Archive | September 2009

Michelle Obama’s staff cost taxpayers $1.75 million

The White House is open for business and as such the first lady, Michelle, has hired roughly 25 staff members that report directly to her. This is a break from the previous two first ladies’; Hillary Clinton managed three employees, while Laura Bush had just one employee.

The magnitude of the first lady’s staff comes at a staggering taxpayer cost of $1.75 million per year. This number doesn’t include federal benefits, this cost is undisclosed.

The salaries rage from $172,200 at the high end to $36,000 on the low end. While most Americans suffer from the global-sized recession, the White House doesn’t seem to be too frugal with its spending practices.

For the link to the White House employee list;

The following are the names and salaries of Michele Obama’s staff
1. $172,200 – Sher, Susan (Chief Of Staff)
2. $140,000 – Frye, Jocelyn C. (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady)
3. $113,000 – Rogers, Desiree G. (Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary)
4. $102,000 – Johnston, Camille Y. (Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady)
5. $102,000 Winter, Melissa E. (Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)
6. $90,000 – Medina, David S. (Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)
7. $84,000 – Lelyveld, Catherine M. (Director and Press Secretary to the First Lady)
8. $75,000 – Starkey, Frances M. (Director of Scheduling and Advance for the First Lady)
9. $70,000 – Sanders, Trooper (Deputy Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady)
10. $65,000 – Burnough, Erinn J. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)
11. $65,000 – Reinstein, Joseph B. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)
12. $62,000 – Goodman, Jennifer R. (Deputy Director of Scheduling and Events Coordinator for the First Lady)
13. $60,000 – Fitts, Alan O. (Deputy Director of Advance and Trip Director for the First Lady)
14. $60,000 – Lewis, Dana M. (Special Assistant and Personal Aide to the First Lady)
15. $52,500 – Mustaphi, Semonti M. (Associate Director and Deputy Press Secretary to the First Lady)
16. $50,000 – Jarvis, Kristen E. (Special Assistant for Scheduling and Traveling Aide to the First Lady)
17. $45,000 – Lechtenberg, Tyler A. (Associate Director of Correspondence for the First Lady)
18. $45,000 – Tubman, Samantha (Deputy Associate Director, Social Office)
19. $40,000 – Boswell, Joseph J. (Executive Assistant to the Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)
20. $36,000 – Armbruster, Sally M. (Staff Assistant to the Social Secretary)
21. $36,000 – Bookey, Natalie (Staff Assistant)
22. $36,000 – Jackson, Deilia A. (Deputy Associate Director of Correspondence for the First Lady)
24. Ingrid Grimes-Miles (Makeup artist)

25. Johnny Wright (First Hairstylist)

For the official White House list;

American taxpayer won on health care – No public option

Score one for the good guys. Not only did the public option in the health care bill fail in the Senate Finance Committee, but it failed twice. It finally appears the lawmakers are listening to what Americans have been saying loud and clear- no government-run option.

Looking to give President Obama a bill to sign by the end of the year, Chairman Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, will have to include a few less pages.

The victory is not the Republicans, but the American people. The August town halls and relentless emailing has finally paid off.

The hope now is Washington takes a deep breath, and begins to put together some real reform efforts in small doses. Now is the time to build upon consensus and listen to what the collective voters are saying- not the far right or the far left.

Once Washington counted the votes in the Finance Committee and the public-option failed for a second time, Baucus announced it was his job to garner 60 votes in the Senate to present the White House with health care legislation worthy of a signature.

“No one shows me how to get 60 votes with a public option,” says Baucus. With a couple of Democrats voting against the public option in committee it became a reality that the 100-member Senate cannot withstand a filibuster by the Republicans.

In the end, the Republican argument regarding a Trojan horse leading to a single-payer system prevailed as three Democrats abandoned their public option amendments.

Leading Democratic, centrist, Kent Conrad-ND, criticized the public option and said, “The devil is in the details.” He also pointed out that a government run plan would cause every major hospital to go bankrupt.

“I can’t possibly support any amendment that does that,” Conrad explained.

It remains to be seen if any meaningful health care reform will pass anytime soon. However, Americans can expect much more dissent in both houses in the coming weeks because the trouble-making tea party movement and they show no signs of letting up.

