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 7, 2012
Mr. President: The conventions are over. The most boring in recent memory, the
only sparkling moment was Bill Clinton's speech. He skewered the Republicans on
every front, offering a remarkable job growth statistic where Democrats have
generated 42 million jobs versus 24 million by the Republicans in the last half century
of almost evenly shared time in power.
Of course, Clinton's repeal of Glass-Steagall and the refusal to regulate Commodity
Default Swaps have been major reasons for the economic crisis. If he has an excuse,
it is that it was a heady time for Wall Street power brokers. Ever since Alan
Greenspan, a fervent Ayn (rhymes with swine) Rand disciple, took over the Fed and
loosened the reins on the money supply and Reagan started the ball rolling on cutting
their taxes and unraveling the regulatory processes, they had been swimming in the
stuff. For Clinton, Greenspan's sage advice to focus on cutting the deficit rewarded
him with a budget surplus, and the economy untold prosperity. It was illusory.
GDPs do not measure the state of the middle class. Jobs began to shift overseas.
NAFTA and China rang the death knell for well-paying union jobs with benefits. The
hollowed out economy with artificially inflated asset prices would soon collapse, but
not before Bill Clinton wandered off into the sunset earning himself a $100 million
through speaking fees, books and other such conveyances. Ayn Rand's Atlas [had]
Shrugged but so did our general public -- at least until Occupy Wall Street ... and that
has been leaderless and directionless.
To return to the Convention ... if Clinton scared you into voting for the Democrats, Joe
Biden's bald faced, brown nosing hagiography of his boss with the "spine of steel" --
one remembers someone bending over backwards beyond principle and being kicked
in the rear by minority Republicans -- gagged one into reaching (or wishing they still
had them) for the spitoon. Bill Clinton's "constructive engagement" was infinitely more
plausible -- if it's any help for future ads.
Biden was followed by -- I am sorry to say it -- waffle: waffle to put one to sleep;
waffle to eschew responsibility; waffle to side-step the failure to initiate even a
plausible recovery. The ideas were all there -- everywhere, including this column:
Rooseveltian public engagement; infrastructure and new technology; manufacturing
competitiveness; public / private sector partnerships for major infrastructure projects
like true high-speed rail, etc., etc.
The next day all the Convention hype was over in a giant puff of smoke called the
monthly jobs report -- 96,000 new jobs. That's a little over half needed to allow just
for new entrants to the job market from population growth. So how could
unemployment drop? Because the statistic excludes workers who have given up
looking for work. Add those and it jumps from 8.1 to 14.7 percent. Add the longer
term (more than a year) discouraged workers and it shoots up all the way to 22
percent. Almost a quarter of the work force is the real rate of unemployment, and it is
a tragedy and a travesty. It angers everybody including Clint Eastwood at the
Republican Convention, who was addressing not just the President, but also the
Republicans -- as they probably realized for he has been erased from their tape/DVD.
So where do we stand? Last time we were promised "hope and change" and ended
up with Republicans, or people who had worked hand in glove with them, in significant
cabinet posts. On the other hand, there is Mitt who left Massachusetts with a huge
deficit but gave them healthcare, who has saddled himself with Paul Ryan another
Atlas Shruggee handicapped further with a muddled, college student intellectuality. If
Mitt Romney is the one who wins the election, let us hope he lives a long time or we
are in for a Cameron-like catastrophe.