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David Horsey | Rummaging in America's Attic / blog.seattlepi.com

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Woe to You, Legislators!

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  • The self-professed budget hawks have completely ignored the most consistently egregious, wasteful, and morally compromised area of the whole federal budget — our endless and unaccountable military spending. Paul Ryan and the Republicans would cut nothing from the Pentagon profligacy. This makes them hypocrites.
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  • Tell Congress we want a moral budget
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  • Why 30,000 People are Fasting
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Jim Wallis, Sojourners/God's Politics

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It is reported that Congressman Paul Ryan makes every member of his staff read philosopher Ayn Rand, the shameless promoter of the gospel of aggressive self-interest. This makes sense to me as I read Congressman Ryan’s new budget proposal. I wish he had his staff reading the Bible instead.

While widely lauded by conservatives, Congressman Ryan’s budget isn’t really about deficit reduction. It’s about choices — choices that will determine what kind of a country we become. And Paul Ryan has made the choice to hurt people who don’t have the political clout to defend themselves. Two-thirds of the long-term budget cuts that Ryan proposed are directed at modest and low-income people, as well as the poorest of the poor at home and abroad. At the same time, he proposed tax cuts up to 30 percent for some of our country’s wealthiest corporations. Let me say that again: Two-thirds of the cuts come at the expense of already struggling people and families, while corporations posting record profits get tax breaks. In short, the most vulnerable members of society are being attacked by Ryan and his supporters. This makes them bullies.

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Tell Congress: We Want a Moral Budget, Jim Wallis, Sojourners/God's Politics

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  • Congress is considering a budget plan that would be devastating for domestic programs that provide basic nutrition, health, and opportunity to poor children and international aid programs that save lives every day. Meanwhile, the military and spending on wars, as well as corporate subsidies, would be spared.
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  • People of faith, united in prayer and committed to action, need to speak out for vulnerable people every week until this budget fight is won. We believe that the God who can change the hearts of kings can change the hearts of Congress.
Urge Congress to get its budget priorities in order: Cutting programs that help low-income communities will not fix the deficit, and is a sign of moral decay in our legislative branch.
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Why 30,000 People are Fasting, Daniel Mintz, MoveOn.org Political Action

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  • This is about sending the message that balancing the budget on the back of the most vulnerable is simply immoral—and the need for that message has never been greater.
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  • 28 progressive members of Congress have now joined in
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  • The Discipline of Fasting
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  • Pray, Fast, Take Action: For a Moral Budget
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Where do your taxes go? Receipt could show you

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  • Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) is among a band of people from inside and outside of Congress who believe Americans should receive an itemized bill for their federal purchases. As early as this week (April 10-16) , the Seattle Democrat plans to resurrect his bill to require the Internal Revenue Service to issue a detailed annual spending breakdown for each taxpayer.
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  • CNN Poll: Americans flunk budget IQ test
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  • Citizens must be better educated about U.S. economic options
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Kyung M. Song, Seattle Times | WA

The average American family pays more than $7,000 in federal income taxes a year. The average American also mistakenly believes a big chunk of it is spent on foreign aid.

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As President Obama prepares Wednesday (April 13) to unveil his most detailed plan yet for weaning the country off borrowed money — following a House Republican budget-cutting plan released last week — some people say an urgent national debate about the federal deficit and debt is stymied by many Americans' fiscal illiteracy.

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Voters, they fear, have but a dim grasp of the nation's finances, including how the government spends their taxes.

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CNN Poll: Americans flunk budget IQ test, CNN Political Unit
If you think cutting the government's budget is as easy as taking the ax to some unpopular federal programs, a new national poll suggests that you should think again.

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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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Special Report | Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, & Wikileaks II

5 Items including:

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  • Turn for the worse for Bradley Manning
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  • Top US legal scholars voice outrage at 'torture' of Bradley Manning
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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John Cole

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Nearly half million people voice support for Bradley Manning, Courage to Resist

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  • Andre Shepherd appeals for German Asylum
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  • 425,000 people (and counting!) join fight to stop the torture of Bradley Manning
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  • Quantico brig breaks own rules to reject official visits
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  • Organizing Toolkit now available
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Turn for the worse for Bradley Manning, Michael Whitney, Firedoglake
Kucinich and UN rep refused "official permission" to visit
With your help, we will make sure there is nothing secret about the way the US Government is treating Bradley Manning.

Rights Activists Decry Reports of Mistreatment and Humiliation of Alleged WikiLeaks Source Bradley Manning, Scott Harris, Between the Lines

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  • Interview with Coleen Rowley, former FBI special agent and 9/11 whistleblower
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  • Psyche, Science, and Society
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Support Bradley Manning! Avaaz.org

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  • Signatures being added approximately once every 2 seconds.
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  • They have already doubled their goal to 500,000 because they were meeting the 250,000 goal so quickly.
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  • Let's get more Americans signing this.
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Top US legal scholars voice outrage at 'torture' of Bradley Manning, Ed Pilkington, London Guardian | UK

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  • Obama professor among 250 experts who have signed letter condemning humiliation of alleged WikiLeaks source.
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  • Manning appears to being treated in a way that "is not only shameful but unconstitutional" as he awaits court martial in Quantico marine base in Virginia.
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  • Support Bradley Manning!
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Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System

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  • Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards the kind of intelligence prized by money managers and corporations. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas, and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.
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  • The Questions Education Reformers Aren’t Asking
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Chris Hedges, TruthDig

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

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Photo illustration by PZS based on an image by Lin Pernille Photography

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A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.

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Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.

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The Questions Education Reformers Aren’t Asking, Mike Rose, TruthDig
Education is moving to domestic policy center stage. The first round of competition for federal “Race to the Top” funds is over, and that competition generated a flurry of school reform activity across the nation. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia were selected and are now preparing for a winnowing round two.

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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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