Thank You, Obama…1 in Every 6 Americans Now on Government Aid, and the Number Is Growing By Leaps and Bounds!

August 31, 2010

Close to 10 million receive unemployment insurance, nearly four times the number from 2007. Benefits have been extended by Congress eight times beyond the basic 26-week program.

By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Government anti-poverty programs that have grown to meet the needs of recession victims now serve a record one in six Americans and are continuing to expand.

More than 50 million Americans are on Medicaid, the federal-state program aimed principally at the poor, a survey of state data by USA TODAY shows. That’s up at least 17% since the recession began in December 2007.

“Virtually every Medicaid director in the country would say that their current enrollment is the highest on record,” says Vernon Smith of Health Management Associates, which surveys states for Kaiser Family Foundation.

The program has grown even before the new health care law adds about 16 million people, beginning in 2014. That has strained doctors. “Private physicians are already indicating that they’re at their limit,” says Dan Hawkins of the National Association of Community Health Centers.

More than 40 million people get food stamps, an increase of nearly 50% during the economic downturn, according to government data through May. The program has grown steadily for three years.

Caseloads have risen as more people become eligible. The economic stimulus law signed by President Obama last year also boosted benefits.

From:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-08-30-1Asafetynet30_ST_N.htm

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Are You LISTENING Yet, Obama?

August 30, 2010

Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on all 10 of the important issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports.

The GOP has consistently been trusted on most issues for months now, but in July they held the lead on only nine of the key issues. 

Republicans lead Democrats 47% to 39% on the economy, which remains the most important issue to voters. Those numbers are nearly identical to those found in June. Republicans have held the advantage on the economy since May of last year.

But for the first time in months, Republicans now hold a slight edge on the issues of government ethics and corruption, 40% to 38%.

From:  http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/trust_on_issues


Obama and family take ANOTHER luxury holiday vacation (their 6th vacation this year!); Obama “perfects golf swing” while Americans struggle…

August 18, 2010

 

Barack Obama and his family are about to set off on a 10-day holiday in Martha’s Vineyard, an island hideaway favoured by the rich and well-connected, before returning to a busy autumn election season.

As they did this time last year, Mr Obama, his wife Michelle and their daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, nine, are leaving Washington for the coast of Massachusetts.

“The president is definitely going to spend a little time recharging his batteries,” said Bill Burton, the deputy White House press secretary.

No public events are planned and like last year, Mr Obama will work to perfect his swing at one of the island’s golf courses, Mr Burton said.

“There will be some hiking, some time at the beach, some time at the ice cream store – all the sort of things you do when you’re at Martha’s Vineyard. You enjoy the people and the good food,” he said.

But presidential holidays remain at the mercy of unexpected events: last Christmas, a young Nigerian under the sway of Al-Qaeda tried to bring down a US passenger plane, disrupting Mr Obama’s holiday in his native Hawaii.

Leaving nothing to chance this time, Mr Obama is bringing along his anti-terrorism adviser John Brennan, Mr Burton said. Two other close aides, Valerie Jarrett and Pete Rouse, also will be on the trip.

The Obamas were criticised last year for having chosen, in the middle of a severe recession, to vacation on an island where houses cost millions of dollars.

In an attempt to avoid headlines this year comparing Massachusetts’s immaculate beaches to those of the spill-sullied Gulf of Mexico, Mr Obama took his family to Florida last weekend and exhorted his fellow Americans to follow suit.

The first family will return from their trip on Aug 29.

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/7951321/Obamas-head-to-Marthas-Vineyard-for-10-day-holiday.html


Obama Administration Attempting to Destroy Career of “America’s Toughest Sheriff” in Order to Stop Him from Detaining Illegal Aliens

August 18, 2010

A federal investigation of a controversial Arizona sheriff known for tough immigration enforcement has intensified in recent days, escalating the conflict between the Obama administration and officials in the border state.

Justice Department officials in Washington have issued a rare threat to sue Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio if he does not cooperate with their investigation of whether he discriminates against Hispanics. The civil rights inquiry is one of two that target the man who calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff.” A federal grand jury in Phoenix is examining whether Arpaio has used his power to investigate and intimidate political opponents and whether his office misappropriated government money, sources said.

