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
September 4, 2015
Mr. President: There is something about a refugee child's body washing up on the
beach of a tourist resort: It preys on our conscience; it gnaws our insides. Failure.
Failure to resolve conflicts peacefully even as weapons become deadlier and we hide
behind words. Precision. A dagger is precise, a bullet less so, but a 1000 pound
bomb? Or a nuclear weapon -- the 70th anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a
couple of weeks ago reminded us the bombs hit their targets with precision. Those
acts have been justified again and again all these years.
Directly, through proxies, even with proxies of proxies, the U.S. has a hand in almost
all the present conflicts. A new biography of Gore Vidal (by Jay Parini) is a reminder
of the empire always in search of an enemy and Vidal's view that with the end of the
Soviet Union the "one billion Muslims and the Arabs in particular make a fine new evil
empire to oppose." He didn't quite foresee Ukraine and the madness, which one-ups
the M.A.D. doctrine, in a direct confrontation with a Russia transformed from a
business opportunity into the "evil" Putin. Hollywood with its movies is never far
behind, including ones selling the war crime of torture as effective.
That photo of the little three-year old boy looking like he is taking a nap indicts us all.
Mercifully, his mother is not here to see it. She, too, drowned as her overloaded boat
capsized. The UN reports, the number of refugees in the world is now the highest
since the Second World War.
Pax Americana exerts political, economic, even military pressure. Russia is paying an
economic price and China is being circled militarily. Under current leadership both
refuse to bow down. Russia has been displaying its newest arms at war games, and
China strutted yesterday at a huge military parade marking the 70th anniversary of
Under the Purchasing Power Parity measure, China's economy bypassed the U.S.
earlier this year. Yet it's an economy showing signs of faltering. Global economic
interdependency is such, it has sent shock waves across markets worldwide. It is a
world where America's continued striving for political dominance makes less and less
sense and is costly in economic terms. Its evaporating middle class has seen no
change in inflation-adjusted wages since the 1970s.
Unions are in disarray, their power whittled since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act made it
difficult to organize. Monday is Labor Day. Most people think of it as a three-day
weekend forgetting the benefits organized labor brought to them. Even the weekend,
the 40-hour week, they were all fought for ... add pensions, overtime pay, etc., etc.
And they have to be fought for ... over and over again, or soon there will be no middle
class. Let us start with the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act. Now that would be a legacy.