February’s Black History Month observance is a fitting time to recognize that two South Carolina African-Americans of completely different political persuasions are history makers of note on the national level.
First there is 6th District Congressman James Clyburn, who has been a leader across decades and is the state’s most prominent Democratic politician.
In a tribute to Clyburn for Black History Month, S.C. Democratic Party Chairman and Orangeburg native Jamie Harrison cites the congressman’s background, from president of his NAACP youth chapter when he was 12 years old to student leader at South Carolina State University, from election to Congress in 1993 to his rise to House majority whip when Democrats controlled the House in 2006.
Today, Clyburn is assistant Democratic leader in the 114th Congress, the No. 3 Democrat in the House.
More importantly, as Harrison notes, Clyburn represents the state’s most rural congressional district, “which suffers from chronic underinvestment and poverty.” Clyburn became a national leader for rural communities, especially in those counties in South Carolina and across the country that are categorized as "persistent poverty communities," those communities where 20 percent of the population has been stuck beneath the poverty level for the past 30 years.
WASHINGTON -- Heading into New Hampshire, the race for the nomination of the once-genteel Republican Party seems to have entered a kind of Mad Max phase.
It is no surprise that Donald Trump is doing his best to create political mayhem. Trump was uncharacteristically subdued Monday night when he underperformed in Iowa, getting beaten by Ted Cruz and barely holding on to second place. But within 24 hours he was back in form, slashing and burning with abandon.
Trump seized on Ben Carson's complaint that Cruz's representatives at the Iowa caucuses had cheated, falsely leading Carson supporters to believe that their candidate was pulling out of the race; the message was that if they wanted their votes to count, they should cast them for Cruz. Trump thundered on Twitter that the "state of Iowa" should nullify the results and order a do-over -- never mind that it is the Iowa Republican Party, not the state government, that runs the caucuses.
"Oh that voter fraud, you know, these politicians are brutal," Trump said at a rally. "They are a bunch of dishonest cookies, I want to tell you."
Cruz accused his rival of throwing a "Trumper-tantrum" -- Cruz's wordplay is never quite as sparkling as he seems to think -- and his campaign maintained it was guilty of nothing except the practice of big-league politics.
WASHINGTON -- In the earliest Republican presidential debates, one of the most frightening moments came when Carly Fiorina described her "memory" of seeing a "fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'"
Many American hearts stopped beating momentarily at the vile description. Anti-abortionists applauded as they recognized the attack on Planned Parenthood for "harvesting" infant body parts and selling them. In November, three people were killed at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, the accused gunman supposedly "explaining": "No more baby parts."
It was a particularly vicious scenario in American life today, where abortion is seen to be as heinous as murder to some, but as a necessary element of control over one's own body to others. We know now that the entire drama was not only palpably false, but deliberately falsified so that, as rather rapidly occurred, the Republican Congress would shut off funds to Planned Parenthood and the venerable organization's reputation seemed forever sullied.
But it is now Planned Parenthood that has been cleared of any wrongdoing; instead, two anti-abortionists from a group called the Center for Medical Progress have been charged with felony counts in the case. The historically important organization providing birth control, female medical advice and some abortions has been totally exonerated and it is the anti-abortion activists who stand before their fellow citizens in shame.
It might well seem at this point that the entire disgraceful case is closed and that many activists should have learned a good lesson when it comes to truth-challenged gamesmanship in public life. One hopes this can be the case. But the fact is that, when it comes to birth and contraception, even though this is an era of sophistication and knowledge, we remain at a loss when facing the large issues of an increasingly overcrowded world.
The visit by a former president is newsworthy anytime, particularly on a local level. But these are not just any times.
In Columbia media, former President Bill Clinton made news on Wednesday with his evening appearance at Allen University. A key distributor of news statewide, however, did not cover the former president’s story beyond announcing he would be in Columbia and for what purpose.
That purpose is an ingredient in The Associated Press and other media making decisions about coverage “on merits.” Bill Clinton was in Columbia for purely partisan purposes, campaigning for his wife Hillary in her bid to win the Democratic nomination for president.
With AP covering the campaign wall to wall on a daily basis, there must be determinations on how and where to focus efforts. Capturing the big picture is more vital than coverage of an individual event.
Hillary Clinton is campaigning in New Hampshire this week ahead of next Tuesday’s primary. But with predictions of challenger Bernie Sanders winning there, the former first lady is looking to South Carolina on Feb. 27 as her firewall as well as a launching pad to victories in multiple states on Super Tuesday, March 1.
