Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
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
Jan 27, 2012
Mr. President: In Libya, yes, Gaddafi is gone. But the end was a disgrace.
This week Doctors Without Borders, the Nobel Peace Prize winning NGO has
decided to leave Libya. Their released statement asserts they refused to be
used for "treating prisoners between torture sessions". Amnesty
International is also accusing the present government of torture. Pictures of
Gaddafi's son Saif al Islam show him gesturing towards heavily bandaged
fingers. They have refused to release him to the International Criminal Court.
Now there are new allegations: Boko Haram, the fundamentalist group that
this week carried out the horrendous attacks in Kano, the biggest city in
Muslim Northern Nigeria, has apparently been receiving its weapons from
Libya. Recall that the US a few years ago captured and renditioned the
fundamentalist Abdelhakim Belhadj to Libya where he was imprisoned by
Gaddafi's relatively secular government. At the time, he was considered an
Al-Qaeda sympathizer and accused by the Spanish of complicity in the 2004
Madrid train bombings. As part of an amnesty program, he was released by
Gaddafi in 2010. He is now a powerful figure in Libya and heads the Libyan
Islamic Fighters. Aside from the destruction of Libya's infrastructure, we
have also set in motion forces of instability in strategically and economically
vital areas of Africa.
Why is it that our government is no longer responsive to public sentiment?
The public was against bailouts to banks, to no avail; now to energy company
bailouts. It is also against any war against Iran; yet politicians of all stripes
are saber-rattling more furiously than ever. The answer of course lies in the
sources of campaign funding. Thus in this great recession Wall Street was
made whole but not the people on Main Street; Dodd-Frank is so weak the
banks are gambling again -- facilitated by the Fed's zero interest rate cash
window. Why would they bother with commercial loans and humdrum retail
banking when trading yields faster, higher profits, and the public purse
covers losses in this too-big-to-fail world?
No matter how good a gambler, the odds are eventually bound to turn, so we
are guaranteed another disaster. It is not a question of 'if' just a question of
'when' and on whose watch. The Glass-Steagall Act, providing a separation
wall between investment and retail banking, protected us for seventy years.
It was all of 34 pages long; Dodd-Frank runs to 2300 pages. It is touted as
ushering in a new era by some, and considered toothless by almost all