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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Letter #134... Dear Mr. President... Thank you and Happy New Year!

Dear Mr. President:

What a year this has been for both of us… 2011 with all it’s ups and downs has still been a year with much to be grateful for, and I for one, am grateful that you are my President. In 2012 you will continue to be my President because I have no doubt, what-so-ever, that you will be re-elected again by an overwhelming majority.

Happy New Year Mr. President... 2012 is going to be the Year of the Democrats
You must be ecstatic with the cast of characters the GOP is parading around the country under the guise of Presidential candidates. I have loved every minute of each debate, all faux pas uttered by each clown at every campaign stop, and the incredible spate of out and out lies spewing forth like foam from the mouths of a pack of rabid dogs. This GOP clown show is going to be the gift that keeps on giving, and you will be the ultimate benefactor of their collective insanity and stupidity.

In spite of the intractable obfuscation coming from the Republican Party, you have managed to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden, end the Iraq war, pass health care reform, end DADT, and extend the temporary payroll tax cut for the middle class.  

For these things, and much more, I thank you Mr. President! Thank you for being who you are and caring about ordinary Americans, and thank you for bringing honesty, intelligence and integrity back to this country and the White House.

I just want you to know that while so much more could have been accomplished, the only mistake you made was believing that you could get even the tiniest bit of cooperation from even one Republican. Something has changed in the GOP’s DNA, they seem hell bent on self-destruction instead of self-preservation… they’re a tad off center, if you know what I mean. (Some call it batshit crazy)

While the majority of my letters contain some bit of advise… this one is intended to simply say thanks for being my President. I look forward to 2012 knowing that we, as a country, and as ordinary citizens, are in good, capable, caring hands.

While many say that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats, that both parties are owned by Wall Street, that corporate interests trump people interests… there is still one big difference between the parties… the Democrats care about human beings, they know that $1000 dollars is a lot of money for ordinary families, and they know that we are not put on this earth to accumulate as much money as the Koch Bros. We’re put here to help one another, to be our brothers keepers, and to give help to the least among us… because that is what makes us human and that’s why we’re proud to be Democrats.

Happy New Year Mr. President… the best of everything in 2012… and thanks again.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers,
Your Gadfly Granny

Friday, December 23, 2011

Letter #133... Dear Mr. President... Yes, $40 makes a difference.

Dear Mr. President:

President announces extension of tax cuts for the middle class
Earlier this week you asked the American people what $40 dollars less in their paychecks each week would mean to them or their families. Well it turns out quite a lot, as over 300,000 people responded to your question you learned that it does make a difference in a variety of ways most of us cannot even imagine.

While you learned about what a difference $40 dollars may make in peoples lives, the people also learned the difference between whom the Republicans care about and who the Democrats care about. The Republicans only passed the two-month extension of benefits under duress and pressure from you, House and Senate Democrats, a few Republicans concerned with GOP re-election prospects, and the public.

We learned that Republicans would rather continue to cut taxes and protect the wealth of 385,000 multi-millionaires rather than extend the tax cuts and unemployment benefits for 160,000,000 American families, once again proving that they do not care one iota 99% of the population.

Here’s what the Republicans do not understand about that $40… when you take it away from the wealthy, it means nothing, literally and figuratively, because it would not alter their lives or their spending habits in any way what-so-ever. When you take that $40 away from average families, it comes at the expense of not only the family, but, our already struggling economy. If that $40 is missing every week from someone’s paycheck, it would not be available to purchase groceries, or purchase cloths, buying gas, eating out, etc… etc… which in turn would hurt businesses that are just beginning to see a turn-around in the economy.

The snowball effect of those losses could devastate our fragile economy just when we can see recovery on the horizon, and that’s the difference between Republicans and Democrats… they don’t care about recovery as much as they care about seeing your presidency fail, which in turn means that America fails and more Americans suffer.

