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 16, 2012
Mr. President: This week light originating from a galaxy 13 billion years ago reached
us enabling astronomers to see it as it was in the early beginnings of our universe.
Conversely, if there are astronomers in that galaxy now observing a ray of light from
ours, they would only see the Milky Way as it was 13 billion years ago. Earth would
not exist and by the time they observe it, our sun will have died and earth would have
ceased to exist. In this massive cosmos where there are billions of clusters with
billions of galaxies each with billions of stars, our sun being just one; there are people
who believe fervently that a supreme being's main preoccupation is their welfare on a
small patch of land. Human beings continue to fight for small patches of land with the
same ferocity chimpanzees display towards intruders from another troop on their
territory. Not much has changed except for the human's capacity to destroy the earth
with their weapons.
The repulsive spectacle of self-righteous leaders on both sides justifying their killings
while the RT-Television camera at Gaza hospital pans across the bloodied bodies of
small children -- a BBC Arabic service reporter with a dead 11-month old son, a
4-year old dying from burns over 95% of his body.
Or a few thousand miles away, little Naeemullah deeply lacerated and ferried in agony
to a hospital only to die an hour later his tiny body overwhelmed by the press of a
button half a world away. His crime? Sleeping peacefully in his bed, in his home ...
next door to a house hit in a drone strike.
The fighting will stop and nothing will have changed. And nothing ever will until there
is meaningful dialogue and fair reciprocity.
Meanwhile in Africa, General Carter F. Ham, a personable man with a grave voice,
assures us in quiet tones on French TV that preparations are ready. A
'peacekeeping' force of African soldiers principally from Nigeria will soon be in
northern Mali. More killing.
The Tuareg, a nomadic people who have lived for centuries undisturbed by lines
drawn by European colonialists have been unhappy with the Mali government in
Timbuktu for a long time. Roaming in the border areas of Algeria, Libya and Mali, the
upheavals in Libya gave them a chance to be free of Timbuktu. From Libya weapons
and Islamists fighters -- the ones we were supporting and supplying to overthrow
Gadaffi -- flowed in and helped them seize the few outposts in the desert belonging to
the central government. Lo and behold, they were their own masters. But as the
democratic government of Mai yelped, wheels were set in motion ...
Africa Command, Central Command, this command, that command, the military with its
gaping maw swallows cash by the barrelfull. In the civilian economy, decent jobs with
pension and health benefits continue to be destroyed. The latest victim, Hostess,
which produced the iconic Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, Ding-Dongs, and HoHos with
all the fond memories childhood brings.
Unemployment may hover around 8 percent despite more and more underemployed
because people give up looking for work and are consequently not counted in the
work force. Another number 'epop' to economists is the percent employed. This has
now fallen to 66 percent in 2011 while jail incarcerations have grown five-fold in the
last three decades. Failures in social services, vocational training, job creation are
obvious. Yet our leaders fail to respond.