Weekly Letter to the President
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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, 2019 (posted August 6, 2019)
Mr. President: Who would have thought that a mixture of bonhomie, bombast and
bullying from a US leader would be so effective but in Trump's case it seems to work
... at least in the short-term.
There is the Federal Reserve for example. This week after constant urging and
threats aimed at its chairman, the Fed announced a rate cut when interest rates are
already at historic lows, the economy is booming, and companies so awash in funds
they keep announcing buybacks of their own stock as Google just did ... boosting its
stock price by 10 percent overnight.
Then there is Kim Jong Un of North Korea waiting and waiting -- reduced to firing off a
short-range missile now and again. He has had the bombast, then the bonhomie and
now the subtle bullying. Trump is getting away with it because North Korea needs
America's blessing so much more than America is ever concerned about its paltry
China's Mr. Xi was invited to Mar-a-Lago and given the treatment. Then came the
ceaseless trade negotiations and tariffs, and now the threats of more tariffs. China's
new UN envoy Zhang Jun said Trump's threat on Thursday to slap a 10 percent tariff
on $300 billion of Chinese imports was "irrational" and "an irresponsible act." He also
warned of necessary countermeasures" and said all of it would hurt cooperation
between the two countries on North Korea. The trade balance is lopsided in China's
favor mitigating its threats. In 2018, it was a colossal $419 billion deficit for the US,
which imported over a half trillion of Chinese goods. China has a weaker hand and a
trade war will hurt both sides but clearly not equally.
In the case of Iran, Ayatollah Khamanei is not having any of it. After Trump abrogated
the Iran agreement unilaterally
despite Iran scrupulously complying with all requirements, the Ayatollah decided an
agreement with the US was not worth the paper it was written on. He is now insisting
on the sanctions being lifted before any talks.
With no forward movement and Iran holding two British flagged merchant ships in
response to the Iranian one seized by Britain, Trump invited the Iran foreign minister
Javad Zarif to the White House for further talks. Mr. Zarif declined presumably
because it would violate the Ayatollah's precondition. A petulant Trump sanctioned
Mr. Zarif, and we can now guess why.
Iran continues to raise the stakes and in early July announced breaches of the
nuclear deal including exceeding a limit set on uranium enrichment. That is the
present situation: no deal and no limits. It will take a Trump to explain how this is
better than having the original deal.
The US has also announced it has withdrawn from the Landmark Intermediate-range
Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It was signed with the Soviet Union in 1987. It prohibits
ground-launched cruise missiles with a range of 310 to 3400 miles. Both countries
though have developed missiles that can be launched from the air or sea. In a world
swarming with missiles and nukes, would it have been wiser to sit down and work out a
new up-to-date version?
This week also the Democratic swarm was fighting to select one of them to try and
replace Trump. In this country with the mainstream media firmly under corporate
control, a progressive candidate will have to work a miracle.