More Letters to Obama

In the week leading up to the presidential inauguration on January 20, Capital Public Radio 90.9 FM—SN&R’s partner in this project—will be airing five audio “Letters to Obama.”

Dear President-Elect Obama:

I don’t envy your task in restoring our economy, repairing our dignity in the world or ending government-sanctioned torture and the illegal war of aggression that have disgraced us in the lens of history. But I have a wish that, with your gifts as a writer, you can use your “bully pulpit” to the advantage of the arts: painting, sculpture, music, dance, theater, poetry. It would be both naive and crass to propose, as Robert Frost did in his inaugural poem for JFK, “A golden age of poetry and power / of which this noonday’s the beginning hour,” given our nation’s recent abuses of power.

But we can stop the retreat, driven by ideology or fiscal panic, from government sponsorship of the arts. If your administration is to replicate FDR’s New Deal in certain points, why not consider renewed government generosity to the arts, which have proven to be an economic and spiritual stimulus to communities? Also, with the help of your talented wife and first lady, the White House could again be a magnet for cultural events, as under the Kennedys.

With sincere congratulations and best wishes,

Tom Goff

Dear Mr. President-elect:

As a first step in your presidency, I hope you will make a strong

statement about the long-term goal of conservation of the Earth, which connects to our most important human values. Specifically, supporting mass transit would reduce our dependence on driving private automobiles, which is one of the steps needed to help the Earth.

Here is one way to support mass transit: Link any aid to the automobile industry (automakers, oil extractors, highway improvement) with aid to mass transit. Lets “bail out” the local transit systems and intercity and statewide rail, with a percentage of whatever is given to “bail out” the automobile industry.

Automakers could be subsidized to manufacture clean-energy trains and buses.

The increase of mass transit has both direct and tangential benefits to people. It means a shift in lifestyle. When we leave the car, we get physical exercise, by walking and biking, resulting in better health, and we meet people. We connect to nature, and thereby join a spiritual, literary and cultural renaissance. And we rediscover aesthetics based on the human scale, inviting people to enjoy nature, trees, flowers, the weather and each other, rather than to experience life based on the mechanics of the automobile, a scale adapted to speeding past the details.

The automobile as a way of life affects the aesthetics of homes and cities, because the convenience of the auto is primary in the design.

In conclusion, let’s address conservation of the Earth as a long-term goal, with the support of mass transit in the near term.

Think parks, not parking lots.

Trails, not asphalt.

Trains, not commuter gridlock.

Village, not freeways.

Respectfully yours,

Ellen Solomon
gardener and arborist

Dear Obama,

The main characteristics I appreciate about you are your humbleness, your ability to bring the nation closer than I have ever seen in my 45 years of existence and your graceful sway to dodge the negative. I have great hope that your grounded and truthful foresight will get this great nation far away from the aftermath of the abusive Bush campaign. As Roosevelt stated, “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” President-elect Obama, please help create a better standard of living for the great people of this nation. Take this nation and our environment to a better place.

Keith Lawson

Dear President-elect Obama,

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to address you as President-elect! I can almost believe that there’s hope.

As to concerns, I think we should start by limiting our election campaigns to three months or less. This is the perfect time to stop that two-year low comedy show that passes for our campaign, in which the candidates say the same things over and over to the vast amusement of the rest of the world. Can they ever take us seriously again? Not only do we drain resources, but we’re distracted from the real concerns of this country. No wonder you have such a long list of major problems! Needless to say, we wish you the best.

Martha Oehler, 82
retired medical technologist

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations and every best wish to you as our new president. Extraordinary leadership is being required of you in extraordinary times. You have a unique opportunity to leave your footprints in history … footprints of hope, love, joy, happiness and charity. The world’s eyes are on you. The poorest of the poor, both economically and spiritually, look to you for setting the stage for hope. Listen with your heart and mind.

We need to ask intelligent questions and look for new solutions. We need to release the creative powers, not counting on old solutions to solve new problems.

It is vital to have as a priority the protection of families, the major unit of societies. Develop policies, programs and funds for them as they struggle to offer a good life and education for their children. Develop programs in which children observe positive role models as you will be to them. And never forget those in need, our greatness requires this compassion. The Dream Act education is of great importance as is health care, solutions to the immigration problems, and programs for prisoners based on restoration not retribution will enrich our society while saving unnecessary expense.

Above all … value life! All creation strives to procreate. Let us build a culture where the violence of abortion, death penalty and war are no more. Let us help our young people to see the beauty of sexuality, self-restraint and care for others not selfishness. Do not forget that we are a very young nation, only 200-plus years, and a living social experiment, constantly in the making. With such a short history, it is amazing that so much in the world depends on the decisions we make. Our status is not to be taken lightly, nor is our nation’s existence to be taken for granted.

We need a leader who will work with other leaders to bring safety to the whole world; give us a government to provide for the advancement of this country without taking resources from others to achieve it; be a leader who can tell strength from power, growth from greed, leadership from dominance, and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.

