mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Positions On Brady Bill And Background Checks”: Can South Carolina Forgive Bernie’s Gun Record?

Hillary Clinton is taking a message to South Carolina: Bernie Sanders is soft on guns.

In a newly released campaign ad, Clinton is hitting the Vermont senator straight in his progressive bona fides. The 30-second spot features Rev. Anthony Thompson, who lost his wife in the Charleston church massacre last year.

In debates and town halls, Clinton has repeatedly pointed out that Sanders—in addition to voting against the Brady Bill—has failed to support the most basic tenet of gun control: background checks. And being in favor of civil immunity for gun manufacturers likely played well in the Green Mountain State, where gun violence is relatively uncommon.

“I come from a state that has virtually no gun control,” Sanders said at a gala dinner hosted by the South Carolina Democratic Party over the King holiday weekend. “We must bring this country together under those provisions that the majority of the country supports.”

However, a public opinion poll conducted by CBS News and The New York Times found that the vast majority of Americans—92 percent— “favor background checks for all gun buyers.”

South Carolinians have been grappling with gun control since the day 21-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine people—including South Carolina State Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney —after a prayer service.  The mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, one of the largest and oldest historically black churches in the south, whipped up the political winds.

State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, who endorsed Clinton this week, introduced a comprehensive bill aimed a curtailing the flow of illegally obtained guns and tightening restrictions on buyers. Senator Sanders, who talked to the state lawmaker about his legislation, has said he voted against the Brady Bill because he “opposed a provision in the bill that would have held gun shop owners responsible if a gun they sold was used in a terrible crime.” He favors, according to a statement provided to The Daily Beast, holding “manufacturers and sellers responsible for knowingly or negligently selling a gun to the wrong person.”

None of that has stopped the Clinton campaign from attempting to exploit what they see as a weakness. By targeting Sanders with an ad that features an “Emanuel 9” widow, just 15 days before the Democratic primary contest in South Carolina, Clinton is out to show that Sanders is out of the mainstream and that he doesn’t understand the needs of people who live in the line of fire. That message is being dispatched by surrogates—including state elected officials and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to houses of worship in every corner of the state.

In debates, Sanders has vigorously defended himself on the issue—pointing to his D-minus rating from the National Rifle Association and saying he will continue to fight for “common sense gun safety measures” as president.

The Sanders campaign said the senator does support closing the gun-show loophole, which allows unlicensed dealers to sell weapons without a background check. He also wants to make “straw man” purchases a federal crime, ban semi-automatic assault weapons and launch a renewed focus on mental health.

While gun control is not a featured issued on the Sanders campaign website, FeelTheBern.org says the candidate believes in a “middle ground solution.”

“Bernie believes that gun control is largely a state issue because attitudes and actions with regards to firearms differ greatly between rural and urban communities.”

The website is built and maintained by volunteers who have no official affiliation with Sanders.

By comparison, Clinton’s proposals are much more aggressive and she lays out her public record on the issue—as First Lady when she supported the Brady Bill and background checks, and as a U.S. Senator when she co-sponsored legislation to re-instate the assault weapons ban. Clinton has vowed to close the “Charleston loophole,” which allows a gun sale to proceed without a background check if that check has not been completed within three days.

There are few who believe that Sanders stands a real chance of winning in states like South Carolina— with its markedly more diverse electorate.  Clinton, with the new ad and a throng of issue-driven surrogates, is out to prove that Sanders is disconnected, that he doesn’t know how “real” Americans live and that he doesn’t know how to govern.

Clinton isn’t just saying that Sanders is soft on guns, but that his all-or-nothing positions are dangerous.

 

By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, February 12, 2016

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Background Checks, Bernie Sanders, Gun Control, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Confederate Flag Treated Like Fallen Hero”: Many Still Miss The Point Of What The Confederacy Stood For

In June, the South Carolina Highway Patrol honor guard carried the mortal remains of the murdered Sen. Clementa Pinckney up the State House steps and into the rotunda.

Members of the honor guard flanked the open coffin, spit polished and erect, eyes straight ahead in a silent show of respect as thousands of mourners filed past. A black cloth had been draped over one of the windows to spare anyone who might be offended by the Confederate battle flag flying out front.

