Today's must-read by Lynn Parramore, once (and still) of Raleigh, urges her fellow progressives to get past the redneck stereotype in their heads about the southern white male. If they do, they'll realize:
What liberals and progressives don’t seem to understand is that you don’t counter a myth with a pile of facts and statistics. You have to counter it with a more powerful story.
Because I married southern, she's talking about some people I love — a.k.a., the Republican base.
The piece is so good I just tweeted it!
This is just excellent! "What if Liberals and Progressives Could Learn to Talk to White Southern Men?" | Alternet alternet.org/election-2012/…— Bob Geary (@rjgeary) November 5, 2012
Last week I wrote in the Indy about early voting as an antidote to Republican efforts to obstruct the voting process.
I mentioned the Republican Party's post-1965 history of "ballot security" campaigns to discourage minority voters, as in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004. if space permitted, I'd have gone back to my first experience with voter suppression, which was Tony Imperiale and his armed Italian-American Republicans "guarding' the polls in Newark, New Jersey in the 1970s.
I did mention the billboards in minority communities warning residents about the penalties for voter fraud.
So over the weekend we've had these stories.
* In The New Republic, the Republicans are at it again in Ohio trying to keep blacks from voting.
* Meanwhile, Clear Channel used billboards in minority neighborhoods of Cleveland, Columbus and other Ohio cities to warn about the penalties for voter fraud.
Clear Channel is the communications behemoth known for, among other things, backing the War on Iraq to the hilt and blacklisting the Dixie Chicks when their lead singer spoke out in opposition to it.
Then there are the scattered, but numerous cases of phone calls to voters, especially senior citizens, with misleading information about voting hours and/or requirements, plus the efforts in states (e.g., Pennsylvania) where photo ID requirements were blocked to "inform" voters that a photo ID may be needed anyway.
Voting is our right, one that should be simple to exercise. Instead, more than one in three adults eligible to vote in the United States will not do so.
Voter suppression is just one reason for that sad statistic. But in a two-party system in which razor-tight elections are the norm, a voter suppression campaign that trims one side's vote by even 1 percent in one state is dangerous and can turn an election around. And these campaigns are not just in one state, they're in every battleground state, including Ohio, Florida, Virginia — and yes, North Carolina.
A post-script to my Early Voting post yesterday. When I arrived at the Talley Center (N.C. State), I was greeted by a pair of Democratic poll workers: Stephanie Eriksen Goslen, who's been in the Indy before, including as part of the Code Pink contingent honored in our 2005 Citizen Awards, and Stephanie's grandmother, Pota Vallas.
Vallas, who used to own the National Art Interiors furniture and design shop on the corner of Hillsborough Street and Glenwood Avenue, is 104.
That's right, she's been voting for presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932. She never misses an election, whether national, state or local, she said. That's a lesson she learned from her father, a naturalized citizen who was born in Greece. He opened a store on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh when he was 17, selling ice cream and candy that he made in the basement.
Her father was rabid about the importance of voting and a lifelong Democrat, she said.
She is, too. But what counts the most for her, she said, is the person, not the party. And in that vein, the news media has gotten slack in her later years about telling voters who the candidates are — their life stories, their character, and their accomplishments, if any.
The newspapers used to write about the candidates in detail, she said. They don't any more.
This year, though, she's in no doubt: She's for Obama. "He's shown himself to be a real leader," Vallas said. "I admire him to the extreme."
One reason she does is his life story. Abandoned by his father, raised by his mother and her parents, he sure didn't start life with a silver spoon in his mouth. "He came from nowhere," she said. "How he became president, I do not know!"
Grandmother and granddaughter had voted earlier. Now, as others came, the two were showing them how to fill out the ballot, which is not a simple proposition.
One of the voters they prepped: Maya Eriksen, who arrived just after I did. Maya, a College of Design student at State, is Stephanie's daughter and Pota Vallas's great-granddaughter. A fourth-generation Vallas.
Maya listened carefully to the briefing, as did I:
1) Be sure to vote for President and Vice President.
2) You can cast a straight-party vote if you want for all of the partisan state and congressional offices; but doing so does NOT mean you've voted for that party's presidential candidate.
3) Of course, you may want to split your ticket and vote for some Democrats, some Republicans, maybe a Libertarian or two.
4) The judicial races begin on the front (or they did on my ballot) and continue on the back, so be sure to turn the ballot over. Some of the judicial races are contested. Some aren't. I must say, it took me a minute to sort out which candidates were unopposed and which were running against each other.
5) The judicial races are officially non-partisan, which means (for most folks) you'll be looking at a list of names you don't recognize. That's one reason why you should clip or print out an Indy voting guide and stick it in your pocket.
