Daily Letters to Trump: Day 13


Trump and Florence Foster Jenkins

Florence Foster Jenkins was a New York socialite and opera singer who was known and mocked for her flamboyant performance and absence of singing ability. She was ranked as “the world’s worst opera singer”. “It was said that she had liberated herself “completely from the shackles of musical notation.” Her perfomances were “never exactly an aesthetic experience, or only to the degree that an early Christian among the lions provided aesthetic experience; it was chiefly immolatory, and Madame Jenkins was always eaten, in the end.”

Ira Siff, dubbed her “the anti-Callas”: said: “Jenkins was exquisitely bad, so bad that it added up to quite a good evening of theater … She would stray from the original music, and do insightful and instinctual things with her voice, but in a terribly distorted way. There was no end to the horribleness. Cole Porter rarely missed a recital, but it is said he had to bang his cane on the floor to keep from laughing. Whether Lady Jenkins was aware of her lack of talent is up for debate, but she became a beloved cult figure because of her authenticity and absoute delight for music.

President Elect has a love for performance and notariety as Lady Jenkins. This week on an appreciation tour we saw him re-enacting his greatest hits for loving audiences who chanted “lock her up.” He sang his disjointed and gloating aria for no other purpose than receiving applause. His lyrics in the style of a Southern Tupac:

We didn’t break it.
We shattered that sucker.
Shattered it, man.
That poor wall is busted up.
So, I’ll never forget it though
because it felt so good.
You know, more so
because they kept saying
there’s no path
and all this nonsense.

It’s one thing to be a syphilis riddled socialite parodying a diva in public. It’s quite another for the President Elect of the United States to become a diva parodying the office of the President on the world stage. And this is especially true because there is no mandate of a popular vote. The bitterness of the Clinton camp lingers and is becoming organized. And the President Elect’s childish refusal of State and Intelligence briefings reveals an unprecedented lack of concern for the future of the US.

This week my phone consistently rang with calls on how to do FOIA requests, how to file lawsuits, how to constitutionally stop the electors from voting for Trump, and how to protect the groups that were attacked in this campaign and even now. There are over 2.5 million people who opppose Trump and see the election as a disgrace.

The incompetence of accepting phone calls and Tweeting about how world leaders are paying homage, led to a rebuke by China. The 10 minute telephone call with Taiwan’s leadership breached the “one China” policy, and China lodged a diplomatic protest. In order to save face, China blamed the event on its scapegoat Taiwan which it considers a rogue province. China has not ruled out bringing Taiwan back into the fold by force. And when criticised about the call, the Tweet excuse was “they called me.” A deflection often employed by young children who don’t want to accept responsibiity for mistakes.

The President Elect lives in an all-enveloping delusion protected and nurtured by an inner circle of kept family and political gadabouts. It occurs as though the President Elect will be staging impulsive stunt shows in which he plays Lady Foster. Now that corporations know that they can extort tax breaks by threatening to move jobs to Mexico, how much corporate welfare policy has been created? Now that you are talking to Pakistan like a high school candidate for prom king, will you destabelize relations with India?

It’s time to stop pushing buttons like a three year old in an elevator – just to see what will happen.

Daily Letters to Trump: Day 12

20161201__02tcasafw1Boulder County installed posters assuring employees and visitors to those buildings, that they’re in a “Safe Zone.”

There are English and Spanish versions of the posters, which state that “This space respects all aspects of people including race, ethnicity, gender expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, political affiliation, age, religion, body shape, size and ability.”

Boulder County is a welcoming and safe place. That’s how we’re going to stay.

Daily Letters to Trump: Day 11

cuba-picThe Spirit of the Cuban People

I spend most of the month of May 2016 in Cuba with a delegation from Trees, Water People. Our delegation included solar power experts, a bilingual pediatrician, the Founder of Mother Love (a plant expert), an ornithologist, music promoters, lawyers, a Red-Diaper Baby who runs a toy store in Colorado, and Peace Corps employees. We traveled across the entire country (except Guantanamo) and met scores of Cubans in the cities, country, beaches, and forests. We arrived just after President Obama left and the Rolling Stones had given a free concert in Havana. There were new things in the air – the internet, the transition of power, and fear of losing their identity to American consumerism.

The Cuban people are resilient and creative. They are highly educated. Painters, musicians, dancers, mechanics, writers abound. The founder of one of the premier sustainable organic urban farms said it best, “We make things work from nothing; if I could go to Home Depot for a day, I could entirely change my country.” Live music. Creative and hard working hands hold up the culture.

The Cubans are a blended culture – Spanish, Tribal, Black, Communist, Entrepreneur. Jeweled eyes matched with stunning skin tones. The people are stylish and unique. They move with rhythm and are infected with song and beat.

