An Open Letter To President Obama

Dear President Obama,

(I’m still quite tickled to be able to type that, by the way.) Congratulations on your election, and on your inauguration, which drew, by some accounts, one of the largest crowds of humans ever assembled in one place in human history. If you had thrown up a bunch of speakers, whipped out a set of Technics turntables and started spinning drum ‘n’ bass, you could have totally re-enacted the rave scene from the second Matrix movie, except, y’know, actually cool.

But I digress.

I’m writing you because I have some concerns. “Already?!?” I hear you saying. “Good God, Ellis, I’ve been President for less than a week! What do you want from me, guy?” I know. I’m sorry. You’re new at the office and you haven’t got your bearings yet and I can totally dig that. As an avid reader of my website, Zenarchery — which I’m sure you are, as a sophisticated man of taste — you’ll know that I am one of the shareholders who totally supported your ascendancy. So I hope you’ll take this as what it is — a concern, not a criticism.

Namely, my concern is this: last week, as you were barely setting up your desk gadgets and programming the White House’s office sound system with your favorite jams and presumably installing your GTD productivity apps on your new desktop Mac (well played, there, sir), you held up your predecessor’s request to set aside a ruling by a federal judge that a document obtained by illegal wiretapping in a terrorism case should not be admissable as evidence. I’m sure you’re familiar with the case, but if not, hit that link and check it out.

Now, you are a lawyer and far be it from me to try and school you on legal matters, but even I know that wiretapping American citizens without a warrant is grossly illegal. Beyond the violation of the letter of the law, it also contravenes the spirit of the American Constitution, which is as close to an operational manual as our country has ever gotten. Doing it — even for the best of reasons, even to save lives — is a gross violation of everything that America means.

As a lawyer — as a former Senator, and as President of the United States — you know this, of course. I’m not trying to educate you, which would fall decidedly under the category of teaching one’s grandmother to steal sheep. What I hope to do is persuade you that you cannot let this one slip.

The last eight years have been a nightmare for Americans. Your predecessor, George W. Bush, was the worst president this country has ever had. He was, in fact, an utter imbecile, and in a just world he would have spent his life being displayed for money in street fairs, rather than taking the reins as leader of the most powerful nation on Earth. I have seen lab rats that were more competent at finding cheese in a maze whilst under the effects of psychotropic drugs than George W. Bush was at being president.

You know it, I know it, Joe Biden knows it, Joe the Plumber knows it, Simon Cowell’s personal assistant knows it, the guy who sells tractor tires out of the back of his F-150 in the parking lot of the Flying J Truckstop outside of Preacher’s Corners, Nebraska knows it. Small children playing football with a half-deflated soccerball in the narrow byways of the favelas of Rio know it. People in the village where your father came from, in Kenya, know it. Emperor penguins, floating on rapidly shrinking bits of ice in the rapidly warming waters of the Antarctic, know who is responsible for their fate and curse his name and his vicious redneck ways in their clacking language. The entire world knows that George W. Bush is, for lack of a better description, teh suck.

This is not merely because he was a stupid, venal, incompetent man. It’s not just because his idea of diplomacy looked like a bunch of beer-drunk rednecks trying to pick a fight outside a strip club in the suburbs of Houston. Nor is it simply because his handling of American economic policy showed the same level of financial responsibility, long-term planning and understanding of the larger market issues that you might have gotten from, say, a half-dead wolverine that had been nailed to the corpse of Kenneth Lay and propped up at a shareholder’s meeting, Weekend At Bernie’s-style.

These are all, certainly, mitigating factors. But the worst — the very worst — thing about George W. Bush was that he seemed to regard the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as only being useful when the White House staff forgot to supply the West Wing with toilet paper.

But in our darkest hour — when it seemed like that semi-literate jugheaded cracker was never going to quit lighting firecrackers under the feet of Lady Liberty — you came along, President Obama.

