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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Letter #115... Dear Mr. President... An Invitation to Dinner.

Letter #115
Dear Mr. President:
Recently, Stuart Leavenworth, the Editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee, wrote an editorial inviting you to visit Sacramento and why that would be good idea. Leavenworth’s editorial began with… “Dear President Obama, Thank you for visiting our Golden State the past week.” Then he went on to tell you about the levee upgrades that are so desperately needed to protect the Natomas area, an area that houses over 100,000 people.
While the Army Corp of Engineers is ready to begin phase II of the $1.1 billion dollar project, the Republican controlled house has once again blocked this and nine other infrastructure projects in spite of the fact that the projects have been rated as “Chief’s Reports” status… the Corps’ highest level status.
I’m going to take it a step further Mr. President… I’m inviting you and Mrs. Obama to be our guests for dinner in our home, (any date and time that would be convenient for you and your busy schedule) in the beautiful community of Rancho Murieta…
Rancho Murieta is a community started in 1969 and built by local Operating Engineers. R.M. is often referred to as one of the best-kept secrets in Northern California, and to us it is a little slice of heaven.
R.M. is just minutes away from Mather Air Force Base and we have a small airport is just across highway 16, with easy access by helicopter. Security is not a problem, as our community has only one way in and one way out with 24-hour gated security.
While Mr. Leavenworth is correct about the levees, and you really should take a look… he makes another point, fixing those levees would create jobs and protect Sacramento residents from a “Katrina” like event. And, while the Republicans insist these levee projects are earmarks, clearly they are not, they will not only protect the people, but vast areas of agricultural acres that produce crops that feed America.
While we don’t offer the glitz of San Francisco or Los Angeles, we are worth taking a look at… and while Mr. Leavenworth would like you to try one of Sacramento’s fine Zagat approved restaurants… I would like you to enjoy a home-cooked meal, and a chance to relax and enjoy the quiet beauty of Rancho Murieta, nestled in the foothills where the white-tailed deer and wild turkeys roam freely through the mostly unfenced neighborhood. A chance for you to unwind, put your feet up and relax.
So the next time you are planning a trip to California, please think about including a visit to the Sacramento area, and a quiet dinner in the modest home of loyal constituent… Me!
Most Respectfully,
Marcia Reimers,
Your Gadfly Granny

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Letter #114... Dear Mr. President...The Whole World is Watching... Oakland

Letter #114

Dear Mr. President:

The other day I wrote you about the Occupy Oakland movement and suggested that you might need to take a position on all the “Occupy” movements that have not only spread all across our country, but all around the world.

The Occupy Oakland fiasco may have faded in the minds of the people viewing, and reading about it from afar… but when one of the protesters that was shot with some type of projectile turned out to be Scott Olsen, an Iraq Veteran, it was the game changer. Someone is Washington referred to it as possible “a Kent State Moment.”

Indeed, people from around the world have rallied in support of Olsen, because he truly represents the movement. Olsen has served his country honorably, has a job that he works at during the day before joining the movement at night. He’s not some “lazy hippy” just there for the fun of it… he’s there because he cares about his country and wants to see some change… just like the rest of the 99%’ers.
Occupy Oakland's Riot started at 4:30am ~ while 'protesters' were sleeping
There are some serious questions about what happened that night that need to be asked… Look at the way the "police" are dressed, they are in full riot gear because "they" created the riot. They knew they were going to be using tear gas and they knew it would create the panic they desired to justify their outrageous tactics. Now think about the time they "chose" to roust the protesters... 4:30 in the morning. Now ask yourself why they "chose" that particular time to "warn" protesters to leave the plaza... because they knew the people were sleeping and would be dazed and confused, giving them the advantage of surprise. In addition, 4:30 am gave them the cover of darkness making it almost impossible to tell what was going on... most video phones don't work all that good in the dark... ask yourself, was all this just a coincidence, or was it specifically designed to give the appearance of complete chaos from an uncooperative group of protesters. And don't forget when the light of day came and people began photographing the "mess"... they made it appear that it was what the protesters left behind, when in fact, it was the mess left by the police completely trashing the protesters belongings. The supposed complaints of rats, filth, sexual assaults, people urinating in public, were completely overblown and exaggerated in order to "try" to give the police action, and Quan’s decision, some credibility and the interim police chief defended the police, saying they believed they used the least amount of force possible to protect themselves.

