

Speakers include faith leaders from local Catholic, AME, United Methodist, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist congregations, as well as DACA recipients and local immigration advocates.

Bring friends, prayers, and visual signs of support — signs, posters to support Dreamers and banners/flags/stoles/clothing that represent your various faith traditions or secular beliefs.

As this is a vigil, we hope that the nonviolent intent of this action is clear. Everyone participating in this Event will be required to abide by all applicable laws and lawful orders of authorities. This Event will be nonviolent and will not involve any civil disobedience or other violation of law.

And that’s pretty much the way it was.

It was a modest, but respectable-sized, crowd. Very low-key while I was there. Kind of a usual-suspects crowd — nothing that would cause the GOP pols who run our state to say, “Golly, my constituents are up in arms! I’d better take a stand against Trump.” But everyone meant well, as it seemed to me.

And that’s all I have to say about that…

Alan Wilson did drop the threat of joining in the challenge to DACA. But he didn’t do it because of these folks and their vigil. He did it because good ol’ Donald Trump made it unnecessary:

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About what happened in Charlottesville…

Lee

Y’all, I’ve had quite a few thoughts about this, but they’re all pretty involved and would take me time to develop and I haven’t had the time. But for now, I’ll do what I should have done Saturday — put up a sort of Open Thread devoted to what happened at Charlottesville, so y’all can get a conversation rolling.

Some possible avenues of exploration:

  1. Trump’s statement — As I’ve said many times before, I don’t think the president’s job description should, normally speaking, include issuing statements in reaction to every traumatic thing that happens across the country. But if he’s going to say something, it should be something that, for starters, doesn’t make matters worse. Trump utterly failed to meet that standard. And it wasn’t just his usual complete lack of thoughtfulness or hamhandedness with the English language. We know why he responded the way he did: He does not share the fundamental values of most Americans. He actually values the rock-solid backing of white supremacists, and doesn’t want to say anything that erodes that support.
  2. How do we prevent such violence without violating the 1st Amendment? If the ACLU stood up for the “right” of Illinois Nazis to march through Skokie, surely it would sue to uphold that right with this latter-day group of racist yahoos. And who’s to say the ACLU would be wrong? Personally, I think they were wrong in the Skokie days — sure, the Hitler fan club had the right to say what it wanted, but letting them do it in Skokie is too much of an offense against human dignity to allow it. This case seems fuzzier. Again, yes, they have free speech rights. But they went out of their way to express themselves in a place guaranteed to create as much tension, and likely violence, as possible. Should that be allowed? Does the free-speech clause guarantee freedom of venue? Such as, say, a crowded theater?
  3. If there would to be such a rally in Columbia, would you attend? I mean to protest, or for any other reason. Would you see yourself as having an obligation to show up in public to register your disapproval, or would you dismiss it by staying away and not giving the Brownshirt types the attention they crave? I can see arguments both ways.
  4. What about that Robert E. Lee statue? I hesitate to mention this because I don’t want to dignify the supposed “issue” that motivated the demonstration. But I mention it only to say that I have no position on the “issue.” What the University of Virginia chooses to display or to take down is none of my business, and I think Charlottesville homeboy Thomas Jefferson would back me on that. I feel like we have enough going on here in South Carolina and don’t need to weigh in on what they do up there. I would argue that any of those white supremacists who were not from Virginia lack such standing as well…

Anyway, that’s for starters. Happy conversing…

Barton Swaim on how Kaepernick fails to make his point

barton

Columbia’s own Barton Swaim has yet another nationally published opinion piece out there, headlined “Kaepernick’s symbolism misses the point,” in The Washington Post today.

And unlike Kaepernick, Barton hits the mark.

You know how I’m always blathering about how I think street protests, among other unseemly forms of expression, are generally unhelpful? That’s what Barton’s on about. And the problem, as he identifies it, is imprecision. Quite right.