What the Republicans seem incapable of understanding, is that $40 can quite literally, mean the difference between life and death. While we heard about the things people would have to do without, there are some things that people cannot do without. That $40 can be the weekly tank of gas that gets a person to dialysis, or chemotherapy sessions, or for the daily radiation treatments to shrink tumors in cancer patients… yes, it can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Speaker Boehner stands alone after caving to public pressure
The difference between what you are trying to do for the American people is evidenced by the press conference with ordinary citizens standing with you… while in contrast, Speaker Boehner stood alone to announce that his Party had backed themselves into a corner and the only way out was to vote for the extension of tax cuts for the middle class… something they were loath to do… even though this is the ‘season of giving.’

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Letter #132... Dear Mr. President... A Promise Kept, and One We Need.

Dear Mr. President:

It’s been about a week since my last letter, but like most Americans I’ve been a little busy this year. Not with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, because we keep it relatively simple by just buying gifts for our nine grand children, but with health related issues of family members.

Yea... they'll be home for Christmas!
So this letter is really about two things… first and foremost is my eternal gratitude that all of our troops in Iraq will be home for the holidays. This is first not because it is the most important thing in my life at the moment, but because it affects so many more lives.

The mothers who will be able to rest now, knowing that their sons and daughters are out of immediate danger. The wives that will be able to go to bed at night with their husbands lying safely beside them… even if they may be suffering from PTSS, or other maladies related to the war, because at least now they can work on the problems together, as a family. The brothers and sisters that have their sibling restored to their lives even if they’re miles apart… at least they know that sibling is once again out of harms way. And then there’s the children… the children that no longer have to go to school, or go to bed wondering if mom or dad will ever come home. I can’t even imagine how stressful that must be on children, especially since they hear so many stories of parents that don’t return home.

Not home for the holidays
So thank you for keeping the promise you made during your inaugural address… it may have taken longer than any of us imagined, but it is a promise kept. In addition, it was done in an orderly methodical way that benefitted not just our soldiers but the Iraqi’s as well… and thank you very much… done without all the “Mission Accomplished” false bravado exhibited by GWB on the USS Abraham Lincoln, back in 2003.

Secondly… once again I am grateful for Medicare and the benefits it has afforded my family. Most specifically my son Jeff who’s on disability has just recently been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. He’s one of those people that for whatever reason (we joke that if it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all), has been plagued with health problem since he was in his teens. He had a kidney transplant at 20, lens implants for cataracts in his 20’s, bi-lateral hip replacements in his 20’s and again in his 30’s, and now this devastating diagnosis.

But on the positive side… he’s been covered by Medicare and had excellent care, and for this, I am extremely grateful. I know of too many people that do not have any insurance and are suffering because they lack the basic resources so necessary to fight, or even manage the ravages of cancer. So in one sense, Jeff is one of the lucky ones… and for the rest that aren’t as lucky… you must work to change the status quo and either provide Universal Health Care, or expand Medicare to cover those without insurance, before the end of your next term in office. Yes, I said your 'next term' because you will be re-elected.

Remember that health care is a 'basic necessity' for everyone… not a right or a privilege for  just the rich and well off. Please work on that Mr. President, and thanks again for all you do.

Most Respectfully, 

Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

Friday, December 9, 2011

Letter #131... Dear Mr. President... Why I Champion the Underdog

Letter #131

Dear Mr. President:

They say that we are often shaped by our earliest memories, and that we only have strong memories of the things that were either very happy or conversely, very sad or unhappy.

What being left out looks like.
My earliest memory is when I was not quite 4 years old and I was standing on the front porch of our home in Alameda looking through the front window at my sister opening her birthday presents. I was locked out of the house because my sister only wanted her school friends at her party, not her little sister. I recently asked my sister if she remembered that or was I just imagining it? She said she did remember and has often wondered why our mother let her do such a cruel thing.

The simple answer to that is, because she wanted my sisters birthday to be special and my sister was only 7 years old and wanted a birthday without her ‘baby’ sister interrupting. My mother, on the other hand, should have known better, she should have explained that while I was younger, and may be pesky at times, I was still her sister, a member of the family and would not be ‘locked’ out.

