What is Washboard Express?

Washboard Express is a way for me to express my own opinions, to be a provocative gadfly, by writing a "letter a day" to the President. I may miss a day here and there, because sometimes my family with be my first priority, but my goal is to write a total of 365 letters, representing one full year. To say I have opinions about most things would be to understate the obvious. Those of you that know me, know this is true, those who don't know me, will learn that it's true. The Washboard is a reference to going back to basics and "keeping it clean," so if you would like me to post your comments or opinions on this blog, I only ask that you be respectful. So go ahead, express yourself, and I look forward to an exchange of ideas and opinions.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 27... Dear Mr. President...Just a few of Obama's accomplishments.

Day 27
Dear Mr. President,

Today I am sending you all the letters I have written to you for the Month of May 2011. Since I have not yet received an auto-reply from the White House site, I have decided that snail-mail might be best. So at the end of each month I will print out my letters to you with any attachments that may be pertinent, and mail them through the Post Office…. which by the way, is very efficient and reliable.

While many of my letters have been critical of the things that still need your immediate attention, not enough was said about all the fine accomplishments you are responsible for enacting. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank you personally for a few, that to me, and many other Americans are particularly important.

Regarding the Military… You ordered better body armor for our troops, improved housing for military personnel, ended ‘no-bid’ defense contracts, and you authorized construction of additional health care centers for veterans, just to name a few.

In addition, you instituted enforcements for equal pay for women and appointed the first Latina, Sonia Sotomayor, to the Supreme Court. You signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, and proposed the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and placed a freeze on efforts to remove gays from the military, although I don’t believe the military is complying with that order.

In areas of Health Care, you wisely removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research, and supported new biomedical research. You reversed some of the restrictions that prevented Medicare from negotiating cheaper drugs with the Pharmaceutical Companies, and you authorized the FDA to regulate tobacco.

There are hundreds of accomplishments that you have achieved and implemented that most of us have forgotten, because as President you can never really do enough to satisfy everyone… not even me. We are in such dire straights, as a country, that it is easy to overlook the good that’s been done. I don’t want you to think I’m not grateful for all you have done, because I am… I can’t even imagine, nor do I want to imagine, what state this country would be in if McCain and Palin had been elected. Keep up the good work, and I’ll try not to be such a nag… but I can’t promise you that, because I am the “Gadfly Granny.”

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 26... Dear Mr. President...America's glory is not 'dominion' but Liberty.

Day 26
Dear Mr. President,

Yesterday I talked about bringing the 46,000 American soldiers home from Iraq. Today I want to talk about the 94,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan, and urge you to bring them home also.

On this Monday when we honor those who have fought and lost their lives in all wars beginning with the Civil War, let those lives stand for the principles that we should all consider before we send our men and women to a foreign country. John Quincy Adams explained those principles best over 190 years ago. In an address to Congress, then Secretary of State, Adams said that:

"[America's] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace."

“America’s” Freedom, Independence and Peace, not Iran’s, Iraq’s, Afghanistan’s, Libya’s, or any other ‘foreign country,’ but our country. Our Government cannot invade another country and fight for the principles that we hold… those countries and their people have to decide that for themselves. What American should be doing is providing a role model for Democracy, not imposing it upon people that need to determine their own destiny.
America’s glory is ‘not dominion’… we cannot remain in foreign countries where we are not welcome and where we have not been invited. The “people” of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya… don’t want us there, they want to fight for their own freedom’s through their own self determination for independence. Give them the chance to fight their own battle for freedom by bringing out men and women home.
We can use help with so many domestic problems where our military can actually ‘serve’ this country. We still have not rebuilt cities and towns destroyed by hurricane Katrina, and now we have areas devastated by floods and deadly tornados.
Let’s spend the money we are ‘wasting’ in endless wars, on America and Americans. Isn’t that what John Quincy Adams would have wanted? Isn’t it time to put down our arms (weapons), and open arms by protecting and serving our countrymen and women in this country?
It’s time Mr. President… Bring the troops home, and let America once again stand for Freedom, Independence, but most of all… PEACE.
Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 25... Dear Mr. President...How can we "celebrate" Memorial Day?

Day 25

Dear Mr. President,

This afternoon I walked around our little community to see how people were celebrating the Memorial Day holiday. I saw families at the lake swimming and picnicking, there was volleyball, and horseshoes being played, and people having a good time. Others were in their yards by the pool or just hanging out. I think this is pretty typical all across America, but what about the families that have lost loved ones in the various wars, how do they “celebrate” the holiday while the rest of us eat hotdogs?

