Writing

Piece 51 – The Current State of the American Body Politic By. Raimondo Graziano

The Current State of the American Body Politic

By. Raimondo Graziano

While from my humble station in this life I may not have the great means to illicit a groundswell of change, being that much of the messaging of the day is scripted as is, portrayed as such on the media, and the movements of the day seem to have their leaders, or rather, lack thereof as a deliberate detail of design, I still hold my opinions and beliefs on how the world is today. As an American, I look outward to the world with an inquisitive, often inquisitorial stern eye. I often lay my critiques of foreign governments and foreign nationals pointedly, and have no qualms regarding criticizing others. As an American, regardless of administration, there are certain values, duties, obligations and so forth, that are uniquely American in their character and that each citizen whether they fully understand the nuances of being an American act upon and exemplify. While I may inhabit a very humble position, one quite frankly, at this juncture, I am very grateful for given the partisan nature of our society today, let alone our politics, I still remain unabashedly forthright with my denunciations of the ills committed, and feckless direction with which other nations take their countries in, as if their actions don’t effect the wider world. As if the leadership of the United States, aid in the form of military, economic and humanitarian hasn’t shaped the very foundations of the modern world. Our nation is one that is vigorously lambasted the world over. In spite, of all that it is this country has done.

With the current administration, we as Americans, have been admonished further. While the one man, may not represent the ideals and values that this country has held dearly, we as Americans, are forgetting them while the rest of the world admonishes us for being just like the man who occupies the bully pulpit. We the people, are pushing them, these fundamental values, to the wayside due to a number of reasons. The spineless politicians who represent us, who can’t get a sliver of work done in the slightest, the vast hoarding of great wealth by the captains of industry today, the illusory belief in the strength of our economy peddled by pundits. Americans are struggling to survive, and it is making us angry, violent, demoralized and impoverished; with all these great stressors weighing on the mind of the average American it is no surprise that we as a people cant live up to our highest ideals and speak greatly on what it means to be an American, what it means to be a nation of immigrants united – what that revolutionary concept means for the world. We aren’t taking care of our basic needs, and it is making us consume one another. We are goaded by the media, who seek to divide for profit, goaded by the politicians who entrench themselves in their power by seeking to divide, goaded by the peoples of the world who call us stupid and ignorant despite our exportation of nearly all the good that the world pleasures itself with today from freedom and democracy to television and the very idea of property for the common man. We are goaded by industry, celebrity and influencers who seek to profit off of our anxieties and desire for comfort and peace. We are goaded, nearly daily, by an arrogant, narcissistic President who seeks to enrich himself, and while in one breath does something one could reasonably argue is right, in the other eviscerates any moderate gains made, throwing the country into whiplash.

The American body politic today is broken, and tattered, our unity is held together by a thin thread with the name: Seeking security for our families, trying to survive, grinding, getting bread – in layman’s terms – making money. We have become a slave to it, because with it, is the means to literally survive. The means to be accepted as normal, and one with the crowd. Its not that we want it this way, it’s a flaw of design. Have you seen the way they treat the homeless in the country – men, women, and children, veterans even – who in god’s name wouldn’t sell their soul to earn a dollar, so that they wouldn’t be subjected to the same disgusting treatment that humans are subjected to when they are destitute. For god’s sake, we can’t even open a shelter for these people without the throng of the masses bellowing out “Burn it down”! But no cries of “Burn it down” when the Congress passes tax reform that benefits the wealthiest Americans, no cries of “Burn it down” when the largest companies in the country move overseas to not pay their fair share, no cries of “Burn it down” when children are murdered in schools by madmen disillusioned by society. No, we the American people goaded by everyone choose to eat one another, when in our union together we can build a better world for Americans, by Americans. The American body politics is disgustingly broken, when we can see that we are being played by everyone, who seeks to see us suffer, our families, our values trampled in the mud – when we can see that clear as spring water, then we will all rise up and with a thunderous revolutionary call to arms, we will say as true Americans do, “Burn it down”.

Writing

Piece 50 – The Promise & Perils of New York City By. Raimondo Graziano

The Promise & Perils of New York City

By. Raimondo Graziano

 

New York City is one of the most diverse and wealthy cities in the world. Wealth in it’s people, and their character and the stories they hold. And wealth in the sheer abundance of opportunity and promise it holds. Though here there is wealth, monetary and material wealth which abounds in a great thunderous exchange of goods, services, luxury and great inequality. Great, terrible inequality.

This city has a history of corruption and governmental neglect and negligence at the hands of those the people dually elected. In some cases democracy does not always work to the favor of the people of this city. As rent rises to highs not seen before in this cities history, the wealthy move in and supplant neighborhoods and peoples who have had roots here for generations. Our elected officials do little to nothing to mitigate this. Often they are in the pockets of those they are meant to protect the people from.

