Progressive Movie Night to feature award-winning documentary “Inside Job”

The public is invited to a free screening Feb. 28 of Inside Job, a 2010 documentary about the late-2000s financial crisis directed by Charles H. Ferguson and narrated by Matt Damon. Ferguson says the film is about “the systemic corruption of the United States by the financial services industry and the consequences of that systemic corruption.”

Inside Job was well-received by film critics who praised its pacing, research, and exposition of complex material. The film was screened at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival in May and won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The movie will be shown at Conundrum Music Hall, 626 Meeting St., West Columbia. Free entrance, free popcorn. A fine selection of beer, wine, and sodas will be available for purchase. Door opens at 6:30pm; film at 7pm. Event sponsored by the SC Progressive Network.

Add erectile dysfunction meds to conscience clause

Laura R. Woliver
Columbia, SC

The Legislature needs to make conscience-clause legislation regarding birth control and family planning more expansive, to incorporate an even bigger issue in the politics of reproduction: It needs to also protect medical personnel, pharmacists and store clerks dispensing male erectile dysfunction medications.

These employees should be able to ask the following questions of anyone requesting male erectile dysfunction medications:

1. May I see your marriage license?

2. Is your marriage to someone of the opposite gender? Please verify.

3. Will you be using these medications exclusively with your heterosexual married partner?

4. Will you use this medication only after receiving complete consent from the partner you intend to use it with?

5. Will you use a male or female condom during this event in order to:

a. Avoid spreading a sexually transmitted disease?

b. Avoid an unwanted pregnancy?

c. Avoid being complicit in the demands for legal abortions or the “morning-after” pill?

6. Please verify that you are not a Roman Catholic priest.

Our wise Legislature can most likely think of other questions to add to this preliminary list. Balancing out our reproductive-medication conscience clauses is very important, because there are no doubt many individuals who are forced to dispense, sell and procure these chemicals even though they believe that male erectile dysfunction is God’s will and should not be played with.

Governor’s union-bashing unwarranted, unfair

By Micheal Parrotta
Myrtle Beach, SC

I am a firefighter in South Carolina. I respond when the alarm goes off without the slightest hesitation, just like the men and women who work alongside me. Our job is to save lives and property. We do that job with pride. We are deeply committed to keeping our neighbors and communities safe, because we are proud citizens of the great state of South Carolina.

We are also union members.

In her State of the State address, Gov. Nikki Haley proclaimed my fellow firefighters and paramedics and I “are not needed, not wanted and not welcome in the state of South Carolina.”

Her rhetoric made it sound like she was talking about truly evil people. Or an angry invading force. Instead of me and tens of thousands of other hard-working citizens.

Does she really want to deny all of us a voice in our work lives, or drive us out of South Carolina?

That’s a lot of taxpayers, a lot of moms and dads, a lot of Little League coaches. Police officers, dock workers, mail carriers, paper mill workers, utility workers, UPS drivers and more, who work long, tough hours and help keep our state’s economy humming along, are also union members.

What does Gov. Haley have against us?

We are employed here and pay our taxes here. We live middle-class lives. We own houses, keep our yards up and spend money in the state we call home.

Maybe Gov. Haley doesn’t like that our membership in our unions allows us to advocate for such things as better equipment to make sure we can respond effectively and fast.

Maybe the governor doesn’t like that we are able to earn a living that gives us and our families a decent life and keeps us off public assistance.

Or maybe she is listening to the same politicians in Washington who are failing our country by doing the bidding of big corporations — the ones with headquarters well outside of our state that profit mightily from the hard work of South Carolinians.

In her address, Gov. Haley said the state of the state is “surging.” Really? Where’s it surging to? Our state’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average. Our citizens are among the lowest paid in the nation.

We know that Wall Street profits have been surging in the past few years. But have you been surging? Are your wages surging? What about your home values?