6) In Wake County, there's a ballot question at the very end: $200 million for Wake Tech expansions? That'd be a yes vote IMHO.
Early-voting sites are listed on the State Board of Elections website, along with dates and hours they're open.
I followed my own advice and voted today. In the Indy, I focused on the wisdom of early voting 1) to be sure you do vote; 2) to help get that bandwagon moving to the polls; and 3) to deal early with any challenges, obstacles or fear tactics that may be coming your way — especially in minority communities — in an effort to keep you from voting.
Here, I want to emphasize how easy it is to vote early — how easy I found it to be, anyway, as I voted over at N.C. State's Talley Student Center — and the fact that students can vote early on campus or at any of the early-voting sites regardless of their family address and regardless whether they've registered to vote.
The picture above is of a wall outside the student center. The chalker was a little over-anxious to vote (!) ... or perhaps he/she meant to say that early voting stars.
I went into Talley, took the elevator to the fourth floor, and within three minutes I had the proper ballot in my hand for the precinct in Raleigh where I live. Then I went to the room with the voting booths, filled out the ballot and put it in the machine. As always, it felt great to cast my vote.
The set-up would've been the same for me had I been a State student registered previously in Wake County.
But let's say I was a State student who'd registered at my family address in Buncombe County, or Lenoir County, or wherever.
With one-stop voting, I could've re-registered on the spot* and voted using my Raleigh (student) address. "Many students have," one of my Cameron Park neighbors, Drusilla Williams, told me when I asked. She's the early voting site manager for the Wake Board of Elections.
When I re-registered, my prior registration would be struck from the rolls to prevent the possibility of my trying to vote twice. (This message is for you, True the Vote.)
Or, say I was a State student not previously registered. In that case, the one-stop system would be tailor-made for me. I could register* at one table and get my ballot at another.
(* To register at an early-voting site, you need to show some form of identification indicating that you currently live in the county where you're intending to vote. A student ID suffices. Or a utility bill. Below, I've copied the ID requirement from the State of Elections website.)
But remember, students (and others). This one-stop system only applies at early-voting sites.
It does not apply on Election Day. If you show up on Election Day, and you aren't registered, you're out of luck. (And if you haven't registered already, it's too late to do so and vote on Election Day — but again, you can register and vote at the same time at an early-voting site.)
To register at an early-voting site, any one of the following is sufficient identification (copied from the State Board of Elections website — look for the Quick Reference Guide for Voters to the right):
• NC driver license or identification card • Other government‐issued photo ID
• Documents showing name and current address of the applicant:
• Utility bill: telephone; mobile phone; electric or gas ; cable television; water or sewage
• Bank statement or bank‐issued credit card statement
• Government paycheck; invoice; letter; or any other document from a local, state, or U.S. government agency
• Property tax bill
• License to hunt, fish, own a gun, etc.
• Automotive registration
• Public housing or Social Service Agency document
• Paycheck or paycheck stub from an employer or a W‐2 statement
• Birth certificate
• Student photo ID along with a document from the school showing the student’s name and current address
Found near the scene of last night's mugging in Denver:
I have to say I got very little out of that mess. The moderator let Romney run all over the so-called time limits early, while Obama listened and tried to stay cool. But after awhile, Obama started taking extra time too, so Romney took more.
But hey, Lincoln and Douglas didn't have any stinkin' moderator and went at it for hours, and their debates are the stuff of legend. But I think they probably stuck to the issues (slavery, no slavery) and the facts a bit more.
At the end of 90 minutes, Romney has no platform left whatsoever. He's not cutting taxes, apparently, despite his tax-cut plan. He's putting more money into Medicare, not cutting it. He's regulating Wall Street. He's ... making very little sense, except that he sounded so sure of himself. It must be what the Enron guys sounded like back in the day when they were booking to market reporting fake revenues.
I think when your positions don't add up to anything, you get a DQ — disqualified.
That's what I give Romney.
Obama seemed confused by the fact that Romney's long-stated positions on the issues were all of a sudden inoperative. Obama let so many chances go by to skewer Romney (e.g., how outsourcing jobs earns a corporate tax break) that the best he can get is INC — incomplete.
On the other hand, with Jim Lehrer willing to give Romney multiple last licks on every subject, and with Romney willing to take any position regardless of veracity in order to dispute whatever Obama said, skewering him wasn't going to be easy.
If Al Gore was watching, I'll bet he sighed heavily many times. If only he'd been allowed to debate Romney-style back in 2000, the course of history would've been different.
This will take less than 3 minutes of your time, and it will lift your spirits about politics. (h/t BlueNC)
Let me see if I can manage the right level of umbrage about this. On the one hand, do they have so little to do over at the Pope Empire that they have to make up a story about me? On the other hand, though, they are calling me a liar because of this post from last week.
