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Why Does the Center not Hold?

Emanuel L. Paparella, Ph.D.

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An Imaginary Conversation  between Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln on Zombies or the Walking Dead of 2016

Washington: good morning Thomas, good morning Abraham. I surmise that you too could not sleep well in your grave last night and so you are up and about this bustling modern city bearing my name. It’s a good thing we are invisible. Could you imagine the confusion that would ensue, were we actually visible to the mindless crowd surrounding us?

Jefferson: I believe they call those sorts of people “zombies.” nowadays. Are you perhaps implying that we resemble zombies strolling through Washington, albeit invisible.

Lincoln: good morning. Indeed, what the dead have done in the past affects those living today. But I’ve always wondered if those imaginary zombies, as seen on TV, are not, if truth be told, the projection of the internal fears and anxieties of innumerable people living in our age of anxiety; a Junghian projection of some kind.

W: what do you exactly mean Abraham?

L: well, what is a zombie? Somebody with no conscience because he does not have a consciousness. Without a consciousness no responsibility can be taken for any moral action. Yet the zombie looks like a real person; is even able to function on a rational level; sort of a computer or robot. But he is not even conscious of being a zombie or a dehumanized human. Don’t you think that such is the state of many nowadays? They have repressed the inner moral spiritual sense, even if they remain clever on the intellectual level; they may look alive at a purely materialistic, empirical level, as an inanimate machine looks alive when it moves or dead when it does not. Some scientists and doctors speak of our body as a complex machine of sorts. They too are walking dead; they just don’t know it yet.

J: well put, Abraham. Jung may have had it psychologically on target. We always project on others what we fear to acknowledge in ourselves. To acknowledge is to take responsibility. Being a zombie is much more simple and convenient; one acknowledges nothing and is vigilant for nothing, and consequently one takes responsibility for nothing. One simply exists or survives as best as one can. Sometimes the survival takes the form of a struggle; the struggle for survival, or the struggle for being a “winner” in the sense that to survive is to have won the struggle. Everyone else is a “loser.” One struggles for the accumulation of wealth, for aggrandizement of one’s ego and one’s country; one struggles for one’s exceptionalism which makes it easier to neglect ordinary people, to claim one’s rights and defend them even with guns while neglecting duties, ethical obligations and compassion toward others.

W: I see, is this what you had in mind Thomas when you wrote that “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom?” That democracy, for which we fought a revolution, could be easily lost if not sustained by centripetal cultural forces and ideals and the will toward the common good? That it would be enough to become zombies unconcerned with the common good, reason, common sense, the true, the good and the beautiful?

J. Absolutely. It is the ancient Platonic conundrum: can freedom and democracy long survive without vigilance and responsibility buttressed by wisdom and full participation by an educated citizenry? As you know, one of my greatest concerns during my tenure as president of the US (1801-1809), was the lack of eligible participation among the electorate which at the time excluded women and reached barely 20% of the entire male white population of the US. Some called me a naive Utopian or Arcadian, some called me a racist for excluding slaves, women and native Americans from my concern; in any case the idea of full vibrant informed participation was at least introduced. It has taken two centuries for it to come to full fruition with slaves emancipated and freed, with civil rights guaranteed, and with women winning the suffrage, but alas, we now seem to be taking steps backward, with a party once again (and it was originally your party, Abraham) who wants to reverse the clock of civil and human rights and blame all the trouble of our nation on immigrants while hypocritically invoking the invitation found at the foot of the Statue of Liberty: “give me your tired and downtrodden.” But one cannot have the cake and eat it too.

L: what you say, Thomas, is quite true in theory, but I am afraid is only half of the truth. The other half is the practice of the ideals on which our nation was founded. Our country is now 241 years old, almost two centuries and a half. We were presidents for 3% of that span of time altogether, had some influence and effect on its history, to be sure. I tragically was not allowed to serve my full term of 8 years, nevertheless, I think it behooves us to frankly acknowledge, at least to ourselves, that there exists in our country a persistent tragic gap between the ideals of the constitution in theory and their implementation in practice. Those ideals cannot simply remain on paper. That gap makes some of us hypocrites. I suppose I should know, since I preserved the union by acknowledging such a bitter truth and suggesting that it ought to remedied even at the high cost of a bloody civil war; something that actually happened.

W. I think you have a valid point there Abraham, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, both Thomas and I failed in that respect and kept our slaves after the Declaration of Independence and the signing of the Constitution. I, concerned with my legacy, did in fact freed my slaves before my death but I am afraid it was too little too late.

J: Indeed, I concur, it was our less than edifying example which paved the way for the eventual civil war and then for the latent centrifugal ugly forces that have always threatened our country from within, and for which we then go look for enemies abroad.