Noting that Kaepernick now protests that he was misunderstood, Barton writes:

He was right. It was a misunderstanding. And that’s precisely the problem with symbols and symbolic gestures in the realm of political debate — they’re understood by different people in different ways, and not always in ways consistent with original intent. By choosing not to stand (he sat on the bench during the anthem for the Aug. 26 game against Green Bay and knelt during the anthem for the Sept. 1 game in San Diego), Kaepernick wants to say something about racial injustice. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told the NFL Network after the Packers game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

Kaepernick evidently has some strong views on this subject, but what are they, exactly? Does he believe, say, that most Americans are racists? That most police officers target African Americans for harassment? That the United States as a whole deliberately and systematically persecutes African Americans? Somehow I doubt he would agree with any of these things without qualification — and yet they are all rational inferences from his refusal to honor the flag of a “country that oppresses black people and people of color.”…

Indeed. Barton is a wordsmith, and seems to share my horror at the thought of expressing oneself without being specific and explanatory.

And yet we are surrounded by people doing precisely that, from tattoos to grand public gestures. Harrumph.

In an age when there is no barrier to blogging, for instance, there is no excuse for failing to explain oneself — especially when one has done something that shouts only one thing clearly: “Look at me!”

As young mothers tell toddlers, use your words.

Now, changing the subject slightly, Barton’s piece goes on to say:

When pressed further to explain his views after the Chargers game, he wasn’t helpful. What was he trying to convey? “The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally, aren’t given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about, need to be brought to life, and we need to fix those.” President Obama reinforced that message on Monday. “If nothing else,” the president said, “what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.” Reminding Americans that they need to “talk about” and “deal with” a problem that already consumes them is not, perhaps, the wisest of political exhortations. And in any case, one wonders what nation in the history of the world has not had dire “issues” that needed to be talked about and dealt with. Has there ever been a nation sufficiently issue-free to merit Kaepernick’s reverence?

I call your attention in particular to this bit: “Reminding Americans that they need to ‘talk about’ and ‘deal with’ a problem that already consumes them is not, perhaps, the wisest of political exhortations.”

I’ve been told for all my adult life that we need to “talk” about race in America. And you know me; I have generally obliged without hesitation. I can talk all day and all night about such a thing, and on occasion can even bring myself to listen.

But I bring the point up now because, right after reading Barton’s piece this morning, I saw this other opinion item in the Post, headlined, “It’s time to stop talking about racism with white people.” Excerpts:

Why are we losing solid hours out of our day, wearing our fingertips numb on keyboards and touch screens in an attempt to explain to some dense dude-bro why “All lives matter” is a messed up and functionally redundant response to “Black lives matter”?…

If Colin Kaepernik’s decision to stand against social injustice by sitting during the National Anthem has shown us anything else, it’s that much of white America is more bothered by our methods of protest than they ever will be about the injustices we’re protesting. Let’s dispel the notion that if we only protested better, white people will miraculously become more receptive of our message and less scornful of our audacity in speaking out….

Black people, it is long past time for us to start practicing self-care. And if that means completely disengaging with white America altogether, then so be it….

Zack Linly seems to have given up on making himself understood at a fairly early age (I’m going more by the way he expresses himself in seeing him as young, but for all I know he could be as old as Brett Bursey). Which is sad. Because as Barton suggests — even though he, too, seems a bit weary of the conversation, we need to communicate better about these things.

But there’s hope! Mr. Linly and Mr. Swaim seem to have some promising common ground, judging by the cover photo the former chose for his Facebook page. They both have a sense of the futility of some street action. But then, I could be misunderstanding this message, too…

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Does marching in the street accomplish anything (usually)?

vietnam_protester

And before you answer, “Well, it accomplished a lot in the Civil Rights era 50 years ago,” let me say that I think it did — under those particular circumstances. But that was about a clear and obvious gross injustice supported by law as a matter of policy. The nonviolent resistance, the dignified witness of those marchers, were needed to draw attention to the fact that a state of affairs that was clearly wrong would no longer be tolerated. It was a movement with clear goals, and they were achieved as they should be, through legislation. (If you get HBO, go see “All the Way” for a wonderful dramatization of a time when our political branches still worked as they should.)

