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
June 3, 2016
Mr. President: A disturbing new poll conducted May 12-15 by the Associated Press
and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (the National Opinion Research Center
based at the University of Chicago) has only 10 percent of Americans with a great
deal of confidence in the political system overall, and even more worrisome, only a
mere 4 percent have a great deal of confidence in Congress. The executive branch
need not smile either: only 15 percent have a great deal of confidence. The figure
for the Supreme Court is 24 percent, and the military is far ahead of the civilian
branches at 56 percent. On the latter, Republicans and Democrats are divided:
Seventy percent of Republicans but just under half of Democrats have a great deal of
confidence in the military.
Only 13 percent think the two-party system works fairly well -- 38 percent feel it's
seriously broken, meaning it cannot be fixed while 49 percent think it has big
problems but could still work given some improvements. Seven out of 10 Americans
are frustrated with the presidential election, and more than half, including majorities in
both parties, describe themselves as angry and feeling helpless.
To summarize, the public has had an overwhelming loss of faith in the workings of this
The reasons are not difficult to ascertain. The foreign policies of successive
administrations, particularly concerning the Middle East, have left the public feeling
less safe and less secure. Moreover, the costs and obligations of the wars in
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq alone are estimated at $4.4 trillion by Brown
University's Watson Institute for International Studies, leading to inevitable
On the economic front, the middle class faces wage stagnation. The statistics show
negative annual income growth for the bottom 90 percent over the last twenty years.
More shockingly, since the 2008 recession, the richest 1 percent saw real income
growth of 34.7 percent over 2009-2012 while the bottom 99 percent had a 0.8
The natural result is a widening inequality and a Gini index worse than some
developing countries. Traced back to the Republicans' Reaganomics of the 1980s
introducing policies favoring owners of capital over labor, there has been no effort on
the part of any successive Democratic administration to help swing the pendulum
towards a more equitable regime. As a result, while income for the average
household continued to match productivity gains through the 1970s, the two diverged
thereafter with incomes stagnating while productivity continued to rise.
The astonishing fact of almost all income gains from 2009 - 2012 going to the top 1
percent, despite a Democratic president and initial Democratic control of both
Congress and Senate, has meant that the middle and lower class has nowhere left to
go. It explains much of the current attitude towards the presidential election.
In California for the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton is relying on the minority vote
again. Donald Trump is also there targeting Hillary in preparation for November, and
as a result Hillary has given a foreign policy address highlighting her knowledge and
expertise and Trump's lack thereof. It works and it doesn't work, if the past is any
A callow Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford; then Ronald Reagan beat the now
experienced Carter four years later; later Bill Clinton won against George Herbert
Walker Bush who had a wealth of foreign policy experience as Vice President and