Weekly Letter to the President
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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 13, 2017 (posted January 18, 2017)
Mr. President: Your farewell address focusing on the state of our democracy offered
a lofty perspective coupled with a homily on the responsibility of citizenship. Thrown
in were elements of legacy seized upon by numerous commentators from the left and
The trouble is an aloof president on a lofty perch is unlikely to get much of anything
done in the rough and tumble of American politics. One can recall the vivid
counterexample of Lyndon Johnson and his personal arm-twisting to push through his
'Great Society' programs.
This administration commenced in the wake of two disasters: an economic crisis
caused by neo-liberal policies of deregulation, and wars inherited from the neocons
and George W. Bush. The first was handled with a gentle touch -- no fraudsters went
to jail -- of weak regulation and copious financial largesse; the second with a surge in
Afghanistan and eventual withdrawal of forces from Iraq.
The result has been a tepid economic recovery, its weakness allowing it to continue --
the expansion not sufficient as yet to cause the usual contraction in an economic
cycle. Median U.S. household income after undergoing a reduction has returned to
the 2008 levels: $58,827 in 2008 to $58,221 in 2016. On the other hand, income
inequality worsened as a disproportionate share of gains went to the top one percent.
On the war front, the surge failed in Afghanistan. At 15 years, the longest war in U.S.
history continues as the Taliban display increased strength. Playing the ethnic card,
as the U.S. did, unseated the Taliban quickly but delegitimized the central government
in the eyes of the Pashtun population. It holds on ethnic plurality and an easy
majority when including their kin in Pakistan across a notoriously porous and artificial
Durand Line marking an ignored British colonial border. Afghanistan was part of the
Mughal Empire, like India and Pakistan, before the British arrived.
Troops were withdrawn from Iraq at the latter's behest but Special Forces are now
back fighting IS/Daesh. In fact Special Forces were deployed in 138 countries
globally in 2016.
This president might have inherited two wars but has bequeathed seven to his
successor. An astounding 26,171 bombs were dropped last year or approximately
three per hour. These are wars fought from the skies, safer in terms of U.S. military
casualties, but by their nature, deadly on civilian populations.
Attempts to undermine the Trump presidency continue unabated. A dossier leaked to
the press claimed the Russians had a hold on Trump through evidence of deviant
sex, and in addition were going to offer profitable deals to the Trump organization. A
simple question: Why would they need to offer financial inducement if they already
had a hold on Trump?
Prepared by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 operative, for apparently Democrat and
Republican opponents of Trump, the dossier contains almost no evidence of its
assertions and was soon proven to be false. Mr. Steele meanwhile is in hiding. He
believes his life to be in danger.
If all of the above is not enough, the Justice Department has announced an
investigation of FBI Director, James Comey, by the Inspector General for his handling
of the Clinton email affair just before the election.
While little can be remembered about Vice President Joe Biden other than plagiarism
when he ran for president plus a capacity to endure the rudest insults and disrespect
from Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, he has been awarded the Medal of
Freedom by his dear friend Barack Obama -- the nation's highest civilian honor,
becoming as depleted in value as the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to his boss.
Bemedaled, he was dispatched to Ukraine. What could be more urgent than more
trouble for Trump?
In the meantime, the odious and politically naive continue their confirmation hearings,
proving to be either gutless or reversing Trump's policy pronouncements in the case
of Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State nominee. He is already issuing ultimatums to
China and Iran seemingly unaware of their close relationship with Russia.
The old joke remains truer than ever: In America anyone can be president ... and
anyone usually is.