For more stories;

California lawmakers want to suspend ALL immigration laws

California State Senator Gilbert Cedillo-D put forth a resolution that passed in the California Senate condemning specified policies and practices of federal agencies regarding the enforcement of immigration laws. Furthermore Cedillo’s resolution urges Congress and President Obama to declare an immediate moratorium on immigration policies and practices until a comprehensive reform of immigration is enacted.

Although a Joint Senate Resolution does not have the force of law, it is voted on in both California Houses. This resolution has passed in a partisan Democrat vote. The resolution is not typically sent to the Governors desk. Most would consider the document more of a hopeful resolution.

The first paragraph of the resolution reads, “The State of California values all of its residents, whether they be citizens, legal residents, or undocumented immigrants, and strives to enable all residents to work and live free from discrimination, exploitation, and repressive federal immigration enforcement.”

However Congressman Brian Bilbray-R Calif. reminds Sen. Cedillo that this resolution breaks the laws of the Constitution. “He should look up the separation of powers section and this resolution is nothing more than political posturing.”

According to Sen. Cedillo’s Press Secretary Xochitl Arellano, Senator Cedillo who campaigned with President Obama has now officially put the President on notice. “The electronic raids have to stop.”

There are hundreds of undocumented workers losing their jobs on a moments notice, Arellano points out. “The Obama Administration must stop E-Verify, period.”

When asked about the California’s double-digit unemployment rate and the difficulty U.S. citizens’ face Arellano says, “We are not responding to that and it doesn’t matter.”

This resolution will surely create a firestorm of backlash from those who demand enforcement of state and federal immigration laws.

One such opponent is State Assemblyman Martin Garrick-R Carlsbad.

“ It’s ridiculous and Assemblyman Garrick has tried numerous times to strengthen immigration laws and how to better identify the ones who reside in the jail system,” says Mike Zimmerman, press secretary for Garrick. “However, the make up of the state legislation makes it difficult to get any meaningful reform through.”

Zimmerman continues to say a moratorium on immigration enforcement would be a public safety threat and should be very concerning for all citizens in the country.

Tactics like these doesn’t come as a surprise from anti-amnesty and secure border groups like the Minutemen.

“Gil Cedillo has long been a strong advocate for Mexican illegal aliens, but this crosses the line and is a direct attack on American citizens and taxpayers. Cedillo does not speak for most Californians with his seditious words and radical propaganda,” says Jeff Schwilk, Founder of the San Diego Minutemen.

On a national level, immigration organizations that study the issues and their affect on the U.S. population like Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) view Cedillo’s action as unacceptable.

“In the wake of busts across the country of ‘separate, unrelated’ terrorism busts of individuals who are mostly foreign born, California wants to replace some semblance of order provided by solid programs like E-Verify and 287(g) that better help us find out who is authorized to be here and who has and has not broken the law, with blinders. What are California lawmakers thinking? Would it matter if the Dallas bomber was the LA bomber instead?” Janice Kephart, Director of National Security Policy for CIS said.

To read Senate Joint Resolution 19;

For more stories;

Amnesty legislation pushed back to 2010

Immigration legislation in the form of amnesty is setting up to be a battle the White House will tackle in 2010.

The Obama Administration was hoping to reward the Latino voters with amnesty for getting him into the White House; however, the raging battles over health care have pushed that issue into Obama’s second year.

News of the short respite was welcome to those who are gearing up for a prime-time showdown.

Groups like Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) will most likely spend their time educating all Americans of the social and economic consequences for a blanket amnesty.

They will not be alone in the fight against amnesty. Numbers USA has also ramped up their rhetoric and plans to “fight every little legislative favor or loophole for illegal aliens.”

Earlier this summer President Obama committed to giving amnesty to those in the U.S. illegally. He said, “Am I going to be able to snap my fingers and get this done? No. This is going to be difficult.”

That is where anti-amnesty groups and President agree.

The difficult economy and high unemployment figures won’t make it any easier to convince Americans of the necessity to add more bodies to the melting pot.

In the meantime, the White House continues to lay the ground work for amnesty by pulling back on workplace enforcement, taming the 287g rule and making it harder for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest those in the country illegally.