I can only guess that their celebration is one of sadness and loss. Yes, it is understood that when a loved one is deployed there is a chance that they will not return alive, or may return with severe injuries, but does the “knowledge” ever really prepare you for the reality? I don’t thing so, and especially not for the thousands of children that lose a parent.

We still have 46,000 U.S. troops in Iraq even after all other nations have withdrawn their troops. The U.S. Troop Casualties are almost 4,500 in just Iraq, and 54 percent of those casualties were under 25 years old, really just kids. 98 percent of those killed were male and 2percent female, that’s 90 women killed in the Iraq war ‘so far.’ It’s bad enough that we keep sending our young men off to be killed, but women… mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters? What have we become as a nation that tolerate these needless deaths?

How many lives are enough to satisfy our greed for more oil, because we all know that’s what this has been about from the beginning? How many lives of our young men and women will be enough to satisfy Halliburton and the other corporations that profit from the deaths of our young people?

From the Congressional Research Service the estimate for deploying one U.S. soldier for one year in Iraq is $390,000. Multiply that by the 46,000 troops we still have there and you get an astounding $17,940,000,000 for one year. Think what could be done with that $17 billion right here at home. Think what that kind of money would mean to those families who are have been kicked out of military housing and are now struggling to make ends meet after the loss of a husband, or wife… or father or mother. How can we continue to justify these wars when we are not even willing to take care of the families after their loved ones have sacrificed their lives for us?

I’ve said it before Mr. President, and I’ll say it again… It’s time to bring our troops home, it’s time to take care of their families, it’s time to take care of the thousands of wounded soldiers that fill our military hospitals… It’s time to take care of the people in “This Country” and let the other countries take care of their own people.

It’s hard to celebrate Memorial Day when we are doing nothing to prevent further losses of lives.  Mr. President, please bring our troops home!

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 24... Dear Mr. President...The homeless need a voice

Day 24
Dear Mr. President,

We hear a lot about transparency in government, and access to public officials. There are websites that can tell you just about anything you want to know about one issue or another, or about our elected officials. All this is well and good for those of us who have the luxury of time, a computer, and enough education to navigate our way through the various sites.

But what about the people that don’t have access, like the homeless, or people that are barely putting food on the table, let alone worrying about Internet access. How do these folks access their elected officials? The answer is, they don’t.

There are those that say the homeless can go to the library if they need to use a computer, but it’s never that simple. First they would need to get to the library, once there they would need to sign up for a time slot, and what if they are not familiar with the operation of the computer? Then they need assistance… and quite frankly, there are not a lot of people willing to sit next to someone who may smell unpleasant, or possibly have a communicable disease

These are the truly disenfranchised citizens in this country. Now you have to ask yourself another question… why haven’t there been significant steps taken to address the problem of homelessness in America? And why do we continue to slash programs for children and the poor. I can tell you in three simple words… “They Don’t Vote.” That’s right, the homeless, many of the poor, and of course, children don’t vote.

There are very few politicians who are even willing to address the problem because there is nothing in it for them except a few good sound bites at election time. Even Oprah came to Sacramento and caused a big stir about the homeless issue. She tried to shed some light on this ‘dirty little secret’ that most major metropolitan have, but choose to sweep under the rug, light so much garbage. There were meetings, and ideas bantered about while the spotlight was on Sacramento, but what actually happened to improve the situation? A good citizen offered to let the homeless camp on a lot he owned in the city, but complaints from the neighbors and city ordinances put the kibosh on that plan. So the homeless went back to various places along the American River, back to being anonymous, back to being ignored, back to being rousted from their campsites, back to losing their possessions, and back to oblivion.

Do these Americans really have a voice? Do they really have access to their elected officials? Not really Mr. President. So in the next couple of weeks I will be sending you letters from some of the homeless in Sacramento. I will ask them what they want to tell you, what they want you to know about their lives. I will be their voice. Look for those letters Mr. President, because even the homeless should have a voice.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 23... Dear Mr. President...Beware...the demise of Roe V. Wade.

Day 23

Dear Mr. President,

I was very disappointed to learn that Goodwin Liu withdrew as a nominee to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He was an excellent choice and would have served the people of the 9th Circuit well.

I can understand his reason for withdrawing as a nominee… he has a career, and a family to support and think about. He cannot live in limbo hoping that the Republicans will somehow, miraculously vote to approve his nomination. The sad reality is they never would, regardless of his credentials.