Gov. Haley is not the only extremist politician pointing fingers at people who work for a living as the evil ones. Her agenda looks like it was written by national corporate lobby groups that just can’t seem to get enough profit and power, and don’t care a whit about the good people of South Carolina.

Firefighting is not the career to choose if you seek fame and fortune. If that’s what you’re looking for, you might try politics. We often refer to fire fighting as “the calling,” because most of us from an early age feel a call to serve our communities. It is tough but rewarding work. And for too many of my colleagues, exposing our bodies to dangerous, traumatic and physically demanding situations and carcinogenic fumes means our career won’t be a long one.

It’s time to stop treating the employees who provide our public services and those who keep our economy going as though we’re selfish demons. We are your neighbors. We go to work every day, just like you. We care about this state and its citizens.

We are not corporations with headquarters in other states or other countries that answer to profit-hungry shareholders on Wall Street. We are South Carolinians who have just as much of a right to have a voice in the workplace and a say in our futures as the folks writing Gov. Haley’s speeches.

Parrotta is president of the S.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association, a member of the SC Progressive Network.

Celebrating grassroots activism in South Carolina

The SC Progressive Network held its annual Thunder and Lightning Awards Celebration on Feb. 18 at The Big Apple in downtown Columbia. Congratulations to this year’s honorees!

Larrie Butler

Virginia Sanders

Sen Gerald Malloy

Dr. Brenda Williams

For more photos, see our photo album.

The tale of the infamous goddess Nimrata

Once upon a time there was an adorable little girl in Bamberg, SC, whose name was Nimrata Randhawa. The beautiful daughter of Indian immigrants from the Punjabi region, she was raised to follow the religious teaching of the Sikh religion from their native land. From her early years, Nimrata developed a profound interest for money and power. The story goes that by the age of 13 Nimrata was already in charge of the exotic coins of her family.

The transformation continued and by the time she reached adulthood she adapted her birth name to a more Americanized version and took her husband’s last name. Fearing public perception, Nimrata willed her skin to change and by the time she reached complete transformation, she claimed to the be officially white and of the Christian faith.

Nimrata, clearly, was not a little girl anymore; she turned into a very astute woman. The legend also tells how Nimrata used others’ powers to her own benefit, thus with the support of Sarah Queen of the Rattle Snakes, and King Mitt of Gold and Coldness, she was able to reach the summit of power in a rather hostile place.  And one day she became the first governor of the state where she lived. Thus, becoming the first Indian-American and woman to obtain such an honor.

The exotic Nimrata keeps changing during her constant evolution. She is quite conspicuous, especially since she enjoys sipping Tea at high-end venues especially in Paris, while opposing funding for the Arts and Culture. Needless to say, the Goddess does not enjoy public demonstrations, especially after sunset. Recently those who have seen Nimrata say that she is turning blue, and becoming more and more elephant like, which make her look amazingly like Ganesh, the adorable Indian God of obstacles, both good and bad. Although her looks are quite pachydermic she is considered the Goddess of the cherry crops.

Those who have seen her recently warn us about this exotic Goddess and her powers.  They say that Nimrata will keep changing to accomplish her goals.

Original painting by Columbia artist Alejandro Garcia Lemos, who donated the piece to the SC Progressive Network to auction at its Thunder & Lightning awards celebration Feb. 18. See details about the event here.

Stop playing politics with women’s health

By Emma Davidson
Tell Them

Every year for the past 15, legislation has been introduced in our state that would outlaw your right to birth control. It’s just one of many policy attempts that put basic individual rights at risk. Nearly every day, I meet citizens who are shocked to learn just how aggressive the attacks on reproductive health have become.

During the past three legislative sessions alone, 41 ideologically motivated bills related to women’s reproductive health were introduced in the General Assembly. This legislation is being promoted by a vocal minority with an agenda that reaches into uncharted waters. The supporters use intense emotional arguments, often based on misinformation.