A bill called the Heritage Act passed in this very building prevented the flag from being lowered even to half-staff, much less taken down without a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

But on Thursday, the legislature voted to do just that and set a 24-hour deadline on having it done.

On Friday, the honor guard returned, this time to lower the Confederate battle flag, which had been designed by William Porcher Miles, a onetime mayor of Charleston who had been a prominent “fire-eater,” as the most ardent proponents of slavery and secession leading up to the Civil War were called.

The honor guard had performed countless other ceremonies, but this one was a little different. And they had not been given much time to work out exactly how it should go.

The flag was being taken down in the first place because it was seen by many people—African-Americans in particular—as a hateful symbol of slavery and oppression. Some rightly view it as a shameful banner of treason.

But it had been hoisted there in the first place because it is viewed by others—none of them African-Americans—as a symbol of an idealized heritage and history.

And the very fact that the honor guard had been chosen to lower it was an implicit nod to those people.

At the appointed time on Friday morning, the guard went about lowering the flag with the same ritualistic respect as it would with the Stars and Stripes.

Two of the officers took the lowered banner in their white gloved hands.

And for a moment, it seemed as if they might fold it as they would an American flag that had covered the coffin of a fellow cop or a U.S. solider who had made the supreme sacrifice.

Instead, they rolled it, presumably an echo of the way Confederate regiments furled their battle flags in surrender at the end of the Civil War.

A black sergeant was the one who then took the furled banner. He had done this at American flag ceremonies where race was not issue, but it was hard to believe that he had been chosen by chance in this instance.

He seemed to be an attempt to compensate for the bigotry associated with what he now carried so solemnly over to the State House steps. The director of the South Carolina Relic Room and Military Museum waited to receive it.

For a second, truly terrible moment, the ritual was too much like that performed when the flag from a hero’s coffin is presented to a grieving loved one along with the words, “On behalf of a grateful nation.…”

Thankfully, the sergeant uttered not a word. The director, Allen Roberson, was also silent as he took the furled flag.

“Nothing was said,” Roberson later told The Daily Beast. “I felt like that was appropriate.”

Roberson was escorted up into the State House.

“I just wanted to make sure I didn’t trip when I was carrying the flag,” he recalled.

He then descended to the basement, where an armored car was waiting to transport the flag to the museum.

Upon arriving, Roberson brought the flag in through a back door. The flag was unrolled, smoothed and carefully folded.

“So it wouldn’t crease,” Roberson said.

The museum’s registrar, Rachel Cockrell, and an intern named John Faulkenberry placed it in an “acid-free textile storage box, padded with acid-free tissue.” The box was stored in the museum’s “secure, climate-controlled Artifact Storage area.”

“Locked and alarmed,” Roberson said.

Roberson dismissed as not entirely accurate reports that there had been a tacit agreement as part of a legislative compromise to store the flag in a multimillion-dollar facility funded by the taxpayers—which would include, necessarily, the descendants of slaves.

He allowed that there had been some brainstorming with various architects and planners, but nothing had been decided and whatever was ultimately done would not likely be so grand.

He noted that he has not been able to get added funding for anything in recent years.

“Our budget has not increased at all,” he said.

Back at the State House, the flagpole where the banner had flown was now bare, but a monument to the Confederate dead remained. The inscription on the north side reads:

“This monument
perpetuates the memory,
of those who
true to the instincts of their birth,
faithful to the teachings of their fathers,
constant in their love for the State,
died in the performance of their duty:
Who
have glorified a fallen cause
by the simple manhood of their lives,
the patient endurance of suffering,
and the heroism of death,
and who,
in the dark house of imprisonment,
in the hopelessness of the hospital,
in the short, sharp agony of the field
found support and consolation
in the belief
that at home they would not be forgotten.
Unveiled May 13, 1879”

The fallen cause they glorified included sedition and slavery. The people at home included slaves who had suffered horrors that outdid even war.

