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Karl Racine for Attorney General of the United States

November 16, 2020

After the sleaziness of William Barr the nation needs an Attorney General who will restore trust, integrity and honesty in the Department of Justice. One person who could do that is Karl Anthony Racine, current Attorney General of the District of Columbia.

Racine was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. He and his family fled the Duvalier regime immigrating to D.C. when he was three years old. He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania where he was the captain of the basketball team leading them to two Ivy League championships. He went on to earn his law degree from the University of Virginia, School of Law. While there he worked at a pro bono clinic representing migrant farm workers and he and his mother produced the first Haitian Creole/English legal dictionary intended to aid Haitian immigrants in the United States.

After graduation Racine joined Venable LLP. He left to become a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. He has moved back and forth between the private sector and government service. He served as an associate counsel in the Clinton White House and also served as a member of the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission.  When Racine returned to private practice he became the first African American managing partner of a top-100 law firm, Veneble LLP. I first met Karl in 2014 when he ran for office realizing quickly I knew his mother Dr. Marie Racine from my service on the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia where she taught. It was clear he inherited her ability, her drive, her integrity and honesty.  

The next Attorney General will be tasked with bringing stability, integrity and honesty back to the Department of Justice. All lost first under the stewardship of Jeff Sessions and fully destroyed by William Barr who has allowed Trump to use the Department of Justice merely as an extension of his own legal team. Today Barr is an enabler of Trump’s effort to cling to office and steal the election. An effort which will ultimately fail.  

Racine is well respected among his peers across the nation. He won numerous cases for the people of the District against utility companies, landlords, and others who would take advantage of those who could not fight for themselves. He is scrupulously honest and demands the same from all those who work for him.

According to Wikipedia “as D.C. Attorney General, Racine established four priorities for his office. They are data-driven juvenile justice reform; protecting consumers from abusive tactics by unscrupulous businesses; preserving affordable housing and protecting tenants in communities across the District; and advancing democracy and safeguarding public integrity. Racine helped end mandatory shackling of juveniles appearing before D.C. Superior Court and expanded options for rehabilitating low-risk juvenile offenders with a diversion program that helps young people get and stay on the right track. The program has achieved a success rate of nearly 80 percent and participation in the program has increased five-fold, positively impacting young lives and increasing public safety. Racine also established a standalone Office of Consumer Protection within OAG. The office has focused on outreach, education and legal actions to protect consumers and has brought tens of millions of dollars to the District through settlements and judgments in cases against corporate wrongdoers. In 2017 Racine established the Public Advocacy Division to bring affirmative litigation to preserve affordable housing, protect residents against wage theft, safeguard the environment and ensure public integrity.” 

Racine has served as a board member of the DC Legal Aid Society and as a member of the steering committee of the Whitman-Walker Clinic's Legal Services Program serving the LGBTQ+ community. 

According to the Washington Post “Racine is also increasingly cutting a figure in national politics, especially in an era when Democratic attorneys general are gaining newfound celebrity thanks to ceaseless court battles with the president. In 2017, he joined Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh in suing Trump, alleging that foreign payments to the Trump International Hotel  violate anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution.  That was followed by the opening of an investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Washington and by a lawsuit against Facebook over  alleged breaches in users’ privacy — the first such action by U.S. authorities. Then Racine became the third state or federal law enforcement official to subpoena Trump’s inaugural committee in a probe of how it raised and spent money.”

It is clear President-elect Biden could find no one more qualified and respected than Karl Anthony Racine to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States.  

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Celebrating Victory With Biden and Harris

November 11, 2020

Last Sunday morning, like so many Americans and people around the world, I woke up able to take a deep breath of fresh air and consider a host of new possibilities. When the networks finally called the election on Saturday and told us Joe Biden was President-elect and Kamala Harris was Vice President-elect we could finally believe we would be moving forward into a brighter future.  

We took to the streets to celebrate. Living in DC I headed to the White House with thousands of others. Cars we honking their horns, we cheered each other touching elbows with strangers, all the while wearing our face masks. The same scene occurred in cities around the country; spontaneous jubilant crowds celebrating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s win and Trump’s loss. Many have worked for this result since he defeated Hillary in 2016. We celebrated Harris because for the first time a woman was elected on a national ticket; the daughter of immigrants, an African American with Indian heritage. I only wish the congresswoman I worked for, Bella S. Abzug (D-NY) had lived to see this. She would be so proud.  

On Saturday evening the President-elect and Vice-President-elect spoke to the nation. They both made it abundantly clear they were speaking to everyone. Biden said “I am a proud Democrat but I will govern as an American”. He made a plea to people in both parties to stop the demonization of each other and realize we are all Americans. I applaud him for saying that but know for many it will be hard to do. I for one will try to follow his lead. 