Those demonstrations were carefully organized, and the marchers showed up in their Sunday best. Everything about their appearance and demeanor demanded, “Respect me!” And that was good, because respect was what the movement was about. Again, the marchers had clear goals, and they were achieved with remarkable alacrity.

But how many other such movements can we point to? The Vietnam antiwar movement? I don’t think so. Those increasingly boisterous demonstrations went on year after year before the nation just got tired of the war.

Which brings us to the Black Lives Matter movement.

A friend connected to law enforcement observed that the demonstration Sunday evening seemed rather confused and disorganized. I’m not surprised. Remember the rather silly Occupy movement? It was a core principle to those folks that no one be in charge. Well, rattle off the names of some key Black Lives Matter movement leaders. Maybe you can. I can’t.

So far, the first word I can think of to describe BLM is “amorphous.” I don’t know where to grab hold of it. And I don’t know whom to ask, What, precisely, are you trying to achieve? What specific actions do you want to see taken? Yeah, I know, the movement doesn’t want to see cops killing people without justification. We all want that. But what are the specific steps you want taken? How do you get from here to where you want to be?

Is it just about, as Mick Jagger would say, venting your frustration?

The chaotic, disorganized nature of the modern demonstration was on particularly extreme display the other night in Dallas. I’m not talking about that one nut who was killing cops — I certainly wouldn’t blame the demonstrators for that. But I’m talking about the overall scene, as mentioned in this editorial by The Washington Post:

THE SOLUTION to a bad guy with a gun, it is often said, is a good guy with a gun. Yet according to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D), there were 20 to 30 good guys openly carrying guns among the protesters whom Dallas police were supervising last Thursday night, when Micah Xavier Johnson began picking off officers. “In the middle of a firefight,” the mayor said Sunday, “it’s hard to pick out the good guys and the bad guys.”…

This is a movement that needs some people in charge, making some rules. And it also needs to decide what it wants our political system to do. Because however much the attendees may wish for a peaceful demonstration, the elements of violence were there even if that one murderous sniper had not shown up.

Of course, I have a prejudice here, one that’s been noted here a number of times: I just don’t hold with taking to the streets, under most circumstances. And I take that way back in history: Calling a Continental Congress to debate and eventually declare independence was the way to go about getting free from King George — shooting at British soldiers in Lexington and Concord more than a year before that declaration was not. Nor was the Boston Tea Party — pure hooliganism, destroying other people’s property — more than a year before that.

Yeah, I know, you’ll say we wouldn’t have gotten to the point of Independence without that year of fighting first, and you may be right. But we can’t know, can we, because that’s not the way it went down.

Over the weekend my wife and I watched the movie “Suffragette.” (Side note: If you’re looking for a “feel-good” movie, this isn’t it — very depressing.) And I found myself recoiling at one of the first scenes — nicely dressed ladies smashing windows with rocks on Oxford Street (no, I couldn’t tell whether it was Selfridge’s).rocks

Yeah, that was preceded by words saying that a generation of more dignified approaches had accomplished nothing. But I was not persuaded. If I were trying to persuade people that I should have the vote, I wouldn’t think that throwing rocks would make anyone think I was good voter material. I’d want to persuade people that having people like me vote would be an actual enhancement to civilization.

(Mind you, I think peaceful marches by the suffragettes were probably one of those cases when, as with the Civil Rights movement, taking to the streets was the thing to do. After all, what else were those ladies going to do — they couldn’t vote.)

Anyway… I am in my own way as unfocused as the Occupy folks were. I’ve gone from talking about peaceful demonstrations and what they accomplish to violence, or at least destruction of property.

