San Diego Celebrates After Philly Gets the Win

Gritty 2020

I phone banked for Biden and Democrats’ Get Out the Vote campaign the weekend before the election, and on through election day. For those four days I spent my shifts calling voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas. The majority of my calls were made to West Philly.

Most of us spent the better part of the next five days watching Philadelphia on TV, waiting to see if Joe Biden would complete an impressive comeback. West Philadelphia ended up being perhaps the most important community in the country as tens of thousands of mail in ballots stood by, waiting to be counted. In the wee hours of election night, early Wednesday morning, Biden trailed by more than 700,000 votes statewide. Then he didn’t.  

Saturday morning, after Pennsylvania was called and Biden was named President elect, my wife and I went out in San Diego. We live in North Park, a hip neighborhood where Black Lives Matter posters and Biden/Harris supporters are prevalent. We could hear shouting and honking horns in the streets.

It reminded me of the tunnels in D.C. after a Capitals home win, full of horns blaring in a rhythmic call and response. We went down to the car and drove out to join them, which turned out to be a great decision.

We found groups on every street corner, and pedestrians walking in between, waving flags, chanting, and cheering. Others shouted and saluted from al fresco dining areas as we drove by. We thought it only made sense to follow the honking cars down University Avenue to Hillcrest.

For those unfamiliar with San Diego, Hillcrest is a beautiful, vibrant, and hip community which is home to San Diego’s Pride Parade and fondly referred to as “the gay-borhood.” The drive was an expedition through an eruption of pure joy.

We passed continuous groups of revelers on the sidewalks and we soon found ourselves in the heart of an impromptu motorcade parade. We drove from 30th Street down to 4th Street, immersed in a cacophony of unadulterated joy and syncopated horns. 

The outpouring of happiness, love, and relief was palpable and energizing. There was very little hostility, and none towards un elected Republican citizens. People were just overjoyed and needed to share their happiness with others. It was beautiful.

In honor of Pennsylvania, my Pittsburgh Steelers fan of a wife tucked her Terrible Towel in to fly from the closed rear window. In honor of Philadelphia, and the enormous role which the City of Brotherly Love played in securing the election and ending the Trump administration, she brought her Gritty t-shirt. It featured the googly eyed Philadelphia Flyers mascot’s large face with a word bubble stating, “Fuck Trump,” and it was very popular.

Gritty, the mascot of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers

Every time we stopped, and at multiple traffic slow downs in between, people would shout, cheer, and run over to take pictures with the heroic monster she waved out the window. As a Washington sports fan, I have always viewed Philadelphia as villains. The Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers have all ruined numerous days and may screw directly off–and that’s not even mentioning the Pittsburgh Penguins. But Pennsylvania came through in the clutch.

Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties sealed the win and the entire world broke into rapturous applause. Philadelphia was our hero and the people on the street in San Diego knew it. Everyone appreciated Philly, and everyone loved Gritty. Biden should invite Gritty to the White House.

Rose and West Philidelphia

Last weekend, and on through Tuesday’s election, I phone-banked for Biden and Democrats’ Get Out the Vote campaign. For those four days I spent my shifts calling voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas encouraging supporters to vote and offering to help them find their polling place or make a voting plan. Most of my calls that evening were to West Philly.

West Philadelphia Commons, Creative Commons

The majority of the people I talked to had already voted or were ready to do so. Quite a few people were irritated about all of the calls they’d received. A few people were republicans, and one of them wasn’t even a prick. Many of the people I spoke to, however, were friendly, grateful, and hopeful for the election.

A lot of the people I reached were excited to share their enthusiasm, including a Philadelphia campaign manager in the thick of it. Some were a little more apprehensive and wanted to talk about how much the election meant to them. A dozen or so even needed my help to find their polling location or some other information. But my very favorite interaction was with Lois.

Lois is 90-years-old, lives in West Philadelphia, and was my second to last call Monday evening, around 8:50 p.m. for her on the east coast. She quickly informed me that she did not need my help, but she was excited to share her plan.