Really… since when do the police arrive in full riot gear, gas masks, rubber bullets, batons, tear gas canisters, and flash bombs just to wake up sleeping protesters? 

But now that the whole world is watching, Mayor Quan has allowed the campers to return... she says she's not exactly "letting" them camp again... she is asking them not to camp, but that the people will not be "moved out" again because "closing the camp would cause more violence." Isn't it just a little late for that? Isn't she responsible for protecting the citizens 'all' of the time... not just when all eyes are focused of the fiasco she created with her 'police action against the people' and the critical injury of an Iraq Veteran?
Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Scott Olsen deserved better than this… he put his life on the line to protect our right to protest… yes, he deserved better than this… and now the whole world knows it.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

Friday, October 28, 2011

Letter 113... Dear Mr. President...Republicans are Hilarious!

Letter #113

Dear Mr. President:

With all that’s going on in the world today there are plenty of topics to write about, but every now and then it’s good to write about something that I believe to be amusing, so today’s letter should give you quite a chuckle.

As you probably know, California passed a voter created initiative two years ago calling for a Citizens Redistricting Commission (which I applied for but was not selected) to redraw political boundaries and put an end to political gerrymandering.
It was passed with an overwhelming majority of votes, with rules and timelines clearly defined. According to Chairman Stanley Forbes, the commission was very careful in meeting the requirements for creating the districts, and everything had to be vetted by Voting Rights Act attorneys.

The Republicans were not big proponents of this initiative, fearing that it would favor Democrats and they might lose additional Senate seats. Once the maps were complete and everyone had the opportunity to see the new districts, the grumbling started, with calls for referendums opposing the newly drawn lines.

A separate referendum drive against the maps called Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting was filed with the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the legality of the new boundaries. The Republicans have repeatedly complained that the new boundaries favor Democrats that could give the Democrats a two-thirds majority in the upper house, just the margin needed for the Democrats to raise taxes. After all of their efforts the Republicans failed to convince the California Supreme Court to disallow the State’s new maps.

You may be wondering what’s so funny about all of this?

Here’s the downright hilarious part… the Republicans are asking the Federal Government to reject the new maps claiming it’s a “dilution of Latino voting power.“  I don’t know about you Mr. President, but the last thing I ever expected to hear coming from a Republican, is their concern for Latino’s. Isn’t it Republican Governors who are passing laws in state after state restricting voter rights that affect mostly poor and minority voters? Isn’t it Republican Governors who are targeting mostly Latino workers in Alabama and Arizona? Isn’t it the Republican Party that says the Federal Government is too big and too intrusive? And yet… they want the Feds to reject a citizen led initiative passed by a vast majority of Californian’s. Now that's what I call a real knee slapper.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t eating when I read about this because I’m sure I would have choked on my Cheerios… it’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time… the hypocrisy is positively mind boggling… Republicans worried about Latino voters… HA… what a pathetic joke!

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Letter 112... Dear Mr. President... Police Thuggery cannot be Tolerated.

Letter 112

Dear Mr. President:

I’m not sure that you’re getting up to date reports on the OWS movement in other parts of the country, but the Occupy Oakland Movement turned violent and ugly overnight, and I’m not talking about the protesters turning violent and ugly… it was the police.
Photo by Patrick Nichols... Oakland CA. on 10.25.11
"This is what the First Amendment really looks like in America. Take a long hard look, because it is coming to a city near you."

Just a few days ago the Occupy Oakland movement was the poster child for how a peaceful demonstration is supposed to be run, and why it’s important to do it right if we really want people to believe that we want to protect our first amendment right to free speech. It’s important because it sets the movement apart from an ordinary mob that destroys public and private property while running rampant through the streets… like we witnessed in Rome recently.

Our protests are peaceful, respectful, and absolutely non-violent. The only violence by protesters occurred after they were tear-gassed, shot with beanbags and rubber bullets, blasted by sound cannons that made it sound like a war zone, and shoved around like piles of trash. I’ve watched countless videos and listened to protesters and reporters, and by all accounts the protesters were, for the most part non-violent. There were witnesses that saw one man throw a rock and someone else threw green paint on a police officer, but otherwise they did not resist arrest. 

