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
August 2, 2013
Mr. President: To believe law and justice are identical -- is to live in a fools' paradise.
It is why we elect representatives; it is why we have pardons; it is why we are a
forgiving society. Two events in particular this week bring this to mind.
Bradley Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy but guilty of espionage.
Espionage? An image springs to mind of an individual, who for profit or ideology
chooses to betray his country. But in Manning, we have instead, a person motivated
by moral conscience; the intended main audience being his own countrymen rather
than a foreign power. Moreover, if we follow the Nuremberg doctrine of personal
responsibility, it was his duty to expose war crimes. Less than seventy years later, we
have forgotten Nuremberg and the lessons of the Second World War as Manning
awaits sentencing and the war criminals go free. Is a posthumous pardon for war
criminals from WWII in the offing?
The question is less outrageous and more relevant than it seems. Why? Because
Japanese soldiers were convicted of torture post WW II for using water- boarding.
Since then former Vice President Cheney (who has called Edward Snowden a traitor)
has redefined it as "a little dunking" not torture. As the practice was not uncommon
when he was in office, consistency requires a clear choice: either the Japanese be
granted a pardon or Mr. Cheney be prosecuted as they were.
By the way, the defense employed by the Japanese was that they were following
orders. The prosecutors responded that moral conscience obligated the soldiers to
refuse to follow orders constituting war crimes. Given the nature of the Japanese
military, these soldiers would have almost certainly been put to death or otherwise
punished severely. With the capital charge against Manning and his conviction for
espionage has not the same happened to him? And will not the same happen to
Edward Snowden, who reported what many believe to be violations of the Fourth
Amendment in the blanket surveillance practised by NSA?
All this legerdemain to "keep us safe", has now been extended to the economic front.
Bill Clinton introduced a new measure of inflation where Social Security recipients
could see astronomical price rises around them, yet their pension check barely rose.
Well now we have a new measure of GDP (usually the sum of goods and sources) to
bring it closer in line with GDI, which includes income earned on capital. The wealthy
one percent, the banks and other corporate entities have had accelerating income on
capital. But this casino income (including the gambling on derivatives) was left out
purposely when GDP was developed in the 1930s because financial asset
appreciation does not actually represent real production of goods and services or
true economic growth. In Mr. Reagan's time the unemployment measure was revised
downwards, and now GDP has been revised upwards. So, we can all feel better while
Joe Schmo gets it on the chin. Meanwhile, the stock market noting the higher GDP
numbers has shot up ... more capital appreciation ... more GDP ... more stock market
rises. What a wonderful world!