Archive for October 15th, 2009

Attention seniors! Your Social Security payment could shrink next year

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Social Security Administration | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Connie Madon

This news comes on the eve of an announcement by the Social Security Administration stating that there will be no “cost of living” this year. By law, increases in Social Security payments are tied to the cost of living, or COLA. Since there is no inflation this year, there will be no increase in Social Security benefits. This would be the first year since 1975 with no increase.

The problem with COLA is that it is calculated on the basis of “core CPI,” which excludes food and energy. This has been a big flim flam for seniors ever since the beginning because food and energy have been two areas where the biggest increases in living costs can be found. We are going to be paying more to heat our homes this winter than last, and prices at the supermarket are not going down.

The $250 payments would also go to those receiving veterans benefits, disability benefits, railroad retirees and public employee retirees who don’t receive Social Security.

Should the COLA be changed to include the costs of food and energy?

Great article from Bloggingstocks.com

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Obama Cuts Pro-Democracy Funds for Iran

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Iran | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

By: Kenneth R. Timmerman

The Obama administration has cut funding for pro-democracy and human rights programs in Iran, reversing years of efforts during the Bush administration to help develop a civil society, congressional sources told Newsmax this week.

 The move is apparently intended to please Iran’s rulers after they criticized President Obama and the State Department for allegedly seeking to fund a “velvet revolution” during the June presidential elections in Iran.

“It sounds like the Iranians complained in Geneva and we acceded to their demands,” a former senior government official familiar with the pro-democracy programs told Newsmax.

Word that the administration was planning to cut the pro-democracy programs leaked out in June, when the draft budget for the State Department sent to Congress zeroed out the funds.

 The aid cut-back became public last week, when the executive director of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, which is affiliated with Yale University campus in New Haven, Conn., disclosed that her center’s request for a grant of $2.7 million had been denied.

 “If there is one time that I expected to get funding, this was it,’’ Renee Redman told the Boston Globe last week. “I was surprised, because the world was watching human rights violations right there on television.”

 Redman’s center has received $3 million under the State Department program, and has issued reports on human rights abuses. However, they were not active inside Iran and had no programs to support the pro-democracy movement itself, as such activities were considered “too provocative” by the State Department even under President George W. Bush.

 Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who co-sponsored legislation earlier this year that greatly expands pro-democracy funding, questioned the wisdom of the Obama administration’s policy shift.

 “It is disturbing that the State Department would cut off funding at precisely the moment when these brave investigations are needed most,” he said last week.

 Lieberman’s bill, called the Victims of Iranian Censorship (VOICE) act, passed the Senate in July and has been incorporated into the annual defense appropriations bill, which is scheduled for a final vote this week.

 The legislation expands funding for Farsi-language broadcasts by the Voice of America and Radio Farda and authorizes the State Department to spend up to $20 million to develop new technologies to help Iranians get around Internet censorship, and another $5 million for human rights documentation.

 Congress continues to fund the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which last year handed out $450,000 to three Iranian-American organizations for media and Internet-related projects. But compared to the $75 million fund set up by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — now frozen by the Obama administration — the NED money is just a drop in the bucket.

 “The State Department cut in pro-democracy funding for Iran is part and parcel of a very deliberate policy by President Obama to diminish the role of human rights and democracy as goals of U.S. foreign policy,” said Joshua Muravchik, a scholar focusing on democracy promotion with the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

 “This is taking us back to a Nixonian approach to foreign policy, with the incompetence of Carter and the national self-effacement of George McGovern,” he told Newsmax.

 President Nixon set aside democracy and human rights to deal with dictatorships such as Communist China and Soviet Russia, based on U.S. national interests. “The Obama administration has combined realism with policies that put the national interest quite low” on the scale of priorities, Muravchik said.

 The Iran democracy programs have been shrouded in secrecy, even though they are not classified. David Denehy, a former program manager at the State Department, said he had agreed not to disclose specific grantees or projects, to protect participants who were working inside Iran.

