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 26, 2011
Mr. President: If the news is to be believed, the Libyan episode is about to
be over. Or is it? In Iraq, we had "mission accomplished"; yet ten years later
the fighting has not ceased. Al-Qaeda never had a chance during Sadam
Hussein's secular regime with Tariq Aziz, a Christian, as Prime Minister. Now
the Christians have fled and Al-Qaeda has reappeared. Nasty as Gaddafi's
regime was to opponents, it did make certain Al-Qaeda never gained a
foothold. The incoming Benghazi cliques represent a region notorious for
dispatching the most volunteers to fight in Iraq ... against U.S. forces. We
can only wait and see what emerges in Tripoli, and whether Gaddafi loyalists
will wage a protracted guerrilla war.
Not so long ago, the excuse used to invade countries was the "war on
terror", now it is "humanitarian intervention" -- amazing how quickly the
latter changed to close air support for the rebels and how little was done
when the rebels brutalized expatriate Africans. Perhaps it was the latter
serving as motivator for the attack this week on the UN building in the
Nigerian capital city of Abuja. As the British,French and Italian oil companies
Tripoli, some are saying these countries are intent on retaking former
colonies -- the British replaced the Italians in Libya following WWII, then
puppet King Idris was overthrown. The question now is whether the
incoming beholden rulers of Libya will be able to act independently for the
best interests of the Libyan people.
The tepid economic growth of one percent this year is not going to generate
enough jobs to make a difference in unemployment. The Fed still has some
options but interest rates are already close to zero. In a polite rebuke to
Congress, Mr. Bernanke called for fiscal stimuli. Unfortunately the debt
ceiling agreement limits public spending at a time when economists of all
stripes -- Mr. Bernanke is a Republican appointed originally by the previous
President -- are calling for it.
It should be a time for big ideas to get the economy moving and the
unemployed back to work before they lose their skills. The crumbling
infrastructure will need over $2 trillion to repair, according to the American
Society of Civil Engineers. No one is suggesting this can be done all at
once, but one can make a start. Public work projects are nothing new.
Our passenger railroad system is obsolete. The new maglev trains being
planned in Japan and China are fast, accelerate and decelerate much faster
than regular trains, are quieter riding as they do on a cushion of air, and cost
less to maintain and run. Traveling at speeds likely to reach 400 mph, they
can transform our economic landscape.
Unfortunately with the debt ceiling agreement limiting public spending, all of
this will remain pie in the sky, while economics is turned on its head by a
political deficit-cutting mania aimed at deficits that matter little when interest
rates are near zero, the economy is running far below capacity, and people
need to get back to work.