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
March 27, 2020

Mr. President:  The coronavirus crisis has brought out the worst ... and the best in
people.  Hoarding, panic buying is one result -- but who can blame anyone in a
country where the president awash in platitudes, has essentially left people to fend for

There is now a fairer $2 trillion package, with help for individuals and not mostly for
businesses, that required the hand of Congress.  With people forced to sit at home,
many are not getting paid and need the help.

Amid the chaos and insensitivity of billionaire presidents, there is hope in man's
natural inclination for sacrifice in extremis.  Father Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, died in
Lovere, Bergamo, (in the epicenter of the epidemic) early this month.  His
parishioners had bought a respirator for him when he was afflicted by the virus, but
Father Berardelli, instead of using is for himself, instructed the hospital staff to give it
to a younger person.  He was the main priest in the nearby town of Casnigo, where
his parishioners applauded from balconies and windows as his coffin was taken for

Italy is now the worst affected country in the world.  As of Thursday night, it has had
80,589 cases and 8215 deaths, the latter more than double anywhere else -- China,
where the epidemic began, has reported 81,782 cases but far fewer deaths.  
Measures taken to stop the spread including gradually strung out lockdown measures
taken from February 23 on have not been as effective as hoped.  If the virus is that
infectious, is the answer complete lockdown with police patrols to ensure it?

At the other end of the scale from Father Berardelli is the supposed 'leader of the
free world'.  It would have to be a most irresponsible, reprehensible, shamelessly
disgraceful and indifferent plutocrat who did not educate himself on an affliction
endangering his people.

At his press conferences we see a host of officials huddled close to him, not just to
dilute his responsibility, but also violating the social distancing precept being

Since the early days, Donald Trump has called the virus first a "hoax", then in control,
the epidemic itself "pretty much shut down", and always adding the platitudinous "it's
going to be fine".

He has said the cases were "going substantially down," and then that the virus "would
disappear".  When the virus had spread widely enough to be named a pandemic by
the World Health Organization, he claimed he had "always known" about the severity
of the threat.  He now says it will be over by Easter.

In times of crisis, the American people rally behind their president.  For example, after
the 9/11 attack, President George W. Bush's ratings were hitting the high 80s to over
90 percent, as the country awaited a response to overcome the crisis.  Yet even then
the country did not come to a standstill as it is in many parts at present. Trump's
approval ratings are at his highs -- 49 percent (Gallup), 46 percent (Monmouth
University) the best in three years.

The stunning information on coronavirus infections from the John Hopkins University
dashboard shows the US now leading the world with more than 86,000 cases.  Then
there is Donald Trump.  We cannot go on like this, he said,  "We've got to open up,"
so the economy can get back on track ... meaning business wins hands down over
people's lives in his calculus.