Weekly Letter to the President
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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 18, 2019 (posted January 20, 2018)

Mr. President:  Four weeks and counting the shutdown continues except the tit-for-tat
is fast approaching kindergarten level.  The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is
third in line for the office of President.  The Democrats having won back the House
she is a Democrat, and Donald Trump just canceled her morale-boosting trip,
together with a congressional delegation, to the soldiers in Afghanistan.  He was able
to do that very simply by denying the use of the military aircraft scheduled to fly them
there; he cited the shutdown.  He even suggested they could fly commercial, but
disclosing plans to a war zone by such a high-level elected official has left some

A day earlier, Ms. Pelosi urged the president to postpone his State of the Union
address which is hosted by the House, again because of the shutdown.

Meanwhile some Federal workers are having difficulty buying groceries -- some
800,000  either continue to work without pay or are just sitting at home waiting to
return.  Many, if they can, are taking on temporary jobs.

As the cost of the shutdown rises, so does the political cost.  A new Marist poll finds
54 percent blame Trump for the shutdown while 31 percent believe the Democrats
are the cause.  But, cutting across party lines, 70 percent do not like the shutdown
and agree it is a bad negotiating strategy.  It looks like it might cost all incumbents,
and Republicans are likely to suffer worse.

The latest shot fired is a threatened investigation by Democrats.  It is alleged that Mr.
Trump instructed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to
build a Trump Tower in Moscow.  The House Intelligence Committee will investigate
the claims according to its new chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, adding that
suborning perjury before this committee is the most serious charge to date against
the president.

From ground wars to space wars:  President Trump has now announced new missile
defense plans.  A layer of space sensors to detect missile launches anywhere on
earth is the intent.  "Our goal is simple:  to ensure we can detect and destroy any
missile launched against the United States -- anywhere, anytime, any place."  
Inevitably the new plan invites comparisons with Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars"
concept introduced in the 1980s but later shelved after the Soviet Union dissolved.

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Review notes four countries (China, Iran, North
Korea and Russia) that could be possible threats with missiles capable of hitting the
U.S.  "We have some very bad players out there," according to Mr. Trump, though it is
almost impossible to imagine any of the four countries mentioned launching a missile
strike.  Given the consequences, including a nuclear winter to threaten the planet as
a whole, it is difficult to envision circumstances leading to nuclear war.  And Russia
warns of a new arms race.

Naturally, Mr. Trump wants immediate funding for these plans.  But the House holds
the purse strings.  Oops!  It's back to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  The game continues.