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Beckwith

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Spending on White House dinners soars under Obama

Richard Pollock is reporting that Obama has spent far more lavishly on White House state dinners than previous chief executives, including nearly $1 million on a 2010 dinner for Mexico's president, according to documents obtained by The Washington Examiner.

Presidents have long used formal dinners to court foreign heads of state and to dish out fine food and wine to reward political, financial and show business celebrities and supporters.

But current and former government officials said the documents obtained by The Examiner point to an unprecedented upsurge in White House spending on such events.

The Obama extravaganza two years ago for Mexican President Felipe Calderon, which included a performance by pop star Beyonce, cost $969,793, or more than $4,700 per attendee, the documents show.

The Calderon dinner was held on the South Lawn in a massive tent adorned with decorated walls, hanging chandeliers, carpeting and a stage for Beyonce's performance.

Guests rode private trolley cars from the White House to the tent. Celebrity guest chef Rick Bayless from Chicago’s Topolobampo restaurant was imported to prepare Oaxacan black mole, black bean tamalon and grilled green beans.

The dinner for the prime minister of India -- which was famously crashed by Virginia couple Michaele and Tareq Salahi -- cost nearly half a million dollars. Dinners for Chinese Premier Hu Jintao and British Prime Minister David Cameron were of the same level of extravagance.

A knowledgeable government official who made the documents available to The Examiner said the extravagant spending seemed unfair with so many Americans out of work.

"It just kind of takes your breath away to see the expenditure of money that has occurred since 2009," the official said.

Gary Walters, who ran presidential household operations for 21 years during Democratic and Republican administrations, before retiring in 2007, told The Examiner the costs reflected in the documents were "excessive. They are high."

The chief usher of the White House from the Reagan to George W. Bush presidencies, Walters consulted a former White House colleague and said neither of them could recall entertainment costs anywhere near those revealed in the documents provided to The Examiner.

"The highest [cost] event we could remember was $190,000 to $200,000 range, and that was for a very large dinner outside that was probably somewhere in the vicinity of 500 people with two different tents," Walters said, noting that the event was held under President Clinton.

Data for state dinner costs under Bush were unavailable because he signed an executive order in 2001 that put all presidential documents under seal for five years after a chief executive leaves office.

Spokesmen for the presidential libraries of Clinton and President George H.W. Bush were unable to locate data for dinners held in those years.

State dinner costs are a closely guarded secret, the officials said, because of concern about offending governments whose dignitaries receive less opulent bashes than others.

A White House spokesman declined to comment.

The documents also reveal that the Obama White House retained an outside planner for the dinners. Bryan Rafanelli, a Boston-based celebrity event planner who was retained last year, managed former first daughter Chelsea Clinton's 2010 nupitals. His firm's website boasts that he produced "State Dinners hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama."

Rafanelli's business partner, Mark Walsh, is deputy chief of the State Department's Office of Protocol, which reimburses the White House executive residence for the events.

An attorney, Walsh worked on the 2008 presidential campaigns of both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to his official online biography.

Under a long-standing agreement, state dinner expenses are sent by the White House to Walsh's office for processing. His name does not appear in any of the documents obtained by the newspaper.

Asked about the propriety of a White House contractor having a business relationship with a federal official in a position such as Walsh, Walters said, "I don't think it looks very good. Does it smell right? No."

Walters said he never used outside event planners because "I believed the White House residence staff could do the job."

A spokesman for Rafanelli declined to make him available for comment.


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Beckwith

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Obama has been living on Easy Street


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Lou E Brown

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To Michelle (not including the children)
  

For the first time in my adult life I actively dislike the FLOTUS based on her obvious disdain for me and all of the peons who support her lifestyle. I know that she knows that her dog Bo's papers are more honest and accurate than the "papers" of her mate. I find her unworthy to walk in the same footprints as Laura Bush and the past ladies who were honored with the privilege of being one of millions to be called "First Lady", a title of respect which you have sullied with disrespect. I do not regard your profligate spending of my meager lifetime earnings as anything that came to you as an entitlement, and I do ask that you stop taking American taxpayers' money to purchase whatever you take a fancy to for yourself. Go sit down somewhere and stop spending for a year or two. Thanks your your attention to this message.

Lou E Brown

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Thanks for your service, K4AA. My husband served, retired as USNavy CPO. I wish that every person who wants to be POTUS should have spent at least on tour of duty in some branch of our military before being CIC of our troops.  

 

K4AA

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I served as an Air Force officer many years ago. I took the same oath as Obama. I can't begin to describe the wonderful vacations the USAF provided me. I can't describe them because there weren't any. My first lady got to stay home shaking in fear that I would not return. I would do it over again gladly.

