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Day 507 – Letter to the Children of America: Mr. Rogers is a Good Role Model. Our President, Sadly, Is Not.

Day 507 – Letter to the Children of America: Mr. Rogers is a Good Role Model. Our President, Sadly, Is Not.

Image from Today

Dear Children of America,

You have probably felt the chaos and confusion of our country within the past months. You hear people talk, you see the frustration on your parents’ faces, you may even be able to read headlines, but getting into the nitty gritty of these issues is too much. And that’s okay.

However, I know many of you want to understand more. You want leaders and role models; you want to know who to listen to.

So let’s simplify a bit and look at a picture circulating in the news today.



What do you notice?

There is no right or wrong. Just spend a couple minutes taking it in.

Perhaps you noticed some of what my young children and I did:

There is only one woman.

Nearly all the men are looking at her.

Despite being surrounded by men in suits, she seems to be the one speaking.

Her hands are firmly planted on the table. She is leaning forward.

She looks serious, maybe frustrated.

She is focused on one man. He is the only person sitting.

His arms are crossed.

His mouth is taut.

He is looking past the woman speaking.

He looks disinterested.

Sadly, what you presumably took from that photo is all too accurate. When someone is speaking to you, is it nice to ignore him or her? Does not seem like an acceptable way to play, does it?

So instead of watching him for how to act, I invite you to ask your parents about watching the brand new documentary called Won’t You Be My Neighbor? If this is a bit too long for you, maybe instead just look at the image at the top of this letter.

What do you notice this time?

A child and a man looking at each other.

Both are smiling.

There are other children nearby, each one looking at them.

Everyone looks happy.

This, my young friends, is how to act in this world. With kindness and compassion. With listening ears and caring eyes. I know this is difficult, especially when so much in the news is traumatic. However, the man in this photo told the world that in times of disaster, look for the helpers as there are always people helping.

Continue to watch the helpers, children, as those are the heroes of every story. Some day I hope you will be one of the helpers.



Day 501 – Letter to Middle Class America: Have You Ever Been Truly Hungry?

Day 501 – Letter to Middle Class America: Have You Ever Been Truly Hungry?

Image from Kids Pantry

Dear Middle Class America,

Last Friday, as our president prematurely exuberated over his jobs numbers, were you eating a solid breakfast? Did you have a roof over your head? Were your lights on? Was your A/C running? Did you then drive in your reliable car out of your middle class suburb to your middle class job? Did you curse at the traffic? Did you stop for coffee? Did you think about what it was like to work one of those minimum-wage jobs, trying to somehow make ends meet, keep the lights on, and feed your kids?

Did it occur to you that those employment numbers the president tweeted about don’t actually mean that the people working those jobs can afford to pay rent? Or go to the doctor when they’re sick? Or eat?

According to the United Way ALICE project, “Nearly 51 million households [43% of American Households] don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone.” 16.1 million households in our country live in poverty. Another 34.7 million families are ”ALICE”: Asset Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.” They are gainfully employed, playing by the rules, trying to live the American Dream…and yet they don’t earn enough to support a bare-bones household budget.

The growth of our economy shouldn’t be measured by the rise and fall of the stock market. It should be measured by the ability of working Americans to afford their homes, feed their families, and keep them healthy and safe.

So, Middle Class America: as you eat your dinner tonight, flip on the lights, turn up the A/C, and ask your kids about their day…think about what it means to be hungry—really and truly hungry. Think about what it feels like to not be able to feed your kids. Think about what we need to do, as a country, to take care of our working poor.

Because our economy? It’s not working. And it won’t be working until we, as a nation, can afford to feed our families. All of them.




Day 497 – Count Olaf is Not a Good Role Model.

Day 497 – Count Olaf is Not a Good Role Model.

Image from Vanity Fair

Mr. President,

I know you get tired of thinking of vague or angry rants to post online. So, let me make it easy for you so you don’t have to waste time thinking (and you might just start reading books because the author, Lemony Snicket, seems to have written a series with you in mind).

Lemony Snicket’s “Series of Unfortunate Events” could be changed to “A succession of Ill-fated Actions” and it may be documenting your place in history.

Let me just give you an understanding about the series of books:  Snicket’s first book was called, “The Bad Beginning”. We find the main characters had just lost their parents and were entrusted in the care of an evil distant relative who was trying to rob the orphans of their inheritance. As we lost our country’s leader and were mistakenly forced under your care, this seems too similar to your thinly veiled public service of giving your friends and family means to make money while subjecting most Americans to less earning power.

The second book in the series was “The Reptile Room” and if there is a parallel, I could just say “Drain the Swamp”. Your slogan was catchy, but you continue to fill the swamp with inexperience and ignorant friends and donors.

Snicket’s writing is considered absurdist fiction and that certainly could apply to most of your thoughtful musings. His books are filled with sarcastic remarks from the characters. But the narrator also excessively explains big words, often using alternate meanings to describe situations incorrectly. Hmmm. Sounds about right.