The standoff comes just weeks after the Justice Department sued Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer (R) because of the state’s new immigration law, heightening tensions over the issue ahead of November’s midterm elections. The renewed debate has focused attention on Arpaio, a former D.C. police officer who runs a 3,800-employee department, and a state at the epicenter of the controversy over the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

Once seen as a quirky figure who has inmates dress in pink underwear and forces them to work on chain gangs, Arpaio has in recent years become a kind of folk hero to those who favor his heavily publicized “crime sweeps,” conducted mostly in Hispanic neighborhoods. But civil rights groups accuse the 78-year-old lawman of racial profiling. And some Maricopa County officials say Arpaio has begun meritless corruption investigations of officials who have criticized his policies or opposed his requests.

Those allegations are at the core of the Justice Department investigations, according to documents, lawyers familiar with the inquiries, and people who have been questioned by FBI agents and the grand jury.

The investigations reflect the tangled politics surrounding the immigration debate. The criminal probe is led by Dennis K. Burke, the U.S. attorney in Phoenix who was a top aide to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Two of Arpaio’s attorneys, Robert N. Driscoll and Asheesh Agarwal, were officials in the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the George W. Bush administration. They denied that the sheriff, a Republican who has been reelected four times since 1992, has been uncooperative or has engaged in racial profiling, misusing money or targeting political enemies.

“The sheriff’s office is cooperating fully with the grand jury investigation and has complete confidence that the inquiry will clear it of any wrongdoing,” Agarwal said. “The office has always fulfilled its responsibilities truthfully, honorably, and in full compliance with state and federal law.”

Arpaio’s attorneys contend that the investigations are politically motivated, citing a news conference in March at which Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was quoted as saying he expects the inquiries to “produce results.”

“While we have no quarrel with the assistant U.S. attorneys handling the investigation, the attorney general’s comments appear to violate federal regulations, departmental policy and state ethical rules designed to ensure the fairness of criminal investigations,” Agarwal said.

Brewer and her supporters have also asserted that the Justice Department was politically motivated in its lawsuit over the state law, which authorizes, among other things, police officers to ask about the status of people suspected of being in the country illegally. A federal judge last month stopped the most controversial sections of the legislation from taking effect.

Justice Department officials denied any political considerations, saying the investigations and the lawsuit are based on the facts and the law. They declined to comment on details of the Arpaio inquiries.

The civil rights division’s investigation began in March 2009 and focuses on whether Arpaio’s department engaged in “discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures,” along with allegations that his jail discriminated against Hispanic inmates, according to letters the division sent to Arpaio. A complaint to the Justice Department said that even bilingual jail guards are required to speak to inmates only in English and that the rule could endanger prisoners’ medical care. The jail was also accused of forcing Hispanic visitors to fill out a “citizenship check” form, the letters said.

Lawyers in the division have repeatedly interviewed Phoenix area human rights leaders about Arpaio’s immigration sweeps, and local “cop watch” groups have turned over hours of video footage of the sweeps to investigators.

“Their questions are in regards to racial profiling, questions about what are the practices when people get stopped,” said Salvador Reza, an organizer with the Puente human rights movement who has met with Justice Department lawyers. He said the lawyers have asked about the treatment of inmates in Arpaio’s jail.

In an Aug. 3 letter to Arpaio’s attorneys, Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said the sheriff’s office had declined repeated requests to turn over documents and meet with investigators. Without cooperation by Tuesday, the letter said, the government would file suit “to compel access to the requested documents, facilities and personnel.”

In his Aug. 5 reply, Driscoll accused the Justice Department of “a desperate attempt” to compel cooperation and of “a public relations campaign against Sheriff Arpaio.” He added: “DOJ cannot require the reproduction of millions of pages of documents so DOJ can ‘see what it can find.’ ”

Arpaio’s resistance is highly unusual: Justice Department officials said the threat of such a lawsuit is rare. They added that they plan to meet with the sheriff’s attorneys next week in a last-ditch effort to forestall litigation. If the department files a broader civil lawsuit, it could result in the department terminating the several million dollars in grants to Arpaio’s office each year or in a judge’s order forcing him to change his policies.

