Thursday, November 21, 2019

An Open Letter to Ivanka Trump


Dear Ms. Trump,

Allow me to opine: your father should not run for a second term.

The presidency is cannibalizing your father. The knives come at him from all directions - the democrats, the FBI, the Southern District of New York, the media, his never ending self-inflicted wounds. He can take his bluster to his staged rallies yet there is no escaping the fact that your father’s presidency has been a slow, slow, slow, drip, drip, drip of a disaster. 

The substantial and ongoing effort to claim success in the face of such obvious failure would be draining on anyone’s psyche and well-being. You could tell me that your father is driven to be of service to others yet such a concept is not in his DNA. You could tell me that he approaches his job in earnest yet he spends far too many days on the golf course (170 and counting).

America is not great again - nor is your father capable of such a tremendous feat. What ails our country is far too insidious and all-pervasive for the likes of any mere mortal to simply reverse. Your father pretends. Your father has always pretended. Maybe in the days of his reality TV stardom it was funny, now it is pitiable. If you think his pretending will have a happy ending, for anyone, you are kidding yourself.

I remind you when on the campaign trail your father had the lunacy to proclaim that he would pay the debt off in eight years. Contrary to his word the national debt has grown by $3.1 trillion - an increase of 15.5% in his three years in office. Are you kidding me?! Your father is kicking the can down the road for the next guy ... and he wants to be the next guy?

Your father’s perfect presidency is a house of cards just as America’s perceived prosperity is smoke and mirrors. The stock market may be at an all-time high yet 99% of us are not better off. Donald Trump has not made America a better place or financially more sound. Instead, he hastens the unraveling.

Your father is driven to seek re-election like John Snow chasing Daenerys Targaryen. He knows the whole thing is going to go up in flames but he-just-can’t-help-himself. Forget about the second term, your father is in over his head and he would serve himself well to cut and run. London is burning, the contestants have all left the building, and the place he is going is very dark, very sad, and very lonely.

The problem with cutting and running is that when out of office - and without the republican cover that currently protects him - your father will likely have to face the full weight of the law.

Good luck,

Robert M. Hamburger

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

An Open Letter to Edward Snowden

                                                                                                                     [Image Credit: theguardian.com]

Dear Edward, 

One night when on the Oregon coast a couple of years ago I ditched my hotel room and decided to sleep out on the beach. In my sleeping bag, a dog on either side of me, waves crashing on the shore below, a clear night, no moon and not a light in any direction I stared up at the stars and Milky Way for hours on end. Throughout the night satellites traveled across the night sky. Once I counted seven satellites at the same time.

At one point I thought of you and your disclosure to the American people - that our government is tracking us - and thanks to the cell phone in my pack there was a satellite out there that knew exactly where I was lying.

With 330 million of us in United States today it can debated whether mass surveillance is unnecessary, needed, right or wrong. However it can no longer be said that our government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people” when the government does not tell us what it is doing.

You have said that all you wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed. Now, you are exiled in Russia.

Former NSA Director James Clapper lied to congress, specifically stating there was no mass collection of data. Now, not only is the man not behind bars he is on the air at CNN.

One day history will tell the story of a man who told his fellow humans what was being done to them - without their consent and contrary to their government’s statements. History will remember you well.

In the meantime I look forward to the day when you are welcomed home.

Sincerely,

Hamburger

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

—George Orwell

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

An Open Letter to Greta Thunberg

                                                                                                                       [Image Credit: Commondreams.org]

Dear Greta,

In 1969 and when in the fifth grade I first learned about smog. At the time it was phenomenon/problem in Los Angeles, and to a lesser extent in Denver. Now, you can see the brown haze when flying in or out of most any city in the world. 

Climate change is visible.

Last week I learned that the bird population in my town of 150 people at 8,800 feet in the Colorado mountains had declined by more than 80% in the past decade.

The environment is killing off species. One day it will not support our species in the way we have come to expect.

I need look no further than myself to know that each of us pollutes every day - my garbage goes down the road, my sewage goes some where else, my wood stove sends soot into the air, my car spews fumes every time I get behind the wheel. I deplete resources and do not replenish them. With 7.7 billion people on the planet - and all us doing much of the same - it is nonsensical to believe that the ecosystem is not already under enormous strain. 

Those who naysay climate change have bought into corporate propaganda. And their eyes are closed.

We need to listen to the scientists. And you should be able to go back to school while we attend to the crisis that we created so that you have a future to look forward to.

You are a champion to rebuke current leadership.

Warmly,


Hamburger

"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean."
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

An Open Letter To All Americans

                                                                                                                                    [Image Credit: Getty]

Dear Compatriots,

I don’t know many Trump supporters. I live in a small hippie town in the mountains of Colorado and there are not many here who support Donald. Pretty much all who I socialize with think it is a disgrace that we elected such an unscrupulous person to be our leader.

