Weekly Letter to President Obama
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ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
January 15, 2011
Mr. President: I have been looking at the video of your speech at the
funeral service in Tucson this week and it is oratory at its best -- elegant,
consoling, masterful, empathetic, and refraining from the blame game.
Congratulations! I agree we must not stifle debate but unwarranted, untrue
ad hominem attacks?
You, yourself sir, are often labeled socialist by the right and the 'birthers'
have you born in all kinds of places. Socialist? According to various organs
of the left, you are suffering from CCS -- chronic capitulation syndrome --
bowing to demands from the right even against the wishes of substantial
numbers of your own party. The Bush tax cuts, for example, were extended
with only 143 (out of 255) Democratic votes. You relied on the full support of
the Republicans to push through a measure that includes tax cuts for the
very rich -- a $700 billion lost hit on the deficit.
Ralph Nader has sent you an open letter wondering why you do not lend an
ear to the voices of civil society seeking to better our environment and the
lives of ordinary working people. You refused his request to meet with civic
leaders in Washington. He wanted you to repeat what Jimmy Carter did when
he addressed and interacted with over a thousand such representatives at a
Washington hotel soon after his election. Mr. Nader recalls your trip to India
-- in the company of business executives -- as a sort of business agent, your
frequent meetings with the CEOs of Aetna and Pfizer before the crafting of
the health care bill while you rebuffed old friends and mentors like Dr.
Quentin Young, who like a majority of Americans favored a single-payer
On February 7, reports Mr. Nader, you will cross Lafayette Park to visit the
headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, yet you seem lead-footed
when it comes to stepping next door to the AFl-CIO. Moving up the minimum
wage to $10 would bring it to the inflation adjusted wage level in 1968. It is
easy to see why the level of poverty is at its highest ever with 48 million (1 in
6) so classified last year; not a fair shake for all in an economy that has
grown substantially in those four decades.
Mr. Hu Jintao is visiting us for the first Chinese Presidential State visit since
2002. In the meantime, China has become the world's second largest
economy (GDP of $10 trillion to our $14). Here is a thought: the Chinese
have a growing true high-speed rail network with trains traveling at speeds
over 300 miles per hour. A train like that would transform the Boston -
Washington corridor into a giant suburb with all the advantages of a mobile
flexible work force. Perhaps the Chinese will help us build one as they are
for Thailand -- they learned from the Japanese in the same way as they are
now planning a move into airplane manufacture with your help. All the same,
a high-speed rail network would not be a bad trade-off and their prices are a
lot lower than Japanese -- something to remember ruefully when we are
trying to sell planes the decade after.