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
December 4, 2015
Mr. President: Two more mass shootings in two weeks. The perpetrators this week, a
Syed Rizwan Farooq and his wife. Mr. Farooq was born in Illinois and worked as a
health inspector for the local authorities. The proximate cause of the shooting
appears to have been a rancorous quarrel with other workers at the targeted facility,
which assists the developmentally disabled. But as Mr. Farooq is a Muslim, the
authorities and the media are also busy looking for terrorism links.
The more obvious link is to his father who suffered from mental illness and was often
violent. Such a problem if passed on to the succeeding generation often manifests in
the middle to late twenties -- Mr. Farooq is 27. That is a far more likely explanation
and would account for his recent collection of firearms and ammunition. Had he been
a Mr. Smith, it would have been the cause seized on immediately by the media.
The story is that Mr. Farooq's wife pledged allegiance to ISIL on Facebook. How can
a rational person holding an arsenal of weapons at home do something that would
invite the FBI there? Neither would a rational mother leave her six-month old baby to
go murder people. Clearly both were seriously disturbed.
Remaining of course is the broader question of why these senseless acts, killing and
injuring innocents, have become commonplace.
The 'how' issue has a solution if the Senate and Congress are willing to face up to the
NRA and its political clout. Stricter controls are so self-evident, one does not have to
look far. There is the glaring contrast between this country and other developed
nations including Canada just north with many cultural similarities. Aside from this,
the stories of the old Wild West while often fiction can be telling. The task of pacifying
murderous boom towns fell to a strong sheriff who removed the guns. Visitors had to
check in their guns and locals could not carry them. It worked. If Mr. Farooq had not
been able to purchase his weapons quite as easily, those people in San Bernardino
would still be alive.
This week the British Parliament voted to join in the bombing of ISIL in Syria. Their
strategy and ours is questionable. If the aim is to topple Assad, how does bombing
ISIL, the most potent force against him help? If the aim is to destroy ISIL, how does
weakening Assad by arraying numerous petty insurgent groups against him help
when Assad is the most potent force against ISIL? Yes, there is much talk of 70,000
men in the moderate rebel groups but that has to be taken with a large grain of salt
when we managed to retain just five after spending $5 million. That number is five
soldiers not five groups and is incredibly ludicrous, as is the convoluted strategy of
war by the proxies of our proxies as this page warned when the war first started.
Our half-hearted attempts to contain ISIL have been made clear by first the polite but
firm refusal to join France despite the French President Francois Hollande's trip to
Washington after the Paris attacks to make a personal plea. He went on to Moscow
next to a more hospitable reception.
Second, the bombing of the Russian airliner and the attacks in Paris make clear ISIL
is hurting. The Russians mean what they say when they say they are attacking the
rebel groups. Now they will be doing it with an overall command of the skies -- at least
in northern Syria.