 “We did good things with Internet freedom, civil society organizations, and in helping to better inform the Iranian people and better connect them to the outside world,” he told Newsmax. “I don’t see why President Obama wouldn’t support these things. The United States philosophically should always stand on the side of freedom against tyranny.”

 The Iranian regime has accused the United States of backing presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi before and after the disputed June 12 presidential elections.

 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unexpectedly poured fuel onto those suspicions. In an Aug. 9 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, she said that the Obama administration was torn between their desire to engage the regime and their sympathy for the protesters.

 “And we knew that, if we stepped in too soon, too hard, the attention might very well shift and the leadership would try to use us to unify the country against the protesters. And that was — it was a hard judgment call. But I think we, in retrospect, handled it pretty well.

 “Now, behind the scenes, we were doing a lot, as you know,” Clinton added, citing specifically the actions of a young State Department employee, Jared Cohen, who intervened with the management of Twitter to prevent them from shutting down access to Iranian bloggers for technical maintenance.

 Iranians close to the protesters have argued that the Obama administration turned its back on them when they most needed moral support from Washington.

Read more great articles on Newsmax.com

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Acorn’s Ally at the NLRB

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Obama appoints an SEIU man with ties to Blago.

One of Big Labor’s priorities in Washington is to place allies in key government jobs where they can overturn existing labor policy without battles in Congress. This is a very good reason for the Senate to hold a hearing on the nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Mr. Becker is associate general counsel at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is most recently in the news for its close ties to Acorn, the disgraced housing shakedown operation. President Obama nominated Mr. Becker in April to the five-member NLRB, which has the critical job of supervising union elections, investigating labor practices, and interpreting the National Labor Relations Act. In a 1993 Minnesota Law Review article, written when he was a UCLA professor, Mr. Becker argued for rewriting current union-election rules in favor of labor. And he suggested the NLRB could do this by regulatory fiat, without a vote of Congress.

Yet now that he could soon have the power to act on this conviction, Mr. Becker won’t tell Congress if this is what he still believes. In written responses to questions from Republican Orrin Hatch, Mr. Becker promised only to “maintain an open mind about whether [his] suggestions should be implemented in any manner.” That sounds like his mind is made up but he won’t admit it lest it hurt his confirmation.

Mr. Becker also won’t give a clear answer about his role in preparing several pro-labor executive orders issued by President Obama shortly after inauguration. Mr. Becker’s name was found in at least one of the documents, suggesting that he had written it.

When asked by Sen. Hatch if he was “involved or responsible in any way” for these executive orders, Mr. Becker responded: “I was not responsible for [the specific executive orders] except as described below. As a member of the Presidential Transition Team, I was asked to provide advice and information concerning a possible executive order of the sort described. I was involved in researching, analyzing, preliminary drafting, and consulting with other members of the Transition team.” In other words, Mr. Becker was the main author but would rather not say so explicitly.

Read the rest onlineWSJ.com

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GOP Lawmakers Accuse Muslim Advocacy Group CAIR of Planting Spies on Capitol Hill

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: CAIR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Four congressmen are asking for an investigation into the Council on American Islamic Relations after discovering an internal memo noting the group’s strategy. 

Four House Republicans on Wednesday accused the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group of trying to “infiltrate” Capitol Hill by placing interns in the offices of lawmakers who handle national security issues.

The four lawmakers, members of the anti-terror caucus, asked for an investigation into the Council on American Islamic Relations after discovering an internal memo noting the group’s strategy. They also highlighted a new book by Paul Sperry titled “Muslim Mafia,” scheduled for release on Thursday, which claims the group has been actively infiltrating Congress.

Reps. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Trent Franks of Arizona, Paul Broun of Georgia and John Shadegg of Arizona asked the Internal Revenue Service to determine whether CAIR deserves its nonprofit status. They also are asking their colleagues to review a summary of findings that led the Justice Department to name CAIR as a co-conspirator in a terrorism case.

