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
April 25, 2014
Mr. President: This week Secretary Kerry has been fulminating against the Russians
in Ukraine and you, yourself, defending Japan's claims over those 'rocks in the ocean'
to the point of invoking the mutual defense pact. As could have been expected, both
the Russians in the form of Foreign Minister Lavrov and the Chinese responded; and
of course time is certainly on China's side while Russia still has a couple of aces (oil
and gas) up its sleeve. China is also Japan's largest trading partner, and an anemic
economy renders Japan more susceptible to any fractures.
Many might wonder if threatening two rivals concurrently will drive them into each
others arms -- as it is, the Russians feel the U.S. abrogated the agreement with
Gorbachev promising not to expand NATO eastwards. Is it the beginnings of a return
to the former bi-polar world? If it is, then humans appear to be relinquishing the best
chance of a unified peace promising a trade-off of war for economic competition.
"The Kennan Diaries" edited by Frank Costigliola have just been published. While
they expose the great man as crankish on social issues, one can never forget how he
opposed loudly the war in Vietnam, the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, and indeed
how policy was formulated, with domestic politics and lobbying pressures from
corporate and other lobbyists trumping the sustained, collective interest ... as would
be fostered by masters of the craft like him.
Many, many thousands of years ago humans began to cook meat. It was easier to
digest and the body could extract more nutrition, accelerating man's dominance on
earth. The sushi craze therefore cannot be anything logically but a step backwards
sold through the wiles of The Hidden Persuadors to The Status Seekers (where is a
new Vance Packard?) to overcome the natural aversion to a slimy, raw mouthful of
fish. So in the land of brown, black and green where flower gardens appear to be a
rarity, and the populace so starved of color they go wild at the sight of cherry
blossoms (holding viewing parties and picnics), you had the "best sushi of my life"
according to Mr. Abe your host. The Japanese people are polite, courteous, helpful
and eminently civilized with a rarefied aesthetic and a driven perfectionism -- thus
sashimi decorated as a beautiful crane fanning a whole serving plate.
Nevertheless, while you were wined and dined and feted, you left empty-handed; the
TPP agreement was not forthcoming. It appears the farming lobby and the auto
manufacturers want a better deal. Who can blame them? One just has to cast a
glance at the farmers in Mexico and their fate after NAFTA. They are all mowing
lawns in the U.S. ...
Enjoy your trip and a safe return home.