Practitioners of Santeria practice their religion and create beautiful home alters to heal, prevent misfortune or curse in the decaying neighborhoods of Havana. Santeria is also known as Regla de Ocha or Lucumi. In Spanish Santeria translates into devotion to the saints or “santos.” It is religious syncretism of West African religions and Catholicism. There is no unified writing; the traditions are passed orally from generation to generation by priests and priestesses. The idea is to underwent the ache or the spiritual energy present in the universe. Practitioners hope to acquire more ache through ethical good lives. Through this, they evolve as human being. In many ways is a very colorful and ancient expression of mindfulness.

When initiated into Santeria, for the first week the individual symbolically dies and is reborn. The old life ends and a new one begins. Initiates wear white for purification. Music is a means to communicate with the eternal.

Hollywood sensationalizes possession in Santeria as it does with Catholic exorcism. Neither is the norm.
Embed from Getty Images

The Greek Orthodox church is active, and the government has made some effort to show that it respects religion. In 2002, St. Nicholas Church was built in Old Havana. Castro attended the dedication of the Church.

In the gardens surrounding St. Nicholas Church there is a beautiful and active mosaic baptismal pool. It was filled with hibiscus and fragrant leaves. The street noise does not penetrate here.

The Ladies in White are a political group. The Ladies ritualistically walk to St. Rita’s Church in Havana to pray for their imprisoned loved ones that were tried and condemned during the Black Spring in 2003. At that time the Cuban government arrested and sentenced 75 journalists, librarians, and human rights defenders to decades in prison. The activist Laura Pollan formed the group two weeks after the arrests and modeled the action after the Argentinian Madres de Plaza De Mayo who lost children in the Junta in the 1970’s. Each lady wears a button with a photo of her jailed relative. They Cuban government has labeled the Ladies in White as a subversive association of American-backed terrorists.

The friends that I made are all highly talented and educated. Julio, my favorite of all, accompanied me to Ernest Hemingway’s house. He has a PhD, and is well-read and writes poetically about his love for Cuba and his friends. He studied abroad in the Cuban exchange program in eastern Europe and communist affiliate countries. Julio knew all of the stories of Finca Vigia, the black dogs, the mahogany boat, and the old man and the sea. Julio could have worked for the government for 60 CUC a month but he has chosen to be a guide and guard because it it more lucrative and better for his family. Literature is universal, and so is entrepreneurship and a desire to better the lives of your children. He chose to stay and help his country.

In Cienfuegos, we stayed in a house that was frozen in time in 1960. Nothing had been changed – the astroturf in the back courtyard, white iron patio furniture, and garden gnomes. Melmac plastic atomic style dishes. A dead white caddie sinking on rotten tires. The former owner was a funeral director of the town. He and every member of his family fled to the United States. They left behind a distant very tired relative who cares for the house but wishes she could be with her family. The Cuban refugees in America long for the things they lost – the land, houses, mines, fincas – they could not regain in the doomed Bay of Pigs (Giron) operation in April 1961.

Among the mid-century furnishings was a santos of the Black Madonna that had been carried in religious processions. The Madonna is covered with shells, coral and fish. Her mantel is blue, and she is the patron saint of fishermen. The Madonna is sitting next to lightly gilded 1950’s white wigged porcelain figures from Spain, France and Dresden that are worthless in Cuba. The owner hopes to sell these statutes to a traveler so she can buy a ticket to live with her family and freely roam in new worlds.


The buildings on the boulevards are painted in old pastel plaster. The Parque Jose Marti is the square where the church and government buildings in Cienfuegos are located. At night in this square hundreds of Cubans gather with smart phone around hot spots. Separated families Facetime for hours into the night. The Cubans see our culture through webpages – YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, and Miami local news channels. The Cuban people are conversational and connected. They spend time on their front porches, sharing meals, playing games, watching children. They see that Americans are engaged more with electronics than their families and friends, and they do not want to become detached from each other.

In Vinales we stayed in a Casa Particular with a grandmother named Ida. Her husband is a farmer, and he lives in the red soil in the country. She tends her rose pink BnB on a dirt road filled with children walking to school with their parents in the morning and playing endless games in the sun after school. She watches the parade of horse carts and hodge podge Chevys and is glad that the hard times of starvation after the fall of the USSR are over. Now she is learning to be a business woman with the other ladies on her road who rent out rooms. The old and young make communal dinners for their tourist guests – some cook the meat, some cut the fruit, and other set and wash up. They keep tight books and share the profits

We caused confusion when we tipped Ida, and she thought we did not understand money or the charges. I found myself surrounded by grandmothers who were telling me that I gave them too much money, and me telling them about tips in my kindergarten Spanish. The women put their heads together and decided to share the tip with the whole neighborhood. Some luck to help them improve their gardens, rooms and websites. The men stayed wisely out of the controversy, but somehow the money was spent on building materials to expand the houses. Young black men in tattered clothes unloaded the rock, rebar and cement.

