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Saturday, 6 May 2017

Dear Mr President,

Well, as you can imagine, your daughter’s book Women Who Work ($14.56 on Amazon) is not exactly the talk of Sal Si Puede, what with the lack of seed money for girls to start up international fashion boutiques, but Evelyn Schrifttroller of the Gatos Gordos Gazette provoked a little interest by walking around town with a copy and asking working women to respond to selected sentences.

I thought you might like to hear some of the comments and maybe pass them along to Ivanka. She doesn’t seem to have a publicly available email address, which is understandable because she’d spend all day answering the messages from her Chinese buck-an-hour workers, using their precious restroom breaks to contact her on their I-phones complaining about the lack of restroom breaks.

“All women benefit immeasurably by architecting their lives.”
– Dorothy Fuentes, English teacher at Sal Si Puede High: “To architect is neither a verb nor a possibility around here. Unless they’ve got a rich daddy or a 12-foot jump shot, the girls I teach only see the architecture of the highway to Albuquerque.”

“Whether you’re trying on a pair of my heels or perusing my Web site for interviewing tips, my ‘why’ is to provide you – a working woman with solution and inspiration.”
– Imelda Swaggar, Chair of Las Supremas (the Republican Women’s Club): “Ivanka’s serenity amidst the distractionness of the multi-facets of her career will be an inspiration to heiresses in all its aspects.”

“Ivanka should come out here and work really, really hard on the Friday night shift. We’d see how she loves getting pinched on the ass. Another reason to boycott Amazon.”

“During the campaign, I didn’t treat myself to a massage.”
– Buffy Cardenas, high school junior and weekend clerk at the Limpiarama Self-Wash: “OMG, that’s really, like, sad and stuff. I wonder what, like, happened to her I-phone.”

“Honor yourself by exploring the kind of life you deserve.”
– Maria Cervantes, night guard at the county jail. “I don’t know what kind of life I deserve, but for sure it’s not this one. I think that might also be true for Ivanka. Maybe we could swap.”

“Cultivate brain-boosting hobbies such as chess and calligraphy.”
– Vicky Callahan, cook at the Clatcheria: “What?”

“My father has always said, if you love what you do and work really, really hard, you will succeed.”
– Melba Thumper, barmaid at the Retrofit: “Ivanka should come out here and work really, really hard on the Friday night shift. We’d see how she loves getting pinched on the ass. Another reason to boycott Amazon.”

On second thought, don’t bother Ivanka about it.

Find all of Dan's "Letters to the President" here.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Dear Mr President,

Today is Cinco de Mayo, celebrated by everybody in Gatos Gordos County – even by the oppressed minority of Northern European descent who, in a show of generosity, choose to forget for the day that the ancestors of the majority Hispanics entered the country illegally in 1598 and immediately started having anchor babies and joining gangs and driving around in taco-wagons until there was one on every corner. But, as I say, we oppressed minority citizens overlook all that and hardly ever mention it, in our enthusiasm for those achievements of Hispanic culture – the Enchilada and the Patio Fountain.

So we were all a little taken aback when we read that you are discontinuing the tradition of celebrating Cinco de Mayo in the White House. We remember that just last year you celebrated by posing over a big bowl of taco salad, thus ratifying and legitimizing the holiday by your picture. And who can forget the sensitive twit you tweetered for the occasion:

“Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”

Of course! The Cinco is all about you, and your taco salads are the best! And no wonder, considering your own Mexican heritage. Though it’s little known, your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was an indentured mule driver during La Entrada, the Spanish land grab of Nuevo Mexico – which was really part of Greater Bakersfield – in the seventeenth century. He was the son of a Muslim slave named Abdul who was given the last name Fischbein by his humorous captor, a Spanish pirate who brought him to Mexico.

There he was married to a Mayan woman whose name has been lost to history. Their mule-skinner son was christened Jose, but became known as El Trompudo (“Trumpet Mouth”), either for the shape of his lips or his braying speech – historians are divided on this point. He became famous in 1680 after accidentally spilling a tub of spoiled curds onto a burro he was roasting during the siege of Santa Fe, and offering the result to the starving residents at greatly inflated prices. He is honored in Gatos Gordos County as the inventor of the cheese burrito.