The internal memo, provided to FOXNews.com, stated that CAIR would “focus on influencing congressmen responsible for policy that directly impacts the American Muslim community.”

The memo cited three House committees — Homeland Security, Intelligence and the Judiciary — as panels on which lawmakers preside over policy affecting American Muslims.

“We will develop national initiatives such as a lobby day and placing Muslim interns in Congressional offices,” the memo read.

Earlier this year the FBI severed its once-close ties with CAIR as evidence mounted of the group’s links to a support network for Hamas, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization.

“It’s frightening to think that an organization with clear-cut ties to terrorism could have a hand in influencing policy — especially national security policy — within our government,” Myrick said. “The investigations that we’re asking for are simple, and I’m hopeful that they will bring to light any and all information regarding the goals of CAIR.”

Read the rest at FoxNews.com

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Is Obama’s face on U.S. flag illegal?

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Obama | Tags: , , , , |

‘O’ SAY CAN YOU SEE?

Is Obama’s face on U.S. flag illegal?

President’s mug on more than 20 altered Old Glory banners

By Chelsea Schilling

At least 20 American flags with the stars removed from the blue field and President Barack Obama’s face inserted are still available on numerous eBay auctions – but, according to a state code, the listings may violate the law.

WND found three auctions for dozens of defaced flags on the auction site – all located in the state of Washington and within one hour of one another: Castle Rock, Vancouver and Longview.

The listings were posted by ucandoit45, mekaitlyn-2008 and jaysterd.

The U.S. flag code does not specify penalties for desecration or misuse of the United States flag, but each state has its own laws for such issues. According to the Revised Code of Washington, the eBay items located in Washington may constitute improper use of an American flag:

RCW 9.86.020
Improper use of flag prohibited.

No person shall, in any manner, for exhibition or display:

(1) Place or cause to be placed any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawing or advertisement of any nature upon any flag, standard, color, ensign or shield of the United States or of this state, or authorized by any law of the United States or of this state; or(2) Expose to public view any such flag, standard, color, ensign or shield upon which shall have been printed, painted or otherwise produced, or to which shall have been attached, appended, affixed or annexed any such word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawing or advertisement; or

(3) Expose to public view for sale, manufacture, or otherwise, or to sell, give, or have in possession for sale, for gift or for use for any purpose, any substance, being an article of merchandise, or receptacle, or thing for holding or carrying merchandise, upon or to which shall have been produced or attached any such flag, standard, color, ensign or shield, in order to advertise, call attention to, decorate, mark or distinguish such article or substance.

RCW 9.86.030
Desecration of flag.

No person shall knowingly cast contempt upon any flag, standard, 

color, ensign or shield, as defined in RCW 9.86.010, by publicly mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning, or trampling upon said flag, standard, color, ensign or shield.Improperly using or desecrating the American flag is considered a gross misdemeanor in the state of Washington.

Read the rest of the story with pictures on WND.com

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REV. AL SOAKS UP BOYCOTT BUCKS

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Sharpton | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By ISABEL VINCENT and SUSAN EDELMAN

Last Updated: 4:07 AM, June 15, 2008

Anheuser-Busch gave him six figures, Colgate-Palmolive shelled out $50,000 and Macy’s and Pfizer have contributed thousands to the Rev. Al Sharpton’s charity.

Almost 50 companies – including PepsiCo, General Motors, Wal-Mart, FedEx, Continental Airlines, Johnson & Johnson and Chase – and some labor unions sponsored Sharpton’s National Action Network annual conference in April.

Terrified of negative publicity, fearful of a consumer boycott or eager to make nice with the civil-rights activist, CEOs write checks, critics say, to NAN and Sharpton – who brandishes the buying power of African-American consumers. In some cases, they hire him as a consultant.

The cash flows even as the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn has been conducting a grand-jury investigation of NAN’s finances.

