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Spiritual blackout in America: Election 2016

  • The most frightening feature of the civic melancholia in present-day America is the relative collapse of integrity, honesty, and decency — an undeniable spiritual blackout of grand proportions. 
  • Related: Trump is the Symptom, Clinton is the Disease

Cornel West, Boston (MA) Globe you can follow Evergreene Digest on Twitter.   Plato argued that democracies produce citizens of unruly passion and pervasive ignorance, manipulated by greedy elites and mendacious politicians. Photo by Hilton Archive/Getty Images

November 03, 2016 | The most frightening feature of the civic melancholia in present-day America is the relative collapse of integrity, honesty, and decency — an undeniable spiritual blackout of grand proportions. The sad spectacle of the presidential election is no surprise. Rather, the neofascist catastrophe called Donald Trump and the neoliberal disaster named Hillary Clinton are predictable symbols of our spiritual blackout. Trump dislodged an inert conservative establishment by unleashing an ugly contempt for liberal elites and vulnerable citizens of color — and the mainstream media followed every performance (even his tweets!) for financial gain. Clinton laid bare a dishonest liberal establishment that was unfair to Bernie Sanders and obsessed with winning at any cost — and the mainstream media selectively weighed in for pecuniary ends.

In short, the rule of Big Money and its attendant culture of cupidity and mendacity have led to our grand moment of spiritual blackout. The founder of Western philosophy, Plato, foresaw this scenario. In “The Republic” — history’s most profound critique of democratic regimes — Plato argues that democracies produce citizens of unruly passion and pervasive ignorance, manipulated by greedy elites and mendacious politicians. The result is tyranny — the rule of a strong man driven by appetites, corruption, and secrecy. There is no doubt that Trump meets this description more so than Clinton. Yet neoliberals like Clinton bear some responsibility for the anger and anguish of Trump’s followers — especially those white male working and middle-class citizens who have been devastated by neoliberal economic policies of deregulation, NAFTA, and Wall Street protection. The vicious xenophobia toward women, Mexicans, the disabled, gays, Muslims, Jews, and blacks are the sole fault of the Trump campaign. Yet the rule of Big Money in capitalist USA downplays the catastrophic effects of global warming, of poverty, and of drones killing innocent people — all the common ground of Trump and Clinton.

Cornel West is a teacher and philosopher.

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Trump is the Symptom, Clinton is the Disease, Roger Harris, CounterPunch

  • Now is the time to vote for someone who reflects our politics and begin the protracted process of building an opposition movement outside the two corporate parties.
  • “[Voting for] the lesser evil paves the way for the greater evil.” --Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate



A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup

  • As long as government officials—elected and unelected alike—are allowed to operate beyond the reach of the Constitution, the courts and the citizenry, the threat to our freedoms remains undiminished.
  • So the next time you find yourselves despondent over the 2016 presidential candidates, remember that it’s just a puppet show intended to distract you from the silent coup being carried out by America’s shadow government.
  • Related: From the Archives | Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change
  • Related: Trump Isn't the Only Loser

John W. Whitehead, Counterpunch October 26, 2016 | Today the path to total dictatorship in the U.S. can be laid by strictly legal means, unseen and unheard by Congress, the President, or the people.

"Outwardly we have a Constitutional government. We have operating within our government and political system … a well-organized political-action group in this country, determined to destroy our Constitution and establish a one-party state…. The important point to remember about this group is not its ideology but its organization… It operates secretly, silently, continuously to transform our Government…. This group … is answerable neither to the President, the Congress, nor the courts. It is practically irremovable.”

— Senator William Jenner, 1954 speech

Unaffected by elections. Unaltered by populist movements. Beyond the reach of the law.

Say hello to America’s shadow government.

John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People.

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From the Archives | Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change, Jordan Michael Smith, Boston (MA) Globe  

The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon.



Trump Isn't the Only Loser, Frank Sesno , US News

  • The Republican presidential candidate has dragged the GOP, the media and the nation down with him.
  • Related: America’s Face Down Moment: Trump’s Silver Lining

What’s not being voted on this November: Local democracy is being squashed from coast to coast

Corporations, courts, and politicians evade democracy by squashing local measures on fracking, wages, GMOs and more.