Aside from the obvious travesty of the loss to the 9th Circuit, it’s an ongoing problem for this Administration to have so many court vacancies on the Federal level. The reality is that the Republicans are not going to approve any nominations to our Federal Courts unless they are conservatives.

We are already experiencing the devastating results from our “conservative” Supreme Court Justices, with their “green light” for corporations to contribute unimaginable amounts of money to conservative candidates.

It is quite obvious what the “real agenda” is for the Republicans. Their real agenda is to block all your court nominations in hopes that they can control more of the House and they hope, the Senate. Then they can pack our Federal Courts for years to come, and have ultra conservatives lined up for any Supreme Court picks. This is not rocket science all you have to do is connect the dots.  They want to pack the courts so they can continue to dismantle Roe V. Wade. You know it and I know it.

So what can you do about it, and what are you going to do about it? You can start by being more aggressive with “your message” to the people about the ultimate Republican plan. The majority believe in a “woman’s choice”… If the Republicans get their way it will become the “men’s choice”, again, the men on the Supreme Court. I implore you… do not let this happen. You need to find a way to get your appointments through… before it’s too late.

I know you’re probably working on this, but it needs to be put on the “front burner” and you need to turn up the heat to get approval for your Federal Court nominees.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 22... Dear Mr. President... It's good to be First.

Day 22

Dear Mr. President,

From the time we are born we learn that it's good to be first. First borns often have the advantage of the full attention of their parents, grand parents, etc. We all want to be first at something... first in line to go out to recess, first to be picked for the 'team', first to hit a home run, being first chair in the school band, first in your family to graduate from college, and the list of 'firsts' goes on.

Wouldn't you like your presidency be like the State of Vermont? Vermont has achieved many firsts they are proud to have accomplished, and rightfully so. Vermont was the first to join the 13 Colonies, and the first to ban slavery. Vermont was the first to establish and provide a free education for all... today we call it Public Education.

But, the biggest and most important first for the tiny State of Vermont has to be that they are the first state in the nation to offer single-payer health care. They are the first to recognize that for-profit insurance companies are not, and will not, reign in costs which equate to ever increasing premiums. The state hired a Harvard economist, William Hsiao to come up with three alternatives to the current system. Hsiao concluded that the single-payer system would produce a savings of 24.3% of total health costs between 2015 and 2024. I think you'll agree that is a significant savings.

Your first attempt at overhauling the health care system was a good first step, but now it's time to take the first giant step and offer the whole country a single-payer system like Vermont. The Republican scare tactics are wearing thin with most Americans, and especially us seniors every time they threaten to dismantle medicare.

We all know single-payer health care works, our neighbors to the north are evidence enough. We also know most Americans and doctors are in favor of single-payer, and that the only ones not in favor of it are the insurance companies and the Republicans.

It's time America starts buying health care services for the entire population so it can negotiate more favorable rates, and eliminate the massive overhead and outrageous profits that the current insurers impose.

Others have tried and failed, but wouldn't you like to be the "First" President to succeed in bringing a single-payer health care system to America?

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 21... Dear Mr. President...You took a chance, it paid off!

Day 21

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations... you proved the Republicans were wrong on the bailout money for the auto industry. You took a chance in spite of the naysayers saying it was a waste of taxpayers money. They were wrong and you were right. Both GM and Chrysler have not only paid back the bailout money with interest, but also paid it well ahead of schedule. The thousands of jobs you saved by having faith in the American autoworker have not gone unappreciated.

We have three people in our family that work in auto sales and the auto aftermarket, and although each has had a significant reduction in salaries, they each still have their jobs. If you had not stepped up to the plate and saved the automakers with the bailout funds, our relatives would surely be out of a job, and for that we are grateful, and we thank you.

I know you don't receive many letters thanking you, and in fact, I have sent many letters critical to your stance on various issues, but when you get something right, it's only fair to give you the kudos that you deserve.

I know that you make reasoned decisions on everything, based on the extensive information you have at your disposal... information that the average American does not have access too. So while I often question your reasons for taking action one way or the other, I have to trust that you are acting in behalf of all of us, and for the common good. I just wish you would be a little more forthcoming on some of your reasons for your actions.

For instance... siding with the Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. I'm still scratching my head about that one. I have however, decided that it must be a long-term goal to 'hang it around the Republicans necks' in the next election cycle. The same scenario could play well with tax breaks and subsidies for the oil companies.

I have to believe this because otherwise it just doesn't make any sense as to why you would save the struggling auto industry, but continue to reward those that surely do not deserve or need to be rewarded. So on this, I'm going to give you the benefit of doubt, and hope that when you are re-elected that you will in fact, fix this egregious inequity.