The Occupy Oakland setup had a kitchen set up for feeding the people, a first aid tent to take care of basic health and safety needs, and port-a-potties for sanitation needs. The people had been allowed to “camp” there since the beginning… so what happened on Tuesday at 4:30 am when hundreds of police were deployed in full riot gear to roust the occupiers? It’s been reported that there were rats around and that people were urinating in public, but I have to ask if that’s really true, or just an excuse to stop a group of protesters from becoming a “model” of the movement… a model that other cities don’t want to have duplicated in there town squares and cities. Did someone ‘get’ to Mayor Jean Quan and force her to use near lethal force on a ‘peaceful’ group of sleeping protesters?
Photo by: Patrick Nichols, Oakland, CA on 10.25.11

You may not want to get involved with the “Occupy Movements” Mr. President, but I assure you, they are not going away… When you have single mothers with children, teachers, educators, nurses, union members, and Veterans protesting, you know there is something wrong in America, and it’s not going away any time soon. I strongly suggest you ‘tune in’ and watch some of the Occupy Oakland videos and then contact Mayor Quan and ask her what the heck she was thinking when she ordered the assault on people exercising their right to peacefully assemble.

At some point in time you will need to address the complaints of the 99% because these people are “mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore.”

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers, Your Gadfly Granny

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Letter 111... Dear Mr. President... Corporations don't dig through rubble.

Letter 111

Dear Mr. President:

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big believer in miracles… I’m more of a pragmatist and realist when it comes to most things. But today’s rescue of a two week old baby girl from the rubble of an apartment building 48 hours after the devastating earthquake in Turkey, certainly qualifies as a miracle… even more miraculous was the subsequent rescue of her mother and grandmother.

Three generations rescued by dedicated and determined people working together for a common cause… saving lives. One can only imagine the joy felt by the mother and grandmother after they were rescued, to find out that their precious tiny, vulnerable infant had also survived the devastation.

That’s why it’s so difficult to understand the decision of the Supreme Court when it sided with Citizens United and declared corporations to be people with first amendment rights of free speech. I guess that’s when the expression “money talks”… speaks volumes as to what’s really wrong in Politics.

Was it a corporation digging through the rubble to save lives? Would a corporation continue to claw through tons of cement and steel hour after hour when there is only a slight chance of finding anyone alive? No… corporations are not people… they do not have a heart, they do not care, and they cannot fathom the despair, or the joy that can only be felt by the ‘human’ heart.

The only species capable of speech are people, so it’s only people that need their free speech protected. Yes, corporations are ‘run’ by people, but why should those people collectively have a larger and more powerful voice than just one person? I believe the answer is… they shouldn’t. Each person in that corporation has a right to express their own personal views, but should a corporation have the right to speak for all of them, and if it does then shouldn’t each person have exactly the same position on any given issue in order to be the ‘one’ voice of all the people?

Demanding transparency through the DISCLOSE Act is not enough we must demand a constitutional amendment to repeal the decision entirely. The torrent of corporate spending in the 2010 election was heavily tilted towards Republicans and most of it was anonymous. Regardless of who benefits the most, C.U. is a terrible law.

H.J. Res. 78, by Rep. Donna Edwards would become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution if enacted, and would overturn Citizens United and clarify the authority of Congress to regulate and restrict the political activity of corporations of any sort…

Miracles happen to real ‘people’ and through real ‘people’… so until we find a corporation with a ‘beating heart’ capable of digging through rubble to save an infant… we should all work to rid this country of Citizens United.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Letter 110... Dear Mr. President... The American people are an impatient bunch.

Letter 110

Dear Mr. President:

One down and one to go… the war in Iraq is ending and the troops will be home for the Christmas holidays… What a fantastic gift for them and their families!

I know it’s taken longer than you wanted and longer than we imagined, because as a society we’ve come to expect instant results and instant gratification. We want what we want, when we want it, and become irritable when we don’t get it. But lets face it, that’s completely impossible when it comes to difficult situations that require more than just a snap of our fingers.

I know as a nation we’ve become cynical because things don’t happen in the time frame we expect, but we, as a nation, need to learn patience… I’ve heard that patience is supposed to be a virtue, and it’s one I confess to being short on, but I believe you are absolutely correct in taking your time, in order to do it right.

You have shown infinite patience, you’ve proven it over and over in the three years since elected. Patience with hunting down and eliminating Osama bin Laden, patience in Libya while pursuing Qaddafi, patience in dealing with the North Koreans in getting the remains of our soldiers home from that long ago war, patience in bringing the war in Iraq to an end, and of course, infinite patience in dealing with the party of ‘HELL NO’.

