Writing

Piece 54 – The Presidency Unhinged By. Raimondo Graziano

                                                         The Presidency Unhinged

                                                           By. Raimondo Graziano

            The American Presidency occupies but only a small portion of the Constitution, the strong yet oft tested guardrails of our republican democracy. The executive has over many decades and nearing three centuries now gradually expanded its powers, authority, reach, and influence. Many presidents have used the executive branch to propel their agenda forward, cement their legacy and undermine the other branches of government meant to be coequal in their distribution of power and authority.

            From Andrew Jackson to Franklin Roosevelt and to Donald J. Trump, those at the helm of American democracy have steadily expanded the ‘imperial authority of the Presidency.’ As we venture further into the next century and as partisan divisions grow ever entrenched, the dangers that are posed by a Presidency unhinged, unrestricted in the exercise of its perceived and unspoken powers, grows ever stronger. With each passing day of apathy from the American public and dereliction of duty by the Congress and the threats of partisanship within our courts, we teeter closer toward elected dictatorship.

            The influence of the two parties within the country have helped to elevate their standard bearers, their leaders of the party, to a powerful evocative symbol – a dangerous symbol. A unflinching loyalty to not a man, but to an idea. The man as an idea. But the inherent danger is to, in our blind pursuit of personal and ideological agendas, elevate dangerous demagogic figures with their own personal agendas to the heights of power, because we believe they represent more than simply the man. We are allowing the festering of an unhinged Presidency disseminate amongst us.

            In short – we forgive the once unforgivable, we accept the once unacceptable, we endorse the once impeachable. In short, we have given the Presidency, and the man who occupies its office, an endorsement to pursue an agenda at any cost. Today it is the Republicans, tomorrow perhaps the Democrats. Though the day after? Perhaps Julius Caesar himself, seizing the authority of Rome and ceding its powers to one man veiled with the veneer of a populist fury, promising to liberate the people. In our continued longing for a savior, we will bring about the degradation of our liberties and the utter dismantling and destruction of our democracy.

Film

Film – A Portrait of Nature

The small film can be found here, be sure to follow for continued updates!


The politicians of the world, our elected representatives, our dually appointed ministers, cabinet officials, secretaries and the rest of the ruling, political elites of the world have let the people down. They have stained the high ideals of their office. They have pillaged the coffers rightfully belonging to the people. They have lined their pockets. They have enriched themselves while the rest of us starve and yearn for a meal, or a place to sleep for the night. They sign accords, and laud their great accomplishments. But they have done little. This is not a portrait of nature. But of nature deformed, unfinished, and grotesque. We have allowed this to happen. Perhaps the day will come when we will say, no more. No more. No more.
Score
Philip Glass Etude No. 12
Writing

Piece 53 – A Condemnation of Congress By. Raimondo Graziano

                                                     A Condemnation of Congress

                                                        By. Raimondo Graziano

            If there is any American institution which stokes ire and contempt from the public it is Congress. Congress has become a woefully partisan gymnasium, full of hacks and political lackeys for their respective parties and interests as well as lobbying groups and a whole cacophony of dirty phony patriots, apologists and agitators of the highest order. These representatives that we have put into office are beholden not to the voters but to those who cut the checks that line their pockets, and fill their campaign coffers. It goes without mentioning that Congress rarely passes pieces of legislation that have any major bearing to what it is the American public is seeking. The American public longs for systematic institutional change to address the harrowing issues that they face. They mask themselves in a facetious love of the country, yet they do nothing for the people and the nation that afforded them the highest opportunity to serve the public. They serve themselves.

            This deformation of patriotism, this false love of country is borderline treasonous, and most certainly negligent and a dereliction of duty. They are ardent apologists for themselves, blaming their inability to do what is right on obstruction that they themselves have caused. They are hacks and lackeys because they perpetuate lies, and they peddle talking points fed to them by their national committees, and of course the special interests and lobbying firms that feed to them the policies that they know little to nothing about. They are bought and paid for by both foreign and domestic entities all with competing interests – none of them, the interest of the American people.

            They serve themselves, enrich themselves and blame the constituency for not being informed about the issues, they blame everyone but themselves. Their hubris and their blatant malice towards the American people is dually noted in the hearts and minds of many. It reflects in the discourse, and the American people know that those whom they send to Washington on the taxpayer’s dime, are frauds – they feel as though they have no true power or say in the political process. And of course, they don’t – Republicans work to suppress the vote, disenfranchising millions from voicing their truths, and Democrats work to suppress dissenting opinion, they suppress anything that works to move them closer to a progressive stance. In truth – Republicans and Democrats alike are cut from the same political cloth soaked in blood, a disengaged, out of touch political class of elites licking the boots of industry and anyone or anything which can keep them clothed in the black sackcloth that is American power.

