Dear Followers of False Messiahs —- January 21, 2021

January 12, 2021

Dear Followers of False Messiahs,

Throughout history there have been people who garner the support and admiration, the love and absolute trust in a charismatic leader whom they think is The Messiah. It never ends well. Not for the charismatic leader, the followers of that person or the societies they lived or live in. On the other hand, there are charismatic leaders who don’t lead their followers off the edge of a cliff, deep end of the pool or convince them to drink some Kool-Aid. So, my question for you is do you think DJT is a messiah, a savior of the United States of America, the White Race (a social construct, not a biological one), certain sects of Christianity (not all of them), and you personally? If you do, our conversation is over. If you believe with all your heart that Democrats are evil liars, Marxists (what does that mean?), Communists (so last century), Socialists (again, what does that even mean?), or just plain old haters of America, the Constitution and religion, then this conversation is over.

It is possible that there are true radicals in this country and around the world, who would like to destroy governments, institutions and I don’t know what else. The mob last Wednesday at, and then in, the Capitol building, seemed to be those sorts of radicals. I don’t know them and what exactly makes them tick like a bomb. I do know lots of people who would love to see changes in the way society functions. Many believe that health care part of Human Rights and we should all have access to both preventative and restorative health treatments. Many believe there are serious social and justice issues that need repairing. Many believe (due to trusting science) that climate change is an existential threat to all of us. I would argue that these “radicals” are not out to harm you, the followers of the False Messiah. It’s so sad that you believe they are out to harm you, especially when you saw and heard the noose, the plastic ties, the calls to hang or harm our elected leaders. The mostly peaceful protests during the last year were not riots or calls to kill and destroy other people. There were instances of destruction of property that was condemned by most. Antifa might be a thing but it’s not 81 million Americans. Surely some of you are reasonable people!

Now what do we do? What if we think of the real radicals as a cult whose members need to be rescued and deprogrammed? Okay, maybe deprogramming millions is a pipe dream (not a pipe bomb). What if those people who are charged and convicted of some of the serious crimes arising from last week, are fined and/or jailed but also have to go through sessions of deprogramming or mental health treatments? I really don’t know how this would work but it’s worth a try. In addition, let’s think about ways people could refresh their memories about what the Constitution actually says, about how government actually is designed to work, and how threatening to harm, maim or kill elected officials, including the Vice President of the United States is a terrible idea. Maybe we could use social media, movies, tv, and op-eds to promote Real Civics lessons. Maybe I’m a cockeyed optimist about the possibility of improving the chances that the US remains a democracy in the future.

If none of these ideas are useful for returning sanity to politics or safety to governing, then the Kool-Aid cure may be all we have.

Dear Friends – January 7, 2021

Dear Friends,

I think I’ve figured out the problem, so, maybe the solution will be easier now. The problem seems to be that there are facts and “alternate facts”. This afternoon I listened to a bit of the Rush Limbaugh radio show. Just to make sure I had the “facts” that are also known as “alternative facts”, I went a website with the script from the show. I did not know that poor, besieged President Trump was only asking his loyal minions to fight for the country and for him, that’s all. His loyal followers were not the people inside the Congress rampaging- those people were Antifa and actors dressed up to look like MAGA folks! Did you know that George Soros hired the actors to pretend they were Trump supporters? I guess he bought them the red hats and the Confederate flags and the Trump banners. The ones who were wearing the black t-shirts were either the Antifa or those who didn’t get to the wardrobe center on time to get the red t-shirts or the animal skin costume with the Viking horns.

So, if the MAGA people were just outside protesting, just like so many other protestors have, why are they being blamed for violence? Rush Limbaugh told me that it was the radical left, AKA, Democrats, the BLM who promote violence, not the Republicans who voted for Trump. That must be the reason there were police in full body riot gear lined up on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last summer and there was the need for “it wasn’t really tear gas, just chemical spray” and troops in uniform protecting Trump’s right to hold up a bible. After all, Republicans aren’t violent or dangerous. Only Democrats are and that’s why so many need to be locked up. The proof that this was a legitimate protest to get weak Republicans to stand up for the President and the Country was, actually…… I don’t know as the logic started to get a little too logical for me. It was so “logical” that it made no sense.

