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Day 304 – You Are Really Lacking in Self-Reflection, Mr. President. Sigh.

Day 304 – You Are Really Lacking in Self-Reflection, Mr. President. Sigh.

Photograph from the New York Post

Mr. President,

I don’t know why I expected anything different. I mean, it’s been patently obvious that you have no shame or sense of hypocrisy. But I still would have thought that you would know better than to publicly weigh in on a sexual assault scandal, particularly with Roy Moore in the spotlight, to say nothing of your own actions. Maybe that’s the point, though; you want to be the center of attention, even if it calls up your own previous wrongdoing.

I’m not defending Al Franken. He needs to be held accountable for his actions. You don’t have the moral standing to do so, though, not when you’ve denied all allegations against you and threatened legal action against your victims. You sent your press secretary in to note that Franken admitted wrongdoing while you haven’t, but that’s exactly the problem. How can you hold people accountable if you won’t hold yourself or your own party accountable?

This is not an issue of party politics, but of decency, and we’ve had enough of powerful men treating women as their playthings. Franken should go. Moore should go. And so should you.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 303 – Unqualified: A Term That Describes You and Your Recent Judicial Nominations Perfectly, Mr. President.

Day 303 – Unqualified: A Term That Describes You and Your Recent Judicial Nominations Perfectly, Mr. President.

Image from People For The American Way

Mr. President,

I read that you have recently updated your list of possible nominations to the Supreme Court. As an American who was horrified by the treatment of Antonin Scalia’s seat, from the blockading by Republicans to the nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, this news brought about a rush of complicated and angry emotions. I found myself once again angered by the grip of your fingers over the throat of the judiciary. Sure, Justices Bader-Ginsburg and Kennedy have not indicated they will be leaving any time soon, but three years is a long time and it bothers me that someone with as adversarial a relationship with the courts as you has the power to remake the courts as you see fit.

And remake the courts you certainly are trying to do. While your legislative initiatives stall and your executive orders find themselves tripped, ignored, or fought explicitly against, I hope you know that we have noticed your rapid and unfortunately successful attempts to remake the lower courts of the judicial branch. In your race to permanently force change onto the ideological makeup of the court, you have nominated and seek to confirm judges who, quite frankly, remind me a lot of you – inexperienced, unqualified, and unable to perform the basic duties of the office to which they are appointed. Though, unlike you, these are not people we can opt to not reelect.

Consider Brett Talley. At 36 years old, Talley is an incredibly young choice for a Federal judge appointment. This means that he will have decades upon decades to inflict his particular interpretation of our nation’s laws upon the federal bench.  But his youth isn’t the only aspect that gives me pause – there is also the fact that he has never tried a case. With zero courtroom experience, Talley instead turned his law degree towards politics. Whether he was writing speeches for Republican officials or pledging his financial, political, and intellectual support to the National Rifle Association in the wake of the Newtown massacre on his partisan blog, Talley built up a plethora of experience to be a Republican senator, but hardly an impartial judge, which is possibly why he is one of the two nominees you’ve offered up to receive a unanimous “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association.

But what are we to do? While those who reject you and what you stand for revel in our successes and the ways in which we were able to stop you, this is the one place where you seem to find your victories. And, being the type of person that you seem to be, I doubt that you would ever want to stop “winning,” no matter how detrimental it is to the country and its people. For you I can only echo Khizr Khan’s impassioned request that you brush up on your copy of the constitution. If, perhaps, this encourages you to recant your nominations, then I would ask you to reach out to the senators and let them know that the American public is watching this process, that History is watching this process, and that the makeup of our courts should not to be remade in the image of Trump.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 302 – Will the Arc of the Moral Universe Break or Bend Toward Justice, Mr. President?  Some Days, We Are Not Sure.

Day 302 – Will the Arc of the Moral Universe Break or Bend Toward Justice, Mr. President? Some Days, We Are Not Sure.

Photograph from Metro UK

Mr. President,

My letter to you is due today.  Outside it is dreary.  The rain is falling and being whipped around by a cold northerly wind.  Every beast with a heart is hunkered down, hopefully nuzzled in the bosom of a loved one.  But, alas, not for me.  I’m left sitting at this computer looking at the gray screen that is the world outside and contemplating your existence.

Heretofore, my letters have tried to be outlandish in order to impart some sense of what I think you are while at the same time urging a laugh, but not today, not today.  The moment is too solemn, the world outside my rain splattered window demands more.

