Weekly Letter to the President
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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
January 4, 2019 (posted January 6, 2018)

Mr. President:  People voted for you under the assumption, Mexico would be paying
for your border wall.  They why should the people, in this bait-and-switch game, when
hardly any of their concerns are being addressed.

Roads are potholed, bridges crumbling, trains mostly ancient, and the American
Society of Civil Engineers regularly grades our infrastructure at barely above a failing
F (D+ in 2017).  Americans are still waiting for that "beautiful healthcare"; in the
meantime, a simple Medicare-for-all will do.  And whatever happened to the promised
middle-class jobs?  The minor tweaks in NAFTA made little difference to the factories
humming on the other side of the southern border.

A tariff war with China is hardly a way forward.  It is seeing its first major casualty in
Apple, down to 145 from its summer highs of 230+ when it became the world's first
trillion dollar company.  Its sales in China,  its third biggest market after the US and
EU, failed to meet expectations.  Following the news at the end of the trading day on
Wall Street, Asian stock markets opening shortly thereafter went into a slide.  Jaw-jaw
is better than war-war said Churchill whose bust now adorns the Oval Office.  It
applies to trade wars also as former President Carter writes in a Washington Post
Op-ed on the subject.

On the 2000-mile border wall, one has to wonder if anyone in the White House has
examined the consequences.  What will the migrants and their "coyotes" (people
smugglers) do next?  Water, air and tunnels are options.  Perhaps El Chapo, the drug
lord on trial, ought to be employed as a consultant.  He managed a steady stream of
drugs into the insatiable US market.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his annual New Year's address to the nation
mostly discussed the economy.  The country is still under US sanctions although Kim
Jong Un has said repeatedly that he is committed to denuclearization.  He warned, "If
the US does not keep its promise ... and insists on sanctions and pressures on our
republic, we may be left with no choice but to consider a new way to safeguard our
security and interests."  What did Trump promise him?  Was this another bait and
switch?  Kim's words have been described as conciliatory but firm, with the implication
that if sanctions are not eased in 2019, North Korea might return to its nuclear testing
program ending the present hiatus.  He also added he was always ready to meet Mr.
Trump again.

This president has been in office for two years during which time his party held the
presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  The Democrats have only
just regained control of the latter following the November election.  Hence a final
question on Trump's border wall.  Why did he not request funding while his party was
in control of the House plus the two other organs of government?

The Democrats opposed to the wall have refused, and the subsequent impasse has
led to a government shutdown.  Mr. Trump claims the wall is necessary for national
security and blames the Democrats.  The Democrats blame Trump and remain
against the wall.  Meanwhile, the migrant caravan about to storm the border has
disappeared from the news.  Whatever we have on the border now has successfully
impeded them.