It’s like I said in day 66’s letter… you like to take the slow Route 66 to get to the same destination we’re all bound for… while the rest of us want to take the interstate at the highest speed possible. I have to confess… while it’s absolutely maddening trying to figure out where you are on that Route, the fact that you arrive at the final destination is what’s really important.

We’ve all witnessed what happens when we have a ‘shoot from the hip’ President… that’s what got us into this horrible mess in the first place. The only mission your predecessor accomplished was to dig an impossibly deep hole for you to climb out of, and in digging that hole he’s responsible for the loss of hundreds and thousands of lives, and ten times that many injured. While many lives have certainly been lost on ‘your watch’ and at times you’ve ordered even more troops deployed… which I did not agree with at all, I have to believe that you knew what you were doing.

So Mr. President, congratulations and thank you for fulfilling one of your campaign promises to end the war in Iraq… now it’s time to end the war in Afghanistan. The learning curve when you became President was huge, you were left with one hell of
a mess to clean up, but it’s your mess now and I believe you will deal with this one much faster because the American people are still an impatient bunch… including me.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Friday, October 21, 2011

Letter 109... Dear Mr. President... I guess you can't trust anyone these days.

Letter 109

Dear Mr. President:

A couple of days ago I journeyed from my home outside of Sacramento to the Bay Area to watch two of my grand children while their parents went to a concert in Oakland. Because it takes at least two and a half hours to get there, it requires that I stop at least once for a comfort break.

I used to be able to make the trip without a stop, but since recovering from colon cancer four years ago, I need to chart my course via the various “comfort stops” along the way. The one that is halfway in between consists of a gas station and a Jack in the Box… since I don’t generally order anything at J in the B, I stop at the gas station and perhaps buy a little something to munch on for the remainder of the trip, and then I don’t feel so guilty using their facilities.

On this occasion I stopped, used the facilities, bought a pack of gum and a ticket for that nights Lottery. Upon exiting the store I was approached by a gentleman asking for some gas money. He looked spotless, took out his wallet to show me his drivers license, and explained that he had just been to San Quinton Prison to pick up his son who was supposed to be released, but had been given additional time for bad behavior. He was out of gas and just needed enough money to get to Oroville.

The gentleman asked me what was wrong with people today… he said, “I’m not a bum, I’m clean and honest, I have my wife in the car over there, but people treat me like I’m nobody.” I tried to explain that people were afraid now, afraid that someone was going to rip them off, afraid and suspicious of everyone, afraid that they are being scammed, and that prevented them from connecting with people. It prevented them from even listening to their fellow man… and that their fear was paralyzing. I told him that it had nothing to do with him personally, it was the fear of their own situation that led to the disconnect them and people in need of help.

I gave him what money I had left in my purse (only $16 or $17 dollars), wished him well while we exchanged several hugs… and I went on my way. As I continued down the freeway I realized that I had just given away the fare I still needed for the Bay Bridge. But no worries, I always travel with an “Emergency $100 bill” and I figured that this qualified as an emergency.

When I handed the toll taker the $100, she looked at it this way and that, holding it up to the best light available. I explained that I had given my other money away, but she never said a word… she just kept on chewing her gum, writing down the serial numbers on the bill, then, moving to the front of the car, she jotted down my license plate number. I guess you just can’t trust anyone anymore, not even a grandma.

So stereotypical myths were broken that day… not all men of color need to be feared, and not all grandma’s can be trusted… and so goes just another typical day in our ‘new’ but not better American experience. But just maybe... one man's faith in humanity was restored, even if it was just for that moment in time...

Most Respectfully, 

Marcia Reimers… 
Your Gadfly Granny

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Letter 108... Dear Mr. President... The real Change and Hope the 99% want.

Letter 108

Dear Mr. President:

You are partly responsible for one of the main reasons that the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is not going to go away any time soon… because it involves change. As I remember, “change” and “hope” were by and large the central theme to your campaign.

Once that thought got into peoples psyche, whether they knew it or not, it was not going away no matter what. That’s one of the main complaints of all us 99%’ers, we want “change”… real change. Change in the system that keeps pushing us further and further down the drain hole of despair. It’s what you promised and it’s what we want restored after suffering eight years of near collapse after the Bush era.

