Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
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
June 14, 2013
Mr. President: Recent revelations inform us that everyone is being watched -- at least
in the time and duration of their telephone calls, and numbers called or received. The
founding fathers would most certainly have considered this information personal
"effects" barring it through the 4th amendment from "search and seizure" without a
"warrant" issued "upon probable cause".
The blanket FISA court approval clearly violated probable cause, and who can
seriously believe that the founding fathers expected the whole population to be
placed under watch. Moreover, other serious defects in FISA call for a reexamination
and restoration of citizen rights. These defects are clear from the record. Of 1856
applications to the court, 1856 have been approved confirming it as a rubber stamp.
The problem is clearly not the respected Federal judges, but the process. First, it
lacks the adversarial rigor of a trial, and second, it is shrouded in secrecy preventing
check and examination.
According to polls, 62 percent find this intrusion into privacy rights acceptable as it
keeps them safe. Yet, the number of annual fatalities from terrorist attacks can be
counted on the fingers of one hand while gun violence figures are horrendous.
According to the Centers for Disease Control data for 2011, gun deaths in the U.S.
were as follows: Suicide 19,766; homicide 11,101; accidental discharge 851;
undetermined intent 222. That sums up to over 31,000 fatalities, yet no one wants to
question, recast, reinterpret or parse the Second Amendment concerning the "right of
people to bear arms" for the purpose of a "well-regulated militia". Buying Saturday
night specials on the basis of such a right is a stretch of the imagination difficult to
fathom in an age of missiles and drones.
It seems we are going to send weapons to rebel forces in Syria. Our claim of sarin
gas use by the Syrian government is doubted by many experts including Jean Pascal
Zanders of the European Institute for Security Studies. They cite authenticity and the
lack of continuity in the chain of custody of physiological samples leading to the
possibility of contamination. Further skepticism stems from the fact, not widely
reported here, that Turkish security recently arrested 12 members of al-Nusra rebels
at a safe house in southern Turkey. They were in possession of 2 kilograms of sarin
gas according to leaks to the local paper.
As the prominent Middle East journalist, Robert Fisk, has observed: they ask why
would the government resort to sarin when bombs and helicopter gunships are more
effective and when they are aware of the red line drawn by the U.S. ... all to kill 150
rebels when according to the U.N. the total number of deaths in Syria is already near
The fact remains, the rebels are losing and becoming desperate. And the U.S. is
under pressure from all sides to help. Of course, this help will make the rebels even
less likely to consider any kind of compromise at the talks originally slated
optimistically for the end of the month. So the civilians must continue to suffer,
needless deaths of men, women and children, destruction of infrastructure, the
ruination of a country all in the ludicrous demands for "democracy" by our leading
proxies Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are themselves, to most observers, as far
removed from democracy as King John's England before the Magna Carta.