“My neighbors are going to drive me right down the street, first thing in the morning,” she told me proudly. “I’ve got my ballot, I’ve got my bag packed, I’ve got my roller and my folding chair, in case we have to wait in a long line.”

“I’ve been voting since the 1950s and I’ve never missed an election,” she said. “I’m ready to go vote him out of our house.”

I told her that she was an inspiration and must have seen some significant elections in her time. She replied that she remembered voting for Kennedy, and remembered her parents voting for FDR when she was growing up in the Catskills, “across the Hudson River from his home.”

Lois and her church had linked up with churches across seven states and earlier that day they spent something like 6 hours joined in prayer, asking that people would find kindness, let go of their anger, and show up to vote and help heal the country. She told me that it was important that America elect leaders who were good people again.

Lois thanked me for my efforts and I thanked her for her example, before she said goodbye and hung up to go to bed. She had big plans in the morning.

If you have ever wanted to do something easy to support a candidate or cause, beyond donating $15, I endorse phone banking. The bad interactions were brief, and you still get to help everyone by removing them from the list. The good interactions were longer and heartwarming, and sometimes you even get to help some people take action. That’s a bunch of wins.

Gritty 2020
Gritty, of the Philadelphia Flyers

Early Tuesday morning I saw a video going around of a 90 year old lady in Southwest Philly dancing her way to the polls. I hoped it was Lois, it sure fit the picture in my mind; I later learned her name was Ms. Mildred, so perhaps not. If not, West Philly is apparently full of cool older ladies, in addition to Gritty.

I spent the better part of the next 5 days watching Philadelphia on TV and often thought of Lois. West Philadelphia ended up being perhaps the most important community in the country this week, and they came through. Lois is awesome and she did it. I hope she feels proud and I hope she’s dancing.

westphilly #westphiladelphia #BidenHarris2020 #pennsylvania #vote

Philadelphia Comes Through in the Clutch

Gritty 2020

There was a fairly consequential election last week. Wanting to do something, over the weekend and through Tuesday I phone banked for Biden and the Democrats’ Get Out the Vote campaign. For those four days I spent shifts calling voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas, encouraging supporters to vote and offering to help them find their polling place or make a voting plan. Most of my calls were to West Philly.

The majority of the people I talked to had already voted or were ready to do so. Quite a few people were frustrated and even angry about all of the calls. A few people were republicans, one of whom was not a real prick. Many of the people I spoke to, however, were friendly, grateful, and hopeful.

A lot of the people I reached were excited about the big day and happy to share their enthusiasm, including a campaign manager in Philadelphia. Some were a little more apprehensive and wanted to talk about how much the election meant to them. A dozen or so even needed my help, and I was thrilled to help them find their polling location and any other information they needed. But my very favorite interaction was with Lois.

Lois is 90-years-old, lives in West Philadelphia, and was my second to last call Monday evening, around 8:50 p.m. for her on the east coast. She quickly informed me that she did not need my help, but she was excited to share her plan.

“My neighbors are going to drive me right down the street, first thing in the morning,” she told me proudly. “I’ve got my ballot, I’ve got my bag packed, I’ve got my roller, and I have my folding chair, in case we have to wait in a long line.”

“I’ve been voting since the 1950s and I’ve never missed an election,” she said. “I’m ready to go vote him out of our house.”

I told her that she was an inspiration and must have seen some significant elections in her time. She replied that she remembered voting for Kennedy, and remembered her parents voting for FDR when she was growing up in the Catskills, “across the Hudson River from his home.”

Lois informed me that her church had linked up with other their denomination across seven states, and that day they had spent something like 6 hours joined in prayer. Together they asked that people would find kindness, let go of their anger, and vote to heal the country. She told me that it was important that America elect leaders who were good people again.

Lois thanked me for my efforts and I thanked her for her example, before she said goodbye and hung up to go to bed. She had big plans in the morning.

If you have ever wanted to do something easy to support a candidate or cause, beyond donating $15, I endorse phone banking. The bad interactions were brief, and you still get to help everyone by removing them from the list. The good interactions were longer and heartwarming, and you even get to help some people take action. That’s a bunch of wins.