As you read this, our lawmakers are considering legislation that undermines people’s right to make decisions about their own health. The “Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act” (H.3408) would allow health-care professionals and institutions to use their personal ideology as a reason to deny patients information and services. That means any provider could legally interfere with decisions made by you and your doctor. For example, a pharmacist could legally refuse to fill any prescription (including birth control, HIV medications and even cancer medications) based on personal values versus what is in the best interest of the patient.

While the bill targets reproductive health, the language is so broad that it extends to general medicine. The precedent it sets threatens general medicine and even the very standard of care established in the Hippocratic Oath.

Would you approve of a nurse denying families routine vaccinations because she believes immunizations cause autism? Would you back the anesthesiologist who lets an expecting mother with pre-eclampsia suffer stroke because his “conscience” refused blood-pressure medication that might affect the baby? And what about the would-be parents who miss an opportunity to conceive because of a physician’s assistant who’s unwilling to dispense in-vitro fertilization medications?

These scenarios are just the tip of the iceberg. Some lawmakers are advancing a legislative platform that erodes long-standing health protections that most consider fundamental rights. They hide their real motives under seemingly benign language like “conscience” and “personhood” when in reality it’s a deliberate attempt to take away existing rights. How many South Carolinians are comfortable with this approach to policymaking? The answer is a tiny minority.

Citizens’ views on reproductive health are clear. Contraception is something that 88 percent of Americans support; something that 98 percent of sexually active women use during their lifetime. It is safe, effective and recommended by every legitimate medical association in this country. And yet an entire decade, and inestimable resources, has been spent attempting to frame it as controversial.

These efforts to misrepresent the majority’s views on contraception are particularly alarming in a state that consistently ranks in the top 10 nationally for the highest rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV/AIDS and struggles with a high number of unintended pregnancies.

South Carolina is not alone. Experts point to a long-gathering movement in this country to restrict health rights, specifically women’s rights. Currently, 13 states allow some health-care providers to refuse to provide services related to contraception; 18 states allow some health-care providers to refuse to provide sterilization services; and a recent ballot initiative in Mississippi sought to ban many forms of birth control and assisted reproduction such as in-vitro fertilization.

So how do we curb a minority agenda that sacrifices the health and well-being of millions of South Carolinians? We let consensus lead.

It’s time to restore balance to these important conversations by asking policymakers to get on board with what the majority of voters believe. Women should have the right to decide when they become pregnant. Couples should have the right to pursue fertility. Patients deserve to see their doctors’ treatments carried out.

Let’s call upon state leaders to acknowledge the many voices of reason speaking out on these issues. I hope yours will be one of them.

Davidson is the program manager for Tell Them, a member of the SC Progressive Network, which works to prevent unintended pregnancies, HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

Don’t miss Dave Lippman in South Carolina!

Thrill to the post-corporate comic stylings of satirical songster Dave Lippman. The anti-war troubadour afflicts the complacent, takes the air out of the windbags of the week, and de-distorts history. On the extreme other hand Dave’s alter-ego, Wild Bill Bailout, the Bard of the Bankers, champions the beleaguered 1 percent in this hysterically funny, not-to-be-missed show.

Favorite tunes from this dynamic duo include Brother Can You Spare a Diamond, What the Frack?, I Hate Wal-Mart, Your Car is Disgusting, and many more endearing titles.

Charleston

Friday, Feb. 17, 6pm

Mad River Bar and Grille
32B North Market St.
FREE SHOW! Presented by Charleston Peace and the SC Progressive Network.

Columbia

Saturday, Feb. 18, 7pm
The Big Apple
1000 Hampton St.
Dave will headline the SC Progressive Network‘s annual Thunder & Lightning Awards Celebration. See details here.