Other books in the series lead the main characters through other situations. “The Miserable Mill” could be comparing current wages and the inability to many low wage people to survive, much less thrive, on a forty hour work week. “The Austere Academy” shows how awful education can be when the popular and rich are more highly recognized than the educated and intelligent. “The Hostile Hospital” can be used as a metaphor to our healthcare system and the inhumane practices that occur when care is not affordable.

Each book in the series has a couple things in common: The antagonist continues to try different schemes using his friends and his greed to thwart the eventual winners. But the adversity does not dampen the spirits of the protagonists for long, and they overcome. And that is exactly what we will do in the coming months with campaigns and elections. We will come together as a group of smart, caring people and do what is right for all Americans. You have chosen your place in history on the wrong side, but we will persevere and make it right. With you or without.



PS My apologies to Lemony Snicket in any comparisons of the current state of government to your books. Your writing was entertaining to my kids as work of fiction, not meant to turn into real life scenarios for the USA.

Day 491 – Yanni, Laurel, Wails of Despair.  What Did You Hear This Week, Mr. President?

Day 491 – Yanni, Laurel, Wails of Despair. What Did You Hear This Week, Mr. President?

Mr. President,

I’m sure with all the social media and TV watching you do, you’ve been following “What Did You Hear  – Yanni or Laurel?” Everyone seems to be talking it up, and giving us their opinions on what is happening in our brains or our ears when we hear these sound waves.

Here’s what I heard.

Hammers on a wall dividing us from Mexico. Walling ourselves in.

Cries of immigrants and families torn apart by discriminatory immigration policies.

Weeping of families for their lost children killed while at school, while you snuggle up to the NRA.

Paper tearing as treaties are being ignored and abandoned.

The ka-ching of cash registers, money piling up in the stock market for those with wealth to invest, while the poorest of our country are punished for their poverty and struggle to provide just the basics for their families.

Groaning of the Earth, our home, suffering from pollution and degradation and your short-sighted policies.

Shrinking of our federal lands and parks that should and were protected places and are now suffering from poor leadership in the Department of Interior and the White House.

“Say what?” of world leaders and friends on the inability to understand your policies that change on a whim or a Twitter feed.

Backs turning on the transgender people presently serving in our military or on those wanting to serve.

“You also had some very fine people on both sides” – your words about a white nationalist rally turned violent in Charlottesville.

Red pens slashing the rights of disabled students and public education funding, while vouchers are promoted for private (read “white privileged kids”) schools. Betsy DeVos is incapable of understanding public education and so are you.

The click of voting machines tampered with by the Russians or worse.

“Thank God for Trump” said David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan as you shared videos from Britain First, an anti-Muslim hate group. Check your sources. Check your morals. Check the spelling of your wife’s name.

The slamming of a cell door as more and more people of color are imprisoned in disproportionate numbers to whites.

Here is what I wish I heard.

The door closing as you and all your cronies, lawyers, and inept, unqualified cabinet members leave Washington, D.C. for good.

The hurrahs and cheers afterward.




Day 487 – Richard Nixon is Not a Good Role Model, Mr. President.

Day 487 – Richard Nixon is Not a Good Role Model, Mr. President.

Image from The New Republic

Mr. President,

So much I could write about in this letter that it is hard to choose. There is, for instance, the cover of The New Yorker (May 21, 2018) which features you trying to golf your way out of the swamp. Yes, that swamp, the one you promised to drain. You do enjoy being on magazine covers so you might want to check out that one.

Or the way you have nothing to offer still more victims of school shootings except your thoughts and prayers and assurances that “we will never forget you” while you pander to the NRA.

Or the greed and venality of your cabinet members: Ben Carson who wants to triple the rent that the poorest pay for federally subsidized housing, thus putting nearly one million children at risk of homelessness while he is being investigated for using excessive taxpayer money to redecorate  his office; Rick Perry, Scott Pruitt, Steve Mnuchin, Ryan Zinke who are all being investigated for taking lavish trips on taxpayer money, flying on military or charter flights rather than commercial, and in some cases accepting gifts. Of course you are probably thinking, “So what?” since you have refused to divest your business interests or release your income tax returns and take frequent trips on Air Force One to your private resort Mar-a-Lago at a cost of at least $180,000 tax payer money per hour for the flight. Or this: while your daughter and son in law celebrated the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem with a xenophobic anti Muslim cleric, Israeli soldiers killed 60 Palestinians and  injured 2,700 as the hopelessness and despair of their lives was shown around the world and any peace efforts in the region died.

