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 7, 2015
It said somewhere that President Obama would not be viewing the Republican
candidates debate that was held last night. Pity! Donald Trump dominated the
debate. He stole the show laying bare the corrupt political system as it exists today.
A revelation? No. But it was the first time it was expressed in quite such naked
terms. He says he gives money for it gives you access. And he can call in the favors
"two years, three years later. I am a businessman. I give to everybody. When they
call, I give ... most of the people on this stage I've given to, just so you understand, a
lot of money."
Asked again and again what he got for his money he gave an example: With Hillary
Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. Adding at the end,
"And that's a broken system." As he has said before, "when you give, they do
whatever the hell you want them to do."
So ... do we still have a democracy? When Sandy Weill got his wish to repeal
Glass-Steagall, there was just one senator opposing it who predicted financial
disaster. The principal actors have done fine. Robert Rubin, the Treasury Secretary
went to work for Citi and made millions. Bill and Hillary have made $25 million from
speaking fees in the last year alone. It has helped Bill Clinton make a vast personal
fortune in excess of $100 million, the most of any ex-President. And as Donald Trump
exposed vividly, they are still selling favors.
Is there an honorable, honest politician left? My own view is to scrap all campaign
laws, then this money-for-favors game cannot be hidden under the rubric of campaign
donations, but be seen for what it is -- bribery.
One cannot imagine anything more horrendous than witnessing an atomic bombing of
a city. Yet, there were a few, very few, who by ill-fortune witnessed both Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. NHK, the Japanese equivalent of the BBC, reported a list of 18
people, some still alive today, who did so. We have to marvel at their resilience and
survivability. The 82-year old could not help but sob as he recounted the events --
dead, charred bodies everywhere, people wandering in shock with their clothes
burned off their bodies ...
When Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western civilization, he quipped, it would
be a good idea. How ever did bombing and terrorizing civilian populations become
legitimate, civilized war?
The bombing of Coventry, London, Dresden -- it is why Kurt Vonnegut's
"Slaughterhouse Five" should be essential reading for a U.S. president -- and,
seventy years ago, the firebombing of Tokyo, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki -- what will historians think of us a century hence? -- provided, of
course, we survive climate change and the constant threat of nuclear winter. Just an
exchange of the India-Pakistan arsenals could affect climate and growing seasons
enough to starve the billion and more enduring marginal existence.
We ourselves have not fulfilled our obligations towards nuclear disarmament under
the Non-Proliferation Treaty. When will the human race learn to solve conflicts
peacefully? And without a serious response to climate change -- a subject not even
mentioned in the Republican debate -- we appear to be arguing over arranging the
proverbial deck chairs on the Titanic.