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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 76...Dear Mr. President... It's Alice in Washingland!

Day 76

Dear Mr. President,

On Day 58 of my letter to you I asked what all the kerfuffle was about when it came to raising the debt ceiling because you could and should just use the 14th amendment and do it. Well, here we are just two days before the “cataclysmic” day of default and just as I predicted in the Day 66 letter, you have been masterful in steering the Republicans in just the direction you wanted them to go in the first place…. down the rabbit hole.

For the purposes of this letter Mr. President, you are Alice, and you most certainly are not in Wonderland, but ‘Washingland.’ And it’s late, it’s late, and getting closer to a very important date. As you rush around Washingland trying to figure out where your party is, you meet Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the non-identical twins (Cantor and McConnell), fighting over who’s going to lead the talks. In comes the Cheshire Cat (Boehner), very colorful and always grinning, but something keeps happening to him… he starts to open his mouth to make a point, but suddenly he disappears. Oh my, he can’t seem to keep the talks going because he keeps disappearing, which is very sad indeed because no one is listening to him. Tweedledee and Tweedledum seem to be leading this parade of party-goers.

Every time you turn around you meet a different character antagonist, each tries to confuse, confound and baffle you. Every time you think you know which direction is correct, you are confronted with new rules and inexplicable behavior from the antagonists… all, professing to help you find your way.

Then there is the Queen of Hearts (Bachman), dominant, authoritative, and a regular tyrant in Washingland. She loves to play games, but only if they are played by her rules. If something displeases her, which is pretty much everything, she runs around yelling, “Off with his head, off with his head!” It doesn’t matter what peace offering you suggest, her answer is always the same. She has her own ideas about how Government should work and will not tolerate descent. She will never vote to raise the debt ceiling. Never, never, never.

And then there’s the Mad Hatter (Phillips), who is witless, sophomoric, very often rude, and is always trying to provoke a response. Although when the Queen of Hearts calls upon him to help with the Tea Party he, like everyone else at the Tea Party is afraid of the Queen. The rest of the partiers are the soldier cards of course… marching in lock-step to the whims of the Queen, because they have little regard for the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee or Tweedledum.

So what is our Alice to do? Does she stay to hear the verdict from the Tea Partiers? Does she take Tweedledee and Tweedledum to the woodshed for a good talking too, or does she capture the elusive Cheshire Cat to keep him from disappearing and come to an agreement?

I’ll stay tuned Mr. President, but just remember… you have the trump card up your sleeve that the Queen and her minions don’t think you’ll play… the 14th Amendment. It’s your call as to when the game if over and you send the Cheshire Cat off to lick his wounds.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 75...Dear Mr. President... We were both wrong.

Day 75

Dear Mr. President,

On Saturday, July 23rd I wrote about standing with you so together we could “…get some stuff done.” Stepping up to the plate to see if we could get some movement going in the minds of the masses.

When you said, “…the American people are just desperate for folks who are willing to put aside politics just for a minute and try to get some stuff done,” I actually thought you were talking about ‘everyone’ including me. It turns out we were both wrong.

It reminds me of the famous statement attributed to Martin Niemoller, “First they came…”
First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

The modern version of “First they came…” could be something like this:
First they wanted for cuts in Social Security, I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t on Soc. Sec.
Then they wanted cuts in Medicare, I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t on Medicare.
Then they wanted my retirement, and no one spoke for me, because no one cared anymore.

Niemoller was describing the dangers of political apathy, as it often begins with specific and targeted fear, which soon escalates out of control.

You were wrong about the Republicans, they still won’t budge even though Harry Reid offered trillions in cuts without any increase in revenue… just what they said they wanted. I guess I was right about one thing I’ve said over and over… Republicans are only interested in one thing, and that is to make sure you fail… even if it means destroying this country.

I was wrong when I believed that ordinary Americans, like myself, would be willing to step up to the plate and pitch in to help get things moving. I offered to put my politics aside and ‘pledge’ $100. per month of my Social Security check to help save some programs that are on the chopping block. Programs like day care for the elderly, after school programs for kids, or any other program that benefits the less fortunate, take your pick.

When I posted your letter on my Facebook page I asked people to “like” it if they were willing to help out as well. Guess what? Not one stinking ‘like’… not one stinking thumbs up… not one stinking comment. I reposted it on Sunday, saying the ‘silence was deafening’… still nothing. My husband posted it as well… still nothing. Sadly, Niemoller was right…

So we both learned something, well at least I did… I learned that the average person doesn’t really care all that much. It’s easier to bitch than to put yourself out there or get involved.

