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Barbara Lee

On Barbara Lee, Afghanistan and Covid Scapegoating

All ye news consumers are probably thinking more about Afghanistan in these last two weeks than at any point in the last 20 years.

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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and members of his delegation take off from Kabul International Airport aboard a Black Hawk helicopter en route to Khowst province during a trip to Afghanistan, Dec. 4, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jerry Morrison

All ye news consumers are probably thinking more about Afghanistan in these last two weeks than at any point in the last 20 years.

But if you live in Alameda County, thank goodness you have a representative who showed some backbone against the jingoistic rhetoric from the very beginning.

That would be Rep. Barbara Lee, who after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, stood up to other members of Congress and just said no to retaliating against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

On Sept. 14, 2001, 420 members in Congress said yes to military force.  98 Senators went along with them. 

Your congress member was alone in speaking the truth for peace.  

Lee warned of “perpetual war,” and she said, “However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint. Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, ‘Let’s step back for a moment, let’s just pause, just for a minute, and think through the implications of our actions today, so that this does not spiral out of control.’”

It was a call for a mindful moment. Politicians typically show no skill at that. 

Want to see the cost of being less than mindful in politics? The U.S. has spent by some estimates close to $2 trillion in Afghanistan since 2001. We’ve lost more than 2,400 military lives, tens of thousands of injured sons and daughters. 

And now we are in a “smoldering” situation. It’s like extracting yourself from a bungled divorce. The Trump administration began negotiating with the Taliban and presented artificial deadlines. That was the chaotic plan President Biden inherited. It was really negotiating a surrender rather than a withdrawal. But it means the Taliban is dictating everything. The U.S. wants to extend beyond Aug. 31? Taliban says, no and has “red-lined” the date.

The group that had offered to surrender to the U.S. 20 years ago,  is now making a mockery of the U.S.

Surely, the Afghanistan situation wouldn’t be quite this way if we had more leaders like Barbara Lee who dared to be mindful when it mattered. The situation remains smoldering.

African Americans Scapegoated

Donald Trump called the Coronavirus the ”China Virus,” and “The  Kung-Flu” for laughs. That kind of talk scapegoated Asian Americans and made them targets of the Trump hoard. More than 9,000 instances of anti-Asian hate have been recorded since the pandemic began by the group #StopAsianHate, based at San Francisco State University. 

Scapegoating on the virus is dangerous and racist. 

Now African Americans are getting a taste after Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick went on Fox News saying that unvaccinated African Americans in Texas are the cause of the virus spread in Texas.

It’s just wrong. Compared with Texas’ Black residents, nearly four million more white Texans are unvaccinated, said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.  He even points out that four million fewer Hispanics are vaccinated compared to Blacks. The stats don’t justify blaming  African Americans in Texas for the spread of Covid.

But what did we expect to hear from Patrick, a former broadcaster and talk host. He knows how to incite an audience and “make the phones ring.” As Trump did, the TV showman. As does Larry Elder, the African American Republican talk host atop the polls of people who want to be governor if Gov. Gavin Newsom is recalled. 

Lesson. Don’t listen to nor elect talk hosts. At least the irresponsible ones.

Need a model for public servant in elective office? We have one in Alameda County in Congress.

It’s Rep. Barbara Lee.  

Try putting Elder next to Lee. He wouldn’t stand a chance.

Barbara Lee

OPINION: Rep. Barbara Lee Urges Constituents to Take Advantage of Opportunities to Get Health Insurance

Special enrollment is underway and lasts through December 31. Any eligible Californian can sign up without needing to have a qualifying life event – for example, losing your job, recently getting married, or having a new child.

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Stethoscope on Bed; Photo courtesy of Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

The past 18 months have shown, more than ever before, the fragile, precious, and priceless nature of our health.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our economy, our ability to educate our children and our general wellbeing.

There is an important  tool to help us stay safe and vibrant. That’s health insurance. With the pandemic far from over, having affordable, high-quality health coverage is more important than ever.

The economic stimulus package known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), signed into law in March, is helping to lower health insurance premiums to levels never seen before.

Covered California, the agency that administers the Affordable Care Act in this state, has been working hard to get out the word about the new increase in the financial help available to ensure millions of Californians can get quality health insurance coverage.

Covered California estimates the new financial assistance available through the ARP can directly help more than 450,000 people in the Bay Area by significantly lowering their monthly premiums.

New data shows that an estimated 103,000 people in the Bay Area are uninsured and eligible for health insurance coverage through Covered California, with an additional 89,000 eligible for no-cost Medi-Cal. Under the ARP, most of those eligible for Covered California would be able to get a high-quality plan for as little as $1 per month, or a plan that offers additional benefits for less than $100 per month.

The new law is already helping about 280,000 people in the Bay Area currently enrolled through Covered California by lowering their premiums and making coverage more affordable than ever before. Covered California consumers statewide have already seen their net premiums decrease by an average of $190 per household per month.

Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

Affordable, accessible, high-quality healthcare is a fundamental human right. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act, I worked to ensure strong provisions that expand health care access, address health disparities and create incentives for people to live healthy lives.

While citizens and leaders in the greater Bay Area, including the 13th Congressional district which I represent, reacted quickly to slow the spread of the virus, our communities have still been hit hard, especially communities of color.

With the help of vaccines and ARP, we are making positive steps forward. We can hug our grandchildren again. We can go to restaurants again. We are returning to school and to work.

But the pandemic is not over. As the Delta variant continues to spread, it is now just as important as ever that we continue to get vaccinated.

Last November, I spoke on the House floor emphasizing the need for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and the disproportionate impact the pandemic was having on Black, Brown, Latino, Asian and Indigenous people – communities that historically have been left behind in times of crisis.

We can’t allow that to happen again this time.

Vaccines are readily available, and they are proven safe and effective. Please don’t hesitate. Let’s not lose the ground we have worked so hard to gain.

Vaccinations and affordable health insurance are invaluable tools that can help us get back to normal. We must use them.

To find out how much financial assistance you can get and enroll for coverage, go to: https://www.coveredca.com/.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee represents the 13th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Barbara Lee

VP Harris Comes to Oakland

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Vice President Kamala Harris talks with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., as she arrives at Oakland International Airport, in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, to campaign for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces removal from office in a Sept. 14 recall election. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Vice President Kamala Harris talks with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., as she arrives at Oakland International Airport on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, to campaign for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces removal from office in a Sept. 14 recall election. (Photo by Carolyn Kaster, Associate Press)

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Barbara Lee

Black Leaders Voice Strong Support for Gov. Newsom as Voters Return Recall Ballots

Each of the speakers took about one minute to voice their support for the governor and share why they intend to vote ‘no’ on the recall.

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Election Mail in Ballot; Stock Image

Supporting the campaign to stop the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) organized a ‘Black Leaders Press Conference, attended by 90 influential Black leaders in education, the church, politics, civil rights and as well as members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, last Tuesday on Zoom.

Lateefah Simon, a Bay Area-based women’s and civil rights activist, moderated the zoom rally.

Each of the speakers took about one minute to voice their support for the governor and share why they intend to vote ‘no’ on the recall. Many of them also spoke out against controversial recall candidate Larry Elder, who is Los Angeles-based radio talk show host and who says he not an African American but an American who is Black. He is the leading candidate vying to replace Newsom.

“We come together today as African American leaders because we understand the danger before us. We understand this is a right wing move, and we’re not going to let it happen,” said U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37).

“We can’t get confused by Larry Elder,” said Bass. “I don’t care what he looks like. We know Larry Elder very well in Los Angeles. He has built his career on attacking black leaders.”

The meeting began with a prayer delivered by the Rev. Amos Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco and president that city’s NAACP branch. Brown prayed for the “redemption of our democracy” and that the promise of the nation be upheld.
Congresswoman Lee echoed Congresswoman Bass’ support for Newsom.

“We know that the health of our children, our neighbors and our communities depend on Gov. Newsom’s leadership. He’s been there for us, and we will be there for him,” she said.

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond shed light on unprecedented education spending Newsom helped make a reality in the state.

“Our governor has given our schools a $123-billion budget for education – a record budget. It includes funding for broadband, mental health, community schools, universal meals for all kids, universal pre-school for all 4-year-olds, COVID tests, PPE and anti-hate. We don’t recall governors who do good things for African Americans and for all people. We say ‘no’ to the recall.”

Malia Cohen, member of the California State Board of Equalization, called Black women to action, stressing that the recall election is especially urgent for women’s rights.

“If we lose Governor Newsom, we are losing our reproductive rights, we are losing our opportunity to have a champion that has been helping us fight the fight for child support and helping us lead the way for universal Pre-K. This is a human being that is an ally.”
San Francisco mayor London Breed thanked Newsom for believing in her and first appointing her as well as providing logistical support to her city.

“Governor Newsom has been there for us. He has answered our calls. He has been active and reached out to us on so many different levels. And what I don’t want to do is to go backwards and stopped the progress we have been making,” Breed said.

“More importantly, I want to express that Gavin Newsom has been an amazing supporter and friend to African Americans – not just in his capacity as governor but when he served here as mayor of San Francisco,” Breed continued. “The first position I was appointed to was on the San Francisco Redevelopment Commission and Gavin Newsom appointed me. A lot of people think it was Willie Brown. It was not Willie Brown. It was Gavin Newsom.”

Brown was the first Black mayor of San Francisco and a former Speaker of the California Assembly.

Newsom, who joined the call, expressed his gratitude for the support he’s received thus far and reiterated the stances he plans to champion as governor. He pledged to continue to put women in positions of power, to build on economic and workforce development strategies for minority communities, and to continue to reform the public education system in California.

Voting in the recall election has started in California’s 58 counties. Voters can return their mail-in ballots now by mail or at designated drop-off stations or polling centers in their counties. Or they can show up to the polls on election day Tuesday, Sept. 14, to cast their vote.

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