So, the simple problem is about 39% of the country (according to Senator Ted Cruz who must know the truth) believe the election was “stolen” by corrupt and radical Democrats who need to be jailed and not trusted. The problem for those who believe the other set of facts, you know, the ones that are provable and are actually true, can’t convince the minority who believe the “alternative facts” that they have been lied to by Trump, Rush Limbaugh, and new groups of people who are posting wild claims on social media with shocking (SHOCKING) proof!!!The simple solution- there isn’t one. I’ve got no solution. It would be nice to have people to talk to about the problem, but no one really wants to talk to people who are clearly liars, thieves and evil. When the two sides don’t want to solve the problem, I’ve always said “okay, then the adult will solve it for you”. That used to be the principal of the school or the parents and it worked pretty well as the two sides decided they weren’t really that mad. Today, I would suggest the FBI, Homeland Security and the Department of Justice might be the adults who will discover the truth, prosecute and lock up the true marauders and evil doers and protect us all.

PS- to the half -naked guy in the weird Viking costume. This is no way to impress or get a date with neither woman nor man.

Dear to Everyone, WTF!! – January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021

To Everyone,WTF!!!

Today’s scenes weren’t from the movies “Olympus has Fallen” or “White House Down” but I look forward to the documentary “How Trump tried to Destroy Everything”. Hopefully footage from today will be the in the second from the last scene of the documentary. It may end with a shot of someone in an orange suit and with orange/white hair entering a prison. I’m writing this letter around 4:30 this afternoon after being glued to the news for several hours except for a nice walk to lower my blood pressure. We ended up listening to the coverage, so the walk only helped a bit.I also watched a little of Trump’s speech that lasted about an hour. It was boring, repetitive, obnoxious and full of already proven lies. Actually, repeatedly proven lies as all the accusations have been evaluated as false, falser and falsest. As the speech ended, he invited the crowd to walk to the Congress, so they did. Then, we all saw what happened next. Trump sent out a particularly impotent tweet and then made a short, incredible inadequate speech that summed up his utter failure as a national leader to quell this insurrection. I see on Facebook that some are supporting this violence by comparing it to 1776. This is as false as the idea that the vote was all a big conspiracy to thwart the will of the people who wanted Trump and Pence.

Now what? First, the Republicans who challenged the electoral votes in six states need to support accepting the Electoral College vote, TODAY. Next, those who broke into the Congress need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for all the crimes they committed. Finally, President Trump needs to get on his hands and knees and prostrate himself before the American People to beg for forgiveness for instigating today’s insurrection. If there is no agreement on the punishment, an audit completed by 15 people selected at random, will make the final decision on how to punish him.

It’s getting late and many of us are going to Barcelona, Spain for a virtual tour of Gaudi’s Familia Sagrada, so adios. Let’s see what happens next.

Dear Senator Cruz – January 4, 2021

January 4, 2021

Dear Senator Cruz,

I hope this letter is received by you or your staff and you consider my point of view. I don’t speak for every voter outside of Texas, only for myself. I really like it when Heather Cox Richardson, an impressive person, always says she doesn’t speak for her employers when she gives her talks on Facebook or on YouTube. It’s a nice way to say she is intellectually independent meaning she does her research and isn’t compelled by outside forces to say or write stuff she knows is garbage. It seems like a no-brainer for a public person, one who represents constituents, and The Constitution of the United States of America, who takes the Oath of Office to protect said Constitution, who went to Harvard Law School and who may or may not have passed the exam on what is written in said Constitution, for that person to speak truthfully about our recent election. And yet, that is not what you have done.

In 2016 you are on record and on tape (no-one uses records any more, or tape, really) as making some pretty negative statements about Donald Trump. For example, after losing to you in the Iowa primary, Mr. Trump claimed he won it, and it was you who committed election fraud. You then said, “What Donald does, when he loses, is he blames everybody else. It’s never Donald’s fault.” You also called Donald a “liar” and a few more choice words, on many occasions. Let’s flash forward to yesterday when you said, “We’ve seen in the last two months unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, and that’s produced a deep, deep distrust of our democratic process across the county. I think we in Congress have an obligation to do something about that.” What a statement from the Senator from Texas on integrity, truth and justice!!!!

It seems to me that the “deep, deep distrust” didn’t just happen. It’s been carefully constructed by that same person you disparaged a few years ago as a “liar”, certain social media sites and, now by you. You know very well that each state has verified and certified their election results. You know very well that Texas doesn’t get to sue another state for their election results because the Texas election results are affected. You know very well that trying to invalidate a fair and democratic election is another word for “coup” which is illegal. You know very well that 60 challenges to the elections have been thrown out of courts in states and at the Federal level. You also know very well that your effort to investigate allegations of election fraud even though it will not overturn the will of the people, is a ruse. You claimed, “this is not a principled constitutional position”. So, what is it? What is your “principled constitutional position”?

You do your best to say this in a nasal yet serious voice with a serious look on your face. This might work in Texas but don’t count on it for running in 2024 as a contender for the Presidency.

I have a deep, deep distrust of every word that comes out of your mouth.

Dear Republicans… – January 3, 2021

January 3, 2021

Dear Republicans, who are breaking their oaths of office,

I take back my sincere effort to have a giant sing along with the song, “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land”. I apologize to Bruce Springsteen if this disrupts his plans for January 20, 2021. It could have been and should have been a great opportunity for healing wounds and moving forward. Instead, you, a group of Republican senators, who certainly know better, along with a group of Republican Representatives, who should know better, are attempting a coup. A COUP!!!!!!!I don’t care that you know this won’t work. I do care that you have broken your oaths to defend the Constitution and the laws of our country. I care very deeply that the Liar in Chief has encouraged you to break your oaths. The Liar in Chief and Head Narcissist is also encouraging violence, civil unrest, not peaceful protest, and the end of Democracy and you, all of you, have signed on to this mission. History will surely judge you as fools and evil doers.

So, what will be your punishments? After consulting with many experts, there are several possibilities. Some think that there will be criminal charges of sedition but that is really hard to prove. Some have thought of time in stockades where people can come and stare at you or call you names. I am not recommending throwing things at you as that is too uncivilized although it may feel cathartic. I think you all need to wear a badge of shame, like a scarlet T for TRAITOR. You are acting like traitors to the United States of America. Not only have you been afraid to call out You Know Who for his lies, behaviors, and inability to respect our form of government, but you are encouraging him and too many others for repeating lies and trying to overturn an election.

Oh, you say you know the election won’t be overturned but you will have a better chance for running for President in four years. Don’t count on that. People with no honor, morals, intelligence or empathy, people who know there is a difference between facts and wishes, truth and lies, respect for our country and selfishness but ignore that, should not be elected to any public office. It happened in 2016 but that doesn’t mean it should happen again.

Dear 2020 – December 31, 2020

December 31, 2020

Dear 2020

I already wrote most of a goodbye letter to you that was full of all the blessings this year brought to me and my family. You know, the usual things people are grateful for- family, community, faith, health, jobs, peace, personal growth, etc. I really do feel that gratefulness but it’s inappropriate when too many people are not feeling that. It’s actually been an awful year, a year of destruction, devastation and disappointments, and that’s just the words starting with “d”. So, even though I have so many blessings in my life, I can’t help but feel the pain of so many others in this country and all around the world.

I am an optimist by nature so the news of the vaccine, a new administration and some peace agreements allows me to celebrate moments outside of my little bubble. There is hope for some good news in our collective futures. Still, there are niggling worries. By the way, the word “niggling” comes from the Norwegian word “nigla” meaning to be stingy. It’s also related to an Old Norse word and an Old English word that are completely unpronounceable and unspellable but mean the same thing. Oops, I just wandered down a side road that also helps define 2020. You know, you start to do something, but you get distracted and then off you go. You think it’s Wednesday but it’s Thursday, or as my friend Jane taught me, Blursday.2020, you also taught me new things or at least made me think more about many other things. For example, social injustice, racial disparities, climate change, and democracy. Whether it was on- line, at socially distanced and masked rallies, Netflix movies, documentaries or books, I am thankful for the time and exposure to new ideas, deeply held beliefs, strong emotions and clear warnings about our futures.

I hope and pray that everyone we love and all that we hold dear will be safer and healthier very soon.Hello 2021 and welcome in.

Dear I Don’t Know Who – December 23, 2020

December 23, 2020

Dear I Don’t Know Who,

Help, my thoughts are jumbled, and ideas are tumbling around my brain and I think I need to hear some other opinions. Yesterday I had a great idea about celebrating teachers with increased pay and a free day at a spa until I realized the difficulty in finding a source for the funds. Then I had an idea that all elected officials must take a test on what is actually in the Constitution before they take the oath of office when they promise to protect it from “all enemies both foreign and domestic”. Then I thought they also needed to take a test on how our democracy actually works, you know, how elections work, particularly in their state, how a bill proposal turns into law, what exactly is a representative democracy and how the separation of powers, the one defined in the Constitution, is supposed to work. Then I thought, they need to take an additional oath to be truthful and not be a jerk. If they could not pass any of these tests they could not be sworn into office.

But that was yesterday. Today my brain is full of ideas on how we deal with the huge divides in the country. I heard an article about how those who acknowledge that we will have a new administration and those who don’t, can ever live with each other. Should we just accept a bad break-up? Should we look for common interests that may get us to a better place? My inclination is always to find a middle path following the idea that it might not be perfect, but we could live with it.

This reminds me of the story that I think you already know. Our then, seven -year- old was so mad about something that she stormed into her bedroom, slammed the door and cried. I went in to see what could be done to help, and asked the (sensible) question, “how can we make this better?” Her answer was “Do you know what it’s like having a social worker for a mother?” My take -away from that was we needed to allow anger to subside a little before looking for the solution. Allow some time to be angry, without allowing harm to one’s self or to others or to property or to institutions. With school kids it was a simple action of walking down the hall to a more private place, ignoring the poster ripped off the wall in anger but not ignoring throwing the chair or hitting someone. When the person is calmer, past the heat of the intense anger, there would be time for clearer thinking and problem solving.

Could we, as a country, or as individuals, still be in the time of red -hot anger? I think most of us have started thinking more productively about problems and are looking forward to actions to solve those problems, but some people in our country are not there yet and may never be! It’s a terrible thing to write yet it might be true. My most recent idea floating around inside of my skull is a Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. Commissions of this sort have occurred all over the world after the most horrific and destructive periods in many countries’ histories. Maybe we could have one in this country, led by the United Nations or another international body with expertise on conducting something like this. Maybe then we could have the sing-along I envisioned a few weeks ago.

There will still folks who don’t want to stop being mad, think illogically about the past election, won’t ever believe in science and think their “freedom” includes refusing to wear masks in public spaces. It’s not okay but I don’t think logic will ever change their minds and there is no solving problems with people who don’t want a solution.

I just hope there won’t be too many like that.

Dear Someone, Anyone – December 21, 2020

December 21, 2020

Dear Someone, Anyone,

The days are getting longer! Last night there were clear skies and we saw the bright confluence of Jupiter and Saturn and it was spectacular. I know that the official date of the Great Confluence is tonight, but this is Michigan and we probably won’t have a clear sky tonight. We will still be in the throes of darkness for a few more months, but that glimmer of hope, of a gradual light growing every day, of a new year beginning soon and a new administration starting in a month, (sigh), makes me feel like anything is possible.

I know everyone wants a return to “normal”, whatever that is, but I think we also want a new normal. There are a ton of big problems that need solutions. We know that there are always big problems in need of solutions. President-Elect Joe Biden will not solve all of them, especially if You Know Who in the Senate has anything to say or not say about it. Good grief! Look how long it took to get another relief bill passed! The House passed one like forever ago and You Know Who in the Senate was quiet for the next eon. We also noticed that the Executive Branch with He Who Shall Not Be Named House, had nothing to say or do about the dire situation of so many of our people. It’s been a display of incredible leadership and by that, I mean incredible that there was no leadership. He Who Shall Not Be Named can’t lead anymore because he is incapacitated by grief, which may never move on to the stages of loss that follow the first stage of denial. I hope he gets some professional help in Florida.

Maybe there will be a Great Confluence miracle that will solve all our problems, but the miracle of the vaccine is a great start. I’m looking forward to getting the shots even though it will take a few more months. I also know that “miracles” happen when we work for them, so that means continuing to wear the masks in public and, well, you know the drill. We have lots to be grateful for and lots to look forward to. Again, I know this is a very trite thought, but it is heartfelt and true. We will have an administration that will help people get food, shelter, clothing, jobs, a healthier world and let’s throw in some world peace while we are at it.

There’s a long way to go to reach our goals and lots of nonsense from You Know Who to try and block the roads to solutions, so, look at the bright light tonight or during the next clear sky night to see the stars, the future and hope.