The Republicans don’t care if they destroy our country, and the people don’t care because they are allowing it to happen through their apathy and aversion of all things political.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers,
Your Gadfly Granny

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 74...Dear Mr. President... My 'Pledge' to getting some stuff done.

Day 74
Dear Mr. President,

In your last press conference you made several valid and important points, but the last statement you made is probably the most important one… “At some point if you want to be a leader then you lead.” Exactly! You are the President, not Speaker Boehner… You!

Backing up a bit, you did say one thing that I strongly disagree with, and it’s when you said that the thing the American people are most concerned about is the economy and the deficit.  The group you’re talking about are the large corporations, billionaires and millionaires. That’s not the ‘people’ most Americans envision.

All polls show that “The People” are more concerned with job creation… if people don’t have jobs then we will continue this downward spiral. When people have no money to spend the demand for goods goes down and corporations cut back until the demand returns. And where do they cut back? They cut their work force putting more people out of work and creating even less demand for their goods. It’s the vicious cycle we’re in today, and that’s what concerns ordinary Americans the most.

Americans having a job will fix the economy.

These are the folks for you to keep in mind every single day you’re in office. And you’re absolutely right when you said that, “… the American people are just desperate for folks who are willing to put aside politics just for a minute and try to get some stuff done.”

That’s what we want to hear from our President. There’s a reason that there’s only one rooster in the henhouse… one is all that is needed. You are the one and only President in the White House, and that’s all we need. We need you to crow loud and proud so we feel safe and protected… that’s what it means to be the leader-in-chief.

Now back to putting aside politics and getting stuff done. My husband and I are both on Social Security, and both on Medicare… two great programs for which we are extremely grateful and fortunate to have.

While I believe that seniors, those with disabilities, and kids have suffered enough cuts to their programs, while the super rich, big oil and corporations have not suffered one iota, I’m still willing to do even more.

Here’s what my husband and I are willing to do to put our ‘politics’ aside. We are willing to give up $100. of our S.S. income each month. Even though we’re on a fixed income, we can tighten a bit more to help save programs for people with less. I think there are plenty of others that would be willing to do the same, just as there are many rich people that agree to pay more in taxes, knowing they can certainly afford more without sacrificing anything.

The Republicans are great about signing pledges… why don’t you ask the American people to sign ‘your’ pledge to save this country… You can put my name first on the list with a pledge of $100 per month/$1,200 per year. Now let’s get some stuff done… together.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 73...Dear Mr. President... I'm sinking fast... it's overwhelming.

Day 73

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve been sitting at my desk for almost 5 hours trying to decide what to write about today, and now that it’s after 6:00 pm, I’m no closer to finding a topic I can actually tackle. It’s certainly not because there isn’t enough political fodder for a letter, it’s that there is a plethora of extraordinarily important topics to choose from.  So rather than suffering from writers block… I’m suffering from ‘subject block’ brought on by an avalanche of information under which I am completely buried and rapidly suffocating.

I’ve called one of my Senators to ask for clarification on exactly what the “Gang of Six” is proposing and that you seem to be in favor of embracing (at least on the surface). Maybe you do, and maybe you are illustrating once again that you are willing to negotiate with the Republicans. I know it contains a chained CPI, but is it really a good measure to use for Social Security or Medicare? After all, there hasn’t been a raise in COLA in over 2 years, so wouldn’t it unfairly cut S.S. recipients? Confession: I still don’t understand the plan.

Then there’s the issue of Clarence Thomas’s possible conflict of interest on Affordable Care Act that his wife has been paid to fight and will most likely come before the Supreme Court. Has Thomas crossed the line in his involvement with the Tea Party, and should he remain on the Supreme Court? I believe the Supreme Court is suffering a great loss of respect over this and the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, declaring corporations are people.

The growing list of possible Republican Presidential candidates is always good for snarky contemplation based on the candidates views and stances on a variety of subjects. Will Rick Perry, Governor of Texas join the race? On August 6th he’s planning a ‘Stadium Prayer Event’ funded by the American Family Association (which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a “hate group”), and is being held to combat the economic and spiritual crisis facing the U.S. by returning the country to it ‘Biblical’ roots. Yikes, and this man wants to be our President? Has he ever heard of ‘the separation between church and state’?

These are just a few of the hundreds of issues to become educated and informed about, and the task is daunting, to say the least.