Some of things that must change if we are to survive this crisis are: Banks must stop foreclosing on homes, people must be able to find and hold quality jobs, young people must be able to attend college without incurring monumental debt, we must hire more quality teachers and fix our crumbling schools, we must invest in our infrastructure all across the country, we must tax the wealthiest Americans, we must STOP the WARS, we must bring our troops home from all around the world… in short, we must focus on “real change” not the “lip service” of change.

We must refocus that change to bring about peace in this country that people are longing for, and the 99% are protesting so passionately about. And I’m not talking just about peace from war, I’m talking about “peace of mind”… the peace of mind that comes from having a job that pays a living wage, peace of mind that comes from having and being able to afford health care for yourself and your family. Peace of mind that your government is still protecting the environment and making sure our water is safe to drink and our food is safe to eat. Peace of mind that all of these things will bring, and the kind of security we will feel, when all of these things are restored to the American people.

I used the word ‘restore’ because there was a time when we had these things and the peace of mind that true security brings. Unfortunately those things have been systematically eroded by corporate greed, by bailing out Wall Street, and by giving a pass to those corporations that shipped our jobs overseas with only one thing in mind… more profits for themselves. And now they want another pass on the taxes they owe if they agree to bring their profits back into this country.

In addition to the “WARS” around the world that we continue to “WASTE” money on, we need to stop the war against the American people… the war that 99% of the people have to fight every day just to survive, and the war that is enslaving this nation in a mountain of debt and despair. The OWS movement is demanding CHANGE, because without it there is no HOPE for the 99% who built this country.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Letter 107... Dear Mr. President... Ralph and Gloria... Occupy Sacramento

Letter 107

Dear Mr. President:

Until now I have been reluctant to write about the OWS movement, and yes, I am calling it a movement because I’ve been moved by the people that I’ve seen in the news and on multiple web sites. On Oct. 15th my husband Gary, and I, joined the Occupy Sacramento movement and were able to meet and talk with people about their motivation for being at the protest that day.

In so doing, we met Ralph and Gloria Hickman who brought a hand lettered sign that read: No Jobs, No Money, No Medical – No HOPE… I told them that I write letters to you almost every day, and asked them if they would mind telling me their story. They readily agreed because they want you to understand that their plight is the plight of many all across the country, the plight of the 99%… here is their story.

Ralph is 62 and Gloria is 61, both have worked most of their adult lives, but because of their health issues and the economy they have both been out of work for some time, aside from collecting cans and plastic bottles, their only income is Ralph’s SS income of $856 a month. Ralph has emphysema, lung cancer, lymphatic cancer, heart problems, and severe pancreatitis. Gloria has high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma. Over the last two years both have applied multiple times at a free clinic… have qualified 4 times, but have yet to see a doctor. Ralph has had to be hospitalized 3 times recently, and because they make just over the minimum amount, he does not qualify for Medical and is not old enough for Medicare. Their medical bills from the hospital have already exceeded $30,000.

Because they are unable to afford even the most basic medications for their medical conditions, they have been forced to purchase their drugs on the black market. Most of which is pain medication for Ralph because of his cancer. And even though the medications have expired dates, Ralph says it does allow a little relief from the pain.

Yes Mr. President, Ralph and Gloria are part of the 99% that we keep hearing about, and unfortunately their story is not unique. We saw people in wheelchairs, people with canes, and people with obvious medical conditions. It would have been easy for Ralph and Gloria to stay home and feel sorry for themselves, but they felt it was important to “show the real faces of the 99%.”

Although the 1% would like us to believe the 99% are drug-addled hippies, or people that are just lazy whining ne’er-do-wells. These people are families with children, seniors, college students, teachers, nurses, people who have lost their homes, and people of all ages, ethnicities, and circumstances.

Yes, they were people like Ralph and Gloria, people that have no work, no money, no medical and…NO HOPE. Is this the picture of America you envisioned Mr. President?

What is your plan for all of the Ralph’s and the Gloria’s that need immediate help? I want to know… and they need to know… What is your plan Mr. President?

Most Respectfully, 

Marcia Reimers 
Your Gadfly Granny

Friday, October 14, 2011

Letter 106... Dear Mr. President... Just an Ordinary Joe...or Maybe an Extraordinary Joe.

Letter 106

Dear Mr. President:

Today I want to tell you about Joe…  no, not Joe the plumber, but Joe from Tennessee. Joe is a wonderful guy with a great attitude about life in spite of his myriad of problems. The thing about Joe is, he’s struggling along with millions of other Americans, but he’s not complaining… he’s not even resentful of his plight, but I believe Joe’s story needs to be told, and I believe Joe’s face is the face of our seniors, and I believe we need to do better in protecting all the “Joe’s” of this country because they are the ones who built it with their blood sweat and tears.