Help us open our hearts to learn from those to whom you speak in different tongues and to respect the life and words of those to whom you entrusted the good of other parts of this globe. Help give us the vision as a people to know where global leadership truly lies, to pursue it diligently, to require it to protect human rights for everyone everywhere.

I pray for leadership that will heal both our country and our world and that God be with you as you lead our Nation and influence the world toward a greater good. May God hold you in the palm of his hand!

Sincerely yours,

The Rev. Michael F. Kiernan
director of Catholic Charities

Dear Mr. Obama,

Please reverse the practice of blocking coverage of our fallen hero’s return to their country in flag-draped caskets. These military heroes who gave their lives for us should not come home in secret, but with the nation on notice that this person gave their life for us. If we don’t remember how to honor our heroes, just look to Canada for advice.

Dave Roether

Mr. President:

The inhumane horrors of the second World War were sufficient to produce their antithesis: enlightened rational leadership best personified in a veteran whose entire life had been a battle for survival. Young, handsome, witty, intelligent, John Kennedy lived each moment intensely with a captivating, life-affirming energy, whose magnetism drew to him the best and brightest, a new generation of equally compassionate people galvanized by his own greater example, intent during this “golden age of poetry and power” on transforming the world beyond its base evils and deprivations to a better place, a higher plateau of shared vision and cooperative action that might ultimately remake humanity into a society safer, more productive, richer in diversity and ideas, and hence capable of recognizing and rewarding personal achievement—the ultimate hallmark of higher human evolution.

Blessed to be part of that wondrous time (cursed to know it so briefly), we breathed the brighter air of hope, embracing life at its best, only to find it cruelly snatched from us by the same regime of grim, gray, older, oppressive minds whose greed, corruption, venal ambition, immorality and fanaticism had culminated in the heinous atrocities of World War II.

Our grief was profound and our outrage perpetual. The murder of the only president we ever truly considered our own left us consigned to a muted, mundane existence within a long twilight of official lies, deceit, denial, institutionalized evil, oppression and, ultimately, manufactured terror.

Now we dare the audacity of hope, the advent of Obama in the one office all of us vote to fill.

So fill it. Be our president, our representative, our voice, vote and veto. Fight for the “us” in “U.S.” Give us back the government we once believed in, and in so doing, you’ll be a great president. We’ve waited 46 years.

Will Ruha

Dear Mr. President,

As an environmentally conscious Republican, I’m hopeful your administration will help unify the parties on this crucial issue. I’m especially hopeful, as a nation, we can set aside political differences long enough to remember: We share the same Earth, and leaving a healthy legacy for future generations benefits us all.

Candy Chand
neighborhood activist


Dear President-elect Obama,

I write on behalf of a population whose strife is ignored because their lives are rich with the trappings of success. I write this letter so that a plague of inaction may be brought to an end.

In my experience as a stepfather to a 16-year-old girl and my interactions with her and her friends, I find that affluence is and has been used for too long as an excuse for authentic parenting. If we are to see our nation grow into true greatness, where the conviction expressed by “Yes we can!” is felt by all who hear it, we need to accept that material, intellectual and financial privilege alone do not ensure success in life. America’s children of affluence are aiming themselves downward because they find no value in modeling themselves after their negligent and emotionally vapid parents.

Our youth have been made, by our technological advances in the past two decades, into vessels of incredible capacity, filled to the brim with data, ideas and beliefs. We must now provide a means whereby these privileged young men and women may be helped at transforming from simply being vessels to the crucibles our society so desperately needs.

It has become clear to me that our education system needs to be rethought such that we can account for what has been and I fear will continue to be missing from young people’s lives. I have thoughts for how to improve our country’s education system for our children of affluence so that they may develop into young men and women with a resolve to carry on the mission expressed by “Yes we can!” It would be an honor to discuss these thoughts with you, my president.

Aaron J. Sikes, 37
event coordinator
Listen to this letter on CPR

President Obama,

We hope this letter finds you owning up to all of the hopeful promises you have made.

Hope (noun): A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen

After eight years of disappointment; eight years of leadership desperately seeking war, oil, pollution and hate; eight years of embarrassing behaviors and lies—it’s about time we can actually look up, and forward to, an inclusive administration.

Our hearts are overflowing with hope that you will be able to reconcile lost ties and fix our good name in the eyes of the rest of the world. We hope for a cleaner and better tomorrow, a tomorrow we feel our elected leader finally believes in, too.

While we ask for truth on this road to tomorrow, we’re also asking for loyalty. The promises you’ve burned into your LGBTQI constituents now need to be as real as they do heartfelt. We cannot afford to be let down. We are so blindly vulnerable, this nation is strong and ready for someone to show us the way it’s supposed to be; but one more incredible slap in the face and we might just crumble—all patriotic sanity lost by the wayside and no recovery in sight.

This is a nation of freedom and dreams. Dreams that seem to have been lost for no apparent reason; dreams that we need to regain control of so we can sleep through the nights in order to be fully capable of conquering this inevitable tomorrow.

We now have a dream—you will start to change this nation back into a land we can be proud of again.