Even though there is much to learn, there is also much to be grateful for. You said some weeks ago that your thoughts were ‘evolving’ on the issue of same-sex marriage, and now New Yorkers are celebrating the passage of the states Marriage Equality Act. Along those same lines you have signed the repeal of DADT, now it just needs to be completed so those men and women serving our country don’t have to worry about being unjustly discharged.
And last but certainly not least, the repeal of DOMA that will soon be on your desk for your signature, and which you said you would sign as well. It’s ironic that President Clinton was the Democrat who wrongly signed DADT & DOMA into law and another Democrat that repeals them, and rights that wrong after 15 years. So changing your mind and evolving is a good thing… Abraham Lincoln once said, “I’d rather be right some of the time than wrong all of the time.”

Keep up the good work Mr. President… I’m still rooting for you and this administration.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 72...Dear Mr. President... The Headlines are titillating, but...

Day 72

Dear Mr. President,

Like everyone else across the country, I woke up wondering and excited to hear what would happen in the UK hearings regarding the Rupert Murdoch scandal. Of course all the headlines, news posts and political Facebook pages were buzzing about the shaving cream pie in Murdoch’s face episode, proving once again how collectively juvenile we all are.

People have such short memories and are always quick to lunge into the latest debate about the debt ceiling, what the tea baggers are doing now, what the comedians have to say about the candidates running for president, etc… etc… And I have to admit, I too get caught up in the brouhaha of the top stories and latest headline news.

But then I stopped to think about our men and women still fighting in two wars and wondered what happened to that news being on the front page where it belongs. Yes, the rest of us have short memories, but you can bet your bottom dollar that their families have not forgotten that they’re not home for graduations, summer vacations, births, weddings, and anniversaries. I’m quite sure that they really don’t care what happens to Murdoch, or what political candidate signs what hair-brained pledge. I think that they just want their husband, father, son, brother, or wife, mother, daughter, and sister to just come home.

Just so you know how far these men and women have slipped from our thoughts and our minds, these are the “Top Stories” in today’s news… sadly, the wars are not even mentioned.

While we are mesmerized by current events, and wonder what our midget-minded elected officials are going to do next, and whether or not you’re going to cut S.S. or Medicare, these men and women are still fighting for their very lives.

I know you have not forgotten these men and women Mr. President, but I think we all need to be reminded of a simple truth that deserves our attention each and every day… and that is, “War is Not a Game.”  My good friend and Vietnam Vet, Bill Durston, wrote this song… One cannot listen and not be moved… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oLdQIMaaUs

Please bring our troops home Mr. President… their families need them.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 71...Dear Mr. President... They want to secede, give Texas to China.

Day 71

Dear Mr. President,

We’re hearing a lot about what will happen in this country if the U.S. does not raise the debt ceiling, but we don’t hear much about the repercussions it would cause regarding our debt with China. No other country owns more U.S. Treasury bonds than China… in fact it’s roughly a whopping 1.152 trillion U.S. dollars. To coin an oft used phrase… “I think we have a problem Houston.”

In an article by Linette Lopez, from the Business Insider, the Chinese warn that, “The U.S. is "playing with fire" over its debt ceiling debate and, if a default happens, the Chinese government should have a consultation with the U.S. government. China can promise that we will not sell our holdings of U.S. debt, but the United States must also promise that you will not hurt our interests by guaranteeing the safety of our investment...”

Also in today’s paper, there was a political cartoon from the Boston Herald, by Jerry Holbert that depicts Uncle Sam in a garbage and food strewn frat house (America) with Democrats and Republicans. Uncle Sam is looking out the window watching a man from China walking up to the house and says, “Oh Crud! It’s the landlord!

Well I have a suggestion that could solve a couple of problems for us and may appease the Chinese. Give them Texas. Yup… Gov. Rick Perry once suggested that Texas secede from the Nation because Texas was doing such a stellar job with their economy and job growth, and the rest of the nation was just bringing Texas down, so they wanted out. Texas and China have a lot in common, neither one gives a fig about human rights, they have no problem implementing the death penalty, in fact they boast about how ‘efficient’ they are compared to other states. They both have great track records in denying women’s rights and have no problem discriminating against the gay community.

China could put a Great Wall all around their new ‘state’ and call it ‘Texina’ (rhymes with vagina). Perry could team up with another Texina native son, G.W. Bush, and they could have a little competition of who could out brown-nose the other to curry favor with the Chinese… they could make up a little cheer since they were both ‘yell leaders’ in college.

You might want to have that consultation with China, and ask if they would swap out our debt if we gave them Texas, it has everything they want… plenty of natural resources, plenty of guns they could confiscate, a large work force they could put to work for penny’s, and Rick and George to help them understand the locals.