This travesty going on in the WH desecrates the oaths taken by military members. They (Obamas) are supposed to be stewards of our national treasury. They deserve 30 days leave with no transportation provided except for space available in military aircraft. They (Michelle plus girls) should spend their leave visiting the troops around the world in the many "vacation" spots" around the world (maybe Shemya, Adak etc.). These vacation spots will provide endless cultural and geographic diversity for their daughters. Security will be provided by MP's, SP's and AP's at far lower expense. A ride in a C-17 on the strap seats will provide a lot of fun for the kids. They can have fancy meals in the noncom messes around the world with an occasional treat at the O-club. Obama should remain in the WH. The country is in crisis. He should not take a vacation except for a few days rest in his Chicago home.


OK I finally woke up, what a crazy dream!

Seriously

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Why am I not surprised?  Can someone please lock them in their rooms for the next year and 3 months?

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Beckwith

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Obamas' daughters now designated "senior staff"

Bob Unruh says the Obamas' two daughters, Sasha and Malia, were listed as "Senior Staff" on the manifest of a family safari to Africa, which cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars at a minimum, according to a government corruption fighter based in Washington.

The information comes from some of the documentation from the Obama family's June 21-27 trip to South Africa and Botswana that was obtained under a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch.

Among the bits of information that have been released as a result of the court action were that the children were listed as "Senior Staff" on the manifests for the trip, and the costs of the military airplane used for the trip were in the range of $425,000 -- all paid by taxpayers.  

While Michelle Obama delivered some speeches on the trip, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the taxpayers' money was wasted.

"This trip was as much an opportunity for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a trip to conduct government business," said Fitton.  "This junket wasted tax dollars and the resources of our overextended military.

"No wonder we had to sue to pry loose this information."

Continue reading here . . .

 


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Beckwith

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Nearly $500K to send Michelle, family to Africa

Mark Tapscott is reporting First Lady Michelle Obama's June 21-27 trip to Africa cost taxpayers nearly half-a-million dollars, according to official documents obtained by Judicial Watch.

 

How much does it cost taxpayers to fly First Lady Michelle Obama, her two daughters and her mother, a niece and a nephew, a hairstylist and makeup artists to South Africa and Botswana to give a few speeches, meet Nelson Mandela, and enjoy a safari on a private game preserve?

Nearly half a million dollars, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) concerning Obama's June 21-27 journey.

Judicial Watch said the U.S. Air Force provided a C-32 - a Boeing 757 modified by the military for the purpose of flying big-wigs around the world - to fly the First Lady and her entourage to and from Africa, at a cost of $424,142. Another $928.44 was listed as the cost of providing 192 meals for the 21 people who made the trip

The Obama daughters were listed on the manifest as "senior staff."

“This trip was as much an opportunity for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a trip to conduct government business,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This junket wasted tax dollars and the resources of our overextended military. No wonder we had to sue to pry loose this information.”

The documents made public by Judicial Watch do not include the total of all costs for the First Lady's trip, such as expenses for security, transportation on the ground and so forth. For more information, go here.

 


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Beckwith

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Where in the World is Michelle Obama?



Actually, the cost of Michelle's staff is well know.  Michelle Obama is served by twenty-six attendants, including a hair dresser and make-up artist.

The annual cost to taxpayers for such unprecedented attention is approximately $1,750,000, without taking into account the expense of the lavish benefit packages afforded to every attendant.

Their names, roles and salaries here.  Although this list may not be current.   The turnover of Michelle's staff is extraordinary.

In less than three years, Michelle is on her third chief of staff and third social secretary.  She is on her second communications director, the White House chief usher recently departed, her press secretary's left and the executive director of Obama's signature campaign to fight childhood obesity also left.

Sources familiar with the East Wing, who asked not to be named discussing internal dynamics, described Michelle's office as a challenging workplace, where grueling hours and the expectations of a formidable boss intensify the demands of managing a popular first lady's schedule, image and agenda.

"The first lady is a lovely woman, but she's tough as nails, and that can be hard for some people," said a source familiar with the office.  "She has really high expectations."

Lovely?  THis is a case study of a "hostile work environment."

Pressure; high expectations; discipline; challenging workplace; grueling hours; expectations of a formidable boss; demands; managing ... schedule, image and agenda.


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Beckwith

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Michelle Antoinette goes shopping



Can you count the firearms?

And check out the Secret Service checking out the photographer.  They definitely have "eyes on" him/her.

And look at the four in the background with their backs to the camera.  They have the whole street blocked off.