Simon Davis-Cohen, Salon This Content-Rich Site Is Worth Fighting For

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Dave & the Crew File - This March 21, 2016 file photo shows the Flint Water Plant water tower in Flint, Mich. After months of national attention on lead-tainted drinking water in Flint, many are starting to ask questions about a 74-mile pipeline being built from Lake Huron to the struggling former auto manufacturing powerhouse. The $285 million project is rooted in political ambitions and long-simmering resentment toward Detroit, which for decades had near-total control of the city’s water rates. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio File)(Credit: AP/Paul Sancya/Carlos Osorio/Brennan Linsley)

Sunday, October 30, 2016 | People across the country have turned to the local ballot initiative process — by which citizens write, petition for and vote on legislation — to push the needle on key legislative battles around fracking, the minimum wage, police reform and many other issues. The response of state legislatures, wary of local activism, in passing state “preemption” laws to remove “local control” is well documented.

Less well known, however, is the role of courts and city governments in barring local citizens from even bringing these issues to a vote. In fact, the very power of local direct democracy to effect change on these contentious issues is in the crosshairs.

Despite petitioners collecting sufficient signatures, at least nine local ballot initiatives in Minnesota, Ohio and Washington state have been removed from November ballots. There are almost certainly other examples. Often the mere possibility or threat of state preemption is used as grounds to stop a duly qualified initiative from being voted on. Here are several of the more prominent examples.

Simon Davis-Cohen: freelance investigative journalist examining the powers of local governments and corporations in the United States.

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Why American Military Doctrine Is Doomed for Failure

  • Notwithstanding the rather odd use of the word “Fail” in the title, this is a very good article about America’s military shortcomings, which do not in any way stem from a failure to spend money.
  • Related: You Must Be Kidding! 

Federico Pieraccini, Straight Line Logic October 3, 2016 | An analysis of US generals’ growing dissatisfaction with the political leadership in Washington sheds new light on the direction in which the American military machine is heading. In particular, it is interesting to observe the military planning for the future of the sea, air, space, cyberspace, and land forces.

At the end of the Cold War, the US armed forces found themselves without any real peer, causing them to gradually alter their strategy and investments in war and conflicts. They transitioned from being a large numerical force geared toward fighting opponents of a similar caliber (the USSR) in accordance with a specific military strategy, to a force focused on hybrid adversaries (regular or militia forces) or foes that were not their equal (Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, and Libya). The US military accordingly proceeded to change its planning and tactics to satisfy the demands of the new tenants in the White House, the notorious Neoconservatives. What resulted was a military doctrine centered on the concept of a unipolar world and aimed at global domination.

Federico Pieraccini: Independent freelance writer specialized in international affairs, conflicts, politics and strategies

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You Must Be Kidding! Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

  • War, Peace, and Absurdity
  • Adventures in an American World of Frustration
  • Related: Why the US Can’t Break Its Addiction to War 

Freedom Rider: Organizing in the Age of Hillary

  • The resistance to a Hillary Clinton presidency has already begun. Activists gathered in Chicago “to strategize the fight against police violence, neoliberalism and imperialism,” all of which promise to be hallmarks of her administration. 
  • The Black Misleadership Class plays its usual, toadying role. “The liars who said they would hold Obama’s feet to the fire are repeating their empty words and hoping no one pays attention.”
  • Related: Dissent: A History of American Revolutions

Margaret Kimberley, Margaret Kimberley's blog / Black Agenda Report you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button in the above right-hand corner—so we can bring you more just like it., 10/25/2016 | “All forms of mass action must be used to deprive Clinton of support or claim of a mandate.”

The Hillary Clinton administration, Slick Willie part II, will bring catastrophe unless there is constant agitation waged against it. The same woman who bragged that her party platform was progressive now brags that Republicans endorse her. The situation is urgent but there is no need to despair or to reinvent the wheel. There are groups across the country engaging in protest and they show a clear path for a liberation movement.

This columnist joined with 200 activists in Chicago for the Right to Exist, Right to Resist conference organized by the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS USA). The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Police Oppression, Michigan Emergency Committee Against

 War and Injustice, Peoples Organization for Progress, Bayan USA, Chicago Teachers Union, US Palestinian Community Network, Committee to Stop FBI Repression and others met to strategize the fight against police violence, neoliberalism and imperialism.

Margaret Kimberley: Black Agenda Report (BAR) editor and senior columnist 

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Dissent: A History of American Revolutions, Ralph Young, Utne Reader

  • Over the course of American history there has not been just one American Revolution, but rather many American revolutions. From women's suffrage to the civil rights movement America has been forever changed.
  • Excerpt from Dissent: The History of an American Idea (NYU Press, 2015) by Ralph Young

Thinking Dangerously In Age Of Normalized Ignorance

  • Salmon Rushdie is right in viewing thinking dangerously as a type of political necessity whose purpose is to “push boundaries and take risks and so, at times, to change the way we see the world.” As Hannah Arendt noted, thoughtfulness, the ability to think reflectively and critically is fundamental to radical change and a necessity in a functioning democracy. Put differently, formative cultures that make such thinking possible along with the spaces in which dialogue, debate, and dissent can flourish are essential to producing critically literate and actively engaged citizens.
  • Related: I’m with stupid: The entire 2016 election has been an insult to our intelligence.