I only have one favor to ask before you give them Texas. California has a problem with overcrowding in it’s prisons (we’re lousy at executions), so could we please send a good chunk of our prisoners to Texas, it would help our state tremendously, because like the U.S… we have a huge deficit problem of our own. We could use your help and Texas knows how to handle their prison problem better than we do. Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 70...Dear Mr. President... "I wouldn't give your troubles to a monkey on a rock."

Day 70

Dear Mr. President,

Trying to follow all the news about the debt ceiling/budget talks, listening to all the commentators, and fact checking everything to see who’s accurate and who’s not is a big job. So big in fact that I’m quite literally worn out just trying to sort out everything that’s being said and wondering if anything is actually being done.

As David Letterman would say… “I wouldn’t give your troubles to a monkey on a rock!”

With the troubles you’re having you must be beyond exhausted tying to work the GOP gang. Trying to work with Boehner and Cantor reminds me of something that John F. Kennedy said… “You cannot negotiate with people who say ‘what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is negotiable.”

And therein lies the problem… the Republicans want what they want, and they don’t want what you want… no matter what it is. Even if you wanted the same thing they wanted they would figure out a way to not want it after all. In other words… you simply can’t win.

So here’s what I would tell them in the next round of talks… I’ve stolen it from Alan Greenspan, but I don’t think he’ll mind because he’s already come to the same conclusion… along with the rest of the rational world… that you can’t please the GOP. I don’t know when Greenspan said it, or what he was referencing, but I believe it’s apropos to how your ‘negotiations’ with the GOP are going. "I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant” – Alan Greenspan

Isn’t that pretty much what’s been happening Mr. President? Confusing, twisted, difficult for the rest of us to follow the logic of it, but on the other hand, somehow true.

And something else Greenspan said recently, is also quite telling… “The fact that I am in favor of going back to the Clinton tax structure is merely an indication of how scared I am about how the debt problem has emerged and it’s order of magnitude.” – Alan Greenspan
I think that about sums it up for the rest of us too. We’re scared. It’s impossible to keep up with what’s going on in the talks, and sorting the facts from fiction. I think you’ve tried to give us a good idea from your perspective and I appreciate it very much. However, I’m still confused as to how it’s all going to work out, and concerned that once again the ‘average American’ is going to be put on the sacrificial alter and offered up as a ‘compromise’ just to ‘please’ the GOP.

And as so many commentators have recently asked, “Has the GOP gone insane?” I have one suggestion that might work as a cure for the GOP’s insanity… send them all to Michele Bachmann’s husband…  maybe he can ‘pray away the insane.’

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 69...Dear Mr. President... Helping the "least among us"

Day 69

Dear Mr. President,

As you wrestle with the Republican Party, Raising the Debt Ceiling, the Budget and other things of National importance, I tend to notice the little things going on around me or in the local news.

Recently the statistics on homeless students was released by school districts, which use the federal guidelines to identify children who are in “unstable households” or to be more precise “homeless situations.” A sub-headline read: Schools count students lacking a ‘fixed’ residence. No matter how you slice it or try to make it politically palatable by calling them ‘unstable households’ or ‘lacking a fixed residence,’ the bottom line is they are “homeless.”

Even though we are halfway through 2011 and the statistics are probably much greater now, these stats were from 2009. In Sacramento County the number of homeless kids enrolled in K-12 grades was 7,254. In addition there were 1,549 homeless infants, toddlers and preschool kids, for a total of 8,803, and that’s just Sacramento County. Now imagine how that number grows using stats from all across the U.S…. a staggering statistic that I’m sure you know much better than me. Is this our America Mr. President?

On the other end of the spectrum California’s higher education system is in fiscal crisis. While the CA Legislature is cutting higher education (the latest round cut $650 million to the UC system), to help balance the budget, the tuition has tripled over the last decade. To add insult to injury, the CSU Trustees raised the tuition for its 23 campuses 12 percent, while at the same time they gave the new President of San Diego S.U. a whopping $400,000 salary per year - $100,000 more than his predecessor and more than any other campus president and more than any other CSU employee made last year.

The point of this Mr. President is that the super rich continue to be rewarded with greater riches, while struggling school districts, hard working families, and students continue to take the brunt of increased fees and increased tuition. Is this how we take care of our children? Is this how we’re going to educate the next generation, by putting the burden on the very people that are often the ones that have lost their jobs and their homes?