I don’t know if I can make you understand the real despair that I’ve felt, looking at America for the past eight years. It is not theoretical despair, it is not an intellectual exercise. I have wept, at times, at the indignities and atrocities perpetrated by the Bush administration in the name of the American people, of which I am one. I have been ashamed and I have been angry and I have been held powerless to do anything other than shout into the wind…which I have done, long and loud, though I doubt I’ll ever know if it did any good at all.

You, Mr. President, are a beacon of hope for people like me: people who believe in America but despise what has been done in her name; who believe that, for all their flaws, our founding fathers, the framers of the Constitution, genuinely wanted to build a country whose entire raison d’etre was the idea that humans could throw off the heavy weight of history and teach themselves to be free. You are a beacon because I believe, like so many of my friends and family and fellow countrymen, that you believe this too.

And because of this, I beg of you: do not let this decision stand. Do not begin your presidency by following in your predecessor’s footsteps. You have in so many other ways and so very quickly already begun the work of undoing his bad and shameful acts. Undo this one.

If you look through the preamble to the Constitution — surely one of the most remarkable ideas ever put to paper by our species — you will find a good deal of talk about liberty and freedom and the rights of the people. You will find nothing at all about trading those rights and freedoms and liberty for any measure of security. Nowhere does it say that Americans should or will forgo their right to due process because they are afraid of being attacked by outside forces.

In times like these it is hard to know what is right, when we are afraid for ourselves and our families and our people. This is not our first crisis, and it will not be our last. In such times, when looking for guidance, we have that Constitution to serve us. It is part of the oath you took last week to defend the Constitution, by which is meant that you ought to defend the rights and responsibilities that the Constitution places upon every man, woman and child in this nation. All other considerations — economic, security — are secondary.

Is this case a small thing, in the grand scheme of things? Perhaps. But it is no less worthy of your full consideration because of that. Small decisions have large consequences: the decisions you make now, in your first days as leader of this nation, provide precedence not only for your own term of office, but for generations to come.

And so I ask you, Mr. President, to re-consider your decision on this matter, to weigh the full facts, and to make your decision with the same great commitment to the Constitution and transparency in government that you have already shown in such a short time. It is the right and honorable thing to do; and right now, our nation needs her ragged honor more than anything else. To paraphrase a great writer: be one of the good guys, Mr. President, because there’s way too many of the bad.

I believe in you, and trust that you will do the right thing.

I hope this letter finds you well, and bearing up under the heavy pressures of your new job. Like all Americans, I sometimes believe I could do your job better than any of the men who have done it before; like most Americans, I have neither the strength of will nor the capability to ever find out.

Cheers, Joshua Ellis

(A copy of this has been posted to my website, http://www.zenarchery.com.)

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0 Responses to An Open Letter To President Obama

  1. The Intern says:

    Very well done, Mr. Ellis. I hope your letter gains some much needed attention on the desk of the President.

    Cheers!

  2. monica says:

    This reminds me of that guy who used to write for City Life.

    What ever happened to him?

  3. I PERSONALLY AM AMAZED ABOUT THE TAXPAYER MONEY SPENT EVERY YEAR FOR ILLEGAL MEXICANS,(346 BILLION ),DOLLARS A YEAR WHEN WE COULD SPEND 4 BILLION FOR FOUR YEARS AND SEND THEM BACK TO MEXICO.!!!!!!!! THEY ,ALONG WITH THE KENNEDYS,KERRYS,KYLES,AND PELOSI HAVE RUINED AMERICA WHILE THE MEXICANS ,DONT PAY TAXES,(ILLEGALS),LIVE AND DRIVE HERE ILLEGALY,WHILE AMERICAN CITIZENS HAVE TO OBEY THE LAW WHILE GANG MEMBERS AND ICE,THAT ALONG WITH CONGRESS,ARE THE BIGGEST JOKE IN THE LAST 20 YEARS IN AMERICA. SEND THE ILLEGALS BACK TO MEXICO ALONG WITH THEIR CHILDREN,BRING THE TROOPS HOME TO ARM AND GUARD THE BORDER,THERE WILL BE NO HARDSHIPS BECAUSE AMERICAN TROOPS WILL BE CLOSE TO THEIR FAMILIES AND THE MEXICANS WILL BE CLOSE TO THEIR FAMILES IN MEXICO.!!!!!!!!!!!!!LET THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN.!!!!!!!!!!LETS MAKE AMERICA ,AMERICA AGAIN.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Joshua Ellis says:

    And yet, many illegal immigrants have learned not to use the CAPS LOCK key when they type.

  5. Billy Kess says:

    I totally agree about the illegal alien situation, but don’t look to the messiah in chief for any help with that. He’ll be just as helpful as Bush was.

    However, shutting down Gitmo isn’t too bright, either. After 62 of the suspects we released have already gone back to plotting terror attacks against the USA – you would think Obama would take that into consideration.

    He just passed the biggest pork barrel spending bill in American history. Yeah… millions of dollars to put towards food stamps – can anyone tell me how that’s going to create jobs?

    $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts – wow… can anyone tell me how that’s going to revive the economy? Some incompetant moron who’s going to put a cross into a bucket of urine and call it art – is that going to help the economy?

    30% of this bill is nothing but earmarks. And Obama promised no earmarks! That’s one of his first significant LIES. Oh, and I will be documenting all of his lies.

    So let’s see… 6 executive orders, the passing of the biggest waste of money bill ever, coddling to the Arab world, inciting the leader of Iran… all in his first 10 days. Wow.

    If this continues, Obama will take Carter’s place as the worst President this nation ever had.

    In fact, the wiretapping is probably the only thing I probably agree with him about. After all, it’s tapping into conversations of TERROR SUSPECTS. If you’re not a plotting to plant a bomb in some kindergarten class or shopping mall or airport lounge, you have nothing to worry about.

    I’m still waiting for one person to show me one solid example of how their personal freedoms were taken away under Bush. Just one person. One example. Just one.

    Obama is taking us back to the pre-9/11 days when Bill Clinton demanded that these terrorists be taken in to court rooms and tried as criminals instead of taking them out with force on sight – the way it needs to be done.

    The 1993 bombing of the WTC, the USS COLE, The US Embassies in Africa, etc etc… all while Bubba was going after these guys as if they were bank robbers or something – instead of getting serious.

    When the sequal to 9/11 comes to a theater near you, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    And yes, it will be Obama’s fault!

    Billy Kess

  6. EXCUUUUUSE ME ,IM NOT A SECERATARY,I DONT SIT IN AN OFFICE ,BEHIND A COMPUTER ALL DAY,I WORK FOR A LIVING .THANK GOD I STILL HAVE A JOB ,AS A HEAD ELECTRICIAN! it got your attention,take care ,GOD BLESS don

  7. TM says:

    Billy Kess, you’re the man!

    Right on the money!

  8. bakeem says:

    Really Josh, you write an intelligent, impassioned and just fuck all dead-right letter, post it to your blog and these comments are what you get. You’re like the blind dude in roadhouse. For the gentleman (ape hanger) who wanted one example of a person whose freedom was taken away I have two words. Jose Padia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JoséPadilla(alleged_terrorist).

    That case was so shoddy even China was laughing at us for his weak ass conviction. It was pathetic. And I am not wearing a Free Padia shirt, I think he is an idiot and possibly a criminal, but the way he was treated was something form the middle ages and is far beneath the dignity and honor of our legal system, which until GWB came into office was the envy of the world. THOSE ARE THE FREEDOMS OF OURS THAT WERE THE ENVY OF THE WORLD, dumb ass.

    Osama Bin Laden only wanted one thing to make us fight in Afghanistan until we bled dry like the Russians. What he could have never hoped for in his wildest virgin filled fever dreams was that we would light our own constitution and bill of rights on fire to light our tiny villages at night because we were afraid of our own shadows.

    And as far as the policing of terrorist as oppose to the two fisted bunker busting freedumb fighting world tour we have engaged in for the past 8 years, compare that to Indonesia’s Anti Terrorism success story, and ask yourself, do we have less guns, and missiles and bombs than Indonesia? Less capable soldiers? No, we do though have a stupid way of approaching a problem that will never totally go away. Terrorist are a lot like roaches. You clean up, you fumigate, you do it again next month. You do not burn down the neighborhood. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2007/07/11/indonesia039s-antiterrorism-struggle.html-0

    Idiot. And Mr McClintock: it is called caps lock. It is not on all of the fancy gold plated keyboards they are handing out to oil company executives, it is on all our keyboards. Fucking use it. Please.

  9. bakeem says:

    And Josh, keep on preaching brotha man. Maybe if we yell loud enough God’ll hear us down here.

  10. Billy Kess says:

    Yep… let’s go backwards and do it the liberal way. The way Clinton tried it.

    USS COLE, World Trade Center 1993, US Embassies… oh nevermind!

    Mobs in Tehran were burning the American Flag the other day along with photos of Obama. Yes. They were burning photos of Obama. You would have to look hard to find that in the mainstream media, though. Of course, when it was Bush’s photo they were burning, it made front page on the NY Times.

    Another thing you have to look hard for is the new bill being introduced by some Dem congressman in Florida that calls for “emergency camps” to be set up around the USA to round up civilians “just in case”.

    Sounds to me like Nazi Germany.

    The bill also gives the President the authority to declare an emergency and take over the direction of all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments without even consulting Congress.

    Look it up.

    “QUOTE: Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., has introduced to the House of Representatives a new bill, H.R. 645, calling for the secretary of homeland security to establish no fewer than six national emergency centers for corralling civilians on military installations.

    The proposed bill, which has received little mainstream media attention, appears designed to create the type of detention center that those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs fear could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany. UNQUOTE”

    And it’s just so weird that the liberals who were ranting and raving over things like wiretapping – are so strangely silent about this… which really is much, much, MUCH worse as far as eroding constitutional rights.

    Camps, huh?

    Get those camps ready just in case those citizens get out of line.

    This is scary.

    If there was a Republican in the White House as this bill was being introduced, you liberals would be screaming holy hell.

    Not to veer off subject here, but did anyone catch Obama’s pre-superbowl interview with Matt Lauer when he made fun of Jessica Simpson’s weight?

    Man, what kind of a president says things like that? How classless. How tacky. Like an immature, sweaty jock in the Junior High cafeteria making fun of the fat kid. How pathetic.

    Yep, those Islamic terrorists are going to suddenly stop wanting to kill us now that Obama’s in charge. Just go up to any Islamic terrorist and ask them how they feel about Obama’s liberal policies on abortion and homosexuals.

    Oh, they’re just going to love us now.

  11. Billy Kess says:

    By the way… funny how Obama turns his attention from the war on terror to his war on Rush Limbaugh. Just shows you where his priorities are. He’s so vein. Can’t take criticism. Boy, if he’s getting this bent out of shape already, he’s got a looooong road ahead of him! LOL

    I mean, for 8 years Bush and company were attacked from all angles and he took it like a man. He smiled and let it roll off his back. Obama and his koolaid drinkers on the other hand, are acting like little babies who just got their candy taken away.

    The same people who were shouting about the right to voice dissent against our leadership when Bush was in charge are the same people who would love to see Limbaugh taken off the air.

    Can you say Hip-O-Krits?

  12. Billy Kess says:

    sorry to keep posting – this will be my last… I just wanted to post this link because i found it to be interesting that a Bush critic also made light of this new bill. He talks about how Bush supposedly eroded a lot of our freedoms, but he also talks about this new bill.

    seems a change of presidents doesn’t really do much difference.

    And again, this is being introduced by a Democrat congressman.

    http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/89251

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