It’s been a little over a year since your ascension to the most powerful position in the world.  Not, I should add, the most morally powerful, or economically powerful, but rather the most destructively powerful.  Each day our heavy foot stomps across the globe crushing those who would deny our greatness and slowly choking off the life-blood of our very existence – the viability of our planet.  With a shudder, I am reminded how close the nuclear football and launch codes are to you every minute of the day.

According to the Washington Post, who has been tracking this, as of 3:00 a.m. on November 14 you have told 1,628 lies, an average of 5.5 per day, seven days a week.  This matters not to you, your apologists, your voters, or congressional and state Republican politicians.  Evangelicals are at peace with you, because of their dull-witted interpretation of the gospel.  God, they say, moves in mysterious ways and uses instruments of His choosing to deliver His brand of justice to the world.  And, for evangelicals, it’s all about divine justice:  punishment of and because of gays; punishment for straying from their version of God; punishment for women wanting dominion over their bodies; and punishment for our having lost “the way.”  Republican politicians at all levels fear your base and want to hold onto power no matter how far down the moral and ethical rabbit hole it takes them.

The most disheartening thing for me since your election is the realization that close to half of my fellow citizens find you palatable.  Even accounting for a steep decline in your approval polls, there are a substantial number of believers, among them the alt-right and salt-of-the-earth good old boys and gals.  The dispossessed and forgotten to hear their tale.

I keep hearing from progressives, journalists, and well-meaning politicians that you and a significant portion of your followers don’t represent America’s true character and who/what we are.  Bullshit.  This vile undercurrent has largely run silent and deep since the sixties when the peak of the new-way crested and, began to recede; a progressive tide being pulled back to the deep sea of human history.  The problem is, the tide never returned to the same shore.  Instead, it continually stopped short and with each passing day gradually established a new high tide mark.  Occasionally, the old high water mark can still be seen, still waiting for the sea to catch up.

My favorite writer, Hunter S. Thompson put it this way:

“We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world, a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully.  We are not just whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts.  We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us.  No redeeming social value.  Just whores.  Get out our way, or we’ll kill you.  Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads?  Who among us can be happy and proud of having all of this innocent blood on our hands?  Who are these swine?  These flag-sucking-halfwits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush [Donald Trump]?  They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks.  They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character.  They are the racists and hate mongers among us; they are the Klu Klux Klan.  I piss down the throats of these Nazis.  And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not.  Fuck them.”

He was speaking at a different time and of a broader theme, but the sentiment still holds true.

We can no more deny the ugly underbelly of America than we can the highpoints of our history.  They often, however, march hand in hand.  America was created and taken from the lands of the native people of this continent.  We waged a systematic and lengthy campaign of extermination and marginalization that still exists today.  We are all immigrants.  Propertied white males and only white males established our Constitution and forms of government.  Slaves were counted as three fifths for purposes of representation and power, which assured the continuance of slavery in the land of the free where every person is endowed with certain inalienable rights.  Slavery existed for almost 250 years and Jim Crow existed another 100 years, into my lifetime, before Martin Luther King and countless other Black leaders and citizens brought about a change.  The residue of de facto and de jure racism still plague our nation.  Immigrants to this country have historically suffered at the hands of the “pure” citizens of America.  Women had to fight to get the right to vote, gain dominion over their bodies and get an equal opportunity in the workplace and yet there is still much to do, including re-fighting the same battles year after year.  Every revolt from below, from some marginalized sector of society, has been met with brute force, unjust laws, repression and vilification by the majority.  Movement forward has been bought and paid for only by those pushing for change.  Further, we have and continue to wage illegal wars and prepare for the ultimate destruction of mankind with nuclear weapons – the ultimate weapons of mass destruction.  We cloak these wars under patriotic jargon, but they are no different than those carried out under European colonization.

So, I reject the notion that we, as a nation, aren’t reflected in you and your followers. It’s an ugly and depressing truth.  Despite that, I hear politicians and commentators opining that we must find a way to dialogue with your supporters, because we have somehow ignored them and failed to understand and see their needs.  And, that not all of them are bigots, racists, xenophobes and religious fanatics.  Perhaps there is truth in that.  I suspect there are legitimate grievances just as there are with the African-American, Latino and immigrant communities (not to mention the LGBT community and anyone else who has suffered at the hands of those in power and/or the majority.)  However, those who cannot see, or see but choose to ignore  the moral and ethical problems inherent in what you say and do and what some of your ardent followers espouse, cannot be reasoned with or appeased without lending credence to some of those abhorrent views.  And this I refuse to do.  It is you and those like you who must come to the higher plane.  I will extend a hand and listen to anyone willing to make the journey, but I resist the argument that I must compromise the human values so many have sacrificed to establish.

