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
December 5, 2014
Mr. President: Each year around this time, our local store begins to stock its shelves
with treats from Europe. One of our favorites is Wilkin's marmalade from England.
They offer an astonishing variety -- all superb and uniformly bursting with flavor. It
used to be $2.79 a jar. Then about a half-dozen years ago the price started rising --
all of a sudden, it was nearly five, then the next year seven ... this year it is $12 to $17
and the jar has shrunk. Another item is the renowned Panforte from Sienna -- not so
long ago five or six dollars, now $20 to $30 for the four-inch diameter, one inch thick
During the same period a social security check has risen around 15 percent! Of
course it is not just these items, one might consider exotic, but the price of
vegetables, a necessity for a healthy diet, has just about doubled within your term of
office. So has meat and almost everything else. There is a simple solution: Simply
tie politicians salaries and pensions to social security. Most social scientists studying
the issue will tell you , a society's health and well-being is related to how well it treats
the most vulnerable. It is something to ponder when our elected leaders call for cuts
in Social Security pensions if a simple raising or removal of salary caps for social
security taxes, which taxes high incomes, would solve the problem. Better still, if the
money collected was separated so it could not be used for our multiple wars of choice.
For example, why destroy an adequately functioning country with the highest Human
Development Index in Africa, and which was helping us fight the al-Qaeda types. Now
the mess that once used to be Libya is spreading Islamic extremism. No surprise if
Nigeria wont even talk to us any more. Or Nelson Mandela gave you an outright snub
when you visited South Africa.
Once upon a time, leaders' sons and daughters volunteered for a war effort. Not any
more. Now they make certain they do not. With few if any exceptions, Congressmen,
Senators, prominent state politicians all keep their kids out of our wars. It is a poor
man's army now; it is a volunteer force, offering a way out for the poor and jobless.
Increasingly, our leaders and decision-makers have never served in the armed forces
or seen combat. Hence the term "ardent, armchair interventionists" (AAI) is a precise
They need to see the kid, legs blown off trying to get out of a humvee; the limbs and
body parts, the pieces of flesh, brain matter and innards that are the currency of
modern warfare. They become the flashbacks of the recovered wounded, the PTSD
sufferers whose lives are never the same. How many wounded from these wars?
Upwards of fifty thousand? So says the DoD but disability claims register a million.
Then think of far worse devastation on the other side. Hundreds of thousands of
dead and wounded -- mostly civilians -- and millions of refugees. With inadequate
shelter, many of the old, the infirm and the very young will succumb to the winter.
Now the UN says it is running out of money for food aid.
Is the world more stable after these wars of choice?