The rest is history.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Dear Mr President,

I guess it’s pretty obvious that you haven’t read much history – given that you didn’t know that Lincoln was a Republican; that Frederick Douglass isn’t one of your supporters; that the Civil War battle of “The River of Blood”, fulsomely commemorated by a plaque on one of your golf courses, never happened, there or anywhere else; that Kim Jong Il no longer rules North Korea; that NATO conducts counter-terrorism operations; that every middle school graduate knows who Susan B. Anthony was; and that Andrew Jackson wasn’t angry about the Civil War because he was dead long before anyone thought of waging it. So reading the hundred or so books that would minimally prepare you to comprehend the geopolitics of the world you bestride like a psychosis wouldn’t pay off in the short run, and let’s face it, a man who is 70, overweight, and in a high-stress job hasn’t got a long run.

You are on track to be remembered as greedier than William Randolph Hearst, more corrupt than Boss Tweed, dumber than Sarah Palin.

So forget that. Try to think instead about how history will read you. And there is no doubt that it will – intensely, obsessively, eternally. Generations of school-kids in the twenty-second century will match your boasts against your actual achievements and scoff at the short-sighted motives that led you to ignore the perfectly obvious consequences which have damned them to a world that is broken in ways and on a scale for which history can provide no precedent.

You are not going into the books on your own terms – as, I suppose you imagine, a populist hero, a champion of the forgotten and neglected, a Spartacus, a Robin Hood, a Emiliano Zapata. Instead, you are on track to be remembered as greedier than William Randolph Hearst, more corrupt than Boss Tweed, dumber than Sarah Palin.

But you can still salvage something from the detritus of your own bombast. What if you (with expert advice) took a determined stand in favor of a few of your own least-meant promises – to work out a healthcare plan that really would cover everyone equally with lower premiums, or to boost wages through massive infrastructure projects, or to find a sensible way of granting citizenship to law-abiding immigrants, or to embrace science rather than the ideology of oil magnates?

What if you really did drain the swamp of lobbyists posing as officials, starting with your own cabinet?

What if instead of applauding the brutality of dictators, you applauded the courage of the people who stand up to them?

History never forgets, but it sometimes forgives.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Dear Mr President,

Melba, one of the barmaids down at the Retrofit, was all excited Friday night because she read in a discarded copy of some fake-news paper that Ivanka’s workers were taking home $250 a day, with overtime, sewing dresses that rich ladies buy on Amazon, and she said, “Hell I can sew dresses for $20 an hour, and I’d get to sit down and not work on the weekend. Has Ivanka got a factory in Albuquerque? Cause I can get a Trump sticker on my pick-up real quick.”

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But then we read the article and it said $250 a month and most of the workers were men because they can work longer without going to the head – which I’m pretty sure is the reason that men came to run the world – and anyway it was in China. Well, you should have seen Melba go postal over that, it was like Ivanka had personally fired her, yelling about what a whore she is (and Melba knows a thing or two about that), yelling about ripping the America-First sticker off her truck that she hadn’t even put on yet, and vowing to join the boycott of Amazon. I checked and there is one.

So Mumford (J. Thorston Mumford – a lawyer, in case you can’t tell) explained that the America-First doctrine only applies to companies who moved their factories overseas after the inauguration, and Ivanka never had a factory to move. She just traces a design from Aquazzura or somebody, makes a couple of small changes, sends the drawing to China and waits for the shoes or whatever to show up on Amazon. It’s called the Gorsuch-nonsuch post-facto, switcho-changeo King’s X backsy clause. Perfectly legal.

Sort of like the declaration you signed in March declaring that only US steel would be used in the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines “or we’re not building one.” Because you had already signed a directive in January saying that only new pipelines would be subject to new rules, and if you let the later directive overrule the earlier one, that would be a contradiction, which a president simply can’t allow to erode trust. But for sure if a new pipeline is built – say from Boston to DC, or from Houston to LA (to tranship the Canadian oil to a port more convenient for the Chinese who are the real customers anyway) – it will be built with US steel.