Martin Luther King said:  “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  I admit my many moments of doubt during this past year.  Your election I could almost understand, if after your election, the mass of American society and its leaders turned against you once they saw what they had actually done, but that hasn’t been the case.  Even if the forces of good prevail, it will remain deeply disturbing that a large, malignant force remains in the shadows for the next chance to darken our world.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

 

Day 301 – Seriously. Getting Tired of Your Only Policy Decisions Being Based on Undoing What a Far Better President Put in Place.

Day 301 – Seriously. Getting Tired of Your Only Policy Decisions Being Based on Undoing What a Far Better President Put in Place.

Photograph from Guardian Liberty Voice

Mr. President,

I am thinking of sending you a present- a book. I realize you do not like to read, but this is a book of photographs. The photographs are of your predecessor, Barak Obama, taken by Pete Souza, the official White House photographer.  It is being bought by many Americans who want to remember and cherish those moments in the eight years of Obama’s presidency during which we had a sane, competent adult in the Oval Office. One who could take criticism without becoming unhinged, who understood the dangers presented by climate change and who enthusiastically backed the Paris Accords unlike your withdrawal from them, who ran on hope rather than fear, who represented to the world a leader of tolerance and compassion, of equality and justice rather than one who hobnobs with white supremacists like Steve Bannon. One who possessed grace and humor, who was able to laugh at himself as well as openly cry with us when yet another gun massacre took place.

It is evident that you want nothing more than to undo any of Barak Obama’s accomplishments. Perhaps this is your insecurity?  Here are just a few examples. Obama introduced a ban on the import of elephant hunting trophies; you have just lifted it. The Affordable Care Act provided health insurance to 20 million uninsured Americans; you openly state your wish for the demise of the ACA without having a viable replacement. Obama supported the LGBT fight for marriage equality and ended the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy so that gays and lesbians and transgender people could continue to serve in our military; you asked specifically that transgender people not be allowed to serve.  Obama helped put the U.S. on a track for renewable energy independence by 2020; you would like to see our country go back to using coal and you pander to the oil and gas industry some of whose tycoons you have appointed to your cabinet. Obama signed the DACA act which allowed five million people who had come to this country as children to avoid deportation and receive work permits; you have expressed a desire to end it. Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to regulate the financial sector after the debacle of what became known as the Great Recession; you want to end Dodd Frank. Obama expressed his desire to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation -he even received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work; your words and actions indicate that you consider diplomacy a possible sign of weakness (don’t look for a Nobel Peace Prize on your watch). Obama appointed a strong woman to lead the State Department and encourage its strength and growth; you have appointed a man who has greatly weakened the State Department. Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to combat pay discrimination against women; you suspended it.  Obama increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10%; your budget called for defunding the National Parks and Forests by 8%. Obama did more than offer prayers when faced with yet another gun massacre, he called for sensible gun laws, stricter background checks, limiting magazine sizes, a federal assault weapons ban whereas you respond to the two recent gun massacres by stating, “this is not a guns situation.”  Obama attacked the NRA for misleading the American public about gun control; you told the NRA “I am going to come through for you.” While Obama was greatly disturbed by the evidence that Russia was trying to influence our election in your favor, you have decided to at least pretend to believe the lies of an ex KGB operative over your own intelligence agencies when he tells you he did not interfere in the election- and we all know why you need the Russia probe to go away.  Guess it’s only fitting that one big liar says he believes another big liar.

In 2016 Barak Obama was voted the most admired man in America for the ninth year in a Gallup poll. How that must have galled you. He left office with an approval rating of 60%. I realize you (possibly) have another 3 years to go as President, but with your approval ratings currently at somewhere around 38% you have quite a lot of catching up to do. Even if we just compare the approval rating of your first year in office to Obama’s first year in office it has Trump 38%, Obama 51%.

You are proud of your appearances on the cover of Time Magazine. You need to carefully read and consider this excerpt from Time Magazine, December 22, 2016: “Despite his inexperience, Barak Obama gave a full measure of scandal-free service, a rarity among modern presidents. And he never lost hope, even when others wavered…Obama did it with dignity and conscience. As was true at the beginning, it remains true at the end; who Obama was mattered at least as much as what he did. And start to finish, he was an honorable man.”   As you desperately try to undo any of Obama’s accomplishments, you must forever know that you cannot claim that mantle of being an honorable man, Mr. Trump. You have already, by your words and actions, rendered that impossible.  Sad.  Meanwhile, we will pour over Souza’s photographs of a President we admired and miss, while we won’t take our eyes off your misdeeds and continue to resist your presidency.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 300 – Danica Roem, Dune and The Capacity for Grace, Mr. President.

