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 19, 2011
Mr. President: Mr. Biden's visit to China was met with soothing words from
the Chinese expressing confidence in the resilience and strength of the U.S.
economy and the dollar. They hold $1.2 trillion of our sovereign debt.
But actions sometimes speak louder than words. Heihe is a town in
North-East China bordering Russia. Considerable trade and commerce
between the two occurs here and Heihe has prospered. Yet a change has
taken place that should be of concern to us. Up until not too long ago, trade
between the two countries was conducted in dollars as it was considered
the most stable currency by both parties. Now the transactions are
conducted in their own currencies, and this applies to all Sino-Russian trade.
It is not clear who was responsible for the bus used on your speaking tour
this week. It looked like a cross between the Knight Rider automobile and
Darth Vader's imagined earth transport. Imagine that thing arriving in town,
and the President steps out; the town meeting where he assails the rich and
powerful; then at the end of the tour he retreats to a ten-day vacation at a
20-acre estate on Martha's Vineyard ... in the bosom of the rich and
powerful. There is something not ringing true in this scenario.
And the gut feelings of ordinary people denied expression in the Democratic
Party are being vented in the Tea Party ... along with other more distasteful
phobias never far below the surface, now mined ever more successfully by
demagogues in Europe and, sad to say, also over here. The Norwegians
have paid too high a price. Anders Brevik's manifesto contained large
excerpts from Michael Steyn and Ayaan Hirsi Ali both resident in this
country. While our constitutionally protected freedom of speech lets them
write what they do here, neither would be able to in their home countries --
Canada and Somalia. Canada's hate speech laws would circumscribe Mr.
Steyn so he prefers New Hampshire. The real problem is the absence of
main stream politicians refuting the vitriol.
Bigotry finds fertile soil in economic pain. And the stock market's gyrations
these past weeks predicts more to come. Few Presidents have been
offered so many opportunities for greatness, or at the very least to save
himself (and the country) from folly only to squander them. Here is an
The banking failure was an obvious opening for effective financial
regulation. Instead, the culprits who had repealed Glass-Steagall and
caused the catastrophe were rehired. The Goldstone report afforded the
chance to move Israel towards the peace its citizens crave; instead we acted
slavishly as its proxy only to have the peace efforts derailed. The BP oil spill
and the Fukushima meltdown presented ideal opportunities for pushing
towards alternative green energy sources -- a solar panel on each roof as
this website has often touted -- and a revised outlook on energy and the
environment. Ambassador Eikenberry's cables advised on the futility of
increasing troops in Afghanistan. Now here was a man who had commanded
our forces there before becoming ambassador. A renowned military
strategist, he developed the counterinsurgency strategy adopted by General
Patraeus. Yet, he was ignored and Afghanistan has cost more lives for no
obvious gain. We are now talking to the Taliban.