Weekly Letter to the President
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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 30, 2019
Mr. President: Given the media representation of Boris Johnson, it might come as a
surprise to learn a few things about his cabinet. It is the largest, at 33 members, and
most diverse in recent history. Theresa May had 27, Margaret Thatcher only 22
ministers. The issue the 'leavers' pushed in the referendum on whether Britain
should stay in the EU was immigration. Hence the astonishment in discovering that
BoJo's cabinet has more BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic) members than any
Sajid Javid (former investment banker with bus-driver father) has come a long way.
The new Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasury Secretary) will live at No.11 next door
to 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister's residence. In his journey, he is now
strongly anti-union, prefers employment and dismissal at the behest of employers with
no employee safeguards.
Priti Patel is the new Home Secretary. Pro-Brexit and like Javid a great friend of
Israel, she also wants to bring back hanging. Munira Mirza heads the No.10 Policy
Unit. So whatever happened to minorities in the Labor Party? David Lammy MP who
has represented Tottenham since 2000 says 'the whites who run my party [Labor]
need to explain why I am not on the front bench.' Is the non-white vote still for
Labor? Perhaps not. They are discovering what the Democrats learned in the age of
Trump. Minorities are getting tired of being taken for granted.
Or is it the gritty aspects of global capitalism with capital mobility that is fueling
populism. The best returns are no longer within advanced economies and capital
follows the highest profits. Strong independent leadership devoid of parochial
interests and election funding obligations could be one answer to bringing back
To ease his no-deal Brexit, Boris has chopped up the time for debate by suspending
parliament for about a month in this session (called prorogation). MPs return on Sept
3 and parliament will be shutting down the following week. When it reconvenes on
October 14, they will have just two weeks to organize opposition to the no-deal Brexit.
The rather obvious attempt to thwart opposition has resulted in demonstrations
outside parliament to no avail.
The consequences for Northern Ireland can be drastic. There is now no customs
barrier between north and south. A no-deal Brexit will impose one. Southern Ireland
or Eire was a poor country when it joined the EU; it is now one of the wealthiest, and
the open border to goods and labor has meant Northern Ireland got to share in the
prosperity -- not to mention the Good Friday Agreement and the end of conflict.
Closing the border has the potential to reignite it.
Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted heavily on the 'remain' side. Therefore, the
overall 'leave' decision for the whole country gives strong impetus for autonomy. We
already have Hadrian's wall about 73 miles long, almost at the border and still
standing in many parts after nearly two millennia. Boris can add to it after Scottish
independence. And he can build the Boris Barrier in Ireland. But most likely the Irish
will prefer autonomy as well and keep the border open.
In that event, will Boris be the last Prime Minister of a united United Kingdom?