At 68 years of age Joe has heart problems, severe diabetes, and a degenerative eye disease. He is currently collecting Social Security and two small pensions. Joe’s wife, Eileen, is 61 and still working and taking care of Joe as well. Joe has Medicare and Eileen’s insurance, but the co-pays are very high, as are the prescription drug costs.

Although Joe qualified for a “mobility chair” somehow the paperwork from his doctor was incorrect and he didn’t get the chair… undeterred he found an inexpensive used chair and invested a few dollars to make it usable. As Joe says, “We live to stay healthy… we can barely afford to live, between rent, food, and medical care, we can’t afford to buy clothing or go out to dinner.”

To add insult to injury, Joe and Eileen have a cumulative debt with the IRS of $18,000. Joe says they have an “account” with the IRS but whatever payback they make in the form of monthly payments is wiped out by the newest years return. They have interest and penalties involved for each year and are trying very hard to get it cleared up. As Joe puts it, “We are resigned to paying the IRS; after all, we incurred the obligation…” and the IRS doesn’t really care that we can barely afford to live. I don’t believe that Joe has tried to ‘mediate’ his tax bill because as he says, “We don’t want to get into trouble with them.”

So as Eileen continues to work and take care of Joe, Joe reaches out through Facebook to connect with ordinary people like himself. As we became “FB Friends” it was clear to me that Joe’s story was one I wanted to share with you Mr. President. I wanted you to hear about just one person reaching out, without complaint, but with a clear sense of obligation and commitment to continue to pay his debts.

And then it occurred to me Mr. President…. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Wall Street bankers, the hedge fund managers, and the big wig CEO’s felt that same sense of responsibility to this country that Joe does? And just maybe, if they did, we wouldn’t be in the mess were in now and there wouldn’t be the need for the OWS protests.

I’m not sure if Joe will ever get to enjoy his “golden years” with Eileen but you can be sure, he’ll keep plugging away without complaint, because that’s just who Joe is.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Letter 105... Dear Mr. President... Too many distractions... time to end the Wars.

Letter 105

Dear Mr. President:

With all the distractions around us evolving minute by minute it’s hard to stay focused on the things that are really important. Specifically, I’m speaking about the men and women still stationed around the globe, fighting to keep the peace (if you can call it that) in Iraq, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

While many are focused on the Occupy Wall Street protests, or the increasingly crazy GOP candidates debating everything from 9-9-9 to names on rocks in Texas… we still have men and women putting their lives at risk everyday for America.

While the need to put people back to work and get our economy moving again is critical… it is also critical that we remember our service members and the sacrifices they continue to make day in and day out.

Just to put things in perspective for a minute… the cost of the war as of September has been $1,252,755,589,828.00 and counting. Yes, that number is Trillion… with a capital “T”. The U.S. military deaths in Iraq are 4,475, and in Afghanistan it’s 1,777. That’s just the “military” deaths, it doesn’t include contractor or civilian deaths. (Statistics compiled and provided by Grandmothers of Peace International)

I realize you have a lot on your plate just keeping this country from completely going into the toilet, but these men and women must not be forgotten. They need to remain in the forefront of everyone’s mind… to do less is to make their sacrifices just another footnote in history… we simply cannot do that. It’s not fair to them, it’s not fair to their families, and most of all it’s not right.

So perhaps Mr. President, it’s time to bring our men and women home so we can collectively focus on jobs and the economy. We can no longer ask our service men and women to put their lives on hold, or ask their families to continue to sacrifice while we squabble over the terminal gridlock in Congress. Squabble over who’s being an obstructionist, who signed what pledge, and who’s right and who’s wrong.

When peoples lives are at stake, those lives must take precedence over everything else that’s going on in this country and around the world. If it was Malia, or Sasha wouldn’t you feel that way Mr. President? Put yourself in the shoes of the parents with kids serving in Afghanistan, and ask yourself this… I’m I doing everything possible to end that war? Have you put those men and women at the top of your priorities list, or have they already become less important that the 99%’ers?

It’s time to end the wars, stop the hemorrhaging of American dollars in wars that cannot be won, and most of all… stop the loss of even one more American life.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Monday, October 10, 2011

Letter 104... Dear Mr. President... Lungren is lying to seniors... again.