Thank you again for taking a chance, and saving the American Auto Industry.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 20... Dear Mr. President... Sex changes for prisoners?

Day 20
Dear Mr. President,

Today I have some questions about the health services provided to Federal Prisoners.
In 2009 we had approximately 211,000 Federal Inmates nationwide, and we spent $736 million dollars on their medical care. That comes out to $3,412,146.50 per inmate. Currently we have 215,700 prisoners, but I don’t have the 2010 medical costs yet.

Now I realize that each inmate didn’t require the same medical attention… some required more, and some less, but that’s an exorbitant amount to spend on people that have been convicted of crimes that necessitate their incarceration. In short, they are in prison to protect society from whatever criminal activity they chose.

The Federal Prison system has a recidivism rate of approximately 40%, which clearly shows we are not rehabilitating them in a meaningful way, but while they are in prison they are treated for whatever ailment they came in with, or may have contracted while incarcerated. I can fully understand inmates receiving thorough examinations to detect diseases that can spread to others including prison staff, and officers, so this cost is a necessity and a real health issue.

What I cannot understand is the report from the Federal Bureau of Prisons Health Services – National Formulary, issued in 2010. The BOP formulary is a list of medications that are considered by the organization’s professional staff to ensure high quality cost-effective drug therapy for the population served.

There are millions of Americans that cannot afford, nor are the ensured, high quality low cost drug therapy… quite the opposite. And yet the drugs recommended for inmates include many ‘designer’ drugs advertized heavily on TV. Some of those include Restasis, Celebrex, Plavix, Catapres, used for opiate detox, and insomnia medications, Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata. 

But I have to tell you, the real mind blower was on Page 26, and this is directly out of the report.
Hormones to maintain secondary sexual characteristics
1.Institution Clinical Director concurrence that hormonal therapy is medically
    indicated and safe.
2.Confirmation of legitimate prescribing prior to incarceration.
3.Psychiatric diagnostic evaluation and treatment plan.

That’s right Mr. President, injections for prisoners who want to change their sex. That would be fine with me if they were paying for it, but they’re not… We Are!  I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again… We need to overhaul our Federal Prison System…NOW!

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day19... Dear Mr. President... The real crime here is...

Day 19
Dear Mr. President,

In today’s issue of the Sacramento Bee, there was a heart-wrenching story written by Loretta Kalb, about a formerly homeless couple getting married. This was not a story about homelessness, but a story about our failure to provide adequate access to health-care, and about ordinary citizens joining together to bring a little happiness to a very special couple.

Heart–wrenching because Tammie Day, just 42 years old is dying of the cancer she was diagnosed with 5 years ago. One could naturally ask, why would such a young person be dying of cancer when she lives in an area with excellent cancer treatment facilities like UC Davis Medical Center? The answer is because she was homeless, and the homeless have to jump through hoops just to access the meager county medical services. That, in of itself, is not the problem… the problem is how do the homeless coordinate their care, how do they get to appointments, how do they keep in touch with their doctors, and how do they handle the inevitable ‘sickness’ that is associated with cancer treatments when they are forced to move from one location to another on a regular basis? The answer is they don’t, and that is why Tammie Day is dying.

Thanks to some wonderful people from Mars Hill Community Church, members were able to provide a special day for Tammie and Larry Carmack. Church member Felicia Woodard planned the wedding and organized the supporters and volunteers that provided lunch, entertainment, and a honeymoon night stay at Embassy Suites in Sacramento.

But the real tragedy of this story goes unreported. In the 5 years that Tammie has been living with cancer, we have a parade of Federal Prisoners going in and out of UC Davis Cancer Treatment Center getting the best care money can buy. You may ask how I know this? Because I was a cancer patient at UC Davis myself, and I asked the two, not one but two guards, what they were doing there. They replied that they were escorting and guarding a prisoner while he got his radiation treatments.

Only in America do our criminals get this kind of care. We have millions of Americans that cannot afford insurance, do not have access to this type of medical care, and yet we can afford to spend the taxpayers money on criminals? How and why do we allow this? And please don’t give that old song and dance about “civil liberties.” When are the liberties of law abiding citizens going to come before those who choose to break our laws?

My plea to you today Mr. President… we need to revamp our priorities, we need to stop wasting precious dollars in the Federal Prison System, and invest more in schools, our children, and people that live their lives within our set of established laws.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day18... Dear Mr. President... We all survived, now lets move on.