Early Tuesday morning I saw a video going around of a 90 year old lady in southwest Philly dancing her way to the polls. I hoped it was Lois, it sure fit the picture in my mind; I later learned her name was Ms. Mildred, so perhaps not. If not, West Philly is apparently full of cool older ladies.

I spent the better part of the next 5 days watching Philadelphia on TV and often thought of Lois. West Philadelphia ended up being perhaps the most important community in the country this week, and they sure came through. Lois is awesome and she did it; they did it.

Saturday morning, after Pennsylvania was called and Biden was named President elect, my wife and I went out in San Diego. We live in North Park, where Black Lives Matter posters and Biden/Harris supporters are prevalent, we could hear shouting and honking horns out in the streets.

It reminded me of the tunnels in D.C. after a Capitals home win, full of horns blaring in a rhythmic call and response. We got in the car and drove out to join them, which turned out to be a great decision.

We found groups on every street corner, and pedestrians walking in between, waving flags and signs, and cheering. Others shouted and raised their hands or firsts in approval from al fresco dining areas as we drove by. We were enthralled and thought it only made sense to follow the calling cars down University to Hillcrest.

For those unfamiliar with San Diego, Hillcrest is a beautiful, vibrant, and hip community in San Diego, which is home to San Diego’s Pride Parade and fondly referred to as “the gay-borhood.” On the drive we witnessed an eruption of pure joy.

Hillcrest in Jubilation, San Diego, CA – Nov. 7, 2020

Not only did we pass continuous groups of revelers on the streets, we soon found ourselves in the heart of an impromptu motorcade parade. We drove from 30th Street down to 4th Street, immersed in a cacophony of joy and syncopated horns. The outpouring of happiness, love, and relief was palpable, energizing, and cathartic.

In honor of Pennsylvania, my Pittsburgh Steelers fan of a wife tucked her Terrible Towel to fly from the closed rear window. In honor of Philadelphia, and the enormous role which the City of Brotherly Love played in the securing the election and ending the Trump administration, she brought her Gritty t-shirt held it aloft like a banner. It featured the googly eyed Philadelphia Flyers mascot stating, “Fuck Trump,” and it was very popular.

Gritty of the Philadelphia Flyers

Every time we stopped and at multiple slow downs in between people would shout, cheer, and run over to take pictures with the heroic monster she waved out the window. As a Washington sports fan, I have always viewed Philadelphia as the bad guys. The Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers have all ruined numerous days and can go directly to hell–and that’s not even mentioning the Pittsburgh Penguins. But there’s no denying it: Pennsylvania came through in the clutch.

Philadelphia and Alleghany County sealed the win and the entire world broke into rapturous applause. Philadelphia most of all was our hero, perhaps not the hero we wanted, but the hero we desperately need right now. The people on the street in San Diego knew it and many of them recognized and adored Gritty. And everyone loved Philadelphia. I hope Lois feels proud and I hope she’s dancing.

Trust the Police? Racism is a Systemic Pandemic

Some white Americans still claim they can’t wrap their heads around black Americans’ fear of or distrust in the police.  A quick glance at the history of the U.S. legal system, and the police in particular, is all it takes to see that distrust is a reasonable and predictable response to centuries of mistreatment. Racism is systemic and it always has been.

For centuries it was the specific job of police to demean, abuse, and dehumanize black Americans. Is it realistic, let alone fair, to expect history not to leave a mark? At the very least through implicit biases?

The conversation doesn’t even require any moral or political conclusions or judgments; it’s just facts. It’s  a large part of why, in the wake of the killing by police of numerous unarmed black Americans, people of all races flooded the streets of major cities across the country for months straight.

For many, the fact that many of these unarmed victims were murdered on camera has made it impossible to deny the problem any longer. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Ahmad Brooks, and Jacob Blake are merely the newest faces among the lasting legacy of America’s original sin.

Racism isn’t just real, it’s been an intrinsic part of the United States since the very beginning. The law isn’t always right, breaking the law isn’t always bad, and enforcing the law has often been supporting inexcusable evil. “Just following orders,” isn’t supposed to fly as a defense, but it always has here.