The people with whom I connected are excited about having businesses and new people to talk to, but they want to do it in the Cuban way. They love music and dancing everywhere and anytime. They love each other, and do not want to loose their friendships and laughter around tables full of rum, rice and beans. They want materials to create and build their unique ideas.

The loss of Fidel is more important to people who believed in the revolution and less to their children who cherish smart phones and cards that connect them to everywhere and everything. In this moment and nine days of national mourning for a lawyer who changed a nation for better and worse and who ran the Mafia out of his country with pigs, my friends say that there is a unifying confusion and the desire for a future that will blend the best of the two generations and worlds. I hope that the Cuban defend their unique identity and beauty. I also wish that they have the opportunity to integrate the best of America and take from our culture as they have for centuries from Pirates, slaves, Spain, and Marx. We are entering the next era of Cuban syncretism, and Americans may gain more than simply a new market. The old is dying and something new is being birthed.

Daily Letter to Trump: Day 10

iolzoz55rdaqttsu5xb9The Marriage of the U2 Dragon Ladies and the White Hat Hackers.

In August 1952 – in complete secrecy – at the the Lockheed Skunk Works – the original Dragon Lady first flew. Early flights over the Soviet Union in the late 1950s provided the president and other U.S. decision makers with key intelligence on Soviet military capability. In October 1962, the U-2 photographed the buildup of Soviet offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba, touching off the Cuban Missile Crisis. This machine has taken part in virtually every major American military operation for over the last half century and has provided signals, communications, electronic and image intelligence reliably since shortly after the dawn of the jet age.

The Dragon Lady is the most difficult plane to fly. The minimum airframe weight results in little margin for error. To maintain 70,000 feet altitude, the planes must be operated near their never exceed speed. The margin between the never exceed speed and stall speed is only 12 mph. Breaching either can cause airflow separation of the wings or tail. The U-2 uses an in line bicycle landing gear configuration instead of the tricycle configurations in most planes. To fly a dragon lady, the pilot must wear a space suit.

The 60 year old U-2 Dragon Lady program has been a male dominated one, with just eight women being qualified to fly a U-2. Merryl Tengesdal is the first female African American U-2 pilot. Merrill rose from a tough neighborhood with encouragement from her teachers and family, and has now seen the curvature of the Earth – at 70,000 feet providing data to decision makers.

Now the Dragon Lady is an important asset to destroy DAISH. I will use the acronym DAISH because it infers that ISIS is not a
true caliphate or state, rather an illegitimate death cult as bad as the the Khmer Rouge who killed 2 million people in Cambodia.

The Dragon Lady has been instrumental in finding safe houses and battle position. The Dragon Ladies coordinate data with drones and fighter pilots. One of the key hackers and recruiters for DAISH, Junaid Hussain, was air stalked and killed by a Hellfire Missile while leaving an internet cafe. According to the Times, Hussain was a 21 year old English speaking computer specialist from England, and his tight circle of hackers and recruiter are the “Legion.”

Working together from the physical outer space barrier and in cyber space, the Dragons and white hat counter-intelligence workers have killed members of The Legion and arrested nearly 100 people motivated by social media The FBI has sifted through thousands of the Legions followers postings on the net and stopped attacks.

One might think that cyber anti-terrorism is very difficult, but it all originates from 0’s and 1’s – a binary system of language. In the past weeks, I started learning Python, one of the more universal languages of the internet. The simplicity of computers and the open structure of the net is astonishing. All systems are vulnerable it seems so far in my learning.

How facial recognition systems work is very simple. Facial features are simply measured and mapped. If you engage in Facebook, under your profile, you can find the code of your face. This simple math map of your face allows the system to identify you and allows you to tag your friends. The math map of your face is universal and can be used in any application. The innocent face mapping on Facebook is the same system used to identify terrorists. It is not mysterious or magical.

Every letter, number, color and sound has a unique binary code in bits and then bundled in powers of 2 in Bytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, and so on. When the unique code hits the processor it is then translated into a letter, a number, a color or a sounds. And all of this is done at the speed of light.

As our technology moves forward, combat becomes more distant and invisible. It is never ending. Such that we might not even think about it or perhaps it seems like nothing is being done. Invisibility of combat in the background does not mitigate the true impact of war on humanity, but it does seem as if there is no progress against DAISH. But we are, and there are heroes flying Dragons and white hats programming in secret computer arrays fighting for our freedom every day, and they are working together – which is the only way – we will succeed.

Daily Letter to Trump: Day 9

ap_8411160115-01f655b83dec0156917b3323b0cd19aa1f8abd8d-s800-c85Should we pardon Turkeys?

