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
November 9, 2012
Mr. President: Congratulations! You were lucky ... Mitt Romney lost.
One measure of a principled and ethical presidency is the extent to which its policies
have enhanced the welfare of mankind, alleviated misery, improved lives, prevented
slaughter, preserved and encouraged freedom. With rare exception, as one scans
the globe, this administration has shown an affinity for pragmatic convenience at the
expense of core values.
The thought comes to mind as a presidential trip to Myanmar/Burma is announced.
Just when thousands of homes have been burnt and whole Rohingya villages in
western Rakhine State have been emptied in Buddhist/Muslim violence. In fact, the
Bengali Muslim 'migrants' have lived there going back as far as five hundred years in
some cases. Extremist Buddhist monks led by Ashin Htwara, who wants to confine
them in camps and eventually deport them to Bangladesh while locals are grabbing
their land, have been fanning hatred against them. It all started in 1982 when the
military leader Ne Win stripped them of their citizenship The current government are
his heirs. About the same time a similar problem was manufactured on Burma's
eastern border lands. Both Bangladesh in the west and Thailand in the east have
been housing the consequent refugees.
The pernicious ethnic climate in Burma engendered by the military is reminiscent of
other dictatorships. Should we be acquiescent or even appear to be rewarding such
sentiments in the 21st century is a question lost in global strategic plays where China
has been made into a future adversary which must be encircled. Of course, if one
treats someone like an adversary, one cannot be surprised if they eventually become
In our own country, the justice system is a shambles. Countless drug addicts are
being sent to prison for possession, instead of receiving medical help. Under the
three-strikes-you-are-out laws, individuals are given long sentences for petty crimes
like stealing a TV because the dollar threshold from misdemeanor to felony has not
kept pace with inflation. In the 21st century, through a patchwork of laws, we have
reverted to a Les Miserables world. And worse, habeas corpus the fundamental
protection from unjust incarceration in a democracy, has been so compromised under
the Patriot Act, incarceration, even execution, under presidential authority is possible.
Two bombs went off in Damascus within earshot reports the journalist who interviewed
Assad this week. One killed grocery shoppers, the other was timed to catch
schoolchildren, crowded in alleys on their way home after school closed. It found its
mark also. These, our allies, are of course fighters for freedom. Their leaders
meeting in Qatar -- the main beef it seems of the favored candidate for president ...
while he was a legislator in Syria, he was bypassed as a cell-phone licensee in favor
of Assad's cousin. So, a dozen children in Damascus died. No doubt more will follow
as we continue another encirclement -- this time of Iran.