I do however have a cousin who is a gun-owning, Bible-believing man who thinks of Trump as nothing less than a superhero. My cousin and I agree that United States is seemingly way up the creek without a paddle … and that our government has become the government for the privileged few and that it is not working for the rest of us … and that our congress is owned by the corporations and that it criminally neglects us. However when I point out that the man in the oval office is psychologically incapable of telling the truth my cousin’s walls go up. To him Trump can do no wrong, He gives the man pass after pass after pass. It is a brainwashed blind loyalty. 

Trump and the republicans have my cousin’s vote because he is NRA. However I fault the church for my cousin’s views. While his church tells him that he should aspire to be a morally sound human being the same church tells him to support a leader with such cruel and unconscionable character traits. Such a demented message has only further diminished my already dubious views of organized religion.

My cousin’s and my differing perspectives are telltale of how we are divided in America in 2019. History is rich with lessons about what happens to divided societies. Still and incredulously my cousin believes the red politicians would already be riding to the rescue if the blue agenda was not in the way.

To All Americans: Change is not coming from Washington, Blue or Red. The president is clueless when it comes to the concept of the greater good nor does he have a greater vision for us beyond his own narcissistic fantasies. Congress has been corrupted by money and is the grandest swamp of all. Congress will have to find the wisdom to admit that it has lost its way before it can begin to find its way. Creating better lives for ourselves is up to us - not them. Only when the people lead will the leaders follow.

To Democrats: Your party stands for nothing. The democrats are the former 1960/70 hippies and civil righters who understood that we are only as strong as our weakest link and that an ever-expanding, big-business driven society would come to overtake humans’ abilities to lead self-directed lives. Democratic ideals used to be on the right side of the track. The problem is that the democrats got entangled with welfare programs along the way for the sake of having a “majority.” The reason democrats stand for nothing is that while they still want to be the People’s party they are now better friends with the corporations than they are with you and me.

To Republicans: Your party’s interests do not have the interests of 99% of us even remotely at heart. The Republican Party is the party of the corporations and billionaires. The Reagan and Bush One years saw the republicans get into bed with the religious right and gun owners for the sake of creating their “majority.” Trump tax cuts have benefited the corporations and the rich and missed 100% of the rest of us. Republicanism is corrupt to the core. People like my cousin screw themselves every which way under the sun for the sake of voting for their guns or against abortions. 

To Independents: Those of us who consider themselves free thinkers are on a  better track. One of the worst things that ever happened in American politics is that we ended up with only two political parties. It is a sham that a nation as diverse as ours has have only an either/or choice. The sooner we have a third, fourth and fifth party the better.

How will we find common ground? 

The singularly most important thing will be learning to accept one another. This means not putting up walls … of any kind … anywhere… in any way. This may be pollyannish yet it is the reality. We are all in this by ourselves and we are all in this together.

How will we begin to unite our country? 

How am I going to better unite with my family, friends, neighbors and coworkers? Or better yet, how am going to better unite with those I may have already crossed?

It will require people to come to know the interconnectedness of all people - regardless of race, religion, political beliefs or where they crossed the border. Chief Seattle: “All things are connected like the blood which unites one family.”

It will require a new kind of patriot for the 2020s - not ones who fly the American flag out the window of their pickup trucks - yet ones who reject the flag for what it has come to stand for and who understand that it will mean taking the government on head on. Thomas Paine: “It is the duty of every patriot to protect his country from its government.”

It will require those who do not vote to vote. The untapped majority could all but start a revolution with their dormant power. Samuel Adams: “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds…”

Banning lobbyists, having a choice of more than two parties, term limits, returning money creation powers to the United States Treasury, dismantling the taxation machine would be good next steps.

What about a movement where nobody supports an incumbent who has already served more than one term? 

My vision for American society is one where people have learned a new level of willingness to take responsibility for themselves - and their surroundings. My hope is that new leaders come forth - ones who do not promise unity yet ones who demonstrate it. My wish is to see us, individually and collectively, become more value-oriented and more focused on the greater good of our society - with more caring and kindness.

Healing the blue/red divide will not happen overnight. I wonder if it is even possible. There are no simple, fix-all answers. Answers will only come one at a time and in as many ways as there are people.

Where do I start? 

I ask myself what I might do for the benefit of another and then I go do it. And then I do it again and again and again.

Sincerely,

Robert M. Hamburger

Thursday, October 24, 2019

An Open Letter to the United States Congress

                                                                                                                  [Image Credit: Edmon de Haro]

Dear Senators and Representatives:

Our Founder’s vision for the American Republic was a system of government where the People were to empower the government and where elected representatives’ preeminent duty was to work for the betterment of the country’s citizenry. 

Over the past many decades a slow deterioration of this ideal has occurred. 

Now, nearly every one of you is now beholden to the military/industrial/security/
banking/pharmaceutical complex and not to your constituents. There is no ambiguity - money has corrupted your institution. Individually and collectively you have lost your way.

You claim to represent us. You claim to be leaders. You claim to have answers. You claim that your party’s answers are better than theirs. 

You behave like children. Your infighting has led to the great divide that cripples our country. It is a travesty how you have abdicated your responsibilities (us). It is a travesty that we stand for it.