So that simple memory of being shut out of an event, is probably why I have always been such a fierce supporter of the ‘underdog’… I simply cannot stand to see anyone ‘left out’ or treated as somehow unworthy, undeserving, or unequal in any way. And that is why I reacted so strongly to the CA Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony on December 7th when the children and their parents were fenced off from the festivities. It’s bad enough that the tax paying public was denied equal access, but watching the kids treated like wretched little animals, held back by fences, as if they were dirty, cur dogs… was just too much… a disgusting example of  ‘class warfare’ at its worst.

The same kind of class warfare is being played out in Alabama… having passed one of the most stringent immigration laws making it illegal for an immigrant to fail to carry registration documents. What seemed like a good idea, and a good way to get rid of the ‘immigrants’ they don’t want in their state… ‘Hispanics’… and after making fools of themselves by arresting not one, but two foreign executives of the Honda and Mercedes plants… Robert Bentley, the brilliant Governor, who was eager to sign the legislation into law, is now back-peddling because of the backlash from big business.

Gov. Bentley is now contacting foreign executives to tell them their companies are welcome in Alabama… “We are not anti-foreign companies. We are very pro-foreign companies,“ he said.  So now we get to the meat and potatoes… he’s pro-foreign as long as it’s the ‘right’ kind of foreign… the kind of foreign that brings big money to the state… not the kind of foreigners that are there to pick the crops, clean the motel rooms, or wash dishes in restaurants, but the ‘good’ kind of foreigners that build cars.

If that’s Alabama’s example of “Southern Hospitality”… I think I’ll just stay home.

Most Respectfully,
Marcia Reimers, Your Gadfly Granny

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Letter #130... Dear Mr. President... When Did Our Children Become Security Risks?

Dear Mr. President:

What has happened to our country? When did ‘we the people’ become the enemy? When did parents pushing strollers, and carrying small children become a threat to our government? And how is it that we’ve come to fear children to such a degree that we need to keep them behind fence barriers?

I guess the answers to those questions are… when they come to the California Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. I was always under the impression, and correct me if I’m wrong, that ‘we the people’ collectively own our public places and public buildings. Apparently unless you obtained a red wristband and were part of some elite group, were you actually ‘allowed’ to get close to the annual tree lighting event at the Sacramento State Capitol.

Last night as part of my birthday celebration, my husband and I attended the so-called ‘public’ tree lighting ceremony. However, when we approached we noticed that metal barricades had been set up surrounding the event. The barricades extended from each side of the west entrance building to the sidewalk and around. Inside the fenced area were approximately 200 chairs set up in front of tree and a stage. I’m still not sure who most this select group was but it was my guess that these were capitol staffers and their families. There were tables set up with coffee, hot chocolate and cookies for the ‘insiders’ and several Santa’s passing out programs and candy canes to the lucky children inside.

Canned food stack blocking view
Those of us outside had nothing, nada, zip, zilch. The three little girls clinging to the fence just in front of us were quietly waiting for something to happen… all the while watching various kids from the inside come over to the fence and throw their empty cups in the garbage placed next to the barricade. To the right of us was a huge stack of canned goods on pallets intended for the homeless or food for families that was donated by local grocers. That’s wonderful, but for those of us on the outside, it only served to further block an already limited view.

And then there was the ‘security’ of this very dangerous event… men on the roof of the capitol, men in black trench coats with the earphone thingy in one ear, state troupers in uniform, city police, and last but not least… the three horsemen of the apocalypse on huge Clydesdales standing by in case… in case of I don’t know what.
Secret Service Trench Coat Guy
The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse
 I can certainly understand setting up a tent or staging area for the politicians and dignitaries… I can even understand ‘roping’ off some of the seats for the families of those performing and other ‘important’ people, but about a third of the seats weren’t even used. And once the important people were seated, why couldn’t the rest of us be allowed in… to get just a little closer to tree and the performers?

What were they afraid was going to happen? Did they think we were going to mug the Santa’s and steal their candy canes… were we going to rush the Christmas tree and steal the ornaments? These were families, and ordinary citizens that came to see a tree lighting… have we become so cynical and frightened of each other that we need to leave children clinging to barricades just to listen to carolers and watch a tree be lit?

