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 22, 2021

Mr. President:  Sic transit gloria mundi -- thus passes worldly glory, which seems an
apt phrase for the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next.

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. became the 46th president of the United States at noon
on January 20th, and earlier  Donald J. Trump departed the White House quietly for
Florida -- his last ride on Air Force One as president -- leaving behind a generous
and gracious letter for Biden.  So it is described by Joe Biden himself.  Trump did not
attend the inauguration, the first president not to do so since Woodrow Wilson in
1921, who remained inside the Capitol building because of poor health while his
successor Warren G. Harding was installed.

It was a most unusual inauguration this time.  There were no crowds on the lawns
outside; instead row upon row of American flags representing them.  The official
attendees all wore masks and included three former Presidents (Obama, the younger
Bush and Clinton).  President Carter, who is in his 90s and frail, sent his apologies.

The usual late breakfast before the ceremony and the lunch afterwards were also
cancelled -- one cannot eat with a mask in place!  No evening inaugural balls either.  
These were sometimes so many that the new president and his lady could only spend
a few minutes at each.  In their stead, there was a virtual inaugural celebration hosted
by Tom Hanks the actor.  It consisted mostly of pop-singers who supported Biden plus
a disappointing rendering of Amazing Grace by Yo-Yo Ma on his cello.

Biden's first act was to sign a series of executive orders to undo some of Trump's
policies.  He announced the U.S. would not leave the World Health Organization
(WHO) and would continue to contribute to it.  On climate change a complete policy
reversal now means the U.S. will abide by the Paris climate accord.   

Biden's other executive orders totalling 15 responded to the coronavirus crisis with
the goal of giving 100 million vaccine shots by the end of April.  He proposes to
establish vaccine centers at stadiums and community facilities and also plans to
speed up production of the supplies required for making vaccines.

The U.S. now has lost 406,000 lives (and counting) from COVID-19.  That number is
noted to be greater than U.S. deaths during WW2.  The virus has so far infected 24.5
million people.  However, the problem is more complicated than simply inoculating

Swedish authorities report that 23 people, mostly elderly and having other health
issues, have died after being given the Pfizer vaccine.  Its side effects apparently can
be severe and mimic the disease itself.  Thus given a choice, one would prefer the
Moderna vaccine.  

Old age is a poignant sight to behold.  Biden the ex high school football star now
having difficulty lifting his feet to walk.  Very gamely, he even tried a jog or two to say
a quick hello to bystanders during his short walk to the White House.  We wish him
well and hope for a successful presidential term.  Thirty-six years as senator and
eight years as vice-president certainly make him one of the most experienced to sit in
the White House Oval Office.   Good luck Mr. President!