Weekly Letter to the President
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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 13, 2019 (posted September 16)
Mr. President: Why is it that the US and Britain have chosen weird uncompromising
leaders when the essence of statesmanship is calculated compromise. Worse, if not
shocking, is that 43 percent of India's new parliament elected in May are facing
criminal charges, including rape and murder. Out of the 303 lawmakers in Prime
Minister Narendra Modi's party, 116 face charges. He himself was not considered
suitable for a US visa because of the organized 2002 killings/pogrom of Muslims in
Gujarat while he was leader; he was given a visa only after he became prime minister.
Trump has just fired John Bolton his third National Security Adviser in two-and-a-half
years. Ever since taking office, he has been abrogating agreements unilaterally. Iran
now refuses to talk to him, and announced that the removal of Bolton, a notorious Iran
hawk, makes no difference. This lack of trust after Trump walked out of the previous
agreement, one with the imprimatur of the Security council and major world powers, is
to be expected but there is also the matter of dignity. No self-respecting nation can
tie itself to the whims of an erratic leader.
Boris Johnson meanwhile is flouting the norms and traditions of parliament. He has
prorogued the current session not for two or three days as customary but for nearly
five weeks until October 14. Uproar and an appeal to the courts against this
upending of democracy followed. A Scottish judge has now ruled the prorogation
illegal. Tellingly, the 21 Tory members, who were turned out of the Tory party in
parliament, joined the opposition to pass a law requiring Boris to seek an extension
preventing the no-deal Brexit on October 31 if he has not come up with an agreement
by October 19. Boris' hands have been tied, his government losing control of the
parliamentary agenda. His scheme to end debate on the issue by proroguing
parliament has backfired badly, leaving commentators wondering if Boris has been
the worst prime minister this century.
One of the persons Boris threw out of his party was Nicolas Soames, a grandson of
Winston Churchill and a 37-year member of parliament, another was its longest
serving member. No grace in the graceless as they say.
Trump on the other hand is fixated on golf. Until July this year, he had spent over
$105 million of taxpayers' money on his golfing trips. Extrapolated over his entire
tenure including re-election, he could cost the taxpayer $340 million according to
Forbes, which is far from a left-wing magazine.
So why do people elect such leaders? Perhaps the underlying cause is income
stagnation for the majority (adjusted for inflation) since the late 1970s. Yes, GDP has
grown but the benefits have been skewed to the upper 20 percent quintile. When the
voters have not found an answer from mainstream Democrats and Republicans, they
have resorted to mavericks like Obama and now Trump. In the UK it is Johnson --
heaven help them if his no-deal Brexit prevails for it is expected to be an economic
When blame is focused on immigration, as in Britain, Hungary, Poland and now the
US, extreme right-wingers take center stage with crude but appealing rhetoric, and
often get elected. So there we have it, while Trump denied funding by Congress is
drawing funds from the defense budget to build his wall on the Mexican border.