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
February 17, 2017 (posted February 22, 2017)
Mr. President: For the ancient Greeks logos meant reason, dialogue and debate. It
could also mean speech, the power of language for good or self-gain, an aspect
demagogues know well and the sophist Gorgias (5th century BC) warned against.
'The Greeks had a word for it' is an English expression and they often did. 'Hubris'
would be the word for an overweening bombast with no time for dialogue or debate
and a penchant for bullying and humiliating others.
Governing, however, requires patience, respect for opposition, dialogue and
accommodation -- qualities notably absent in the current American president. His
favorable poll rating at only 41 percent (the lowest of any president Gallup has
tracked and they have since Eisenhower) and facing a barrage of criticism for the
inept and chaotic first three weeks, Mr. Trump held a surreal press conference, then
retreated to a rally of his supporters in Florida ... undoubtedly arranged to soothe his
At the rally, the First Lady began her introduction for her husband by reciting the
Lord's Prayer. For a notorious philanderer, with numerous instances of unwelcome
advances, a businessman with a history of sharp practice (including stiffing club
members in a case only recently decided against him) and absolutely no particular
record of religious observance, it was quite a beginning. Yes, the Greeks had a word
for it ... hypocrisy's origins lie in Greek.
The chaos in the White House is represented at a presidential news conference as a
'well-oiled, smooth running-machine'. We are informed that the resignation of Mike
Flynn was because 'he didn't tell our vice president properly and then he said he
didn't remember' to quote Mr. Trump. But then why did the president wait so long
when he knew about it at least two weeks earlier?
In late January, acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed the White House Flynn
had lied to the White House. As well, given his experience in intelligence, Flynn
himself must have known conversations with the Russian ambassador were routinely
recorded. So why was he so cavalier in his dealings? Was he ordered by Mr. Trump
to set the Russians at ease after the proverbial spitting in the soup by the departing
administration? Notably, Flynn's call was made the same day (December 29) the
sanctions were imposed. He did establish a record of sorts ... for shortest tenure,
having been in office 23 days.
Vice Admiral Robert Harward, who was offered Flynn's job has declined. Interesting
that Harward spent some early years in Iran and actually graduated from the Teheran
American High School -- his father, a Navy man was posted there. Many reasons are
offered as to why he declined but it is also possible he didn't see eye to eye with the
anti-Iran view of this administration. Then too, a chaotic White House is hardly
Trump's reluctance to fire Flynn is not that difficult to discern: he was his point man
on Russia, and the most ardent advocate of a policy reversal. That Russia is being
asked to leave Crimea, and Trump is now 100 percent behind NATO signal an end to
any quick accommodation with Putin.
Meanwhile, illegal border crossings have suddenly soared -- not on the Mexico side
but to Canada. Afraid of Trump's anti-Muslim ban (currently in flux), many awaiting
residency are not taking any chances on a court resolution. They are crossing into
Canada, looking for a police officer to surrender to, and asking for asylum. There
have sadly been cases of frostbite among the ill prepared who have lost fingers and
toes. Such is the desperation.
On the other end of the scale, the Trump family's luxurious lifestyle and global
business interests have already cost the U.S. taxpayer upwards of $11 million in
transportation and Secret Service protection, a sum expended in less than a month.
At this rate, it hardly matters how much less the new presidential plane will cost due to
President Trump's haranguing. By way of comparison, President Obama's yearly
travel costs averaged $12.1 million over his eight years, according to the
conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.
In the real world, Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis were
scurrying to Europe to reassure allies of U.S. commitment. All the same, the German
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, at the start of the Munich Security
Conference, lectured the U.S. to keep away from torture and not make the war
against terrorism into a war against Islam.
Such is the running of the 'well-oiled machine'.