Dear Mr. President – October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

Speaking of Nobel Prizes, you didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize this year, but the Nobel Prize for Economics is shared by Robert Wilson and Paul Milgrom who is our classmate from Oak Park High School!!! Mazal Tov!!!!

It’s another beautiful day in Michigan. The colors are just about at peak and we’ve had sunshine and warm temperatures. Of course, it’s Michigan, so there could be a snowstorm this afternoon. Michigan’s temperature swings might be a metaphor for your campaign. Currently the polls in Michigan don’t look so good for you but there could be a big swing in your favor. Actually, it’s a bit like the expression “a snowball’s chance in Hell”. You know there is a place called Hell, Michigan, so if the temperature drops enough, maybe you could win the state.

You are a traveling man, traveling all around certain places to hold your incredible rallies, also known as “Super Spreader Events”. They are amazing feats of bravery, boldness and BS. My only worry is that the election is 3 weeks away and the spread of the DTVirus can occur in less than that time. You must be hoping that your fans will mail in their ballots during early voting periods before anyone gets sick or worse. You should worry that your non-fans aren’t going to these rallies and are following the CDC and Drs. Fauci/Birx health guidelines and are also voting now.

Since we are discussing your travels, I have a question. Who pays for the use of Air Force One? Do you rent it for the campaign stops? I know other presidents have combined public and political events and that seems to be legal, but what if you are using it only for campaign events? This question also applies to using the White House or the Rose Garden. Did your campaign reimburse the Federal Government for the use of the Peoples’ House and garden for the Republican convention and political rally? You really don’t need any more grief from financial inquiries.

Also, did you file last year’s taxes yet or do you need an extension?

Dear Mr. President – October 10, 2020

October 10, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations! What a surprise to hear you are “cured”, “immune to the virus“, and “think you aren’t infectious”, “in great shape”, feel like “20 years younger” while at the same time “a senior citizen, which we didn’t know”. It’s all so amazing and unbelievable, really unbelievable. I wrote you a letter a couple of days ago but never sent it as the news exploded with an overload of information and I got busy with other things that caused me to forget the things I was supposed to do.

You seem busier than ever following your miraculous cure from the dreaded disease and yet you seem angrier than ever at everyone. You are mad at most of your cabinet members, your AG, the CDC, parts of the Intelligence Community, the Senate along with the folks you’ve been mad at forever. Apparently, my attempts at helping you with anger management, relaxation exercises, and meditation mantras aren’t helping. I read that among the many drugs you took was Melatonin. I thought that was supposed to help with sleeping better but it hasn’t worked very well as you look exhausted. It’s hard to think of anything else I can suggest would to you that would improve your mood……unless, it’s to start thinking again about the future. I don’t mean right away but think about next year! You could enjoy improving your golf game, eating steaks, having dinner with Melania and maybe even Barron. You could sit with the grandchildren while they attend Zoom school. Goodness, you could start working on your Presidential Library. May I suggest a room at Mara Lago as the location?

Think about it. You wouldn’t need to worry about the physical, mental, emotional or economic health of the country. You wouldn’t have to write love letters to the leaders of other countries who don’t even speak English. You could take Lindsey Graham off the A-list of golf partners and never have to talk to Senator Mitch McConnell again. You wouldn’t even have to make phone calls to tv and radio shows, unless there was a contest for free tickets to a concert. You’d have plenty of time for exercising, reading or volunteering in the community. If you need millions of dollars to get out of debt, you could join the circuit as a motivational speaker or write another best seller about your years in the White House. You could join a militia and train with a bunch of really cool guys who could teach you about law and order. So, cheer up. Losing an election isn’t the end of the world. There are tons of opportunities for a senior citizen like you who is so healthy and so beloved.

Dear Mr. President – October 6, 2020

October 6, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

So, how are you doing today? I didn’t want to bother you over the weekend but now you are home and doing great! That’s wonderful news. No one wants the President of the United States, one month out from an election, to get sick and die. That would be terrible for the country on so many levels. One, we don’t want you to die. Two, we want the people to decide whether or not you leave office. Three, there is enough drama going on and we, the people, don’t need more worries than we already have. You are trying so hard to project an attitude of “What? Me Worry” (shout out to Alfred E. Neuman) but, for most of us, that’s an attitude we don’t have.

You know, it’s not based on your projections of not worrying. It’s more about our reality of worrying about loved ones and ourselves. We do worry about the DTVirus, the economy, the division in this country, racial injustice, climate change, education for our children and grandchildren, suppression of the vote, foreign interference in the election, violence and so much more. By the way, I think many of us worry about violence from the far right, you know, the ones that carry long guns to peaceful protests and believe their guns are the ultimate protection. I was actually thinking about violence against women, children (not that looney Q crap) and people of color.

As usual, I do have some advice for you. Please wear a mask!!! You think you are modeling courage and the “can do” spirit. Some of your supporters said it was a “miracle” when you took a spin around the hospital. But, “here’s the deal”, for most of us, it seemed incredibly irresponsible and, frankly, stupid. I read an OpEd by someone named Heather MacDonald, in the City Journal. She wrote, “There is still no uncontroverted evidence on mask wearing”. That’s simply not true. Wearing a mask is not a perfect way to prevent infecting others but it is PART OF WHAT INTERVENTIONS WE HAVE!”.

Sorry, I got carried away with emotion. This OpEd person also wrote “Trump is now modeling masculine leadership at its best, upbeat, rational and unbowed.” Sigh, there’s only a few problems I have with this sentence, like, EVERY WORD!!

Okay, I’m calmer now. My last piece of advice, which, of course, you are free to ignore, is a reaction to your words to Rudy Giuliani. You said, “Great generals do not lead from behind. They get out in front and motivate troops.” My advice is let the great generals do their jobs. Your job is leading an entire nation, not just parts of it. Your job is modeling responsible, appropriate and sane public behavior.

Dear Mr. President – October 2, 2020

October 2, 2020

Dear Mr. President, (and First Lady, and close advisor, Hope Hicks and everyone else in the White House who may also be infected with the Donald Trump Virus but about whom we have not yet heard),

First of all, it’s sad to hear that you have the virus and are experiencing “mild symptoms”. I certainly hope that mild continues to describe your symptoms, but I also hope you will be honest with the country if they are not. I know Speaker Pelosi is praying for you and the Missus as are many other people. You should try to believe that prayer helps or, as some would say, it couldn’t hurt. You are not the first national leader to become ill with this disease during the pandemic. Remember England’s Boris Johnson, Brazil’s Juan Hernandez, Guatemala’s Alejandro Giammattei (actually, I never heard of him so maybe you didn’t either), and the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan? What about Putin? I read that he is doing a lot of Zoom meetings and not so much in person visits. That’s starting to look like a lot better idea than all the flying around, in-door fund raising and unmasked, no social distancing rallies. I know you’ve heard that before but maybe the DTVirus has shown you in its own way, that those rallies are not a good idea.I also read and heard this morning that the White House folks are still not masking up. It seems that you and your people put too much faith in testing without practicing the advice from your expert health and infectious disease experts. Your new guy, Dr. Scott Atlas, pushed the idea that masks were not necessarily good, that children cannot pass on the virus and it’s not the government’s job to stamp out the virus even if it is okay to protect the vulnerable. He’s probably going to recommend you drink the Clorox. (Don’t). It’s not clear how to protect the vulnerable except by stamping out the virus but, maybe he knows about something else. In the meantime, maybe you could push the idea that masks and social distancing really are our current best plans.

You have managed to change the focal point of the news back to the virus. You tried super hard to move towards Law and Order and Economy and how great you are with the Blacks and Latinos. But, as Joe Biden said, it’s the pandemic that has led to a failing economy and you are not the greatest thing since sliced bread (he didn’t really say that), for people of color. It is so hard for you to admit that your efforts to “Slow the Spread” and “Open Up” were not completely successful on their own even with your Executive Orders in January or pushing for the manufacture of ventilators. There always is something else you could do to stamp out the pandemic but right now, you need to concentrate on your health.

By the way, I read your Tweet “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER! Actually, being in quarantine means we will not go through this together with you. Where will you quarantine? Chris Cuomo quarantined in his basement. Maybe you could go to the bunker. I certainly join everyone who hopes and or prays for your recovery.

Dear Mr. President – September 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

You know I always try to be truthful with you. Last night was “horrible”, “a disgrace”, “disgusting”, “ugly”, “pathetic”, “weak” and “like nobody would ever believe”. In short, it was a “disaster”. You wore your “I’m really mad “face, waved your hands about like you were ready to sweep all the papers off a desk, and pursed your lips so tightly they looked like a pout. You turned beet red and there was steam coming out of your ears. The only thing that wasn’t coming out of you was Truth, Justice and the American Way. Seriously, Mr. President, is that how you treat anyone who doesn’t kiss your ring?

There are words that describe this type of behavior. One is “bully”. I don’t think that is a completely true description of your behavior last night. We often use the word to describe someone who tries to use power, intimidation, violence or fear to control someone else. You didn’t intimidate or scare anyone, but you did manage to demean the Office of the President of the United States and threaten our democracy. Everyone already knew you would make the same accusations you always make about other people, the media and anyone who challenges you. You shout, bluster, glare (ooh-not scary), and then tell ridiculous lies while shouting over anyone who tries to speak.

There was absolutely nothing from you about what your plans are for another four years. There are no ideas from you on how to solve some very important problems for this country. In fact, you can’t even acknowledge there are problems, except for dead trees and leaves in California forests, most of which are under Federal jurisdiction. You made a decision in January to ban some people from China (not everyone) and that did help but nowhere near enough and you have undone that help by your actions, inactions and untruths (lies) over the past 8 months. Your non-plan for the economy seems based on your business acumen, which seems based on cheating, lying and running your businesses into the ground. As VPBiden would say, “C’mon man”.

There was a very large audience for the rumble in Cleveland, but the ratings were a flop. You won’t have a very large audience for any future debates because no one wants to watch POTUS turn into a player on WrestleMania. A friend taught me a new word (thanks Marci) that I’d like to use rather than “bully”. It comes from British and Scottish slang and it’s really fun to say. “Cockwomble”. It means “a person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid statements and /or inappropriate behavior while generally having a very high opinion of their own wisdom and importance”.

Check it out.

Dear Mr. President – September 26, 2020

September 26, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. No, it’s not about your poll numbers; I have faith that you will do something to change them, even if I don’t know whether your numbers will go up or down. My heart is very heavy from the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Every picture, every ceremony and every ritual of Jewish mourning seen and heard this week, has brought me to tears. Our rabbi shared a video clip of her reading the Prayer for Our Country that is found in our prayer book Here are a few of the words of this prayer that she read: “May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of this country”. Can you see why I’ve been tearful? My heavy heart is also about the appearance that you and Senator McConnell and all but two of the Republican senators seem gleeful about her death and your opportunity to name another justice to the Supreme Court. It’s the “glee” that makes me sad and angry and worried about “our ideals and free institutions”. It’s the utter lack of feeling or respect for what she stood for. It’s also the knowledge that with your nominee on the Court, there may be a reversal of Roe v Wade and/or an overturning of the Affordable Health Care Act. That would not be good for the country.Anyhow, you know me, I’m not able to stay demoralized, depressed and disgusted for too long. My nature is to feel more balanced and even-tempered. Sure, I worry about the continuing and lasting effects of the Donald Trump Virus, the disasters caused by climate change, social unrest due to blatant racism and lack of social justice, and a million other serious problems, but I know there are solutions for these issues. It will take more than reciting the Prayer for the Country. I look forward to hearing from you what your ideas are on “forging a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry”.

With all due respect, I don’t think I’ve heard you speak on this topic.In the spirit of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, I have some ideas for you for positive changes in your life and the life of our country. Please read through the statements in the “Al Chet” prayer (For the Sins We have Committed) that is the centerpiece of the liturgy for this day. It’s recited in the plural so as not to embarrass anyone. There is quite a long list but I’m sure you will find some that are relevant for you. The day gives us the opportunity to take an account of our actions, before G-d and before other human beings and to really think about how to change for the better.

My last idea to help you change is for you to make time to practice for the debates. Everyone knows you don’t like to prepare, and you certainly have a way of speaking off the cuff, but that may not be the best strategy. You have some wild accusations about VP Biden that are just offensive, not funny nor true, so leave them out. You may want to insinuate negative things about his son, although, be careful as your older sons have some shade on them, so no to that approach as well. In short, maybe prepare answers for policy questions that you may be asked. You may be asked how to work toward mitigating climate change or social injustice or how to prevent more people from getting sick and dying. Another question may be how to be a president for all the people. Good luck.

Dear Mr. President – September 22, 2020

September 22, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

This is a pretty serious letter, but these times call for serious thoughts and words.

Rosh Hashana was different this year, but it was full of spiritual and emotional meaning and the words and lessons continue to preoccupy my thoughts and plans for the coming year. The time spent in prayer and reflection was a gift to be able think about the past year and all the tensions, anxieties and sadness and to find some hope for the next one.

This is a tough time for you what with all the worry about the election and your own future, so I thought I’d share a few words of the Machzor, and my Jewish texts and traditions that might be helpful. The first of these thoughts comes from Psalm 146 and it is about justice. “Put no trust in the powerful, in mortals who cannot save. Their breath departs, they return to dust, and that is the end of their grand designs”. So, neither you nor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, may her memory be for a blessing, will have final authority over how justice will rule. You may appoint a new Justice to the Supreme Court, but the outcome of that appointment may not lead to “justice” as defined in the Torah. Justice Ginsburg worked for those principles of justice. The biblical standard of justice, repeated over and over and over again in the text, is “always defined by the treatment of the poor, the weak, the powerless, the infirm, the unprotected.” (Machzor, Sim Shalom). It is this principal that allows the world to exist. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Here’s another thought that might help you deal with your current turmoil. It’s a quote from Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, may his memory be for a blessing: “If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that G-d has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, then it is you yourself that needs repair.” If you are constantly breaking and destroying institutions and laws or demeaning or accusing people of untruths, you might need to work on the second half of that quote.

One last thought has to do with the gut wrenching, rising heart rate and joy of hearing the shofar blown. Our service included intensely personal reflections by a number of people on their thoughts and memories about hearing the sound of the shofar. The shofar is viewed as an alarm, as a wake- up call and as the start of personal motivation to action. It’s our push to do what is right and to improve the world and ourselves. The prophet, Micah preached about how division in the country and in families led to hate. He scolded the people about being dishonest in the marketplace and about corruption in government and warned that both would lead to destruction if ways and hearts were not changed. So, what should we be doing? Here is the famous prophecy of Micah who told us what G-d wants us to do: “Do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy G-d”. As we think about our world, our communities, our families and ourselves, it is a push to DO justice.

Dear Mr. President – September 18, 2020

September 18, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

We are on the Eve of Rosh Hashanah and I want to wish you, your family, and everyone in your administration, as well as all of my family, friends and community, a very happy, sweet, healthy and peaceful new year. As you already know, the secular year begins in a few months, but this is the Jewish New Year. It’s a happy time but also a time of deep introspection both of one’s self and the state of our world. I’ve shared some of those thoughts and ideas with you many times but, this early evening, I want to share with you just a few more thoughts.

So many people are worried about our collective future for a variety of reasons. At the same time, most of us are counting the blessings in our lives. I usually focus on blessings, on the people and things in my life that make me give thanks. Most of them are my family and friends. My heart is full of love, joy and gratefulness. It’s always amazing and wonderful to see, hear and read about people doing good in the world and helping others in their community and, through donations, all around the country and the world.

I am grateful to live in this country where democracy and freedom are treasured. I know that there are other countries where people also treasure these concepts and traditions. Even though many people are quite worried about both these things, I believe the majority of people will do the right thing. They won’t lie, cheat, steal, commit sedition, or demean others with cruelty and derision. They won’t vote twice, they will wear masks to protect others when in public places, and they will continue to love and care for one another.

There is one more thing I want to say/write. If I have offended you or anyone else who reads these letters, I apologize. I try to express my thoughts and emotions with honesty and respect. I try to research my opinions and make sure the facts are true. I hope you accept my apology.

Shana Tova U’Metukah (A good and sweet new year).

Dear Mr. President – September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

Dear Mr. President,Well, this has been an incredible week and it’s only Wednesday. (It’s Wednesday, right?). You have been in the news non-stop and that’s how you like it. Then, there were the really strong rallies over the weekend with thousands of your fans. By the way, did you know that the word “fan” is short for the word “fanatic”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says the word “fanatic came from the Latin word “fanaticus”, and originally meant “insanely but divinely inspired”. It referred to a temple or sacred place which in Latin was a “fanum”. Isn’t that interesting? I wonder how the word ”fanatic” is connected to the phrase “herd mentality”?

So, why has my anxiety ramped up to CRAZY level? Me, a fairly calm, even tempered person, is feeling antsy, having trouble sleeping, and needing very long walks while listening to Heather Cox Richardson or Chuck Rosenberg (The Oath). Could it be the smoke from the West Coast that reached Michigan yesterday and is now over New York City and Washington D.C? Maybe it’s the looming number, 200,000, that we will reach by the end of the week. Of course, it could be that I’m worrying about how our grandchildren are handling Zoom learning. The eldest thinks it’s weird that there are lots of faces on the screen, but no one is talking. The next oldest is taking Spanish. He wrote something in the Chat Box and the teacher was impressed that he already knew the language. He said, “no, he used Google Translation”. One of the first graders cries every day and another two are totally wiped out by dinner time.

Whew, just putting those worries on paper helps me calm down. It’s also such a comfort to know that you are completely in charge of everything. Your intelligence is shining a bright light on current events. Of course, it could be the glow from the burning fires out west. Your statements on climate change show how optimistic you are. “It will get cold”, “The scientists don’t know” and, my favorite, “Trees will just explode”, really show off your knowledge.

Dear Mr. President – September 14, 2020

September 14, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

I know you are in the middle of a grand tour of Hispanic voters. You have been working very hard to reach out to the people who love you, even gathering them as close to your bosom as possible. You give your crowd of fans as much love as you possibly can, and they give it right back to you. It must feel so good.

This morning I read about yesterday’s rally and thought, this is how a wildfire starts. You gather all the fuel together and light a spark. Sometimes the fire burns out of control and destroys everything in its path. In the case of the fires on the west coast, the destruction includes homes, families, communities and the forests, animals and the ecosystem. Smoke from the fires continues to cause problems with breathing and health. The wind currents even are bringing smoke to Michigan! Your “man-made fire” has also spread across the country and it continues to destroy public health, communal norms, governmental institutions and good will toward others. Just as one wildfire leads to another, so do your rallies lead to even more destructive fires.It is the week leading up to Rosh Hashana, according to the Jewish tradition, the birthday of the world. I won’t bore you with all the details, you can just ask Jarrod and Ivanka to fill them in. You should just know that this is a good time to evaluate our lives, both personally and as a community. Our prayers are said in the plural “we” as we take responsibility for all of “our” actions. We ask for forgiveness for sins against other human beings as well as the sins we have committed against G-d. This is pretty heavy stuff, but it is cleansing, because it allows for new commitments to our families, our communities, our world and to our traditions and ethics. Just as some fires, controlled fires, can lead to new growth and healthier forests, so can new inspiration from our leaders lead to solving real problems in a real world.

In the NYTImes crossword puzzle from last Saturday, one of the clues was “Them” and the answer was “enemies”. When you use “they” or “them” are you saying that more than half the people of this country are your “enemies”? What happened to the oath you love, “One nation, under G-d”? Just as Nancy Pelosi prays for you, my prayers also include praying for good leaders, ones who work to improve all our lives and unite the entire country with good will toward all.