Day 18
Dear Mr. President,

Today is Sunday the 22nd and from all accounts we survived yet another doomsday prediction. I’m sure the spin for the failure to “rapture” believers in Christ will be to say that there weren’t enough ‘true believers,’ and that the faithful need to convert some more of us sinners.  And Harold Camping will continue to collect money from gullible and guileless people that are desperate to find an final solution to their problems.

Even though I do not believe in organized religion, and find most if not all of them to be controlling and judgmental, I do believe in hope and even an occasional prayer. I prefer to believe in my own self-determination as to how my life if going to proceed, and if I don’t like the direction it’s going, I have no one to blame but myself.

All too often we want to blame others for our mistakes and short-comings, but what do we do about the things that are out of our control? We elect our representatives and send them to Washington with the hope and understanding that they will work in our behalf and for the greater good of the people. Lately that has just not been happening. Our politicians seem to have one goal, and one goal only, and that’s to get re-elected.

We elected you, Mr. President, based on your campaign promises, and the most important of those promises was to end the wars and bring our troops home to their families. Now I realize that once you get into office that the things you promise are much easier said than done, and that we, the people, are not privy to all of the information that you have. But some steps could, and should have been taken to move us in the right direction, like closing Guantanamo Bay. Move the detainees to a new location and shut the damn place down… how hard could that be? It is, after all, what you promised you would do.

So once again Mr. President, I’m asking that you begin to take the necessary steps to fulfill your promise to the American people. Not just those of us who voted for you, but all of us, because every dollar spent on these wars is another dollar that fails to help the very people you pledged to protect and defend.

It’s time to stop the hemorrhaging of the taxpayers money on ever expanding wars, and foreign aid to countries that are not actually our allies. Bring our men and women home to their families, and keep our tax dollars at home to fix the multitude of problems we have in our own country. To do less is too break yet another promise… beginning to take even baby steps in the right direction could mean the difference in your re-election prospects.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day17... Dear Mr. President... Are you really listening?

Day 17
Dear Mr. President,

I’ve watched the video about what happens to all the mail that you receive, on the White House website. It shows the huge truck backing up to unload all the letters, huge stacks of letters separated by categories, and a table full of people reading the letters and deciding which ten they feel are worthy of your attention.

All of this is well and good, but the video does not address the letters that are sent via email. According to the video you receive over 100,000 emails, 65,000 paper letters, 25,000 faxes, and who knows how many phone calls. So what happens to the emails? The website has the “Contact Us” button to click which takes you to a page that has you fill out a form with required fields asking for first name, last name, email, zip code, subject and message. Then there is the field that tests whether you are a human, with two encrypted words to type exactly as shown. Once this is complete you may then send your message.

On the same site there is a link for people to share their “feedback” about the video, and this link takes you to the same exact form you use for “Contact Us” with exactly the same requirements. Why would you ask for feedback on this specific video and then lump those replies in with the 100,000 other emails you receive in a day? Are you really interested in our feedback regarding this video, or is this a placebo to make us think you actually care?

Then there are the category choices, of which you must choose one. Issue on ‘Policy’ the choices are: Afghanistan & Iraq, Civil Rights, Economy, Education, Energy, Environment, Home Land Security, Housing, Immigration, Job Creation, Technology, Seniors, Taxes, Transportation and Veterans. Non-Policy issues are: Help with a Federal Agency, The Administration, First Family, and Other. This is my 17th letter and once again I will need to choose ‘Other’ because most of my letters don’t fit the categories I have to choose from.

I’d like to suggest some additional categories, for instance; Hunger in America, Child Abuse, Teachers, Homelessness, The Mortgage Fiasco, Fraud on Wall Street, Schools in America, and so many other areas that are affecting ordinary citizens in this country. The “Other” button just isn’t cutting it. Maybe you don’t want to hear about these issues because you consider them “State” or “Local” issues, but I want you to know that everything that happens in Washington, every vote that protects the wealthy, every vote to send our tax dollars overseas, and every vote that slashes benefits for the most vulnerable, affect all of us!

Please consider revamping the ‘site that gives us access’ and really make it something that we can relate to, and those of us who email you need to know that those letters are given equal weight to the ones that are mailed.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day16... Dear Mr. President... The Apocalypse, Yikes!

Day 16
Dear Mr. President,

America… the land of opportunity, and home to the most unlikely, and off the wall, entrepreneurs. Is this country great, or what? The buzz today is all about Harold Camping’s prediction that the world will begin to end tomorrow, May 21, 2011, with earthquakes that will spread across the planet.

