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
Feb. 3, 2012
Mr. President: The news on the economy is encouraging ... almost. The
economy is growing at 2.8 percent as reported last Friday and the
unemployment rate announced today is down to 8.3 percent. The 243,000
new jobs created is the most promising feature of the report for the simple
reason that the 8.3 percent unemployment figure excludes those too
discouraged to look for work but who will start their job searches again once
the outlook brightens and the economy begins to pick up. The 2.8 percent
growth rate is clouded by the compromised measure of inflation that
excludes vital necessities and uses goods substitution. In the last decade,
for example, social security pensions have barely budged -- any increases
swallowed by higher Medicare premiums -- based on the government's
inflation measure; yet anyone visiting a grocery or gas station is made easily
aware of how prices have risen. Allow a realistic inflation rate and the 2.8
percent growth rate diminishes to almost nothing.
A robust consumer driven economy requires purchasing power, which in
turn necessitates well-paying manufacturing jobs. Yes, some of these jobs
are coming back -- but 374,000 in two years is hardly enough; neither is the
size of the manufacturing sector's contribution to total jobs -- currently only
As chaos in Libya multiplies, an interesting statistic has turned up. Before
the civil war heated up and arms were freely supplied to the rebels, an AK47
used to cost $1000; the price is now $500. These weapons are also being
exported to other parts of Africa corroding stability and emboldening
extremist groups. A case in point is the Boko Haram group in Nigeria,
reputed to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda, that carried out massive bombings
killing 200 people in the city of Kano in Muslim Northern Nigeria last month.
Has anyone ever heard of a winning soccer team's supporters storming the
field and attacking the losers? It has happened in Egypt this week. Cairo
was playing Port Said in Port Said. Cairo is the better team and usually wins,
but this time Port Said turned the tables. Its supporters should have been
celebrating; instead they attacked the Cairo supporters killing at least 74
while police and security watched.
Pieced together from several sources, the real story behind this soccer riot
is more insidious. Security at the stadium let in hundreds of "Port Said
supporters" armed with clubs, knives, chains. At the end of the game (which
Port Said had been expected to lose but won), they attacked the Cairo
supporters -- in the stadium, on the streets, and even at the train station as
they tried to return to Cairo.
Why did this happen? Because soccer fans in Egypt are well organized
groups -- they take the game very seriously -- and Cairo supporters had
played a significant role in the Tahrir Square demonstrations that toppled the
Mubarak regime. It was payback time. Aware of the circumstances, shouldn't
the U.S. be calling for the generals in Cairo to step down and install the
newly elected representatives as the legitimate Egyptian government? It is
what the latest demonstrations in Cairo are about -- accelerated power
transfer to a civilian government comprising the winners of the recent