Yeah, I know the difference, and no, I don’t know where I’m going with this. But I do know that time and time again, when I see people take to the streets, whether nonviolently or not, I tend to wonder, what is being accomplished here?

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The Whig and last summer’s anti-flag rallies

organizers

Jeremy Borden brings to my attention a piece he wrote for a site called The Bitter Southerner. It’s about the role The Whig played in helping get the Confederate flag down.

Basically, the role is this: It was a gathering place — and a fertile one, for those wanting a better South Carolina — for the folks who planned the two anti-flag rallies last summer. That would be Mariangeles Borghini, Emile DeFelice and Tom Hall, pictured above in a photo by Sean Rayford. (And below in a grainy screengrab from video I shot at the first rally.)

That was a natural part to play for a bar located just yards away from the Confederate soldier monument. And this piece was a natural fit for The Bitter Southerner, which apparently has its roots in its creator’s bitterness about Southern bartenders not getting enough respect. No, really.

The piece appealed to me because I appreciate what Mari, Emile and Tom did. And even more because one of the owners and founders of The Whig, Phil Blair, is one of my elder son’s best friends. Remembering his days playing in local punk bands, I marvel at what a pillar-of-the-community successful businessman he’s become. Whenever there’s something going on downtown to advance the community, Phil is there.

It’s a piece with a strong sense of place, and that place is the very heart of our community. You may recall that, just as getting rid of the flag was, for The Whig, about “Neighbors… cleaning up their trashy yard,” Emile saw the banner as bad for his own business, Soda City. As I wrote about Emile in June:

He fantasizes about getting a bunch of Confederate flags, some poles and a few bags of cement, and driving them in a truck to the places of business of some of these lawmakers — their law offices, their insurance agencies and so forth — and planting the flags in front of their businesses and seeing how they like it…

Anyway, you should go read the piece. Excerpts:

In the wake of the murders, Hall and others had gathered mournfully at The Whig that same June week to try to digest the event’s enormity. And to make plans. Hall and two others — Emile DeFelice, Hall’s close friend and fellow South Carolina native, and Mari Borghini, an Argentine immigrant — began to stoke local furor. DeFelice described the trio this way: “Old, rich South Carolina,” he said of Hall. “Old, poor South Carolina,” he said of himself. “And a recent immigrant,” he said of Borghini. “Awesome.”

At The Whig, they planned protests they hoped would pressure the state’s leaders to bring down the flag they viewed as as plague on the statehouse grounds. But their plans had been made with some trepidation.

“Do we go for this now while these people are not even cold dead?” Hall asked. “And we all said yeah. Yeah, I’m grieving I don’t know them; I’ve never been to that church. But that (the Confederate flag) was his (the killer’s) Army, that was his uniform. We’re not waiting and not sitting back.”

As Borghini put it, “Why would they not do something about it?”…

Whig denizens don’t like the word “hipster,” and they’re probably right that the self-righteousness implied doesn’t fit — even if the bar’s detractors detect a whiff of it. The Whig is one of only a few eclectic gathering places in what many complain is Columbia’s often banal college-town existence wrapped in a family and church town’s restrained conservatism.

The bar differs from its stiffer neighbors in more ways than one. The statehouse politics steps away are usually divisive, ugly and superficial. But even many of those bow-tied politicians and operatives sidle up to The Whig’s bar, where the conversation is generally more elevated and congenial….

Phil Blair, the bar’s co-owner who runs it day-to-day, calls it “alcohol philanthropy.” He wants to do more than sling beer and burgers. “I’m from here,” Blair said. “I have that local chip on my shoulder that we’re trying to catch up to other cities around us.”

The Confederate flag on the bar’s front perch was yet another reminder for Blair and others that Columbia hadn’t yet entered the 21st Century.

Those who inhabit The Whig are usually passionate people who rail against the status quo from the sidelines….

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Um, you don’t want to wait a minute or two and see if Bright’s Bathroom Bill actually has a chance of passing?

