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 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.

Writing

Piece 63 – Invest In Our Communities Across The Country; Why We Need A Major Investment in Americans By. Raimondo Graziano

Invest In Our Communities Across The Country

Why We Need A Major Investment in Americans

By. Raimondo Graziano

     It is no major understatement to say that the American family needs a foundational restructuring. The American family is struggling and is under immense strain from numerous differing directions. We need a major investment in the American family, and in our communities across the country. I am not simply talking about an economic investment, this approach needs to be many pronged. There are numerous fronts in this great war to reclaim and reforge a truly unique American identity, and a uniquely American community. There are many strains on the American family, financially, morally, and as a unit itself. If the country is to survive we need to begin to place a greater emphasis on the American family and of community if we are to build strong bonds that help to propel us forward, we need to create a sense of community that transcends ethnic, and nationalistic feelings of patriotism. We must work to create a sense of patriotism rooted in an ideal and an idea. There are many fronts in this war – it begins with our communities, and it begins with our families.

      Too often we heap a great deal of responsibility on the American family to take on so much, with so little resources at hand. Now during these times of crisis, and the continuing ensuing economic uncertainty, American communities and families are under enormous pressure. This week Congress meets to try and work out a deal for additional economic relief to American families and states across the country. This week extended unemployment benefits expires for every American family that is receiving them. If taken away, this will throw American families into a harsh economic reality. These benefits are but a temporary reprieve and another shoddy attempt by Congress to provide relief. It is nothing but a side project for Congress.

    If they were interested in propping up American communities and the American family, then they would not have taken a recess for nearly a month, only to meet a week before millions of family are thrown into complete uncertainty. While Congress bickers and takes in their salaries, unabated, Americans are deeply struggling. People cant find work, cannot give their children an education and cannot put food on the table, pay bills, and so much more. Americans deserve so much more. So much more from their country, and so much more from their elected officials. We must begin to invest in our communities, we can no longer settle with half-measures. We must work for the empowerment of the American family – economically, internally, and in all other spheres of influence.

Writing

Piece 62 – Monuments of Our History, What to Do? By. Raimondo Graziano

Monuments of Our History, What to Do?

By. Raimondo Graziano

      In the wake of recent unrest that has swept the nation a question has arisen as to the importance, relevance and the very existence of our national monuments, and of the question of monuments to the confederacy. In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd a whirlwind of anger, pent up after months of isolation and distance from others, with only our thoughts and introspection to temper our troubled minds, a tempest of anger and vitriol has washed over the nation and has become a turning point, becoming so much more than the man. In just over a month, a nation has become gripped in unrest across the country – from protests to demonstrations, to riots and looting – the country is experiencing an unraveling. We have seen the deployment of federal troops to cities across the country, we have seen the national guard descend upon Washington, and we have seen a backlash to the police forces that riddle the country. In short we have seen a moment of reckoning in motion. A nation questioning itself, questioning who we are as a country, and perhaps violently reacting to the truth of some of the harsh realities of existing in this country today. A virulent backlash to a history which we are beginning to reckon with, a history that is not entirely as picturesque as our collective upbringing would have us believe.

    We have to walk a fine line between admonishing our history for its wrongs, and praising it and singing of its glory with abandon. If we are going to work to reconcile the wrongs of our past, we cannot actively work to foment its erasure. We must firstly understand our history, and recognize the inherent flawed nature of the world and the men who helped to forge it. There is a major difference however in the erection of a statue of Washington and the erection of a statue of Davis. One is an American, the father of the nation, who yes, was a slave owner. We all today can be in agreement that the institution of slavery is an abhorrent wrong.

     However, the ideals that Washington represented transcend the truth of the man, Washington is our history. To begin to construct a nation of liberty for all, takes generations. And the fullest liberation of a people takes time. Washington in his ideals reflected this, though the reality of his day, fought against it. Washington said “As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” On the other hand, the other is a portrait of racism and a picture of an American cancer, that of the treasonous Confederacy. A collection of states which severed its ties to the union in order to preserve the institution of slavery. At that moment they forfeited their rights as Americans. They choose enslavement and misery, over the promise of a higher ideal. The ideals of Davis highlight the moral bankruptcy of the man, Davis is the antithesis of what this country idealistically represents. The truth of Davis is he did not strive for a higher ideal, he settled for the abhorrence of slavery and justified it. To quote Davis “My own convictions as to negro slavery are strong. You cannot transform the negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables them to be.”

     There is credence in tearing down the monuments erected in commemoration of the Confederacy. They are monuments to rebellion, to treason and to the institution of slavery. The confederacy is indeed apart of American history – as a combatant, a separatist breakaway nation deserving of no grand adulation. It is a lesson to be learned from, in right and wrong. The moral and immoral. Our mistake has been allowing the glorification of the Confederacy for nearly a one hundred years. In short – Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt. These are men of this country. Where they flawed? Yes, as you and I are. But where they empathically for the progress towards our highest ideals, the highest ideals of this country? Absolutely. The same cannot be said of the Confederacy. Down with Davis, and every flag and every monument to the greatest cancer that to this day plagues the progress of our country forward.