Henry Giroux, CounterPunch Photo by new 1lluminati | CC BY 2.0

September 30, 2016 | What happens to a society when thinking is eviscerated and is disdained in favor of raw emotion? [1] What happens when political discourse functions as a bunker rather than a bridge? What happens when the spheres of morality and spirituality give way to the naked instrumentalism of a savage market rationality? What happens when time becomes a burden for most people and surviving becomes more crucial than trying to lead a life with dignity? What happens when domestic terrorism, disposability, and social death become the new signposts and defining features of a society? What happens to a social order ruled by an “economics of contempt” that blames the poor for their condition and wallows in a culture of shaming?[2] What happens when loneliness and isolation become the preferred modes of sociality? What happens to a polity when it retreats into private silos and is no longer able to connect personal suffering with larger social issues? What happens to thinking when a society is addicted to speed and over-stimulation? What happens to a country when the presiding principles of a society are violence and ignorance? What happens is that democracy withers not just as an ideal but also as a reality, and individual and social agency become weaponized as part of the larger spectacle and matrix of violence?[3]

The forces normalizing and contributing to such violence are too expansive to cite, but surely they would include: the absurdity of celebrity culture; the blight of rampant consumerism; state-legitimated pedagogies of repression that kill the imagination of students; a culture of immediacy in which accelerated time leaves no room for reflection; the reduction of education to training; the transformation of mainstream media into a mix of advertisements, propaganda, and entertainment; the emergence of an economic system which argues that only the market can provide remedies for the endless problems it produces, extending from massive poverty and unemployment to decaying schools and a war on poor minority youth; the expanding use of state secrecy and the fear-producing surveillance state; and a Hollywood fluff machine that rarely relies on anything but an endless spectacle of mind-numbing violence. Historical memory has been reduced to the likes of a Disney theme park and a culture of instant gratification has a lock on producing new levels of social amnesia.

Henry Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014).

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 I’m with stupid: The entire 2016 election has been an insult to our intelligence, Sophia A. McClennen, Salon 

  • We are going to have to start asking ourselves if we want a nation of extremist thinkers incapable of critical reflection or we want to start recovering our collective brainpower. As Monbiot put it, “Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people.” Democracies are only as smart as the people in them. So the real question we have to face is: Are we with stupid or not?
  • Related: The Arrogance of Ignorance

The Real Lesson of Ralph Nader and the 2000 Presidential Election

The "take-away" from the 2000 election, at least for Democrats, seems to be, "we can't allow third party candidates because they take votes away from us." Hmmmm. How democratic is it to try to prevent the voters from having genuine choices?

Wendy Burnett, OpEdNews Ralph Nader by David Shankbone (image by Wikipedia (   License   DMCA

As a Bernie Sanders supporter, I am always being threatened with, "If you don't vote for Hillary, Trump will win, and it will be YOUR FAULT." This is usually accompanied by some version of, "Nader was a spoiler in 2000, Bush won, and just look what happened!"

The "take-away" from the 2000 election, at least for Democrats, seems to be, "we can't allow third party candidates because they take votes away from us." Hmmmm. How democratic is it to try to prevent the voters from having genuine choices? How democratic is it to tell voters that don't even belong to your party that they must vote for your party or WHOEVER (it's the same in every presidential election -- the rhetoric is the same, the platform is much the same, the only thing that changes is the name of the "big threat."

Wendy Burnett is a writer, blogger, and health activist with interests in health, politics, women's issues, and all the areas where these topics intersect.

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Series | 2016 General Election Guide, Parts 8 & 9, Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest 

  • Evergreene Digest Editor's Note: To help our readers vote responsibly we are re-publishing as a stand-alone series those articles we think will help. These articles will appear frequently between now and the November 8 election. Watch for them in the Government & Politics section <> (and simultaneously in other sections) under the searchable title "2016 General Election Guide".
  • Part 8: Ralph Nader explains how voting for the ‘least worst’ candidate corrupts democracy
  • Part 9: 12 Steps to Overcoming Addiction to Voting for the "Lesser of 2 Evils"
  • Parts 8 & 9 in a Series






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