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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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Biden-Harris A Historic Winning Ticket

August 16, 2020

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has always been my first choice for vice president. While it was clear Vice President Biden had many good choices from which to choose, the one who stood out from the crowd was Harris. Her brilliance and credentials clearly impressed Joe Biden and he knows she is ready to serve on day one. The Democratic Convention will make this historic ticket official next week. Then we move forward to take on the sad excuse for a president now occupying the oval office. 

Everyone who understands four more years of Trump will destroy our democracy must now unite to support this ticket. The in-fighting must stop if we are to take back our country and reclaim our place in the world. Harris brings diversity and the next generation to Joe Biden’s ticket. She represents Black women who have been the backbone of the Democratic Party. She represents the future of the Democratic Party and the next generation of leaders. 

Harris has been vetted in a national campaign. She is the child of immigrants; her mother emigrated to the United States from India and her father from Jamaica. Harris did her undergraduate work at Howard University, an HBCU, in Washington, DC. She has her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law. She began her stellar career with the Alameda County, California District Attorney's Office. From there was recruited to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and then the City Attorney’s Office in San Francisco. 

In 2004 she won election as District Attorney of San Francisco serving with distinction. In that office she began her career long support of the LGBTQ community creating a special Hate Crimes Unit, focused on hate crimes against LGBTQ children and teens in schools. In 2010 she ran and was elected Attorney General of the State of California. During that campaign she promised to refuse to defend Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage in California. A promise she kept. She won a close election and was reelected in 2014 by a wide margin. As AG she prioritized environmental concerns and won millions of dollars for the state. She started a new agency within her office called the Bureau of Children's Justice to address issues such as foster care, the juvenile justice system, school truancy, and childhood trauma. The LA times reported “Harris obtained a $1.2 billion judgment against for-profit post-secondary education company Corinthian Colleges for false advertising and deceptive marketing targeting vulnerable, low-income students and misrepresenting job placement rates to students, investors, and accreditation agencies. “

In 2016 she won election to the United States Senate.  As a Senator she has spoken out against Trump’s racist, sexist and homophobic policies; voted against his unqualified nominees; and supported legislation to help improve the lives of the poor and disenfranchised. Harris traveled to the Middle East, Iraq and then Jordan visiting the Zaatari Refugee Camp, the largest camp for Syrian refugees. Harris is a member of the Budget Committee, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on the Judiciary. Taken together this background allowed Joe Biden and now voters to feel totally comfortable were anything to happen to the President she would be ready on day-one to step in. Vice President Biden being 78 years old that had to be an important factor in his choice. 

Kamala Harris lights up a room with her intelligence. Her empathy and her fight for equality and justice for all make a great complement to those traits in Joe Biden. When she speaks of her vision for the future, what is evident is her strong grasp of history and understanding of how our past influences our future. As a Black woman she understands how systemic racism keeps many African Americans from succeeding and as a woman she understands how sexism is still rampant in our nation. Harris brings her experience in local, state and the federal government to the ticket. She will be able to work closely with and help Joe Biden as they strive to fulfill the pledges he is making to the nation including the fight for affordable healthcare for all, economic and judicial equality for Black and Brown people, and full equality for women and the LGBTQ+ community.  

Democrats have an historic ticket of which we can all be proud. Now it’s our turn to work our hearts out to see Joe Biden sworn in as President on January 20, 2021.

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Celebrate Bella Abzug’s Centennial with a Statue

July 30, 2020

July 24, 2020 Bella S. Abzug (D-NY) would have turned 100. Her impact on the nation through her activism, brilliance and tenacity will long be remembered. Her short six years in Congress left an outsized impression on the nation. 

With all the statues being torn down I support erecting one of Bella; feminist, activist, civil rights advocate, lawyer, congresswoman. Harold Holzer recently reminded us it was Ed Koch who first suggested one be placed in Washington Square Park in New York. 

I was fortunate to work as a staffer for Bella and then continued as a friend. One never stopped working for Bella. My tenure began in 1972 when she cut a deal with my District Leaders to secure the Democratic nomination to replace William Fitts Ryan on the ticket after he passed away from cancer. It was a simple deal. They would assure her the votes needed if she would hire me as her community representative in the upper part of the District. The people of the District won because they got Bella as their Congressperson. I won because I got to work for the most brilliant woman I have ever known leaving my job as a teacher to do so.  

With Bella, 1976 (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) With Bella, 1976

Bella was a tough boss, a Jewish mother, and someone who never asked her staff to work harder or longer than she herself did. I learned much from her which placed me in good stead for the rest of my career. There are legions of funny stories about Bella and her staff and nearly all are true. I was Deputy Campaign manager for her 1977 Mayoral campaign and we were late getting a piece of literature to hand out. We hired a photographer who followed us around to take pictures. He took one of me and I put it up in my office. Next morning Bella looked in and noticed it and yelled ‘What’s that? Take it down. There is room for only one ego in this campaign and its mine!” Another time at La Guardia airport, she asked me to walk on the shuttle with her to carry her papers to her seat. One gate agent told her I couldn’t as I didn’t have a ticket. The other agent looked at Bella, who was about to ream them out, and said quietly, “Let him go he has enough trouble working for Bella as it is”. 

But in every campaign every member of the staff came back to support her. When she lost the Senate primary to Patrick Moynihan by less than 1% she tried to come back running for Mayor, and twice for Congress. Though never winning another race she never stopped fighting for what she believed in which is why she is both respected and admired. 

Some called her ‘battling Bella’ and others would say about her she was a ‘piece of work’, and she was. Bella was a brilliant dynamo impatient to right the wrongs she saw in the world. Her work included fighting for world peace, civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights. Nothing she did ever deviated from her overall goal of ensuring equal rights for all. She won her first Congressional election with the slogan "This woman's place is in the House—the House of Representatives." No one watching her in action could deny how right that was. When she passed much too young at 77 the Washington Post wrote “She took stands against the Vietnam War and wrote bills to prevent sex discrimination and improve the status of women. She introduced the first gay rights bill in Congress. She also denounced her white, male colleagues, saying they were part of a privileged elite and out of touch with America.” That was well before we heard of AOC. 

Some criticized Bella for being a realist. She occasionally made deals to win votes as long as they led to progress on the issues she cared about. She never compromised her principles and was named an assistant whip to House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.)

In the past year to celebrate her centennial Harvey Fierstein did a play about her; New York named a park for her; and Jeff Lieberman is doing a documentary film. Now it’s time to put up that statue. 


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