Unsubstantiated drivel from the Jug Man
"Krug" is German/Yiddish for "Jug"
"Anger is sweeping America. True, this white-hot rage is a minority phenomenon, not something that characterizes most of our fellow citizens. But the angry minority is angry indeed, consisting of people who feel that things to which they are entitled are being taken away. And they’re out for revenge.
No, I’m not talking about the Tea Partiers. I’m talking about the rich.
These are terrible times for many people in this country. Poverty, especially acute poverty, has soared in the economic slump; millions of people have lost their homes. Young people can’t find jobs; laid-off 50-somethings fear that they’ll never work again.
Yet if you want to find real political rage — the kind of rage that makes people compare President Obama to Hitler, or accuse him of treason — you won’t find it among these suffering Americans. You’ll find it instead among the very privileged, people who don’t have to worry about losing their jobs, their homes, or their health insurance, but who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes.
Well, it certainly sounds like Krugman himself is angry. And he is a wealthy man himself. So is he simply projecting his feelings onto others in his tax bracket? It seems likely. He offers no proof -- nada -- that the rich in general are angry or that they are behind the very widespread dissatisfaction with Obama and the Obamacrats in Congress. Does Krugman think the rich pay the tea partiers to rally? Who knows? One commenter responded to his tirade by labelling him as the Left-wing equivalent of a birther. I think that is unfair to birthers. Birthers have at least some grounds for their claims. Krugman has none -- or none that he offers anyway.
And as far as I know, it is much more likely that the rich are not much perturbed by the impending tax increases. Many rich people (Bill Gates and Warren Buffet being the best-known examples) give away voluntarily substantial amounts of money anyhow -- and the rich who are more protective of their assets have plenty of loopholes (put there by Congress) that their tax accountants can use for tax avoidance purposes. It's middle income earners (mostly small business people) who are most likely to be thrown into difficulty by tax increases.
Keith Burgess Jackson also has some advice for the Jug Man.
"Red Ed" becomes leader of the British Labour Party
What Labour MPs were calling the doomsday scenario has happened. David Miliband won amongst Labour MPs and party members but a massive union vote delivered the leadership for his brother Ed. Opponents are already asking what legitimacy a party leader has who lost among both his own MPs and party members.
But this campaign has shown that Ed Miliband is a formidable opponent. He was by far the most natural politician of the five candidates. He has the communication skills that a modern politician so desperately needs.
The Ed Miliband campaign first became convinced that they were going to win when Lord Mandelson started attacking Ed. They believed Mandelson’s intervention showed that the party establishment was rattled and that the insurgent had the momentum.
This fight with the leading representative of the party’s old guard might have presaged Ed’s victory, but it also hints at the trouble to come. Many in the Labour Party fear they have elected someone who can win an internal leadership election but not a General Election. They worry that the reason Neil Kinnock has backed Ed Miliband so vigorously is that he sees him as his political heir.
At the start of this contest, David Miliband had the money and the big- name backing. The Chancellor and the Home Secretary from the last Government were both behind him and his campaign was being run by the man who had co-ordinated Labour’s General Election efforts. But Ed always had something that David didn’t have: an understanding of how to make the party love him.
The attacks on Ed Miliband from the Blairite old guard have been so strident because they fear what he represents – the end of the New Labour project. They are right. He heralds a distinct move to the Left.
Ed Miliband is not a politician searching for the centre ground. Instead, he is an ideological Left-winger. He wants higher taxes, more spending and more regulation.
During his leadership campaign, he made, according to the Tories, £28 billion worth of spending commitments at a time when Britain urgently needs spending cuts to deal with its unsustainable deficit.
The Tories have long wanted Ed Miliband to win. When I asked a Cabinet minister recently which Miliband he’d prefer to take on, he danced a little jig of joy as he said Ed. The Tories can’t believe that Labour have elected a candidate who wants to move the party on from the strategy that won it three Election victories.
Already, the Tories are planning to push him constantly to say what he would do about the deficit. In the words of one Tory involved in the preparations for dealing with the new Labour leader, ‘the deficit is the one thing that they can’t deal with’.
Barack Obama: the Great Unravelling of a One-Term President?
The White House threw open its doors to Bob Woodward but the unflattering portrait could not have come at a worse time for Barack Obama, argues Toby Harnden
A president has no more solemn duty than that of being commander-in-chief. And judging from the evidence presented by Woodward, Barack Obama's view of that role is at best disquieting. Nearly 100,000 American troops are now committed to Afghanistan but Obama's principal war aim is to withdraw and his main preoccupation is how the conflict plays domestically, particularly within his own Democratic party.
"This needs to be a plan about how we're going to hand it off and get out of Afghanistan," Obama says at one stage. At another he declares that "everything we're doing has to be focused on how we're going to get to the point where we can reduce our footprint".
Obama comes across as viewing his generals with thinly-disguised hostility, while at the same time acquiescing to their proposals for the escalation of the Afghan war he so wants to avoid. His arbitrary drawdown of July 2012 was a signal to the Taliban to hang on because American commitment to success was lukewarm and time-limited.