W. could you be more specific Thomas?

J: of course, I am referring to an ugly propensity in our country, whenever a vibrant two party system buttressed by the constitution, is at risk, to look for scapegoats on which to blame it all. It begins with genocidal wars against the native Americans who are blamed for standing in the way of “progress,” it proceeds with a racist attitude toward the slaves, considered less than human and therefore not deserving of the equal inalienable rights guaranteed by the constitution; it then culminates with periodical demonization of new immigrants’ arrivals, to wit the KKK, the Know Nothing Party, or more recently the Tea Party who blame them for crime and civil disruption, it has its latest virulent expression in an ignoramus and a bigot such as Donald Trump, who us followed by millions of similar individuals who wish to make America white again in the name of law and order, devoid of justice.

L: I couldn’t have said it any better. As a classically educated man, you Thomas were acquainted with Latin and Greek, French and Italian (which you learned from your Italian friend Phillip Mazzei). No wonder you were chosen for the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. As such you are in better position to elucidate some of the vexing issues still afflicting our country. Your analysis brings us all back to ancient times when it was well grasped that disrespect for truth and injustice is a sure formula for existential suicide for both an individuals and a nation. Sadly, our nation is at the crossroad. It has to decide whether or not it wishes to survive as a democracy or it wishes to commit suicide (consciously or unconsciously) by acting like zombies and dehumanizing itself. As a nation, the first in modern democracy, the example we give, the choices we make, and the consequences thereof, will be ours and ours alone. History will then render its final verdict.

Professor Paparella has earned a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism, with a dissertation on the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico, from Yale University. He is a scholar interested in current relevant philosophical, political and cultural issues; the author of numerous essays and books on the EU cultural identity among which A New Europe in search of its Soul, and Europa: An Idea and a Journey. Presently he teaches philosophy and humanities at Barry University, Miami, Florida. He is a prolific writer and has written hundreds of essays for both traditional academic and on-line magazines among which Metanexus and Ovi. One of his current works in progress is a book dealing with the issue of cultural identity within the phenomenon of “the neo-immigrant” exhibited by an international global economy strong on positivism and utilitarianism and weak on humanism and ideals.

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Americas

Scandinavia Veers Left plus D-Day Reflections as Trump Storms Europe

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Mette Frederiksen of the five-party Social Democrat bloc won 91 of the 169 seats in the Danish parliament ending the rule of the right-wing Liberal Party group that had governed for 14 of the last 18 years.  The election issues centered on climate change, immigration and Denmark’s generous social welfare policies.  All parties favored tighter immigration rules thereby taking away the central issue dominating the far-right Democrat Freedom Party which has seen its support halved since the last election in 2015.

Ms Frederiksen promised more spending to bolster the much loved social welfare model and increased taxes on businesses and the wealthy.  A left wave is sweeping Scandinavia as Denmark becomes the third country, after Sweden and Finland, to move left within a year.  Mette Frederiksen will also be, at 41, the youngest prime minister Denmark has ever had.

Donald Trump has used the 75th anniversary of D-Day commemorations to garner positive publicity.  The supreme promoter has managed to tie it in with a “classy” (his oft-chosen word) state visit to the UK spending a day with royals.  It was also a farewell to the prime minister as her resignation is effective from June 7.  Add a D-Day remembrance ceremony at Portsmouth and he was off to his golf course in Ireland for a couple of days of relaxation disguised as a visit to the country for talks — he has little in common with the prime minister, Leo Varadkar, who is half-Indian and gay.

Onward to France where leaders gathered for ceremonies at several places.  It is easy to forget the extent of that carnage:  over 20,000 French civilians were killed in Normandy alone mostly from aerial bombing and artillery fire.  The Normandy American cemetery holds over 9600 soldiers.  All in all, France lost in the neighborhood of 390,000 civilian dead during the whole war.  Estimates of total deaths across the world range from 70 to 85 million or about 3 percent of the then global population (estimated at 2.3 billion).

Much has been written about conflict resolutions generally from a cold rational perspective.  Emotions like greed, fear and a sense of injustice when unresolved lead only in one direction.  There was a time when individual disputes were given the ultimate resolution through single combat.  Now legal rights and courts are available — not always perfect, not always fair, but neither are humans.

It does not take a genius to extrapolate such legal measures to nations and international courts … which already exist.  Just one problem:  the mighty simply ignore them.  So we wait, and we honor the dead of wars that in retrospect appear idiotic and insane.  Worse is the attempt to justify such insanity through times like the “good war”, a monstrous absurdity.

It usually takes a while.  Then we get leaders who have never seen the horror of war — some have assiduously avoided it — and the cycle starts again.

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To Impeach Or Not To Impeach? That Is The Question

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Robert Mueller let loose a thunderbolt midweek.  Donald Trump had not been charged, he said, because it was Department of Justice policy not to charge a sitting president.  Dumping the issue firmly into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lap, he reminded us of the purpose of the impeachment process.  According to Mueller there are ten instances where there are serious issues with the president obstructing justice adding that his report never concludes that Trump is innocent.