But words are wasted on some people. And she talks about Ivanka being a whore! Melba let her political position be swayed by her economic one. Saturday her truck was parked outside the Retro with a POCOHONTAS TAKES NO PRISONERS sticker on the tailgate.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Dear Mr President,

I’ve found another historical account that I think you'll find timely. One of your ancestors, Herodotus Trump, was a famous historian in Tennessee in the mid-nineteenth century. One day in 1865, he stopped by the Hermitage, the plantation of his neighbor Andrew Jackson, to wish him a happy 98th birthday. He found him drinking mint-juleps with his dear friend Frederick Douglass.

Jackson: Howdy neighbor, come up on the poach and set a spell. Freddie and I were just discussin the woah. I was jus sayin . . . [nods off]

Trump: How do Hickory, ole boy. Good afternoon, Mr Douglass, suh. I bin thinkin’ about the woah mysef. Ah’m thinkin bout writin’ a book bout hit. People don't realize, you know, the Civil Woah, if you think bout hit, why?

Douglass: What? Say that again, slowly.

Trump: Why could that one not have bin worked out?

Douglass: Well, working it out would have required reversing historical processes that were centuries in the making – processes in which Americans, both North and South, have been heavily invested. At the core, of course, is the cancer of slavery . . .

Trump: [jumps up] The slaves have cancer? Is hit ketchin’?

Jackson: [jerks awake] Stay calm, Herodotus. Freddie was just usin what’s called a metaphor. He does that. [nods off again]

Douglass: . . . but even before that, there was the assumption by European settlers that the land was theirs to be taken and that its occupants were to be killed or removed.

Jackson: [awake again] “Indian Removal” – one of my best policies, next to “Manifest Destiny” and “Spoils System”. I removed them because I am a tough person, but I let them live because I have a big heart. To the victor . . . [nods off]

Trump: Well, Ah bet Ole Hickory could still stop hit, if’n he jus got mad and . . .

Douglass: Boy, you should really read the papers more often. It’s been over for two weeks.

Trump: Lyin press. And Ah never said that. Ah jus said that back befo hit stopped or whatever, he could have settled hit like he settled them Creeks.

Douglass: What? In Oklahoma?

Jackson: [suddenly awake] Has Freddie been talkin trash agin? Don’t pay him no never mind. But write this down and put it in your book: “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes.”

Monday, 1 May 2017

Dear Mr President,

I was really encouraged by your reassurances on Face the Nation this weekend on all sorts of matters, but especially on the promise that pre-existing conditions will definitely, more or less, be covered – depending on the risk pool that you choose and the state in which you live. My wife and I, being fairly well off what with our inherited wealth on both sides – good genes, as you’re fond of saying – actually don’t give a rat’s ass whether poor people have their pre-existing conditions covered, because let’s face it, their primary pre-existing condition is that they’re poor, and that’s not our fault. But being able to say they’re covered will get the bill passed, and that’s the end of it. And the trick, of course, is in that word “covered” – which is not the same as “paid for” is it?

But I’m wandering off my point, which is your absolute, concrete, definite caveat-emptor (Latin for “trust me”) guarantee of “pre-existing coverage”.

– DICKERSON: “So I'm not hearing you, Mr. President, say there’s a guarantee of pre-existing conditions.”

– TRUMP: “Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network, and they were saying, ‘Pre-existing is not covered.’ Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.’

“We have now pre-existing conditions in the bill. We’ve set up a pool for the pre-existing conditions so that the premiums can be allowed to fall.”

“I watch some of the news reports, which are so unfair, and they say we don’t cover pre-existing conditions, we cover it beautifully.”

“Pre-existing is going to be in there and we’re also going to create pools. And pools are going to take care of the pre-existing. But the states are also going to have a lot to do with it because we ultimately want to get it back down to the states. Look, because if you hurt your knee, honestly, I'd rather have the federal government focused on North Korea, focused on other things, than your knee, okay? Or than your back, as important as your back is. I would much rather see the federal government focused on other things, bigger things. Now, the state is going to be in a much better position to take care, because it’s smaller.”

[dc “W[/dc]e actually have a clause that guarantees. We have a specific clause that guarantees.”


[So some guy hurts his back and he’s not in the bad-back risk pool – he’s SOL. Whose fault is that? Or he’s in Mississippi, where they don’t like poor people. Better move.]

Dan Embree