But you know what? Tonight I feel like focusing on a comparison between you and Richard Nixon: the use of an “enemies list” to determine which federal agency to enlist to destroy those enemies. Nixon’s list was discovered when he had to hand over the tapes from the Oval Office. You may not yet be keeping an official list but thanks to all those tweets of yours, we have a good idea whom you consider to be your enemies. President Nixon believed that the press was his enemy and he had a particular hatred for Otis Chandler who owned the LA Times while Nixon was in office. He blamed Chandler for some of the unflattering articles that were printed about him in The Times, and it especially galled him that it was a California paper and Nixon was a resident of California. The tapes show him demanding that his Attorney General John Mitchell use the IRS or whatever federal agency it took to go after Mr. Chandler and his family and even his gardener whom he suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

You, Mr. Trump, have developed a particular hatred for Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post which has published several well regarded articles that have been embarrassing to you. Bezos is also the owner of Amazon.  Your intense dislike of much of the media which you call “the enemies of the people” is well known, but in the case of Jeff Bezos, you are focused on discrediting him and using the post office, a federal agency, to go after him by ordering the Postmaster General Megan Brennan to demand that Amazon pay considerably more in shipping costs. Brennan has up to this point refused to obey your demand.

You also expect the FBI and the Justice Department which you continually disparage to be at your beck and call and if they refuse they become your enemy.  When you express your anger at Attorney General Jeff Sessions because he followed the law and recused himself from the Russia investigation which led to your nemesis, Robert Mueller, being appointed to head the investigation, you might remember that Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell served 19 months in prison for doing Nixon’s bidding. Today the NY Times and other media outlets reported that you have demanded that the Justice Department look into whether the department or the FBI had infiltrated or was involved in surveillance of your campaign. According to the Times, “Legal experts say that your demand has little precedent and could force a clash with the Justice Department reminiscent of the one involving Nixon during Watergate.”  You believe that you own any and all of the federal agencies and that they exist to carry out your wish to get back at your “enemies,”Mr. Trump, just as President Nixon did, but it just ain’t so.

Ah, such a big swamp you are daily flailing around in. So many enemies. And so many apt comparisons between you and Richard Nixon. Of course he resigned rather than be impeached. I suppose we can’t hope for that outcome anytime soon.




Day 484 – Your Actions Fail the Mirror Test, Mr. President.

Day 484 – Your Actions Fail the Mirror Test, Mr. President.

Image from Pinterest

Mr. President,

One of the best ways to determine whether a particular situation or solution is valid is to conduct a simple mind game called ‘the mirror test’. When you hold an object to a mirror, you observe it in reverse; the same idea applies to a particular idea, thought, solution or plan. Simply imagine (you DO have an imagination, right?) the opposite of the thought and see from the available facts if it is still valid.

The oldest base idea for this, or at least the one that most frequently applies, is referred to as “The Golden Rule”, namely, “Do unto others as you would have done to yourself.”  This is a precept in practically all religions; even agnostics and atheists preach that idea. Let’s try a few.

Scenario 1: You are born in Scotland.  When you are two, your mother decides to come to the US for a better life, and enters the country, but without proper documentation. The immigration authorities detain you both, but your mom is taken to a detention center on the Canadian border, and you are taken to a military base in Georgia. Remember, you’re only two. How do you feel? How do you think your mother feels?

Scenario 2: The circumstances of your life up to age 7 or so are exactly the same as they are in real life, but then there’s a catastrophe of some sort, and your family is thrown into poverty. Your parents’ divorce, your mom works two and sometimes three minimum wage jobs just to barely keep food on the table and a roof over your head. You get a free breakfast and lunch at school and your mom gets food stamps to help the food budget. One day she comes home and tells you she lost her ‘best’ job, and also gets a letter telling her the government is cutting ALL the social benefits she’s relied on because they’ve given tax breaks to the wealthy and now can’t afford to help the poor.

Scenario 3: You’ve grown up in a middle-class home, gone to college, and had a career as a Federal employee, marrying, raising kids and being generally average sort of citizen. When you retire, you get a pension and a social security check. You have no savings or 401(k) because your wife died early and the medical bills ate those up. Now, you and your second wife live on your retirement and your combined social security checks. You have enough to live on IF nothing else happens. But you’re both aging, the cost of living goes up, and you SSA and pension don’t keep pace because the government can’t or won’t give adequate increases. Yet, Congress, with the President’s blessing, ‘borrows’ (steals) the money YOU’VE paid into the SS fund to cover their excesses, then turns around and tells you what you’re getting is a government ‘entitlement’ that is either being cut or being privatized – you lose, and someone else gets YOUR money.

These scenarios are NOT fictions; they ARE happening all across the United States – but of course NOT to the one percent that you and your GOP favor. So, please use the mirror test with these scenarios, and imagine how the most of America, supposedly the world’s richest nation, is forced to live: over 15% of our children in poverty, veterans who are homeless, people who work for minimum (or below) wage jobs – sometimes more than 2 – yet can’t afford a home or other necessities of life.

Mr. Trump, America is a mess. Maybe it’s unfair to say it’s all on you and the GOP, but I’d say 90% is. I don’t understand why the so- called conservatives in government refuse to be able to see how much of the country is hurting.  Can you honestly apply the golden rule to any of the 3 scenarios? Would you want to live like this?

And that’s the point: do as you would be done by isn’t a pie-in-the-sky ideal, its’s how you need to learn to live.

Think about it.





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