I’m not what you’d call a religious person, in fact, I haven’t been to church (except for weddings or funerals) in over 25 years. But one doesn’t need to be religious or sit in church just to appear to be a good Christian, to know that what’s going on in America is just plain wrong. I’m reminded of the story that Jesus told about a king who commends his subjects because they helped him when he was hungry, thirsty, without clothes, in prison or sick. The subjects professed ignorance of doing these things. The king replied that when they had helped the “least among you,” that is, those in need, they had ‘met’ him.

This is the way that Jesus connected himself with human experience. Where is our humanity today Mr. President, that we allow children to become homeless statistics and we price young people out of a college education? So while you’re dealing with the budget crisis, please consider helping the “least among us” and raise the taxes on millionaires, billionaires and corporations.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 68...Dear Mr. President... The feedback is interesing and helpful!

Day 68

Dear Mr. President,

Every now and then I receive feedback on one of my ‘LTTP’s’ (letters to the President), I enjoy knowing what other people think whether they agree with me or not. I’m sure that you also appreciate feedback on the job you’re doing as President. The last thing a person should want is to be surrounded by a bunch of “yes men” that only tell him/her what they want to hear. Or worse, to have no feedback at all, as if everything you do is done in a vacuum.

Letter 66 to you got quite a response from a few readers mostly supportive of what you’re doing but others doubting that you had the strategy I had outlined for you. One person wrote:  “We cannot lose our focus and faith in the President, he is a visionary, he is who we need for this time. I am proud of him, proud he represents me, and he cannot be all things to all people. Democrat, Liberal, Progressive, but not right wing, not conservative and not Tea Party… stick with him, we will see more of what we all want when he does not have to fight for re-election… Patience, and eat your peas!”

Another man wrote: “I don’t see any reason to accept that everything the President has been doing for the past two years has been some kind of deeply-laid plan. I see no reason to believe that he is not serious about making changes to S.S. that will be damaging to present and future retirees. He’s already said he wants to make those changes.” “…Nope, sorry, I continue to believe that the President ‘folds faster than a lawn chair’ when he’s up against determined resistance. He’s done it twice in the past. But, I will be among the happy many to admit I’ve been wrong, if he continues to stand, at last, as tall as the President of the United States should stand.”

Another writer leapt to your defense and said that there wasn’t another human being that could stand up to the ridicule and bigotry and narrow minded pot-shots that you’ve endured. This person also said, “This is an amazing person, [meaning you Mr. President] and we are lucky to have him leading us… it is not caving… it is making hard choices. This is not a game! It is our country and our people we are working for, not to win this game of chicken.”

Another comment came from a woman calling herself “chachacheryl” and she said it was a good thing I used Route 66 as an analogy for this piece, because it was going along fine until the end when I ran out of gas and veered off the road. She asked if I was a “tiny bit” of a control freak and wondered why I would write a letter to you every day? She asked,  “What on earth will that accomplish, but to generate more letters back to you and using lots of paper, which means you are destroying trees, because of your own control freak issues?” She said I reminded her “…of the seniors who have nothing better to do with their time, but write a “Letter to the Editor” about each thing in life that annoys them! In other words, they are curmudgeons! There is more to life!”

I had to wonder about the trees and paper comment because she was obviously using a computer to comment on the letter. So to chachacheryl, I have this to say… I send them via email along with 100,000 other people all across this nation. No trees, just my own time.

I may be old, I may be a curmudgeon, I have written letters to the editor, and there may be more to life, but right now my country is more important to me than time spent on things for myself. So I will continue to write because we all need feedback from people we don’t know, and hopefully it’s not just because they have an axe to grind, or because they too may be a curmudgeon. 

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 67...Dear Mr. President... Remembering a real Democrat, and what you have in common.

   Day 67
Dear Mr. President,

I was reminded today by a quote from the late Paul Wellstone, and how relevant his ideas would be today… in fact, a lot of what you talk about and what you would like to see for America, reminds me of what Wellstone fought for before his death in 2002.

I know you’re familiar with Paul Wellstone, and you probably have several of his quotes written on sticky notes and stuck to your bathroom mirror.

“Politics is not about big money or power games; it’s about the improvement of people’s lives” and “Never separate the life you lead from the words you speak.”
~ Paul Wellstone

I find it particularly ironic that he was the Senator from Minnesota, and now the Government in Minnesota has been shut down because the politics has become about big money and power games, instead of the improvement of peoples lives.

