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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Dear Mr President,

My friend Ira, who knows that you and I are in close contact and that you follow my advice, has asked me to pass along a suggestion about solving North Korea. The international policy wonks and the military guys keep saying that your latest hobby, bombing places, won’t work in Korea because South Korea is right next-door (I don’t know whether you knew that – did President Xi explain this?), and would be largely wiped out within minutes should hostilities break out. And the Navy is getting all picky about not taking orders by twit, so you can’t count on them. So how about trying to find common ground with their overweight, self-absorbed, paranoid, trigger-happy leader, Kim Jong Un? Ira thinks you might have things in common.

When I think of Kim Jong Un, I think “bad hair” – shaved on the sides and the rest straight up, apparently because he thinks that makes him look slimmer and taller, which would obviously be what you’d want if you were Kim Jong Un.

Now what is the first thing you think of when you someone says Kim Jong Un? I mean besides that midnight chef in the White House kitchen who does the fries the way you like them – anyway his name is Bartholomew Wong, and his family has been in America since the Gold Rush. Not him. When I think of Kim Jong Un, I think “bad hair” – shaved on the sides and the rest straight up, apparently because he thinks that makes him look slimmer and taller, which would obviously be what you’d want if you were Kim Jong Un.

So how about approaching him through diplomatic back channels – forget China, think Russia, where you’ve got good contacts. Here’s the deal: you and Un (let’s just call him Un, because the rest is so unexpectedly complicated that Rex “Pongyang” Tillerson and Sean “Bashad” Spicer would be sure to screw it up) do a deal to establish an international chain of men’s hair salons (named “Narcissus” perhaps?), specializing in high-end do’s for populist revolutionaries for whom the buzz-cut is no longer trendy. You could get some of your celebrity buddies – say, Tom Brady, Chris Christie, Frederick Douglass, and that basketball player who sang Happy Birthday to Un – to model the new looks.

Some ideas: the Trump-Weedlot cut – “Long on grass, short on roots”. Or the Un-Do – “Get it before you get undone”.

Just a suggestion.

See all of Dan's letters to President Trump here

Friday, 21 April 2017

Dear Mr President,

I want to give you an up-date on the big, new tourist attraction that Ivanka ordered for down on the border. It’s the little village formerly called Antelope Wells, at the end of NM Hwy 81 – which used to go through to Mexico, but we’ve ended it at the Wall.

The Wall is magnificent – 24 feet high, topped with electrified razor wire; the vertical steel rails have half-inch gaps between them screened by eighth-inch hardware cloth on the lower 12 feet so there will be none of that nonsense of poking notes through to the potentially illegal family members on the south side or any of that sacrilegious passing of communion wafers like we saw before. There are manned watch-towers every quarter mile as far as the eye can see – which because of the hills is only a half mile in either direction.

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We’re thinking of scrapping Sean’s plan for the Easter-Island style Trumpbusts behind the Wall because 1) that’s in Mexico, and 2) Ivanka has ordered Jefferson’s face to be blown off Mt Rushmore and replaced with yours. (Since you’ve pretty much blown away Jefferson’s ideas about democracy, who needs his face?) Your thoughts?

The just finished headquarters of the Deportation Force (with a sign saying “former EPA Testing Station) has a public display called “Rounding up of Families of Suspected Motel Maids”. The members of the force are seen all over town in their new green designed-by-Ivanka uniforms and jackboots. (There are also lots of Border Patrol officers around, but their uniforms are not nearly as threatening.)

The Eco-Nazis were making a fuss over the interruption of the ancient antelope migration route (hence the old name for the former totally-nothing village), but that “problem” has been eliminated by rounding up the antelope and putting them in the new Wayne LaPierre Ecology Center and Shooting Park.

Per orders from Ivanka, we have renamed the Stephen Bannon Cultural Diversity Academy in honor of Presidential Legate Jared Kushner.

We are looking forward to your visit next month for the ribbon-cutting at the Donald J. Trump Real America Center. The opening exhibition is entitled “Bowling Green and Beyond: American Carnage You Never Heard of”.

