For much of the history of the United States Congress has had sole responsibility and authority over what is called “the power of the purse”, or the power to appropriate and reappropiate funds in the governments coffers. No more. Now, through executive action the current President can reappropiate funds for a major project. The precedent set is astounding.
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We are in a time of great disunity for the country. For the entirety of the world really. We are divided on where it is we as a people of a collective of nations wish to move toward as a commonwealth and brotherhood of peoples. Do we retreat inwardly relying on old and archaic, clothed in the veil of traditional relations between nations mentality? A nativist and isolationist position, rifles readied pointing at the shores of nations who think differently, or people seeking a better life. Or do we shake off the shackles of that age and blaze ahead with a new understanding of our collective humanity, one not rooted in the concept of nations and people, but of a brotherhood, a band of brothers in arms defending mightily the tenets of liberty, democracy and the right to a just life? It is our choice. Though I know, and you know too in your hearts, that united there is much we can do.
The Community & the Police of New York City
By. Raimondo Graziano
New York City struggled for many decades on the issues of crime, poverty, homelessness and lawlessness and in recent years has made significant progress from the help of members of the community, law enforcement and our elected officials. Though too often do we see that the three are very out of touch with one and the other. The needs of the community are not represented by those in office, and those meant to protect and serve their interests are in some cases not reticent or not representative of the values of the community – even in some cases doing more harm than good. This is a terrible disparity that needs to be rectified. The community, our elected officials and law enforcement need to work closer together to rectify the issues that plague our communities. Politicans need to work to address growing inequality, homelessness, affordability in living standards and other issues.
We have seen in recent months increased public transportation enforcement, including arrests some justified and others widlly out of line. What the state needs to understand is that by encouraging further enforcement you are only going to continually criminalize those who are in poverty for not being able to afford a wage which can gain them access to the ever increasing costliness of public transportation. Our politicans are somewhat to blame for this for failing to address rising inequality and a staggering homelessness crisis in the city. Coming down hard on people trying to make a living, such as vendors in the stations, does not increase quality of life for all New Yorkers. It is categorically antithetical to the spirit of the New Yorker.
Likewise, those in the community who are not in law enforcement or who have no family member in law enforcement who may have a certain perception of how law enforcement is has to work to break down their preconceptions as to what it means to be a police officer. By no measure is it a simple career or undertaking. There is a great deal of scrutiny, as their should be, and a great deal of stress involved. That being said – it is not easy being a poor, minority person of color in this city either. There is a prevalent fear that one may be targeted simply based on the color of their skin, and that they are under the suspicion of being guilty until proven innocent. Only when the community and the law enforcement meant to protect them begin to open a more constructive dialogue, and when our politicans start doing their damn jobs are we going to see a change in the hows and whys of this great, sometimes troubled city.
Weep for the Nation
By. Raimondo Graziano
This Monday that just passed, November the 11th 2019, was Veterans Day, for anyone who may not have been aware. It is a day where we honor all veterans of the United States Armed Forces. It is also a day to thank current service members for the important work they do of defending our nation’s shores. Regardless of how anyone may feel about the reasoning behind this country’s military engagements, disparaging those that serve is the lowest, basest most unpatriotic act a citizen not in uniform, not entrenched both figuratively literally on the front lines of honor and duty can commit – treason being the second. There are certain themes within the American body politic that are common to all Americans that go far above partisan divides. Ideals, ideas and a vision that is uniquely American and one that unites us all – whether we choose to see this for what it is or reject it; these ideals are The American Ideals.
We are at a point in our history where as nation we are harshly divided along partisan lines and I often contemplate if not for the rigid social structures and norm that prevail today, would the country have already plunged into desperate and tragic Civil War. Perhaps we have too much lose, or we are too dependent on one another for our continued struggle for survival in an increasingly unequal, inequitable world. Perhaps our reluctant codependency is what has stopped the rifles from unloading. Absent of armed civil strife, one can say confidently the divides along party are tearing this country apart and are seeping into all aspects of American life – from the media, to the companies of the nation, from the White House to the dinner table of your average American family. Perhaps most dangerously are the divides we are begining to see deepen within the Armed forces. Of those both currently serving and those who are the veterans of the country. There are concerted attacks on American institutions such as the courts, the rule of law, and the legislatures by partisan hacks on the domestic front and rogue actors who wish to seek American descend into chaos. The politicization of the historical apolitical institutions which govern the lands norms and customs is a threat to our democracy and to our tenuous unity. The politicization of the Armed forces however – is downright dangerous and could jeopardize the national security of the country, and threaten the stability of the entire globe.
I read a piece recently from the New York Times about division in the country and specifically it spoke of the Presidents recent speech on the 100th New York City Veterans Day parade. The tension was palpable in the crowd of supporters and detractors alike.
Here is an excerpt from the article for context – “Thirty minutes later, as our group waited to enter the parade on 24th Street, I watched a man who said he was a Desert Storm veteran confront two women holding anti-Trump signs. He called them libtards and ungrateful. The women didn’t back down. A man wearing a Vietnam veteran shirt stepped forward to intervene.
“They’re patriots,” he said. “And I agree with them.”
The Desert Storm veteran looked at the other’s shirt. “Where’s your honor?” he asked.
“Honor’s what brought me here today,” the older man said. Then he held up his own anti-Trump sign.
“Same,” said the other man. Then they just kind of stared at each other for a few seconds before turning away.
As we marched up Fifth Avenue, ciphers and proxies for a republic as divided as we are about our elected leader, I thought a lot about those men and about honor, too. I should’ve said something, I thought, to bring them together. It was Veterans Day, after all.”
Truly heartbreaking when one begins to think deeply of how divisive the political climate is today on all fronts. The days ahead for the nation are going to be tried, we are grappling with who and what we want to be. I recall the President speaking briefly on Armistice Day, the name which Veterans Day was prior. Armistice Day was the day when the warring powers of the First World War, then the Great War, laid down their arms to discuss terms of peace. Perhaps this country needs a revival of Armistice Day. When we as a divided people lay down our and end our war of words against one another, end the acts of violence against those of the opposing the side, and sit down and discuss terms of peace to heal this broken country. For if we do not, one should surely weep for the nation, for the Republic.
Political misinformation – a new age of propaganda to sway, cajole and divide the American public.
All Articles Referenced
Americans Trust Local News. That Faith Is Being Exploited. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/31/upshot/fake-local-news.html
Should Facebook Fact-Check Political Speech? https://nyti.ms/2C0in19
Threat to US Elections in 2020 Is Not Limited to Russia https://nyti.ms/2PyrvSH
‘Everything You’re Seeing Is Deception’: How Right-Wing Media Talks About Impeachment https://nyti.ms/2lvlcms