Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It’s difficult to comprehend that women didn’t always have the rights that they have now, and many of those rights were only gained a few short decades ago.

Imagine when women weren’t able to open a bank account, have credit cards or a mortgage without a man’s signature until the passing of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974. Considering a woman founded our media company in 1976 and still sits in the publisher’s seat, the thought is unfathomable to many of us.

One of the trailblazers who worked for women’s rights to manage their own finances and their own lives was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She accomplished this feat as the co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. The void her death leaves behind is immense. Let us remember all the work that’s been done and is still being fought for true equality. Now with her seat locked in political turmoil, we believe her legacy needs to be respected more than ever.

What we need to remember is sometimes the champion for equal rights, Ginsburg, needed to represent men to work toward the goal of all being treated equally. In 1972, Ginsburg argued in front of the Supreme Court when she and her husband represented Charles Moritz, a bachelor who was unable to take a tax deduction for taking care of his sick mother as a woman or a divorced/widowed man would have been able to do. It was an ingenious tactic, showing how any discrimination on the basis of sex was harmful to the whole, rather than one select group. Throughout her career, Ginsburg was the champion of many causes that have had a positive effect on both men and women of all colors and orientations. She believed that everyone has a right to vote, to access health care including birth control, to obtain an abortion, and that when two people of the same sex fall in love, they have the right to get married just like everyone else.

Replacing Ginsburg will be no easy task, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. President Donald Trump (R) said he will nominate a woman to the seat and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) is eagerly waiting in the wings for the process to begin, despite arguing in 2016 that Supreme Court nominees should not be put to the bench in an election year. He and other Senate Republicans did not even hold a hearing for former President Barack Obama’s (D) court pick Merrick Garland that year. It’s the kind of House Rules situation you would expect more from a shady casino owner than the highest legislature in the land. It’s the kind of political skullduggery that does irrevocable lasting harm to democracy itself.

Locally, vigils held by two separate left-wing groups on Long Island’s North Shore have called for Ginsburg’s replacement to wait until after the election, and we’re inclined to agree. The dangerous precedent the U.S. Senate has engendered goes well beyond politics, but to the heart of democracy itself. There cannot be one rule for one party and another rule for the other, effectively eschewing several basic tenets of the Constitution.

There is a reason Ginsburg held on for so long, much longer than any of us would have stayed in such a stressful and high-profile position despite having five bouts with the cancer that eventually led to her death. One of her last statements dictated before her death was, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

The American value of equality for all is one that seems to be lost in our divisive times. We must honor Ginsburg’s legacy by remembering this ideal by moving toward the future and not slipping back to the 1950s where it was believed that women were only capable of being, as the saying goes, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. If that were true, we would have never experienced people like RBG.

United States Supreme Court Building

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Republican senators have abdicated their responsibility for vetting a candidate for the Supreme Court.

President Donald Trump (who is a Republican, as if you didn’t know) could nominate a toothpick, a swimming pool, or a face mask and those objects, appealing though they may be, would become the ninth member of the Supreme Court, replacing the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The process was over before it began. The president, who is so fond of calling any event that might not proceed in his favor “rigged,” has exactly what he wants: a collection of at least 50 senators willing to rubber stamp the nominee to the Supreme Court, a lifelong appointment, for myriad reasons, not the least of which is to break a possible contentious election tie if and when the waters are muddy enough in the presidential election.

You have to hand it to them; they know a power grab when they see one, and this is a spectacular opportunity to reshape the court with Trump’s third nominee.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham didn’t say that his party agreed to consider the candidate when he spoke to one of the Republicans’ favorite publicists, Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

No, he said, “We’ve got the votes to confirm Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg’s replacement before the election,” according to a report in the New York Post.

That doesn’t preclude the infinitesimally small possibility that one or more of them might actually consider the merits of any candidate Trump, who is, in case you missed it, a Republican, might nominate, but it certainly suggests that the game is over well before it began.

Yes, I’m sure many people are as confident that the Democrats will all vote “no” on the candidate as that the Republicans will vote “yeah, hooray, yippee, we won.”

But that doesn’t make the votes from either party, and, specifically, the votes by each individual senator any more legitimate.

The Republicans have so effectively lined up the members of their party that none of them will question the magnificent incredible choice of the justice-to-be-named later.

They have so much confidence that the choice will be the best possible candidate for the highest judicial appointment in the land that they have no real need to consider the merits of her candidacy.

This has become an all out sprint to fast-track their candidate directly onto that important bench, without even the token consideration for her past decisions, her views on the Constitution, or her thoughts on important legal precedents.

If Republican senators have so much faith in the president’s choice, they should forfeit their salaries, go back home and allow the president to vote for them on every issue. I suspect the president wouldn’t object to adding such responsibility to his daily routine.

I understand that we live in polarized and divided times. I get that Senators reflect and amplify the differences that are pulling this nation apart. Each of them has an opportunity, no, a responsibility, to consider the job they are supposed to do, and not the party they are expected to support.

I don’t even need a Republican to vote against the president’s candidate to give me hope that someone in that esteemed chamber gets it. I just need a Republican to ask a genuinely difficult question. The hearings will go something like this:

Democrat: You’re unqualified and here’s why.

Republican: My Democratic colleague is wrong, offensive and disgraceful (see my last column for the search for grace). You’re the best person to protect the legal interests of every American.

Candidate: Was there a question in there?

Debra Bowling, owner of Pasta Pasta in Port Jeff, set up tables outside for Phase Two reopening. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Half a year in, how are things going?

There are signs of normalcy returning. The world outside the home is slowly coming back to life. I just returned from the first general membership meeting of a local chamber of commerce that was held in person for the first time in six months and not via Zoom.

I must say, it was wonderful to see people whom I routinely work with in three dimension. We all felt like hugging, but we didn’t. We stayed apart and we were outside, under a three-sided tent. By having the fourth side open, the meeting qualified as “outside.” So we sat at picnic tables, four apiece, or stood outside the tent, and we wore our masks, which we intermittently unhitched as we sipped our coffee graciously supplied by Starbucks. And we got some real business accomplished even as we enjoyed the new reality of it.

New stores and businesses are opening. Three cheers to those optimists who are starting up during a pandemic-caused recession. Clearly they feel the time is right for them. There were over half a dozen that just joined the chamber, some of them pivoting from their prior businesses that did not sustain them. Owners of established stores in Port Jeff Village were looking better than glum.

Children are receiving some combination of regular education, in person and remotely, which makes them and their parents and teachers a lot happier. Restaurants have largely managed to survive thanks to outdoor dining and curbside pickup, but now their owners worry about the coming colder weather. Outdoor heaters will be allowed, a la Paris, with appropriate permits from local fire department officials to ensure safety. Shoppers with masks and hand sanitizers are routinely grocery shopping. Following medical guidelines, we have learned how to cope in such situations.

A few residents are even taking vacations to destinations mainly within driving distance.

As we wait for vaccines and anti-COVID medicines, we seem to have come to some semblance of equilibrium with the virus. Of course we are greatly helped in this by the low numbers of those falling ill in New York.

That is not to say that we have forgotten the thousands who have died or their families who will suffer the pain of their loss for a lifetime. Nor do we disregard the many unemployed and the men, women and children on food lines. So many people are holding their breaths with rent coming due and monthly bills to be paid, yet there is no Congressional relief funding in sight.

Churches and community organizations have mobilized to offer food. Local governments have stepped into the breach, and to some extent, offered financial help. The U.S. Small Business Administration and regional banks have also provided low interest financing. Nonetheless, for some there is true panic. And for many, salaries, hours of work and budgets have been reduced.

Behind the scenes, we at the newspaper and website offices are busy at work. We believe the latest relevant information we bring to the public and the sense of community that is defined by functioning local media are essential to coping in these unprecedented times.

While our offices continue to be closed to the public, we still maintain our five-day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. hours. Some of our staff work remotely part or all of the time, and unwillingly we have thinned our ranks. We can be reached by every sort of communication: telephone, email, texting, Facebook and just by knocking on our door. If the purpose for your visit is compelling enough, we will let you in, as long as you are wearing a face mask and that you maintain correct social distancing.

As we support our communities, we offer our resources and help to you, our readers and advertisers. For example, for several months we have run lists of restaurants open for curbside pickup and of other essential businesses open to the public at no charge. If we can help you with our communications platforms, please just ask us. If it is possible for us to do so, we will.

Even as we struggle to survive, we are committed to serving you.    

File photo

When Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) announced the 30-member police reform task force last Wednesday, Sept. 9, there was not much in the way of fanfare for what should be a big moment for the general police reform movement.

Like the sound of a flat trumpet announcing the arrival of the king, it did not create any kinds of sensation other than pursed lips and a general groan from the community at large.

The news has left people on both entrenched sides of the police debate uncomfortable. One side probably thinks it is a dangerous waste of time, the other believes it to be an attempt at lip service, one piloted by the same people advocates accused of sustaining bad practices within departments.

The muted and sometimes hostile response to the new task force is likely due to how long it took the county to actually release its own plans. It has been over three months since Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) released his first executive order mandating that the government actually looks into this. Police reform advocates have hounded his heels since then but the county exec stood mum. Perhaps he, like others, was confused by what the county should have been doing to prepare for what is likely seen as another unfunded mandate from New York State.

But this is bigger than that, or at least, it should be. Bellone and other police officials should have been upfront about what they were going to do and how they would do it. At least then they wouldn’t have been in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation as they are now. Especially because without a plan, Cuomo has promised municipalities’ police departments could lose state funding.

Suffolk County police officials throughout the entirety of the police debate have touted recent advancements in anti-bias training and department reform that was happening even before Minneapolis man George Floyd was killed at the hands of police.

And to say there haven’t been significant efforts would be a disservice to the several notable people within the police department who have strived to increase inclusivity and enact change for the better. Most times, however, it’s better to let the people themselves tell you if that change has been enough, rather than just sitting in the echo chamber that is bureaucracy.

The 30-person task force is effectively evenly split between Suffolk County officials/police reps and other religious, racial and community groups. This disparate set of characters plans to hold eight meetings, one for each precinct plus the East End, then using another large survey the county has announced alongside the task force, craft some sort of policy plan.

The Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association will of course advocate for no changes to police budgets or personnel. Their leadership has been staunch supporters of Blue Lives Matter rallies and have routinely decried any and all Black Lives Matter protests, even though in the county the vast majority have been peaceful and civil. That’s not to say police don’t have the right to speak up for themselves. We know just how much work goes into serving a community as an officer — from the holidays not spent with families to the danger they put themselves in every day. But we need to listen to communities, especially the large communities of color, for whether they feel police actually treat them the way many of us on the North Shore feel we are positively reflected.

We at TBR News Media think there should be a minority report, or potentially multiple minority reports, to go along with whatever result gets crafted before the governor’s April 2021 deadline. That way we can see what was left on the cutting room floor and, more importantly, how either police reps or reform advocates feel things should be done if they had their way.

It’s time to stop thinking of this task force as an afterthought and move toward some consensus that leads to real change.

From Photofest

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Normally, I’d build towards my request, but I know you’re busy. So, here’s the request: please send stories about your observations of graceful actions in our community. When I get enough of them, I’ll put them together in an article. If they keep coming, I’ll put together additional columns.

Now, onto the pitch: the challenges of today and in the uncertain times ahead continue to increase even as we are now only a few months away from the countdown to 2021. What kind of Halloween will we have this year? What kind of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or, if you’re a fan of the show Seinfeld, Festivus, awaits? We know we can’t plan for the kinds of things that we used to, like seeing friends and family in large groups, snuggling up close to watch movies or to tell stories of the triumphs of our children or our companies.

As of the date of this week’s paper, we have 47 days between now and the election and who knows how much longer between now and when an already-contested national election is actually decided. That means we will hear the word “disgraceful” bandied about as if it were the best way to take down the other side.

Democrats and Republicans will call the acts, thoughts and plans of the other side “disgraceful.” While you may agree with one person or party about how your favorite politician’s opponent is, indeed, completely lacking in grace and has ideas, thoughts or expressions that are as close to an abomination as you can imagine, those words and accusations don’t elevate your hero or you, for that matter.

Sure, it feels good to find targets for the frustrations and disappointments of a difficult year. However, during challenging times such as these, how about if we share the grace with which people are handling these challenges?

Teachers, principals, janitors and everyone else associated with schools are operating under extremely difficult conditions. Surely you must have seen one of the people in the education world come up with a graceful solution to these maddening moments?

Then there are all the people involved in health care, from first responders, to nurses, to doctors. I suspect we could create a wall of stories that reveal the grace under pressure that not only inspired you over the course of this difficult year, but also could inspire other readers looking for positive messages.

Police officers, fire fighters and other emergency services workers never know exactly what they’ll face in a day, from a cat stuck in a tree to an unstable domestic violence incident, to an escalating confrontation among protesters on opposite sides of a boiling nation. The grace some of these people demonstrate can lower the temperature and restore calm and peace.

Speaking of grace, religious leaders can and do lead by example, writing sermons and acting with patience and dignity that encourage us to find the best of ourselves.

While it’s tempting to write that Mrs. Smith is a graceful teacher, please think about what she does that’s so endearing. When you show us the story, by providing an anecdote about how Mrs. Smith defused a bullying situation or encouraged your daughter to stop sucking her thumb with subtle hand gestures, you are taking our hand and leading us into that socially-distanced classroom full of masked learners.

Hopefully, whatever stories you share, if you have the time, will motivate us to follow the examples of others who have found a way, despite circumstances that may seem out of their control, to reveal the kind of grace that soothes the soul and brings meaning to each day.

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By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Somehow reading about other troubled times makes for good escapism at this weird COVID-19 period of our existence. I just finished a wonderful, non-fiction, carefully researched book by Diana Preston, “Eight Days at Yalta,” and I recommend it for your next page turner.

Even though we all know how WWII came out and how the leaders of the Allies met at Yalta in Crimea to work out the details of the war’s conclusion and the post-war map, the story is still fascinating. The characterizations of Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, their interactions, their motivations and their deceptions make for riveting reading. And incidentally, those decisions still affect us today.

Originally scheduled for the end of 1944, the meeting was postponed until February 4-11 of the following year at Roosevelt’s request. He wanted it to happen after he was inaugurated in January for his unprecedented fourth term. Despite his obvious illness, he agreed to travel thousands of miles in the middle of winter, and he got there via train, ship, plane and limo. He was the youngest of the three leaders, at 63, and would die barely two months later. His fragile condition was noted by many of the participants, and he was accompanied by his only daughter, Anna Boettiger, who tried valiantly to protect her father’s health and help him conserve his energies.

Churchill insisted on first meeting Roosevelt at Malta, where the President’s ship, the USS Quincy, delivered him and his entourage to Europe. Though just 17 miles long and nine miles wide, Malta served as a strategic position in the British supply line. As a result, it was subject to constant air raids day and night by German and Italian pilots. Twice the amount of bombs fell on the rocky island as fell on London during the Blitz. No business was discussed there because Roosevelt did not want to give the impression that the two were ganging up on Stalin.

Churchill, 70 and the oldest, was also accompanied by his daughter, Sarah. The two English-speaking leaders, surrounded by heavy security from both countries, then flew on to Saki, in the Crimea, in separate planes. From there, they set out for the milder climate of Yalta in cars, some 90 miles away. The road was so filled with potholes from bombings that one of the Admirals traveling with Roosevelt complained the ride, which lasted for five hours, “was breaking every bone in his body.”

Stalin, 65, made the 1000 mile trip by rail from Moscow. He disliked flying because his only experience had been a white-knuckled flight across the Caspian Sea to the Tehran Conference, the big three’s previous rendezvous. Both he and Churchill were short and stout, with Roosevelt measuring over six feet when standing. Foreign diplomats were surprised by the dictator’s seeming charm, the softness of his voice and how, unlike others, especially Churchill, he often seemed prepared to listen to what they had to say rather than to speak himself. They concluded the conference liking him. Of the three, he was probably the healthiest.

Roosevelt had two main goals that he wished to obtain from the meeting. He was determined to set the architecture for a lasting peace through the creation of a United Nations. And he desperately wanted the Russian military to join in the fighting against Japan when the war in Europe was won, which happened in April.

The American casualties at Iwo Jima were huge and foreshadowed the terrible cost in lives of an attack on the Japanese homelands. He achieved both but at a loss of Eastern European countries to the Soviet Union. And as it turned out, the United States did not need Russian help in defeating Japan, although as time went on, Stalin hastened to join the fighting, so as to share in the post-war spoils. The President clearly did not understand the coming power of the atomic bomb, which was dropped on Hiroshima only six months later.

There are, according to the author, disconcerting similarities between Stalin and Putin.

Labor Day, back to school, the 19th anniversary of 9/11 — these days had consequences before. But in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, they mean that much more — they have to. They show how it’s no longer enough to be complacent and let the issues these days represent pass us by.

We can’t pass by Labor Day without thinking of the thousands upon thousands of people out of work. We have to remember just how much toil people in our local food pantries and soup kitchens are putting in to help the rising number of food insecure families across Long Island.

We bustle around and shop online for any Labor Day sales ignoring the purpose of the day is to not only celebrate organized labor’s accomplishments in gaining things as welcome as the five-day workweek, but to offer the future hope of additional compensation and relief to the millions who struggle even while working full time, too many times in more than one job.

We have to be able to come out of this pandemic with a new perspective. When those who were considered “essential” such as those who worked in supermarkets or other low-wage service industry jobs were not being compensated for the risk they put both themselves and their families in, we know there needs to be another look at allowing people to make a living wage when working full time.

On Tuesday, most of our North Shore schools reopened for in-person instruction for the first time since March. Parents walked their children to the bus stop, or more than likely drove them to school, with a great feeling of hope but likely some foreboding. Many stood at the bus stop in masks. At schools all across the North Shore, cars waited in long lines before finally letting their kids off, in some cases a faculty member waiting to take their temperature.

This is not going to be easy. Already we’re seeing the logistical issues of how tens or even hundreds of parents will drop off their students all at once. School districts need to iron out these issues, and parents, for their part, need to be patient while that is worked out. Though districts have been planning for this eventuality for months, no plan ever survives first contact, as the saying goes.

But parents must also recognize the fragility of the situation. All it takes is one slip up, one instance where the regional infection rate spikes above 9% and schools will once again shut down, as required by New York State. We can’t relax on any of our mask or distancing efforts, and this especially has to be reinforced to our children. As much as many parents don’t like what school districts have planned, even a hybrid model is better than full remote learning only. We have to think of the parents who work full time and have nobody to be home for their young children to either take care of them or make sure they’re learning properly.

As we look to commemorate 9/11, we see many events hosted by our local fire departments are not available to the public. Some have taken the option to use livestream instead, but fire departments have made the bold and correct decision to try and limit as much extra contact as possible. After all, many of the firefighters and EMTs at these departments were on the front lines not two months ago. They know better than most of us the toll the virus takes.

Let us also not forget the hundreds of people with lasting health impacts of being there when the towers fell 19 years ago. Those people are still around — folks like John Feal of the FealGood Foundation that continue to support rescue workers and other volunteers deserve our respect and backing.

This is a time that reminds us to work together in all these regards. Consequential times require conscientious action, and we believe our communities have the capability to make the right choices.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

What are we all waiting for? A vaccine ranks high on the list, if you read the newspapers and hear the dialog and diatribes from that epicenter of anger, hostility and finger pointing known as Washington, D.C.

But, really, how much will a vaccine change our lives? If a vaccine were available tomorrow, would you take it? For a vaccine to create herd immunity, a majority (70 percent or more) of the population would need to take a safe, effective treatment.

In an unscientific survey of 18 people to whom I promised anonymity, eight of them said they would take a vaccine if it were available tomorrow, while the other 10 said they would wait anywhere from several months to a year to take it. Several of the respondents elaborated on the rationale behind their decisions.

Jody said she would take it because “absolutely anything that helps us get kids back into school and the world moving again” is worth the effort.

Melissa said she would also take a test. Her husband is currently in a clinical trial and doesn’t know if he received the vaccine or a placebo.

While Sheila suggested she usually waits a month or two after a new vaccine comes out to determine if there are any side effects, she would take it whenever it’s available “as long as the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] backs it.”

A health care worker, Doug explained that his company won’t let him work without getting a flu shot. He wondered whether the company’s policy would be the same after a COVID vaccine comes out. Indeed, a vaccine would create a college conundrum, as schools that require a new vaccine before students return for the spring might cause some students to choose remote learning or to take a semester off.

Stephanie would only consider taking a vaccine if Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it was safe and effective.

Matt would not rush to get a vaccine. He said he doesn’t “buy the first model of a car or wait in line to get the newest cell phone. Let’s see how it works.”

Jacob was much more adamant, expressing concern that the urgency to get a test on the market would create a potential health hazard.

John shared Jacob’s concerns, saying he’s nervous about anything new. “I would consider taking a vaccine a year from now,” John said, but not until researchers and doctors know more about it.

Cindy, who is suffering with several other health problems, said she wouldn’t take a vaccine for a year or more. She doesn’t know if the vaccine might interact with medications she’s currently taking, while she’s also concerned that any change in her body might alter her overall health. Mindy wouldn’t rush to get a vaccine. “Testing takes time and if it were available that quickly, I would not trust the effectiveness and/or safety,” she said.

So if my non-scientific sample is reflective of the overall population, a vaccine, even if it’s effective and safe, would take more than the typical few weeks after it is available to provide a benefit to both the individual and the greater population.

While an available vaccine might be a relief, it also causes concerns about whether the process moved too quickly. Assurances from the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and Dr. Fauci might help ease those worries. To borrow from the sports world, the population is eager for an umpire to call balls and strikes after the pitch is thrown, and not before, to satisfy a timeline for people eager to return to the life of handshakes and hugs.

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By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

This is the beginning of what many call “The Silly Season.” That term alludes roughly to between Labor Day and Election Day and refers to the many charges, counter charges, assertions, braggadocio and hyperbole that will be uttered by candidates and their parties in an attempt to win public favor. This year of 2020 seems like it will be an extreme example of this historic process.

Why this year? Because more than at any point in the memories of those still alive can there be found such partisanship and acrimony in the political arena. And those strongly held opinions and emotions have spilled over into our daily lives and interfered with our closest relationships.

Just ask divorce lawyers. According to one from New York City quoted in The New York Times, “Presidential years are typically very quiet for divorces because of the uncertainty of the presidency,” said Ken Jewell. “This year has been beyond insane.” What in the past might have been reasonable discussions about politics between couples have now become ranting confrontations. “And while people aren’t citing political differences as the sole reason for divorce, the topic is certainly compounding matters,” he explained.

Couples have been known to fight about Supreme Court rulings, the handling of the pandemic, wearing a mask, immigration and the repeal of DACA — the program that protects young immigrants — and even whether to eat indoors or outdoors at a restaurant.

Dating services have felt a similar impact. For example, according to the article by Nicole Pajer in the NYT Aug. 30 issue, 84% of the singles using Dating.com “won’t even consider dating someone with opposite political views.” And within families, feelings can run as high about marrying outside the chosen political party as they once were against marrying outside the family’s religion and ethnicity.

This is ultimate partisanship. This is also such a waste. Giving up on close relationships that have otherwise withstood the test of time merely because of different political opinions, is a decision that needs to be reconsidered. Unless that partisanship is only the straw that otherwise breaks the camel’s back, as the saying goes, in a relationship with more serious problems, those different perspectives can be made into intellectual exchanges and even result in personal growth.

Knowing how the other side thinks in a disagreement is enlightening. It can also be a bottomless well for thoughtful exchanges throughout a lifetime. What must be present, however, is mutual respect. Some couples have been able to bridge and perhaps even enjoy such a divide. The first that comes to mind is the Republican consultant, Mary Matalin, and the Democratic consultant, James Carville.

Matalin was deeply involved with the GOP as a Republican strategist serving under Ronald Reagan, functioning as a campaign director for George H.W. Bush, for whom she was then assistant, and even working as counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney.

James Carville was the lead strategist for the successful campaign of then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton for president. Carville went on to elections work abroad, including in Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Colombia and Argentina. He was also involved with Hillary’s 2008 campaign as well as media and film efforts and public speaking. He is known for his outspoken style, which includes his comparison of Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama: “If she gave him one of her cojones, they’d both have two.”

Both Matalin and Carville have said they don’t discuss politics at home. Maybe that’s one way for those in a committed relationship to deal with ultra partisan differences. Others have handled the matter differently. Wende Thoman and William Sterns, both 72, of Delray Beach, Florida, sometimes loudly disagree about politics. “But this is the sport we’ve engaged in for a long time,” Ms. Thoman said. Mr. Sterns actually enjoys the banter. “Politics should be fun!” he said.

And yes, differing opinions can add a layer of passion to a relationship. The trick: not demeaning each other. While all’s fair in love and war, I vote for love.

METRO photo

We’re not going to lie to you. We know this school year is going to be a tough one.

If the end of the 2019-20 academic year has taught us anything, it’s that getting an education during a pandemic is difficult. Watching parents rally across the North Shore has also shown that not all parents agree with their districts’ plans for the new school year. Some want more in-person learning, while others want options for keeping you home instead.

While it’s imperative for parents and school administrators to work together to provide the best education for their children, for students the most important thing on your minds should be getting that education while staying healthy.

We know some parents feel that their children may have fallen behind during the few months schools went fully remote earlier in the year. All of a sudden switching to remote learning left many districts scurrying to figure out how to best utilize this type of e-learning. While some said they excelled at it, others very much did not.

No matter how you’re returning to school, it’s important for you to raise your hand if something doesn’t make sense whether it’s regarding a lesson or even how to follow public health guidelines.

It can be hard sometimes for a student to admit they don’t know something, but now more than ever it’s important to take control of your studies and your health. Every child has dreams for the future, and it’s the school’s responsibility to help them obtain those goals. So, to students, we say, “Speak up!” Let your parents know how you’re feeling about how things are going, or touch base with a teacher or guidance counselor.

For those who are attending in-person classes, we know you’ll have to handle new precautionary measures such as social distancing, wearing masks when it’s not possible to stand 6 feet away and having temperatures taken upon leaving the house or entering the school. We know a lot of responsibility has been put on your shoulders. What do you do if you see someone not complying? Speak up.

It’s hard, we know. Bullying is a bigger problem than ever so you may not want to call attention to yourself. But with some New York colleges open for only a week or two, we are already seeing some temporary closings, including SUNY Oneonta which at the beginning of the week reported 177 COVID-19 positive cases since the start of the fall semester with 44 students quarantining and 65 in isolation on campus. The guidelines are to help keep you and your loved ones as healthy and safe as possible. It’s imperative to realize that someone can be infectious, even if symptoms aren’t being shown.

We know this is a lot of responsibility to put on young shoulders. But as journalists that have been fortunate enough to interview many of the students in our coverage areas, we know the depth and breadth of the intelligence and empathy of our youth.

To those who will study for hours despite not having immediate access to teachers, and to the student-athletes who continue to practice alone on the field or on the lawn with their parents, we see you. We know you got this.

Our editorial staff also wants to let our young people know that we’re here for you. If you see a persisting problem going on at your school, email us at [email protected], and we’ll look into it. You can even share with us your feelings about navigating these new waters in a letter to the editor to be published right in this very newspaper.

It’s going to be hard, but we’ll get through this together.