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Day 162 – In Which We Grade Your Environmental Actions. And You Get a Negative Score. Surprise!

Day 162 – In Which We Grade Your Environmental Actions. And You Get a Negative Score. Surprise!

Photograph from the Bureau of Land Management

Dear Mr. President,

National Geographic has an ongoing list of nearly forty items pertaining to direct attacks your administration has made on the environment. I think that we both can agree that National Geographic is not “fake news.” I do wonder sometimes, however, if you think science is “fake.”

In any case, since ratings are so dearly important to you, I’m going to walk you through some of your official actions on National Geographic’s list and compare them with public opinion. This letter focuses on Federal Lands, but fear not – forthcoming letters will cover issues such as climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency, budget cuts, pipelines, drilling, and more!

When your actions are comparable to public opinion, you’ll get a +1. When they are contrary to public opinion, you’ll get a -1. Let’s begin!

Signed resolution allowing coal dumping in streams, overturning the Obama-era “Stream Protection Rule.” Production from this type of mining is on the decline (15% since 2000). In 2016, Pew Research Center reported that nearly 60% of Americans oppose expanding coal mining further in any way. In 2016, 61% of Americans were concerned with potentially drinking polluted water, a 6% increase from the previous year. Overturning this is preposterous, and wrong, and Americans know it. -1

Allowance of lead bullets on federal lands, known to poison wildlife. Review of the Sage Grouse ordered to determine if it poses a threat to plan to increase drilling on federal land. NOAA removes whale protections from fishing nets. Under Obama, 40% of Americans thought that there were “the right amount” of wildlife protections. 39%, meanwhile, thought there were not yet enough protections. An overwhelming 90% of Americans support the Endangered Species Act. We can protect our environment while having a healthy economy! -1

Review of National Monuments leading to proposed shrinkage of Bears Ears National Monument. Nationally, there is overwhelming support for Bears Ears, with companies such as Patagonia taking stands to protect it. In Utah itself, the polls vary drastically, as 65% of Utah is already federally owned. However, National Monuments fall under the care of the National Park Service, from which the #RESISTANCE movement was born out of. 77% of Americans believe that the U.S. benefits from the National Park Service, 55% saying they personally benefit from them. As of January 2016, 49% of Americans thought the government is doing too little to protect these lands, while 46% said the current protections were fine. Given the state-level scandal of Bears Ears, I’ll be more generous this time -.5

Donated salary to National Park Service. Many Americans thought this was not enough, especially considering the proposed budget cuts. But, overall, seemingly no ill will here. I commend you for showing some generosity. +1

This round, you receive a -1.5!

In conclusion I ask only that you truly listen to what the American people, especially young Americans, want from their federal government. Perhaps it will improve your score for next time.









Day 162 – Free Market Economy in the Supermarket? Yes. In the ER? Big Fat Nope, Mr. President.

Day 162 – Free Market Economy in the Supermarket? Yes. In the ER? Big Fat Nope, Mr. President.

Photograph by Patrick Lentz

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to discuss your plans for making a purchasing decision during your stroke.  If health care is a commodity. The Republicans believe patients are customers and people should have choices in a competitive capitalistic system.  Well, I’m interested in how you are going to make an informed consumer choice during your brain attack.

In a stroke, there is a 3-4 hour window when hospitals might reverse the negative outcome; one of the miracles of modern medical research, which of course is being defunded.  Under the Republican model you are in control. You are the customer. You believe in competition and consumer choice.  So, how does that work?

As you start to lose your vision, will you drag the side that no longer functions to the computer and set up an Excel spreadsheet to compare the costs of local ambulance services?  Will you ask your spouse, before you lose the ability to talk, to research the various neurological services in your area, the customer reviews of various physicians, the quality ratings of your hospital options, and to do a cost-benefit analysis of the various drugs available?

Having made your educated consumer decision, will you then contact your health insurance company to determine if your choices of ambulance service, hospital, and physician are “in network” or “out of network?”  Will you ask for their permission for treatment and a list of the pharmacy formulary determining which stroke drugs are covered by your insurance? Will you sit at home waiting for the 18 year-old who answers the insurance line to call you back to tell you their standard line that “you are not covered?” That’s what insurance companies like to do. Immediate denials often discourage patients from care. Helps the company make money for their investors.  They are, after all, corporations and have to first look after shareholder values – that’s the beauty of capitalism.

