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
June 24, 2011

Mr. President:  The House of Representatives has just passed a motion to
rebuke you for contravening the War Powers Act in Libya.  Like much of
Washington these days, it is like a Kabuki dance staged for the benefit of
constituent groups but lacking concrete steps to change policy.  
Three-quarters of a billion dollars already spent and counting.  Add the $10
billion a month from Afghanistan and one can imagine what that kind of
money would do to the schools in your hometown, Chicago; the quality of
teaching professionals it could attract; the well educated workforce it would

Unemployment remains stubbornly above 9% (9.1 in the latest report).  This
week we were told about a 'new' initiative to foster university/industry
cooperation.  It takes one back to the eighties when it was last in vogue, just
like innovation, the flavor of last month.  I remember writing an article for
The Dallas Morning News (Sunday, May 6, 1990), "Why U.S. Trails in
Competitiveness".  What comes as a surprise (and disbelief) is that nothing
has changed; just about everything said in that article holds true today.

Later, thanks to Mr. Greenspan, the banks were awash in money.  We had all
kinds of booms -- and busts -- but what we never had was a manufacturing
boom.  We can devise all kinds of ways of selling houses to each other at
higher and higher prices, building bigger ones on the same lots, develop
new ways of buying things on the internet, or making friends on the social
networking sites, but the heart of an economy remains what it produces.  
Britain may claim to be Europe's financial center but the "nation of
shopkeepers" (Napoleon's derogatory phrase) no longer drives the
European economic train, Germany, the manufacturing hub, does.

Meanwhile, the wars continue unabated -- at least six of them.  I am
beginning to lose count of all the places.  Last week saw more killings of
families in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, the former two by aerial
bombardment, the latter from a huge bombing in Baghdad with over a
hundred casualties ... in a country supposedly made safe for democracy.

What of the next two years?  Well, the election approaches and the weather
forecast is for more sunny smiles and photo-ops.  Rainy days no longer exist
-- we now call them precipitative interludes ... to go with limited kinetic
operations which displaced war, rendering the War Powers Act obsolete.