Wellstone ran an aggressive campaign advocating for, of all things, Universal Health Care, Economic Security, Environmental Protection, and Campaign Finance Reform. Wellstone also wrote and passed reform legislation to ‘ban gifts from lobbyists to Senators,’ and ‘limit the influence of special interests.’ In addition, Wellstone had important victories regarding children’s issues, veterans, and mental health issues. Imagine that.

Does all this sound familiar Mr. President? Isn’t this what you’ve been advocating, and isn’t this what the American people have been wanting and expecting from you and this Congress?

I wonder what our country would look like if Paul Wellstone had lived? It was well known that he supported the causes of farmers, laborers, the rural poor, and the environment. Who is standing up for those groups now? Republicans are desperately trying to destroy unions and laborers, they have nothing but contempt for the poor and are systematically attempting to dismantle all progress made thus far to protect the environment. Meanwhile, the Democrats are ineffective in protecting these vulnerable groups, even though they support them in theory, they seem unable to come together for the ‘good of the people.’

It was no secret that Karl Rove, Dick Chaney, G.W. Bush, and special-interest lobbies wanted to get rid of Paul Wellstone… in fact, at the time, a senior Republican aide confided, “There are people in the White House who wake up in the morning thinking about how they will defeat Paul Wellstone, this one is political and person for them.”

Sadly, that sounds all too familiar as well. Those that want you to fail are unabashedly outspoken in their contempt of all things ‘Obama’… and yes, they would rather see this country fail than to see you succeed. Prove them wrong Mr. President… make Paul Wellstone’s time in the Senate mean something… make yourself proud and this country proud that you care more about the improvement of peoples lives than you do about money or power games. I have faith that you can do it.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 66...Dear Mr. President... The Route's been Ugly, but I get it now.

Day 66
Dear Mr. President,

I’m starting to revise my thinking about what you’re doing with the budget talks, deficit reduction talks and raising the debt ceiling talks. I was thinking about what I would write on Day 66 when it reminded me of Route 66, and how it’s long and winding and very scenic in many places, but in other places it’s rough, barren and not too pretty.

So how do those two things relate? It mostly has to do with you Mr. President, your personality, and how you go about achieving your goals. Like Route 66, you have a complicated history.

1.     You seldom go to the heart of any matter, you prefer to take the circuitous route, moving slowly and methodically toward your ultimate destination.
2.     Every now and then you open the door, step out and see how the weather is. You do that by saying something the Republicans want to hear, like we need to put everything on the table, including Social Security and Medicare. The Right loved it and the Left went absolutely crazy.
3.     Back in the car again you listen to the music coming from the Right about how we need to leave the Millionaires, Billionaires, Big Oil, and Corporations alone so they can create more jobs. Then you switch stations and listen to the Hard Rock coming from the Left about sacrificing our Seniors, the Disabled and the poor. The Left continue to chide you about the lack of jobs coming out of those Corporations. Cries to sign petition after petition crop up all over facebook and through emails, and those on the left start signing like mad… myself included.
4.     Like a good parent you listen to all the brouhaha coming from both camps as you navigate through the twists and turns and down this timeless road, taking your time and checking your navigator to make sure you’re still moving in the right direction. You know where you’re going, you know how you’re going to get there, but you’re not telling anybody exactly what time you’ll arrive. But you know, because you have a plan.

Here’s your plan… lure all the participants into the room and let them point fingers, yell and scream at one another, let them scream at you, and let them remind you of your campaign promises, and how you’re betraying the American people. Let the Republicans thinks they’ve gotten their way again, and let the Democrats continue to have a hissy fit over everything.

I know, because I’m one of those Democrats that’s been having a flippin’ hissy fit almost every day, and you know that’s true because I’ve written 65 other letters pretty much telling you what I think.  It’s taken me a long time, but I get it now. I know where you’re going.

You’ve taken us down the winding route and you let both Parties vent. Then when everyone was in the room and everyone heard where the Republicans wanted cuts, you said fine, but… it has to include ending some tax breaks for Millionaires and Billionaires, we have to close certain loop- holes and make everyone pay their fair share. And then it happens… just like you planned… Eric Cantor storms out of the room, saying he won’t play anymore. You’ve gotten the Republicans to play their hand… they’re the ones that seem unreasonable, they’re the ones who look small and mean, they’re the ones who want to cut S.S. and Medicare, and now the whole world knows it.

Brilliantly played Mr. President… meanwhile you’ve said, nothing is done until it’s signed sealed and delivered… and you haven’t signed a thing, but the Republicans have shown their cards.

Most Respectfully,
Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 65...Dear Mr. President... Pledges, Vows... what's next, Blood Oaths?