The description of Obama staffers glorying in the firing of General Stanley McChrystal because they believed it boosted the president's macho credentials (it did the opposite) brings shame on the administration. Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the coverage of it is that the White House is so delusional it seems to think their man has come out of it rather well. In fact, Woodward's book will further damage Obama and could not have come at a worse time.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll finds him at an all-time low of 42 per cent approval, against 54 per cent who disapprove.
Obama has even lost Shepard Fairey, the man who created the iconic red and blue "Hope" poster of Obama's visage. Those who elected Obama, he said this week, feel cheated. "They wanted somebody who was going to fight against the status quo and I don't think that Obama has done that."
The president can't stop blaming George W Bush for anything that goes wrong but it will be the current rather than the former president who Democrats will take to task after November.
Obama scarcely helped himself this week when he responded in a CNBC "town hall" event to a black woman who said she was "exhausted of defending you" by prefacing his answer with "as I said before" – code for "you're clearly too dumb to have understood me the first time".
David Axelrod, the most civilised of Obama's closest aides, has been tasked to make nice with liberals and encourage the media to get back behind the man who was their candidate in 2008. The result? Not much doing. When he announced his desire to "enlist" liberal bloggers for the midterms, one tore into him, accusing the White House of engaging in "hippie bashing".
Reporters were not impressed by Axelrod's demand in a Washington Post opinion piece that the press needed to investigate Republicans. These days, the White House press corps is feeling unloved by Obama's inner circle and a tad embarrassed about 2008.
In the meantime, Obama's Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are either running away as fast as they can from the president or curling up in the fetal position by postponing a congressional vote on whether to extend the Bush tax cuts – a move that makes them look both weak and cowardly.
For the first time, and despite the fact that no credible Republican candidate for 2012 has yet emerged, Obama is looking like a one-term president while one-party rule in Washington is in its death throes.
When Woodward writes his book about what is happening now, he could do worse than call it The Great Unravelling.
Silencing the churches
Hard to see how it fits the 1st Amendment
It was a voice vote that silenced the voice of the church for generations. In 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson was in the middle of a particularly bruising re-election battle. Two nonprofit groups had been especially troublesome to the senator, vocally opposing his candidacy.
So, on a hot summer day in Washington, D.C., Johnson slipped an amendment into the IRS 501(c)(3) code that governs nonprofit organizations in order to restrict their speech -- including the speech of churches. Johnson’s amendment stated that nonprofits could not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing and distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.” The penalty for such “participation?” Revocation of their tax-exempt status.
Without debate, the Senate held a quick voice vote on the amendment. As the chamber filled with a chorus of “Ayes,” the church became infected with an instant case of laryngitis, thanks to the Senator from Texas.
Before the Johnson Amendment, churches had a strong and vibrant voice in our political and cultural discourse. Their speech was not muzzled, and the church played an important role in speaking out and shaping public opinion on issues such as slavery, women’s rights, child labor, and civil rights.
However, since the passage of the amendment, the IRS has steadfastly maintained that any speech by churches about candidates for government office, including sermons from the pulpit, can result in the loss of tax exemption. Even though the IRS has never revoked the tax-exempt status of any church that has violated the amendment, it has had a chilling effect on the free speech of pastors across the nation.
It’s now time to ask the question: Who decides what the church can and cannot say? Should it be the government? Or should it be the church?
The Alliance Defense Fund looked into the history of the Johnson Amendment and came to the conclusion that the church, and not the government, should determine whether or not it should support a political candidate or speak out on an important moral issue.
ADF concluded that the Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by requiring the government to excessively and pervasively monitor the speech of churches to ensure they are not in violation of the amendment. It violates the Free Speech clause of the same amendment since it requires the government to discriminate against speech based solely on its content and makes a tax exemption conditional on speech. Finally, it violates the Free Exercise Clause because it substantially burdens a church’s free exercise of religion.
ADF is not arguing that churches should act like political action committees, or that pastors should routinely endorse or oppose candidates. What they are saying is that while many pastors and other church leaders may choose not—for various reasons—to talk about political issues from the pulpit, that should be their decision, not the IRS’s.
I agree with ADF. Decisions about what is preached from the pulpit of a church should not belong to the government but to the individual pastor and church itself. That is why I support Pulpit Freedom Sunday, to be observed on Sept. 26, in which pastors across America will take a courageous stand and boldly challenge the IRS’s restrictions on their freedom of speech when it comes to political candidates and issues. If the IRS threatens their tax-exempt status, ADF attorneys will file lawsuits on these pastors’ behalf with the hope that they will eventually lead to the Johnson Amendment being declared unconstitutional. ADF believes that if these cases ever come to trial, this will be the likely result.
Many Christians have an understandable fear of the overuse of litigation. But that does not prevent Christians from making appropriate use of litigation when warranted. The approach ADF is using is simply the only realistic way to have an unconstitutional IRS rule removed from the books when the IRS won’t do it on its own. Far from being a rash project put together by people eager to engage in litigation, this approach has been painstakingly thought out. It is the wisest and most effective course—indeed, the only one that has promise.
So take the occasion this week on Pulpit Freedom Sunday to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy and resolve never to weaken, never to be intimidated, and never to back down. As those of us who signed the Manhattan Declaration have affirmed, “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's.”
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