Often it is the power of political parties and the monied interests of Wall St. And the Real Estate industry who hold our elected officials hostage with exorbitant campaign contributions. These in the hands of the powerful, the movers of the levers of government though not elected, are a dangerous tool acting as near as can be though skirting the gray moral line that divides contributions and bribes. It is not this city rejects wealth and chastises it. Rather welcome it with open arms. We must take a cautioned, measured and practical approach to the wealth that enters this city uninhibited.

If those that seek to come in look to benefit from the promise this city has, from its story and its trials – then they need to invest in these communities which have been here for generations. That’s individuals and corporations alike! No one ought to get a free ride and welcome mat laid out simply because they have a fat wallet. What message are we then sending our children? The stewards of this city in the years to come? As our mayor returns from his quixotic campaign for the Presidency, as he flies in, and prepares to get back to the job he was elected for let him be reminded of the issues facing this city.

Firstly, a housing crisis in affrodabilty, while countless tens of thousands of New Yorkers remain homeless, and a shelter system that many outright avoid. Secondly, a crisis in our wellbeing and health. I’m talking about the Overdose Crisis, where we have lost thousands of New Yorkers to a preventable overdose and countless more the horrors of addiction and the stigma that comes with it. Thirdly, a mayor who cannot work effectively with his Police Department to ensure that they receive the support they need while at the same time holding them accountable for their actions and in many cases negligence. Fourthly, educational disparities within our school system, disparities in opportunity.

The way we tackle this is not through ending programs for gifted students, but rather expanding access and resources to the people of New York, to those who don’t have access to begin with. To tackle a nuanced problem we needn’t follow the recommendations of the mayors bureaucratic commission, to penalize those who do well, but to gove opportunity to those who haven’t been given the chance to succeed!

Fourthly, the lack of expanded economic opportunities to smaller business which are struggling to compete with larger and often aggressive chains and other corporations. Let’s empower the people, and unleash the untapped potential in many cases lying dormant in this great city. We needn’t demonize corporations but rather, we can say to them – You have had your fill, let the people profit from the well too. We can reward responsible corporate practices, and those which are sustainable and empower workers by encouraging the growth of unions, while scrutinizing those who face no such oversight.

In other words, what this city deserves, what it’s people deserve and what is long overdue is a city government that works for the benefit of the people, responsible progressive and pragmatic governance for the benefit of all New Yorkers, those here for generations and those who seek to plant their roots. We can achieve this together, it is our hope that together this vision for a truly progressive, responsible and action oriented city government can become our reality. That is the hope of this city, that reason and justice, and personal responsibility projected outward can uplift and transform this city into a model for responsibility and duty and honor the world over.

 

Writing

Piece 49 – Damn the Iran Deal, The West Should Not Give An Inch By. Raimondo Graziano

Damn the Iran Deal, The West Should Not Give An Inch

By. Raimondo Graziano

 

The United States has been known from time to time to wage wars based on the premise of regime change. That of toppling governments that do not align with the views of the United States based on the followings premises- antipathy toward democratic values that the West as a whole holds close to its heart, violent and virulent actions taken against the people of whatever nation it may be, and when the national security interests of the United States are jeopardized. In this The United States is acting on the right side of history, not only for it’s own sake but for the sake of the West as a global institution responsible for the longest sustained peace in history, democratization for the vast portions of the people of the world, and for the unleashing of sheer human potential.

As the first among equals, the United States holds the unique responsibility of ensuring peace across the world and the continued dominance of the West as the captain of the ship dubbed human history. With that stewardship comes harsh realities and sometimes even harsher choices. We have had leaders who would defer these responsibilities and we have had leaders who have stepped up. We have had leaders that have done both at the same time. In some cases their decisions have been for the better and others for the worse, far worse. Perhaps the harshest lesson we can learn from history is that appeasement in the face of a belligerent, anti-democratic actor can lead to utter catastrophe. I need only say Neville Chamberlain, our good friend from across the Atlantic, who spoke of “peace for our time” referring of course to the chancellor in Germany, Adolf Hitler. Appeasement is the way forward for those who haven’t the stomach for the necessary task of confronting aggression wherever it may be coming from.

Whether they are motivated by domestic politics, the specter of reelection, or simply fixated on legacy building. Who doesn’t like the still quiet of peace? It is something that everyone can readily get behind. However, peace at any cost is never the answer. Today we face a similar threat, though perhaps we wouldn’t like to admit it. Iran is a rogue actor in the Middle East and has funded numerous terrorist organizations throughout the region and around the world, they have leadership both within their armed forces and politically that speak enthusiastically about the demise of Israel and the West. They threaten and intimidate Europe with their medium and short range missiles, saying they can increase their ranges to put the whole of Europe at risk. They have been accused, with evidence of pursuing nuclear weapons and with their coziness to rogue organizations, this is recipe for calamity. It is probable that they have attacked oil refineries in the region, they have seized a British tanker and have refused to let it go, while the British have released their own, which was seized in the first place for violating sanctions rightfully slapped on them.