Dear Ivanka – December 14, 2020

December 14, 2020

Dear Ivanka,

I apologize for calling you by your first name, but I didn’t know if you go by Ms. Trump or by Mrs. Kushner or maybe, Mrs. Trump-Kushner. Which do you prefer? Actually, this entire letter is a bit chutzpadik (nervy) but my questions for you are questions lots of people are asking.

The first and most important question is do you light wax candles or oil wicks? This is followed closely by what colors of candles do you use and does everyone in your household light a separate menorah or do you have one for the entire family? Another burning question is what is your preferred topping for latkes-applesauce or sour cream? This is the perennial question that was recently debated by a panel of experts on a Moment Magazine Zoom. Did you know that there were other experts debating that ketchup (!!!!!) should be the topping? Another promoted hot sauce and there was also a case made for a combination of applesauce and sour cream called “applecream”. The presenters used Talmudic reasoning along with quotes from Torah and legal reasoning from American and Halachic (Jewish Law) jurisprudence to argue their cases. Then, just as American citizens did in the recent election, we voted. Guess who won? Applesauce, of course! Although, the argument for ketchup was so good that I voted for it while I used all the apples in the house to make applesauce for our latkes. Go figure peoples’ deeply held opinions.

Are you willing to answer the burning question of where your family will live? Chabad schools are in many places, as well as on- line, so that shouldn’t limit your ability to chose a home. Of course, if you move to one of the Trump golf courses, it might be a problem of walking to shul unless you have one built on the property or close to it. Another consideration might be where you could live near other Republicans. I don’t think you will move to Idaho or even Ohio, or Alabama, but maybe you just want a fresh start somewhere that people will not be too interested in what you are doing or wearing. You don’t need fancy stores near-by as you could just order from your regular places. I’m not trying to be snarky but I think you will need the vibe from a big city with lots of cultural institutions and restaurants so you might spend the next week lobbying hard for a relief package from the Congress to support working people, small businesses and the Arts.

My last question is how will you help your father? You might have to work hard to support him in his old age.

Dear Anyone – December 10, 2020

December 10, 2020

Dear Anyone,

It’s been a while since I felt the need to write to you. Things seemed to be going okay. The election was over, and the transition started and the new Cabinet looks solid and competent. The noise about “stealing” an election made me think about masked bandits holding up a train from an old cowboy movie from the 1950’s. Remember how “fake” some of those scenes look now? It seemed like all that noise and narishkeit (Yiddish for foolishness) would disappear after a few days, but NO! It’s gotten louder, weirder and more dangerous. Since when has this country seen public officials, especially those in state offices that we usually don’t think about too much, be threatened with gun carrying, shouting and somewhat crazed people at the officials’ homes? Seriously, there are people who think the Constitution and the American Flag are so important to uphold but they seem to be breaking some of the rules and traditions that are part of our laws.

For example, free and fair elections. We, the people, are allowed to vote for our choice (remember the song I wrote about, I Like It Here?). I know, I know, some of these people don’t think there were free and fair elections, but they are wrong. The system of checking ballots, voting by mail, counting ballots (over and over- by the way, who paid for that?) and certifying the vote was done according to the laws of each state. Now there is a lawsuit going to the Supreme Court from Texas (!!) and some other states that voted for President Trump in this last election, to claim that four of the states that voted for President-Elect Biden, voted unconstitutionally!!! I’m not a lawyer but if this case is heard by the Supreme Court and argued on the part of President Trump by Senator Ted Cruz, we will think we are watching a horror movie on Netflix.

Here’s another example of defiling the Constitution and the American Flag. Those who wrap themselves up in both are ignoring the concept of Majority Rule and Minority Rights. They are in the minority and have rights, just not the right to overturn an election. How is this not sedition? Sedition, according to what I found on a Google search, is “the crime of revolting or inciting revolt against government.” Now, it also says that the First Amendment protects free speech so prosecutions for sedition are rare, although it remains a crime. I’m asking lawyers to weigh in about how chanting and marching with guns outside someone’s home, saying out loud and writing messages that the person needs to be “drawn and quartered, taken out at dawn and shot” are different from yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater. Are they different?

I’m concerned that the current president is trying very hard to undo the will of the people as expressed through the voting system. I know most of us hope he will fail at this extremely un-American attempt, but what if he doesn’t?

Oh, on another topic, I wrote to Bruce Springsteen’s publicist to ask if he could lead a Great American Sing Along. So far, I haven’t heard back.