The best part of this “Rapture” is not the people who blindly follow a delusional old man believing they will instantly ascend to heaven, but the people smart enough to profit from it. I’m quite sure the 2,200 billboards plastered with his message were not ‘gifts’ given to Camping to help him spread his word.

A printer was paid to print them, people were paid to put them up, and the owners of these billboards charge a hefty price for this type of advertizing space. The same goes for the vans plastered with his message that have been crisscrossing the country for two years. And then there are the inevitable T-shirts, and coffee mugs. But my personal favorite for thinking outside the box is the group that for an upfront fee, will guarantee to pick up and care for your pet, should you suddenly be “raptured” up to heaven.

The GOP is always telling us that it’s the ‘rich’ who provide jobs and keep this economy going, and that’s why they need the tax cuts and tax brakes. In reality it’s ordinary people, that without even trying, like Camping… provide the most opportunities for entrepreneurs.

You have to feel sorry for the people that are duped by this Rapture-obsessed, delusional evangelical radio show host. I wonder how much of their money he took in donations to ‘spread his word’? He looks to me like he’s led a pretty comfortable life, with the help of his ‘followers’.

Meanwhile the rest of us go about our daily routine of getting the kids off to school, going to work, and living today the best we can. To do otherwise would really be cataclysmic… the world would truly ‘stop’ if everyone just stayed home and waited to be saved. But the reality is we can only save ourselves through hard work and putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward each and every day.

But Camping is right about one thing… the world will begin to end tomorrow, as it does each and every day, just as we do from the moment we are born, we are heading toward death. It’s called the circle of life, and there’s nothing biblical about it.  In the meantime, I’m going to spend today eating nothing but dessert. How about you Mr. President… can I interest you in a brownie?


Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day15... Dear Mr. President

Day 15
Dear Mr. President

We hear a lot of rhetoric about this country’s children, but every time we turn around our politicians are voting to slash services that benefit our children, including their education which is supposed to prepare them to be contributing members of society. How can we call ourselves a “compassionate” nation when we can’t even educate or protect our own children?

Our two party system is not working, as evidenced by the abject failure of our elected officials to pass ‘anything’ that promotes “the general welfare of the people,” let alone the welfare of our children.

Going into the next election you have an opportunity to turn that around and start a ‘grassroots movement’ using your vast network of influential ‘friends’ and volunteer workers. Here is what I propose as an alternative to a “third” party, which has only produced an even more radical arm of the GOP… the Tea Party nut jobs.

Think of what this country could look like in the future if we elected politicians based on the following mission statement. If you, Mr. President, got your people involved in this movement, it would give a whole new meaning to “ObamaCare”.
I believe that the First Lady would agree.

Children’s Advocates for Representation in Elections

Mission Statement

As a nationwide coalition of non-partisan voters, devoted to supporting candidates and issues relevant to the healthy development and protection of children, Children’s Advocates for Representation in Elections will become a voice for all children in America through the power of the vote. Children cannot vote for themselves, therefore, this coalition of voters affirms as its mission: 

To recruit voters aged 18 to 80+ years, neighborhood by neighborhood, state by state, to vote on behalf of children.

To propose, prepare, and lobby for a comprehensive nationwide children’s agenda. To work for improvement in existing and to create new legislation pertaining to, but not limited to the health, education, welfare, and protection of children in America.

To form committees in every state of the nation to serve as “watchdogs” over elected officials and to investigate candidates’ and politicians’ positions on issues relating to the protection and enhancement of children. To investigate and publish the voting records of candidates and politicians on issues relating to the well being of children. To propose a slate of qualified candidates who have proved themselves to be strong proponents of a children’s agenda. To promote and support only those candidates, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or political party affiliation, whose philosophy and voting record reflect the needs of children and the mission of CARE.

To keep CARE members informed and aware of the activities of the organization and the results of its work on behalf of children.

The infant mortality rate in the US is a disgrace, child abuse is unconscionable, children being tried as adults starts younger and younger, and the number of homeless children is appalling. If only we could elect politicians who ‘CARE’.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day14... Dear Mr. President

Day 14
Dear Mr. President,

Every day in the news, on the web, on the radio and TV… we hear it. Big oil wins again, lobbyists continue to inundate Washington with cash, insurance companies deny life saving procedures to their own policy-holders, drug companies charge big bucks for drugs that cost pennies on the dollar, and the list goes on…

To say I was disappointed in the vote to extend corporate welfare for the oil companies is putting it mildly, but to add insult to injury, three Democrats voted with the Republicans. I know Democrats have a problem with sticking together on anything, and trying to get them to agree is like trying to herd cats… nearly impossible. But somebody need to try to keep them together.