I’m reacting to this rather preemptive action on the part of a businessman down in Charleston:

A senate bill that would outlaw transgender men and women from using the bathroom of

Anthony Watson

Anthony Watson

their choice has caused a Charleston-based company to decide to move to the West Coast.

Anthony Watson, CEO of Uphold, described himself as an “openly gay, British CEO.” He said the company will move its U.S. corporate headquarters from Charleston to Los Angeles. Uphold is a financial services company that says it handled $830 million in transactions since its founding in 2014.

“I have watched in shock and dismay as legislation has been abruptly proposed or enacted in several states across the union seeking to invalidate the basic protections and rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) U.S. citizens,” he said on the company’s website….

Talk about being on a hair trigger. You don’t want to wait a minute and see if the bill gets any traction at all, much less passes?

I hate to break it to this guy, but there’s a distinct possibility that there’s a lawmaker in California just as loony as Lee Bright who will propose a similar bill. Then what is he going to do? It’s a significant feature of representative democracy that people who have a different worldview from you get to vote, too — and elect people like them. So there’s no way to guarantee that someone won’t file a bill that you find unfair, unjust or abhorrent.

People file stupid bills all the time, for all sorts of crazy causes. The time to worry, or for that matter pass judgment on the state in question, is when it looks like it’s going to pass, and be signed into law.

I’m not saying that won’t happen here. It’s disturbing that the bill was just introduced a week ago today, and there’s a hearing on it going on at this very second, as I type this.

But I chalk that up to the committee being chaired by one of Bright’s three co-sponsors, Kevin Bryant. It remains to be seen how many, other than those four, would vote for such a bill.

So, you know, before you make a multi-million-dollar decision, you might want to wait a minute. That is to say, Uphold might want to hold up…

Walid Hakim sticks to his guns

Just another one of those guys Obama spoke of, clinging to his guns.

Just another one of those guys Obama spoke of, clinging to his guns.

We last saw Walid Hakim suing the state — successfully — for throwing him and his fellow Occupy Columbia off the State House grounds.

As the best-known unleader of that movement, Walid looked and acted the part — Central Casting might have sent him over to play a part in a flick about the Days of Rage, or perhaps one of the lesser-known of the Chicago Seven.

Now, he’s suing the city of Columbia for trying to pry his gun from his warm, live hands.

So… the city is concerned about a bunch of redneck yahoos bringing guns to the city center in a tense moment, and the guy who sues is… Walid?

He just refuses to be typecast, doesn’t he?

He could be on his way to another victory in court, although I do have a question about one of his assertions:

As a lawful concealed weapons permit holder, he won’t be able to protect himself when he is near the State House if danger arises, his affidavit said.

“Unless prohibited by a valid law, I always carry at least one firearm on my person or in my car,” Hakim said. “I had planned to be near the State House for various lawful activities. Based on the ‘emergency ordinance,’ I am forced to change my plans.”…

Walid doesn’t go near the State House unless he’s packing? Really? His assertion seems to go beyond the feared danger of this Saturday — except that he says he doesn’t carry when “prohibited by a valid law,” which would mean he wasn’t armed while on the State House grounds.

Interesting.

Walid in the role we usually think of.

Walid in the role we usually think of.

11 arrested demonstrating for Medicaid expansion

This, and the video, are from The State:

COLUMBIA — Eleven protesters were arrested Tuesday for blocking the roadway leading into the State House garage, a Columbia Police Department spokeswoman said.

A group of about two dozen protesters gathered at the Pendleton Street entrance to the State House parking garage — and proceeded to block the roadway — in protest of the state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act, which they say will lead to unnecessary deaths.

They held signs that said “Expand Medicaid,” “Morality is not Partisan” and “SHAME.”…

You know, I can really identify with the frustration of these demonstrators. It is wrong, on multiple levels (not least of them common sense), for South Carolina to refuse to expand the Medicaid program, and the usual stuff — calm, polite debate in the State House — isn’t working.

