Weekly Letter to the President
Copyright © 2017
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
March 2, 2018 (posted March 5, 2018)
Mr. President: Why does a President Trump lay himself open to mockery? Simply
because his behavior is not only unlike a dignified president but his policy tweets are
quite outrageous. From 'my nuclear button is bigger than yours' addressed to Kim
Jong-un to arming teachers to defend schools against mass shooters -- he is quite off
Two weeks after the Florida shooting (following which Mr. Trump wanted to arm
teachers), a teacher in Georgia has behaved as this column warned. Jesse Randall
Davidson, a social science teacher, at Dalton High School barricaded the class door
locking out his students in the hallway. When the headmaster tried to enter with a
pass key, Davidson responded with gunfire.
Dalton is a suburb 90 miles northwest of Atlanta. Mr. Davidson who has been
employed at the school for almost 14 years is also the announcer for the school
football team making him in all likelihood a formerly popular figure. Fortunately, no
one was hurt and Mr. Davidson, who the Principal said was making "nonsensical
noises" during the exchange, is now in custody.
Any leader relies on close confidantes -- aides he can trust and who can tell him like it
is without fear of being fired. For Donald Trump such a person was Hope Hicks. She
was part of his presidential odyssey right from the beginning and will be missed, even
by Chief of Staff John Kelley who would use her to tell the president he was wrong
without a tweeted retribution She has now resigned, the day after a marathon eight
hours of questioning by the House Intelligence Committee. Was it something she said
or something she thinks could happen. We will have to wait and see. With her
departure, five people have done six stints as Communications Director during
Trump's 400-day tenure. She lasted the longest, about seven months.
Meanwhile, Jared Kushner's interim top-secret security clearance has been
downgraded while the investigation for his full clearance continues. The major
problem of course is his business, and interests susceptible to leverage by foreign
governments. And not to be too flip, he looks like an Ensign Crusher on Star Trek
with similar political maturity. Will he be able to do such a high level job without a
top-security clearance? It really isn't even a question.
The number of staffers coming and going in this railroad junction of a White House is
unprecedented and symptomatic of chaotic leadership. Run by a self proclaimed
'stable genius' who this week spelled 'dying' as 'dieing' before he was corrected in a
tweet rant on the actor Alec Baldwin, the place is about as stable as the 'genius'. His
latest proclamation slapping punitive import tariffs (25% on steel and 10% on
aluminum) could start a trade war.
On top of all this, friend Vladimir has laid down the gauntlet. Addressing an audience
of Russian lawmakers, regional governors and leading figures, Mr. Putin introduced
new nuclear weapons, including a nuclear-tipped cruise missile powered by a small
nuclear engine. Highly maneuverable, low-flying (thus difficult to detect) and with
unlimited range -- it promises to make the U.S. missile defense shield obsolete, which
he claimed was now an umbrella full of holes. Why Seoul and Tokyo 'would now buy
such an umbrella' made little sense, added Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Putin's speech also carried a blunt warning to Washington against contemplating the
use of tactical battlefield nuclear weapons. He said a nuclear attack on any of
Moscow's allies would result in an immediate response. Observers thought he was
referring to Syria although Tehran might be tempted into closer ties.
Much to chew on in Washington and certainly gristle in the Trump nightly
cheeseburger. Most probably the intelligence agencies have been aware of these
weapons but Mr. Putin has now drawn a line in no uncertain terms. Perhaps it was
the Russian deaths in Syria from U.S. bombing but U.S. impunity seems to be coming
to an end.