            Congress has routinely failed to live up to its constitutional duties to serve, protect and defend the American public – let alone our founding documents, and our guiding principles. To the congress, these things are simply trivialities, things to be referred to rhetorically, or used as a nod to principles which they lack wholeheartedly. Governing is the duty bestowed upon these men and women, and they skirt this moral responsibility habitually. Why not, when accountability is neither an issue nor a concern – when the media on either side bolsters the arguments of these bonafide talking heads who perpetuate falsity, after falsity and continually undermine the American people. It is a vast understatement to say that reforms are needed – to campaign finance, to term limits, in regards to accountability and in regards to very premise and foundations of what it means to be a member of what is meant to the greatest deliberative body in the world.

            The corruption and rot within the hallowed halls of Congress runs deep, and if the American public does not wake up to the siege laid upon them then The United States of America will befall the same fate as the Roman Republic. In these times of trials and tribulations and with no stern captain at the helm of our democracy, of our republic, with no statesmen left and with no leaders to lead it is up to the people to keep their republic, it is up to the people to shake the shackles of corporate oligarchy that besets this country, it is up to the people to refresh the tree of liberty for all Americans. It is, and shall always be, up to the people. One can only hope, that the fickle hand of fate is on our side.

Writing

Piece 52 – Trumpian Foreign Policy

Trumpian Foreign Policy
By. Raimondo Graziano

The last few years of American foreign policy have been astoundingly dismal. In truth, the rot within the American diplomatic corps, the policies that have been put forth by the intelligentsia of the United States have been guided by faulty premises, a lack of a coherent national vision and have been held hostage by the whims of the ever changing administrations that occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – these failures in American leadership have been piling up for decades. Those at the top, have a vague understanding of what the national interest ought to be. They are guided by misjudgments, corruption and a lack of direction.

The same can be said of the President today. While the man, and unlike other administrations who’ve worked collaboratively on policy, dictates his policies to be enacted in what seems to be a whimsical manner – he still touches upon issues which are relevant, and perhaps have been pushed to the wayside by the mainstay politicians of Washington. From immigration reform, to the depleted nature of our nation’s military, then on to Washington’s corruption and the reluctance of our allies to share the load in regards to the maintenance of the international order. Yet when he goes about pursuing his talking points and turning them into policy, often there is a divide between results and rhetoric.

There is a propensity to pursue an independent American foreign policy, pushing aside our allies and the decades of built up relationship building. While a strong rhetoric is something to be admired, especially in a world marked by consistent challenges to the order we have established. Then there is the insistence on following through on campaign promises, even when the national security and national interests of the country might be threatened. What is most glaring is the withdrawals of troops throughout the Middle East; which leaves room for other nations – Iran, Turkey, Russia and other non-state actors to fill the gap in American leadership. The pulling back from multilateral agreements which the President argues undermine American sovereignty and self-determination has not always been the right course. The critiques leveled at Iran and the deal struck just four years ago are valid. The agreement did push the issues down the road, and did not address the missile capabilities of Iran. While with the trade agreement struck between the United Stated and the Pacific nations would’ve been a boon to the country in combating China.

The President may touch upon the surface issues, on the pulse so to speak of the times; but the nuance and complexity of the issues, the need to rope together differing alliances and competing interests to pursue grand strategy is lost on this administration. The opportunity to boldly lead in tackling corruption, holding our allies accountable, and standing up to the worse rogues that plague this world is there. But in many ways, the administration is guided by the impulses of a man, who is guided by conflicting personal interests and a pride unlike no other. In the end, in this era of Trumpian policy, the people are yet again let down. Perhaps in the years to come, the revolutionary ideas of the Presidents brand of politics will translate into something truly transformative and bring about top down change, and sweep away the ever-rising tide of apathy, corruption and dereliction of duty. But for now, the same old persists under the veneer of change, under the guise of bringing America back to greatness.

Film

Film – To Work In The City no. 3

The small film can be found here, be sure to follow for continued updates!


 

Hard work – what does it mean? It’s a phrase we throw around often, perhaps haphazardly without recognizing the deep meaning behind the very simple phrase. What is hard work? What does it mean? When a person does that which is difficult, without complaint, when they get up in the morning and lift themselves from bootstraps facing insurmountable odds for a higher cause – be it their communal values, or their families, or to secure a better tomorrow for themselves. Hard work is a value which we extol often, but we often lay the wreath at the feet of those who are undeserving. Remember the mothers or fathers married or otherwise , doing the hard work of raising a family, remember the workers, native or migrant in the factories or mills, in the mines or in the fields. Remember the servers, in the bars, restaurants and diners at odd hours of the night, remember the soldiers serving overseas defending our shores. Remember those who are doing the hard work of keeping the nation moving, keeping the wheels going, keeping hope, duty, values and meaning alive.

 

Score
William Tell Overture
And She Was, Carlos Cipa (Classical)