I realize that DINOS Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich, and Ben Nelson all live in oil rich states, but you’d think they would have the guts to buck big oil just once in their pathetic lives. If two Republicans can vote with the Democrats, why can’t the Democrats band together and show their constituents that they have at least a modicum of courage. And just to be fair, I hope you thanked Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe for voting to end taxpayer handouts to big oil. Kudos to two women with some b_ _ ls

It’s no surprise that the vote came down the way it did when you consider the donations that come from the oil companies and go directly into the pockets of Republicans at a significantly larger percentage than Democrats. For instance: Chevron gave over $10 million to candidates, 74% going to Repubs. & 24% going to Dems. Exxon gave over $10 million, 88% to Repubs. & 11% to Dems. Koch Industries gave over $9 million, 88% to Repubs. & 11% to Dems. Enron Corp. gave over $5 million, 70% to Repubs. & 29% to Dems. And BP gave over $5 million, with 69% to Repubs. And 30% to Dems.

Is it any wonder that we’re in the mess we’re in when we let big business buy our elected officials votes, just so they can continue to line their greedy pockets with obscene profits year after year? I hope you understand, Mr. President, that this is why we cannot trust our representatives to actually represent us… because we will never be able to compete with big business when it comes to donations.

This madness must come to an end, and the only way we are going to restore this country to it’s former greatness is to implement strong campaign finance reform, otherwise, we will continue to circle the bowl until we’re entirely flushed down the drain. You need to insist on campaign reforms… now!

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day13... Dear Mr. President

Day 13
Dear Mr. President,

Today I want to talk a little about prison reforms and the high cost of “keeping the public safe.” In California we spend more on prisoners than we do on education… this in of itself is a travesty, but the real crime is that the more we cut education and investing in our children, the more we create the potential for desperate people to commit crimes.

Yes, it’s important to keep violent offenders locked up, but do we need to provide them with sex change operations to keep us safe? Should they be allowed to sue because they aren’t offered “chucky” peanut butter, only creamy? Should we be providing organ transplants when many law-abiding citizens die because they can’t afford a life saving transplant? What do we really owe the members of a civil society who choose to break the law?
It is my belief that when people break the laws that are intended to keep the general population safe, then they leave their “ordinary rights” at the cell door. Of course there are basic rights that we would and should extend to another human being, regardless of their crime. These rights should include the following: As safe an environment and protection as we can reasonably provide, enough decent food to keep them reasonably healthy and free from disease, access to books and other educational materials in order to rehabilitate and educate themselves, a reasonable amount of living space or access to a larger area for the purpose of exercising and staying fit, access to basic health care and medications, and access to law books, and consultations with an attorney in case (and it happens all too often) they have been wrongfully convicted.

If an inmate doesn’t have a high school diploma then they remain incarcerated until they pass the equivalent of a GED. If they have their diploma then they can become the teachers for those who don’t. Once an inmate has completed the equivalent of his or her GED, then they become eligible for college courses or job training provided by other inmates with a higher education or job skills. Some staff would need to be provided to assist and oversee the process. Education and job training are the only ways to deter recidivism.

You will notice my list does not include Cable TV, fully equipped gyms, movies, conjugal visits, basket ball games with their buddies and other social games, and a whole host of other things that law-abiding citizens can’t afford or have access to.

Our children who have broken no laws deserve more of our resources then adults who chose to break our laws. This country needs massive, comprehensive prison reforms and the money we save on that should be spent on children, because if we don’t invest in them now…  they will become the next generation of prisoners.

It’s time to invest in our kids!

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day12... Dear Mr. President

Day 12
Dear Mr. President,

We’ve been inundated with news and information about “Big Oil” and the high cost of gas, and what’s driving the prices up and up.
Some say it’s supply and demand, but the global and U.S. supplies are plentiful and the demand is stable… so that’s not the right answer. Some say it’s the continued unrest in the Mid-East, the death of Bin Laden, etc… and that’s what’s making nervous buyers bid up the prices. But that’s not the right answer either.

It’s all just smoke and mirrors to keep the public from understanding what’s really going on, and to keep them “fear based” so the oil companies can continue to extort our Government for billions of dollars in tax credits and subsidies that NOC’s don’t need.

The real culprit is of course, Wall Street. Roughly 70 percent of contracts for future oil delivery is bought by financial speculators, not by a purchaser that actually intends to use the oil. This type of speculation is driving oil prices through the roof and making instant billionaires on Wall Street, while the American people can hardly afford enough gas to get to work.

