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Books, Literature & Ideas

Books, Literature & Ideas

These Empty Spaces

We are an idea, and all of us are bound to it through the ink that explains us on old pieces of parchment. We are an idea, and in that idea, we can locate our nobility, our strength, and the better angels of our nature. Too many of us, including our president and congressional representatives, have forgotten this. Perhaps, if we remind them in strong enough terms, if we make We The People a true force for right instead of a catch-phrase, things would get better. Until then, the idea that is America will continue to wither, and the empty spaces within will endure.

William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t

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(Illustration: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

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My purpose in this life is to chronicle the events of our time, to shine a light on events and actions that damage us all, to reveal good works whenever they actually happen, and when possible, to show people places and times where they can make a difference should they choose to get involved. In the ten years I've been at it, I have seen everything: wars and rumors of wars; economic collapse and environmental calamity; state-sanctioned murder and torture and rape; theft, graft, fraud, deception and greed vast and dense enough to bend the light.

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I have also seen millions upon millions of people pour into the streets to raise their voices as one against all these terrible things. I have seen people hurl themselves into political campaigns that have no hope of succeeding because they believed in the candidate, because the campaign message mattered as much as winning, and was made of so much truth that it required their labor. I have seen previously disconnected people get plugged in somewhere, anywhere, because they could no longer abide the silence of the sidelines.

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America Goes Dark

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  • So the end result of the long campaign against government is that we’ve taken a disastrously wrong turn. America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere.
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  • America: The Grim Truth
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Paul Krugman, New York Times

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.

Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.

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Related:

America: The Grim Truth, Lance Freeman, Axis of Logic

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  • I am not writing this to scare you. I write this to you as a friend. If you are able to read and understand what I’ve written here, then you are a member of a small minority in the United States. You are a minority in a country that has no place for you.
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  • We Are A Nation Of Sheep Being Led By Wild Dogs
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The Trouble With Unconstitutional Wars

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  • We should follow constitutional protocol when going to war. It is there for a reason. The founders knew that heads of state are far too eager to engage in military conflicts. That is why they entrusted the power to go to war with the deliberative body closest to the people – the Congress.
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  • Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War
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Ron Paul, R-TX

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Bob Heberle

Our foreign policy was in the spotlight last week (Aug 25-31), which is exactly where it should be. Almost two years ago many voters elected someone they thought would lead us to a more peaceful, rational co-existence with other countries. However, while attention has been focused on the administration’s disastrous economic policies, its equally disastrous foreign policies have exacerbated our problems overseas. Especially in times of economic crisis, we cannot afford to ignore costly foreign policy mistakes. That’s why it is important that U.S. foreign policy receive some much-needed attention in the media, as it did last week with the leaked documents scandal.

Many are saying that the WikiLeaks documents tell us nothing new. In some ways this is true. Most Americans knew that we have been fighting losing battles. These documents show just how bad it really is. The revelation that Pakistani intelligence is assisting the people we are bombing in Afghanistan shows the quality of friends we are making with our foreign policy. This kind of thing supports points that Rep. Dennis Kucinich and I tried to make on the House floor last week with a privileged resolution that would have directed the administration to remove troops from Pakistan pursuant to the War Powers Resolution.

We are not at war with Pakistan. Congress has made no declaration of war. (Actually, we made no declaration of war on Iraq or Afghanistan either, but that is another matter.) Yet we have troops in Pakistan engaging in hostile activities, conducting drone attacks and killing people. We sometimes manage to kill someone who has been identified as an enemy, yet we also kill about 10 civilians for every 1 of those. Pakistani civilians are angered by this, yet their leadership is mollified by our billions in bribe money. We just passed an appropriations bill that will send another $7.5 billion to Pakistan. One wonders how much of this money will end up helping the Taliban. This whole operation is clearly counterproductive, inappropriate, immoral and every American who values the rule of law should be outraged. Yet these activities are being done so quietly that most Americans, as well as most members of the House, don’t even know about them.

We should follow constitutional protocol when going to war. It is there for a reason. If we are legitimately attacked, it is the job of Congress to declare war. We then fight the war, win it and come home. War should be efficient, decisive and rare. However, when Congress shirks its duty and just gives the administration whatever it wants with no real oversight or meaningful debate, wars are never-ending, wasteful, and political. Our so-called wars have become a perpetual drain on our economy and liberty.

The founders knew that heads of state are far too eager to engage in military conflicts. That is why they entrusted the power to go to war with the deliberative body closest to the people – the Congress. Decisions to go to war need to be supported by the people. War should not be covert or casual. We absolutely should not be paying off leaders of a country while killing their civilians without expecting to create a lot of new problems. This is not what America is supposed to be about.

Related:

Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War ~ Andrew Bacevich, Reviewed by Andrew Bast, Newsweek<>

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  • Groupthink is alive and thriving in Washington, D.C., argues Bacevich, who's convinced that America's mightily militaristic and endlessly idealistic approach to the rest of the world is costing the country dearly. Boiling down his argument to the simplest terms: the world would get along just fine without this overarmed global policeman, and more important, the United States would fare far better at home if it weren't squandering so many of its gifts abroad.
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  • The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's
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Section(s): 

What do we call them…you know, “the disabled”?

How many Psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb…or Journalist, or Reporter?

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Pat Maher, SCILife, in nAblement

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Betty Culver

After years of being assaulted with scores of inappropriate references  in print, television, film and the internet to “the disabled”, I need to register my formal complaint to “the media.” Wake up and apply some accepted, common sense principles to the treatment of people with disabilities in your work!

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How many Psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb…or Journalist, or Reporter?

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The answer is just one - but the lightbulb, journalist, or reporter  must really want to change! I wish that I had catalogued every time in recent memory that I noted the inappropriate or awkward use of language  in a television, newspaper or internet story while referring to or interacting with a person who had a disability. Sadly I’ve become anesthetized to its presence. It’s like the soft rumbling of a building’s heating or air conditioning unit, or the regular and rhythmic grumble of the L through a closed window in Chicago’s Loop. Not true! It’s more like nails on a blackboard, the maddeningly high volume of commercials during television shows, the incessant pounding of jackhammer on concrete or the constant ringing of tinnitus in your eardrum.

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The Origins of the Enthusiasm Gap

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The undeniable consequence has been to erode the capacity of the president and his party to accomplish much more from here on.
The enthusiasm gap

Robert Reich, RobertReich.org

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Jenni Cherrier

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Whatever the outcome of the upcoming midterm elections, the activist phase of the Obama administration has likely come to a close. The President may have a fight on his hands even to hold on to what he’s already achieved because his legislative successes have been large enough to fuel strong opposition but not big enough to strengthen his support. The result could be disastrous for him and congressional Democrats.

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Consider the stimulus package. Although it’s difficult to separate the consequences of fiscal and monetary policy, most knowledgeable observers conclude that the stimulus has had a positive effect.

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Yet the official rate of unemployment remains above 9%, not including millions either too discouraged to look for work or working part-time when they’d rather have full-time jobs. Almost half of the jobless have been without work for more than six months, a level not seen since the Great Depression.

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The enthusiasm gap, Robert Reich, Salon.com

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  • The Democratic base is drained of all passion because congressional Democrats continue to compromise, water-down, weaken, soften, and create loopholes on everything the Dem base cares about.
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  • "Why should I care?" are words I hear over and over again from stalwart Democrats who worked their hearts out in the last election.
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  • The left has lost its nerve and its direction
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  • Why I Did Not Caucus with my party (DFL) on February 2
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