Cherry Blossom Special

The Lazer Speaks

How many of you remember mite boxes for charities as kids? I remember receiving the unfolded cardboard boxes, folding them into a box and then adding pennies, nickels and dimes to the boxes. I assume that each box could hold about ten dollars, and that each of the 500 kids in my grammar school did the same. That’s about five thousand dollars. If a hundred schools did the same, that would add up to almost half a million dollars! Where did that money go?

The mermaid and I went to Washington, D.C. this past weekend to see the cherry blossoms, but we were a little early. Saw a lot of magnolias, but few cherry blossom blooms. But while we were there, the Mueller Report was released and it reminded me of that old axiom, “follow the money!”

Washington is beautiful in spring. The Amtrak ride is picturesque as the train sails by the Chesapeake Bay towards the Capitol. New York was once the nation’s capital, but a deal between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson moved it to Philadelphia and then to its final destination in the swamps of Virginia, close to the homes of Jefferson and George Washington. What did Hamilton get? Well, he got a deal to buy back all the revolutionary war debt by creating the U.S. Treasury and eventually got a bullet with his name on it from that guy Burr. Follow the money.

We visited several museums along the national mall while we were there, and guess what? They are all free. The Air and Space Museum, the newly-opened Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, the memorials – Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR and MLK. All free to the public. Our tax dollars at work, just like the Mueller Report.

Hotels in D.C. range from the reasonable to the expensive. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency on New Jersey Avenue, a short walk from the majestic Union Station. With the newly-refurbished Capitol building within view and the Washington Botanical Gardens within walking distance, this hotel provides great value for the buck.

Visiting Washington D.C. is a stark reminder that our country is built on freedom and liberty. But a walk through the African-American museum and the MLK memorial quickly puts that notion into its proper context. Not everyone participated in those freedoms, and some still don’t. At over a thousand pages, it’s hard to recommend Ron Chernow’s book on Grant, but it is a great read, and it does provide a great primer on the reconstruction years following the Civil War.

We stopped by the White House after strolling by the Treasury building and got to see demonstrators from Palestine protesting the U.S.'s support of Israel. Also, there were a group of Hasidim protesting Zionism. I didn’t understand any of it. I don’t know if Trump was in the White House or not, but while we were sitting in the park, Robert Mueller emerged from St. John’s Church, literally across the street, coming from Sunday services.

And while everyone had many questions for Mr. Mueller about his report, I wanted to ask him, what happened to the money that was collected in those mite boxes. I am sure he would tell me there was no collusion, but to follow the money.

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