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Ted Rall | Spreading Democracy Obama Style / content.cartoonbox.slate.com

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Citizens Go to Jail to Protest Budget Cuts

These are not the first, nor are they likely to be the last, protesters willing to go to jail in order to oppose the dramatic cuts disseminating from nationwide Capitols.

Allison Kilkenny
, Nation Magazine

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Following a remarkable display of civil disobedience, seventeen protesters were arrested Thursday outside Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire’s office. In the footage below, you can see the troopers physically carry one of the activists out of the gallery.

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About 400 citizens were in the building, and the overall protest was reportedly orderly and civil, but these arrests highlight the growing desperation in the anti-cut movements, and in the population at large.
As Glenda Faatoafe, a home care provider protesting healthcare cuts puts it, austerity measures are truly a matter of life and death. “They are killing our clients,” says Faatoafe, “I have a client that has to be turned every hour. He’s going to die. Do you want that on your conscience? Apparently, [lawmakers] do.”

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The People's Budget

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  • Unlike Paul Ryan's almost absurdly vicious attack on the poor and working class, the People's Budget would close the deficit by raising taxes on the rich, taming health care costs (including a public option), and ending the military spending on wars and wasteful weapons systems.
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  • Rep. Paul Ryan's Wall Street Protection Act
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Jeffrey Sachs, Huffington Post

Just when it seemed that all of Washington had lost its values and its connection with the American people, a bolt of hope has arrived. It is the People's Budget put forward by the co-chairs of the 80-member Congressional Progressive Caucus. Their plan is humane, responsible, and most of all sensible, reflecting the true values of the American people and the real needs of the floundering economy. Unlike Paul Ryan's almost absurdly vicious attack on the poor and working class, the People's Budget would close the deficit by raising taxes on the rich, taming health care costs (including a public option), and ending the military spending on wars and wasteful weapons systems.

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There are now four budget positions on the table. Far to the right is Paul Ryan's plan, an artless war on the poor that would take a meat-cleaver to Medicaid (health care for the poor), food stamps, support for child care, the environment, and the rest of government other than the military, Social Security, and Medicare (that is, until 2022, when the slashing would begin on Medicare coverage as well). Ryan would keep taxes below 20 percent of GDP (specifically, 19.9 percent of GDP in 2021), at the cost of destroying entitlements programs and other civilian spending.

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FY2012 Progressive Budget, Rep Raul M. Grijalva and Rep. Keith Ellison, Congressional Progressive Caucus
Progressive Caucus co-chairs Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison sent a memo to House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen April 6 outlining the Caucus' top budget priorities. The letter and attached budget information are available at this link.

Rep. Paul Ryan's Wall Street Protection Act, E. J. Dionne, Seattle Times | WA
Rep. Paul Ryan's outrageous budget proposal, built on heaping sacrifice onto the poor, slashing scholarship aid to college students and bestowing benefits on the rich, ought to force middle-of-the-roaders to take sides, writes E.J. Dionne Jr. No moderate can possibly support Ryan's plan.

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The Nowhere Man

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  • In so many critical ways, he has been the Nowhere Man, the absence of what was so seemingly present when he was elevated to his current station.
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  • I am, personally, waiting with bated breath for the next battery of slogans to be deployed by the Obama campaign. No, seriously, I am. Nowhere Man 2012: Because Everyone Else Is Worse. That'll send them racing to the polls.
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William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

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President Barack Obama records his weekly address from a UPS customer center as part of the new public-private Green Fleet Partnership, April 1, 2011. (Photo: Pete Souza / White House Photo)

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So, yeah, Obama is in. The President of the United States officially threw his hat into the 2012 election ring on Monday morning (April 4), and the nation reacted with a resounding, "Oh."

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What a mess.

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It wasn't even two and a half years ago. Can you believe it? Two and a half years ago, there was a detonation of optimism that echoed across the country once the returns were in on that November night. People took to the streets here in Boston, literally banging pots and pans together as they danced and shouted in celebration. The scene was repeated in city after city and town after town, and even the "mainstream" media gushed from election night to Inauguration Day about the spectacular moment in American history we were all witnessing together.

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The Peasants Need Pitchforks

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  • "The top 1-percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles," Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz concludes, "but there is one thing that money doesn't seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99-percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1-percent eventually do learn. Too late."
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  • Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
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  • No Other Way Out
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Robert Scheer, Truthdig

Protesters yell at people looking out from the windows of an AIG building in New York during a 2009 rally against government bailouts for corporations. AP / Jason DeCrow

A "working class hero," John Lennon told us in his song of that title, "is something to be/ Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV/ And you think you're so clever and classless and free/ But you're still f*cking peasants as far as I can see."