Let’s say you’re still alive by the time you have made your consumer choices. When you get to the hospital, there will be so much more to purchase.  Do you want a CT scan or the more expensive MRI?  Do you want the more expensive brand name drug with a 90% efficacy rating (that means effectiveness) to break up a blood clot, or the reverse engineered generic brand with a 75% success rate that your insurance will cover?  Will you have a credit card with you and at each consumer decision point?  They can now swipe purchases on mobile devices.

Well, the truth is, you’d be dead.  I suppose that’s the point.  You will have paid enormous premiums to the insurance company for coverage over your lifetime.  Then when the stroke happens, you are free to make all of your health care decisions.  If you die, the insurance company makes money – they win!  It’s a terrific business model.

Every developed nation in the world has figured out that health care is not a commodity.  It’s not a choice made in the super market aisle between Coke and 7 Up. It’s not a choice between a Ford or a Chevy. It’s not a choice between Trump Tower and the Ritz.  People needing health care are patients – not customers.   The providers of health care should be professional, highly skilled medical staff – not insurance clerks.  Americans deserve to participate in the largest, most diverse patient pool that can be imagined, all of the people of the United States with universal coverage.

We have some smart people in the country.  While the health care system is complex, fixing it is not beyond the reach of our best minds.  After all, we sent people to the moon and back with just the computing power equivalent to the modern toaster.

Of course, it can’t be done if the profit interests of the insurance companies and drug providers trump the welfare of the citizens.  If those representing the welfare of citizens are “bought and paid for” by the industry looking to profit bigly, real reform will never happen.

Mr. President, we can do better than this.  Do something extraordinary that will really shake up the system – universal health care.



Day 161 – Just Call It What It Is, Mr. President: WealthCare.

Day 161 – Just Call It What It Is, Mr. President: WealthCare.

Meme by Mike Licht

Dear Mr. President,

With this current health care bill proposal you are giving all wealthy people a very bad name. Although I work as a teacher, I am no stranger to wealthy people and I know not all of them just want more tax breaks. Growing up in New York City, I was the oldest daughter of a very hard-working single, immigrant woman who spent 30 years cleaning the houses of one very wealthy family. This family, they adored my mother. In fact, they loved my mom so much they paid for my sister and me to attend private schools in Manhattan and later helped us go to college and postgraduate school. Their enormous sense of humanity and responsibility did not end with my family; they helped countless others over the many years we knew them. Thank you letters were always pouring in from people from all walks of life.

Please know that I have not let this kindness go wasted; to this day, I make sure I give back to others in order to demonstrate my gratitude for all the love and care my family received. Every day I walk into my classroom, I work alongside young students who, like myself growing up, are too shy to speak up, who need direction, comfort, and inspiration. With the same level of love and dedication I received as a young child, I, in turn, bring inspiration and care to countless children each year.

This brings me to you, Mr. President. As someone who cares about how he’s perceived by the public, I wonder how you justify your health care bill. Bernie Sanders characterized your bill as  “barbaric and immoral piece of legislation,” and for good reasons. In an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler stated that after reviewing the scientific literature…on the relationship between health insurance and mortality. There is really now a scientific consensus that being uninsured raises the death rates between 3 and 29 percent. And the math on that is that if you take health insurance away from 22 million people, about 29,000 of them will die every year, annually, as a result.” Combine that with giving the 400 wealthiest households $33 billion in tax cuts and we have a moral failure of massive proportions. In my opinion, this bill has got the words “blood money” written all over it. As someone who grew up wealthy his entire life, is the financial bottom line the only focus in all you do? Does quality of life for the American people matter to you? Which takes precedence?

I can understand how having been wealthy since birth would surely desensitize anyone to the common struggles and troubles of the everyday man. But like the family I grew up with who gave my own family so much, the returns of valuing all life is one that will multiply with time. The work I do with children each day is a direct byproduct of the kindness and compassion extended to me by kind and caring people. Would you call what you do a labor of love, Mr. President? Will your bills and actions spur others to give back with love? My letter is not a call for charity; this is a firm call for giving us, the American People, what we deserve. In the words of Edward Kennedy, “Health care is a basic right for all, not just an expensive privilege for the few.”




Day 160 – Still Tweeting? A Twitter-Friendly Letter for You, Mr. President.

Day 160 – Still Tweeting? A Twitter-Friendly Letter for You, Mr. President.

Image by Uncalno Tekno

Dear Mr. President,

Where do I start? It’s day 160; what have you accomplished? By my reckoning, there’s been much ado about nothing.