What comes simultaneously as Biden begins to lay out his first 100 day plans will be the dissection of the campaign by each party, and the factions within the parties. I read an interview the New York Times had with Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) the proud Democratic Socialist who has become a leading voice for the left. It was very disappointing to say the least. She discussed what she called the hostility to her and her views by the Democratic Party. She challenged moderates who said some of their losses were the fault of progressives like her. At the end of the interview when asked if she would consider a Senate run in two years she saidI genuinely don’t know. I don’t even know if I want to be in politics. You know, for real, in the first six months of my term, I didn’t even know if I was going to run for re-election this year.” What bothers me about this is the apparent lack of understanding of how American democracy and our Congress works. What it means to fight for what you believe and to do so for as many years as it takes to win. What would have happened if women gave up before they got the right to vote, or African Americans and the LGBTQ+ community didn’t stay in the fight demanding full equality? We who care are in those fights still today as there is a long way to go before we can claim victory.  We will dissect the results trying to determine why some Democrats lost their seats and others won theirs. Why we didn’t win Florida or take the Senate but we will persevere. 

While this is happening Democrats have another chance to take over the Senate with the two run-off races in Georgia on January 5th. Those races will determine whether President Biden is forced to negotiate every issue with Mitch McConnell or whether Vice President Kamala Harris as President of the Senate can break a tie and give Democrats a win. What we must do is let those in Georgia determine the issues on which those races will be fought. The rest of us need to fund the campaigns and do whatever they ask of us.

While this happens President-elect Biden will be planning his coronavirus task force determining how he will fight the pandemic, which is out of control around the world, and how to rebuild the American economy. He is right when he says unless we get the virus under control the second issue will be more difficult. President Trump apparently will not cooperate with the President-elect and this will be the first time in recent American history a losing incumbent hasn’t worked toward a smooth transition. Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush understood for the good of the people they had to. 

So as we celebrate Joe and Kamala, let us as Americans do all they ask of us so we can “Build back better”.  

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Life in the Pandemic Continues

October 21, 2020

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

We have all gone through seven months of life in a pandemic. Most of us have managed to adapt to this life or as we call it the ‘new normal’. Time spent alone or with our families or very close friends, in a bubble, trying to ensure we and those around us stay healthy. As I have written before my ability to stay sane has revolved around a number of close friends whom I see on a regular basis and my Java House coffee gang who for seven months have participated in a morning zoom call seven days a week. 

Now while we are all getting tired of this ‘new normal’ it is important we stay vigilant if we are to stay healthy. I give tremendous Kudos to Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser for how she has handled the pandemic keeping people informed and constantly aware of what we must do both individually and collectively as a city. Her success can be measured by the fact we are below a 2% community spread while many around us are at higher levels. 

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

While many of us are doing ok we must never for a moment forget this pandemic is hitting poor communities and communities of color much harder than others. We must all do everything we can to help alleviate the suffering in those communities. While my living alone often leads to some bouts of depression never for a moment do I forget how lucky I am and want to help those who are finding it hard to feed their families and pay their bills. For them it is not getting any easier. We must all encourage our elected officials to focus on those most in need and then do our part by donating to and help non-profits working to assist those most in need. 

For the first four months of the pandemic I ate every meal alone. Now as time has passed I find myself venturing out a little more, always wearing my mask, and have begun to eat out at some of DC’s outdoor eateries. I have lunched at Annie’s on 17th street NW and gone back to having my coffee outside at Java House on Q Street, off 17th NW every morning when the temperature is above 50 degrees and it’s not raining. There are other great options to eat outdoors in Dupont including Floriana, Agora, and Hank's Oyster Bar among others. Even McDonalds now has outdoor tables. It is my hope all the restaurants will get heat lamps to keep outdoor dining viable as many like me will not yet eat inside. 

I still take my afternoon walks around the neighborhood and enjoy the architecture in DC as well as the flowers and abundant greenery we have here. Walking down 16th street from Q Street to the White House is actually a very beautiful walk. I have attached some pictures from one of those walks. I often stop at Black Lives Matter Plaza to pay my respects to the fight for equality we must all be a part of. I look at the White House and pray we will rid ourselves of the current occupant; a liar, sexist, racist, homophobe, on November 3rd. Then when home continue to write my political columns, make phone calls and raise money for the Biden/Harris ticket. I urge everyone with some time to do the same as the future of our country depends on electing them. 

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

I am lucky and have been to my Rehoboth Beach place for a few weeks during the summer before Delaware was put on the DC quarantine list. It was a great change of scenery and gave me a chance to visit some of my favorite eating spots there including Aqua Grille, The PINES, The Purple Parrot, and JAM. I went to three of Joe Biden’s favorite places; Double Dipper Ice Cream, Lori’s Café in the CAMP courtyard, and Browseabout Books. My favorite time each day at the beach is having coffee at Bob and Mel’s The Coffee Mill. One day when I went with friends to Lori’s Café for lunch Lori came out to say hello and told us “You should have been here twenty minutes ago. Joe called in a lunch order and Jill was here to pick it up.”  I kidded my friends saying, “Hope after January 20, 2021 they won’t be able to do that on their own any more”. Since Delaware is back on the DC quarantine list I have only gone for a couple of days for some business.  

Like everyone else I am looking forward to a time when there will be a vaccine and numerous therapeutics to deal with Covid-19. In my estimation that will be sometime in the first quarter of 2021. As Joe Biden has indicated I too will line up to take the vaccine after Dr. Anthony Fauci says it is ok. 

Till then let us all do what we must to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and the entire community as safe as possible. If we wear our masks, wash our hands and stay appropriately socially distant, especially during the upcoming holiday season, we will get through this and live to celebrate beating this pandemic together next year.

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