At the same time, as y’all know, I have a problem with deliberate lawbreaking, even when it’s peaceful. From the Boston Tea Party to this, I don’t see street theater as the way to go.

And no, I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know how we get from a position in which South Carolina is acting irrationally to one in which we’re acting like we have good sense. Because, as I said, the usual stuff isn’t even coming close to working…

SC Christian Action Council’s prayer for Medicaid expansion

You may have read about the two rallies regarding health care, on opposite sides of the State House on the Legislature’s first day back.

I was just cleaning out email, and noted that, in inviting folks to the pro-Medicaid expansion rally, the SC Christian Action Council invited everyone, whether they could make it or not, to join in the following prayer:

Eternal God, may the voices of people in South Carolina concerned for our neighbors, our families, our friends, be heard in prayer. . .

We pray
For the 200,000 South Carolinians currently without health care coverage who will have coverage when our Legislature enacts legislation expanding Medicaid in our state. Until the hearts and votes needed are changed, may their neighbors, the people of faith in their communities, their families, volunteer and free medical providers, their village walk with them as they suffer the neglect of society for their physical ailments. May we in gratitude for our lives and your generous provision for us, become even more generous and compassionate people until such time as our politicians have done what is right and Expanded Medicaid in SC.
That the loved ones who will grieve the hundreds in our state who will die unnecessarily (as a result of our failure to enact Medicaid Expansion for 2014) will be comforted. That we say “Never again!” and get legislation passed in this legislative session.
That the thousands and thousands of children in public schools who qualify for free lunch, be deemed worthy of high quality, results oriented education which can only be made available to each child when our state fully and equitably funds public education.
That South Carolina puts children first. That we decrease the cost of higher education in our state colleges and universities rather than shutting doors on dreams with excessively high tuitions and fees,
That the voice of each person eligible to vote be protected rather than silenced; be encouraged rather than discouraged, be amplified to a roar rather than softened to an unhearable whisper.
That the constitutionally held right to vote be unfettered by political shenanigans designed to silence those in opposition to the partisans pressing to make voting more difficult.
Creator God, remind we who are made in your image that you so fashion every human. Help us as as citizens of our state, work so that what is right and good for all be done.

Amen.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the capitol, Obamacare was being likened to communism. So, a difference of opinion.

Tom Davis at the ‘nullification rally’

This morning, I saw this on Twitter from Tom Davis:

Thanks, Ed Eichelberger, for this video of my speech at Tuesday’s nullification rally at the S. C. State House. http://fb.me/1eyP5zmGG

“Nullification rally?” Is that what was going on when I passed by on Tuesday.? Wait, let me go check. No, I was right: This is 2013, and not 1832…

I didn’t have time to look at the video until tonight. Before I wrap up for today, I want to take note of it here. We must all remember this when Tom runs against Lindsey Graham next year. If he does. Or when he runs for anything in the future.

I have always liked Tom Davis personally, and I have been very disturbed to see his steady descent into fringe extremism.

In case you don’t have time to watch it all, some lowlights:

  • Lee Bright’s absolutely right.
  • Launching on a history lesson — neoConfederates are big on condescendingly explaining their version of history to the rest of us, and Tom is picking up their habits — he says that George Washington was president in 1800. No, Tom, he wasn’t. Kind of makes you want to double-check all the other stuff he says. In case you didn’t already know to do that.
  • He says, with fierce, defensive passion, that as a South Carolinian he is “proud of John C. Calhoun,” whom he characterizes as “a great man who has been maligned far too long.”
  • “You have the intellectual high ground here.” This to the assembled nullificationists.
  • “I can’t do anything right now up in Congress…” As opposed to later, I guess.
  • “This state has a proud tradition of leaders stepping up and holding aloft the candle of liberty at a time when things were darkest.” Really? I would like to have heard an elaboration on that, with names and dates, so I can understand how Tom is defining “liberty” these days.