Interests groups dictate policy. There are 22 registered lobbyists for every member of your institution. You allow this disgusting influence to exist and to propagate. Meanwhile the nation's infrastructure crumbles, healthcare reforms languish, our children’s educations regress, crime escalates, mass shootings become commonplace, Social Security is at risk, the rich get richer, climate change exacerbates.

Yet you have low-cost health insurance for life. 

True leaders would give to others that which they give to themselves. Honorable leaders would serve others before themselves. 

Envisioning a different kind of leader I considered running for congress several times in my life. The first time was shortly after the 1987 stock market crash. That was when Ronald Reagan, the former Hollywood actor, had turned the republicans into the borrow and spend party while extolling the virtues of smaller government (one of the great bait and switches in American history). Reagan was first president to double the national debt - from $934 billion when he entered office to $2.698 trillion when he left.

I was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore. I had visions of standing at the lectern in the “people’s house” and railing against the improprieties. Better yet, I had fantasies of sending the majority of the 535 senators and representatives at the time to jail for fiscal mismanagement.

However the idea of becoming a politician was unfathomable. I also believed, and still do to this day, that change will not happen in Washington. As Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”

Still, at times, I wonder what if?

Now, our country is $22.914 trillion in debt. This is the number stated on the books. My guess is the truthful number is far greater. There will be consequences and my suspicion is such consequences are coming sooner rather than later. On some level I believe all of you know this is madness. Still, every year you pass budgets that further indebt us. 

One day the members of your chambers will call for lofty investigations into what went wrong with America’s finances. 

There is no need for such investigations. Action needs to be taken now.

1. I call on each of you to stop this fiscal insanity. Do not pass another budget that is not balanced. 
2. I call on each of you to cease all contact with all lobbyists. No exceptions.
3. I call on all of you to enact term limits upon yourselves. Without delay.

Sincerely,

Robert M. Hamburger

“Responsibility to something higher than my family, my country, my company, my success–responsibility to the order of being where all our actions are indelibly recorded and where and only where they will be properly judged. The interpreter or mediator between us and this higher authority is what is traditionally referred to as human conscience. If I subordinate my political behavior to this imperative, mediated to me by my conscience, I can't go far wrong.” 
--Vaclav Havel, playwright, philosopher, dissident and president of Czechoslovakia, February 1990 speech to the United States Congress

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

An Open letter to Donald Trump

Dear Mr. Trump,

I am not - nor have I ever been - one of your supporters. I am ashamed that my fellow countrymen and women elected you. I write you today only because I believe your presidency, and thus our country, is in peril. 

You told people you would be a great uniter … yet your rhetoric is both divisive and disgusting.

You proclaimed that you would make America great again …  and that you would pay off the national debt in eight years … yet the deficit grows (you indebt us) at the fastest rate ever.

You promised to drain the swamp … yet the swamp thrives with you at the top.

Day after day bad news envelops your presidency. Week after week you embarrass yourself/us on the national and world stage. I’ll show you my taxes, Mexico will pay for the wall, my son met with the Russians to discuss baby adoptions, sh-thole nations - the list is endless.

Now the news centers on an impeachment inquiry and your promises to a foreign government. You may very well skirt these events as you have so many others, however I believe your missteps and misdeeds are catching up with you. Things are unraveling. Trouble lies ahead. 

Deep down I believe you know your presidency is a sham. The only reason you got elected - and still have supporters - is that there is a news network that tells Americans that they should support a dishonest, immoral, narcissistic, p-ssy-grabbing, founder of a fake university, who has had nary an honest dealing with anyone.

I ask who are the corrupt forces behind such a despicable message?

Meanwhile the sun is setting on the the American Empire, just as it has on every other empire through the centuries. Empires rise and they fall, we will be no different. It is not necessarily a bad thing - it happens to all things - the presidential jet, my car, my neighbor’s hot water heater, all of our lives. The same is true of empires. We will not be the “greatest nation on earth” into eternity … or for much longer. We are overstretched, insolvent, entangled around the world, divided and crumbling from within.

You have not demonstrated the substance of character to tackle what ails our country. The problems facing the United States are far too complex for grandiose, repetitious statements with the sound of helicopter blades whirling in the background. Nor are little red ball caps in rural America the answer. 

The wise man admits that he knows little. Instead you grandstand as if you are stuck in reality tv star mode. The problem is that the yet-to-be-written story is likely one of pinning the end of the American Empire on an orange-haired donkey. 

I don’t like your prospects yet you do have the ability to change the course you are on. It will require you to become someone you have never been before, and in most cases making a 180-degree turn from your present ways. It will require humility. It will require you to find a place inside of yourself where you feel empathy and where you learn to be of service to others. It is your only hope.

I think you would benefit greatly if you would:

1. Start telling the truth. Doing so will revolutionize your life. Those who are remembered most favorably by history are those who are honorable. 
2. Stop calling people names. Doing so is divisive. Those who are divisive are never remembered well.
3. Have compassion. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Improve the lives of those who struggle and/or those who may be less fortunate and you will forever be remembered as a hero.

Sincerely,

Robert M. Hamburger