Weekly Letter to the President
Copyright © 2017
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
May 19, 2017 (posted May 21, 2019)
Mr. President: There is in our country a certain notion of being presidential. Toss
missiles at Syria or bomb Afghanistan and everyone reflexively calls it presidential.
Added to warmongering is peace making, visiting foreign countries, meeting with
foreign leaders, holding joint press conferences with a slew of foreign reporters, all in
a whirlwind of activity eagerly seized upon by the home press and guess what? The
president is being presidential ... which as a bonus yields positive publicity, bumping
up his favorability rating in the polls.
That the past week has seen a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the Russia
connections of the Trump campaign (and collusion if any in election interference) will
be forgotten while the president's travel and hobnobbing with leaders sucks up the
In all the talk of this interference, we tend to forget what it was -- nothing whatsoever
to do with the November election but a Russian hacking last May (during the
primaries) that identified a corrupt Democratic party leadership trying to scuttle the
campaign of Bernie Sanders.
As a result, the then party chief, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was booed off the stage
at the Democratic National Convention which was then run by an interim chair.
It compromised Hillary Clinton yet again, fraught as she is with scandals going back to
Arkansas. Amongst other items in a long list is her conversion of $1000 into
$100,000 in a year's commodities trading, a risible impossibility with just reading the
Wall Street Journal as she claimed. In such fast moving markets, the overnight
information in it is already dated.
It exposed her as far from the clear, untarnished, undisputed, universally acceptable,
honest winner of the primaries, and lost her the support of the fervent, impassioned,
super-enthused wing of the party -- a group intensely active that helps fuel a
campaign. Money alone can often not be enough, as billionaire ex-eBay CEO Meg
Whitman discovered when she ran for California governor.
So, is the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor a problem for Trump?
It will be a distraction certainly but there can be nothing more, not while Republicans
hold the reins in congress -- they just cannot be expected to spit in their own soup.
For the time being, Plutarch is being vindicated once again: we are stuck with a
naive, mercurial, tendentious president, who the people elected, and a chaotic,
marginally competent White House.
On his first foreign trip, an ambitious one, he journeys to Saudi Arabia,
Israel/Palestine, Italy, The Vatican, Belgium, and then returns to Italy for a meeting
with G7 leaders. During it he will also have squeezed time for bilateral meetings with
Gulf Cooperation Council leaders, and a lunch with the heads of 50 Muslim countries
to put forward the need to confront radical ideology and promote a peaceful vision of
Poor Islam. Everything hinges on it, never on the disastrous destruction of Iraq with
the loss of a million lives, a disaster repeated in Libya and then Syria ... not forgetting
Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, or the sorry tale of Afghanistan. Here is where it all began
with the CIA, and the Islamic warrior Mujaheddin recruited and funded to fight the
Soviet Union in what was described by President Jimmy Carter's National Security
Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski as ... going to be the Soviet Union's Vietnam.
No one has ever been held responsible for these unspeakable horrors, now left to the
judgment of history. And it is precisely because no one was held accountable that
they were able to be repeated with impunity. It is one reason, and not the only one,
the International Court of Justice is scorned by Africa, many parts of Latin America
and the developing world ... not to exclude the major powers, China and Russia.
Universal justice requires, by definition, universality.