Since the President took office, his administration has hamstrung many enforcement rules, slowed E-Verify and indicated to those in the country illegally amnesty is on they way with Obama in charge.

When the President spoke to Univision, a Spanish network channel last week, he reiterated his commitment to doling out amnesty, but suggested it might be a tougher fight than expected.

Recent polls suggest the overwhelming majority of Americans do not want amnesty. Rasmussen Reports say 83 percent of Americans do not want illegals to gain free health care. They go on to report the mood regarding amnesty is just as uncertain with only 26 percent of the country in favor of illegal aliens getting amnesty.

For more stories;

$400,000 taxpayer money set to line Libyan leader Qaddafi pockets

It’s just been a few weeks since the unjust release of the only terrorist convicted of the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing and a few hours after Muammar el-Qaddafi scathing 90-minute speech to the United Nations calling the U.N. Security Council a ‘terror council’ and now taxpayers are supposed to fork over $400,000.

The payment comes as another insult to American taxpayer when they are losing their homes and jobs.

However, there is a bi-partisan effort to stop payment of the funds in Congress. Rep. Mark Kirk-R, ILL and John Adler-D NJ are among the two dozen lawmakers looking to President Obama’s Administration to do the right thing.

The bi-partisan group believes the State Department will be sending the wrong message to the families of the Lockerbie bombing victims if they send the substantial chuck of money to Qaddafi’s children so-called ‘charity’ organizations.

“Just weeks after the Qaddafi family celebrated the return of a terrorist responsible for the murders of 189 Americans, the U.S. taxpayer should not be asked to reward them with $400,000,” says Kirk in a statement to the press.

However, the Qaddafi’s see things a little differently and claim this money will help the West’s standing inside Libya.

“When I arrived at the airport with Mr. Megrahi (convicted terrorist), there was not a single government official present,” says Qaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi. “Contrary to reports in the Western press, there was no ‘hero’s welcome’ for Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi when he returned to Libya.”

Apparently his father, Muammar the Libyan dictator, is not part of the government, as he was among the thousands that greeted the convicted terrorist at the Libyan airport.

According to the State Department, they also plan to give Libya $2.5 million to support U.S. government agencies inside Libya.

In a letter, 18 Republicans and 8 Democrats asked President Obama to consider withdrawing the Administration request to give Qaddafi’s children $400,000 for their foundations.

For more stories;

San Diego ACORN office is on the receiving end of a protest

A group of 30 protesters stood outside a San Diego ACORN office, alerting passerby’s to their discontent with the community organization groups venture into criminal activity.

Since the tapes were released a week ago, San Diego Association of Community Organization Reform Now (ACORN) office has been targeted by the County Board of Supervisors, Governor Schwarzenegger and now county taxpayers.

“We have to continue to keep the pressure on this government and stop the corruption before it’s too late,” said protest organizer Lindy Reedy.

The peaceful protest was not welcome by all. Employees of ACORN called the police. “Yeah, four cop cars showed up, asked us if we were going to stay on the sidewalk and not cause any trouble and we said, yes,” Reedy said. “I think they were on our side. They were super nice and let us carry on with our protest.”

The group of concerned taxpayers also decided to make up their own chant about ACORN, playing off the Obama sing along the school children in New Jersey sang.

“Mmm-mmm-mmm, ACORN really sucks, mmm-mmm-mmm they’re stealing all our bucks, mmm-mmm-mmm, Acorn’s committing crime, mmm-mmm-mmm not on our dime,” is how the little ditty played.

The group declared the afternoon protest a success as 60 percent of the cars honked and they only got the finger once. “A good day indeed,” Reedy smiled.

For more stories;

Freedom of Information Act gleans erroneous data regarding Military LRADs at town hall

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department was rocked with controversy for placing military Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) at August town halls discussing health care. The device targeted Congresswoman Susan Davis-D and Congressman Darrell Issa-R, neither had any comment regarding the deadly LRAD misuse.

Now we know why Issa was silent – he has endorsed Sheriff Bill Gore who is in a dog fight with three other candidates to keep his job.