The delusion of a classless America in which opportunity is equally distributed is the most effective deception perpetrated by the moneyed elite that controls all the key levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is a myth blown away by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz in the current issue of Vanity Fair. In an article titled "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%" Stiglitz states that the top thin layer of the super wealthy controls 40-percent of all wealth in what is now the most sharply class-divided of all developed nations: "Americans have been watching protests against repressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet, in our own democracy, 1-percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation's income -- an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret."

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Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Vanity Fair
Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.

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No Other Way Out, Chris Hedges, TruthDig

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  • We will not stop the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we will not end this slaughter of innocents, unless we are willing to rise up as have state workers in Wisconsin and citizens on the streets of Arab capitals. Repeated and sustained acts of civil disobedience are the only weapons that remain to us.
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  • We must be willing to accept personal discomfort, to put our bodies in the way of the machine, if we hope to expose the lies of war and blunt the abuse by corporate profiteers. To do nothing, to refuse to act, to be passive, is to be an agent of injustice and to be complicit in murder.
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  • Never Forget The Power of the Strike
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  • Occupy Washington to End the Wars
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Analysis of the Global Insurrection Against Neo-Liberal Economic Domination and the Coming American Rebellion

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  • If you think what’s happening in Egypt won’t happen within the United States, you’ve been watching too much TV. The statistics speak for themselves.
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  • Revolution Roundup #3
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David DeGraw, Amped Status/David DeGraw

Thanks to Evergreene Digest reader Scott Schneider for this contribution.

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

In previous Revolution Roundups, before we were knocked offline, we featured mass protests by the people of Ireland, Italy, Britain, Austria, Greece, France and Portugal, as the Global Insurrection contagion spread throughout Europe. And now, as we have seen over the past month, North African and Middle Eastern nations have joined the movement as the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Gabon, Mauritania, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan and Algeria have taken to the streets en masse.

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The connection between this latest round of uprisings and the prior protests throughout Europe is one the mainstream media is not making. We are witnessing a decentralized global rebellion against Neo-Liberal economic imperialism. While each national uprising has its own internal characteristics, each one, at its core, is about the rising costs of living and lack of financial opportunity and security. Throughout the world the situation is the same: increasing levels of unemployment and poverty, as price inflation on food and basic necessities is soaring.

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Revolution Roundup #2: As Mass Rebellion Spreads Throughout Europe, Americans Dance With The Stars, David DeGraw, Amped Status

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  • The Global Insurrection Against Banker Occupation (GIABO) rages on…
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  • Over the past few days the people of Ireland, Italy, Britain, Austria and Portugal have all held massive demonstrations against the Global Banking Cartel.
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David Harvey’s Message for American Socialists

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  • A review of David Harvey’s latest work, The Enigma of Capital
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  • It is important to note that what Harvey is proposing is part of a two-step process.  His first book of 2010 was a companion guide to Marx’s Capital Volume 1 in which he encouraged a new generation of activists to make a critical reading of this old radical classic.  Now, in Enigma, he offers a new vision of Marxism that every leftist in America would do well to examine.
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  • Citizens must be better educated about U.S. economic options
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Billy Wharton, Bronx County Independent Examiner

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

Way back in 1888 no less an authority than Frederich Engels identified the critical problem facing the American socialist movement.  America was, he argued, “that sectarian land,” a place where all the theoretical errors would have to be worked out perilously in practice.  As a result, Engels yearned for a movement that combined the American fervor with the European theoretical clarity.  120 years later, perhaps Engels’ American problem may finally be resolved in the form of David Harvey’s latest work, The Enigma of Capital (Oxford University Press, 2010).

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The Engima is a hybrid work that fits neatly into the growing literature about the Economic Crisis that ensued in 2008 while also claiming a place in the Marxist theoretical tradition.  However, what the book most clearly offers is a call to create a new kind of socialism through a renovated Marxism adapted to the challenges created by 21st century capitalism.

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It is important to note that what Harvey is proposing is part of a two-step process.  His first book of 2010 was a companion guide to Marx’s Capital Volume 1 in which he encouraged a new generation of activists to make a critical reading of this old radical classic.  Now, in Enigma, he offers a new vision of Marxism that every leftist in America would do well to examine.

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Citizens must be better educated about U.S. economic options, Alex Alben, Seattle Times | WA

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  • U.S. political culture and our education system have roles to play in the dire straits of our economy.
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  • Some ideas for building a better, more informed national consensus.
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  • Austerity - a sure path to a bad economy
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