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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Letter #143... Dear Mr. President... Trivialized, Marginalized, Traumatized!

Dear Mr. President,

Women are being 'trivialized'
We know that men are quick to go to war, invade other counties without provocation (Iraq), and stomp around the world flexing their muscles against one group or another, but why on earth did they decide to pick a war with women... Again! Don’t men see what has happened historically when the women in their lives, their communities, their homes and the workplace are not respected?

We've seen the brutality that follows when women are oppressed and treated like chattel. The beating, stoning, burning, starving, and yes... the murdering of women around the world is appalling. Honor killings by a member of a family, due to the belief of the perpetrators (mostly men) that the victim (mostly women) has brought dishonor upon the family or community. Every year FGM or Female Genital Mutilation affects as many as 3 million young girls worldwide, and contrary to popular belief, this is not a religious ritual. I mention a few of these horrific things to illustrate the point that the war on women is worldwide, and the women of America will not take a step backwards in time to satisfy those who would oppress us in any manner.

It was only 95 years ago that women in this country were literally fighting for the right to vote. While picketing the White House, 33 women were arrested for obstructing sidewalk traffic. They were beaten, choked, dragged, kicked, and chained to cell bars, some barely alive. Alice Paul went on a hunger strike in protest of the worm infested food and foal water, so they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and forced fed her until she vomited. This continued for weeks until word was leaked to the press regarding her torture.

And today women are being trivialized, marginalized, and traumatized at the hands of men that we have helped put in office to protect our rights and pass laws that promote our health and well being. We did not elect them to take us back to the 50's and force us to fight for our rights all over again.

'Marginalized' by Darrell Issa
Women are being trivialized by men like Foster Friess, who said that in his day they used aspirin for birth control, “…the gals just put it between their knees.” We are being marginalized by men like Darrell Issa, who convened the panel of 5 men – 0 women to talk about contraception. And traumatized by laws that are being passed by the GOP that require women to undergo invasive ultrasound procedures before they can seek an abortion… under the guise that we need to be fully informed before we can make that decision for ourselves. Outrageous! Unacceptable! And any other word you can think of to describe how intolerable this is, and how offended women are.

Women are being 'traumatized'
This ‘War on Women’ has got to stop, and it will be stopped in voting booths across this nation in November… and I hope you will stand with me, and all women across America. We want to hear your voice in concert with ours, because we are NEVER GOING BACK!

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers, 
Your Gadfly Granny

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Letter #142... Dear Mr. President... Unite Against the War on Women

Dear Mr. President,

Yesterday I wrote to you about the wars raging in this country… and as a result of that letter I was sent a link to join a group called ‘Unite Against the War on Women’.

This group is only three days old and already has a National page and over 10,000 people have signed up to participate in a March and Rally on April 28, 2012 in every Capitol across the country. Not since the Woman’s Movement of the 1960’s have women been this motivated… or this enraged. We are sick and tired of being treated like chattel by right wing Republicans.

An article written today for Politicus.usa, By Rmuse, Republicans Have Awoken A Sleeping Giant And She Is Furious’… speaks volumes about what women in this country are feeling and experiencing day after day. The assault on women seems to have no bounds, and no end at the hands of extreme right wing.

Enough is enough! Women are uniting against this assault like never before. We have watched Republican legislatures and Republican Governors, state by state, pass legislation restricting a woman’s right to choose their reproductive health options, to systematically dismantle Planned Parenthood, assail all manner of contraception protection, and even accuse the Girl Scouts of America of promoting homosexual lifestyles.

Republicans have stepped in it this time, and badly miscalculated the strength and tenacity of women to defend themselves against this onslaught of discrimination regarding our health care and reproductive choices.

Rosie helped our cause... make her proud!
There are over 157 million women v 152 million men, and we are going to mobilize, march, protest… and VOTE in November. And… it’s not just women that are fed up with this calculated effort to suppress women’s rights… our husbands, brothers, fathers and boyfriends are fed up too. When mama’s not happy… nobody’s happy, and this mama ain’t happy.

Yes Mr. President, there is a war brewing in cities and suburbs all across America, and if you’re very smart… and I know you are… you’ll keep your nose to the grindstone of governing this country, and steer clear of the War on Women that the Republican right wing and the Evangelical right wing are waging, because they are going to lose this war. I know you’re with us Mr. President because you have too much respect for the First Lady, your beautiful daughters, and all women everywhere.

Women are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore! We will be heard on April 28th in every Capitol in America… so buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Friday, February 24, 2012

Letter #141... Dear Mr. President... War is Being Waged Against Americans.

Dear President Obama,

Last night I watched, with renewed horror, the 20th and hopefully the last Republican Presidential debate. It seems to me that each one, tried to out-crazy the other one.

They keep talking about a war in Iran… what they fail to see, in spite of talking about it incessantly, are the wars they are waging against people in this country. The war against women, the war against the middle class, the war against union workers, the war against the auto industry, the war against the LGBT community, the war against immigrants, and the war against children. All of these wars are raging all around us and the Republicans are responsible for perpetuating and inflaming them.

The war against women by denying women coverage for contraceptives and moving to require invasive and unnecessary procedures before a woman can receive a legal abortion. The war waged against women by men like Darrel Issa under the guise that it was about freedom of religion instead of the real agenda… contraceptive coverage for women. The image of five men in a congressional hearing talking about women’s health and contraception was not only appalling, but disgusting. Not a single woman was allowed to testify… really?

In Virginia the GOP had to abandon their bill requiring women to undergo a vaginal sonogram because of the terrible backlash against it. Again, it was men pushing for something they know absolutely nothing about. They didn’t even know what their own bill was about… all they cared about was gaining more control over a woman’s reproductive rights.

9 year-old boy brought to court in an orange jump suit... really?
The war against children is being waged through tax cuts that affect schools all across America, but most particularly in poor neighborhoods. Then there are the cases where prosecutors want to charge children with crimes at younger and younger ages. A case in Washington State where a 9 year-old boy brought a gun to school and the gun accidentally discharged while in his backpack, shooting an 8 year-old girl. They brought him to court crying and wearing an orange jump suit. Bail was set at $50,000 at his hearing while they try to determine if the third grader will face criminal charges. Really? He’s 9 years-old, he probably wanted to show off to his buddies… where was the intent if the gun was in his backpack? Tragic? Yes. But what kind of trauma will this poor boy suffer as a result of adult stupidity… his parents for having a loaded gun he could access, and a system that wants to put a child in jail. Shameful!

Yes Mr. President… there are wars raging across our land against ordinary Americans and fueled mostly by the GOP, and they need to be stopped. Where has our common sense and common decency gone? These issues need to be addressed… we are a people at war with our neighbors and each other, and it must stop.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Letter #140... Dear Mr. President... Another Machiavellian Plot by the GOP

Dear Mr. President,

Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts
I just listened to a December 2, 2011 tape of Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts questioning the CEO of Keystone pipeline owner TransCanada, about keeping the oil from the tar sands in the U.S. After several attempts by Rep. Markey to pin down this question, the CEO said, “he could not guarantee that the fuel from the pipeline would stay in the U.S.”

As we see the price of gas creep ever closer to the $5 mark, it has become quite apparent that this is the next battle the GOP will use to try to derail your re-election. If the price of gas keeps going up it will be the beginning of another downturn in the economy. Without affordable gas, people will travel less, the cost of food will rise, the cost of airfares will increase, people will not be supporting hotels and restaurants, and as a result there will be more layoffs, more people applying for unemployment, and more people losing their homes again, etc… etc… We can’t let this happen again.

As you know, three Republican Senators… David Vitter, John Hoeven, and Richard Lugar introduced the Strategic Petroleum Supplies Act, S.2100 – that would prevent you from selling oil from the SPR unless the Keystone pipeline is approved. You simply can’t let them get away with this horrific attempt to hold our oil hostage for their own selfish, transparent gains and that of the big oil companies that already realized record profits again last year.

Both President’s Bush used the sale of SPR to insure that there would not be a disruption in our oil supply before the first Iraq war and after Hurricane Katrina. In fact, David Vitter praised you for selling SPR oil to offset the disruption of Libyan oil.

Don’t let them get away with this Mr. President… the sale of our SPR lowered gas prices and prevented economic devastation by protecting ordinary Americans from huge price spikes. S.2100 would prohibit such sales and effectively eliminate this protection and your ability to use it as such.

Protect Gasoline Prices
Holding the SPR hostage is going to be the end run the Republicans are counting on to stop you from being re-elected… They are losing the battle on jobs and the economy, since it is obvious that the economy and the job market are indeed improving. And the newest ridiculous attempt to paint you in a corner regarding contraception protection for women as an assault on Religious rights is ludicrous.

You need to let the American people know what’s going on with the Keystone pipeline, the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and the ever-increasing price of gasoline. You need to call out Senators Vitter, Hoeven and Lugar for their horrendous attempt to manipulate the price of gas for their own political gains and that of the GOP, and praise Rep. Ed Markey for seeing through this Machiavellian plan.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Letter #139... Dear Mr. President... How Can Gridlock be Healthy?

Dear Mr. President,

Some things simply defy logic, can you think of a possible instance when ‘gridlock’ was, or could be, considered healthy? No, neither can I.

I asked that question because a columnist in our small local paper said just that. The River Valley Times is a Herberger Publication, providing local articles of interest and information. Their motto is: “To Inform with Integrity, Entertain with Taste and Go Forward as the Voice of the People…” It covers Rancho Murieta, Sloughhouse, and Wilton.

This columnist is relatively new to the RVT, replacing a slightly more liberal columnist, which is sad because a liberal voice is seldom heard in our community. In yesterdays paper the columnists headline read: Get involved in political process or don’t complain. Sounds good, I believe that too, so I read the column.

The big contention is that we need to hear more voices that are conservative, because conservatives by nature want to spend less money. It was then stated that some of our surrounding cities that have elected conservatives are at least being heard to be doing better financially (I’d like to know which ones), and “Texas is much better off than California, and one of the reasons is that they have a lot of conservative voices.”  That of course is not the case, but that’s not my point today.

