Weekly Letter to President Obama
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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
May 18, 2012

Mr. President:  NATO is in the news, especially in your Chicago hometown, where the
next meeting is being held.  All the TV news people are out, some giving the heads-up
for where one can go, and more important, where one can not.  The place is
swarming with police -- even rented from the suburbs -- and security.

One would think an organization relentlessly pursuing the cause of keeping us safe
would have throngs lined up cheering the members -- apparently not.  Instead there
are large demonstrations with signs saying, "NATO out of country X" and "NATO, get
out of country Y", "NATO killers" and so on.  The police and security are busy keeping
them out of the meeting areas.

One of the TV stations sent a reporter out with a sign saying "NATO" asking
passersby what the letters meant.  Not one could answer.  I began to wonder myself,
as the days are long gone when it was ensconced along the Warsaw's Pact's border
in comfortable European billets.

So what does NATO stand for ... North African Territory to Order, North African
Territory Owners, North American Tobacco, North Asian?   Certainly not the North
American Terpsichorean Organization.  But all removed from the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization and its original purpose.  No wonder no one knows what it means any
more.  Military organizations have a life of their own -- loaded with buckshot and
looking to hunt ... can't find a deer, then what about a little rabbit or even a squirrel.  
The latter is hiding in a tree; comes out and nips you in the night again and again --
the annoying pest.

The people, of course, are sick of the waste of resources for no tangible benefit to
them, when schools are without teachers, firemen and police are being laid off -- one
reason for the temporary hiring of extra officers from the suburbs and even other
states -- and no relief in sight.  In Illinois, the legislature has just this week zeroed in
on the pensions of these providers of the most basic and necessary services in a civil

The G-8 summit in Washington prior to the NATO meeting is about as anachronistic.  
It must have been overshadowed by the elephant not in the room.  Absent China is
effectively the world's banker -- certainly ours -- buying debt to help sputtering
economies try to get out of this economic mess.  It would also be interesting to know
what magic potion could be concocted to prevent a Greek default with Spain to follow.

The omens do not look good for an election year.