All pressure for a better tomorrow lies in your hands, and the whole world is watching. Please, do not let us down.


Jade Baranski and Jovi Radtke

Dear President-elect Barack Hussein Obama,

Hello and sincere congratulations on a job well done! I am ever so proud to have you, an African-American, as the next president in the White House. There are a few particulars, however, that I feel ought to be strongly considered in your presidential term. First and foremost, the wars in the Middle East: Relinquish the fight. Bringing our troops home, once and for all, not only will reinstate solidarity and peace of mind here in the States, but it will also facilitate the restructuring of democracies and end the hapless casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Secondly, please take steps to aid the Palestinians, even if your ties to Israel must remain intact. We are talking about basic human rights, not who is right or wrong. Thirdly, let us all reach out and help our brothers and sisters of Africa. Whether it be the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Africa or others, this part of the world requires attention: sustenance to live and medicines for treatable diseases. Lastly, my hope is that you, Barack Hussein Obama, will remember the poor and middle-class people here at home, in the United States of America. Pave the way for a stronger, greener economy so that unemployment rates will plummet and the Earth be preserved for our children’s children. And what a miracle it would be if we, as Americans, could boast that not one man or woman, boy or girl, was denied the service of health care, the right to thrive and exist in this nation of hope and possibility. Thank you so much for your time. Good luck to you, and from these ashes may we begin anew!!

Jen Fleischer, 24
tutor and baby sitter

Dear President-elect Obama,

If I ever have the honor of meeting you, it would seem so easy just to refer to you as Barack. On behalf of my family and I, we would like to say thank you for your commitment to serve the American people in your tenure as president of the United States of America. While it may have been easier to just sit back as a senator and critic, you chose to run for president based on your ability to bring fundamental needed change to the way America will address the challenges of the 21st century. I was inspired and impressed every time you stated the reasons you were running for president. Of the several reasons you stated, one reason convinced me you were the right man for the right job at the right time. You said, in the most simple way, “I have a knack for bringing a group of people together with opposing viewpoints and getting them to work together.” I know you have the talent and ability to do that at a time when America and Americans need that. Once again, Barack, thank you for your choice to serve and we hope you are our most successful president.


John H. Moore, 56, and family
retired parole agent
Rancho Cordova

Dear President-elect Obama,

Five simple ideas to create millions of in-country jobs, convert to a greener economy, cut health-care costs and reduce foreign-oil dependence:

1. Convert 30 percent of automobile factories to solar-cell factories. Create a huge national WPA-like program to install solar panels on every possible rooftop in America. This would keep the (former) auto workers employed, plus create millions more jobs for installing and maintaining the solar panels.

2. Convert another 30 percent of automobile factories to light-rail factories. Create a huge national WPA-like program to put great light rail in every town. This would again keep auto workers employed, plus create millions more jobs for the building and running of the light-rail systems every five blocks, every five minutes, in every town. People love a good, safe light-rail system.

3. Create a national initiative to triple the number of teachers and libraries in America. We need to reclaim our global leadership in innovative fields! An absolute necessity for this goal is to better educate our children. We have dropped from No. 1 to No. 20 in the education of children worldwide. We can only rise again with smaller student-teacher ratios and more libraries.

4. Create an urban-farming initiative. Remove the lawns surrounding public buildings (and the buildings and homes of willing private participants) and plant food instead Create a huge WPA-like program employing millions of people across the country to plant and tend these gardens and to transport produce to local markets. Less greenhouse gases from fewer miles transported and healthier citizens will result.

5. Fund the doubling of the number of nurses and doctors. Many deaths occur each year from medical errors made by overworked practitioners, or from lack of access to medical care in places where there is none available. To fund the education of thousands more nurses and doctors will create in-country jobs and reduce health-care costs, as we all become healthier.

No “trickle down” is necessary, since the initiatives benefit regular people from the start. We must move away from an economy based on gambling (the stock market is, after all, just gambling), loans (credit is by its very nature unstable) and inane consumption. Let’s convert our economy to one that directly benefits the average person and is more stable, now!

Thank you so much and a huge congratulations to you!

Robin Weld, 55
public-health nurse

Dear Mr. President,

It is wonderful to have you as the president of America, for you are very professional, responsible and honest. My name is Randolph, and I am 28 years old and a student at CSUS in Sacramento, California. My major is macro economics, and I am also learning Mandarin Chinese, which is the official language of Beijing, China. In the summer of 2006, I spent the summer in Beijing, Shanghai and a few others cities in China. I also took summer classes at the Beijing Language and Culture University and also Shanghai Finance University. It was a wonderful experience, and I did well in my three university courses.

Nonetheless, I was wondering if there is anything that you could do about the Sacramento Police Department. Many of the officers are professional and nice, but there are a few whom are very racist and mean. In 2007, Police Chief Rick Brazil was quoted saying that, “The Sacramento Police Department has a cultural problem.” And the problem is that they are culturally racist. The police often profile people in nice cars and let white men get away with committing crimes and will not allow victims to press charges against them. Hopefully, you can solve this problem, as it is out of control.


