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 26, 2015
Mr. President: Suppose there are no campaign contribution laws, and suppose a
senator or congressman receives corporate donations then votes for corporate
benefit. It would be unseemly and he would have some explaining to do. No more.
Now there is a law. All he has to say is, he is following the law; in fact it is now such a
commonly accepted practice, he does not even have to do that. Bribery is legal.
Of course the money is for campaign expenses -- the war chest as it's called -- but
the line is blurry and only the most egregious cases are prosecuted as we well know
So fast track authority for TPP has been passed in the Senate -- with the help of
Republicans in solid support of a Democratic president and a few Democrats who
were eventually peeled off to manage a filibuster proof majority -- undoubtedly the
less secure through pressure from their corporate donors, certainly not effectively
from a president whose detached aloofness is legendary. Over the years an image
has formed of a wispy, inchoate being reifying itself like a genie out of a bottle for the
purpose of speeches and fundraising.
TPP is on its way and, like NAFTA before it, is going to cost the low and unskilled.
Going into Chicago on the Metra train from the northern suburbs, it pulls into a rebuilt
sleek terminal full to the gills with fast food outlets. Outside, Madison and Clinton are
lined with shining glass and steel buildings, a style due to Chicago and Illinois Institute
of Technology's own Mies van der Rohe. I walk to the bus stop at the intersection
and am immediately touched for loose change. We get to talking. I said forty years
ago this whole area to the west was shabby, littered with dilapidated, old, ruined brick
buildings -- a distressed area they called it. They plunked down a new university and
medical center in the middle of it hoping to revive it. It looks bustling. The man gave
me a long look: "But there were jobs then," he said.
I wonder what FDR is thinking about his party and his Democratic successors.
Starting your first term in 2009, I was very concerned when you announced your
team. It seemed like little had changed prompting me to start this weekly column (to
little effect I should add). One of the early pieces gave you a choice. Continue as
usual or be an FDR. Bring back the protections for the public and its purse in the
financial markets; repair the broken-down infrastructure, producing jobs; revitalize the
economy. Instead we have a shaky recovery, low skill jobs, a hollowing of the
industrial base, soaring inequality, unnecessary wars that birth new enemies daily,
and now to top it all confrontation with Russia -- the only country that can wipe us out
in fifteen minutes. Back to the cold war as China marches ahead.
Bernie Sanders our most progressive candidate has thrown his hat in the ring. Soon
it will come bouncing back out of the ring. Bernie will throw his support behind the
Democratic nominee telling his supporters: Vote for so-and-so; the Republican
alternative is 'much worse.'
'Much worse' it is then, for the simple reason it has to get much worse before it can
ever get better.