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
June 29, 2018

Mr. President:  After several tit-for-tats with Russia in 2001, relations were at a low
ebb like during the cold war.  That was when a Russian initiative led to a meeting
between the newly-elected George W. Bush and the Russian president.  There was
no major breakthrough but the two men got to know each other and the temperature
cooled.  The man heading the Russian government then, as now, was Vladimir Putin.

In one job or another, Mr. Putin has faced many U.S. presidents, endured the
disastrous neocon influence -- disastrous for Iraq, for Libya, for the Ukraine, not
forgetting Afghanistan, and above all for the U.S. itself.

Quite beyond dispute is the plain fact that the Israeli lobby is ascendant in its neocon
and other forms in the U.S., and, as the Conservative Friends of Israel controls Prime
Minister Theresa May's party in the UK.  Why, is another question.  Why are the
Israeli left, the peace bloc, and voices like Gideon Levy and Amira Haas of the
Ha'aretz out of the loop?  Perhaps because the major parties, those that rotate in
power, are consistent in their disenfranchisement of Palestinians and share a world
view of chronic paranoia.

Here Donald J. Trump deserves credit for, despite his odious immigration policies, his
economic windfalls for the rich, and his constant tweeting blather, he has silenced the
Israeli right-wing by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and can proceed now with
his Russia policy of inclusion and lowering tensions.  The major media is against him
but he neutralized them in the eyes of his supporters a long time ago.

What can we expect?  Well, Syria and Ukraine come to mind and a less
confrontational politics.  Russia wants an end to sanctions.  Nuclear weapons?  Both
sides have far too many.  But all in good time; the ball has just started rolling.

With all the attendant chaos, one can sometimes start to wonder if democracy is really
the best form of government.  Think of all the lobbying groups:  the bankers getting
rich gambling, knowing the public purse will rescue them if they lose their shirts; the
Israeli lobby and its wars like the tail wagging the dog; and the fossil fuel lobby and its
effect on the environment -- why can't every new house built have solar cells on the
roof to produce electricity?  Rising temperatures and a mass-extinction underway
make the last particularly galling.

But then there is the image of the chubby, jolly, smiling Kim Jong Un looking for all the
world like a cherub.  Last week he executed Lt. Gen. Hyon Ju Song who erred fatally
in his remark that we no longer needed "to suffer and tighten our belts to make
rockets and nuclear weapons."  A man who had been "on the track to success,"
according to the Daily NK until he jumped the gun on the peace initiative and
distributed an extra 1278 pounds of rice and 1653 pounds of corn to fellow officers
and their families.  It brings to eight the number of top officials and family members
killed by Kim John Un.

Perhaps democracy is not so bad after all.