Letter 104

Dear Mr. President:

In my letter last Friday I mentioned that I could feel the tide turning and the Republicans getting nervous after receiving a call from a GOP pollster asking my opinion about your performance so far.

While I’ll admit to not being crazy about the escalation of the wars and the billions of dollars wasted on those wars… the one thing I cannot fault you on is your support of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for seniors.

I know you have proposed a deficit-reduction plan that includes cuts to physicians and hospitals in rural areas (that traditionally receive more in benefits) and requiring prior authorization for expensive imaging services that are often unnecessary. However, you have always made it perfectly clear that those cuts would have to be coupled with a slight tax increase on the wealthiest Americans.

So you an imagine my utter surprise to open my morning paper to see a half page ad from Congressman Dan Lungren saying that “California seniors can count on Congressmen Dan Lungren to stand up against the Obama Medicare plan.” What! In addition, it said that, “President Obama’s Medicare Plan would balance the budget on the backs of seniors!” They asked people to call Lungren and thank him for standing up for seniors and fighting to protect and preserve Medicare.

I have the misfortune to live in the 3rd Congressional District that Congressman Lungren pretends to represents, and he is no friend of seniors and no friend of mine. I’ve been to his town hall meetings and listened to his utter distain for the plight of seniors, the poor, the uninsured, and all things remotely associated with anything that benefits ordinary citizens.

The American Action Network paid for Lungren’s half page ad, and I’m quite sure that with the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, it’s just the first of many more to come.

You need to keep the heat on and continue to play hardball on the tax issue, so that Republicans like Lungren, know you mean business when you said you would veto any deficit-reduction package that reduces Medicare benefits for seniors but fails to raise serious revenues from the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations.

I will send the original newspaper ad via snail mail so you can see the first of many false claims the Republicans will be hurling your way in the months to come.

Thank you for continuing to support ordinary Americans, and particularly us seniors, we need an advocate in the White House sticking up for seniors… YOU!

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Friday, October 7, 2011

Letter 103... Dear Mr. President... I feel it in my bones... at last!

Letter 103

Dear Mr. President:

I can feel it in my bones… the tide is changing and change is coming. At last I feel the voices of the American people are being heard. The “Occupy Wall Street” protests are finally catching the attention of politicians and people around the world.

When I started writing my ‘Letters to the President’ and posting them on my BLOG at: www.washboardexpress, people asked my why? What’s the point? What good is it going to do? Do you really think the President will see even one of your letters?

Naysayers all… except, my husband Gary… he knew it was the only way I could express my frustration at what was happening to my country. Over the months I have begged, cajoled and chided you for not speaking up about the issues confronting ordinary Americans. You may not have seen any of my letters, but I have too believe that I’m not the only one telling you to “speak up”… “get tough”… and call the Republicans on their obstructionist politics.

You did just that yesterday during your press conference… I cheered when you called out House Speaker John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, noting that McConnell has said "his number-one goal was to beat me… not put Americans back to work, not grow the economy, not help small businesses expand, but to defeat me. And he's been saying that now for a couple of years." As Etta James sings her famous song… “At Last.” At last, you’re taking the bull by the horns and pushing back… At Last!

It must be working because the Republicans are starting to get a little nervous… just last night I got a call from some GOP poll group out of D.C., asking me what I thought of your performance so far. Initially, not realizing this was a GOP pollster, I replied that your performance so far was mixed… some good, some not so good. Then he started to talk about your “failed” economic policies… and that’s when I realized just whom I was talking too. I reminded him about GM and Chrysler being saved, and other measures that you’ve tried to do to help the American people, and how the GOP has thwarted your every effort.

He then said something about Americans only realizing $13 dollars in real savings under your policies… and that’s when I lost it. You see I’m not like you Mr. President, I don’t remain calm when attacked, and I didn’t remain calm when you were attacked. I attacked back, firing both verbal barrels at once. My husband blanched at my verbal assault on this poor guy, telling him just what I thought about the Republican controlled house, and yes, I did use a few colorful expletives in the process of my re-education of this hapless guy, but I was in a zone and there was no going back. When I finished, he wished me a nice evening, and I wished him one as well. I’m quite sure he put a line through my name and put me on a “do not call list.”

Did I feel better… you bet I did! Right down to my core and through all my bones… I felt great!

