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
July 15, 2011
Mr. President: The World Food Program (WFP) reported this week on the starvation
crisis affecting 12 million in Somalia -- including 1 in 10 children. The money they
need, $800 million, is less than one day's expenditure in Afghanistan.
Not so long ago, the Somalis had come to their own sort of accommodation between
warlords, and had set up a unified Islamic Courts government. We funded the
Ethiopians to drive them out and they did -- but not from the whole country; so once
again there is civil war -- it is hard to live a life in the midst of a civil war. We have a
certain responsibility there.
The James Webb Space Telescope is an extraordinary scientific experiment. It is
designed to study the formation of the first stars and galaxies. It would shed light on
the origins of the universe and reinforce (or not) current theory. We have so far
spent $3 billion on it, and it requires another $3.8 billion to complete plus $1 billion for
operating expenses over its lifetime. Congress now threatens to cut off funding.
Both of the above threatened because of our fiscal crises, and together costing less
than a week's outlay in Afghanistan -- not counting the other five countries where we
are also at war. When will human priorities begin to reflect the best in human nature?
-- the urge to help our fellow beings; the urge to explore; the urge to understand our
surroundings, which expand as we learn more ... from a single world to many worlds,
to billions of galaxies and perhaps multiple universes. Our pathways to knowledge
being snuffed out by the worst of human frailties -- war.