Weekly Letter to the President
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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
April 17, 2020
Mr. President: Questioned at his daily news conference on rating his performance to
COVID-19 on a scale of 1 to 10 ... 'I'd rate it a 10,' said President Trump. It takes a
certain arrogance and brazenness when governors of states are screaming for help,
when masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) are in short supply, when
nothing happened in February, when the president continually played down the threat
early on, even calling attempts to inform the public on the serious nature of the illness
a 'Democratic hoax.'
'It will blow over when the weather warms up,' was another refrain. It's hitting 100F
repeatedly in Delhi, current residence of the president's friend, Narendra Modi, and
India is in lockdown. True that viruses live longer in the dry interior of heated houses
in winter, and we tend to cluster more inside them when it is cold increasing the
likelihood of transmission. Perhaps 'live' is a wrong word as viruses are not a living
organism like, say, bacteria. Apparently, they are more of a package of molecules
but can be deadly all the same.
Well, we are under lockdown. There is an eerie silence with the country at a full stop.
Does anyone even remember anything like this? Perhaps curfews during race riots,
more common now in India than here in the US. People have been fined for taking a
dog for a walk -- tough on a dog accustomed to a little exercise to relieve his bowels.
The president has been now calling for the expert on his team, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to
be fired. For what? For saying under questioning by a reporter that fewer would
have died under an earlier lockdown. Poor man had to swallow his words, even if
obvious, to satisfy the over-inflated ego of his boss who can do no wrong, even when
wrong. Dr. Fauci is a physician who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases. He has served in this capacity since 1984 and is a recipient
of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It and the Congressional Gold Medal are the
highest civilian awards bestowed in the US. So who would know more about how to
control an epidemic, Dr. Fauci or the self-described infallible Donald Trump, who
wants him fired?
The latter also believes the constitution allows him the authority to do whatever he
wants. If the founding fathers terrified of monarchy or dictatorship designed it as a
weak office with the power of the purse in Congress, two legislative bodies and the
courts as countervailing powers, they clearly failed in the eyes of an egomaniac.
Such is the current state of the nation.
We have a fragile consciousness allowing us to perceive events, to believe and
imagine, to project future trajectories based on our experience and knowledge. On
occasion, overwhelmed by interfering personality traits, the system goes haywire.
That is when the illusion of delusions takes over and rationality recedes. For the
religious, it is a time to pray.