Day 300 – Danica Roem, Dune and The Capacity for Grace, Mr. President.

Photograph from NBC News

Mr. President,

I know you are not given much to reading, but perhaps you have heard of Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Or at least seen the 1984 movie. If the latter, you missed out on the lessons of book four, where a man has merged with a giant worm to deliberately become the worst ruler the universe has ever experienced, for the express purpose of teaching humanity never to fall so low again.

He is, as you might imagine, somewhat unpopular.

I don’t speak to anything other than your sense of self-preservation when I say that it is not, despite what many would have us believe to be all common sense, too late. I know this because last week a woman whose opponent denied her womanhood, her personhood; who declined even to debate with her, won the election in Virginia’s 13th district. When asked if she had any words for defeated incumbent Bob Marshall, who campaigned as “Virginia’s chief homophobe,” she responded, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”

Mr. President, Bob Marshall did not deserve Danica Roem’s forgiveness. He did not deserve the time of day from her. But whether or not she spoke with him, or will ever speak with him, she made room for him. Not even as a changed, repentant man, but as the hate-spewing rival he’d run against her as, all these months. She did this because it is her job. And because she was elected to do that job. And somehow, despite all the indignities he heaped upon her, she found herself capable of serving him. Because she was elected to serve.

Bob Marshall spent 25 years in the Virginia House of Delegates, yet this is how he will be remembered: as a cantankerous old fool who lost to someone possessing more compassion in her little finger than he managed to summon during the entirety of his campaign. As someone who puts his name upon large buildings around the world, you are one, I expect, to whom legacies matter. Do you want to go the way of the Bob Marshalls of the world? Can you even recall all the old men you’ve laughed at over the years, dismissed for their hidebound worldviews and subsequently forgotten? Do you want your name to end up like theirs—the punchline on the tip of a smirking young man’s tongue?

If Danica Roem can treat Bob Marshall as the fellow human deserving of decency and grace that he continually proved himself incapable of being, you might yet manage to exit the Oval Office with whatever remains of your fernlike pride intact. Whatever dark hole you are trying to fill with the slurs hurled at world leaders, at your own voters; whatever tenderness you yet seek to protect through ever more bombastic threats and untruths, both here and abroad: you can still stop digging your trenches. We are neither your spades nor your bunkers, and we cannot save you, nor can harming us save you, from whatever dark heart you seek to avoid.

We can, though, save your legacy, with time. Look at George Bush. When I was a child, he was the worst of the worst, held up as a bumbling buffoon who led us into two unwinnable wars. He, too, was talked of as perhaps being mentally subpar, given all his very public miscommunications. And yet, with you in office, people who should know better — who were alive and culturally conscious enough to know better during Bush’s administration — praise him, in comparison to you.

Whether or not they are right to do so matters not a whit to you, I expect. They found room, through whatever philosophical and moral acrobatics, to regard Bush as endearing, of all things. Touching, as he struggled to don a poncho during your inauguration. Adorable, as he stumbled awkwardly through summits with foreign leaders in ill-fitting traditional garb and while making a mess of the formal greetings. Lovable. Even though he might not have deserved it. Like the inhabitants of Dune chafing under the God Emperor’s 3,500 year reign, they looked back on a terrible time, found it less bad than their present circumstances, and hailed it as a golden age.

You may have been the president to most successfully harness the malleability of public truth for his own ends so far, but you are hardly going to be the only one to do this. People can and will rewrite you, as they are rewriting George Bush. Do you want to be rewritten as someone somebody, somewhere, loved? For whom allowances were made? Whose gross mishandlings of national and international policy matters get respun as cute mishaps and harmless shenanigans?

Me, sir? I don’t think you deserve it. I don’t think Bob Marshall deserved it, either. And I don’t think people who love as selfishly as I (we?) do, always wanting one more pat on the back, one more reminder that we’ve done okay — I don’t think we deserve to be told that.

