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Commentary & Opinion

Confounding and confusing events 5/23/22

The new Congressional map for New York certainly takes away some substantial opportunities from Democrats. What is really ironic is that Republicans are always complaining about Democratic Judges, but in this instance the great likelihood is that the majority of the people who voted to overturn the map at the Appellate Division, as well as the Court of Appeals, are Democrats, and thus, they have proven that they are Judges, not political appointees. It is unfortunate that the Republicans can’t say the same in other states where this type of activity has taken place in terms of jerrymandering, but their courts have upheld their maps almost exclusively with Republican Judges. To say that there is a high level of hypocrisy and inconsistency would be a gross understatement.

We need to be watching China as it appears its economic distress is deepening as we see consumer spending and factory output tumbling, as well as growth and infrastructure investment also dropping according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. To add to these woos, China’s jobless rate surged to a 2-year high of 6.1%, further evidencing economic damage. All of this does not bode well for the United States, as it further injures the supply chain and will interfere with our and the rest of the world’s recovery. Something we need to watch.

A recent story in the New York Times points out that less than 1% of Americans have served in 22 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no intent here by either the author of the article, nor myself to denigrate the volunteer army, but it does raise questions about what the other 99% are doing to support our country. I believe this constitutes a danger to the Republic as I have always felt about an all-volunteer army, because a broad swath is not serving our country is problematic. The fact that service might take other forms than military service, is appropriate, so long as we are moving a greater number of people through our military or in service in another way. The article was describing a book entitled, “Uncertain Ground, Citizens in the Age of Endless Invisible War” by Phil Clay, who I would note is a combat veteran.

The shooting in Buffalo last week certainly raises the specter of how deeply imbedded violent racism is in sectors of the citizenry of the US. Unfortunately, actions like those of the Buffalo shooter are in reality supported by a significant number of right-wing groups and individuals, including some politicians even though the latter would say “of course not”. Unfortunately, the groups those politicians support and the actions that they support clearly demonstrate that they are willing to accept these kinds of actions. On the other side, the calls for legislation are not really going to resolve the issue, this is something that is deeply imbedded in American society for hundreds of years. One step that might help this dynamic would be for churches to step forward and loudly condemn the philosophy and the acts that flow from it. Many of the supporters are church going and need their leaders to step up and declare this is not acceptable, not in general terms, but call it out.

Five things that are cheaper in the United States than Canada: Bedding and towels, toys, jeans, footwear and electronics, and we wonder why Canadians come south to shop. Let me remind you again, if Canadians are here for 24 hours or less then the duty-free amount is $200, and if more than 48 hours, $800.

The next shock for homeowners will be increased assessments which will in many instances raise taxes. Why, because when you bought that new house, you paid more than the assessment, so up it goes. A little more inflation.

Representative Stefanik has been quoted as saying “radical Democrats are planning to use their most aggressive move yet, a permanent election insurrection. Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants who will overthrow our current electret and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.” She also tweeted that “Today’s Democratic party is the party of Socialists, illegals, criminals, communists, Truth ministers, and media stenographers. This is why there will be a red Tsunami in November.” This language coming from Ms. Stefanik leaves no question that she has left her bi-partisanship way back, and I wonder how she and her supporters would feel if someone were to say that today’s Republican party is one of insurrection, racism, anti-Democratic thought, and uncaring for the needs of their constituents. My suspicion is, they’d be outraged, not unlike what happened when Hilary Clinton was quoted as calling some of Mr. Trump’s supporters deplorables. This is highly problematic on both ends, but in terms of Ms. Stefanik, I would hope that her supporters would think carefully about her positions including on replacement theory as to what she is saying and how that language has been used in the past because if you come from an immigrant family during the period of 1860-1920 these same words were essentially said about your ancestors. Think carefully before you support this.

Bill Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher and Trombley in Plattsburgh, NY and a Strategic Advisor at Dentons to Washington, DC.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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