Slavery was the law of the land and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. So was the 3/5 compromise. The Missouri compromise was legal, as the country expanded and required that every new free state must be a matched by a state where slavery remained legal. Our national entanglement with human trafficking continued. 

The Dred Scott Supreme Court decision was legal and held that escaped slaves were not free or safe in northern, “free” states and could be seized and forced back into bondage. Police enforced these laws, abusing and terrorizing black people. Following orders did not make them right. Notably, police were also known to sell free Black Americans into slavery.

After hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, and slavery was finally made illegal, it should have been the end of it but our country failed to facilitate equality and integration.

Black people may have been freed, but they were never given restitution for all of the unjust enrichment the country and the southern states stole from slave labor. They were never even given the reparations they were promised. They were free to leave, but had no homes, no jobs, unfriendly neighbors, and likely little training beyond plantation labor. White dominated society stacked the deck against them, lawfully.

Enslaved Black Americans were left out of the Homestead Act, unable to take advantage of the generational wealth building opportunity. Blocked from the American Dream, legally. A century later, black Americans were denied the benefit of the GI Bill’s college funding. Due to legal segregation they had sorely limited access to higher education. Again, white America stiff armed Black Americans away from the American Dream.

Reconstruction was short lived, as the north quickly decided that enforcing some semblance of equality in the South was more trouble than it was worth. Yankee soldiers went home and the South instituted a new legal system where white America again treated Black Americans as less than human.

The Jim Crow system of legal segregation was legal. Black Codes, limiting Black Americans’ freedoms and creating excuses to take their freedom altogether, were legal. Voter suppression was legal and rampant, and for the past eight years has been on the rebound. The peonage system of prison slave labor was legal slavery under a new name, and likewise has again reared it’s head, in recent decades.

Even after legal segregation was struck down by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board, in fact it remained in place across much of the country. Redlining was the concerted effort to limit Black and Latin Americans to real estate in designated areas, and to limit services and expenditures in those areas. These legal and professional polices created slums and ghettos and then forced black Americans to live in them. It was the law and police enforced it.

The War on Crime and the War on Drugs targeted black people, with over policing, excessive charges, excessive penalties, and little accountability for malfeasant police or prosecutors. Black men were charged more often and sentenced to far harsher sentences for the same crimes which they commit at the same rate as white men.

Theses fear and race driven policies destroyed the lives of generations of black fathers and their families, while creating the largest prison population in the world. Generations of black men were ripped from their families and condemned to futures of undesirable jobs and limited options.  Both wars were legal and it was police waging these wars against black families.

Racial profiling was legal. Stop and frisk policies were legal. Mass incarceration is still legal. And it too often judged legal for police to use violence and take black lives, even when their is no imminent threat to any other lives. After centuries of the police enforcing bad, racist laws, and regularly getting caught on camera using excessive force to this day, how in the world can anyone expect Black Americans to feel like the police are on their side? Even if some finally are.

Institutional, systemic racism has always been real. The fact that some people escape its worst effects, or don’t notice it all, does not diminish its nefarious effects.

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Super-Delegates for Hillary? Makes Total Sense

Across the U.S. Bernie Sanders’ fans are thrilled about his vision of bringing revolution to the Democratic Party and overjoyed about his rise to prominence, but from Rachel Maddow to your Facebook wall they are furiously confused about the mighty Super-delegates, many of whom have already signed on to support Hillary Clinton.

The Super-delegates are made up of elected members of the Democratic Party and their votes in the primary account for nearly a fifth of the total delegate count. Although the DNC maintains that these Super-delegates could all change their endorsement at the convention, should they choose, most of the them have already announced their support for Ms. Clinton.

“The Democratic National Committee shouldn’t be picking favorites,” I often read. Constant complaints that the DNC must be shills for Hillary and that they should equally support both presidential candidates and worry more about the Congressional races down the ticket.

To that point they are right, the DNC is concerned about elections up and down the ticket, and Sanders’ fans need to realize that like it or not, it is that concern that informs their decisions regarding their candidates for the White House.

A lot of it comes down to one simple fact, a fact that Sanders’ fans did not like hearing when Ms. Clinton pointed it out at last week’s town hall; Bernie Sanders has never been a Democrat.

Sanders’ is an Independent who preaches the best Democratic ideals, votes Democratic and benefits from Dem fundraisers, but he doesn’t raise money for other Democrats. He has not always been in the trenches with Democrats who’ve been struggling to stop the onslaught of the Tea Party, the Bushes and Union Busters for the past decades.

BERNIE SANDERS, HILLARY CLINTON

ABC NEWS – 12/19/15 – ABC News coverage of the Democratic Presidential debate from St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH, airing Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 on the ABC Television Network and all ABC News platforms. (ABC/ Ida Mae Astute) BERNIE SANDERS, HILLARY CLINTON

Hillary, on the other hand has already raised millions of dollars for other Democrats. Democrats who fight as a team against a wave of partisan opponents constantly pushing deregulation, anti-union, anti-middle class policies. 

The Super-Delegates support Hillary because she has been good for the Democratic Party for decades, working hard to win seats and votes for the party. 

There are plenty of Democrats with elections in red states, or at least red districts, who will need to pull centrists to keep or win their seats. It makes sense that they would be weary of the candidate running ever further from the center.

When you run on the National Stage you have to live up to the dreams of many constituencies, you have to negotiate and sometimes there are hard choices with no outcomes that provide wins for everyone. It’s much easier to be single minded and stubborn, to refuse to barter, when you’re focused on a small set of issues, for a smaller audience.

Bernie and his big ideas rock, but Hillary bashers are doing a disservice to Ms. Clinton, as well as the Democratic Party as a whole. For more than a generation she’s been a leader and supporter of the Party that Bernie has never deigned to be officially counted among, until now that it serves his revolutionary dream.

The EPA and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Finally in the Game

In the United States’ recent history, republican administrations have not been the best friends of the environment, but that was not always the case. Decades ago the quality of the ecosystem was much less of a partisan issue, recognized as a necessity for all citizens, and it was actually President Richard Nixon that proposed the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA was established shortly thereafter on December 2, 1970, yet. Since its inception the agency has done a lot to protect many aspects of our environment from waste and pollution, including the air we breathe, under the Clean Air Act, signed into law the same year. But it wasn’t until January 2, 2011, that the EPA first began regulating Greenhouse Gasses (GHG).

The road to our new protections was a long and hard fought one, at first fought against the EPA itself. On October 20, 1999 the International Center for Technology Assessment petitioned the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases emitted by new motor vehicles in order to reduce the effects of global warming. The agency, however initially declined to take action on the petition, claiming not to have the authority to act on climate change, as the issue did not fall under its traditional powers to regulate emissions directly harmful to humans.

Furthermore the agency went on to explain that even if it were within their power to act on the petition they would not do so, for two reasons: the first being that to do so would not be effective in combatting global warming. The second, and more troubling reason, was that such action would go against the Bush administration’s policies, which aimed at further investigation into the legitimacy of the climate change issue and its causes, as well as encouraging efforts by private parties such as voluntary reductions and technological advances. EPA Logo

On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court found, in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), that GHGs, are air pollutants covered by the CAA. The Court found that the “EPA was required to determine whether or not emissions of GHGs from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” So under pressure from the courts the agency began the investigative process they had been putting off for nearly a decade.

Almost exactly two years later, in April 2009 under the new democratic presidential administration, the EPA proposed a finding that greenhouse gasses do in fact contribute to air pollution that may threaten public health. In early December of that year the Administrator signed two findings on GHG, under section 202 of the CAA: Continue reading

Primary Election Coverage Becomes Bomb Scare, But All Ends Well

2014-07-07 12.10.26Prospective voters who showed up Tuesday evening at the Galleria Mall faced an unexpected obstacle when a suspicious package found outside the building led to a bomb scare and limited access to the polls.

According to Officer Travis Hamlin, at 4:30 p.m. Henderson police received a call reporting a suspicious, unattended bag left around the valet line in the mall parking lot. Within minutes multiple police officers were on the scene taping off nearly the entire south parking lot and all doors in the area. Hundreds of cars were prevented from leaving and dozens looked on as more and more police continued to arrive on the scene with the bomb squad en route.

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