Day 65

Dear Mr. President,

So how did those Sunday budget talks go with the GOP yesterday? Are the Republicans any closer to closing the loopholes for the rich and big corporations? Right, I didn’t think so… do you remember why? That’s correct, they signed The Pledge not to raise taxes under any circumstances. You seem to be the only person on the planet capable of acting like an adult in trying to get the two sides together for the common good of the American people.

And now we learn there is another pledge, called The Vow. Republicans are being asked to sign the “Marriage Vow” by “Family Leader” Bob Vander Plaats. Apparently is was supposed to be in support of “Traditional Marriage,” which is just another way to say no “Gay Marriages.” The ever lovely Michele Bachmann, along with the stellar Rick Santorum both signed, but wait… did they actually read what they were signing?

It seems there was a little paragraph that both Bachmann and Santorum seemed to “miss” before they signed yet another ‘family values’ pledge. Here’s what they missed:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it sounds like they think slavery was ‘good’ for African American ‘families’ and that ‘single’ parents are doing a lousy job today… and guess what? It’s all your fault Mr. President! Of course after the ensuing outrage, Bachmann’s spokesperson insisted she only endorsed the “candidate vow.” And after the “offending language” was removed, Santorum said it was the right thing to do, but he was “pleased” to sign the pledge.

I really must be dense Mr. President… Isn’t the Republican Party supposed to be the party that believes in ‘less government’ not more? Any yet they have these nut jobs writing pledges and vows that they have to adhere to or their campaign sources dry up and they don’t get the support of the GOP. They have no problem “starving the beast” which just happens to be the middle class and the poor, but insist that they know what’s best when it comes to women’s reproductive choices, and that being homosexual is still a choice that people make. So being gay is a choice, but women don’t have a choice. These people are frigging unbelievable!

Pledges, Vows… what’s next, Blood Oaths? Do you still think you can negotiate your way out of this box the GOP put you in Mr. President? Do you still think the Republicans will come to the table with anything other than tax cuts and more tax cuts?

I don’t think sooooo…

Most Respectfully,

Your Gadfly Granny
Marcia Reimers

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 64...Dear Mr. President... Tomorrow is Sunday, your Presidency is on the line.

Day 64
Dear Mr. President,

Tomorrow is Sunday and a ‘Do or Die’ day for you, the Presidency, and the Democrats, and Independents that sent you to the White House to do the ‘peoples’ work. Ostensibly it’s about whether to raise taxes or not… whether to end subsidies or not… and whether to cut Social Security or not and whether to raise the debt ceiling or go into default.

Supposedly all parties will come to the table ready to sacrifice and possibly give up something they have pledged not to give up. You’ve said that you are willing to put Social Security and Medicare on the table, but I haven’t heard one single Republican actually say they would favor raising taxes. I know and you know they won’t raise taxes and here’s why.

In facts are this, hundreds of Republicans have either signed or voiced their loyalty to Americans for Tax Reform President, Grover Norquist’s, The PledgeThe Pledge not to raise taxes under any circumstances.  So my question is this… do you really think you are entering this final do or die phase on a level playing field? Because if you do, you’re sadly delusional, I’ve said it over and over again, “You cannot negotiate with Republicans.” Not under any circumstances!

But the deficit isn’t even the biggest problem facing this Nation, the core issue is clearly and unequivocally about unemployment! I know most of your economic advisors have left the White House and have not been replaced, leaving you extremely vulnerable to forces working against your every move. But that’s no excuse… many economists worry that the budget cuts will actually undermine the recovery process. Those budget cuts will affect the fiscal relief the states so desperately need to extend payroll cuts, spend on infrastructure, implement job creation, and get more money into the hands of the people.

With the bursting of the housing bubble and people losing their jobs, approximately $8 trillion dollars of ‘wealth’ simply disappeared and it hasn’t come back. So trillions of dollars that would have gone into the economy, has been lost, drying up the demand for goods and services. When the demand for goods and services drops more people lose their jobs and the vicious cycle continues. With more seniors unable to retire as originally planned, the jobs that would have become available to recent graduates, and young people, are not there.

The loss of public sector jobs is a huge obstacle, and 40% of private sector job gains have been canceled by job losses in the public sector, because the more government reduces spending on public jobs the greater the divide. While layoffs have slowed, new hiring is still 25% below the average in 2007. Many of the unemployed are no longer being counted and the unemployed periods per worker are lasting longer and longer. There is little improvement in part time worker status and wage growth remains low.