One of the silliest functions of the Presidency is to pardon the Turkey. An 1865 dispatch from White House reporter Noah Brooks is the oldest-known account of a presidential turkey clemency concerning Abraham Lincoln sparing a a Christmas turkey that his son Tad loved. John F. Kennedy appears to have been the first to pardon a Thanksgiving turkey.. George HW Bush made this a formal ceremony. Malia and Sasha are probably not going to miss attending this event
But pardons are important powers to ensure that profound mistakes and flaws in the criminal justice system are rectified and that political prosecutions do not tear the country apart. Lincoln pardoned many North Dakota Sioux; Ford pardoned Nixon and probably ended his political career for the sake of the Nation.

Which brings me to the notion of forgiveness and healing which is really the point of today’s letter. A few days ago, my friend Kavita Ramdas wrote that she was “sitting shiva mourning, grieving, reflecting and honoring the work and efforts of so many who worked for justice and inclusion and “Herstory”. Facing the cold harsh reality of my own disconnect from the many who did vote for a man whose conduct, language and values seem so distant from what I associate with basic decency and the most idealistic aspirations of democracy. Trying to keep my heart and mind open to learning more, but also quite clear that I will not let hate and bigotry become “normalized”‘

Kavita is no lightweight. Her mom was one of the founders of Amnesty International, and Kavita is an exceptional leader who works for the Ford Foundation.

But the reality is that the election was more complex that the good vs. the bigot. Trump narrowly won in four states and took the office. Hillary received 2 million more votes, Both sides should be humbled with this mixed result.

We have to let go of judgment and actually look why the vote was won. Comey, Russia/Wiki, rural v. urban, the weight given to interior states, manufacturing obsolescence, ignoring Michigan, 30 years of Hillary vilification, and unpopular candidates battling on negatives all factor. People did not show up to vote.

I certainly stand against hateful language and bigotry of this election. But there was a message about jobs that resonated, and that is where our work together can and needs to begin.

David Brooks editorialized today:

“It’s not my cup of tea, but I can see why some good people might be willing to tolerate Trump and Bannon’s personalities in order to pursue (something new).. . . . Many of my fellow Trump critics are expressing outrage, depression, bewilderment or disgust. They’re marching or writing essays: Should we normalize Trump or fight the normalizers?”


“It all seems so useless during this transition moment. It’s all a series of narcissistic displays and discussions about our own emotional states. It seems like the first thing to do is really learn what this election is teaching us. Second, this seems like a moment for some low-passion wonkery. It’s stupid to react to every Trump tweet outrage with your own predictable howls. It’s silly to treat politics and governance purely on cultural grounds, as a high school popularity contest, where my sort of people denigrates your sort of people.”

Last year, I began a kindness tour. I hope this on the court adventure will last for the rest of my life. I first traveled to South Carolina to visit my friend Jane Page Thompson. Jane Page and I met at Yale, and as she says we cancel out each other’s votes. I had seen memes of her home state, South Carolina. I was offended when her friend yelled “you lie” during the State of the Union. I was profoundly sad to see the killings in Columbia and the hate at rallies during the primaries. I was moved when Governor Nikki Haley had the guts to put the confederate flag in the past. She removed it from public display. But, I wanted to see why my friend Jane, and I could have such different political views. While both of us are committed to our country and hold the same wants for its future.

Jane Page is a mover and shaker and arranged for me to meet every person of power she knew. She set up speaking events at her Rotary, local University, and a Southern Baptist Church. I spoke about being kind and talked about refugees and our work against human trafficking. Jane Page made sure I got to hear very different view points, and she was a gracious host. She and her friends taught me immeasurable lessons, and I made friends that are very important to me now.

What I saw at the beginning of this lifelong kindness tour was that what is represented on TV and in blurbs on social media does a great disservice to our fellow countrymen. It’s time to get outside of our glowing screen bubbles and start listening. Congressional Districts must be blended so that we can work on compromises instead of having ideologues who believe that compromise is a dirty word. If only red and blue family members could gather for one meal and not need manuals and “best practices” for surviving sitting at the same table.

The pardoning of the turkey by the President is a silly act. But perhaps if we all step back and stop taking ourselves so seriously, we may all benefit. Tell some bad jokes, take Turkey selfies, and find a way to start living together again. At this Thanksgiving time, take a moment and forgive a turkey (aka a person of the opposite political view) in your life. Talk about things that matter, (exactly how much butter is in the mashed potatoes?) and create good memories. Play a board game, throw the football, hike to a beautiful place or simply fall asleep on the couch – with your family.

Happy giving thanks! And Happy Thanksgiving, Jane Page. Thanks for being my friend

Daily Letter to Trump: Day 8

1479825611Why do people flee from Central America?

Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 has made El Salvador the murder capital of the world. Thousands of good men, women and children pay traffickers and make dangerous journeys to escape from the violence. They hope for a peaceful future, education, and prosperity.