See what people are saying about Dave:

“Laughing hysterically.” – Medea Benjamin

“Viciously funny” - Guardian

“God, that man can talk! I tell you, he’s good.  What a great writer!” - Utah Phillips

“The Dean felt that more harm than good would come from your visit.”? – student, Skidmore College

“He makes me laugh every single time.” – Holly Near

The lies that corporations tell

By Jeff Koob
Columbia, SC

Near the end of the 19th century the U.S. Supreme Court decided that corporations should have all the rights of people. In the latter half of the 20th century, it ruled that monetary contributions to political causes are a form of free speech and, since corporations are people, their investments in political decisions that favor them are covered by the First Amendment. And now in the 21st century, the court has ruled that there are no limits to the “right” of corporations and political action groups to sponsor advocacy advertising.

Thus has the Supreme Court opened the floodgate to an unprecedented barrage of propaganda, paid for by wealthy interest groups. More than ever, political office is up for sale to the highest bidder. To borrow from Orwell, all citizens have free speech, but some now have a lot more than others.

Propaganda aims to persuade, not inform, and one of its primary tactics is to present opinions as facts. That’s precisely what attack ads do. I’ll leave it to someone else to predict what left-wing propagandists may put forth this year, but we’ve already seen the unsubstantiated opinions that the right wing will represent as facts in the presidential campaign:

• Raising taxes on the rich or otherwise leveling the economic playing field is class warfare or envy of the rich.

• President Obama is an abject failure/the worst president ever.

•  Obama is a freedom-hating socialist with a hidden agenda. Only the most vehement Obama-haters believe this, but they’ll try to sell the notion that we have to “take back” an America that’s being “lost” under Obama.

•  The Republicans could have done a better job getting the economy back on its feet. This is pure conjecture. Obama’s plan seems to have prevented the Great Recession from turning into a second Great Depression; nobody has the facts to prove otherwise.

• Obamacare (sic) is socialized medicine, and therefore bad. In fact, many of the reforms are viewed favorably by a majority, but the propagandists have demonized the whole package as “Obamacare.”

Sad to say, the electoral process is no longer a matter of civil discourse, and the glut of money from corporations and interests groups is largely to blame. The only solution I see is public funding of elections.

Jeff Koob is a longtime supporter of the
SC Progressive Network.

Anti-union bill threatens Charleston port

SC Progressive Network

One of South Carolina’s largest economic engines, the Port of Charleston, is threatened by an anti-union bill (H-4652) now making its way though the state legislature. Sponsored by Rep. Bill Sandifer (R-Oconee), it would require unions to disclose every single financial transaction, publicize membership lists, and would raise the fine for violations of the state’s Right to Work Act from $100 to $10,000.

Sandifer, who chairs the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee that is hearing his bill, stated at a Feb. 2 subcommittee meeting, “We do have one of the toughest right-to-work laws in the country; my goal is to have the toughest.”

The bill was passed out of subcommittee, and is scheduled to be heard by the full committee in the next two weeks.

Ken Riley, President of the Longshoreman’s union that works the Charleston port, questioned why punitive laws were being directed at the 5 percent of the state’s workers who belong to unions and make decent wages and benefits. “This unwarranted attack is political grandstanding intended to shift the blame for our economic problems from policy makers to workers,” Riley said.

Ken Riley, President, ILA Local 1422

According to the State Ports Authority, trade through South Carolina ports facilitates 280,600 jobs and provides an overall economic impact of $45 billion each year. The per unit cost of containers handled by Charleston Longshoremen is the lowest of all US ports.

“Ninety-five percent of all containers shipped out of East Coast ports are required by contracts to be handled by union labor,” Riley said. “If you bust our union, you close the port of Charleston.”

“It’s ironic that the same politicians who decry government intrusion in business affairs want to force more government regulations on productive businesses that use union labor,” said SC Progressive Network Director Brett Bursey.

Bursey warned that if the bill becomes law, citizens who believe that workers’ rights are equal to those who profit from low-wage jobs will picket the port of Charleston.

“My guys won’t cross a picket line,” Riley said.