Old Howard Union

80 – Do Nuclear Weapons Serve A Purpose Today?

Nearly seven decades after the ‘bomb’ was dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the specter of nuclear war remains, but the publics eye on the conversation has moved quite dramatically. In recent years, the talk of the dangers of nuclear war have come more boldly into the public discourse, but with the threat of the Cold War, perceivably over, the conversation rather than occurring in the proverbial town square occurs quietly in academic circles. As the West is embroiled in a quiet, lukewarm war do these weapons serve a purpose, and what is that?

Show Notes

  1. The World Can Still Be Destroyed in a Flash, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/06/opinion/hiroshima-anniversary-nuclear-weapons.html
Writing

Piece 66 – Brief Thoughts on Correcting Societal Inequities in America Making America Whole Again By. Raimondo Graziano

Brief Thoughts on Correcting Societal Inequities in America

Making America Whole Again

By. Raimondo Graziano

      The America that we know today is complex. Trying to bridge the deep fissures in the American mind, and reconcile the American failures in leadership both in reference to the state and in regards to a supposed American moral superiority is a large and equally complex task, just as the country itself is. How are we to write these wrongs, how are we to set forth a course of correcting the wrongs of society, our American society to ensure a working and just as well as socially, ethnically, and economically cohesive America that works to the benefit of all people? I will not pretend that it will be a simple answer. Truly it is a very complicated answer that will involve multiple voices from many different walks of life across the country.

     The difficulty surrounding the question itself lies in the very premise of the country itself. We are a nation of immigrants with a multitudinous, rich and diverse culture. This is both a profound strength; and as time has gone on in this country over three centuries has become a point of weakness exploited by opportunists whose aim is to keep us divided and quarantined off into different camps based on race, identity, creed, religion and political beliefs. The overarching aim of any movement for justice and equality amongst the people of this country should be building a shared uniquely American identity. In order to do this we must bring all walks of American life into unison around an American vision for progress, and inclusion that spans across the entire country; a vision that reaches back into the American soul and into the American mind and dissects both the vile ills and the mighty rights. We have to right the wrongs of our past through a broad reaching national conversation on what it means to be an American, what do we the people of the country see as our strengths and our weaknesses. We must combine these efforts with that of a policy agenda aimed at uplifting the American people, strengthening through reform our American institutions, and holding accountable the political and the business class of the country.

   This country is long overdue for a massive overhaul of our entire system of governance, how it is we deal with our history, and what the national interest ought to be moving forward. It is an understatement to say that the country has lost its way – this is no fault of the people. The blame lies at the feet of the incompetence of those in office and those who have served, it lays at the feet of those within the governments civil service whose mismanagement has caused an administrative state absolutely hemorrhaged and no amount of capital thrown at it will rectify it. It lays at the feet of those who have filled the campaign coffers of current and former elected officials and who in turn helped to stack the administrative state with stooges for a business and lobbyist class with one aim alone – profit over people.

Writing

Piece 65 – Congresses Stunning Apathy By. Raimondo Graziano

Congresses Stunning Apathy

By. Raimondo Graziano

     As of the writing of this piece, Congress has allowed nearly a week to elapse since federal unemployment assistance ended. This has thrown many millions of Americans into a precarious situation in which they are faced with the prospect of economic uncertainty – meaning an inability to pay for bills, rent, and essential expenses for living and caring for ones family. The apathy of Congress directed at the American people is appalling. Putting aside for a moment that the Senate decided toward the end of May to take a nearly two month recess, and is again preparing to do so – both the House & the Senate had more than enough time to come together to work on the details of a short-term measure to address two things, both of which the White House backed – extending unemployment benefits and direct stimulus payments to the American people. While many Republicans were willing to back this, Democrats pushed back arguing for the need for a complete recovery package. The political games being played out in Washington must stop as they are coming at the expense of the American people.

     The assertion that two bills whose difference in funding measures nearly two trillion dollars, could be negotiated within a weeks time upon the return of the Senate is not wishful thinking – it is pure political opportunism. While the Democrats attempt to make the Republicans seem like uncaring and detached elites, the Democrats act no better by employing moral and legislative purism through their refusal to even consider a short term bill aimed at only helping the American people. If the Democrats wanted to help the American people, they would take the opportunity to hammer out a deal which addresses the most immediate and impactful needs of the public. The people of this country need direct aid now. While the Republican bill falls far short of what is needed regarding the broad strokes of a proper recovery, a proper negotiation can be had once the needs of the American people are directly addressed – that means money in the pockets of the people now.

     It truly baffles the mind that such a moment has been allowed to occur by our elected officials. There was ample time, the House Democrats passed a bill in May regarding recovery. That showed the due diligence of the House’s response to the crisis. That Republicans took nearly two months to propose a counter is a stunning display of governmental negligence. Two months of potential negotiations between the House, the Senate and the White House were lost because of the Senates choice to take a ridiculous and unprecedented recess during the height of a crisis we have experienced in nearly ninety years. Two months, tens of thousands of lives lost, and millions facing eviction and an inability to provide for their family, and thus slowing the economic recovery in the long term all because the Senate took a recess and refused to work with House Democrats on a counter-proposal which could have landed on the Presidents desk.

     And here we are. At this unprecedented moment in American history. There will be hell to pay for the inaction of the Senate Republicans in the afterward of the passing of the HEROES Act. Just as there will be hell to pay for the grandstanding of the House Democrats in their refusal to consider a short-term recovery bill. The cavern between the House & Senate proposals is wide and deep, and politically fueled – what’s not is the needs of the American people; cash in hand to survive in the immediate. Make no mistake – there will be hell to pay for the apathy displayed by 116th Congress, perhaps one of the most consequential, morally bankrupt and politically motivated Congresses in the history of our country. The road forward is clear – enough negotiations. Put forward the plan for extended unemployment benefits, direct stimulus payments and cancel all further recesses of Congress until a comprehensive reform and recovery package is brokered by the House and Senate.

Writing

Piece 65 – In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, An Argument for Further Federal Involvement By. Raimondo Graziano

In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union,

                                       An Argument for Further Federal Involvement

By. Raimondo Graziano

The United States is run woefully ineffectively. This is clear to many policy makers from both sides of the political aisle. The current crisis we find ourselves in has only made this all the more clear. The national response has been an utter disaster, and we have left it up to the states, of which there are fifty different ones with differing sets of codes, laws, regulations and governing styles, to deal with a crisis that in reality called for a unified national response.

It is pitiful and frankly pathetic. From the mixed messaging of the federal government to denialism across swaths of the country from public officials. While the rest of the world seems to be getting a handle of things, we lead the world in pure ineffective governance. It seems like this crisis has worsened and hastened our wholly avoidable decline. While the American people suffer, Congress cannot even reasonably get their act together to pass meaningful stimulus and economic relief – as always leaving matters of grave importance to the very last minute.

One would think that this is an argument for less government involvement. Quite the contrary. We need an overwhelming display of federal oversight. This here is a great lesson for would be statesman of the years to come. If the United States is ever to step into it’s true potential we from time to time must engage the full force of government to tackle threats and circumstances that cannot be managed effectively by essentially fifty different governing bodies.

We have seen glimmers of an executive branch unhinged and exercising the immense powers afforded to it – whether through lack of congressional oversight or the very ceding of power from Congress to the Presidency. We have seen the extraordinary powers of our central bank to bring stability and direction to a faltering economy. We have seen shadows of power used only when the elites of the nation are in peril. We must use these strengths to carry out the will of the people. We must restore decency to Washington and push an agenda to uplift the people, and root out corruption and dereliction of duty wherever it hides. We cannot use the full force, the might of the federal government until we restore decency to Washington. If we are to remain a strong and united country, we must increase the reach of the federal government to answer the increasing frequency or crises.

Writing

Piece 66 – School Choice? An Answer to Our Failing Public Schools By. Raimondo Graziano

School Choice?

An Answer to Our Failing Public Schools

By. Raimondo Graziano

      Like many programs that are run by the government, schooling in this country is woefully a low priority for policy makers from the local to the federal government. Politicians are good at the talk of it all – supporting students, supporting teachers, etc. Though when it comes to enacting meaningful reforms, they fall far too short. It is obvious there is a serious problem with educating in the country – we lag far behind the Western world in educational standards, and our students meeting them. For many decades now the quality of American education has been declining steadily. Our students have been given a raw deal – something has got to give. It is obvious that there are systemic inequities in our nations schooling system; from the way funds are appropriated, to how we evaluate students, and to what is taught not from state to state but from district to district. It is going to take a great deal of political will to tackle the issues surrounding education; teacher pay, quality of education, and the great disparities in the direction of our higher educational institutions.

      But there is something we can do today. What’s spurred my thinking on this is the current debacle Congress has stumbled into in regards to relief bills aimed at direct assistance to millions of American families. Bear with me – I do have a point pertaining to education. They, in their usual fashion, waited to the very last minute to address the concerns facing millions of Americans. Now they have a handful of days to hammer out an agreement between two deeply entrenched political parties, who have wildly differing views on how aid ought to be dispensed. The Senate aims to cap a bill at $1,000,000,000,000. While the House’s starting position is $3,000,000,000,000. A cavern of differences exists. The problems the bills aim to address are far reaching and can effect many facets of American life. But there are portions that overlap – namely the need to extend unemployment benefits and provide direct stimulus payments. Disagreements may exist on amounts, but both sides recognize that action needs to be taken now on this issue. They should address that now. It is the same for education. We can sit and debate about issues we have deep, deep disagreements over but the bottom line is the American people need actionable results now. In that, and I say this as a moderate and a progressive, school choice may be our answer for our children across the country.

      In the interim while Congress works to tackle the greater issues at the heart of our education system, why can we not use the resources afforded to us to give greater power and agency to families across the country, and even here in New York City. Why is it that Democrats are so opposed to school choice? How is the freedom to choose ones school any different from the cities voucher program as it pertains to housing? We give people a voucher which covers the cost, or part of the cost for rent- that way folks can avoid the shelters. The shelters and public schools are run shoddily – why not give more choice to families. Education of our youth is the most important. Parents ought to be able to give their children the best – and whether that is a public school or a private school the state ought to facilitate the greatest most beneficial agreement and policies in the immediate for the sake of our children, while our politicians work out fixing the broader strokes. Action now, broad reforms later. People, and families need action now.