Here’s what I would have done with regard to Occupy Columbia, had I been the governor of SC

Apparently — and surprisingly — the Occupy Columbia folks haven’t been getting enough attention from our governor. This came in an hour ago:

ACTION ALERT!

Tent March to the Governor’s Mansion at 4pm Tomorrow

ACTION ALERT: We are calling on all Occupiers and supporters to join us tomorrow for a march with our tents from the State House to the Governor’s Mansion. Once there, will deliver a special present to Governor Nikki Haley.

Please join us at 4:00pm at the State House and bring your tents!
With solidarity,

Occupy Columbia
www.OccupyColumbiaSC.org

I have no idea what this “special present” is, or why they’re taking their tents. Not knowing that, my mind turns to other, vaguely related, matters…

You know what I would have done over the last few weeks had I been governor? I’ve been thinking about this since the Budget and Control Board meeting the other day. I would have ignored Occupy Columbia.

Well, not ignored, as such. I think I might have gone out of my office and strolled around and chatted with them from time to time, totally low-key, in a nonconfrontational manner. I would have adopted a sort of traditional Hawaiian attitude — Burl should appreciate this. I would say things like, “Ain’t no big thing, bruddah,” and “We get ’em later…”

Beyond that, I would have left the situation alone, either until the Occupiers got tired of their shtick or until the Legislature came back. And if the Legislature wanted to pass legislation affecting the use of the State House grounds, they could do so.

Because the Legislature — the source of all power in South Carolina — has made it pretty clear that it is jealous of its authority over the State House and its environs. Witness its decision back in the 90s to make flying the Confederate flag — first on the dome, then starting in 2000, behind the monument — a matter of law, to make sure that no governor took action on the matter.

Even in a state where the Legislature doesn’t dominate as this one does, I would have understood that I couldn’t simply make up rules as I went along, enforcing “laws” never passed by a legislative body.

If lawmakers, such as Harvey Peeler, didn’t like the Occupiers, I would let them pass a law, and I would, within whatever executive authority allowed me, enforce it. If the solons wanted me to act more independently, then they could grant me power to do so in the future.

In the meantime, I would just be cool, and not go all Dean Wormer on the kids.

That’s what I would do.

Occupy Columbia says “Haley lies”

This just came out a few minutes ago:

VIDEO: Gov. Haley lies about inviting Occupy Columbia to make a public statement

The video above shows Governor Nikki Haley falsely claiming that Occupy Columbia had been invited to make a public statement at a Budget and Control Board meeting, in which they proposed new regulations aimed at evicting Occupy Columbia. We are still waiting on the invitation.

In reality, Melissa Harmon called the Budget and Control Board yesterday and requested to make a public statement. I know this because I was sitting next to her when it happened and tweeted about it. When they did reply to her, she was told explicitly that we could not make public statements and instead would have to submit written ones. We did not choose to submit written statements, as the Governor stated.

Maybe the Governor should check with her staff about these things before speaking to the media. If she did intend for us to have that opportunity then she should consider slowing this down and allowing adequate time to hold public hearings.

How do Occupiers eat? Here’s how…

Just in case you, like our governor, are sitting up nights wondering whether how the Occupy Columbia protesters are getting nutritious, sanitary meals, here’s an explanation from Maris Burton, a member of the Occupy Columbia Food Committee:

Dear Budget and Control Board members,

It has come to my attention that the storage and cooking of food is being used in an attempt to demonstrate the need for emergency regulations to protect the public health.

I have been involved with supplying and arranging delivery of food to the Occupiers.  I have taken part in several discussions regarding how to safely handle food and how to provide nutritious cooked meals. People are not living on the State House grounds; they are Occupying the grounds as a form of protest.