McCrummen reported from Phoenix.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/17/AR2010081703637_pf.html


Thanks, Obama…Jobless Millions Signal Death of the American Dream for Many

August 15, 2010

Even the criminals have fallen on hard times in America’s poorest city as the long-term unemployed struggle to keep a grasp on normality

Richard Gaines is one of the best-known faces on Camden’s Haddon Avenue. It is a rough-and-tumble street, lined with cheap businesses and boarded-up houses, and is prey to drug gangs. Gaines, 50, runs a barbershop, a hair salon and a fitness business. He works hard and is committed to his community. But Haddon Avenue is not an easy place to make a living in the best of times. And these are far from the best of times.

Just how badly the great recession has struck this fragile New Jersey city, which is currently the poorest in America, was recently spelled out to Gaines. In happier times – whatever that might mean for a city as destitute as Camden – local businesses on Haddon Avenue could at least rely on a bit of trade from those who made their money on the street.

Young men bought flashy clothes and got sharp haircuts and always paid in cash. But no longer. The economy is now so bad in Camden that even the criminals are struggling and going short. “Even the guys who got money from illegal means really don’t want to spend it,” Gaines said.

Such a development, though, is just a snapshot of the deep problems still hitting the wider American economy. Growth rates are stuttering and a recovery is struggling to take hold. It may even now be showing signs of going backwards again, as countries such as Germany start to power forward. Joblessness has taken hold in America, with the numbers of long-term unemployed reaching levels not seen since the Depression of the 1930s. The figures are frightening and illustrate a society that remains in deep trouble.

The headline jobless figure of 9.5% is bad enough but does not begin to convey the problem as it fails to measure those who have stopped looking for work. Over the past three months alone more than a million Americans have fallen into that category: effectively giving up hope of finding a job and dropping out of the official statistics. Such cases now number some 5.9 million and their ranks are likely to grow as millions more find their jobless status becoming a permanent state of hopelessness. Surveys show that with each passing week on the dole their chances of finding a job get slimmer.


Obama says plans to build mosque near Ground Zero should go forward, in spite of opposition from majority of Americans

August 14, 2010

President Barack Obama on Friday endorsed a controversial plan to build a mosque and Islamic center just blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan, despite the strong objections of conservatives, the ADL and those who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks.

“Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground,” Obama said at a White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. “But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

Having steered clear of the controversy for weeks, Obama took on opposition to the mosque directly — a move that many other Democratic lawmakers had been hesitant to do in the face of highly emotional appeals against its construction.

But polls indicate the issue could be a high-voltage third rail for politicians who support the project: a recent CNN poll found that 68 percent of those surveyed did not approve of building a mosque so close to where the World Trade Center towers fell, killing more than 2,000 people.

| AP CloseBy ABBY PHILLIP & MAGGIE HABERMAN | 8/13/10 8:37 PM EDT Updated: 8/14/10 12:40 AM EDT

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/41060.html#ixzz0wYirMuGr


Obama to Host Another Ramadan Meal at White House…

August 13, 2010

He didn’t have time for the Boy Scouts 100th Anniversary celebration…ordered Christian symbols taken down during a speech at a major university…but he bows to Saudi kings and has time to celebrate Islamic holidays at the White House.

And he doesn’t understand why people say he’s out of touch with Americans?

 — Spencer

President Obama will host an iftar — the special evening meal observed during Ramadan — on Friday night in the White House dining room.

Obama participated in a similar gathering last year.

Celebrations like iftar dinners “remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings,” Obama wrote in a statement Wednesday.

“Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality … a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country.”

The dinner comes amid a growing controversy over the proposed construction of an Islamic cultural center in downtown Manhattan, near the site of the World Trade Center. A CNN poll released Wednesday found that 68 percent of the public opposes the project.

Meanwhile, the White House — which has made great efforts to reach out to the Muslim community — has been silent on the issue.

From:  http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/114115-obama-to-host-ramadan-meal