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 26, 2013
Mr. President: It is not often I go to your adopted hometown but I did this week ... by
train of course. The design of the coach's interior must be at least six decades old. It
had riveted steel plates on the seat frame, sharp edges to metal steps, side seats
where you hit your head on the ceiling getting up, etc. On the other hand, the
suspension and rails were modern for the ride was quiet and comfortable. But the
experience was not comparable with modern East Asian or European trains.
Most troublesome was the condition of bridges on adjacent tracks. The concrete, red
stained from the rusting metal within, is crumbling. Unsettling also is the repair on
some of them. The narrower ones over roadways have simply had a supporting
girder affixed across the span.
Not only are bridges in disrepair, but our whole infrastructure merited a grade of just
D+ in the 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers' quadrennial report on the
subject. The sad fact remains that we have millions of unemployed and a whole
country in disrepair, yet our government and business leaders are not able to marry
the two productively.
Former President Carter said recently -- not reported widely -- that the U.S. is no
longer a functioning democracy. Is he wrong, when the government has bailed out
banks with billions without obtaining any benefit of ownership while the Fed has
opened its cash window for trillions on their behalf ... all to pay off their gambling
debts to each other. Contrary to dire predictions, under FDIC supervision (as faced
by smaller troubled banks almost every week) little could have happened because in
the final analysis, they were backed by the faith and credit of the U.S. or would be.
What would have happened would be the ousting of Wall Street elites, their perks,
enormous salaries and bonuses. But it did not. It shows who runs whom.
A functioning democracy gets things done for the people; ours gets things done for
the power brokers. Witness the shameless brown-nosing by politicians of AIPAC, and
the never ending "peace process", a Kabuki theater that has been running for twenty
Can anyone seriously believe that Bradley Manning intended to aid and abet
al-Qaeda and the Taliban? Yet, that is what the military judge has ruled is a charge
he can not dismiss. And in what justice system can an accused not confront his
accuser? Ours. And in what system can the government without any input from the
judiciary, sentence and execute a citizen? Well, ours it seems.
And in what system can one who redefines torture accuse someone, who exposes
wrongdoing (because of moral principle), of being a atraiator? Well, ours of course.
Mr. Cheney who redefined waterboarding, a centuries old torture for which the U.S.
tried and convicted Japanese soldiers after WW II, as a mere dunking when it was
practised by his administration in violation of the Geneva Convention. According to
international law that is criminal.
A topsy-turvy world, is it not?