The JCPOA or the Iran Deal as it is referred to was a hardly fought diplomatic effort which in the end did not guarantee that the nation would not seek nuclear weapons, nor was their any provisions regaridng their human rights abuses or their funding of extremist groups – it simply put a cap for a number of years, and in return sanctions were lifted and their capital frozen from the sanctions, measuring in the hundred billion dollar range was released to them. Not to mention no addressing of the short range or medium range ballistic missiles. All in all it punted the issue down the road for some other administration to deal with while our esteemed politicans had praise heaped on them by the mainstream media for their efforts at securing peace. This was not peace, this was appeasement. Now the current administration has pulled out from the deal, rightfully. Iran has begun enrichment once more and has stepped up their dangerous and reckless behavior in the region once more using the Strait of Hormuz, where a large portion of the worlds oil supply moves through, hostage – using it as a bargaining chip or an overt threat more aptly put. They have effectively signaled their unwillingness to comply with the accord, and they stick to it in nothing but ink on paper. Lest they forget that the deal has other signatories, they care not for the deal or they would adhere to it regardless of the United States’ involvement.

The harshness of sanctions is the right path forward, a pressure campaign meant to cripple their capabilities to continue to sow discord throughout the world. Their behavior cannot go unchecked and it is the United States who has the heavy burden of leveling these actions, holding them accountable. This will give the United States no great honor or accolades from the international community nor support from our European allies who are poised to lose the most should Iran continue its belligerence. They would rather appease further and undermine the United States and its diplomatic efforts. Sanctions may be a harsh tool, but they are a diplomatic tool, a bludgeon, nonetheless. France today is offering an aid package to Iran to account for the lost revenue from oil Iran has suffered because of the sanctions. The aid package would effectively blunt the blows The United States needs to deliver to secure true and lasting peace. France, thinking itself the steward of the European Union, seeks to go the route of appeasement, just as Chamberlain, another steward of Europe, did nearly eighty one years ago. Less than one year later, the world was plunged in darkness. Damn the Iran Deal, let it whither and die the rightful death it deserves, the West should not give one single inch.

Writing

Piece 47 – Compromise & Good Governance By. Raimondo Graziano

Compromise & Good Governance
By. Raimondo Graziano
   Something that is sorely lacking within governance today is really quite simple. It is goodness. Good governance is practically non existent in the Halls of Congress. Taken further we can say the same for local governance as well. There is a hemorrhaging of decency within government. The work of the people, passing legislation on a bipartisan basis is a reach and no longer within our grasp. The force of the two major parties in the country, and their funders and bureaucratic underlings has helped to push the nation into an ideological divide in an attempt by both parties to further polarize the country. The media is at fault here as well – there is no truth, or objectivity, or fairness in media any longer. And if there is, we can seldom distinguish between pieces which have the public good at heart and those which only seek to push an ideologically motivated agenda.

Ideology is not something that needs to fundamentally cripple the working capacity of a country, it can be a force for tremendous good. So long as that ideology does not inherently pit one portion of the nation against another, or one class or race against the other. Our fundamentally American ideals and ideological leanings are what can guide us together in the promise of greater unity. Our ability to work across racial and class lines to come together in pursuit of common ground, our tenacity and our spirit of revolution is what can bring us together in forging a stronger more coherent national identity and foster the demand for good governance.

Governing based on truth, and the needs of our most depressed communities and a unity in the common hope of the American dream revitalized for a new generation of Americans. We cannot allow political parties, corporations, or ideologically motivated politicians or foreign governments to chip away at our common identity as Americans. We can demand better, and work to elect officials that will both aspire to the greatest of ambitions and work for effective change that we can truly see and feel. Compromise is not a sign of weakness or moral ambiguity – it is a telltale sign of a true statesmen. One who does not bend to demands, but works to achieve equitable reforms and stands firm in their virtues and beliefs and above all – embodies the ideas and ideology of the American Ideal.

Film

Film – Edwin’s Gambit

The small film can be found here

Edwin Hubble greatly expanded our view of the cosmos, bringing into the forefront the idea that our universe extended far beyond our own galaxy. In that instance our world got ever so smaller. His gambit, though perhaps not known to him, was the hope that by making our world smaller we as a collective of people, humans, would grow more unified – united together in our humanity. Have we humbled ourselves in our understanding of our place in the cosmos? Or have we simply continued along on the same course, destined for ruin?


Score
Arvo Part – Tabula Rasa, I
Philip Glass Dance III, & VIII