At a recent debate, all three candidates called Sheriff Gore on the carpet for placing military equipment used to repel terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan in the parking lot where U.S. citizens were invited by their elected representatives to engage in a discussion about health care.

That being said, Sheriff Candidate Jim Duffy explained he was present at the sales pitch for the LRAD and could not believe this military sonic weapon was on site. “I question why the LRAD would be at the event at all.”

After learning the LRAD military device required a fair amount of training and according to the manufacturer shouldn’t be operated within 75 meters of people because the weapon could cause permanent hearing loss or death, a Freedom of Information Act was filed with the Sheriff Department.

Once the training manuals and logs were requested, this reporter received some interesting documents via email from Sheriff Gore’s office. First, a four-page purchase order from a local San Diego company that sold the LRAD device for American Technologies seemed normal.

Second was a PDF copy of how the LRADs operate. This document appeared to be photocopied and came from the website Anyone can find this on a LRAD Google search. This was far from impressive and completely unexpected when it came to what was expected from the Sheriff Department request.

The third and final document the Sheriff’s Department produced was a 55-page LRADx training manual from the manufacture. This manual discussed the usage of LRADs; crowd control was not mention within this manual.

In fact, the document was more of an overview of the LRAD device. More importantly the first page explains the LRAD weapon was developed specifically in response to the USS Cole terrorist attack in October 2000.

“The LRAD fulfills the capability to hail, warn and notify approaching vessels with prerecorded messages,” the manual reads. Photographs within the LRAD manual show an easy to operate on/off switch and a simple round knob used to adjust the decibel-sound levels.

The LRAD uses a sonic sound wave to deter or flush out the enemy. As the acoustic decibel-level intensifies, operational personnel must wear protective ear gear. LRAD sound decibels range from 20, noticeable, to 160+ which results in permanent hearing loss and/or loss of life.

Research gleaned from the Sheriff’s documents indicated the LRAD device had complaints from human rights groups and hearing specialists. They concluded the LRADs “are still weapons and have caused deaths in some circumstances.”

An email from Sheriff Gore read, “Attached are records in the possession of the Sheriff’s Department that concern the LRAD device. The Sheriff’s Department does not maintain any ‘logs.’”

However, Jay LaSuer, who is a former Sheriff Deputy and is running against Sheriff Gore, couldn’t disagree more with the Sheriff when it comes to training manuals or logs. “When I worked at the Sheriff Department Academy we keep very detail training logs for each deputy. These meticulous logs were kept just in case anything transpired with any deputy on the force.”

The company that sold Sheriff Gore the American Technologies LRAD revealed they no longer sell the device because there is better equipment on the market. The company spokesperson admitted that 95 percent of the devices sold were to military outlets.

Another interesting detail is American Technologies doesn’t require a license to purchase the military LRAD device. It was up to the good standing of a company to ‘check out’ potential customers.

“We definitely used good judgment when it came to selling the LRAD; it’s our fiduciary responsibility to do so. Plus, the company was founded by retired military veterans,” a company spokesman said. “Training is essential with this type of equipment.”

This detail leaves one wondering with Sheriff Gore’s background of missteps, can San Diego expect another Ruby Ridge-type accident to happen under Sheriff Gore’s less-than-stellar record. It also questions the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, who appointed Gore to the Sheriff post when Kolender retired, whether they did any homework during the hiring process.

For more stories;

A lesson in gay tolerance coming to an elementary school near you

California lawmaker Mark Leno-D of San Francisco authored SB 572 honoring California’s first openly gay politician, Harvey Milk. The bill has passed both the House and Senate in the state and will now head to Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk.

“I’m pleased my colleagues in the Assembly recognize and honor Harvey Milk’s contribution to our state,” said Leno.

The fact this bill has reached the Governor’s desk doesn’t guarantee a signature from California’s moderate Governor.

“Although he vetoed a similar bill last year with the message that Harvey Milk should be recognized only at the local level, I am confident Governor Schwarzenegger now understands the historic and international nature of Harvey’s legacy,” Leno claims.

The legislation would proclaim May 22 of each year as Harvey Milk day. SB 572 would allow public schools and other educational institutions to conduct suitable commemorative exercises at schools on May 22 focusing on gay activist Harvey Milk.

For more information on SB 572;

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