But I don’t make these calls. Other people do. And if those people are as generous as Danica Roem, they may be kinder to you in history texts than you could possibly have reason to expect. Speaking, then, as one selfish person to another, I implore you: heighten the chances of you receiving that kind of historiographical redemption. Stop ripping off the bloodied bandages of the past to wrap around whatever bruised and battered remnant of your soft core remains. To whatever part of you that seeks some sort of lastingness in seeing your name glittering in glass from Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi, I say: if you want your legacy to be more than the death cry of a dying country, stop killing your people, through ignorance or malicious malfeasance or both. Allow the rewriters of history some unbloodied space in which to work their horrifying magic.

Again, I don’t think you deserve it. But we’ll both be dead long before the historians hit save and close. And you’re the one with the legacy to protect. If you stop ruining everything, they might even say we loved you.

And people might even believe it.

“All of history is a malleable instrument in my hands. Ohhh, I have accumulated all of these pasts and I possess every fact—yet the facts are mine to use as I will and, even using them truthfully, I change them.”  ― Frank Herbert, God Emperor of Dune

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

Day 298 – We Are Taking America Back, Mr. President.

Day 298 – We Are Taking America Back, Mr. President.

Photograph from Unsplash

Mr. President,

The 2017 off-year election results are in, and sir, I have bad news for you. It seems that your racist, misogynistic, homophobic, nationalistic, isolationist policies aren’t actually that popular. Sure, you talked and tweeted a big game as you threatened to destroy every policy that your predecessors had put in place. Sure, the white nationalists have been ranting and chanting, as you have empowered them to unify against every attempt to move our country towards equity and equality. Sure, you still have an excellent chance of destroying opportunities for our citizens to have affordable health care, access to higher education, quality reproductive rights, and equity and equality under the law. Sure, there’s even a good chance that you will walk us into war with your ridiculous need to one-up every world leader in your childish Twitter tantrums. BUT, it turns out that the MAGA policies that are near and dear to your tiny shriveled heart are actually not representative of what the people want.  Because the people voted a week ago, and what they voted for should make you a bit queasy.

For example, the American people elected Democrat Danica Roem in Virginia. She will be “the only openly transgender state lawmaker in America,” and she beat Bob Marshall, a man obsessed with which bathrooms transgender people are allowed to use. It turns out, sir, that Virginia recognizes that a person’s willingness to serve their country is much more important than their genitalia and which bathroom they use. Perhaps you could learn a lesson from the American people and slowly back away from your attempts to ban transgender people in the military from serving our country. It turns out that no one really cares about their gender; what we care about is their willingness and desire to serve.

The American people voted, sir, and they voted against you and your racist and misogynist and isolationist policies. They elected Democrats to gubernatorial positions in New Jersey and Virginia; they voted for Democrats in mayoral races across the nation, including a black mayor in Minnesota and a black woman as mayor in Charlotte, NC. They voted for expanded Medicaid coverage in Maine; they elected Latina and Asian-American delegates in Virginia. They elected transgender candidates in various races in Virginia, Minnesota, California, and Pennsylvania. And in Montana, they elected a refugee from Liberia to be their mayor. Perhaps you could learn a lesson from the American people and slowly back away from your attempts to build walls, ban travel, and limit immigration. This country is a melting pot of all races and religions; even the Drumpfs were successful not because they single-handedly built an empire but because this country embraced and encouraged immigration and opportunity.

The American people voted, and they voted against you. But we will not stop and celebrate for too long. We will not lose momentum. We still have a lot to do, to make sure that this country moves in the right direction: far, far away from you. Your blatant racist, misogynistic, homophobic, nationalistic, isolationist beliefs have been given way too much air time, but we will double down, to ensure that you are hobbled in your attempts to destroy what this country stands for. Because this country stands for freedom and equality and equity. It stands for opportunities for all. It offers a safe haven for the poor, the tired, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Sir, your time in the spotlight is waning. You promised to drain the swamp, but it turns out that your drained swamp stinks of raw sewage.

We are taking this country back and your days are numbered. We are finding our voices and our unified voices are so much louder and more coherent than yours could ever be. Your voice is old and tired and your policies are outdated, uneducated, and unthoughtful. You, sir, are the past, and we are the future. It’s time for you to listen to the people and serve us—or step aside. Because this land is our land, and we will make sure that our land is welcoming to all and supportive of all. Our America already is great and it will be even greater—with or without you. Our America is moving forward, and we refuse to be borne back ceaselessly into the past. We refuse to be destroyed by nostalgia and an irrational fetishization of our racist, misogynistic, homophobic history. The days of the good ol’ boys are over. The days of We the People have arrived.

We are finding our voices.

We are the future.

United.

For All.

We are the majority.

Sincerely,

Letters2Trump

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