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
March 30, 2012
Mr. President: The two major crises confronting this country when this administration
came into office were the wars and the economy. Policy in both has been a seamless
continuation: from the Iraq surge to the Afghan surge, from the Paulson bailouts to
the Geithner bailouts -- no strings attached. As a result, the economy is limping along
in an anemic recovery; Iraq and Afghanistan can only be called a mess -- as is Libya
with the east trying to break off, and the aftershocks toppling an elected government
At the same time, one must commend the subtle clipping of Mr. Netanyahu's wings on
Iran, and of not tightening the trigger for military action. Of course, the Palestinians
have been forgotten as the focus shifted to the Arab Spring, Iran and Syria. Which
way the wind is blowing is clear when the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist
parties have led in the resulting elections in Tunis, Morocco and Egypt. In each case,
city liberals and educated secular elites are being vanquished by the conservative
village masses. When the same happened some years ago in Algeria, the elite
refused to uphold the election result leading to a bloody conflict.
This week another three NATO soldiers were killed by Afghans they were training in
two separate incidents. Also six Afghan soldiers were killed by one of their fellows,
presumably of a different ethnicity. All of which highlights the fractious nature of the
Afghan army, and the almost universal dislike of the occupation forces. Our efforts
are directed towards a unified Afghan army and government holding off a
marginalized Taliban, but this is at odds with the facts on the ground. So how can it
Returning to the economy, General Motors' success has been laudatory. The
automobile, however, is a durable good with a very long cycle. The basic platform for
a particular model can last ten or more years, engines even longer. Consequently,
the models pulling GM forward now, owe their existence to the managers cast aside at
the behest of our government overseers during bankruptcy. Interesting that the
bankruptcy was attributed in large part to its banking/credit arm, General Motors
Acceptance Corporation, which faced huge losses due to the credit and toxic paper
crises generated mainly by the greed of the big banks, their policies, and ultimately
their senior management.
So we have GM senior management who did a pretty good job but ran out of time and
money thanks to the big banks. They got fired. Then we have the banks and their
senior management whose trading policies and toxic paper were largely responsible
for the chaos. These banks were not bankrupted, (even though they were and
probably still are if their paper losses are realized), and the managers remain at their
lucrative posts. They apparently have too much clout. Nobody can touch them. The
banks continue to limp along, hiding their toxic assets in arcane accounting rules
altered to their convenience, and adding to the reasons why we have a lackluster