Free Press; Screw Trump

The letter below is lengthy, but I felt it needed to be shared in its entirety. Trump took a sentence from this letter out of context at his Florida rally last week in attempt to make his followers believe Jefferson was an opponent of a free press. I’ve highlighted the part of the sentence that negates Trump’s assertion. 

From Thomas Jefferson to James Currie, 28 January 1786

To James Currie

Paris Jan. 28. 1786Dear Sir

Your favor of Oct. 17. with a P.S. of Oct. 20. came to hand a few days ago, and I am now to thank you for the intelligence it contains. It is more difficult here to get small than great news, because most of our correspondents in writing letters to cross the Atlantic, think they must always tread in buskins, so that half one’s friends might be dead without it’s being ever spoken of here. Your letter was handed me by Mr. Littlepage whom I had never seen before and who set out from hence for Warsaw after two or three days stay. I observe by the public papers that he has brought on a very disagreeable altercation with Mr. Jay, in which he has given to the character of the latter a colouring which does not belong to it. These altercations, little thought of in America, make a great impression here. In truth it is afflicting that a man who has past his life in serving the public, who has served them in every the highest stations with universal approbation, and with a purity of conduct which has silenced even party opprobrium, who tho’ poor has never permitted himself to make a shilling in the public employ, should yet be liable to have his peace of mind so much disturbed by any individual who shall think proper to arraign him in a newspaper. It is however an evil for which there is no remedy. 

Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.

To the sacrifice, of time, labor, fortune, a public servant must count upon adding that of peace of mind and even reputation. And all this is preferable to European bondage. He who doubts it need only be placed for one week on any part of the Continent of Europe. Your desire of possessing the new Encyclopedie was expressed so problematically in a former letter, that I doubted whether you did not merely render yourself thro’ complaisance to my proposition. Your last letter however is more explicit, wherefore I have immediately subscribed for you, and have obtained an abatement of two guineas in the price. It will be brought to me to day, and as there are now 29. vols. complete, and binding is done so much better and cheaper here (about 2 livres a volume) I will have them bound and send them by the first conveiance. The medical part has not yet begun to appear, that author having chosen to publish the whole at once. I do not expect it will be the most valuable part of the work, for that science was demolished here by the blows of Moliere, and in a nation so addicted to ridicule, I question if ever it rises under the weight while his comedies continue to be acted. It furnishes the most striking proof I have ever seen in my life of the injury which ridicule is capable of doing. I send by this conveiance designs for the Capitol. They are simple and sublime. More cannot be said. They are not the brat of a whimsical conception never before brought to light, but copied from the most precious the most perfect model of antient architecture remaining on earth; one which has received the approbation of near 2000 years, and which is sufficiently remarkable to have been visited by all travellers. It will be less expensive too than the one begun. For some time past nothing has come out here worth sending you. Whenever there does you shall receive it. The Abbé Rochon (who had discovered that all the natural chrystals were composed of two different substances of different refracting powers, and those powers actually uncombined tho’ the substances seem perfectly combined) has lately applied the metal called Platina to the purpose of making the specula of telescopes. It is susceptible of as high a polish as the metallic composition heretofore used, and as insusceptible of rust as gold. It yeilds like that to no acid but the aqua regia. One Hoffman practices here a pleasing method of engraving, such as would be useful to any gentleman. He gives you a plate of copper; write on it with his ink, letters, designs of animals, landscapes, architecture, music, geography or what you please, and in an hour the plate is ready to strike off what number of copies you please. I charge you always with my affectionate respects to the families at Tuckahoe and Ampthill and to Mc.Lurg whose indolence is the only bar to our correspondence without an intermediate. I have taken the liberty of desiring A. Stuart to send some objects of natural history for me to your care, relying you will be so good as to contrive them to me, always remembering that Havre is the most convenient port, and next to that l’orient, and that packages for me must be directed to the American Consul at the port. I am with sincere esteem Dear Sir your friend and servt,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC). Noted in SJL as sent “by Ezra Bates.” For a description of Hoffman’s pleasing method of engraving, see TJ to Stiles, 1 Sep. 1786.

Vagina Wars: A New Hope

I’ve debated endlessly with myself about publishing this post. The truth is, this is an adult situation, and I’m going to discuss some delicate matters, so you’ve been warned. In the end, I thought that other women out there might be dealing with the same issues I’ve had and not to share would be wrong.

First some history. In 2007 I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation therapy. The lump was estrogen receptive, so I was placed on the drug tamoxifen, an estrogen inhibitor, for a period of five years. Everything went beautifully, but I continued menstruating heavily and in 2011 my doctors decided I needed to have an oophorectomy (hysterectomy plus removal of my ovaries, Fallopian tubes, the whole shebang.)

Shortly after that I realized that sexual intercourse, an act of which I was tremendously fond, had become unbearably painful. It was like one day a switch was shut off and my vagina ceased to be my friend. 

Oh, we coaxed it, and lubricated it. I sent off to Europe for a product guaranteed to make my vagina a welcoming place again. My radiologist, Dr. Sapiente, sent me home with a set of dilators in Easter egg pastels. We tried lidocaine swabs. Nothing helped.

My gynecologist at the time prescribed the topical steroid, Premarin, and for one glorious month I was on speaking terms with my vagina. Unfortunately, when my oncologist found out I was taking it she put her foot down and took it away from me, and we were back to being frenemies.

Poor Studly was, and continues to be, so patient, and I must say I’ve been a trooper, too. Wine helps, lots and lots of wine. The act still hurts, but I don’t care as much. 

When we moved to Florida I told our new family doctor about my problem and asked if there were any new treatments for women like me. He responded, “Is it still that important to you?” I wanted to slap him, but instead I began the search for another doctor. 

My new doctor is female, and she referred me to a gynecologist who uses a relatively new procedure using lasers to stimulate the vagina to create its own collagen. I saw the specialist on Wednesday, and for the first time in six years I feel hopeful that we can be friends again. 

The procedure isn’t covered by health insurance, and the initial package of three treatments can vary in price from $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the part of the country in which one resides. Annual follow up treatments run about $500. 

At my doctor’s office the procedure is known as the Mona Lisa Touch (they have a website:, but I understand there are several other companies in the market with different monikers.

My first treatment is scheduled in early March. If I haven’t put everyone off I’ll provide updates, not to be confused with play by play. That would just be wrong. Send good thoughts. I will appreciate them.

Oh, my new gynecologist talked to me extensively about new research regarding Premarin and he’s started me on a new prescription. Things really are looking up down there.

Peace and friendship, people.


How awful is it that I’ve come across the word “feckless” in reading material pretty much my entire life but never bothered to look up its meaning. I relied on context to get close to the definition, but it’s being bandied about so much in our current political environment that I decided to pin it down and see what Mr. Webster says.

Can I build a poem around it? It’s worth a try.


Feckless, rhymes with reckless, but given a choice I’d rather be the latter

At least reckless implies action, foolhardy though it may be

While feckless, ah, that milquetoast adjective, describes a dearth of

Initiative, a failure of character. In a word, Congress. 


My heart’s been walking in soul sucking mud, the kind that pulls my shoes right off 

As I slog through the muck from point a to point b. Bare feet carry gamely on, step by sticky

Step. Pick up my shoes and brace myself against gravity’s ultimate challenge. Falling

Face first into the mire is a real possibility. I’ve been here before. It’s not pretty.

Underground Railroad: A Review of Sorts

What if the Underground Railroad was an actual railroad? What if runaway slaves could hop aboard and travel to freedom through a series of subterranean tunnels? Aptly title, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, explores this possibility, following the escaped slave, Cora as she seeks a better life outside of the brutal one she’s known picking cotton on a plantation in Georgia.

While the concept of an actual train is pure fiction, the harsh aspects of Cora’s life are not. As a slave she was beaten for protecting a young child from the master’s whip and chose to risk the possible hazards of life on the run rather than submit to the certain abuses from those who own her.

The book has an odd cadence, and there were times when I backtracked and reread a page or two to get it to make sense to me. There is a certain dreamlike quality to some chapters, while others are stark in their recounting of cruelties rendered. But it’s ultimately satisfying.

This is a book for our times. As Cora finds peace in some destinations and horror in others we are reminded that there are still people in this world trying to escape these chilling truths, looking for a safe haven from cruel masters. We can be that safe haven.

Peace, people.