There's more than a dozen bodyguards in this photo -- and why? -- Michelle Antoinette wants to shop unencumbered by the children, who were off shopping on the neighboring island of Natucket (see above item), undoubtedly with another dozen agents -- and the US Coast Guard riding shotgun.

And just look at her expression -- pissed off -- as usual.

How was your summer vacation?

Related:  Queen Michelle Obama Wore $156 T-Shirt For Bike Workout


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Seriously

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Great for Judicial Watch!  Now if Congress would actually do something about all of the crap that the O's are pulling I'd have a little more faith in our government.

Like I said at the very beginning of this administration, the O's are like little children just pushing and pushing and not caring.  They are testing the limits of how far they can push before they are held accountable, then they'll pull back just enough. Then they'll start doing it again finding that line.
Articles like these, they probably just smirk and giggle at like "so what, what are you going to do about it?".  Sick people!


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Beckwith

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U. S. Air Force sued for Documents detailing the cost to taxpayers for Michelle Obama's family trip to Africa

PRNewswire-USNewswire is reporting that Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on August 19, 2011, against the United States Air Force to obtain records related to the June 21-27, 2011, trip taken by First Lady Michelle Obama, her family, and her staff to South Africa and Botswana.  Judicial Watch is seeking the documents to determine details about the trip and, in particular, a breakdown of the costs to taxpayers (Judicial Watch v. USAF (No. 11-1496)).

The Judicial Watch FOIA request filed on June 28, 2011, seeks: 

•  Any and all records concerning mission taskings of First Lady Michelle Obama's June 21-27, 2011 trip to South Africa and Botswana.
•  Any and all records of concerning transportation costs for Mrs. Obama's June 21-27 trip to South Africa and Botswana.
•  Any and all passenger manifests (DD-2131) for Mrs. Obama's June 21-27, 2011 trip to South Africa and Botswana.

According the U.S. Postal Service records, Judicial Watch's FOIA request was received by the Air Force on July 6, 2011.  A response to the request was due within 20 working days, or by August 3, 2011.  As of August 19, 2011, the date of the complaint, the Air Force has failed to produce the records requested or respond with a date they will be forthcoming. 

The professed purpose of Mrs. Obama's trip was to encourage young people living in South Africa and Botswana to get involved in national affairs.  Michelle Obama's remarks focused on education, health, and wellness issues.   However, accompanied by her daughters Malia and Sasha, her mother, Marian Robinson, and her niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, the trip also included such tourist events as visits to historical landmarks and museums as well as a visit with Nelson Mandela, described by Mrs. Obama as "surreal."  The trip ended with a private family safari at a South African game reserve before the group returned to Washington on June 27.


Driving Miss Dizzy

Judicial Watch is investigating the total cost of the trip to the taxpayers in the face of a ballooning federal debt and a sinking economy.  As stated in an analysis by White House Dossier (the blog of White House reporter Keith Koffer, who writes for CongressDaily, National Journal, Roll Call and Politico), the cost to taxpayers for the C-32 was $430,000 alone.  This cost is based on an estimated charge of $12,723 an hour, which is what the Department of Defense charges other federal agencies for use of the aircraft.  If a military cargo plane was included -- which typically accompanies a First Lady -- the cost of transportation could have escalated by another $200,000.

Other costs, such as Secret Service protection, the care and feeding of staff, and pre-trip advance work done by administration officials in Africa, cannot be determined without examining records. 

"How much did the American people spend to send the First Lady on a family outing in Africa?  That's what we want to know," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  "On the surface, the trip seems to have been totally unnecessary and was as much an excuse for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a mission intended to advance the nation's business in Africa."


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Beckwith

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Time for the White House to rein in Michelle Obama's out-of-control spending

Nile Gardiner says with the United States facing a national debt of more than $14 trillion, the largest since World War Two, wouldn't it make sense for the White House itself to start trimming its own spending?  A good place to begin cutting would be Michelle Obama's rather generous vacation programme.  Keith Coffler, who edits the influential White House Dossier, notes that Michelle Obama spent no less than 42 days on vacation over the past year -- that's one in every nine days:

Her vacations, the cost of which are mostly borne by taxpayers, include trips to Panama City, Fla., Martha's Vineyard, Hawaii, South Africa, Latin America, Vail, Colo., and her visit this week to her brother in Corvallis, Ore.
 
The total does not include a nine day sojourn in Martha's Vineyard that the Obamas will enjoy this month.  Nor does it include a trip she made to Ireland and Great Britain in May, which I'm counting as official travel.