With 103 homicides per 100,000 residents last year, compared with five in the United States, this is as deadly as a war zone. MS-13 does not rise to the level of sophistication of he Zetas of Mexico, Russian Brothers’ Circle, the Italian Camorraor or the Yakuza of Japan or any other international syndicate. It is a mafia of the poor, but highly effective. MS-13 makes most of its money through small drug dealing, prostitution, and extortion of businesses.

The 40,000 members of MS-13, each gang member earn $15 a week and about $65 a month. That is half the minimum wage of an agricultural day laborer. Money does not drive the gang, and when assets were confiscated – used cars and currency totaled a little over $30,000.00. Raids on the gang often yield $5.00. The gangs’ credo of fraternity and equality does not allow for any personal gain at the expense of the brotherhood. “He who makes himself rich at the expense of the street is going to die.”

Many young recruits risk their lives to protect territory without earning a penny from his organization. Tens of thousands of poor boys who are not seeking personal profit, only respect, a notion of safety and a sense of belonging. The rank and file are rewarded with eggs and candy.

Among Salvadoran businesses, transportation companies, are especially vulnerable to extortion. Over the last five years, it has been more dangerous to drive a bus than to fight gang crime: The gangs have killed 692 transportation workers — and 93 police officers.

Mara Salvatrucha was born in Los Angeles. Its rise is a direct result of United States immigration policy.

El Diablito — Borromeo Henríquez Solórzano, 38 is its leader. In the late 1970s or early 1980s, his father and family fled the Salvadoran civil war along with thousands who resettled in Los Angeles neighborhoods dominated by Mexican gangs. At the end of the 1990s, as part of an anti-gang offensive and a crackdown on “criminal aliens,” the United States shipped planeloads of gang members made in the United States back to El Salvador and other Central American countries. El Diablito returned to his El Salvador in one of those waves of deportation. El Diablito received a 30-year sentence for homicide, but he was able to institutionalize extortion nationwide and expand gang operations from behind bars. During negotiations with the government from 2012 – 2014, with a single order, homicides decreased by 60%.

Iron fist crack downs on the gang in Central America have yielded thin results. There are no rehabilitation centers, no programs to reintegrate them into society and no gang-prevention initiatives aimed at high-risk youths. The cycle of violence continues, and youth continue to join – often times through force.

The root of the problem is poverty and lack of resources to create jobs and safety for Salvadorans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, Mexicans, and other Central and South American immigrants. Deportation programs will not address these issues, and the migration will continue. People want to live. I do not sympathize with the violence, but I do sympathize with all of the innocents who are recruited so young and those who are caught in the cross fire.

I became familiar with MS13 because of child trafficking, another cruel consequence of poverty. In 2011, Alonso “Casper” Bruno Cornejo Ormeno, was sentenced to 292 months in prison for child prostitution. Ormeno recruited juvenile females into a prostitution ring by locating runaway children. In June 2012, Rances Ulices Amaya, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for child prostitution. He was convicted in February 2012 for trafficking girls as young as 14 into a prostitution ring. They were lured from middle schools, high schools, and public shelters. Once acquired by Amaya, they were required to have sex with a minimum of 10 individuals per day. In September 2012, Yimmy Anthony Pineda Penado, became the 11th MS-13 gang member to be convicted of child prostitution since 2011.

People fleeing for their lives has become a refugee crises. In the 2016 fiscal year, which ended in September, nearly 409,000 migrants were caught trying to cross the southwestern border of the United States illegally, a 23 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, according to statistics released by the Obama administration. More than 46,000 people were caught last month on the southwestern border, up from about 39,500 in September. The recent wave of people has been particularly notable for the unusual number of Central American migrants traveling in family groups. 77,700 migrants caught on the southwestern American border were traveling in families, nearly twice as many as were detained in families the previous year. About 91 percent of all those migrants were from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, a region known as the Northern Triangle.

Studies suggest that families are fleeing because they have no alternative. Gangs in pockets of the Northern Triangle have become so powerful and violent there are only three considerations: Comply, flee or die.

Destabilization of the governments in the Northern Triangle and a destruction of all civil society may be a consequence of the “Wall” and mass deportations to communities that are not prepared to receive millions of people. Without adequate water systems, food, housing or basic services, this is a real possibility. American do not seem to recognize that systems of justice and safety do not exist in poor countries. Without the assistance in partnership of our government, there is no way to end the cycles of violence. What is needed is far more than law enforcement; government building, leadership training, and pathways to a real future as a Central American are essential.

It’s time for comprehensive immigration policy, but not one solely based upon a closed door, “extreme” vetting, and one way tickets. It has never worked. Economic investment, education, and paths out of poverty of violence must be considered. If you are the change maker; make real change in the reason why people flee to our border.