We’ve renamed the place Protrumpkin Village.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Friends,

This morning's letter will probably be the last you will receive, because the White House -- after receiving 54 letters in a row -- finally read one. They have responded by blocking the 55th, claiming that it contained emoji. It did not. Indeed, I am too old-school to use emoji; I know just enough Latin to recognize that the nominative singular must be emoiius, derived from the verb emo, meaning "to take, buy, procure, bribe" -- meanings that might make some in the White House a little nervous.

(But thinking that maybe some chance collision of a "?" and a ")" might have been mistaken for an emoiio, I tried to send several more versions, gradually eliminating the more troublesome punctuation: first the parentheses, the colons, and semicolons, then the question, exclamation, and quotation marks, the the hyphens and dashes, finally the periods and commas. So the last version had no punctuation at all. No good. They were seeing thing no one else could, like Muslims on rooftops.)

So I am disappointed to conclude two things: 1) the White House doesn't want to hear contrary views; and 2) the White House has told a lie.

So I am disappointed to conclude two things: 1) the White House doesn't want to hear contrary views; and 2) the White House has told a lie.

It was beyond my expectations that the president would ever read my letters or even that the courtiers around him would ever tell him about them. As a medievalist, I know how courtiers avoid being beheaded, and it isn't by bringing in news from unhappy peasants. I suppose that my real audience was the nameless assistant Correspondence Specialist (probably a 19-year-old niece or nephew of Sean Spicer) whose job it is to sort the thousands of letters received daily into piles -- pro's to be scanned for the one with the highest degree of abjectivity, which would be passed on to the Oval Office and read to the president by Sean himself during putting practice; con's to be hauled to the burn-bag. I secretly hoped to recruit that clerk as a mole, but so far there is no evidence that I succeeded.

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I probably only lasted as long as I did because the electronic scanning software had no filter for irony.

It's a mixed day for me. Now I can get an additional half-hour of sleep every night, but I have a bunch of great letters already written and nowhere to send them. Sad.

Thanks to you all. And write the president a letter.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Dear Mr President,

A shout-out for your bold decision to change the name of Mt McKinley in Alaska back to Mt McKinley, its real name for over 100 years in honor of that visionary president who famously prayed about whether he should take the country to war to grab some overseas territories, and God told him, “Sure, taketh Puerto Rico, the Phillippines, whatever – though I have to warn you those particular places don’t have any oil. And oil is going to be big, believeth you me, 100 percent.” Before that, Mt McKinley was named Denali by the Koyukon people – illegal immigrants from Siberia about 5000 years ago – but they didn’t write it down, so it doesn’t count.

In New Mexico, our tallest mountain is Mt Taylor, named for that courageous president who was also a grabber, so to speak, of those pussies in Mexico who stood in the way of the destiny made manifest by that same God, even before McKinley and without a lot of time spent on prayer – because, you know, it was pretty damned manifest. So we’re OK with the mountain, but the name of the state is unfortunate because people think we are somehow associated with those folks to the south (some of whom, I assume, are good people), which is not true. Probably that is past praying for.

But we are thinking of a few other changes you could make with a stroke of your pen in one of those oversized folders that you then hold up for the cameras:

  • How about changing Gila National Forest (named after a monster lizard they have over in Arizona) to Ivanka Trump National Forest? That gets around the supposed rule against naming things after presidents while they’re still alive. She wouldn’t have to visit and get her signature dark pink suede, pointed-toe, d’Orsay silhouette Britas with 3-inch heels, man-made in China (by prisoners?), $140 plus shipping, all muddy and stuff. After all, McKinley never went to Alaska.
  • And how about renaming the Chaco Culture National Historic Park for Calvin Coolidge? We’re delighted to see that you are celebrating this thriftiest of the presidents on the White House website for “his determination to preserve the old moral and economic precepts of frugality” – I guess he wasn’t a cross-country golfer. The Chaco people are so yesterday, and the site is just a bunch of deserted adobes in a hard-to-get-to location. Scenery wasted, sad. Think airport, condos, a towering hotel (we can name it later when, you know . . .), and of course huge golf. Note: you’ll need artificial turf.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Dear Mr President,

You remember, of course, that a month ago I recommended that you lose your shadow, Mike Pence by sending him overseas to check out trouble spots. Well, flattered as I am that you followed my advice, I now see that it was a mistake, and I am very sorry.

Pence, off the leash in South Korea at a time when tensions are running high over there – just because you told the North Koreans you were going to “solve” them (who knew that unconsidered remarks would have actual consequences?) – has sensed his moment at the center of events and is making the most of it. Sporting (the only word) a spiffy leather bomber jacket, he was swaggering (absolutely the only word) about on an observation post overlooking the border, upstaging you big time – you could even say totally.

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Part of the upstaging was the bomber jacket – much spiffier than that schmatta the navy gave you – but the main thing was the location, just a couple of hundred yards from the enemy, not on some outdated and unfinished aircraft carrier moored safely to a dock in the Newport News shipyard. He was emanating danger, decision, testosterone.

And he knew it. He has perfected a swagger, doubtless learned from the W, and clearly he has been practicing in front of a mirror. Wide, full length. Note the slightly bowlegged cowboy walk and the arms held slightly out from the body – gunfighter stuff. A dead-pan, straight-lipped, steady-eyed, don’t-mess-with-Texas gaze – and he’s just from Indiana, for crying out loud! (This last phrase is said to be his most violent oath.)

Up there on the watch tower, he felt the cameras on him and pointed meaningfully into the distance – as if to say “There is North Korea!”, like the generals didn’t know that, but maybe just to ask, “Golly, is that North Korea?” or “Are those things guns?”

I know you don’t like people around you getting big. Bannon’s problem, obviously. Jared’s if he doesn’t watch it. But Pence is looking big. OK, I know he’s a little guy. But if he’s not where you can look down on him, he can start pretending big. Better get his skinny Indiana butt back in the White House.

Monday, 18 April 2017

Dear Mr President,

Out here in Gatos Gordos County, we’re looking forward to the hiring of the “massive deportation force” you’ve promised. We’re hoping that the “massive” applies to the “force”, rather than just to the “deportation”, because that will mean jobs for some of the locals. Take Big Lester Gufstason. He’s been hoping for a good government job rounding up illegals in Sal Si Puede, the county seat, where he personally knows three women that he definitely suspects of cleaning motel rooms under false pretenses. He’s ready to quit his job as the bouncer at the Retrofit because it only pays New Mexico minimum wage – $2.13 an hour plus tips – and the guys he throws into the parking lot aren’t big tippers.

Big Lester has been learning Spanish so he can qualify. He has already mastered “Lava los manos” and some other phrases from the restroom walls, but he’s concentrating on what he calls the professional stuff: “Papeles, por favor” and “Por favor, hazme el favor de entrar en ese camión” and “Hinda hoke!” We’ve told him that last one doesn’t sound like Spanish, but he says it is, because he heard it in a movie. We don’t like to argue with Big Lester.

He is encouraged that Homeland Security says it will be lowering standards in order to build up the force quickly. According to the New York Daily News, “Guidelines that could be suspended or eliminated include requirements for potential officers to take polygraphs, physical fitness and competency tests.” Big Lester has had some trouble with polygraphs before, but he says that was because the questions were unclear. And he doesn’t like to run, because, frankly, he isn’t called Big Lester for nothing. But you don’t have to run fast to grab aliens like that woman we read about this week – Maribel Trujillo, mother of four so-called American citizens, the 3-year-old with seizures that Trujillo is trained to treat – who was arrested in Ohio while suspiciously picking up her kids from school. As for competence, Big Lester is all over that: “I been throwing drunks into parking lots for years. Woman into a truck? Piece a cake.”

Of course, the liberals are on the case: Civil rights lawyer Ron Kuby says, “The plan is to give guns and badges to fat, lying, semi-literate people.” So? That describes several guys here who already have guns and badges. Being fat, lying, and semi-literate doesn’t disqualify other people in responsible positions. Why, that could even describe . . . .

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Dan Embree