If I had more time, I'd make a little video of me flicking this off my shoulder, Obama-style. (Loved that, by the way.) As I'm in a bit of a hurry, I'll just note that my piece was about what I did after I was turned away from the Civitas meeting and left the hotel. I didn't re-enter the Doubletree. The statement that I somehow attempted to surreptitiously enter the Civitas meeting later is fiction.
Nothing else in the Civitas piece is a difference of fact, so I'll just leave it there.
First off, I want to 'fess up for that headline. I wrote something the other day and pitched it on Facebook with the word denouement in the header. This prompted a friend (she writes for the attention-grabbing Huffington Post) to remind me that words like denouement are not how you cause readers to click on your stuff.
That said, yesterday I dropped in at the Doubletree Hotel to hear Art Pope's remarks at a Civitas Institute luncheon. $15 at the door, which I was prepared to pay, though I was also ready to skip the lunch in my role as the hungry reporter.
But alas, I was turned away.
Press? Yes, apparently there were reporters inside. But did you RSVP? No, I didn't.
It's a private event, I was informed. So I left.
Which is why I cannot tell you what Pope, wealthy financier of right-wing Republicans, said about the future of education or even if he discussed education at all. I do know that Pope has spent many millions on "research" by his various organs (Civitas, John Locke, AFP-NC) into the failings of public education and the university system in North Carolina. I know he's a member of the new advisory committee on the future of UNC. (Yes, we just had an advisory commission.)
I also know that when Pope arrived at the Doubletree (before I did), he was greeted by some two dozen protesters, most of them members of a new group called the N.C. Student Power Union — NCSPU.
What's NCSPU stand for?
We want UNC System leadership that meets the needs of our diverse communities, respects and encourages meaningful input from students, workers, faculty, and community members and stays committed to accessible and affordable public education.
Pope parried briefly with members of the group, presenting himself as a humble servant of the people and staunch supporter of public education, misunderstood by his critics, etc. etc. The exchange went nowhere, and Pope said he needed to get inside, but he'd come out again when the lunch ended to answer any questions they might have.
Anyway, I waited with the students, but Pope didn't return. When the lunch ended, he exited by a side door and drove away, according to a student who'd stationed himself in the parking lot.
N.C. Student Power makes a basic point: Higher education should be available to all qualified students in North Carolina regardless of income. More and more, it isn't.
And having Art Pope on a UNC advisory committee, the group believes, is very unlikely to improve the situation — what Pope stands for would make things worse.
So Point No. 2 on the NCSPU petition, copied below, is that Pope should get off the committee.
They take the reasonable position that students, faculty and campus workers should be consulted about how universities can do better, and not just rich old guys who haven't seen the inside of a college classroom since before the advent of the computer.
I was interested, listening to the students, that some of what they had to say was remarkably similar to what the Pope "research" says — that the UNC system suffers from administrative bloat, that campus and system officials are overpaid, that money is wasted on dazzling dorms and sports facilities, and meanwhile the education that students receive is cut and cut and the tuitions they're charged go up and up.
Pope's gangs, too, can spot the bloat. But rather than concluding that the bloat must go, but the quality of education must be protected and improved, Pope's groups use horror stories about the bloat as an excuse to slash education spending across the board. But guess what? Those dazzling sports facilities and overpaid administrators live on, and it's the students who suffer.
And that's no accident.
It's the same phenomenon that allows rich Republicans to tell us how bad the economy is, and how little progress the Obama Administration has made in turning it around, while at the same time they do everything they can to protect Wall Street and all the people and policies which brought us to the brink of economic collapse — policies, by the way, which continue to make the rich richer.
They're good at blaming the victims, you have to give them that.
Here's the NCSPU petition as it was delivered to the advisory committee this week —
As students of the UNC school system, we deliver this letter with deep concern for the future of our University. In the past 10 years, average tuition at UNC System schools has more than doubled, student-to-professor ratios have risen, and entire academic programs have been scaled back or eliminated. The 25% minimum portion of tuition revenues set aside to fund need-based financial aid has been removed. Without financial aid, many working-class students cannot attend this University. In addition to these pressing struggles, The UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions that was recently established to map out the next five years of the UNC system lacks meaningful representation of students, workers, and faculty. As integral members of this University community, we should have a say in the future of our schools.
Because we believe our public education is on the line, because we want a University that welcomes and supports future generations of North Carolinians, regardless of their socio-economic status, and because we want to uplift the voices of those who make our education possible, we are coming together to take a stand. The North Carolina Student Power Union is building a movement to transform the current system into one where our universities are democratic institutions run by those who make them work. We are students, workers, faculty, and community members all across the state mobilizing to ensure that universities within the UNC System become accessible to all North Carolinians - particularly to working-class students and students of color.