 
As Coffler points out, there is a significant cost to the public purse:

Taxpayers pick up most of the cost of transporting the first lady and her extensive entourage -- including Secret Service and her staff -- to her various destinations.  While she may in some cases pay some of the tab for her personal expenses and travel, the amount is dwarfed by the overall cost to the public.
 
It is unclear what the total cost to the taxpayer actually amounts to.  According to one estimate provided by the Daily Mail, the First Lady stands accused by sources inside the White House of spending "$10 million of US taxpayers' money on vacations alone in the past year."  Judging by the amount of vacation time Michelle Obama has taken and the level of security and staffing that she has, this sounds like a plausible figure.  It would be in the public interest to have the exact numbers provided by the White House so that Americans know precisely how much of their money is being spent on vacations.
 
There does appear to be an unhealthy sense of entitlement on the part of the First Lady, which seems in poor taste at a time when 14 million Americans are out of work, the housing market is collapsing, and the United States is facing the strong possibility of a double-dip recession.  Perhaps Mrs. Obama could take a few tips on austerity as well as humility from her British counterpart Samantha Cameron, who has just one assistant, in contrast to at least 17 personal staff for the First Lady, and doesn't feel the need to travel en masse with an entourage at taxpayers' expense.  The vast majority of Americans are making significant sacrifices at this time of economic turmoil, and tens of millions are struggling even to make ends meet.  It's time for Barack Obama and his wife to exercise a bit of fiscal responsibility, not least when they are spending other people's hard-earned money.

This guy gets it and he's a Brit!

 


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Captain Mack

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No doubt Michelle is in possession of the only US credit card that still has any room left on it. ~~~ *M*

Beckwith

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Island hopping on the taxpayers' dime

The Cape Cod Times is reporting that while Barack Obama played golf yesterday, his daughters, Sasha and Malia, took an excursion to Nantucket.

They arrived at noon in a private, 40-foot boat, which was escorted into the harbor by a Coast Guard cutter, according to a source with knowledge of the girls' trip to the island.

Accompanied by Secret Service agents on the impromptu visit, the girls strolled around downtown, and were spotted at the Cheryl Fudge clothing store and other locations in the core district before departing around 5 p.m.

Evidently there aren't enough shops on Martha's Vineyard.
 
I wonder if Michell is proud of her country now that she gets to use the U. S. Coast Guard as baby-sitters?

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Beckwith

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Tamara Abraham is reporting that The Obamas' summer break on Martha's Vineyard has already been branded a PR disaster after the couple arrived four hours apart on separate government jets, but according to new reports, this is the least of their extravagances.

White House sources today claimed that the First Lady has spent $10million of U.S. taxpayers' money on vacations alone in the past year.

Branding her "disgusting" and "a vacation junkie," they say the 47-year-old mother-of-two has been indulging in five-star hotels, where she splashes out on expensive massages and alcohol.

Michelle is believed to have taken 42 days of holiday in the past year, including a $375,000 break in Spain and a four-day ski trip to Vail, Colorado, where she spent $2,000 a night on a suite at the Sebastian hotel.  The first family's nine-day stay in Martha's Vineyard is also proving costly, with rental of the Blue Heron Farm property alone costing an estimated $50,000 a week.

The source continued: "Michelle also enjoys drinking expensive booze during her trips.  She favours martinis with top-shelf vodka and has a taste for rich sparking wines."

"The vacations are totally Michelle's idea.  She's like a junkie.  She can't schedule enough getaways, and she lives from one to the next -- all the while sticking it to hardworking Americans."

While Obama and his wife do pay for some of their personal expenses from their own pocket, the website whitehousedossier.com says that the amount paid by the couple is "dwarfed by the overall cost to the public."

The magazine also reported that Mrs. Obama, whose fashion choices are widely followed, had been going on "wild shopping sprees," much to the distress of her husband, who, its sources reveal, is "absolutely furious" at his wife's "out-of-control spending."

Barack Obama has already come under fire this week over his decision to take a family vacation while millions of Americans are out of work and countless more are financially strapped, but the situation sparked further anger after he and his wife elected to fly separately to the Massachusetts retreat -- despite travelling on the same day.

Barack Obama left the White House aboard Marine One on his way to Andrews Air Force base to hitch a lift aboard Air Force One -- along with First Dog Bo.  After landing at Cape Cod Coast Guard Air Station, he then took a final helicopter to his holiday destination to complete the remarkable 500-mile journey.  His wife and daughters, who arrived just four hours earlier, were also travelling from Washington, but took a specially designed military aircraft.  They would also have had their own motorcade from the airport to the vacation residence.


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