I recently attended the funeral of an acquaintance who passed away suddenly and without warning. His death caught everyone by surprise as he was a young man by today’s standards.
The death of a loved one always causes people to take a moment and ponder the inevitability of death, and that of our own mortality. The question then is: “What about me? What about my death?”
As I listened to the pastor at this funeral, it was painfully obvious he and this man had never met. In fact, he had never heard of the young man even though the young man’s relatives were lifelong attendees of his church.
I ached personally for this pastor as he attempted to preach words of comfort to this family in respect of someone whom he had never met, much less even heard of. What a terrible place to be as a pastor. There you see the family, sitting in the pews, hanging onto every word this pastor would say, somehow hoping he would utter the words, "Your husband/son/father is in heaven today”.
But then, how could he? Matthew 7:16 tells us, “You will know them by their fruits." How could the pastor know his “fruits” if the pastor had never “known” the young man? It doesn’t matter in the least that someone in the family shared stories about the young man -- how when he was younger he had been baptized and attended church some and even said himself that he knew Jesus. What is that pastor supposed to do? Openly question the accuracy of the family’s description of their deceased loved one?
Second Chance of Orangeburg Animal Rescue Coalition is seeking our community’s support. We are a young, small, all-volunteer animal-rescue group that believes the lives of homeless pets are worth fighting for. We believe that no dog or cat should die just because it is homeless.
We operate a small 16-dog no-kill sanctuary. Every day the phone calls come. Here are just some of what we hear on the other end of the phone:
- "I saw this dog walking on Highway 301 and she looks like she is starving to death. Can you help her?”
The dog on 301 was a walking skeleton. She had at least 30 bleeding wounds all over her body and she made us work to catch her. We only managed to rescue her because she no longer had the energy to move. We named her Maggie. Today the despair in Maggie's eyes has been replaced with joy.
- "Two puppies just wandered up into my yard, they were starving but I can't keep them.”
Just what will it take for the mainstream media to awaken to the disaster that is the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton? Pretending that what happened in Iowa was anything other than a near-death experience for the former secretary of state is simply nonsense. Worse, for those supporting her, the news is going to get even worse in the coming days.
A while back, I wrote about her overall standing with the public, noting that her overall ratings were 44 favorable, 51 unfavorable. However, among Democrats, Mrs. Clinton was viewed favorably 84-11. It would appear that ground is shifting beneath her feet. The idea that Democrats need to nominate someone who obviously is viewed very negatively by everyone other than Democrats to win in November defies all logic, and now even the Democrats are jumping ship.
Think about this. Hillary Clinton has raised huge sums of money. Her Super PAC has amassed and spent an unprecedented amount for a Democratic challenger. She is running against a 74 year-old white man who self-describes himself as a socialist and whose home state is hardly the breeding ground of national candidates.
Thanks to dominating the coin-toss vote, she appears to have eked out a victory over this underwhelming challenger in Iowa. If Hillary Clinton cannot crush Bernie Sanders, what is the argument she is going to be so tough in November? The actual polling data shows Sanders running more strongly against the various Republican candidates than Mrs. Clinton. Loud cries of “a victory is a victory” with these facts is whistling past the graveyard.
Mrs. Clinton basically ignored Bernie Sanders for many months. Then, as he gained traction, she had the campaign go to its default setting and attack him. As her problems mounted, these attacks either had little impact or, in some cases, actually backfired. Much has been written about the meager crowds she is attracting and the lack of enthusiasm among those present.
South Carolina State University board Chairman Charles Way has deep Orangeburg roots. He was a solid choice to head the South Carolina State University board as new trustees seek to guide the institution out of financial crisis.
Way has become a leading advocate for the state’s only publicly supported historically black institution of higher learning, recognizing its importance here and to the state and beyond. He says progress is being made, but state leaders must realize that moving to a balanced budget is not enough to rescue the school.
It’s the position we have been espousing consistently in urging the governor and lawmakers to hold the school and its leadership accountable while taking necessary steps to absolve the university’s debt to the state and vendors.