All of these things combined make for a ‘perfect storm’ that unless you change your focus from the debt ceiling/deficit to the unemployment issue, you’ll lose before you get in the door. The Republicans want to destroy you… they signed The Pledge, and they would rather plunge this country into a deeper depression than see you succeed. Those are the hard cold facts.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 63...Dear Mr. President... What have you done with Barack Obama?

Day 63
Dear Mr. President,

Yesterday I was questioning you about what’s happening in America that we care more about our bottom line than the people who are at the back of the line… the poor, the homeless, and the disenfranchised. I was looking for answers to problems that seem insurmountable when you consider the shear volume of things that need to be fixed in this country. Quite a few people liked my letter on FB and one lady said she almost cried because she felt the same way.

So today I decided to read your Inaugural Address again to see if I could figure out where and how you strayed from then to now. In the beginning you acknowledged, and I quote…

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood.  Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.  Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.  Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered…” and that, “These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics.  Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.”

The crisis has been exacerbated by the escalation of unsustainable wars, the violence and hatred is exponentially greater, and the economy is considerably weaker because we have not addressed the greed of Wall Street and a Republican Party that refuses to even consider taxing millionaires and billionaires. CEO’s continue to reap billion dollar bonuses in unprecedented numbers, while working class American’s settle for less pay than they were making decades ago, just so they can have a job and put food on the table. Is this the America you promised us?

You said that is wasn’t a question of whether government was too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, health care they can afford, and a retirement that is dignified. I ask you Mr. President, is it working? Is the threat to Social Security and Medicare, that you “put on the table” a step toward a ‘dignified’ retirement?

You told us that…The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.  The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.”

You are correct about that, we are not prospering because this nation continues to favor only the prosperous… the working men and women today are less prosperous in spite of their willing hearts and the countless ‘sacrifices’ being made by everyone, except the super rich. The ‘common good’ is fading fast from the minds and hearts of average Americans, it’s being replaced by cynicism, and disappointment in a system that is still badly broken.

I will continue on Day 64’s letter, but until then, I have one question for you Mr. President,What happened to that Barack Obama, where is the man that promised us change, and gave us hope? That’s the man we put in the White House and that’s the man we want back.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 62...Dear Mr. President... Why does the Republican Party hate Americans?

Day 62
Dear Mr. President,

I have to admit, I’m very discouraged after hearing that Social Security was “in the mix for potential cost savings” in the budget negotiations. Not just because my husband and I are now living on Social Security and our few investments, but because I don’t see any change in the mentality of Washington.

And, it’s not just that Washington and the politicians would rather take away from the elderly and disabled rather than pay taxes on their jets, it’s their mentality. They would rather see an elderly person go without the necessary medicine to stay healthy, rather than raise the taxes on millionaires and billionaires. They would rather put politics before people. Why? Where is their common decency? Where is their humanity? Do they even possess it anymore?

What is happening in America where we are more concerned with our bottom line than we are with the people living below the poverty level, or the homeless, or kids that go to bed hungry? What happened to the idea that we are our brother’s keeper? Why are our vets allowed to succumb to homelessness because they come back so damaged from the war that they can no longer live and work in or society?

When I was a kid we knew all our neighbors, we played and ran through the neighborhood with wild abandon, knowing that if we stepped out of line that someone would tell our parents. We looked out for the younger kids because if we didn’t then we’d all have to go inside. It was a time when people cared, and I just don’t feel or see that any more. People pull into their garages, the door goes down and you don’t see them again until the door goes up and they drive away again.

I know these are different times, at least that’s what everyone keeps telling me… but are they? Don’t kids still need to run and play outside without the fear of some child abductor lurking behind a hedge? Shouldn’t we still look out the window to make sure everyone is getting along and no one is being left out of games? Don’t we care for the least among us anymore?

I read all the articles about what’s going on in the political arena so I can make informed decisions and be a part of the process instead of the problem, but why? When I read the comments from others regarding any given subject, the sense of loathing, hatred, vitriol, and yes… racism, permeate the dialogue until I’m sick to my stomach. What happened to civility in this country, why are we bombarded with hatred and loathing from all around the world?

Isn’t America the first to step up and offer aid to other countries after a disaster like the earthquake in Japan? So why don’t we show the same compassion for our own people that are losing their homes, and their jobs? Why don’t we show the same respect for each other that we used too? And last question… why does the Republican Party hate ordinary Americans?  That must be the case, or they wouldn’t continue to put corporations and big money interests before the men, women, and children of America. Please Mr. President, do something before it’s too late. Do something before the Republican Party destroys what’s left of the ‘good’ in America.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny