Category Archives: Letters to the Editors

Open Letter to the Democratic Presidential Candidates (and Others)

Dear Bernie, Elizabeth, Joe, Pete, Amy, Mike, Tom, et al.,

The debates so far seem to have hinged on one basic question above all: “Who can beat Trump?” Not who has the best ideas, policies, or plans – not who has the best vision for the future – not who could best manage the transitions we have to make as a society – but just who can command enough votes in the right places to squeak through the Electoral College and get elected.

Let’s face it: as things stand now, not one of you could defeat Trump… as an individual, that is. He has too much cash, too many brainwashed followers, too many lackeys in important positions… and too much ability to use media to confuse, obfuscate and deceive. And each of you has weaknesses that Trump and his armies of pundits and commentators are just waiting to jump on, embellish, and blow out of proportion.

Together, though, all of you might have a chance… but only if you can campaign as a team… and get your various followers to do the same.

At this point, it doesn’t matter all that much who is at the “head” of this team. Any of you could competently fill that role. But it can’t be about just you. All factions of the Democratic Party – progressives, socialists, centrists, and corporatists alike – have to come together and find a way, not to show some false “unity,” not to paper over very real differences, not to squelch dissent, but rather find a way to leverage your vaunted diversity and use it as a real STRENGTH. Otherwise, the Trump propaganda machine will find it way too easy to set us all at each other’s throats. It’s doing so already, in fact. The time has come to abandon the “rugged individualist” idea that some single magical individual can somehow be sufficient to save us. That kind of thinking, after all, is what brought us Trump.

The primary process, as laid out before us, could be destructive and divisive. It could waste precious resources and cause widespread damage, if you just tear each other down in the hope of coming out on top at the end. Instead, you could be using this time, energy, and money to determine policies and approaches that will counter Trump’s appeal, use and develop the strengths that each of you have, and come out at the end with not just one bruised and limping survivor, but with an entire Cabinet’s worth of competent and inspiring individuals, committed to working together for the betterment of the country.

To do otherwise is to risk alienating and disenfranchising one group or another, when we will need all hands on deck to counter Trumpism’s threat to our democracy. Can you together craft a campaign that truly includes everyone “from billionaires to baristas”? That addresses the needs of financiers and families? Doctors and dockworkers?

Not an easy task, I’m sure. But if you can’t accomplish this within your own party, how will you keep America from tearing itself apart?


Notes for a Manifesto

The mere removal of Donald Trump from office through impeachment as per Article 2 of the Constitution, or even simply relieving him of his Presidential duties as per the 25th Amendment, would be insufficient remedy.

  • The flawed electoral system that allowed him to assume the most powerful elected office on the planet would still be there.
  • The corrupt socio-political-economic system that produced him and made him a “success” would still be there.
  • The cynical power brokers who thought it would be a good idea to install him as President would still be there.
  • The greedy, shortsighted economic interests that thought his Presidency would be a good thing for their bottom lines would still be there.
  • The ideologically driven right-wing media/propaganda system that deceived and beguiled Americans into supporting him would still be there.
  • The deliberately-crippled educational system that produced the people that either supported him or apathetically stayed away from voting would still be there.

They could do it all again. And next time it could be even worse.

They must all be repaired, reformed, transformed, replaced, or demolished.

Commemorating Rush Limbaugh

Like him or hate him, you gotta admit that few Americans have had the impact on our political and cultural life that Rush Limbaugh has had. Now that he is reaching the end of his career, as well as the end of his days on Earth, I think it’s important that his contribution be recognized in a lasting and appropriate way.

I would therefore like to suggest to the medical community that pilonidal cysts, which as you may know kept Limbaugh from serving in the armed forces, be rechristened “Limbaugh’s disease,” and the cysts themselves be referred to henceforward as “Limbaughs.”

For example:

“Geez, Doc, what is that thing? Hurts like the dickens! And what a bad smell!”
“Well, Sam, I’m afraid you have a severely infected Limbaugh.”

“I had a really bad case of Limbaughs, but the surgeon did a great job, and now you’d hardly know they were there.”

“You need to get out of your chair from time to time, or else you might get a Limbaugh.”

All things considered, I think this is the least we can do, don’t you?

Electoral Precision

(This is a letter that I’m sending to newspapers in Minnesota regarding the Senate contest there; it’s an adaptation of a letter that I wrote in 2000 regarding the Florida presidential recount. It’s kinda sad that the basic concept doesn’t seem to be catching hold: there should be a margin of error declared for any given election, and if the election result is smaller than that margin, it should be declared a tie and handled accordingly.)

Dear Editor:

“Precision” is the key word to understanding Minnesota’s post-election brouhaha. Precision is not the same as accuracy, but rather refers to the kind of measurement that one can expect from a given instrument. Your garden-variety twelve-inch ruler, for example, is not precise enough to measure the diameter of a blood cell, but an electron microscope could do the job easily.

Our existing election systems are very imprecise instruments for determining the will of the people. Machines malfunction, humans make mistakes, and parties can influence outcomes in many ways (some legal, some not). This imprecision is the subject of a certain amount of humor on the one hand and cynical resignation on the other, but is usually insignificant – most elections yield margins of victory that easily exceed the margins of error. (I’m told a three-percent margin of error is fairly standard for elections.)

In the Senate recount, the margin is orders of magnitude smaller than the level of precision that the election system can be expected to yield. Imagine trying to determine the winner in a footrace where yeah, sure, someone got across first, but the actual difference was a matter of millimeters and milliseconds and you’re eyeballing the result from 500 yards away.

In other words, it’s a tie. Rather than quibbling over recount procedures, the parties involved should simply settle on a tie-breaking mechanism, if the law does not provide for one already – whether it’s a complete redo or a mere coin toss – and let the Senator get to work.


Don’t they deserve the *very* best?

Dear Editor —

I fear that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other members of the Bush Regime may find themselves in great personal peril after they leave power – threatened as they will undoubtedly be by implacably hostile terrorists, harassed by merciless left-wing reporters, and worst of all, pursued by the very Hounds of Hell themselves, the ruthless investigators of the International Criminal Court. 

I think that it behooves us, the American people, to do everything we can to provide the best security possible for these selfless public servants, these men and women who put everything at risk, whether they owned it or not, to try to keep this country exactly what they wanted it to be.  This security cannot be a part-time thing – it should be 24/7/365 (or 366, depending), for the rest of their natural (or artificially-extended) lives.

How can we accomplish such a Herculean task, you may ask?  Do we have the skilled personnel, the specialized state-of-the-art equipment, the indomitable spirit and determination that will be required? Of course we do – we’re Americans, aren’t we?  Is there any task that is beyond our powers?  (I mean, besides manufacturing affordable renewable-power vehicles for personal transport, or providing single-payer universal health care…)

So I propose, my fellow Americans, that – for their own protection , you understand – we should arrange for this security to be instituted as soon as possible, at the one place where it can be provided:

The United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX), the Federal SUPERMAX facility in Florence, Colorado.

 After all, considering everything that the men and women of the Bush Regime have done for this country, given their unique and indeed unparalleled contributions to our history, wouldn’t you agree that they deserve nothing less than the VERY best we can give them…?