What did these kids learn from this experience? The ones on the inside learned that they were somehow better and more privileged then those on the outside. That 1% mentality we see being played out across the country, is that what they felt? And what about the kids on the outside, how did they feel watching Santa pass out candy canes to the ‘good kids’ on the inside? Were they feeling like the 99% of us that feel left out of the ‘perks’ afforded the 1%?

 Hooded child on fence looking in.
I have to tell you Mr. President, I was ashamed of Governor Brown, Mayor Johnson, and everyone else associated with this event. Ashamed at how we as a society would allow this to happen and then tolerate it. How dare they fence families off from a public event? How dare they treat some children like second-class citizens denying them the same experience as the ‘inside’ children? How dare they treat taxpaying parents like common criminals without the slightest provocation? Don’t our taxes support those buildings, those grounds, that Christmas tree, and the staff that erected it? Yes, the tree itself was donated, but not the labor to erect it, decorate it, protect it, and the electricity to light it night after night… those are public funds and the public was denied equal access to this public event… shameful! Disgusting! Appalling! And don’t even get me started on how “unchristian” like this spectacle was.

What has this country come too, that we treat people this way? Don’t tell me it’s because our society is any more dangerous then it’s ever been, because I don’t buy it. Could it be that those 1%ers, those inside the fencers, know that they have done nothing to deserve that kind of special treatment, and the rest of us have done nothing to deserve being treated as an outside the fencer? Are they afraid we just might get a tad bit angry over such unequal treatment?

If I had been a parent of those ‘outside children’ I would have taken them home the minute I saw the barriers and realized that my children weren’t special enough to be inside. I would have never subjected them to the humiliation of being treated as second class… unworthy of a candy cane from Santa, or a cup of hot chocolate on a very cold night, kind of children And treated like the garbage cans put in front of them for the inside children to discard their cups and candy cane wrappers kind of kids.

Am I mad? You bet I am… I’m mad at, and for every one of us that have allowed our country to fall to this level of degradation and segregation… and you should be mad too. You should be mad as hell, that as President of this once great country, that we, as a society, have sunk this low… that we are now afraid of children.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Letter #129... Dear Mr. President... "It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want too..."

Dear Mr. President:

Your Gadfly Granny is 66 today!
“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want too…” Today is my 66th Birthday and I’m so happy to be ‘vertical and ventilating’ because every day above ground is a great day. So what is there to cry about, you ask? Plenty.

Not for myself because I’m has happy as a pig in mud, but for the millions of people who have lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their health coverage, and yes… lost their hope. I cry for the children all over the world that go to bed hungry, or live in such miserable conditions that there is no future for them. I cry for our men and women overseas that will not be home for Christmas, and for those that may not make it home at all.

I know these are things you cry about also, because I know you are a good and decent man. I know that you feel the pain of the people that write you gut wrenching letters… most of which you don’t see because there are just too many, but you know about them all the same. I also know there is very little you can do about most of the misery people are experiencing during these trying days, and I know how much you would love it to be otherwise.

I know that 70 years ago today, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, this country was forever changed. What have we learned over the last 70 years? Not much it seems. We’re still at war, we’re still faced with economic hardships not experienced since the depression, and this country is struggling for it’s very survival.

What is different is that we’re also fighting each other, and that is a monumental tragedy. Our common enemy is ourselves. During WWII this country pulled together for the common good of the people, the country, and the world, but not anymore. We fight over nuances now… like who’s paying a higher percentage in taxes, the middle class or the rich? Who creates jobs, the wealthy corporations, or the small business owner? Does life begin at conception, or when a heartbeat can be detected? Which of the current crop of candidates is the real ‘family values’ candidate? How many divorces are acceptable before a candidate becomes unacceptable… like any of this minutia is even remotely important in the larger scheme of things.

What is important, is that we need to find a way to stop this ridiculous bickering and focus on what really matters… feeding people, housing people, employing people, educating our children, ending the wars once and for all and bringing our people home. And until that happens… it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want too.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Letter #128... Dear Mr. President... While Cain Circles the Drain... Who's Next?

