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
April 5, 2019 (posted April 8)

Mr. President:  If a tragedy is watching disaster unfold and being powerless to stop it,
then such is Brexit -- a conundrum wrapped in an enigma as the saying goes.

The UK parliament has voted on eight alternatives to the prime minister's deal after
voting it down.  These have all failed to get a majority.  They have voted twice more
on the PM's deal without success, and they have voted against a no-deal exit.

Why should we worry?  Not just for the numerous small personal tragedies to follow as
working (even retired) lives are disrupted, but also because the UK being the world's
fifth largest economy, its pain will be felt elsewhere if only as a hiccup.  In the late
stages of an economic growth cycle, a hiccup might be all that is necessary for a

The prime minister's mind remains fixed as she proposes to seek a fourth vote on her
deal.  She has written to European Council President Donald Tusk requesting an
extension to June 30.  Perhaps she might tweak her deal a bit for she is also talking to
Jeremy Corbyn the Labor opposition leader whose party would prefer to remain in a
custom's union.  The option could finesse the thorniest issue, namely, the north-south
border in Ireland.

It is well to recall that Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain, also London and
the Southeast of England.  Moreover, the Irish have become accustomed to
border-free travel and are unlikely to accept any customs posts or passport checks.

The country was evenly divided in the 2016 referendum when 51.8 percent voted to
leave versus 48.1 percent.  Of the 46.5  million electorate, the turnout was 72.2
percent.  Worth noting, the Scots voted 62 to 38 percent to remain as did Northern
Ireland.  A close vote then and Mrs. May has behaved as if 'leave' won by a
landslide.  She has ignored the wishes of almost half the electorate choosing to
remain in the EU, instead of probing further to find some kind of acceptable

A story this week surfaced in another essay on the subject.  It happens that a German
general classified officers into four categories:  clever and lazy, clever and
industrious, stupid and lazy, and stupid and industrious.  He said he promoted the
clever and lazy to the top because he could count on them to make the right
decisions and then not interfere with those carrying them out.  The clever and
industrious were made their deputies to ensure the work got done.  The stupid and
lazy were sent to the front.  The stupid and industrious he considered a menace, who
had to be removed from the army as soon as possible.

It is not too difficult to discern Mrs. May's category.  The trouble is no one in her party
appears to want her job at present.

In a category of his own, Mrs. May's colleague on the other side of the Atlantic was
busy with his wall at the U.S.--Mexico border.  Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen
Nielsen declared a national emergency because of the sharp uptick of migrants at the
southern border.  President Donald Trump echoed her, saying, 'our country is full.  
Turn around. ... When it's full, there's nothing you can do.  You have to say, I'm sorry
we can't take you."

Meanwhile, the Democrats who control the House have filed a lawsuit against the
administration over Trump's national emergency declaration to obtain the $8 billion
funding for the wall.

Both sides of the Atlantic, walls seem to be in vogue.