This columnist further stated that, “The liberals need to hear the conservative voices of reason – at the very least on fiscal issues.” How has that worked for you Mr. President? You’ve spent three years listening to ‘conservatives’ and trying to ‘compromise’ on the issues, but to no avail… conservatives don’t want to listen.

Here’s another quote, “There are still conservatives living in CA, and they have the right to be heard too. Let’s not forget that we do live in a democracy.” She further stated that, “Never hearing or discussing the ideas of the opposition is very narrow-minded.”  Somehow I don’t think that liberals have been considered narrow-minded, aren’t we the ones that want to expand and broaden rights for all Americans?

And here it is… these discussions take time and can create gridlock, but that’s healthy.”The best outcome could be that nothing gets done, and that might be good in this state…” and …”Let’s get more conservative voices in the arena and then they can set the example to spend less.”

Gridlock Healthy? Not!
Everyone knows what gridlock is, but just to be clear, it is defined as (1) a traffic jam in which no vehicular movement is possible (just what we all look forward to… being ‘stuck’ in traffic), and (2) a complete lack of movement or progress, resulting in a backup or stagnation. How can either of these definitions, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered healthy?

I love my community, and I love the RVT, but I cannot abide stupidity. While I don’t profess to be a writer, and understand this is “commentary” and not a factual article, the writer should at the very least, support her assertions with some kind of logic or simple facts.

Here are some ‘facts’ that the columnist completely missed. This was an analysis done by the Center for American Progress.

1.     91% of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, 9% is progressive.
2.     Each weekday there are 2,570 hours of conservative talk compared to 254 hours of progressive talk.
3.     In the top 10 radio markets 76% of programming is conservative, and 24% is progressive although programming is more balanced in New York and Chicago.
4.     This dynamic is repeated over and over again regardless of how the data is analyzed, whether one looks at the number of stations, number of hours, power of stations, or number of programs… ‘conservative talk’ continues to be pushed out over the airwaves in greater multiples of hours than ‘progressive talk’ is broadcast.
5.     Radio has more than 50 million listeners each week, and ‘conservative talk’ radio undeniably dominates the format.

I don’t know what planet this columnist lives on, but on planet earth we need less conservative voices like hers, that believe that gridlock is healthy, stagnation is healthy, and that either of these should be used as examples of how to move the ‘conversation’ forward.

The River Valley Times should find a new columnist, one that is capable of listening too, and understanding the real problems facing not only our state, but the entire nation, and I can assure you that answer is NOT more conservative, obstructionist voices, but LESS.  We get enough fiction disguised as fact from Fox… that’s why conservatives are it’s largest audience.

I would prefer the RVT motto to be, “To Inform with Intelligence

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers
Your Gadfly Granny

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Letter #138... Dear Mr. President... Cherish the 'Gift of Time'.

 Dear Mr. President,

Last June for Fathers Day I wrote to you about the ‘gift of time’… time spent with loved ones, our children, our parents and our friends.

That was Letter #46 and I talked about losing my father when he was just 50 and I was 20, and how sad it was that my brother Charlie was just 13 years old at the time… and now, sadly Charlie has passed away too.

The talk about Obama care vs Romney care, vs single payer, vs what ever the current crop of candidates are spewing across the country… the bottom line is we all need health care… we need it from the minute we’re born to the day we die, there is no escape… kind of like taxes.

Jeff celebrates his 47th Birthday with family.
I mention all this because my son Jeff, who just turned 47, has come to live with my husband Gary and me. It wasn’t by choice, but by circumstance… the circumstance being that he was diagnosed with end stage pancreatic/liver cancer. He was living in Hawaii, but was unable to care for himself any longer… it was time to come back to California where most of his extended family live, and where hopefully, the time he has left is spent without the stress of trying to cook for himself, or do the laundry, or worry about who is available to take him to the doctor. And isn’t that what a family is supposed to do, if possible?

I can’t begin to tell you how sad it is to see my son so sick and in so much pain… pain that as a mother I would gladly suffer for him. Of course that is not possible, all we can do is try to help make him comfortable, and give him the gift of our time. Time to reminisce about childhood friends, and birthday parties, Christmases, school and sports events that we all shared and enjoyed. Time to remember the little things in life that don’t seem like much at the time, but are the threads that weave us together forever, as a family.

For Jeff it is a time to reflect on his own life, time to realize that even a life that in his eyes hasn’t amounted too much… in our eyes it was priceless. A life is not measured by what one has achieved, or accumulated, but how they’ve treated other people along the way. Jeff’s heart and his actions have always supported and uplifted others that were less fortunate or down and out. Jeff always gave his ‘gift of time’ to people that others had already written off as lost causes. If a price could be set for charisma and be patented and bottled, Jeff would have been a millionaire.

Life is short Mr. President… as busy as you are, I know you are spending it wisely, and I know that the time spent with Malia and Sasha is the most precious time you’ll ever have… for you and for them. Treasure every moment… they end too soon.

Most Respectfully,

Marcia Reimers,
Your Gadfly Granny