In praising Way and taking a stand on saving SCSU, The Post and Courier is a welcome voice. Here is what the Charleston newspaper stated editorially on Jan. 26:
The damage left by last October’s 1,000-year flood has caused an unprecedented $12 billion in damages to our state and left thousands with destroyed or damaged homes. Local businesses also suffered significant damage. We haven’t witnessed anything similar since the devastation caused by Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
Some 96,829 South Carolinians have registered for FEMA disaster aid, with $74 million dollars being approved. However, disaster relief continues well beyond the initial weeks and months after the storm strikes, and a large number of flood victims report that while the aid from FEMA was helpful, it wasn’t enough to cover the cost for damages sustained.
Many South Carolinians are still displaced from their homes, or living in severely damaged homes, even after receiving federal aid.
The flood wreaked havoc on 24 counties across the state, ranging from counties in the Pee Dee to the Lowcountry to the Midlands. The floodwaters did not discriminate and neither should the State of South Carolina when it comes to recovery relief efforts.
The recovery process will be long, painful and expensive for many families and individuals across the state. Leaders in Columbia have a responsibility to ensure that impacted communities get back on their feet and are able to make a full recovery.
In a six-page letter to select members of the South Carolina State University Board of Trustees, we alleged and suggested that a number of the challenges continuing at SCSU begin primarily with current key administrative personnel.
It was no surprise when The T&D reported that the acting president irresponsibly was not prepared to submit a critical report to the Legislature, with a lame excuse of receiving the format only the day prior. If SCSU’s acting president and senior staff cannot make their case for support, the board nor any other entity can do so. That's incompetence and the Peter Principle clearly evidenced.
The SCSU $30 million request for debts and buildings reminds this observer and his friends of one of our favorite English poets, John Donne, and "Death Be Not Proud." SCSU has been on life support so long that ringing in our ears we hear: "And soonest our best men with thee doe go, Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie."
It seems rather inevitable that no matter the board, president, senior administrators, dean, and/or director changes, SCSU manages after ICU treatment to find itself in another life-support situation. Yes, is it time for SCSU to rest of its bones and soul delivery?
Unsolicited at homecoming 2015, we sat quietly, imagine that, and listened to the chatter of the continued disappointment in SCSU. In walks the acting president, and very successful alumni were shaking their heads agreeing he should not be acting president and that leadership is the imperative here.
The Iowa caucuses are history. With the saturation coverage, one might think the U.S. national election has been decided. It has not.
Focus has shifted now to New Hampshire, a small Northeastern state that is no more reflective of America at large than is Iowa. But again this week, coverage will focus on who is a frontrunner, who is a survivor and the candidates that may as well call the campaign off.
Consider that GOP candidates such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich did not put effort into Iowa and focused on making a stand in New Hampshire. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was an also-ran in Iowa but is counting on doing well closer to home. And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, also an Iowa also-ran, is looking at states such as South Carolina where the electorate will be more favorable.
But the three, and other GOP contenders, even retired surgeon Ben Carson who once was at or near the top of national polls, will struggle to get any attention because of Iowa’s results. Their future in the race is tenuous at best.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, billionaire Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio got all the GOP momentum from Iowa, and while it is significant that interest was high, prompting a record Republican turnout in Iowa, the analysis of the race could change as quickly as pundits tried to lock it into a mold after Tuesday.
WASHINGTON -- The only thing missing from Marco Rubio's victory speech Monday night was the victory: In Iowa's Republican caucus, Rubio finished not first, not second, but third. Was he expecting a bronze medal?
Overall, it was a long evening that offered too many declarations of triumph -- I counted four -- and too little clarity about what either party ultimately wants in a presidential nominee. The war between insiders and outsiders rages on, and there is no reason to believe it will end anytime soon.
"So this is the moment they said would never happen," Rubio began, ignoring the fact that every recent poll said his third-place finish would almost surely happen. He went on to give a hopey-changey speech that was strikingly similar to one Barack Obama gave eight years ago, also in Iowa, the difference being that Obama really won. Rubio made an obligatory dig at the president but instead should have sent him a royalty check.
Rubio was trying his best to upstage the genuine winner on the Republican side, Ted Cruz, whose victory speech was notable for its 32-minute length. At least he, unlike anyone else, had genuine reason to crow. Iowa was always thought to be friendly turf for him, with evangelicals and hard-right conservatives dominating the GOP electorate, but final polls showed him neck-and-neck with Donald Trump or perhaps even trailing. Cruz emerged as the clear victor, 28 percent to 24 percent.
Cruz went on so long that the cable networks cut away to Hillary Clinton, who strode out with her family in tow to claim victory over Bernie Sanders without actually uttering the words "I won." The closest she came was saying that "I stand here tonight, breathing a big sigh of relief." At the time, however, her razor-thin lead was shrinking to mere tenths of a percent. There it remained.
In an election cycle that’s already been one of the most unpredictable in American political history, conventional wisdom took it on the chin again Monday. Here’s six things the political class had wrong about Iowa:
1. Big turnout helps Donald Trump
According to the experts, big crowds and long lines meant Trump’s new, non-traditional Republicans — and maybe some crossover Democrats — were showing up to caucus for the billionaire. Even Ted Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe thought big numbers would mean a big night for Trump. As it turned out, the GOP turnout was huge — ABC News estimated more than 180,000, compared to the 2012 record of 121,354. But the voter surge seemed to help Monday’s winner, Cruz and third-place finisher Marco Rubio more than No 2 Trump.
2. Trump won’t be able to handle losing
Flanked on stage Monday night by his wife and adult children who took on more high-profile roles in the campaign in recent days, Trump was subdued, obviously, as befits a poll-spouting frontrunner who underperformed miserably. But even Democrat Paul Begala, commenting on CNN, said Trump showed humility in conceding to Cruz, in a speech that Begala called “great.” There were no snarky late-night tweets from @realDonaldTrump, and the New York developer assured Iowans he was “honored” to finish second and would be back: “I think I might come here and buy a farm. I love it!.”
As we reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we think about African-Americans as agents of history. Well-documented gaps in unemployment rates, earnings, poverty and wealth too often lead to viewing African-Americans as bystanders to America's economy. At worse, there is a tendency to observe the gaps in economic success and blame African-Americans for being disengaged and not trying to respond to clear economic realities -- a lack of investment in education, skills, training and personal saving.
But a clear and fair understanding of King's legacy is that African-Americans have been fully aware of the barriers they face to success and have been steadfast to struggle to remove them. Indeed, King was assassinated during a campaign by black sanitation workers in Memphis to exercise their right to organize, strike and demand fair wages -- a key theme of American worker advancement during the first 80 years of the last century and one repeated this King holiday by airport workers demanding a living wage.
The lack of wealth in the African-American community is well known. The median net wealth of white households is 12.2 times greater than that of black households. The difference in wealth does not grow smaller when comparing white and black households headed by college graduates, or when controlling for differences in income. Because the easy answers like education and income differences don't explain the wealth gap -- which measures accumulated savings over multiple generations -- the fall back is often to blame the savings' behavior of blacks. And, here, old stereotypes of African-Americans being profligate can easily substitute for documentation.
This is why those early years after emancipation are key in addressing the deep history of African-Americans as their own agents. During the Civil War, African-American leaders, most famously, Frederick Douglass, campaigned hard to have black soldiers officially sworn into the fight to end slavery. With issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln also finally signed on that in 1863 not only would slaves in the rebellious states be free, but African-American men would join the United States Army and Navy in quelling the Southern revolt. Close to 180,000 black men signed-up as official members of America's Armed Forces to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. They became the largest paid workforce of African-American men to that point in America's history.
The issue quickly arose as to where could they deposit their paychecks? A few fledgling efforts were made to start banks. And that effort culminated with the establishment of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust by Congressional act in March 1865; the Freedmen's Bureau bank. Recently the U.S. Department of Treasury and Secretary Jack Lew dedicated an annex to honor the Freedmen's Bureau Bank.
Much emphasis is placed on the higher death rates for African-Americans and other minorities from primary health problems such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease. But overall death rates have continued a slow decline.
Now a study is showing death rates are rising, but not across the board. Middle-aged white Americans are the victims and failure to make further progress against major health problems is believed to be a key factor.
The Commonwealth Fund analyzed data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in studying actual and expected death rates, and causes of death, for working-age adults from 1968 through 2014.
According to a report by Lisa Gillespie of Kaiser Health News, the analysis follows a much-discussed study circulated late last year that found death rates had been rising for non-Hispanic, white Americans between ages 45 and 54 since 1999, following several decades of decline. The two Princeton economists who authored that study — one was Angus Deaton, last year’s winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in economic science — attributed the turnabout to rising rates of drug abuse, suicides and alcohol-related liver disease.
“White Americans are now facing a substantial ‘mortality gap,’” according to Commonwealth, which cited higher-than-expected death rates for white adults ages 45 to 54 in 2014.