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 17, 2012
Mr. President: This week the Ecuadorian government granted Julian Assange
political asylum despite the British threats to invade the Ecuadorian embassy where
he is holed up.
Why does the U.S. want to try Mr. Assange? The legal logic clearly lacks clarity for he
himself did not leak or steal classified information. He simply published it much like
the New York Times and the Guardian, neither of which are being prosecuted.
Also this week, our ally Bahrain jailed for three years the respected opposition leader
Nabil Rajab for a tweet stating the ruler was so unpopular that villagers had to be paid
to turn out for a visit by him. Interesting place, Bahrain: Like many countries in the
Middle East fashioned out of whole cloth by colonialists (French or British), Bahrain is
a construct of British colonial history -- a minority Sunni ruling family implanted on a
Shia population. The eventual problems must have been of little concern to the
Once upon a time, dissidents and political refugees had their troubles in the Soviet
Union and its satellites; no longer. How the world has changed?
It may be, the establishment anger at Assange is due to the deceit exposed by
Wikileaks. Not unique to humans, it is an old tactic used by all kinds of animals, from
a mother duck drawing a predator away from her nest by faking injury to two-timing
birds and apes. But it diminishes trust and increases suspicion: "trust but verify" was
after all Reagan's expression. So now if the biggest kid on the block is employing it,
what choices does it leave the others?
I remember reading an article in an engineering magazine a few years ago
(Electronics and Technology, Vol 3, # 6, 2008, p.14) where the future for the human
race was predicted to be cybernetic-man -- perhaps the dawn has been heralded by
South African Oscar Pistorius running in the 2011 World Championship and the
recent Olympics on prosthetic legs. For cybernetic-man, death becomes a minor
inconvenience as different anatomic parts are replaced by man-made replacements
including the brain and attendant emotions. There is a problem though -- given that
our social systems and processes of interaction are making minimal progress and
killing technologies are advancing phenomenally, the prospect of the human race
destroying itself, either by accident or by a misunderstanding in the motives of rivals,
A look at the wars and proxy wars, the support for and against liberation/terrorist
groups, the general mayhem and power posturing, is not reassuring.
In domestic politics, I remember a candidate Obama promising a $9.50 minimum wage
-- no attempt as President not even a whiff; a candidate Obama flaying speculating
banksters to the delight of an angry public, yet not a single indictment by this
administration despite clearly criminal practices like securities fraud and lying to
A "Hobson's choice" for the voters it seems then, given an absence of candor from
the other side as well. Take it or leave it, says Hobson; the voters may well decide to
leave it and stay home as a substantial number have in recent presidential races and
a majority already do in off-year elections.