So here is a simple question:  If Mueller thought the president is not innocent but he did not charge him because of Justice Department policy, and he appears also to favor impeachment, then why in heaven’s name did he not simply state in his report that the preponderance of evidence indicated Trump was guilty?

Nancy Pelosi is wary of impeachment.  According to the rules, the House initiates it and when/if  it finds sufficient grounds, it forwards the case to the Senate for a formal trial.  The Senate at present is controlled by Republicans, who have been saying it’s time to move on, often adding that after two years of investigation and a 448-page report, what is the point of re-litigating the issue?  They have a point and again it leads to the question:  if Special Counsel Mueller thinks Trump is guilty as he now implies, why did he not actually say so?

Never one to miss any opportunity , Trump labels Mueller, highly conflicted, and blasts impeachment as ‘a dirty, filthy, disgusting word’,  He has also stopped Don McGahn, a special counsel at the White House from testifying before Congress invoking ‘executive privilege’ — a doctrine designed to keep private the president’s consultations with his advisors.  While not cited anywhere in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has held it to be ‘fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the Separation of Powers under the Constitution.’  Separation of powers keeps apart the executive branch, the legislature and the judiciary, meaning each one cannot interfere with the other.

Nancy Pelosi is under increasing pressure from the young firebrands.  Rep Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has already expressed the view that it is time to open an impeachment inquiry against Trump given the obstruction of lawmakers’ oversight duty.

Speaker Pelosi is a long-time politician with political blood running through her veins — her father was Mayor of Baltimore and like herself also a US Representative.  To her the situation as is, is quite appealing.  Trump’s behavior fires up Democrats across the country and they respond by emptying their pockets to defeat the Republicans in 2020.  Democratic coffers benefit so why harm this golden goose — a bogeyman they have an excellent chance of defeating — also evident from the numbers lining up to contest the Democratic presidential primaries, currently at 24. 

Will Trump be impeached?  Time will tell but at present it sure doesn’t look likely.

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When Republicans Are In Power, Banks, Real Estate, and Insurance Companies Crush The People

Rahul D. Manchanda, Esq.

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There is certainly a correlation by and between when conservatives and Republicans talk about “de-regulation” and “freedom” of business, in the outright and total crushing of the American people underneath a boot of immorality.

For example, insurance companies will start to increase the use dishonest and unethical “adjustors” to set out to deny lawful proper claims for insurance, such as when someone has fully paid their expensive premiums, but then is cruelly and out of hand denied much needed assistance from these insurance companies for various health problems, automobile accidents, home and renters policy mishaps, professional liability defense, general business liability assistance, property damage, and other types of accidents and mishaps that these insurance companies state that they were designed to protect their customers with.

These insurance companies know fully well that the poor and middle class do not have the ability to hire and retain competent high powered lawyers to defend their interests, either by entangling with them or in dealing with the entities that are coming after them in the above named types of life problems.

The Democrats had created and implemented such consumer watchdog agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) and the New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) and these agencies were very successful in prosecuting, investigating, and beating back insurance company and banker predatory behavior, but then the lobbying groups for these industries began to buy and pay for Republican whores and populated the Congress and Senate with their “people,” and low and behold, we got an avalanche of “deregulation” from the Executive and Legislative Branches, gutted agencies and replacement of its leaders, all of a sudden leaving the American people at the will and hellish end of the retaliatory insurance and banking industries, and now things are worse than they ever were before.

Similarly, as the Insurance industry benefited from screwing over the American people, the Banking industry simultaneously have begun again to rape the American people, by instituting usurious collections and interest rates, sometimes as high as 50-60%, on such things as student loans in default through no fault of the borrower (due to sickness, injury, loss of employment, bankruptcy) and credit card companies now routinely rape and pillage the American people with ungodly APRs and other “bait and switch” mechanisms designed to fleece their customers, enriching themselves while impoverishing their customers.

All the while these banks and insurance companies are charging more than ever for premiums, simple day to day processes such as ATM machine usage, finance charges, late fees, and other highway robbery-type methods to steal from the American people.

The real estate industry, headed up by men such as Ben Carson of HUD, have now mercilessly began to crush tenants and mortgage holders, denying them basic warranties of safety and habitability, skirting all state and federal regulation so as to make a buck.

“Freedom” as used by Republican and conservative leaders was supposed to mean something different than giving trillion dollar international banks, real estate, and insurance companies the license to rape and pillage the American people, but “deregulation” is the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing” or “trojan horse” by these communist industries to devastate the American people, and they must be reigned in once again by the Democrat led powers in the Congress and the Senate, and perhaps even the Judiciary (state and federal).

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