There is also an inscription on the north side:

“Let the stranger,
who may in the future times
read this inscription,
recognize that these were men
whom power could not corrupt,
whom death could not terrify,
whom defeat could not dishonor
and let their virtues plead
for just judgment
of the cause in which they perished.
Let the South Carolinian
of another generation
remember
that the State taught them
how to live and how to die.
And that from her broken fortunes
she has preserved for her children
the priceless treasure of their memories,
teaching all who may claim
the same birthright
that truth, courage and patriotism
endure forever.”

The truth is they died fighting to deny fellow human beings the right to life and liberty. Their legacy is racism and hate.

The flowery falsehoods on the monument remain, now that the flag has been taken down in somber ceremony with white gloved hands and tucked safely away by a very nice museum director in an acid-free box, locked and alarmed.

 

By: Michael Daly, The Daily Beast, July 11, 2015

July 12, 2015 Posted by | Confederate Flag, Slavery, South Carolina | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“We Are All Charged With Pushing Forward”: President Obama Delivers A Speech For History

“This whole week,” said President Obama, “I’ve been reflecting on this idea of grace.”

That was the turning point of Friday’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, the Charleston, South Carolina minister who was, with eight of his congregants, murdered by a racist terrorist two weeks ago. It was the moment a memorable speech became a speech for history.

“According to the Christian tradition,” the president-turned-preacher explained, “grace is not earned, grace is not merited, it’s not something we deserve. Rather, grace is the free and benevolent favor of God.” Grace, in other words, is that which bridges the gap between creation and Creator, the staircase connecting the soil to the celestial.

And it is amazing. So the heart leapt when, moved by some ephemeral thing cameras could not see, Obama launched into a soulful, heartfelt and, yes, off-key rendition of one of the foundational hymns of the church. “Amazing grace,” he sang, 6,000 voices rising to meet him, “how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

“As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy,” the president said, “God has visited grace upon us, for He has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind. He’s given us the chance, where we’ve been lost, to find our best selves.”

The president named a few of the things to which we’ve been blind, the issues upon which we have been lost. He spoke of gun violence, the hunger of children, the brazen hatred that inspired the alleged shooter, the soft bigotry that gets “Johnny” called back for an interview but leaves “Jamal” job hunting.

Though he didn’t mention it, it seemed not inconsequential that he said these things on the same day the Supreme Court affirmed the right of same-sex couples to marry. It seemed fitting that he returned that night to a White House bathed in colors of the rainbow. One could almost see history making a great, wide turn toward freedom.

And, too, one heard predictable howls of outrage. Sen. Ted Cruz called it one of the darkest days in American history, Rush Limbaugh predicted polygamy, some Southern states, as they did during the civil rights years, declined to be guided by the court’s ruling. But, it all carried a tinny, faraway sound, like a radio station from some distant town, drowned out by the thunder of rejoicing.

This is not to say those doorkeepers of yesterday are without power to interdict change. They are nothing if not stubborn and resilient. It is, however, to say that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. And, moreover, that the genius of the nation founded 239 years ago Saturday by a group of men we would now call sexist, racist and homophobic, was not its perfection as originally conceived, but the fact that it was built for change, built to become better, and continually expands itself to accommodate that long arc.

Are we not tasked with forming “a more perfect union”? It’s the ongoing work of America, work no one speech or court ruling can finish, but which we are all charged with pushing forward. Until one bright day, you look up and are surprised how far you’ve come.

That’s what happened Friday. And it might be the story of John Newton’s life. Newton, who wrote the hymn in which President Obama found solace, was a slave trader who changed by increments over the years until, by the end of his life, he was issuing grief-stricken apologies for his part in that evil business. If the first verse of his hymn is a paean to the redemptive power of grace, its third is a reminder that grace obligates us to push forward toward bright days not yet glimpsed:

“Through many dangers, toils and snares,” he wrote, “I have already come / Tis’ grace has brought me safe thus far / And grace will lead me home.”

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, July 1, 2015

July 2, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Hate Crimes, Racism | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Still Remains Popular Within The State”: South Carolina’s Complicated Relationship With The Death Penalty

If prosecutors convict Dylann Storm Roof and then seek the death penalty—and despite calls from Governor Nikki Haley, it’s not clear they will—the Charleston shooting suspect could be sitting on death row for a long time. The last execution in South Carolina was in 2011, despite a list of 44 people awaiting execution. The pace of executions has slowed to a crawl, in a state that has put 282 people to death over approximately the last century. And the reasons that this slowdown has happened may also give prosecutors pause in this case.