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Letter 102... Dear Mr. President... The missing 'chicken in every pot'

Letter 102

Dear Mr. President,

The “chicken is every pot” is about to come to a screeching halt for unsuspecting consumers all across the country.

“A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” is a quote often said to have come from a campaign speech by Herbert Hoover, but it was actually a Republican promise of better days ahead, day that would surely lead to the eradication of poverty. Now that same Republican Party has turned its back on a certain segment of our population that helped put the chicken in that pot… Latino’s.

After a recent court ruling in Alabama by Federal Judge Blackburn, upholding provisions in the law that allow local police to ask for immigration papers during routine traffic stops, and requiring schools to ascertain the immigration status of students at registration time, Latino’s are leaving the state in droves. Overnight thousands have pulled their children out of school, left their jobs, abandoned their homes, and pets that they are unable to take have been given to friends or set free.

Local property owners report their occupancy rate has dropped by as much as 25%, restaurants and stores are considerably slower… not just in the drop in paying customers, but also in the workers that provide services for those customers.

One poultry plant held a job fair seeking people to do the work many Latino’s were doing, and although they had plenty of applicants, time will tell if those hired will continue to do a job that most wouldn’t do before the recent recession.

Republican Senator Arthur Orr, of Decatur, said that labor shouldn’t come from outside, even though that labor pool actually cut costs for most businesses.

Meanwhile, farmers, contractors and home builders say the law has already had a devastating effect on their businesses, leaving crops rotting in the fields and critical shortages of labor. Poultry processors and home manufacturer must now choose from a pool of inmates to fill the jobs previously held by many Latino’s, even Latino’s that were fully documented.

I guess only time will tell if the law will bring jobs to the citizens of Alabama and protect the taxpayers as promised, or whether it will bring economic disaster as many fear. So when the price of chicken goes up and we can no longer afford to put one in our pot, we’ll have nobody to blame but ourselves and our xenophobia.

Most of all Mr. President… it is a sad commentary on our society that human beings are driven from their homes, their jobs, their schools, and their community because they live in fear of being expelled from a country that has targeted them as the enemy, when the real enemy goes unchallenged and unpunished… corporate greed combined with xenophobia.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Monday, October 3, 2011

Letter 101... Dear Mr. President... How you could lose 101 million votes.

Letter 101

Dear Mr. President,

There are about 101 million reasons why you need to address two very insidious things currently taking place under the noses of the American people. Those 101 million reasons are potential votes that you could lose in the next election.

While many people are distracted by the circus-like shenanigans happening on the GOP campaign trail, efforts have been underway by the Republican Party to usurp yet another election in 2012, an election you must win Mr. President.

Since Republicans won control of many Statehouses in November 2010, fourteen (14) have passed laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The Republicans claim it’s to stop voter fraud, although the Supreme Court, even while upholding an Indiana law, said they found no evidence of voter fraud. So why the rush to pass these restrictive laws… It’s very simple… to make it harder for the young, disabled, rural, elderly, homeless, minority and low-income Americans to vote. It’s the most significant rollback in voting rights in decades. Although this should come as no surprise, as most of those affected are traditionally Democratic voters… it should most certainly be a wake-up-call for all Americans.

To show you how absurd these laws are, one only need look at the Texas law that allows persons with a license to carry a concealed weapon would be an acceptable form of ID, but not student ID cards. Does that sound fair to you Mr. President?

The other nefarious plot by the Republican Party is cloaked in secrecy under the law passed by the Republican Congress in 2006 that requires the USPS to “prepay” 75 years of health benefits for its workers. No corporation has ever been required to prepay like that. No government agency has ever had to prepay like that, so why did they pass such an egregious law targeting the USPS, even though the USPS has not received one thin dime in tax money since 1970?

Could it be that Republicans want to force the USPS to close thousands of rural post offices, and laying off thousands of postal workers in order to gain yet another advantage at the polls? Many rural areas depend on ‘vote by mail’ ballots delivered by the USPS, and without those post offices, many will not be able to vote. Neither UPS nor FedEx are required by law to service rural or sparsely populated areas, as is the USPS. As Ralph Nader recently pointed out, closing regional offices hurts rural people, it hurts the poor, it hurts the elderly, and the disabled. Yes, that’s right… the very same group that traditionally vote for Democrats.

So Mr. President, if 101 million votes are not enough to catch your attention, then I don’t know what is… I just know that you really need to address these issues now, before it is too late to stop this assault on American voters rights.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny