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
March 9, 2018 (posted March 11, 2018)
Mr. President: Another departure from the White House, but then it is almost a weekly
affair now. This time it is Gary Cohn his chief economic adviser. A former president
of Goldman Sachs, he was the head of the National Economic Council. Apparently he
was furious at Donald Turmp's import tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Mr. Trump believes the scales are weighted against American products; the truth is
more in line with Angela Merkel's remark after Trump complained about U.S. cars not
being sold in Germany. If you want to sell cars in Germany, why don't you make cars
Germans want to buy, she said.
Consumer Reports (CR) is a U.S. magazine. It tests products in order to advise
consumers. In the March 2018 issue, it tested sport utility vehicles (SUV). Now
General Motors products were prominent in ads during the Winter Olympics. Here is
how they fared.
Among compact SUVs, the Subaru Forester was tops scoring 84 points, GM's Equinox
was at number 8 (scoring 65 points) and its GMC Terrain was last at number 10 with
55 points. In the Luxury Compact segment, at the top was a BMW X3; GM did not
place in the top 10. In the Large and Midsize group, Audi's Q7 was the leader with 90
points. GM's Chevrolet Traverse Premier scored 67, its Buick Enclave 63 points and
the GMC Acadia Denali 57 points.
Consumer Reports did not recommend any of these GM vehicles for purchase. The
obvious question: If CR is unable to recommend a GM SUV to Americans, why would
any sane German want to buy one? Angela Merkel had a point and a good one.
To make matters worse, Mr. Trump was also sued this week. Now Donald Trump has
been involved in a myriad lawsuits but this one is different. Stephanie Gregory
Clifford is an American pornographic actress known professionally as Stormy Waters,
Stormy Daniels or plain Stormy. On January 12, 2018, The Wall Street Journal ran a
story claiming that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, paid Stormy
$130,000 in October 2016 (just before the presidential election) for her silence about
a sexual liaison with Donald Trump in 2006. Mr. Cohen claims he paid the money out
of his own pocket implying it was without Trump's knowledge. Wouldn't anyone love a
personal lawyer like Mr. Cohen?
To complete the transaction Mr. Cohen first set-up a company in Delaware, a state
with the most convenient rules. This company then paid a Stormy Daniels
representative. Why such elaborate precautions? At the time, she was in talks with
the Good Morning America TV program and Slate magazine to relate the story of her
Cohen denies his client had an affair, denies he was reimbursed by Trump, has a
letter supposedly signed by Daniels denying the affair and the hush money. He
claimed in a statement to The New York Times on February 13, 2018 that the money
was for matters with no connection to Trump.
Shortly after The Wall Street Journal story, In Touch Weekly published excerpts of a
2011 interview with Daniels on the subject of her alleged affair with Trump in 2006
after she passed a lie-detector test.
Daniels' new law suit seeks a judgement that the nondisclosure agreement is not
binding, because Trump has not signed it and because Cohen by disclosing the
payment has violated its confidentiality.
There are of course other sources with claimed knowledge of the affair. An affair
initiated a series of events leading to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, which he was
able to fight off eventually. What happens to Trump, only time will tell. He is certainly
not better off than he was before this story developed.
The announcement this morning of Trump -- Kim Jong Un talks scheduled for this May
is a huge surprise and possible relief for Mr. Trump as it makes Stormy Daniels passe
for the moment. As late as Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson felt any
North Korean meeting was a long way off. Credit therefore goes to the South
Koreans as President Moon's 'sunshine policy' cold-shouldered by the Trump
administration has clearly paid off.
While the White House will no doubt trumpet sanctions as the reason for the
turnaround, it is worth noting the North Koreans have lived with sanctions a long time
and there was little else left to sanction. It is also likely that Kim Jong Un has taken
note of the new China model of lifetime presidency, one party rule, economic freedom
but limited political and personal autonomy.
South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong and intelligence head Suh
Hoon are the diplomats primarily responsible for bringing Mr. Moon's ideas to fruition.
Mr. Suh Hoon has a long history of arranging talks between the two Koreas going as
far back as the 1990s. Given the South Korean role, it was befitting for Mr. Chung to
make the historic meeting announcement from the White House with Mr. Suh Hoon by
It will be the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to North Korea. Jimmy Carter has
been there three times (but after he was out of office) to negotiate first in 1994 with
Kim Il Sung and then with Kim Jong Il in 2010 and 2011 -- Kim Jong Un's grandfather
and father. Also Bill Clinton was there in 2009.
For now Mr. Trump breathes a sigh of relief.