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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.

Activism

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Sworn in to U.S. House of Representatives

Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.

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As a member of the Steering and Policy Committee, Congresswoman Lee is the highest-ranking Black woman appointed to House Leadership.
As a member of the Steering and Policy Committee, Congresswoman Lee is the highest-ranking Black woman appointed to House Leadership. 

Congresswoman Barbara Lee was officially sworn in as United States Representative for California’s 12th Congressional District, representing the people of the East Bay in the 118th Congress.

“I am honored that the people of the East Bay have entrusted me with the great responsibility of representing them in Congress, and deeply grateful to have such engaged and enlightened constituents. As a result of the 2020 Census and redistricting, our beautiful 13th district’s number is now 12.

“After four days, thousands of votes, 15 ballots, and the longest Speaker election since 1858, during the Buchannan presidency, we can finally begin legislating in the 118th Congress. I was honored to serve as one of two official Democratic tellers for the Speaker’s race and I’m looking forward to continuing the work of putting people over politics. I will continue fighting for safer communities; ending poverty; affordable housing; combatting homelessness; climate action; reproductive freedom; racial justice; global peace and security, an equitable health care system; an economy that works for all, and so much more. We have work ahead of us, but with our most diverse and committed House Democratic Caucus yet, we’ll resist the right-wing’s extremist agenda and improve the lives and livelihoods of our communities.”

Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the Steering and Policy Committee, she is the highest-ranking Black woman appointed to House Leadership.

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Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee Inquiring About Barriers to Capital for Minority Cannabis Businesses 

“As momentum for marijuana decriminalization continues, FinCEN data could help shed light on the state of minority-owned and small cannabis businesses (which constitute businesses with revenues under $40 million) seeking financial services,” the lawmakers wrote. “Existing disparities in access to capital and financial services for individuals and businesses increase financial barriers and exacerbate the racial wealth gap, further harming those most harmed by the failed War on Drugs.

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Rep. Barbara Lee and Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer. (Congress.gov photos)
Rep. Barbara Lee and Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer. (Congress.gov photos)

By Sean Ryan

Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) sent a letter on Wednesday to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) requesting recent data on the financial services offered to minority cannabis businesses in an effort to better understand the barriers faced by minority cannabis businesses owners.

Minority cannabis entrepreneurs often cite a lack of access to capital and financial services as a major barrier to entering the legal cannabis industry. A 2021 Brookings Institution report revealed that Black-owned businesses faced more disparities in access to banking services and deposits, mortgage credit, and small business loans than their white counterparts.

These alarming findings were further substantiated by a 2021 Federal Reserve report that found that Black and Latino-owned businesses were less than half as likely as their white counterparts to be fully approved for loan applications.

“As momentum for marijuana decriminalization continues, FinCEN data could help shed light on the state of minority-owned and small cannabis businesses (which constitute businesses with revenues under $40 million) seeking financial services,” the lawmakers wrote. “Existing disparities in access to capital and financial services for individuals and businesses increase financial barriers and exacerbate the racial wealth gap, further harming those most harmed by the failed War on Drugs.

They continued, “Given the increasing momentum of cannabis legalization and much-needed clarity from the federal government, Congress must devise a federal solution to equitably end the cannabis prohibition and encourage industry growth.

As we work to invest in the communities disproportionately harmed in the failed War on Drugs, FinCEN data on access to financial services could help promote equitable access to financial services for small and minority-owned cannabis businesses.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with FinCEN to ensure Congress is equipped with the critical data needed to effectively address equity concerns when crafting solutions to end the federal cannabis prohibition.”

Representatives Lee and Blumenauer serve as the Democratic co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

Sean Ryan is the communications director in the media relations office of Rep. Barbara Lee.

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Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee Releases Statement on Nancy Pelosi’s Retirement from House Leadership

“As the first woman Speaker to lead Congress, Speaker Pelosi’s career was one of transformational leadership. From passing the Affordable Care Act and presiding over some of the most consequential legislation in modern history to leading the charge to protect our democracy after January 6th, Nancy Pelosi is truly the greatest speaker to ever serve.

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Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee pay tribute to the life, legacy, and leadership of Shirley Chisholm – the first African American women elected to Congress - at the unveiling of the U.S. Postal Service’s Shirley Chisholm Forever stamp and discussed the House Democrats’ women’s economic agenda: “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” at Mills College in Oakland. / Nancy Pelosi/Flickr
Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee pay tribute to the life, legacy, and leadership of Shirley Chisholm – the first African American women elected to Congress - at the unveiling of the U.S. Postal Service’s Shirley Chisholm Forever stamp and discussed the House Democrats’ women’s economic agenda: “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” at Mills College in Oakland. / Nancy Pelosi/Flickr

As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to shift to Republican leadership in the next session of Congress, longtime Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, announced on Thursday that she would step down from the leadership although she would continue to serve.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), Speaker Pelosi’s longtime friend and colleague, released the following statement on Thursday after learning of Pelosi’s decision to retire from House leadership:

“As the first woman Speaker to lead Congress, Speaker Pelosi’s career was one of transformational leadership. From passing the Affordable Care Act and presiding over some of the most consequential legislation in modern history to leading the charge to protect our democracy after January 6th, Nancy Pelosi is truly the greatest speaker to ever serve.

“I consider Speaker Pelosi a dear friend, a congressional neighbor, and a fierce leader. I congratulate her on an incredible career in House leadership and look forward to continuing to serve the Bay Area alongside her in Congress. I wish her beloved husband, Paul, a speedy and full recovery and wish Speaker Pelosi and her family the best of luck in this next chapter. Her legacy will live on forever.”

From Sean Ryan, communications director of Rep. Barbara Lee’s media relations office.

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