In its earliest days, South Carolina was notoriously expansive in its definition of what qualified for the death penalty; a slave could be put to death for destroying grain, for instance. It is still one of the top 10 states for per capita executions, following the Supreme Court suspension of the dealth penalty in 1976 and its subsequent reinstatement. But South Carolina’s relationship with capital punishment has gotten complicated, some for reasons that align with national trends and some specific to the state. On one hand, it’s a place where, just last year, a judge posthumously exonerated a black boy executed in 1944—the kind of case that has led some states to move away from the death penalty. On the other hand, months later, a state legislator sought the reintroduction of firing squads to make it easier to execute criminals.

One cause of the statewide drop in executions helps explain why there would even be a doubt about whether Roof will face the death penalty: It’s expensive. In 2012, one South Carolina prosecutor who had intended to seek the death penalty changed his mind because of the cost. “Once you file for the death penalty, the clock gets moving and the money, the taxpayers start paying for that trial,” he said, reflecting broader angst in the state about the price of death penalty trials, appeals, and retrials, compared to a life sentence. Mathematically, if fewer prosecutors seek the death penalty, the result is fewer executions. Roof’s case would seem a likely candidate to set aside the question of cost, and some predict the death penalty will indeed be sought. But then, it would surely be one of the costlier death penalty trials, because there’s a link between a case’s prominence and its price. (The prosecutor leading the Roof case is controversial with the black community.)

But there are other reasons for the decline in the execution rate, according to South Carolina government officials, namely the difficulty in acquiring drugs needed for lethal injections. “Right now, what we’re doing is we are looking and reaching out to pharmacies and suppliers et cetera to try to find pentobarbital,” S.C. Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said, explaining how the shortage contributed to the slowdown. “We have thus far not been successful at that.” The availability of drugs is an issue other states are confronting, too. Overall, the drop in executions in South Carolina and the reasons for that are “consistent with across the country,” says Emily Paavola, executive director of the state’s Death Penalty Resource and Defense Center.

But the death penalty still remains popular within the state. Nationwide, public support for capital punishment has fallen, partly stemming from the number of exonerations of death row inmates and partly stemming from declining crime rates; that has, in turn, driven politicians in many states to oppose capital punishment. But even death penalty opponents admit that the same shift has yet to happen in South Carolina, except, Paavola says, with regard to the use of the death penalty for the mentally ill, the subject of a poll by her group in 2009.

Opponents of the death penalty have tried to seize on the case of South Carolina’s George Stinney to shift public attitudes. Even among historical exonerations, Stinney’s case stands out: The 14-year-old was electrocuted more than 70 years ago after a two-hour trial that convicted him of beating two white girls to death; in 2014, he was posthumuously exonerated by a judge who cited the all-white jury and a compromised confession. “The case has haunted the town since it happened,” the Washington Post wrote, and “Stinney’s case has tormented civil rights advocates for years.” One of the defense attorneys working the case said the state needed to correct the record. “South Carolina still recognizes George Stinney as a murderer,” Matt Burgess told CNN. “We felt that something needed to be done about that.”

But the Stinney case hasn’t put a halt to a steady stream of bills introduced in the Statehouse that meant to make capital punishment easier, like the legislation introduced by State Representative Joshua A. Putnam to allow firing squads to be used when lethal injection drugs aren’t available. Overall, Paavola’s group has watched the list of factors that makes a case qualify as death-eligible grow since 1976. “The Legislature has, over the years since the death penalty was reinstated, expanded that,” she said, but she noted that individual prosecutors have used their discretion differently. ”From our perspective, the result is, often, very arbitrary selection.”

The Death Penalty Resource and Defense Center isn’t commenting on the Roof case, at least not yet. But on the day of the Charleston shooting, the group called it a “sad day for all in SC.” And the group noted that it had just recently started working with State Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was among the murdered. He had been helping them fight a bill that would hide information about how lethal injections are carried out from the general public.

 

By: Tim Starks, The New Republic, June 19, 2015

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, South Carolina | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: