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 11, 2019

Mr. President:  Compromise is the essence of democracy for a good reason.   it is the
glue holding it together.  It is how a country can unite after an election; it is when the
51 percent give a little, so the remainder can still feel part of governing; it is when the
winning candidate promises to represent all constituents not just those voting for him
or her; it is why the Senate requires 60 votes for cloture -- a procedure weakened in
recent years for nominations, and symptomatic of the antagonism between parties.

The winner-take-all stance only increases resentment as the other side waits for its
chance at the helm to do likewise.  Rome suffered the same in the last throes of its
republic as parties represented less the demos and more the elite, whose money was
relied upon to fight elections -- the winners reaping the spoils of power and
increasingly ignoring the needs of ordinary people.  One can think of Trump's tax cut
for the rich while the country's infrastructure rots.  Of course Mr. Trump already thinks
he is Caesar.

So here we are in the midst of a government shutdown, over a border wall
characterized by Trump as so vital we are liable to be murdered or robbed any day by
a criminal, illegal immigrant ... and at the same time we see photos of mothers and
children trying to cross over.  The wall costs $5.7 billion and Mr. Trump refuses to
compromise, while the Democratic majority in the House has voted a budget without
any money for the wall.  The public is divided on their spat.  In the latest poll
(Reuters/Ipsos) released Tuesday, 51 percent are blaming Trump for the shutdown (2
percent margin of error) while 32 percent blame the Democrats.  However, a definite
majority of Republicans support the president.  There it stands.  No compromise.

The White House is now apparently in preparation to declare a national emergency --
not exactly what was intended in the National Emergencies Act of 1976 but Trumpian
logic reigns supreme.  Will the declaration be followed by a court challenge?  We
have to wait and see.

It might be worth asking why the immigrants keep coming from Mexico and Central
America.  Mexican small farmers were put out of business with NAFTA.  Yes, Mexico
got the factories just their side of the border so US corporations could reap the
benefits of much lower wages while American workers lost well-paying manufacturing
jobs.  So stockholders won, but the US has suffered increasing income inequality.  
Also US agribusiness won as subsidized corn and wheat were sold to Mexico at prices
too low for local small farmers to compete.  Their choice was simple:  starve or trek to
the US for a job.  As more came, borders tightened and as borders tightened families
could not risk returning after visits, so they stayed.,

Central Americans are often fleeing persecution by newly or recently installed
dictators intolerant of labor laws and unions, and coupled to the usual greedy elite.  
There are exceptions but not among the countries the migrants are leaving.

Europe, too, is inundated, this time as a a result of America's wars or proxy wars.

Such is the plight of refugees.  A little less greed on the part of our elite, and less
paranoia in Israel would help.  So would a little more humanity.