Randolph May

Dear President-elect Obama,

You are about to embark upon a historic journey at one of the most critical periods in our recent history. I am writing to you because I have an idea that I believe is not only achievable, but one that would create the most far-reaching and most technologically advanced transportation system in the world. It would put hundreds of thousands of citizens to work constructing the project and would create hundreds of thousands of jobs once completed. It would be an effort that would require cooperation at the federal, state, county and city level. It would combine the efforts of government and the private sector. It is a project that would directly have an impact on greenhouse emissions and our dependence on foreign oil. And most important, it would be a project that would inspire the entire country.

The project is to create a high-speed national rail system, combined with a state high-speed program, and includes a light-rail system within cities and counties. It would require the ingenuity of the brightest minds in our country coupled with the physical strength and endurance of our working men and women. It would have the vision of Eisenhower’s interstate program and Roosevelt’s public work projects.

Yes, it will take years to complete, an extraordinary amount of money, but it is also a project that plans for the future of generations to come.

Thanks for listening.

Hopefully yours,

Ron Slack
Santa Cruz

Mr. President,

I’m dismayed that America spends what the rest of the world does on arms.

I think you must agree that this has not promoted peace at all, for such an arsenal drives its own use, and continuous replacement.

Does that not explain the quagmire in Iraq better than any reason offered?

In 2009, I hope you’ll initiate a national dialogue on the military industry. We must ask how the costs of the Iraq war have exceeded, in real terms, those of World War II.

Hi-tech bombers, like a B-2 cost more than B-52s but carry fewer bombs. Dick Cheney said B-2s, invisible to radar, were key to raids in Iraq, but as they faced no defensive radars, B-52s surely would have been superior.

Technical advances were vital in World War II. They saved lives, but were not why we prevailed. The allies won because we had objectives, made plans, then followed them.

Compare this to Iraq.

With no ultimate goal apparent it cannot be surprising that nobody can figure out how to distill a “victory.”

I’d note too, sir, that desert nation insurgents don’t fear submarines, even $2 billion ones. They won’t help in Afghanistan either. Yet we order more.

We must spend for defense, not wars to control oil fields. We need practical weapons and hardware. A “missile defense shield” that doesn’t work aids only those who make its components.

Mr. President, stop the practice of buying pricey hardware then deriving ways to use it. Direct our military industry to build arms that make sense. Then, sir, ensure that they do it.

We must direct these contractors, not them, us.

Douglas DeSalles, 55

President Obama,

I would like to congratulate you on your upcoming event to step into office as our new president of the United States. I agree it is time for a change and the change has already begun, so may God bless you as you lead this country.

President Obama, my hopes and dreams for this country are on the youth at risk today; as a nation our community, our government officials and our government monies should be more focused on the youth at risk today than on new prisons that these youth at risk will eventually end up at because they get involved in gangs, drugs and crime, which lead to jails, institutions and death. “No youth should be left behind.” We need more programs like the program that was recently started in Sacramento, California, called “No Youth Left Behind,” which I am a proud member of and a parent of a “youth left behind.”

As a parent, President Obama, I am sure you understand the urgency in focusing on our youth at risk today; after all, they are the future leaders of our country.

God bless you, Mr. President Obama.

Regina Mcleod Watkins

Dear President-elect Obama,

You may not realize it, but there is simmering anger brewing about the bailout. People are troubled that somehow, suddenly, the government came up with $700 billion to give to a group of wealthy people who made bad financial decisions. And then more billions a few weeks later! Supposedly some will trickle down to us but we sure don’t see any. Meanwhile, regular people who responsibly managed their money are sinking due to layoffs or huge medical bills … and no one is bailing them out.

You can redeem yourself and quell a very ugly revolt if you enact programs that actually benefit us. Examples:

1. Solar panels on every rooftop. Not solar farms where corporations will sell us power, but solar on our own rooftops. Sure, there is less power generated per square foot on an average rooftop compared to the desert; but the fact that very few power lines are needed to transport the energy more than makes up for the difference. Rooftop solar doesn’t benefit the utility companies as much as big solar farms, but this is what we are saying: Are you for us, or are you for the utility companies?

We can convert many of those failing factories and storefronts to solar panel-manufacturing plants. A new federal office should be created, employing millions of citizens to install and maintain the panels for decades to come. In one fell swoop, we’ve helped the economy, the pollution problem, the unemployment problem and given regular people something that truly benefits them.

2. Mass transit. People cannot afford to buy new cars anymore—cars are old paradigm. (Most new cars in the past decade were purchased with home-mortgage money—something very wrong with that picture!) Instead, the most efficient method for transporting us around is great mass transit—where there’s a transit line every five blocks, running every five minutes. People embrace a good transit system where they can relax on the way to work and play.

Like solar rooftops, expanding transit would create thousands of manufacturing and building jobs. The average American would benefit greatly. Biofuels on the other hand are a terrible idea—they keep us tied to cars we can’t afford and are a horribly inefficient way to get energy. Biofuels only benefit big corporations, not regular people—whose side will you take?

Emily Kristufek, 45
stay-at-home mom

Dear Mr. President,

I am much delighted and thrilled for you to be the next president of the USA.

You are quite an inspiration. You are already a great measure of success.

I wish to help your administration drive down the high cost of health care as explained at My idea is entitled Fist-Bump Healing.

Lots of love and luck to you and your family.

God bless Obama! God bless America!

D. Grant, 55
health enthusiast

Mr. President,

My life has had its ups and downs; I’ve been homeless, I’ve been happy. I’ve always worked hard when I had work. And when I worked, I saved. I bought my house with 20 percent down. The mortgage broker said I qualified for a much larger loan and could get a much larger house than I had applied for. I didn’t need a larger house. I paid off my credit card balance every month. And I continued to save and live modestly.

I have been responsible with my finances. What do I get for it? I get to pay taxes that are going to bail out greedbag Wall Street gamblers, greedbag mortgage brokers who lent more than they knew people could pay, greedbag Jane and John Does who bought more house than they could handle, all of whom screwed up the economy for everyone. And now savers who depend on interest income are getting screwed with reduced interest rates because of all those greedbags our taxes are bailing out.

Robert Kiyosaki said it: “Savers are losers.” How about tossing us losers a bone? Give us a $7,000 savings interest income deduction on our taxes.

And how about bailing out the nation on escalating health-care costs with a universal system based on a single-payer-model? This is the only way to achieve enough efficiency in the system to slow down escalating costs. And don’t tell me we can’t afford it. If it’s important enough, we’ll spend the money, even if we don’t have it.

Jan Bergeron

Dear President-elect Obama,

My dearest hopes with you as you assume the presidency. I supported your candidacy with all my heart. But responding to your call for all viewpoints, I write to express disagreement with some of your current positions.

First, Afghanistan: I hope you will reconsider your plan to increase our military footprint there. The fighting terrain in Afghanistan is so challenging that nonnative troops cannot survive. France and Russia fought in Afghanistan and left defeated with their tails between their legs. Because blowback will surely occur, giving money and arms to Afghan warlords is a bad idea. The Afghan people have a well-founded fear that their warlords will use such weaponry against them because this has happened before. We should heed their concerns. Our best hope is to rely primarily on soft power to win the hearts and minds of the people by providing infrastructure and economic development assistance. To succeed, we must ensure that such assistance is delivered through uncorrupted channels and provide sufficient security to protect the people providing the assistance.

My other major concern is that progressive economists have apparently been completely excluded from your transition period. Even assuming you need to appoint economic centrists to execute your economic policies, this does not explain why progressive economists like Joseph Steiglitz and Paul Krugman were not even invited to your meeting of economists. You state that you wish to consider the entire spectrum of viewpoints. But if progressive economists are not invited to explain their views, you will never hear these viewpoints, thus limiting your range of information and options.

Progressives have been proved right on every major issue of war and peace and economic policy. I hope you will not continue to exclude them from your deliberations.

Jan Ellen Rein
professor of law, emerita

To President-elect Obama,

When my mother, Dr. Pearl M. Sampson (an outstanding OB&GYN physician and surgeon), my older sister, Dorothy L. Strong (at that time, a student at Grinnell College in Iowa), and I were on a summer vacation automobile trip all over the U.S., a bit of Canada and much of Mexico during 1949, when I was 9 years old, as we stopped, to pause, within the Navajo Indian Reservation, I stepped out of our luxurious 1940 Packard and, facing a regal, elderly Navajo lady seated in front of her house, I decided, “When I grow up, I will return the land to the Indians.” Authority, not ownership; for they do not agree with that. That is one of my “hopes and dreams.”

Since I was brought up with dear African-American live-in maids, their plight is the other “hope and dream.” (Mother often said, “They have something white people lack.") Please find, enclosed, relevant poetry.

Mrs. Annette L. Strong Walley

What do I wish,
For African-American feet?
        To stroll in Mother Africa’s
        Rich sand and soil,
        Enjoying a massage that is free.
        To gaze at majestic mountain views,
        And bathe their minds
        In sunset hues.
        To feel the desert peace,
        Where distant hills meet sky.
        To walk the beauteous sparkling shores unafraid,
        Where precious ancestors strode—
        Grabbed, sold, and sent across the Seas,
To unknown lands, without e’en a chance to say “Good-bye.”

Dear President-elect Obama,

I’m writing because I lost my husband of 36 years on December 4, 2008. He served his country for six years. We served the community for 18 years.

We got caught up in the real-estate scam—ARMs. Now I owe much more on my house than it’s worth and could be in danger of losing it.

I would like for you to give U.S. homeowners in my situation some stimulus. Help to save our homes. I would like to have my home paid off.

Norma Webb, 69

Dear President,

In September, 2008, my band, the Rick Donaldson Blues Band, played a fundraiser for the Obama campaign sponsored by the Placer County Democratic Party. The event was held on a 500-acre estate in the gold country outside Auburn, CA. The rumor was that Obama himself might make a guest appearance, and I was hopeful he might jam with us. Most people know Obama for fraternizing with terrorists and subversive preachers. What they don’t know is that during his salad days in Chicago, he community organized by day and played the blues at night in bars and bistros on the south side to improve his chops and supplement his income. Obama’s guitar hero is B.B. King. While growing up, he emulated B.B. in every way, down to naming his own guitar Lucille, just like B.B. When he announced for the presidency, Obama’s advisers told him to drop the Lucille moniker or risk a plagiarism accusation by a predacious media. Not wanting to embarrass himself or the blues icon, Obama reluctantly agreed. The search for a new name for his guitar immediately ensued. Initially Obama liked the name Betsy, after Davy Crockett’s musket, but vetoed the idea because of the plagiarism issue. Other names considered were Bert, Ernie, Trigger, Lassie, Black Beauty and Mrs. Beasley. Each was summarily rejected, although Mrs. Beasley made the second cut. Bereft of ideas, Obama only had to look as far as his wife for salvation. He named his guitar Michelle. It was a name a lot like Lucille, only different. And when he played Michelle, it sounded like Lucille, only better. To show his appreciation for many years of inspiration, Obama extended to B.B. King unfettered access to the White House for sleepovers and granted President-elect permission to date his mother-in-law.

OK, Barack Obama didn’t show up to jam with us, but the fundraiser was a success. Some say Obama could have been a great blues man but it was not his destiny. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama became the first African-American elected president of the United States. It was a proud day for America and a good day to be an American.

Marc Pepin, 57
third-grade teacher, Elk Grove Unified School District
Rancho Murieta

Letter to President-elect Obama,

I agree with many others that the failing economy needs to be dealt with now and is probably first priority. You have a talented group to address this problem, although as a progressive Democrat I see no evidence of inclusion of or endorsement of progressive economic ideas in this area. I hope that the solutions will include new and effective regulations to prevent the problems that led to our current recession. I certainly hope that the solutions include help for the homeowners threatened with foreclosure.

Another priority is creation of universal health care. For several years, I have belonged to organizations advocating a single-payer system as the most economical universal system.

Our foreign relations are equally urgent. First, I would like to see further transparency about the current administration’s agreement with the Iraqis, plus an attempt to carry out your promise to have our forces out of Iraq within 16 months of your taking office. Conditions in the war in Afghanistan keep worsening, and I hope our administration can find a solution there, perhaps an acceptable withdrawal. We really cannot afford either war.

The latest development is Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, with the Israeli army evidently preparing to invade. Already the Palestinian death toll there appears to be 400, while four Israelis have been killed by rockets fired by Hamas. Hamas and Israeli are not communicating, nor are Americans communicating with Hamas. I feel strongly that it is incomprehensible that my country is supporting Israel in its overwhelming use of force against the Palestinians, though I do not condone the firing of rockets by Hamas against Israel. Please find a way to end this carnage. It is extremely important for us to stop being complicit with Israel’s military solution.

Joyce Miller, 75
retired medical transcriptionist
West Sacramento

Dear Mr. President,

Education should have some funds. There’s talk that there’s a need for teachers and aides. There are many qualified aides and teachers, but some districts aren’t hiring. They use the current teachers and have them teach double subjects, especially in the secondary schools.

Classrooms are overcrowded, and those who have special needs get ruled out and get left behind. Students in special education are not treated equal to the rest. They get tagged as if they have some disease. They want to learn just like everybody else. And you think the gays have a problem!

Money should be set aside for things like more teachers (minority teachers), better equipment, community-based field trips, better lunch selection, etc. This is just a few that should be listed on the slate.

Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and High School Musical‘s Zac Efron may be the people they look up to, but it is only an image that they can touch on the TV screen. Once they leave school, they’ll never see the likes of reality that lies beyond when they graduate. Many will be fixated on the TV and be stunted for life.

I work with the special-ed students and they want to be part of society, enjoying life like others. People should give them a chance and let them be part of it.

Education should be a priority for all.

Randall, 56
paraeducation specialist

Dear President-elect Obama,

If you receive this, we would appreciate an answer to the following questions as no one is answering them for me and the more that happens the more it becomes a scenario that scares me to death.

1. Early on I knew that I was going to vote for you, and even though funds are tight, I involved myself in your winning this election. I spent a lot of time on my computer gathering information and sifting out the untruths as I saw them. I then forwarded all kinds of information with personal comments to everyone I knew or had contact with. I even wrote letters to your adversary. I also sent a small contribution. I am telling you this because I want you to understand how dedicated I was to your success.

2. I was listening to a radio show this morning, A Prairie Home Companion, and you were a guest. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time. You have an amazing sense of humor and I hadn’t known that. At that moment in time I had no doubts left at all … you were meant to win that election as you are the perfect person for the job. I haven’t felt this good about a candidate since John Kennedy … and by the way, your acceptance speech was wonderful and very moving, and again, it reminded me of the speech he gave when he was elected.

3. The question that my husband and I have … What will you do to stop the NAFTA Highway and all that it means? It has been kept on the back burner without the people of the United States having any vote at all about it. Right now, we see this as a very serious threat to the United States that would change life as we know it. I believe we deserve an answer … we all deserve this information.

Again, congratulations and God bless you and your family.

William and Tricia Fitch, 68 and 70
retired property manager

Dear Barack,

I know you can’t do it alone. I’m writing to you in the hope that my story may be one step towards wading out of the mental muck so many are in; that fearful, if I’m not on top I’m on the bottom place, that fearful place that leads to gang violence and war.

My story begins when I inspired my high-school students, through roleplay, to experience how they could each play a part in stopping student fights before they start by changing the way they think about their power, by being clear on their deepest values and by voicing their thoughts together.

One student, Celina, grew up in gang culture, yet she created a poster inviting opposing gang members to talk to each other instead of standing on opposite walls during lunch.

Like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his speech, “The Drum Major Instinct,” be the top dog in giving, not in dominating and control.

What if we the people heard a story like Celina’s every week? What if these stories spanned all economic levels reaching all the way to my imaginary student, Phil, whose family controls the billion-dollar stock of a multinational oil corporation? What if we heard about Phil’s dilemma, being expected to follow in his family’s footsteps, using their big money to control our elected lawmakers all the way to Washington, D.C.? What if we heard Phil’s thoughts, as he weighed his values, that family profit and the position of being top dog in a suit isn’t worth the cost of human lives in wars?

What if Phil found another way, where there was no fear of being on the bottom? What if Phil, like Celina, discovered that living in peace feels better than living in fear?

What if we the people heard these stories from you each week, in fireside chats and roadside raps? What if?

With the audacity of hope,

Laurie Funaroff, 59
youth violence prevention education

Dear Mr. President,

First letter:

A quality and sound decision regarding any solution to solve any of the issues Mr. Obama may face can only be reached out of a calm, cool and collected mindset and never when one is angered. Calm down first. Then proceed forward. Always go with “wisdom,” wherewith if any many lacks such, let him ask and it shall be given unto him.

Second letter:
Just like a world-renounced movie critic,
I gave it “4 Stars.”
An election like no other,
with “no holds barred.”
Never breaking a sweat,
was all that was show.
Leading by positive example,
is what was made known.
Cool, calm and collected,
just to name a few.
Character and integrity
gets the job done too.
“Rockin’ the mic,”
from coast to coast.
With intellectual solutions,
that means “the most.”
Equipped with the drive,
to give it “all he’s got.”
As for the “Oval Office,”
“this is why it’s hot.”
There had to be,
a doctor in the house.
“It’s what the doctor ordered.”
More than silver or gold,
the administration team
is “platinum embroidered.”
“Two thumbs up”
for Oprah’s support.
We’re “most grateful,”
that you didn’t abort.
There’s nothing precious,
in this world,
than “to share.”
We want “you all” to know,
You’re always in “The Howards” prayers.
There’s more to life,
than just giving and taking.
Such as realms of this sort,
known as “history in the making.”
Smoke machines and pyrotechs
at the bottom of the stage, BOOM!!!!
When the smoke clears at the top,
Mr. B will shake the room.
I never met Horton,
Whom says, “he hears a Who.”
But this goes out to “Obama,”
I thought you knew.
Here’s my “shout-out,”
better yet, “Happy Holla-days!”
If I had to paraphrase,
well then, let me count the ways:
1 for “O”
2 for “B”
3 for “A”
4 for “M”
5 for “A”
what more can I say.

Like a letter that means business,
I’m ending with “P.S.”
The “4 Stars” mention above,
is the “Obama Family”
Who’s “simply the best.”

Dexter Howard
security guard
North Highlands

Dear President Obama,

Change! You said that, but what changes are you referring to? Your latest cabinet choices do not reflect “change.”

I was inspired and impressed by your words “to make a way where there was no way before.” It’s when we contact (pray) our “source” to help you find the way where there was no way before. In the “micro” is where the connections are.

We have come to the end of wars. They are legalized murder (usually for profit). They caused destruction of infrastructure, utilities, roads, farms and forests.

Bring back our constitutional rights.

How about Congress reducing their salaries and feeling some of their constituents’ pain?

Real education needs to be available to all, with the hope it can create some imaginative future employment.

Corporations are not persons and not entitled to claim rights and privileges of “personhood.” They need to be cleaner and greener and of real help to the community through taxes or legacies and grants.

We need honest news, no “biased” “sham” information to mollify the crowd and sell ads. I am glad to hear you are for “net neutrality” and more public air waves.

Forget transportation for autos. Let’s have high-speed rails across the USA like Europe and Japan.

Small changes have big effects also: The microbial is where supportive connections are made. Change is not easy, but it is necessary for us all.

Thank you.

Deborah Edwards
artist, wife and grandmother
Nevada City

Dear Barack,

What most of us, particularly in California, want is a complete reversal of all the Bush policies. Here are several suggestions:

Economic/domestic issues:

Time for a Roosevelt-like “New Deal.”

Declare a “foreclosure holiday.”

Completely deprivatize all government functions and employ people to perform the tasks.

Forget No Child Left Behind, hire more teachers and open high schools to all ages and run them 12-16 hours per day.

Institute a single-payer health-care plan to everyone and create at least 50 percent more medical/nursing schools.

Forget the “war on drugs"; legalize everything and divert funds for law enforcement/prisons to rehabilitation/education.

Foreign affairs:

End the “war on terror” and make it a law enforcement and/or covert operation.

End the occupation of Iraq by withdrawing in the same six weeks it took for the initial invasion.

Completely deprivatize all military/security functions.

Assist Iraq and Afghanistan in rebuilding their infrastructure by hiring/sending engineers.

Leave Iran alone. In fact, if Iran develops “nukes,” it might “temper” Israeli aggression in the region.

Grant Cranston, 56
math/science tutor and caregiver
Fair Oaks

Dear President-elect Obama:

How I pray that you were truly a Christian, a follower of Jesus, as you claim. Then you would understand that Jesus is pro-life and the truth that every abortion kills a living human being. Your abysmal failure to stand up and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves is shameful. And to be a co-sponsor of what very well may be the most evil piece of legislation in the history of America, the Freedom of Choice Act, disqualifies you from public office. The last thing America needs is a leader who cannot tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public.

And what could be more despicable than your promise to Planned Parenthood that the FOCA would be the first law you would sign. In my opinion, there may well be no more prolific baby killing machine in the history of the world.

Lincoln said it best when he said, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” You, in particular, should understand that America has a history of defining out of existence people who get in our way. First, it was the African-American because we wanted his labor. Then it was the Native American because we wanted his land. Now it is our children … 50,000,000 dead children since (death) Roe v Wade. Abortion truly is the ultimate child abuse.

With all due respect, it is unacceptable for American leader to fail to defend the defenseless and tolerate the intolerable. The most damaging agent to the Earth’s environment is innocent blood. The shedding of innocent blood pollutes our nation and is leading America down a road from which I fear she will never recover.

You need to understand that America today is a nation hiding her sin. She covers it by renaming it “choice.” She encourages it through state and federal funding. She shakes her fist at other nations for “human rights abuses,” and all the while her skirts are full of blood.

You could leave an indelible mark on American history and be seen as the black Lincoln by understanding that ending abortion is the civil-rights movement of our generation.

I believe God rides the wings of prayer, so I will storm the heavens with my prayers and tears for God to change your heart from promoting a culture of death and to move from deeds of darkness to lifting up the sanctity of life. I pray for white-ribbon day, when every mother with child will hear the gentle whisper inside her womb saying, “Mom, take my hand, not my life.”

Terry McDermott, 60

Dear Barack Obama,

First we would like to thank Barack Obama for running to become president of the United States of America. It shows courage and integrity. The change you are bringing is our only solution for world peace and our survival for our aligning nation. Your heart is true and your words are concrete in stone for true meaning of change in the society we live in. There are many words spoken in life, but if there is no meaning behind them they were untrue and should have remained unspoken. You are making a change that others could not do or had the right agenda to move forward to accomplish this miracle task that you will be able to do with the help of our nation and first and foremost God. We once again thank you and your family for all of the success in the world and the change we need to become again a nation under God and united we stand.

Sincerely yours,

Joe Migliaccio
Rose Calles

Dear President-elect Obama,

Barack, your inauguration is a chance to witness history change in favor of the just, the deserving, the people. It is an opportunity to see hope and hard work manifest into great possibilities and realistic probabilities. We now have an exemplar for which all children of future generations can strive. It means now I can exhale as an American.

Peace and blessings,

Akili Moses Israel

Dear President-elect Obama:

My heart aches for you for being a co-sponsor of what I believe is the most evil piece of legislation in the history of America, the Freedom of Choice Act. I feel sad for you as you have been blinded by the truth of what is happening. Perhaps we should follow the money as the bill encourages the brutal and gruesome practice of killing babies during delivery, called partial-birth abortion.

During this heinous act, as you must know, the abortionist pulls a viable baby feet first from her mother’s womb, delivering all but the head. He then stabs the child in the back of the head and suctions out her brains before pulling her now lifeless body from her mother. That is the truth, and that is evil personified.

This is your tragic legacy of failure when it comes to protecting the most innocent and loving of all society.

Sheryl Scott, 58

Dear Barack Obama,

I am known since you spoke at the Democratic Party Convention that you would be our next president. Please be very careful. I was even in just a small coffee shop in Sacramento overhearing others take about how Biden would be our next President between you would be taken out.

This can not happen. You have got to get our country to understand they have to come together. You have to give specifics, not just put into the people’s mood to want to help, but to take that extra step to make it work. The country needs more medicals jobs because health is going to become more available immediately take all those millions of people that need health care. The energy crisis needs to have educational schools opened up so our students can get going to school now. Many closed buildings can be reopened and schools need to be made for these unemployed people that want this new jobs and new future.

Laurie Holland