Tag Archives: Vacation

Obama and family bill taxpayers for 17 lavish vacations

FrontPage Magazine explains.

Excerpt:

When the president’s 13-year-old daughter, Malia, took a Spring Break trip to Mexico with 12 of her friends and 25 Secret Service agents–one that reportedly cost taxpayers $2.5 million–it was covered by the mainstream media. AFP filed the initial report, and the story was subsequently picked up by Yahoo, the Huffington Post, and the International Business Times, as well as foreign publications, such as Daily Mail, the Telegraph and The Australian.

Yet by the same evening, all of the stories had been removed from each of those sites. The updated links either directed one to a site’s home page or 404 error pages, reading “page not found.” What happened? The White House got a compliant media to scrub the story. Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, confirmed this to Politico: “From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.”

Again, such concerns for the safety of First Family members are entirely legitimate. Yet some questions remain unanswered. Why would the president allow his daughter to travel to Mexico despite a Texas Department of Public Safety warning not to go there because “cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat, even in some resort areas”? Why was it necessary to include a dozen friends, making the trip more expensive and security far more complicated? Why are members of the mainstream media taking marching orders from the White House? Why did the trip costtaxpayers $2.5 million?

Perhaps, as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Last week, Judicial Watch released a report revealing that First Lady Michelle Obama’s trip to Costa Del Sol, Spain in 2010 cost taxpayers $467,585. Again, no reasonable person begrudges a woman in the public spotlight some rest and relaxation. But as the New York Times reports, part of that R&R included a stay at the “five-star Hotel Villa Padierna near Marbella, where at least 30 rooms were reserved for the entourage, including those for security. The hotel is one of Spain’s more luxurious establishments, with rooms ranging from $500-a-night to a $6,600 suite with 24-hour butler service.”

Furthermore, Mrs. Obama is hardly reticent when it comes to taking vacations. Her February 2012 trip to upscale Aspen, Colorado, for a President’s Day ski weekend with daughters Sasha and Malia, marked the 16th vacation (the updated number is now 17) taken by Obama family members in just over three years, not including visits to the Camp David compound, or short trips like a New York City “date night” taken in May 2009. Nor is the First Lady or the president seemingly concerned saddling taxpayers with the cost of flying separately to the same vacation sites. It cost taxpayers $100,000 when the First Lady jetted to a 2010 Hawaii vacation ahead of her husband, and several thousands more when the First Lady traveled to a Martha’s Vineyard vacation on a separate government jet only four hours prior to the president’s trip there. While at Martha’s Vineyard, the First Family stayed at Blue Heron Farm, a property that reportedly rents for approximately $50,000 per week. And on a trip to Maine in July of 2010, the President’s dog, Bo, and his handler traveled on a separate plane to that destination.

Such a penchant for extravagance has added up to some pretty daunting numbers. The UK’s Daily Mail, citing White House sources who referred to the First Lady as “a vacation junkie,” claimed Michelle Obama had “has spent $10 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money on vacations alone in the past year”–as of August 2011. The unnamed source further notes that Mrs. Obama also enjoys “drinking expensive booze during her trips. She favors martinis with top-shelf vodka and has a taste for rich sparking wines.”

We are now approaching a $16 trillion dollar national debt, with $8 trillion of it accumulated between the time when the Democrats took over the House and Senate in January 2007 to now. You would think that we might see some awareness of the situation from the man in charge. But he seems to be oblivious to what real Americans are facing as they try to make ends meet.

Iran set to steal military technology from the drone Obama gave them

Fars News reports. (H/T Gateway Pundit)

Excerpt:

Senior Iranian officials announced here in Tehran on Monday that experts of the country’s Science and Defense Ministries are likely to launch joint cooperation to study and analyze the technology of the US drone that was downed by Iran early in December.

“We have had some meetings with the Defense Minister about the kind of cooperation that the academic community can have with our country’s Armed Forces on the US spy drone and once we come to the final conclusions we will be ready for cooperation,” Iranian Minister of Science, Research and Technology Kamran Daneshjou told FNA on Monday.

“The country’s universities have informed the Science Ministry that they are ready to study and analyze the US stealth drone and demanded the Science Ministry to inform the Defense Ministry of their preparedness in this regard,” he added.

Iran first announced on December 4 that its defense forces had downed the aircraft through a sophisticated cyber attack.

