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.

Dear Friends, Family and Complete Strangers – December 1, 2020

December 1, 2020

Dear Friends, Family and Complete Strangers,

Call me Pollyanna, go ahead, call me naïve, call me too idealistic. You could find other adjectives but no swearing or bad words. I have an idea that could bring people together. Seriously, SINGING!!!! Not just anything, but songs of America. Pull out your Rise Up Singing songbooks, find your old records or, look on You Tube for folk songs, Civil Rights movement songs, songs from WWI and WWII and anti-war songs, songs of the idealized Old West, songs from slavery, songs from union organizing days, songs of Freedom, songs from the military, silly songs and other children’s songs that we all know, or should know. Then, someone who knows how to do this (not me), put it all together for the Great American Sing Along. Find the guitar players, drummers, bugle players, accordionists, piano players, fiddlers and those who know how to play the bones. Have subtitles with the words so we can all sing. Find singers who can lead the songs from all over the current music spectrum. I vote for Bruce Springsteen to be one of them.

I just saw a wonderful program on our Detroit Public Television station: “Peter, Paul and Mommy”. It must be from decades ago because Mary was there too. The audience was composed of young children and parents, all doing their part to clap along, sing along, sway and smile. The mood was contagious, charming and heartfelt. I couldn’t help but sing aloud with “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed the fly, perhaps she’ll die”. When we sang it with grandchildren, we changed the ending to “perhaps she’ll cry”. Peter and Paul sang the verses and hammed it up so that all were giggling. They sang Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty “and I teared up. Mary led a medley of children’s ditties with a chorus of “It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring, he bumped his head and went to bed and he couldn’t get up in the morning”. Everyone was smiling.Just imagine everyone sitting around a campfire, or a fireplace, or your living room or wherever the tv is after popping a ton of popcorn and making hot cocoa. Leave a little room for dancing or space to squirm. Let’s end the evening with a rousing “This Land is Your Land”. This could be one of the ways we try and connect with each other and rekindle a spark of unity.

What do you think?

Dear “People” – November 29, 2020

November 29, 2020

Dear People,

I’m writing a letter to those of you who still think Donald Trump won the 2020 election. I actually know a few of you and see what you post on your Facebook pages. Because I know you are smart people, I try to follow the threads you have posted and check out the sources for the claims. Since I want to believe that you are all still sane, intelligent and caring people who simply have the best interests of this country and democracy at heart, I would love to hear more about how you know what you know. For example, could you please explain the theory that “massive fraud” took place through the efforts of Republican officials at the state, county and district levels, international plotters, at least one of whom is dead, machinery that is double and triple checked for problems, voting rules that have been followed for decades, and, of course, the FBI, Justice Department, Republican appointed judges and voters. Oh yes, and the plot was organized across various states but only affected Donald Trump, not other Republicans on the ballot. Perhaps you could also explain how almost all the court cases have been thrown out of courts and almost all the A Team lawyers have quit. Are you sure that Rudy Giuliani and Sydney something or other are representing the Truth? How do you know that when there was no evidence presented? Every – time I read an article stating that there are affidavits saying that someone saw something nefarious, but they turn out not to be admitted in court because the person heard something 2nd or 3rd hand. There are complaints about how ballots were counted because the complainers don’t know the laws of the state as to how ballots MUST be counted.

Dead people don’t vote. They don’t even try to vote because they know they would be caught in a crime punishable with big fines and jail time. I know you love our country so please consider if this is the best way you can demonstrate the love of how this country decides elections. I understand that you really, really wanted to win, but you didn’t. I understand that you are terrified about policies that you think will harm you or cause you to “lose your freedom” or force you to change your “values”. You are free to believe what you want and to keep your values as long as others have the same rights to beliefs and values. I totally get that the rule of law is important to you when you think the Black Lives Matter Movement will somehow end all policing and you are scared.

Please reconsider the fear that other people are worth more than you and will have more rights than you. I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. Oh, and it’s really not cool to threaten the local election clerks with killing their pets, family members or them and burning down their homes. Really not cool.

Dear Friends…. et. al. – November 24, 2020

November 24, 2020

Dear Friends, who don’t think there will be a new administration legally elected on January 20, 2021 or who don’t think the DTvirus is really a thing, or who don’t think that climate change is a serious problem,

Let’s discuss the issue that some of you don’t think this was a fair election because Donald Trump didn’t win and how could it possibly be fair? After all, lots of people of color voted! After all, Democrats always cheat! After all, there is some kind of hidden conspiracy of Communists and Nazis (!!!!!???) and super wealthy people working together to eliminate the vote of Republicans! We also can’t forget the army of dead people lining up to vote! Or…………maybe, just maybe, none of that is true. Maybe, just maybe, this was an historic election with the highest percentage of legal voters actually voting in our history. All the checks and balances of legal, fair and democratic (small “d”) happened.

Now let’s discuss the pandemic and why some people think it’s a hoax or not that serious, and in any case, no need to have public health rules, just let everyone decide for themselves to endanger others. I guess you think that the numbers do lie. I guess you don’t believe that hospitals are overrun with patients suffering from a disease that has many different symptoms and that are being treated by medical staff who are completely devoted to their jobs but who are worn out by months of this pandemic. I have a gentle suggestion for you; if you don’t want to comply with the public health rules that are mandated by public health officials (who aren’t trying to take over your body or soul), don’t follow the rules. Just please, stay home and stay away from others. If you do need to go out in public, please wear a mask and follow the rules for physically distancing from others.

Finally, let’s talk a little about the climate. It isn’t really important what you “believe” or “think”. You are not being forced to believe in science. You are not forced to learn any math, unless you are still in K-12 school. You don’t have to understand biology, chemistry (I sure don’t- I’m still traumatized by 10th grade chemistry class memories) or geology. Your ignorance of all subjects related to the dramatic changes in the world’s climate won’t affect the world’s climate. If you hang around for a few more decades, you may evolve to understand this subject better. You know, life -long learning is a good thing.

I sincerely hope you have a wonderful season of holidays, celebration, enjoying family, food and joy even if you won’t be physically together. Stay healthy, stay safe, and in this season of giving and generosity, remember that we are all in this together.

Dear To Whom It May Concern – November 20, 2020

November 20, 2020

To Whom It May Concern:

I live in the state of Michigan. It’s a beautiful state with some wonderful, friendly, generous people. We have the Great Lakes, beautiful forests, vibrant cities and lovely rural areas, tons of culture. We have lots of sports teams although you might not be impressed with any of their records, but they have nice t-shirts and sweatshirts. Michiganders are civic minded. We vote. The majority of voters in this state voted for the Biden-Harris ticket. Our electoral votes will officially go to them.We also have some people in our state who have extremely different ideas. I really mean “extremely”. You probably already know that some of them thought it would be a great idea to kidnap the governor, maybe kill her and maybe blow up the capitol building. We have self- proclaimed militias who like to dress in camouflage, carry military style weapons, and think their freedoms have been taken away from them. Their freedoms include not wearing masks in public. I’m not sure what other freedoms they have lost. It is very true that jobs and businesses have been seriously hurt by the pandemic. It is also true that hospitals and health workers are stretched beyond their limits to help patients. I don’t know if these extremists are referring to jobs, businesses and health workers safety and sanity. I think they are mainly thinking about the masks and the requests to wash their hands.

The president has asked the Republican leaders of our House and Senate to come to Washington to listen to him. It seems that he would like them to disregard the 150,000 vote- lead of the Biden-Harris ticket and send electors who pledge to vote for his ticket instead. I’m not a lawyer or a Constitutional scholar, but that seems very, very wrong. There is no reason this should happen. Our vote was fair, safe, and secure. There was no hanky-panky. I’m sure the president is convinced that there was, but he is wrong. As you know, in this country we count votes, and the winner is declared. It’s pretty simple and straightforward. This idea of overturning the voters’ choice is completely undemocratic. Thank you for listening to my concerns.

By the way, who pays for the trip to Washington, D.C.?