A General Motors spokesman told The Post that NAN had repeatedly – and unsuccessfully – asked for contributions for six years, beginning in August 2000.

Then, in December 2006, Sharpton threatened to call a boycott of the carmaker over the closing of an African-American-owned GM dealership in The Bronx, and he picketed outside GM headquarters on Fifth Avenue.

Last year, General Motors gave NAN a $5,000 donation. It gave $5,000 more this year, a spokesman said, calling NAN a “worthy” organization.

In November 2003, Sharpton picketed DaimlerChrysler’s Chicago car show and threatened a boycott over alleged racial bias in car loans.

“This is institutional racism,” he bellowed.

In May 2004, Chrysler began supporting NAN’s conferences, which include panels on corporate responsibility and civil rights and a black-tie awards dinner to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Last year, Sharpton gave Chrysler an award for corporate excellence.

In 2003, Sharpton targeted American Honda for not hiring enough African-Americans in management.

“We support those that support us,” wrote Sharpton and the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, president of NAN’s Michigan chapter, in a letter to American Honda. “We cannot be silent while African-Americans spend hard-earned dollars with a company that does not hire, promote or do business with us in a statistically significant manner.”

Two months after American Honda execs met with Sharpton, the carmaker began to sponsor NAN’s events – and continues to pay “a modest amount” each year, a spokesman said.

“I think this is quite clearly a shakedown operation,” said Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center in Virginia, a conservative corporate watchdog. “He’s good at harassing people and making noise. CEOs give him his way because it is a lot easier than confronting him.”

Read this rest of this article on NewYork Post 2008

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ACORN, Payola and Color of Law

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , , , , |

by Mark J.Fitzgibbons
Here’s one example of how state law enforcement officials have leveraged and possibly violated the law to help ACORN in return for ACORN’s political help.

In December 2004, Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch sued Capital One for failing to state in its advertisements that it could increase interest rates on credit cards. As part of a 2006 settlement, Capital One paid $749,999, of which $249,999 went to ACORN, $250,000 went to the nonprofit Legal Aid, and $250,000 to the State of Minnesota.

ACORN’s political action committee had endorsed Mike Hatch for attorney general in 1998 and 2002, and in 2006 for governor.

In 2008, Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor, James Nobles, conducted a review of the Capital One settlement and payment to ACORN. By letter, he asked Hatch’s successor, current state Attorney General Lori Swanson (who was given a grade of A+ from ACORN in 2008) for information about the settlement. Specifically, Nobles asked:

[Minnesota statute 16A-151] says: ‘A state official may not commence, pursue, or settle litigation, or settle a matter that could have resulted in litigation, in a manner that would result in money being distributed to a person or entity other than the state.’ An exception is… if the settlement amount is less than $750,000. It is alleged that the Attorney General’s office sought a judgment of $749,999 to avoid the prohibition [on diverting settlement money from the state]. Is that true? If not, please explain why the Attorney General’s office sought a $749,999 judgment.

Swanson’s response to Nobles in May 2008, rather than conducting any independent inquiry herself, consisted of forwarding a May 2008 letter from Mike Hatch, who denied impropriety. Swanson’s response to the investigation of whether Minnesota law was violated, in other words, was that the alleged perpetrator said he’s innocent.

Hatch’s letter begged more questions than it answered. In response to Nobles’ question about why Hatch sought and accepted a $749,999 settlement, exactly one dollar below the statutory threshold requiring all of the settlement money to be paid to the state, Hatch replied, “[t]he answer is because that is what the statute permitted.”               That answer, of course, evades Nobles’ question. The settlement could have been for any amount or no amount whatsoever, rather than exactly one dollar below the threshold that would have required the settlement proceeds be paid to the state. That exactly one-dollar difference would have barred ACORN from receiving any portion of the settlement proceeds.

Read the rest of the article on The American Thinker

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Checketts drops Limbaugh

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Rush | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was dropped from a group bidding to buy the St. Louis Rams.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the story on Wednesday.