Daily Letter to Trump: Day 7

quote-the-end-never-really-justifies-the-meanness-e-duane-hulse-344764“Often we create prisons for ourselves [and others] by thinking and talking in certain ways. Just shifting the way we use words can be enough to let us out.” (Macaro and Bagini, 2014)

During the past week, I was with many talented and powerful women. Two stand out: a former Tenth Circuit Clerk who now fights constitutional battles for the poor with elegant and moving prose; a young woman litigator who boxes, works at an animal shelter, volunteers time for safe passage for women needing services from Planned Parenthood, and indexes historical writings for NARF. I wonder how they rise – so often.- and with such grace and acumen. This week, my friend Sarah Moshman gave her first Ted Talk on women heroes. I met Sarah several years ago when she was on a journey to discover for herself “what would you do if you were not afraid?” This resulted in The Empowerment Project Documentary, in which Sarah told the stories of ordinary women who have done extraordinary things.

Conversations with these women and others who inspire me are much longer than 140 Characters and they are always face to face. They are not tweets; the conversations are rich and thoughtful. What I noticed about these encounters is that negative words and meanness is not there. They are discussions about visions, futures, action, and kindness. They fundamentally consider how people create good lives for themselves and others. These talks use words about generosity and inclusiveness. And overtime I have the blessing of being in communication in this bubble, I am inspired and forget being tired.

I am not on twitter or social media that is political anymore. I looked at twitter, and I saw that there was so much hostility and “I’m right and you’re wrong” packed into only 140 words over and over and over. Nothing was being built, except exceptionalism in insults. (A talent that the British have truly mastered with their command of English.) I saw that getting followers was the goal so that a feed could be commoditized or used to get attention or power? The outrageous were outdoing the outrageous. To what result? Will parents tweet their children as their only form of communication. Maybe we will soon be able to simply send an electronic brain shock to another person and hope to be shocked back. Who can stand the most shocks? The notion that electronic media is degrading society is nothing new. But the “skimming” non related, negative flood of communication is.

Chose five words of acknowledgment, encouragement, creativity, forgiveness, connectivity that you will use every day this week and see what happens. Only if you want to explore this idea in depth, read further, If you don’t (I understand), consider using 140 a day to encourage another, to create, to resolve, to connect.

Thank you Kat, Lucy and Sarah for sharing your visions with me this week. Now let’s go make it happen!
As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in his book in 1964, the Extensions of Man, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. McLuhan is known for coining the expressions the “medium is the message” and the “global village”, and for predicting the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (written in 1961, first published in Canada by University of Toronto Press in 1962) is mosaic mash up in print of media, that pre-mimics internet surfing. Throughout the book, McLuhan demonstrates how media affects cognitive organization, which in turn has profound ramifications for social organization:

…[I]f a new technology extends one or more of our senses outside us into the social world, then new ratios among all of our senses will occur in that particular culture. It is comparable to what happens when a new note is added to a melody. And when the sense ratios alter in any culture then what had appeared lucid before may suddenly become opaque, and what had been vague or opaque will become translucent.

Shocking to think that we toss expressions invented in 1960’s around today as novel notions. But is this all really “new,” and should we be afraid. What was the thinking among the lawyers when youth started watching television or swiveling their hips to Elvis? “Television has attracted young viewers since broadcasting began in the 1940s. Concerns about the effects of television on young children emerged almost immediately, and have been fueled by a steady stream of academic research showing a negative association between television viewing and student achievement. These findings have made the introduction and diffusion of television a popular explanation for trends such as the decline in average verbal SAT scores during the 1970s (Wirtz et al, 1977; Winn, 2002), and the secular decline in verbal ability across cohorts (Glenn, 1994).” See Does Television Rot Your Brain? New Evidence from the Coleman Study Matthew Gentzkow, Jesse M. Shapiro, University of Chicago (2006). Does this sound familiar?

This isn’t just the musing of curmudgeons as science writer Jonathan Gitlin noted that “there are a number of scientific studies that back up many of these points, such as the one that showed that receiving e-mail messages affected volunteers’ performance during IQ tests more than a toke on a joint, although I’m yet to hear of anyone smoking a spliff at work and trying to claim that it’s not an issue because ‘Bob over there is checking his e-mail.'”

Bruce Friedman, who blogs regularly about the use of computers in medicine, also has described how the Internet has altered his mental habits. “I now have almost totally lost the ability to read and absorb a longish article on the web or in print,” he wrote earlier this year. A pathologist who has long been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School, Friedman said, has taken on a “staccato” quality, reflecting the way he quickly scans short passages of text from many sources online. “I can’t read War and Peace anymore,” he admitted. “I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.” Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. “We are how we read.” Wolf worries that the style of reading that puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep comprehension. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.”

Daily Letter to Trump: Day 6


Mary Agnes Chase (1869-1963)

Smithsonian’s Custodian in Charge of the Herbarium at the U.S. National Museum. She was not only an eminent expert on grasses but also a suffragette. In fact, her political activities resulted in arrests, prison time and a hunger strike that ended when she was force-fed. Later, when faced with formidable professional opposition to her request to go on expedition to Panama, she raised her own funds and traveled alone. Throughout her career she was energetic and undaunted by political and professional chauvinism in pursuit of her passion for botany and at the age of 93 published a three volume index of U.S. grasses, over 80,000 species

United Women of Science say: “Science is foundational in a progressive society, fuels innovation, and touches the lives of every person on this planet. The anti-knowledge and anti-science sentiments expressed repeatedly during the U.S. presidential election threaten the very foundations of our society. Our work as scientists and our values as human beings are under attack. We fear that the scientific progress and momentum in tackling our biggest challenges, including staving off the worst impacts of climate change, will be severely hindered under this next U.S. administration. Our planet cannot afford to lose any time.

In this new era of anti-science and misinformation, we as women scientists re-affirm our commitment to build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise. We will take action in our own communities and we will work towards an inclusive society, where science and knowledge can be embraced and everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.”

Unless we have a planet that functions, none of us will have a future. 2016 is the hottest year on record. Trees are dying. Species are becoming extinct. The North Pole is over 36 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than average, a new report found. In fact, the entire Arctic region, the report said, is about 13 degrees warmer than usual. At the same time, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic is at a record low beating the all-time low seen in 2012. The analysis comes from Sean Birkel, a research assistant professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.

The Paris agreement was a stunning moment in human cooperation — forging alliances with China and other big polluters that helped bring decades of contentious discussions to a successful conclusion in Paris last year. The Paris agreement aims to limit the global temperature rise this century to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, and as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible. Those are the thresholds at which scientists believe many of the most damaging effects of climate change can be averted.

By the time the talks concluded, 111 countries accounting for three-quarters of the world’s emissions had ratified the deal, which took effect days before the meeting began. Several of them — including Germany, Canada and Mexico — joined the U.S. in presenting strategies for how their countries can dramatically reduce emissions by 2050. Vowing to do their part, representatives from more than 45 of the world’s poorest countries pledged to meet all of their energy production needs through renewable sources as rapidly as possible.

With the your threat to withdraw the United States from the accord some diplomats turned from talking of rising seas and climbing temperatures toward how to punish the United States if you follow through, with a carbon-pollution tax on imports of American-made goods. “A carbon tariff against the United States is an option for us,” Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, Mexico’s under secretary for environmental policy and planning, said in an interview here. He added, “We will apply any kind of policy necessary to defend the quality of life for our people, to protect our environment and to protect our industries.”

The United States cannot afford to engage in a world-wide carbon tarif war where we are one against all other nations. This may be the first time in history that our country is faced with unified international sanctions because of “red meat” rhetoric that flies in the face of science. These policies will not support the “economic nationalism” that you claim to represent. These policies will not re-invigorate an American middle class. The standing of our country in the world will not be improved. Backing out of this accord will likely result in China having primary influence and leadership positions in the World.

You are no longer standing before a rowdy crowd of supporters that want obsolete manufacturing jobs back or think of governing as a WWF sport. You are now facing nations that have the ability to leave the United States behind.

Trump Letter 5


What is effective to be elected in a world-wide tide of nationalism is not effective in solving global problems.

A stateswoman has a clear vision of what her country and her people can become. She knows where she wants to take them and what it will take to get there. She must be able to recognize problems on the horizon and be able to come up with solutions that are good not only for the short-term, but for the long-term as well. The stateswoman keeps in mind not only the here and now, but the world future generations will inherit.

Stateswomanship was expressed – better than any American leader this year — by 6 year old.

In a politically caustic environment, it is not surprising that some have reacted with fear and suspicion to the idea of welcoming refugees to our shores. But not Alex. Alex is six years old and lives just outside of New York City with his mom, dad, and little sister Catherine. When Alex saw what had happened to Omran, he sat down at his kitchen table and wrote President Obama a letter. “Can you please go get him and bring him to [my home],” he asked. “We’ll be waiting for you guys with flags, flowers, and balloons. We will give him a family and he will be our brother.”

In the Leaders Summit on Refugees this week, President Obama shared that letter with the world leaders that had gathered together to discuss what they could do to solve the global refugee crisis.


The humanity that a young child can display, who hasn’t learned to be cynical, or suspicious, or fearful of other people because of where they’re from, or how they look, or how they pray, and who just understands the notion of treating somebody that is like him with compassion, with kindness — we can all learn from Alex.


Daily Letter to Trump | Day 3

man-in-the-arena-columns_origThe broken puzzle.

As we move through life we become masters in a realm. We have understanding and experience in that realm, and it is comfortable. Perhaps the realm becomes automatic and we become complacent. One of my friends used to say “mastery makes mischief.” For me, the political realm I thought I understood is nothing more than a broken puzzle, the pieces are in confusion, and nothing is recognizable right now including my role.

Today, I heard that being “on the court” means allowing everyone to be in their own exploration and expression. To stop controlling or coaching the expression of others. Controlling the expression of others is simply a “point of view.” Point of view is always generated from the past in the context of agreement. We look for evidence from the past that a future is possible instead of simply creating an unconstrained future and being in action. Nothing happens off the Court.

It reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt who gave the “Man in the Arena Speech” in Paris. It is not the critic who counts; it the man who does the deeds who knows the triumph and the failure.

I am reminded that the critics are many, and the doers are few. I chose to be a doer.

Daily Letter to Trump | Day 2

ss-150928-supermoon-mbm-11_a89dd668aa88cc43e454b07af532aa1d-nbcnews-fp-1200-800It’s November 13, 2016. and the Earth is closer to the Moon than it has been in many decades. Some people forget to take a minute to look at the Moon. Others look and see no difference. Some use this as an occasion to wonder, explore and be in awe of the magnitude of the Universe.

Taking time to assess what is so and to inquire about your role moving forward is important. Time to heal, time to see how possibilities realign, and time to look at what you are responsible for and the possibility for a future that will not happen without your action.

The context of how you look at the moon (or your life for that matter) is the place where hope and action begin. I can simply not bother to remember or see. I look and see that everything is the same old thing. Or I see an opportunity to learn from others and be willing to shed what I think is true about the past as a predictor of the future. I can take action about the future; or keep it all in my head.

Let’s take on this opportunity to see something new and take action to be a part of its existence.

Daily Letter to Trump Day One


Beginning today and for the duration of Trump’s presidency, I have decided to write and send a letter a day to Donald Trump. I want him to know each and every day now he affects my fellow Americans. I cannot allow this office holder the luxury of unawareness, and I will tell their stories to him.

As he watches the protests from the Trump Tower, he cannot see or hear why protesters are gathering around his residence and in many cities in the United States. And based upon his Twitter, he has no understanding why this is happening.

The protesters are gathering because they fear what the future holds under your administration, and this is a consequence of your words. And nothing has been said or done to assuage these fears.

A real leader would carefully chose his words and clearly set out his intention with integrity and authenticity .

Authenticity means being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others, and who you hold yourself to be for yourself. When leading, being authentic leaves you grounded, and able to be straight without using force.

In order to be a great President, you must master being consistent with you hold yourself out to be for others and yourself. When this authenticity is missing, you cannot be grounded, straight, achieve goals without force or deception.

Reality TV does not prepare one for leadership; a celebrity is not the equivalent of being a leader – a person being responsible for a future. It is time to remove the mask of the TV villain and become an authentic leader. Until this happens more than 48% of the US voters will not trust you.

Our country’s future depends upon it.


Do you walk around life like you need a cup of coffee each day or do you live life like you can produce any future you chose as you live one life and the life you want and the life you live are one in the same and that you have the ability to make a dent in the world just as Elon Musk or Steve Jobs or Mahatma Ghandi or Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. Who has given you inspiration? Who do you look up to in life and wish to make your mentor for the future you live into? Make sure that you have your own MENTOR in LIFE or HERO that you look up to and relate to who has impacted the world.

Write a statement about your life. I am talking about a statement about your life that when you actually read it, you become alive and feel what you are now choosing to yourself responsible for. Now, responsibility has to be a choice. Some people fear responsibility. Leaders who choose to make a dent in the universe thrive on responsibility. Responsibility can only be Chosen. Accountability can be given, but responsibility is a choice you make.

For example, whenever it was the end of the game and the Chicago Bulls were down, Michael Jordan always made absolutely certain that the ball was in his hands because he chose to be responsible for making the basket and determining the future outcome of the game for the Chicago Bulls. This is what I am talking about. Do you fear responsibility or do you live for it. Do you see yourself as someone capable of creating a future? Do you choose to be Michael Jordan or your own hero or do you get nervous being responsible. FYI, when you actually say that you choose it, even though I may be nervous, you will actually live into it and the fear will start melting away once you have created a habit of saying your daily statement outlaid.

I choose to be responsible for a world where everyone has a chance to live their best life. This looks like I stand up for equality. I stand up for safety, health and education of all people. I stand against fear and hate every day. I stand up for the rule of law. I listen to my adversaries and I find common ground. I am not afraid to listen to and work through ideas with whom I disagree. I work with all people to create a better life for as many people as possible. I find that I only know one part of the puzzle, and in collaboration, there are solutions that we all can embrace.