Weekly Letter to the President
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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
February 7, 2020
Mr. President: We have had a week in the U.S. when the President delivers a State of
the Union address on how America has become great again, and the very next day he
is acquitted by the Senate of the same charges. His trial, of course, followed
impeachment by the House earlier, as required by the constitution. It is noteworthy
that both the Senate and House votes were party-line with the odd exception,
meaning that the president's own party thinks he did not commit any acts amounting
to impeachable offenses while the opposition Democrats believe the opposite.
This is what happens when a president is impeached for asking someone to look into
the Bidens and Ukraine. How did Hunter Biden become a member of the board of
Ukrainian natural gas producer Burisma? He was paid up to $50,000 per month,
never attended a board meeting, and is supposed to have advised on corporate
governance. Ironically, Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky has been charged with
money laundering, tax violations and acquiring licenses corruptly during Hunter
Biden's tenure. His father was Vice President of the U.S. and to Burisma he carried a
powerful name. The situation is not eased by the fact that Vice-President Joe Biden
was given a major role in shaping policy towards Ukraine by President Obama.
Lacking clarity on these issues, the Bidens have little to say, and father Joe believes
the issue is behind them. Perhaps it is and perhaps Iowans didn't care. On the other
hand, Joe Biden got walloped in Iowa trailing Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders by a wide
margin. One cannot write anyone off at this early stage, however, as there are many
more primaries to go.
Then there is former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who Trump has
promptly labeled, "Mini Mike" for being height-challenged -- it didn't stop Napoleon!
With a $60 billion fortune, he can afford to play his own game and also bend the rules
like deadlines in Iowa. Will money talk? And will it be a billionaire contest come
There is also Pete Buttigieg carrying a name of Maltese origin that means an owner of
chickens. Far from it, he is clearly incredibly smart having earned top degrees at
Harvard and Oxford. He became a business consultant at McKinsey, the world
renowned consulting firm, giving it up eventually for a political career. Consultants
profess to making business more profitable and efficient, which can often be read as
axing jobs. Let's hope the habit has died out.
Poor Elizabeth Warren. Her campaign has been in a tail-spin, illustrating the dangers
of threatening vested interests: through bankruptcy protection she has taken aim at
banks issuing credit cards with predatory interest rates, at healthcare insurers
charging excessive premiums with loopholes in coverage, and at Wall Street and
student loan sharks. Her targets are unlikely to sit idly by when there is good old
Bernie Sanders has a following ... and a loyal one. The question is can Donald
Trump's behavior help Bernie expand it enough to keep Pete at bay and Mike
Bloomberg confined to New York despite his money and ads? We'll just have to wait
Meanwhile, Trump has allowed a new low-yield nuclear warhead, the W76-2, to be
installed alongside the Trident II in stealth submarines. There already are
air-launched low-yield nuclear weapons but the subs offer a higher probability of
penetration. The five kiloton warhead is one-third the size of the Hiroshima bomb,
and was already deployed in secret. However, a leak to the Federation of American
Scientists, who released the news to the press, has made it public knowledge. To the
extent it increases the temptation to use a nuclear weapon, it also increases the risk
of nuclear conflict.
Are any of the Democratic presidential contenders interested?