Dear Mr. President:

How often have we heard the words… he/she needs to take ‘personal responsibility’? Over and over again, from the right and from the left, people need to take personal responsibility for their own actions.

The GOP's Family Values Candidates
As we bare witness to Herman Cain circling the drain, we see blame being assigned to everyone but Herman Cain. It’s a media smear campaign… it’s these women just wanting to make a buck and have their own 15 minutes of fame… all, unfounded allegations… but not one word about his own actions.

Sadly, he’s not the first, and probably the last… but only the latest to be caught. A partial list that includes Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Rudolf Giuliani, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, and now Herman Cain. Cain reported to have “…suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination on Saturday in a defiant, unapologetic blaze of glory.” Interesting that being unfaithful to ones wife with multiple women, with one lasting over 13 years, is considered a feat of ‘glory’.

What is even more appalling is the fact that he is suspending his campaign that effectively lets him continue to raise cash to pay for his failed faux candidacy. Because anyone who is delusional enough to think that his campaign was anything other than a book tour, need to have their heads examined.

Look who's laughing Now
Here is the really sad and pathetic part of this whole mess… The genuine “Family Values” guy, Mitt Romney, is being thrown under the bus by his own party. Like him or not, flip-flopping aside, he’s a decent man that hasn’t cheated on his wife and has managed to raise a very nice family.

And whom are they throwing him under the bus for… Newt Gingrich, cheater extraordinaire… affair, divorce, affair, divorce, 3rd marriage to the woman he cheated with. He’s the Republican “Family Values” Party’s new ‘shiny star’…

Then in 1999 while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton, Gingrich was caught having an affair with a 33-year old congressional aide. And for all those people with short memories, the coup de grace … back in 1978 when Gingrich was running for Congress his campaign slogan was… “Let Our Family Represent Your Family.”

I have to ask Mr. President… who will take responsibility for the next GOP loss, the Party or the person? Because if these are the best candidates the GOP has to offer in the way of family values, they will surely lose. Lose because they are more morally bankrupt than even I imagined.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Letter #127... Dear Mr. President... Look Who's driving the Bus Now!

Dear Mr. President:

Rosa Parks
December 1st is an important day in history… this is the day that in the segregated town of Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus.

I remember the marches that followed, lead by Dr. King and I remember one of the most successful boycotts in history when blacks refused to ride the buses for 13 months.

When the Supreme Court upheld Browder v. Gayle, striking down laws requiring segregated seating on public buses, King said, “We came to see that, in the long run, it is more honorable to walk in dignity than ride in humiliation. So …we decided to substitute tired feet for tired souls, and walk the streets of Montgomery.”

I can’t help but feel, that while there have been innumerable laws passed ending the practice of segregation, the minds of many remain unchanged as they cling to the idea that one race is somehow superior to another.

Portrait of Herbert B. Fields
I like to think of the different races as a color pallet, where different colors are mixed to create just the right effect a painter is looking for. Having painted a little myself, I remember trying to paint a portrait of my father from a black and white photo, which was all I had to go by, because he died when he was 50 and I was 20.

Any school child can tell you that you can’t use a white crayon on white paper to represent Caucasians. They can also tell you that the black crayon is way too dark for a Black/African Americans. If you’ve ever painted you know that it takes many colors to represent each ethnicity. Mid-tones require raw sienna and alizarin crimson, neutral tones require cobalt and ultramarine blue, yellow ocher and burnt sienna for a redder complexion and burnt umber for the warm shadows.

The point Mr. President, is this nation and its people are not a box of crayons, we do not stand alone, each of us just one color, we are all a perfect blend of many colors making each of us as distinct and as unique as our finger prints, and yet, the color of our skin continues to divide and separate us as if we were just one color.

Rosa Parks would be proud that you’re now ‘driving the bus’ Mr. President, I think she’d be proud that you choose to ‘walk in dignity’ and choose to see Americans as the wonderfully diverse and colorful pallet that makes up our American culture, for only when we are truly integrated will we truly be free.

As for my father’s portrait… just too many colors… I never did get it right.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny