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Day 361 – Letter to Vice President Pence: Sycophant-In-Chief is Not A Positive Moniker. We Think You Know That? Right?

Day 361 – Letter to Vice President Pence: Sycophant-In-Chief is Not A Positive Moniker. We Think You Know That? Right?

Image from CNN

Dear Vice President Pence,

Sycophant: a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage. Synonyms: yes-man, bootlicker, toady, flunky, lackey, servile flatterer, doormat, fawning parasite. (I have combined two dictionary definitions for sycophant). Mr. Pence, I am describing you. Joel K. Goldstein, a historian and an expert on Vice Presidents who teaches law at St. Louis University refers to you as the “Sycophant-in-Chief.” Not a flattering portrayal but one which appears to be apt. My question to you is does your devotional gaze at President Trump belie your innermost feelings, or are you really that enamored of your boss, or more likely are you looking ahead to being the Republican nominee in 2024? Remember Trump cannot fire you, so what do you have to gain by being his yes-man at all times? You must think that your loyalty to him will get you that nomination, but what if the object of all those fawning gazes falls? What are the chances you will fall with him? And do Americans really want a former sycophant to be Commander-in-Chief?

Let’s look at a brief overview of your career and see how it would play in a nation-wide bid for the presidency. Harry McCauley, retired editor of the Republic, newspaper in Columbus, Indiana says, “Mike Pence wanted to be President since he popped out of the womb. He’s very ambitious, even calculating, about the steps he’ll take toward that goal.” Ok- being ambitious is not a negative, right? But what about the people you hang out with and whom you are influenced by? Here are just a few. There is Paul Weyrich, the Moral Majority co-founder, who condemned homosexuality, feminism, abortion, government imposed racial integration, and who partnered with Lazlo Pasztor, former member of a pro-Nazi party in Hungary. You called Weyrich your friend and mentor (Jane Mayer, New Yorker, Oct 23, 2017). There is Cecil Bohanan, one of two scholars in your think tank who had financial ties to tobacco-company groups and for whom you wrote an essay which stated that “smoking doesn’t kill. A greater scourge than cigarettes [is] big government disguised as do-gooder, health care rhetoric” (Mayer). You were head of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation which published an essay arguing that unmarried women should be denied access to birth control. When as governor of Indiana you in 2015 sponsored the Religious Freedom Act, which essentially legalized discrimination against homosexuals by businesses, you faced boycotts of your state and only then did you withdraw your support for the bill. In 2015 you barred resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana, until federal courts struck that down. And then there are the Koch brothers who are among your biggest supporters. Mike Lofgren, a former Republican staff member says about you, ”He [is] as far right as you could go without falling off the earth” (Mayer).

During the Trump campaign, when the Access Hollywood tape surfaced, you claimed outrage in a letter to Trump but soon decided that you could stomach his assault on women and remained as his Vice President candidate. Since then you have remained silent in the face of all of the president’s outrageous racist comments. You must know that makes you complicit in his racism. The president apparently thinks that being a racist plays well with his base; is that the approximately 36% you are counting on to win the 2024 election for yourself?

Indeed, now that you are vice president, we hear little from you except when you are praising the president, but here are a few examples of public behavior.  You host a Bible study group for Cabinet officers, led by minister Ralph Drollinger who has written “women with children at home, who either serve in public office or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.” And then there are your legal troubles over Mike Flynn and what you knew and when you knew it relating to the Russian investigation.

Finally to conclude with one recent glaring Sycophant-in-Chief instance as reported in the Washington Post Dec. 22, 2017 when you were in a meeting with Trump and Cabinet members after the passage of the Republican Tax bill in which you “gushed about Trump’s accomplishments every 12.5 seconds by offering 14 separate commendations for him in less than 3 minutes. Each bit of praise was addressed directly to Trump, who was seated directly across the table from you.” Here are a few: ”You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage.” (Pew research surveyed 37 countries and found a widespread collapse of trust in the United States President and in the U.S.) “You’ve spurred an optimism in the country that’s setting records.” (CNN poll showed that 63% of Americans feel that the country is moving in the wrong direction.) “You’ve actually got the Congress to do what they couldn’t do with [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska] for 40 years.” (Yes, he did get drilling approved in the refuge; we’ll see how that goes when the first big spill happens.)

I hope this has been an enlightening look at you, Mr. Vice President. The question is: will enough of the American voters want a president with your far right background, who may be compromised re: the Russian investigation, who is complicit with silence on Trump’s racism, who may be serving a president who may not last a complete term in office, and who as VP has done little during his term except be Sycophant-in-Chief? Think about that the next time you fix that adoring gaze at the current president.







Day 353 – We Have Become Uncomfortably Numb, Mr. President.

Day 353 – We Have Become Uncomfortably Numb, Mr. President.

Image from Pinterest

Mr. President

This morning I was listening to the radio and Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb was playing. As I listened to the words, I realized that I was also numb, but uncomfortably numb.

Although not the original meaning of the song, some of the words just resonated with me:

“Hello? Hello? Hello
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone at home?”

I feel so frustrated when thinking what you and your complicit congress are doing to the America I love. The Americans I love. The people, not yet American, who want to play a part in the success of my country. And you are not listening, we can’t get through to you.

You say you are a “stable genius” but so many disagree.

“Come on now
I hear you’re feeling down
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again
I’ll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?”

Here is where it hurts this week: Waiting for an easy decision to fund programs that will help so many: Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Disaster Relief are programs that are needed desperately to care for humans.

DACA protects over 700,000 people who came to the United States as minors. Can you imagine being sent back to a country where you have never been as an adult and quite possibly do not remember or even speak the language? Are you so afraid of them that your best judgement is to send them away to keep you safe? Democrats want this program; do not discount it just to disagree with the other side of the aisle.

CHIP needs a long-term solution for funding, not just a temporary authorization. This needs to be a priority. The children that need this program have no alternative but they still need healthcare. This affects millions of kids and their lives depend on it.

Disaster Relief continues to be a growing issue. With the alteration in worldwide meteorological conditions (climate change), the need to care for our people and improve our infrastructure will only increase. Denying this will not improve you ratings. And Puerto Rico still needs assistance.

The United States has been a country that cares for the people that need protection. Your leadership shows your intention to isolate the United States from our allies, target and bully vulnerable individuals, and golf. Sometimes a show of power is necessary, but sometimes empathy is a more powerful tool.

“There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying
…This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb”

My goal this year is to continue to stay engaged, to ensure that “this is not normal” stays in my head AND my heart. Being uncomfortable is not bad, it is a cause for action. America deserves better and I will continue to work until you are a receding memory, distantly on the horizon.

Comfortably Numb was written by David Gilmour and Roger Waters for Pink Floyd’s album The Wall (1979).





Day 352 – The Book, “Fire and Fury,” Should Keep Us All Fired Up For Some Time To Come, Mr. President.

Day 352 – The Book, “Fire and Fury,” Should Keep Us All Fired Up For Some Time To Come, Mr. President.

Photograph from Variety

Mr. President,

Today is known around the world as Three Kings Day, celebrating the day that the three Wise Men found the new born Messiah in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12). As they were bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, it used to be the day that Christmas presents were exchanged before December 25 became the norm. It is also known as the Epiphany – a word which in modern usage has come to mean a surprising moment of profound revelation or insight.

And what a gift we just received in Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury. It reveals our White House is completely devoid of any, well, wise men. It’s filled with hundreds of examples of you putting the “diss” in the White House dysfunction. The only thing keeping the book from being a true epiphany is that this was no surprise. We knew all along that the emperor had no clothes.

The narrative is in perfect keeping with your proclaiming on the campaign trail that you’d be way too busy doing “president stuff” to go golfing, even though to date you’ve played 88 games of golf and have spent time on one of your properties about one in every four days since being sworn in. Is there any wonder that your approval rating is the lowest of any president in his first year?

Here are my favorite excerpts of the book (and by favorite, I mean most in keeping with the tragi-comic image the world has of you. There is really nothing favorable in any of this):

– One of your advisors trying to explain the Constitution to you: “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.” I guess the NRA should be happy that you at least made it past the Second.

– Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch calling you “a f***ing idiot” after a phone call with you. That’s pretty sad, coming from your own minister of propaganda.

– Another of your advisors saying that dealing with you is “like trying to figure out what a child wants.” This is an unfair characterization, as my two kids communicate with clarity and respect.

– Steve Bannon calling your son’s secret meeting with Russians “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” Well, what else could we have expected – the apple doesn’t rot far from the tree.

– And most telling of all, your own wife breaking out in tears (not of joy) when you actually won. This is perhaps the one anecdote most American voters can best personally relate to.

So it was little wonder that you and your lawyers attempted to block its release. That would have been a flagrant, albeit predictable, violation of the First Amendment – a freedom on which all of our other American freedoms depend. Yesterday’s letter, thanking the media for their dedication to truth and transparency, hit the nail on the head. This right is so universal that it, too, is referenced in the Bible: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). But you predictably denounced it as fake news. Yet try as you may, you can’t succeed in silencing it through 140-character grammatically questionable sentence fragments.

Lincoln – a REAL president – said it best: ”You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time.” Maybe you’ll just have to be content with fooling yourself. No epiphany required.



Day 348 – Letter to Our Readers: Trump As A Symptom of the Disease.

Day 348 – Letter to Our Readers: Trump As A Symptom of the Disease.

Image from Web Urbanist

Dear Letter2Trump Writers and Readers,

I propose that our government, like our medical system, is broken, and Trump is simply a symptom of that broken system.  Just as our medical system treats symptoms, rather than getting at the causes of disease, we are treating the symptom (Trump) of a diseased government, rather than getting at the cause.  I’d like to share the writings of two critics who explore the cause.

In a recent article from Truthdig, (“This is What A Pseudo-Democracy Looks Like”) Norman Solomon states:  “With vast income inequality and corporate power, this country’s oligarchy keeps consolidating itself—largely hidden in plain sight—normalized and embossed on the wallpaper of mass-media echo chambers.  Several decades of ominous trend lines have brought us to dire tipping points.  …the power of billionaires, huge banks and Wall Street over U.S. politics is …dominant, while a propaganda fog diverts attention from their antidemocratic leverage.  An array of news media (including “public” outlets like NPR) and corporate politicians, unwilling to acknowledge let alone challenge the reality of an oligarchy in the United States, love to point accusatory fingers elsewhere.

“Oligarchs like Sheldon Adelson, Jeff Bezos (the richest person in the world; owner of Amazon and The Washington Post), Charles Koch, David Koch, Robert Mercer and Rupert Murdoch are wielding enormous power at many levels of the political economy and social zeitgeist, while corporate America functions with expanding latitude and increasing impunity.  The extreme concentrations of wealth and economic power equal extreme concentrations of political power.

“Noam Chomsky is correct when he calls the present-day Republican Party ‘the most dangerous organization in world history.’  …Fighting the GOP right is only part of the imperative.  We need an ongoing and escalating grass-roots challenge to the national leadership of the Democratic Party, which remains aligned with Wall Street and the warfare state.  The tasks ahead involve strengthening progressive populist movements to gain power inside and outside of electoral arenas.”

More specifically, Jim Hightower, in his latest newsletter The Hightower Lowdown, focuses on the corporate power of Jeff Bezos and Amazon.  He states:  “…Amazon is totally re-writing the rules of the game, supersizing its piles of public money without even having to go door to door.”    Bezos has started a bidding war among major cities, Mexico, and Canada to scam their tax payers into paying for a second headquarters that supposedly includes as “many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.”  Bezos list of “incentives” include:  “a business-friendly environment,” “contributions of land, site preparation, tax credits/exemptions, relocation grants, workforce grants, utility incentives/grants, and fee reductions”…and “a highly-educated labor pool, an international airport with direct daily flights to key cities,” quality of life where “our employees will enjoy living,” and “elected officials eager and willing to work with the company.”  In fact, Amazon, “In 2014 alone, … cost cities and states an estimated $625 million in sales tax and $420 million in lost property taxes.  At Tax payers’ expense, Amazon’s low overhead and prices drove thousands of local shops and … entire chains out of business.” (Hightower)  Tucson, New York City, Seattle, and Stonecrest, Georgia hope Amazon will “choose their taxpayers to rip off.”  Some cities, however, have said, “No thanks.”  They are San Antonio, San Jose, and Little Rock; I suggest we emulate these cities in our own actions.

Both Hightower and Solomon recommend grass-roots action.  I’d like to recommend some specific actions that we all take and urge our friends and families to take:

  • STOP purchasing anything from Amazon. Shop at your locally owned cooperatives, clothing stores, and book stores.
  • If you bank with any of the large, corporate banks, STOP. Move your money to a cooperative credit union or small, locally owned bank.
  • Get involved with local politics, as well as national politics, and support progressive candidates.
  • Tune in to local politics and get involved when any large corporation wants to move into your city. Don’t allow your city or State government to scam the tax payers by giving away “incentives.”  Those are your tax dollars they’re giving away.

Profit is the bottom line for corporations.  If we refuse to give them money, either directly or through the tax scams they entice our cities with, we take away their power.  Always consider carefully where you spend your money.

Finally, check out the following, thoughtful newsletters and organizations:



P.S.  Some statistics on corporate job creation (from Good Jobs First):

  • 386 incentive deals gave at least $50 million to a corporation. Good Jobs First tallied the number of jobs created since 1976.  The average cost per job was $658,427.
  • New York gave a $258 million subsidy to Yahoo and got 125 jobs ($2 million per job)
  • Oregon awarded $2 billion to Nike and got 500 jobs ($4 million per job)
  • North Carolina shelled out $321 million to Apple and got 50 jobs ($6.4 million per job)
  • Louisiana handed $234 million to Valero Energy and got 15 jobs ($15.6 million per job)

Do you see a pattern here?

Day 345 – Letter to America’s Children: What We Hope You Will Learn From This Time in History.

Day 345 – Letter to America’s Children: What We Hope You Will Learn From This Time in History.

Photograph by Sam Felder


When you go to high school history class in a few years, or perhaps when your kids go to their high school history class in a few decades, they will undoubtedly be reading about an age in our American existence that was less than stellar.  While I’m not talking solely about 2017, 2017 provides a capsule which exemplifies that hate and vitriol that can take center stage in the chronicles of our country’s narrative.  In 2017, we witnessed:

  • Hate groups being given voice to march and spew their bigotry not only on public ground but in every corner of the internet.
  • A president responding to such vitriol with, well, nothing, further emboldening such acts.
  • Increasing tensions with a rogue country when nuclear war is at stake.
  • Sexual harassment and misogyny at its worst, as the acts of Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, Al Franken, and many others all came to light.
  • The Secretary of State (rightly) calling the president a
  • The lower and middle classes paying for a tax break for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
  • And on and on and on.

What’s perhaps more disturbing about this era in our democracy is the contempt with which those in charge of our government talk about one another.  There is no spirit of helping the American people, there is only the goal to win.  Trump, McConnell, [insert politician’s name here]. Republicans lower taxes on the rich, democrats will get elected and raise taxes on the rich, and around and around we go.

Kids, I hope that when you are older we will have moved beyond politics as a tug-of-war and will be closer to politics as a puzzle.  Our country faces difficult problems for sure; wouldn’t it be great if our politicians looked to the data and research, and dare I say, science for how we might address our biggest problems?  So that we are not governed by those who make moronic statements suggesting we could use a bit more of that “good old” global warming.

While I don’t know this for sure, my guess is that politicians think their voters are stupid.  That if they repeatedly make false statements those statements will magically come true. However, I don’t have such a cynical view, because in 2017 we also saw some extraordinary events, such as:

  • Between 3 and 5 million people participating in the Women’s March in January at locations all across the United States.
  • The women who were victims of sexual harassments and crimes emboldened to speak, in many cases for the first time.
  • McCain standing up and refusing to kill health care for millions of Americans.
  • Support for transgender Americans serving in the military, even as the President tried his best to discriminate against this population.
  • And 670,551 Alabama residents voting for Doug Jones (D) for Senate, who won by 2%.

This last event perhaps gives me the most hope that Americans, no matter which state they live in, are not preprogrammed to hate, contempt, and self-serving interests.  This is because in 2010, the last year of a competitive senate race in Alabama, the democrat received only 515,619 votes, and lost by over 440,000 votes.  These Americans saw what was happening, they voted their conscience, and they changed this country.

And that is what I hope for you: that when you read about this time in American History it will be in the context of how we have changed, learned, and moved forward.





Day 344 – Some Golf Cart Math For You and the Secret Service, Mr. President.  Pricey.

Day 344 – Some Golf Cart Math For You and the Secret Service, Mr. President. Pricey.

Photograph from CNN

Mr. President,

I’ve seen this meme going around that you’ve spent $98+ million in vacation/travel in nine months. Oh, the outrage! Wait. Rewind. Let’s do a little fact checking. While I do believe you have spent much too much of our taxpayer dollars on golf trips, I want to be sure about what I choose to believe. After all, people really don’t assume everything they see on Facebook and Twitter is accurate. Some of us still hold on to things like truth and research. Here are a couple of facts and tidbits that I have found—some are from traditional news sources, others were discovered while Snoping.

  1. “I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done,” Trump toldThe Hill in 2015. “I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off.” While campaigning for the presidency in 2016, Trump said to the American people: “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”1
  2. In point of fact, according to a reportin USA Today, Trump only spent five of his first 26 weekends as president holed up exclusively in the White House. The rest entailed trips to his nearby golf clubs. In early August 2017, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller toted up how many days Trump had spent away from the White House versus the number of days Obama spent offsite and found that Trump’s total, at all or part of 41 days away from Washington, was nearly twice Obama’s, at all or part of 21 days[…]1

So, whence comes this $98 million dollar figure? Secret Service, military airbases, fuel, food, lodging, logistics, local support, and many other tiny little expenses such as golf carts.

  1. “Also indicative is a USA Todayreport that in addition to his Mar-a-Lago residencies, as of 21 August Trump had racked up five visits to his private golf club in New Jersey. At these two locations, the Secret Service spent $60,000 on rent for the golf carts needed to protect the president. If that pattern continues, American taxpayers can expect to be dinged for as much as $103,000 per year in golf cart rentals alone.”1

Now it’s time for the math geek in me to emerge. Don’t worry, it’s only a simple estimation: $103,000 for 4 years = $412,000. I would be remiss as a good citizen if I failed to point out that after spending $412,000, the US Government would not even “own” the golf carts.

This is waste beyond comprehension. What could that money buy? I decided to check. And if you are worried about shipping and handling costs, don’t. All of these items are available on Amazon Prime. To make it easier for you, I’ve created a meme.

Mr. President, tens of thousands of people in Puerto Rico were still without power on Christmas (according to a New York Times report). Many are without access to clean water, or even nutritious food. And you are renting golf carts.



P.S. Russia

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