We’ve heard a lot about “reigning” in Wall Street by reinstituting regulations to prevent this type of manipulative abuse. So my question to you, Mr. President… when is this going to happen? When are we going to step in, step up, and support the American consumer? This has been going on for far too long, it’s high time our Government started fighting for the middle class, not special interests.

Please take the necessary steps to reign in speculators on Wall Street and end tax breaks and subsidies for “Big Oil”.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day11... Dear Mr. President

Day 11
Dear Mr. President,

Today is Sunday, and a day when so many people practice their faith or attend the church of their choice. I’m not a fan of organized religion, because I find most, if not all religions lacking in one way or another. But since it’s Sunday, I decided to come clean because I’ve heard that ‘confession is good for the soul.’ Not that I’m worried about my soul, but I do need to confess a small lie I told you last year… well, I think it was a lie… still not sure, but to be on the safe side, I must come clean.

In my first letter I started off by saying “you don’t know me yet”… but, we have in fact, met. I attended a fundraiser for Barbara Boxer at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.  When you finished giving your speech, which, by the way, was very inspiring, you headed off stage in my direction. As I was shaking your hand I told you that my 93 year old Aunt Virginia voted for you in the last election, and it was the first time she had ever voted for a Democrat. You graciously thanked me and told me to thank my Aunt and to give her your best.

At the time I thought that she had indeed voted for you because I had been working on her for some time, and she didn’t like McCain or Sarah Palin. Long story short… the next time I went for a visit, and armed with lots of photos, I told my Aunt what I said to you, and your reply. She said, “Oh you devil you.” I asked her, “Well you did vote for Obama, didn’t you?” She just laughed, but never did answer my question.

Last year my dear Aunt passed away, and I must confess that I can’t say with any degree of certainty, that she did in fact vote for you in “08. So there you have it… my conscious is clear… I’m sorry I didn’t clear that up at the beginning of my letters to you, but the slate is clean now… I can move on.

Since it is Sunday, and I know you are a man of faith, I ask that you search your conscious about the men and women still serving in two wars, and not only pray for them, but take the steps necessary to bring them home to their families. It’s time. As my Aunt would say… “Don’t put things off, there is no time like the present to do what has to be done.”

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Day10... Dear Mr. President

Day 10
Dear Mr. President,

Today is Saturday, a sad day, but a happy one as well. We will be driving 3 hours to Santa Cruz, CA to say goodbye to my brother Charlie. Sad because we know this is the final time we will get together for him, but happy because we will be celebrating the life of a wonderful, loving and caring man. I mention the 3 hours because with the price of gas these days, being retired and on a fixed income, we are much more mindful of where we go and just how much we need to spend on gas.

Unfortunately, several people that were very close to Charlie, and even some family members will not be able to attend because of the cost of gas. I just heard from a friend of Charlie’s  that lives about 10 hours away, but was planning to come regardless of the costs. But, as so often happens, circumstances beyond his control will prevent him from attending. He lost his beloved dog last week and that cost $800, his plumbing has backed up, so he will need to get a plumber… and who knows what that will cost. He too is on a fixed income.

The point is… ordinary people are stretched so thin, and have sacrificed so much already, that when even one thing goes wrong and they are forced to pay for the unanticipated expenses that always seem to crop up at the wrong time… then they are unable to do the things they want desperately to do… like attend a memorial service for a loved one.

This is just one more example of the daily struggles, and decisions ordinary people must make just to keep their heads above water. There are millions of stories across the country playing out every day, just like this one.

But, I’ll tell you who doesn’t worry about these kinds of things… the 11 million households that make between 1 and 30 million dollars every year. I won’t even count the billionaires. Using my rough calculations… that leaves over 300 million people that struggle every single day of their lives. Of those 300 million, 44 million live in poverty, so for them it isn’t even about struggle… it’s about survival.

Is this the America we want? Is this how America takes care of it’s people? Do the rich really need more tax breaks? The answer to that Mr. President is a resounding “NO” from 72% of Americans. So no more being “Mr. Nice Guy”… it’s time everyone pays their fair share, it’s time to tell the GOP we’re not going to cut anymore from ordinary citizens, it’s time for the “rich” to pay their share as well.

There is a small part of me that is happy that Charlie is gone… his struggles are over, he doesn’t have to worry about a job, or not being able to take care of Kari, or being able to pay his rent, or if he’ll need to go to the emergency room for health care because he’s uninsured. We’ll all miss Charlie, but we’re happy that his struggles have come to an end.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
The Gadfly Granny