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
September 2, 2016 (posted Sept 8, 2016)
Mr. President: In July, the Caine Prize for African Writing was awarded to
Lidudumalingani Mgombothi. The 10,000 pounds sterling award recognizes African
writers for short stories written in English. His story, "Memories We Lost," is graced
with beautifully expressed sentences, and one in particular is apt for the role often
played by governments: "Secrets stay buried for so long, but one day they rise to
open like seeds breaking free from the earth."
History's judgment never ends, sometimes overtaking itself into the present. Donald
Trump has already defined this administration and Hillary Clinton's role as wreaking
"death and destruction" from Libya to Syria and Iraq, and being instrumental through
misguided policy in the formation of ISIS. The seeds are breaking free already.
A lightning two-hour visit to Mexico had Mr. Trump helicoptering in to the Presidential
palace for an hour meeting with President Pena Nieto-- who has his own problems
including the latest, accusing him of plagiarizing a third of his law degree thesis. The
meeting was followed by a conciliatory speech, only to return home to breathe fire into
his Arizona supporters later the same evening.
Whatever he is doing seems to be working. The latest poll conducted by Fox News
shows him trailing Hillary Clinton 39 to 41 percent, within the poll's 3 percent margin of
error. In other words a statistical tie. Quite a recovery given his sinking poll numbers
after his contretemps with Ghazala Khan the Gold Star Mother. And all the more
remarkable when his ad blitz planned for the Fall has not commenced.
Yes, he is struggling in the battleground states but the 'crooked Hillary' epithet keeps
rolling along gathering more moss. A Washington Post/ABC News poll taken at the
end of August shows a record number of Americans now dislike her. Only 41 percent
of Americans view her favorably while 56 percent have an unfavorable impression. It
is her poorest showing in a quarter century of public life.
In the meantime, the noisome, conflict-of-interest challenged Clinton Foundation is in
the news again (together with Hillary although she did nothing wrong in this incident)
for a series of emails by Abigail Disney to Mrs. Clinton when she was Secretary of
State. Ms. Disney, who was a large donor (between $100,000 and $250,000) sought
to push her women's rights agenda at the Foundation. These emails were obtained
under the Freedom of Information Act, and a federal judge has now ordered a review
and release by September 13 of another 14,900 emails, withheld by Mrs. Clinton and
extracted from her server by the FBI who delivered it to the State Department. More
fireworks to come?
It did not have to be this way. Bernie Sanders the only (near) progressive Democrat
handily beat Trump in almost all polls taken during the primary battles, in stark
contrast to Hillary Clinton. Yet it did not sway the corrupt Democratic Party
establishment, which conspired to deny Sanders the nomination. Hacked party emails
revealed shocking bias and numerous schemes denying him a fair shot. So blatant
was the party Chairwoman's behavior (she is a close friend of the Clintons) she was
booed and drowned out at the Philadelphia convention. With the prospect of a
complete fiasco in the offing, she resigned in disgrace and left town.
Worth noting, the convention was held at the Wells Fargo Center. Wells Fargo is
headquartered in San Francisco and is the world's largest bank by capitalization. Bill
Clinton of course gave the big banks release from Glass-Steagall -- a separation wall
between investment and commercial banking legislated after the crash of 1929 and its
aftermath -- that had protected account holders, and taxpayers as deposits are
Federally insured, by preventing commercial banks from placing risky but often highly
profitable bets, i.e. gambling with deposits. It is tempting and becomes unavoidable in
the frenetic competitive environment of Wall Street as they each try to protect their
share price and keep up with rivals. Eventually a bet goes disastrously sour. In
2008, a cascade of bad mortgage loan instruments demonstrated the dangers of
derivatives and precipitated the crash.
The question now is can Trump win? Here is a man who ran against 16 establishment
candidates in the primaries scaling the Republican fortress as an outsider, while
being mocked by the press and given a zero chance by the punditry. Here is a man
also caricatured as a buffoon and a bigot when in reality, like many who have built a
large business, he is likely to be neither; instead he is most probably, sane,
levelheaded and having the intelligence expected of a Wharton alumnus. He has also
been smart enough to identify and exploit a void on the political scene ignored by the
The presidential debates will soon be upon us. There will be cold logic from Clinton, a
mastery of the facts, versus the emotional appeal of Trump and a recitation of Clinton
foibles -- reinforcing by then his ad campaign.
Where would you put your money?