1. We demand a voice in the decision-making processes that affect us.
-We ask the BOG to reconsider the process in which the Advisory Committee will be creating the 5-year plan. We ask they follow the model that UNC Tomorrow had, taking a year to get input from the people around North Carolina in Town Hall meetings.
- That all meetings convened at Board of Governors and the Advisory Committee contain a 2 hour public forum open to everyone in the University community.
-That these meetings be held in different areas of the state so that a majority of North Carolina students have an opportunity to access to them, and all convergences of the Advisory Committee abide by open meeting laws.
2. We demand that Art Pope be removed from the Advisory Committee and that a fully representative committee free of private/corporate interests with meaningful student, worker, and community leadership is created.
-Of the 27 members of the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions, only six are women and only 3 are people of color, this does not adequately reflect the diverse demographics of our schools and state.
-The Committee is packed with corporate leaders like Art Pope, CEO and Board Chairman of Variety Wholesalers Inc. Pope has notably funded a variety of regressive initiatives including the re-segregation of Wake County public schools. Through his known John Pope Foundation, he has a proven track record of working to privatize education.
3. We demand that the state of NC lives up to its constitutional promise to maintain education as “as free as practicable.”
- The Board of Governors must reinstate the 25% minimum of tuition revenues UNC System Schools must set aside to fund need-based financial aid.
We ask that you support us in these demands that will be a step in protecting the accessibility that makes public education in North Carolina great. Thank you again and we look forward to hearing from you.
Click on this link to sign it.
It was Easter weekend in 2010 when members of a small Hispanic church, Iglesia Buen Pastor, while returning from a religious exercise in Texas, were pulled over by federal agents in Louisiana for looking suspiciously like they might be immigrants — undocumented immigrants, even. Those with no children were deported immediately. Those with children were threatened with deportation, and they've been fighting it since. We reported on their case last year. Today, we have good news from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. They won't be deported.
And it only took two years —
Immigration Charges Dropped For 22 Raleigh Church Members After A Stressful Two Year Legal Battle
Raleigh, NC- Late last week 22 members of the Buen Pastor Church received final confirmation that the Department of Homeland Security is no longer seeking to have them deported. They had been stopped and detained by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in Lake Charles, Louisiana on April 15, 2010, on their return home from Holy Week festivities in Houston, Texas. The church members were awaiting their deportation when they received the news that their cases had been closed.
They were subjected to civil rights and due process violations throughout their interaction with CBP including racial profiling, threats to place their children in foster care and mockery for their religious dress. Five of those involved in the proceedings were under 18.
Jorge Calderon, who attends the Buen Pastor church with his wife and two young children shared, “When I heard the news that our case was administratively closed I prayed with my family in thanks to God. We were haunted by what happened. The uncertainty of our future brought emotional stress into our lives, especially for my children. Their friends, their school and their lives are here and I could not tell them whether we would have to leave.”
Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), which provides legal, organizing media and research support to community organizations, provided ongoing support to the church since October 2010. Attorney Elizabeth Simpson, who co-defended them with the SCSJ since 2010, said, “This case was a long shot; we had justice on our side but not the law. However, we did not consider giving up for a minute, and the lives of 22 individuals have been fundamentally changed because of that. They can imagine their futures now.”
Thanks to the “Morton Memo”, a policy released by John Morton, director of Homeland Security, in June 2011, DHS officials were empowered to use their discretion to administratively close immigration cases of individuals in deportation proceedings who do not pose a public safety risk, have been in this country for numerous years, and have filed civil rights claims among other criteria. The church members were among a handful of cases in North Carolina granted administrative closure.
Simpson said, “The reason we won this case is because of the multiple strategies employed. Alongside the legal work, the church members led a public pressure campaign and I think that was the tipping point”. The case drew attention and sympathy of supporters across the country. For the last two years church members have held vigils and rallies to talk about the abuses they experienced. They organized a petition sending over 900 signatures to Immigration officials. These are strategies that have been used by immigrant youth who have successfully stopped their deportations.
This case exposed the reality of abuse facing many immigrant communities. “What we won is a significant victory but it is only a stop-gap solution for the church members,” according to Rebecca Fontaine, community organizer with SCSJ. “Under our current immigration system we are facing a human rights crisis. We need to keep working for systemic change. ”
Elizabeth Simpson was an immigration legal fellow with the Southern Coalition with SCSJ from Sept 2010 to Sept 2011. She is currently a staff attorney at Prisoner Legal Services.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in August, 2007 in Durham, North Carolina by a multi-disciplinary group, predominantly people of color, who believe that families and communities engaged in social justice struggles need a team of lawyers, social scientists, community organizers and media specialists to support them in their efforts to dismantle structural racism and oppression.