To ban, or not to ban? That was the question @SCOTUS. A: Ban, kind of. You say it’s a victory. But is it? Is it really?

  • Here’s the thing. No sane person wants to allow a terrorist of any nationality into their country. The resistance to your blanket ban…
  • …was robust BECAUSE it was a blanket ban, not taking into consideration “class or category.” SCOTUS’s decision does exactly what…
  • …sane people want. It protects families, students, legitimate business people, etc.—people with “existing relationships” within the U.S.
  • You’ve dedicated so much time to this temporary ban that you’ve ignored the real problem. Homegrown terrorists. I live 20 minutes away…
  • …from the recent congressional baseball shooting. I have school-aged children. They are growing up in a world where…
  • …”Duck and Cover” drills are NOT about tornadoes, but about school mass shootings. Don’t even get me started on the 2nd amendment.

The 2nd amendment. Really, Mr. President, really? Revoking gun checks for people with mental illnesses? What in God’s name were you thinking?

  • “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” James Hodgkinson.
  • James Hodgkinson. Liberal. Obtained firearms legally despite domestic battery charges. A man who believed he needed to kill republicans…
  • …to protect his country, his way of life. Suicide bombers blow up themselves & others in the same misguided beliefs. Terrorists.
  • James Hodgkinson. Homegrown terrorist.

A job, a job! My kingdom for a job! Um, just not as a coal miner…

  • Coal mining jobs as of this March: 77K; retail jobs: 4.8 million (Bureau of Labor Statistics). JC Penney: 105K…
  • One retail company vs. the entire coal industry. Want to help create/maintain jobs? Support retailers. Go biglier, Mr. President.

A skunk cabbage by any other name would smell as rotten… You can change the acronym as many times as you want, but AHCA, WGHP…

  • …whatever you want to call it still means the same for the American people: WTF, SNAFU, FFS, and my personal favorite, WTGDMF.
  • I think it’s time to toss in the towel. Focus on fixing the problems with ACA. Now that would be a bonafide WIN.

Hope you had a great day 160!



Day 159 – Stop Tweeting. Please.

Day 159 – Stop Tweeting. Please.

Photograph by Miki J

Dear Mr. President,

Would you please stop tweeting?

Your use of Twitter is unbecoming of a world leader, which you profess to be. You are the President of the United States of America. Do you really have to use Twitter every day? Your tweets are inane at best and downright stupid at worst.

Your tweet of June 25, 2017: Hillary Clinton colluded with the Democratic Party in order to beat Crazy Bernie Sanders. Is she allowed to so collude? Unfair to Bernie!

Why are you still talking about the election? Sadly, you won. So why do you find it necessary to keep bringing this up. Do you know the meaning of collude? Are you a Bernie Sanders supporter now? It doesn’t make you look good when you call other people names like “Crazy.”

Your tweet of June 24, 2017: Democrats slam GOP healthcare proposal as Obamacare premiums & deductibles increase by over 100%. Remember keep your doctor, keep your plan?

Yes, there are Democrats, thankfully, and also some Republicans who oppose your GOP healthcare proposal. The Obamacare premiums may have increased (doubtfully by 100%) but at least they still cover people and their illnesses. The GOP plan will not, and many, many more Americans will be without healthcare. But that doesn’t really bother you, if you can point to it and say “I, I, I reformed healthcare.”

Another tweet of June 24, 2017: I cannot imagine that these very fine Republican Senators would allow the American people to suffer a broken ObamaCare any longer!

I could not imagine it either if Obamacare was broken, but it’s not. And the very fine Republican Senators and Representatives and you Mr. President are willing to take health care away from millions of Americans, and make it unaffordable for others. It seems like your GOP plan would result in many people suffering the effects of a broken system.

Yet another tweet of June 24, 2017: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!


Is your definition of a GREAT AMERICA a country that hides behind a wall, that bans people of certain races and ethnicities from traveling here, that is mean spirited to all who don’t agree with the Republican vision, that scolds leaders of other countries or the mayor of London, that pulls its support of environmental treaties, that has a leader who seeks to have his own way by running roughshod over anyone of differing views?

Diplomacy and governing, being a world citizen, and taking care of the American people cannot be relegated to 140 characters. You make yourself look bad when you use Twitter in such a superficial way. You don’t have to dazzle or astound. Just be a leader.

Please be the President of the United States, and stop the ridiculous mauling of the English language and the presidency. Leave tweeting to the birds.



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