The drone is the first such loss by the US. US officials have described the loss of the aircraft in Iran as a setback and a fatal blow to the stealth drone program.

The RQ-170 has special coatings and a batwing shape designed to help it penetrate other nations’ air defenses undetected.

So what was Obama doing when he refused to act to destroy the drone? (See video above)

Obama doesn't have time for national security
Obama doesn't have time for national security

Obama golfs while Iranians neutralize our stealth drone program. George W. Bush golfed 24 times in 8 years. Obama has golfed 90 times in 3 years. I think he needs to do less golfing, and more national security decision making.

Barack Obama’s Hawaiian vacation estimated to cost $4 million dollars

Obama plans to hit the golf course at taxpayer expense
Obama plans to hit the golf course at taxpayer expense

From Hawaiian Reporter. (H/T Director Blue)

Excerpt:

The U.S. Secret Service has arrived, street barricades are in place, and the U.S. Coast Guard has stationed itself in the waters surrounding Kailua, Oahu.

That is a sure sign President Barack Obama’s security team is preparing for the first family to arrive in the small beachside community as early as Friday night for what is expected to be a 17-day vacation.

The President and his family are traveling separately to Hawaii because he wants resolve the payroll tax cut issue before leaving Washington – and his wife does not want to wait.

But the advanced trip and the cost that comes with it – as much as $100,000 (flight and security) – adds to an already expensive vacation for the taxpayers.

Hawaii Reporter research shows the total cost for the President’s visit for taxpayers far exceeded $1.5 million in 2010 – but is even more costly this year because he extended his vacation by three days and the cost for Air Force One travel has jumped since last assessed in 2000. In addition, Hawaii Reporter was able to obtain more specifics about the executive expenditures.

The total cost (based on what is known) for the 17-day vacation roundtrip vacation to Hawaii for the President, his family and staff has climbed to more than $4 million. Here’s why.

TRAVEL: $3,629,622

The biggest expense is President Barack Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii via Air Force One, a cost the GAO office estimated at $1 million in the year 2000. Contacted today, the GAO confirmed there is no report the independent office affiliated with Congress has prepared since 2000 to operate Air Force One and Air Force Two.

However, the U.S. Air Force provides the most current numbers of $181,757 per flight hour. Travel time for Air Force One direct from Washington D.C. to Hawaii is about 9 hours or $1,635,813 each way for a total of $3,271,622 for the round trip to Hawaii and back.

The cost for USAF C-17 cargo aircraft that transports the Presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii was not made available. However, the flight time between Andrews Air Force Base and Hawaii is at about 21.5 hours roundtrip, with estimated operating cost of $12,000 per hour. (Source: GAO report, updated by C-17 crew member). The United States Marine Corps provides a presidential helicopter, along with pilots and support crews for the test flights, which travel on another C-17 flightThat is $258,000, not including costs for the 4 to 6 member crew’s per diem and hotel.

Mrs. Obama’s early flight to Hawaii costs about $63,000 (White House Dossier), but add security and personnel for a total of about $100,000.

The rest of that article calculates the remaining components of the FOUR MILLION DOLLAR bill.

On another topic, here is a re-cap on our budget situation in 2012:

Barack Obama, Budget Deficit and Debt to GDP
Barack Obama, Budget Deficit and Debt to GDP

Remember, the Democrats took control of the House and Senate in January 2007, and that’s when the overspending started.

Why should we expect someone who can spend FOUR MILLION dollars on a vacation to have the discipline and frugality to balance the nation’s books?

Should Christians be prudent and responsible when planning their lives?

Here’s a great article from Relevant Magazine that talks about the realities of the Christian life.

Excerpt:

“What are you doing this summer after classes?” a college student asks his friend late in the spring semester.

“Well, I’m working with an electrician.”

“Oh, OK.”

“What about you?  What are your summer plans?”

“I’m actually gonna be living in an orphanage in Africa, loving on those kids and doing some community development stuff.”

“Oh …”

In conversations like this, it is likely that the 20-year-old working with the electrician will feel spiritually inferior to the 20-year-old who has plane tickets in hand for Kenya. There is also the tendency for the guy with the ticket to feel as though he is a bit more sincere in his devotion to Jesus.

Believe me, I do not wish to discourage young people from boarding flights to Africa. But I also do not wish to disparage electrical work as spiritually insignificant.