Since the eviction from the State House grounds on Nov 16, 2011 and the subsequent temporary restraining order that allowed the use of tents and a 24 hour occupation as part of our right to free speech, we agreed to lessen our footprint and to focus on having non-perishable items such as individually wrapped snack packets of crackers and nutrition bars, and water available to the Occupiers.

Dry goods are kept in a sealable plastic tub, not accessible to wildlife. We have a rotating food schedule of volunteers who prepare hot meals off site and bring them to the State house. We have one cooler on site that is kept supplied with ice and sometimes contains yogurts, cheese or packaged sandwich meats or creamer for coffee.  Food is brought at set times and cleared away promptly.

Any used dishes are collected each evening and washed at a volunteer’s home and then returned to the State House.

There have been no incidents of food related illnesses, and there has not been a problem with any wildlife coming near the food.

I welcome any questions you may have.

Such things are mildly interesting to me, because of my own strong aversion to living in the open. I’ve always thought, for instance, that the hardest part about serving in combat infantry would be the bivouac thing. Storm Omaha Beach, with the Germans having presighted every square inch and ready to rain lead and high explosives on me? Yeah, OK, just as long as I get a warm dinner and comfortable, dry bed that night, preferably back in England. To me, the real horror stories of war are those about the defenders of Bastogne getting frozen, literally, into their foxholes every night for a month during the coldest winter in Europe in a century, or the extremely gross conditions on Okinawa, living in a muddy soup of human waste and decomposing bodies. The fighting, by comparison, seems far less objectionable.

But I see even optimal outdoor living conditions to be less than desirable. I am not what you’d ever call a Happy Camper. By definition: If I’m camping, I’m not happy. Comparatively, anyway.

So it’s interesting to know how they’re managing over at the State House.

Occupy Columbia: Charges against 19 dismissed

Just got this:

Charges Against Occupy Columbia’s Nineteen Protesters Dismissed
Occupy Columbia to Hold Press Conference

ACTION ALERT: It our great pleasure to inform those concerned as well as all parties involved, that all charges against the nineteen protesters that were arrested on November 16th of 2011 have been -dismissed.  These charges were dismissed last night, Wednesday November 30th, 2011.

It is to our great pleasure to annouce as well, today at 1:30PM Occupy Columbia is to hold a Press Conference to discuss the dismissal of the case that would have convicted the nineteen protesters.

Occupy Columbia, Protesters, as well Supporters are ecstatic to start this month of Holidays off right: trully this is the Season to be Thankful and Merry!

Get up-to-the-minute updates from our twitter account: @OccupyColumbia.

Sincerely
Occupy Columbia
www.OccupyColumbiaSC.org

I pass it on FYI; I don’t think I’ll make it to the presser. But when I learn more, I’ll share it.

We are the 10 percent! The tyranny of a minority

I do not profess to be some sort of expert on the internal politics of Occupy Columbia, but I did hear something last night that startled me a bit.

I had wondered how on Earth they decided to do anything without acknowledged leaders. So after the “We Dare You to Arrest Us” rally was over last night, I moseyed over to eavesdrop a bit on their “general assembly.” And I heard what you can hear on the clip above.

I thought at the time maybe I had heard it out of context. As you can hear on the video, someone was saying hi to me at the beginning of this, which distracted me (you can hear me mumbling, “Hey. Hey, how are ya?”). But as I listen again, it seems pretty open and shut — any minority over 10 percent can block any decision.

As a guy who has for years fought efforts in our Legislature to make ordinary decisions subject to a supermajority of two-thirds — meaning one-third plus one is in charge — I was rather taken aback by this.

Walk me through this, please… This is a group that is indignant that, according to its legend, 1 percent controls things and 99 percent are victims, right? Yet this group lets 10 percent (plus one) make decisions for the 90 percent?

So it’s 1 percent good, 10 percent bad? Or what?

Maybe there’s a logical explanation. I’ll try to remember to ask next time I see some of these folks. They were kind of scarce around the State House when I looked today…