Limbaugh was to be a limited partner in a group headed by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts. Checketts said in a statement Wednesday that Limbaugh’s participation had become a complication in the group’s efforts and the bid will move forward without him.

Checketts told the Associated Press he will have no further comment on the bid process.

Three-quarters of the league’s 32 owners would have had to approve any sale to Limbaugh and his group. Earlier this week, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay predicted that Limbaugh’s potential bid would be met by significant opposition. Several players have also voiced their displeasure with Limbaugh’s potential ownership position, and NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith, who is black, urged players to speak out against Limbaugh’s bid.

A Limbaugh spokesman told ESPN that Limbaugh would have no comment on Wednesday. Earlier, on his syndicated radio show, Limbaugh was defiant, holding on to hope that he still could be part of the ownership group that buys the Rams.

“This is not about the NFL, it’s not about the St. Louis Rams, it’s not about me,” Limbaugh said. “This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.

“Therefore, this is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we’re going to have.”

Without Limbaugh, Checketts and his group will have to find another partner. At the NFL owners meetings this week in Boston, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed Limbaugh’s potential involvement in the league and said “divisive comments are not what the NFL is all about.”

Goodell added: “I’ve said many times before, we’re all held to a high standard here. I would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL — absolutely not.”

In 2003, Limbaugh was forced to resign from ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown after saying of Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb: “I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.”

The Rams had no comment, reissuing a statement from Oct. 5 in which owner Chip Rosenbloom said a review of the team’s ownership was under way and the club will make an announcement when it’s over.

Checketts, the chairman of SCP Worldwide, announced that Limbaugh had been dumped toward the end of a news release.

“It has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions; endangering our bid to keep the team in St. Louis,” Checketts said. “As such, we have decided to move forward without him and hope it will eventually lead us to a successful conclusion.”

The move was hailed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the most vocal critics of Limbaugh’s bid.

“It is a moral victory for all Americans — especially the players that have been unfairly castigated by Rush Limbaugh,” Sharpton said in a statement. “This decision will also uphold the unifying standards of major sports.”

Go to ESPN to see Video  ;Information from The Associated Press is included in this report

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Bozell to CNN, MSNBC: I Hope You Have Good Lawyers

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Rush | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

By NB Staff (Bio | Archive)

“CNN and MSNBC were given ample opportunity to come clean, but both are continuing to masquerade malicious lies [against Rush Limbaugh] as credible,” Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell said in a statement today.

Yesterday, Bozell promised to report back publicly with how CNN and MSNBC responded to his challenge to put up – or shut up – proof that Rush Limbaugh actually stated the racist quote that both cable networks attributed to him as fact, or to immediately retract and apologize for their participation in spreading an outlandish lie. 

Talk show giant Limbaugh denied having ever stated, “Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back. I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.” Further, it has been established that this was a fabrication pushed through the Internet, intentionally designed to destroy Mr. Limbaugh’s reputation at a time he is attempting to purchase a professional football team.

In addition to this public call to action, Mr. Bozell overnighted letters to CNN President Jonathan Klein and MSNBC President Phil Griffin to ensure both took the matter seriously. Both CNN and MSNBC failed to respond appropriately.

CNN’s Rick Sanchez, who was responsible for pushing this lie initially, had the gall to repeat the lie but this time also attaching Mr. Limbaugh’s denial, suggesting the truth was unclear when the truth is absolutely crystal clear. CNN neither apologized nor retracted.

MSNBC was even worse.  This disgraceful network continued to repeat this smear on MSNBC Live.

Neither showed any initiative to source the fabricated quote, nor did either network retract or apologize for spreading the false propaganda on their broadcast airwaves.  Instead, both CNN and MSNBC repeated the fictitious statement that was created to smear Rush Limbaugh and his character.

MRC President Brent Bozell issued the following statement: at Newbusters.com

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