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 28, 2013
Mr. President: Hardly anyone remembers June 25 as an anniversary. No one in
Congress stood up to observe a minute of silence in honor of those who sacrificed
their lives, nary a mention. Yet the Korean war and its aftermath represented the
height of what was considered a communist threat. I remember reading comic books
at the time showing American pilots flying sabre jets and their enemies in MIG 17
fighters supplied by the Russians. Like a knight in shining armor, the Sabres were
drawn silver colored, while the MIGs were a foreboding brown. Each side had its
epithets for the other: Commie Pigs and Melican Swine remain the most memorable.
But even during the Korean war, the McCarthy hearings, the Vietnam War ... even
during a period when people were considering atomic bomb-shelters and kids in
school would practise bomb drills, even during such a period of heightened alert and
communist paranoia, no one, yes no one, thought of watching the whole country --
checking their mail and telephone calls.
While many suspected, no one was certain we were all being watched until Edward
Snowden informed us. Mr. Snowden now languishing in the transit area of Moscow's
airport is rumored to be seeking asylum in Ecuador. As a result, various senators
have been threatening to remove Ecuador's favorable trade status. Well yesterday,
President Rafael Correa's government gave its own answer to the bullying. It
announced, Ecuador was withdrawing from the Andean Trade Preference Act to
preempt any blackmail by the U.S. in the wake of Edward Snowden's asylum request.
In a further display of pluck and impertinence it offered $23 million for human rights
training in the U.S.
One wonders at the purpose of the visit to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.
While the Chinese have been helping with substantial infrastructure projects, this
administration's efforts have been less than the previous two. Moreover, the
northwest has been destabilized with the overthrow of Gadaffi -- a good friend, by the
way of South Africa's African National Congress, and one who provided aid when
Europe and the U.S. had labeled them terrorists. The vast crowds one would expect
for the first black U.S. president are absent and indifference reigns. Let us hope it
does not change into demonstrations against the visit in South Africa where the
country is almost in mourning for Nelson Mandala whose condition is critical.
Given the logistics these days, the trip is said to cost in the region of $100 million.
Perhaps we might have been better off donating the money for a health of education