Scripture calls us into radical service—but that does not allow others to eviscerate tedious, less “spiritually” glamorous tasks of their meaning in God’s Kingdom. Scripture also calls us to embrace the mundane and ordinary as holy and beautiful: “… aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands” (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

Many of us want to do something awesome, something epic. We tend to think that the more normal, the less “spiritual.” So it is quite possible that our aspirations to be radical stem from dangerous ambitions to perform biography-worthy feats of global glory.  

But radical discipleship is not adventure tourism.  

Following Jesus is not to be romanticized through impressive Facebook status updates or photos of exotic places on our blog. Discipleship is often ugly, messy and painful. Faithful service will regularly lead us into dull labors and bewildering struggles that would make unexciting press. To romanticize social justice or cross-cultural evangelism is to promote an idealism that will be inevitably vaporized on the field, inadvertently leading to burnout and cynicism.

This reminds me of a must-read post I wrote about former fundamentalist Christian Dan Barker. He also acted imprudently with financial issues, compromised all of his beliefs in order to appeal to a wider base of donors, and ended by rejecting Christianity completely because being nice paid more than being faithful to the exclusive truth claims and moral rules of orthodox Christianity. You can actually destroy your own faith by being a lousy steward of your finances. Uninformed, lazy Christians with emotion-fueled expectations of bliss don’t stay Christians for very long. The less you know about apologetics, the more you start to care about pleasing people and making them feel good, so that they like you. It’s a short jump from fideism to apostasy.

You may also be interested in this post that I wrote about the futility and narcissism of certain wasteful short-term mission trips that are undertaken in order to have emotional experiences and cheap peer approval. There are plenty of people in your workplace or neighborhood who need love and evangelism and apologetics just as much as people in warm, sunny vacation spots. (Note: some short-term mission trips are worthwhile, for Christians who are qualified and who make longer-term commitments to form relationships). It’s much better to toil anonymously and in secret, and to have God see what you are doing in secret. It’s better to help others without anyone knowing that you are the one helping.

Do unemployment benefits encourage people to avoid working?

This is from the radically-leftist New York Times. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Before this recession, most economists probably thought that some amount of unemployment benefits were just and compassionate, and offered a sense of security even to people who were lucky enough to retain their jobs, despite the fact that the program would raise unemployment rates and reduce both employment and economic output.

In other words, unemployment benefits shrink the economy to some degree, but shrinking the economy a bit may be a price worth paying.

Unemployment benefits were thought to reduce employment and output because, by definition, working people were ineligible for the benefits. In particular, an unemployed person who finds and starts a new job, or returns to working at his previous job, is supposed to give up his unemployment benefits. Economists had found that a large fraction of unemployed people delay going back to work solely because the unemployment insurance program was paying them for not working.

Fewer people working means a lower employment rate, and less output because unemployed people are not yet contributing to production.

The recession has seen a number of economists ignore prior findings on unemployment insurance, at least as long as this recession continues. For example, in evaluating the stimulus law economists at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office assumed that the law would raise gross domestic product, and took no account of the fact that the unemployment insurance and other provisions of the stimulus law give people incentives to work less.

Here’s a new study explaining how the “generosity” of the radical left actually encourages people to avoid working, and to remain dependent on the government for their income.

A study published by two labor economists, Stepan Jurajda and Frederick J. Tannery, looked at employment histories for unemployment insurance recipients in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s. Unemployment rates got quite high in Pittsburgh in those days, reaching 16 percent at one point, and staying over 10 percent for two and a half years.

The chart below summarizes their findings for Pittsburgh.

The chart displays the fraction of persons (in Pittsburgh) receiving unemployment benefits who began working again, as a function of the number of weeks until their unemployment benefits were scheduled to be exhausted. For example, a “hazard” value of “0.04″ for week “-14″ means that, among unemployed persons with 14 weeks remaining until their benefit exhaustion date, 4 percent of them either began working a new job or returned to their previous job.

The chart:

Unemployment offers a disincentive to find work
Unemployment offers a disincentive to find work

That chart basically shows the breaking down of the American working spirit by the radical left – making large segments of the American population dependent on government. This isn’t good for the producers, and it isn’t good for unemployed people to be out of work by choice. (Although to be sure, many many unemployed people are not unemployed by choice).