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
May 24, 2019
Mr. President: The Indian elections are over. Despite Narendra Modi's abysmal
economic record -- industrial production has slumped, farmers are in trouble and had
been demonstrating their plight, and unemployment is at record highs -- he deftly
switched the debate to personalities comparing himself, who pulled himself up by his
bootstraps from a poor tea seller, to the scion of the Nehru dynasty born with a silver
spoon in his mouth and now heading the Congress party not by merit but birth. It
The hapless Rahul Gandhi thrust into a job he is ill-qualified for because of constant
infighting, he could have done with someone like Modi's Amit Shah beside him, a fixer
with a unique grasp of electioneering and politics. Gandhi may be a nice man but if
truth be told, he lacks credibility. No one believed him to be capable of delivering on
his attractive agenda.
Modi has not been able to keep his 2014 promises either but his charisma, prestige
building of India globally, and his Hindu nationalism struck a chord. Even the Kashmir
fiasco of dropping a bomb in a Pakistani forest and losing a fighter plane, leading to a
captured pilot, was treated as a victory when Pakistan returned the pilot instead of
holding him as a bargaining chip. But then Pakistan has its own Rahul Gandhi -- not
quite a scion but a feted cricket hero and proving himself unsure of the ways of
Another with a similar problem has been Theresa May who has finally resigned as
British prime minister effective June 7. A tearful May hurried back into 10 Downing
Street after the brief announcement as the executioners got busy presenting
themselves as candidates for her job.
The problem of course has been brexit and a Gordian knot to unravel. Northern
Ireland wants to maintain the open border with its southern Irish neighbor. So Mrs.
May first proposed a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea. Northern Ireland
would keep its open border while the rest of Britain would be sealed and have
whatever tariffs it chose. This was shot down for allowing Northern Ireland to drift
away from the rest of UK leading to God-knows-what -- eventually, perhaps even a
union with Southern Ireland.
She then came up with the only other alternative given the Northern Ireland problem,
namely for all of
Britain to remain in the European customs union but without the rest of the
entanglements. No, said her fellow MPs because this meant they would be left with
European made tariffs without any say themselves.
Labor's answer to all this is a general election, even a second referendum ... on
whether or not to stay in the EU. Nonsense say the Conservative brexiteers -- the
people have spoken. There the matter lies.
Boris Johnson, widely disliked by fellow MPs for his brazen self-interest, is given the
best odds by the betting companies. He is seen as being able to get the job done.
The remainer who became a brexiteer, he campaigned successfully for its referendum
success forcing the then PM David Cameron to resign. He could not get the top job
then for his behavior turned many a stomach. Will he this time?