DES MOINES, Iowa (CBSDC/AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday that he does not want Iowa to host any of the thousands of children from Central America who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone.
During a news conference, Branstad said he was not aware of any of the children currently living in Iowa and that state has not been contacted by the federal government about housing any immigrant children. He said the government’s focus should be on securing the borders.
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“The first thing we need to do is secure the border. I do have empathy for these kids,” Branstad said. “But I also don’t want to send the signal that (you) send your kids to America illegally. That’s not the right message.”
Branstad was among a group of governors that met Sunday with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell as the Obama administration sought support from states that could host the children.
Under current law, immigrant children from countries that do not border the United States and who cross into the U.S. by themselves are turned over to federal authorities. Then, they often are reunited with parents or placed with other relatives already living here while they wait for an immigration court to decide their future. The court process can take years.
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Branstad was critical Sunday of the fact that there is no review of the immigration status of relatives who take custody of the children.
Since Oct. 1, more than 57,000 children have crossed the border. Most are from Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala.
President Barack Obama has vowed to use executive actions in an effort to help fix the immigration system.
President Barack Obama and the first family will be spending half the month of August at Martha’s Vineyard, the local newspaper there reported.
The vacation news comes amid the flood of illegal immigrants across the southwestern border, the continued terrorist attacks in Iraq and other major problems facing the country. But it also occurs after Congress is on recess.
“On Saturday, Aug. 9, the President and the First Lady will travel to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts,” a White House official said on background, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times. “They will remain there until Sunday, Aug. 24, when they will return to Washington, D.C. There are no public events scheduled at this time and further details on travel will be released when they are available.”
The newspaper reported the first family will stay at a “secluded house” in the town of Chilmark. The home has a basketball court and pool.
The newspaper said this will likely be the home of Joanne Hubschman, citing neighbors who requested anonymity. The home has seven-bedrooms, nine-baths, 8,100-square-foot house and sits on a 10-acre lot. It’s assessed at more than $12 million, according to the Times. It has a total of 17 rooms in total, expansive water views of Vineyard Sound.
“She told us it was a secret, but I guess the secret’s out,” Lillian Kellman, a neighbor, the Times. “The whole island probably knows by now. My husband will remember when we first heard it.”
“We first heard about it when a friend of ours said, ‘I hear the Obamas are staying on your road this summer,’ a few weeks ago, before we’d heard anything about it,” Kellman added
Another neighbor, not identified by the newspaper, took her secrecy vow more seriously.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she reportedly said with a smaile. “I’ve heard nothing about that.”
The Prospect Hill Association is scheduled to hold a meeting Saturday morning where residents of the exclusive subdivision are expected to learn more about security checkpoints ahead of the president’s visit.
Obama and his family have vacationed at Martha’s Vineyard every year since his 2008 election, except for 2012, when he was campaigning for re-election and trying to frame his opponent, the wealthy former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, as out of touch with the working class.
In 2009, 2010, and 2011, Obamas rented a 28.5-acre secluded compound in Martha’s Vineyard. In 2013, the first family stayed in a 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house valued at $7.6 million just a short distance off South Road.
Though golf and recreation are expected, no president is ever fully on vacation, as Obama will likely be briefed on matters by White House staff.
The Obamas have spent over 44 million dollars in taxpayer money on travel and vacations. Some are even calling him the “most well-trvaeled, expensive” president in our nation’s history.
As Americans head off for the long holiday weekend, let’s take a look back at some of the president’s holiday spending.
Our president vacations a lot — we’re talking $44,351,777.12 worth of “a lot,” with most expenses charged to the American taxpayer.
As of March 2014, Obama has spent more time traveling internationally than any other president, taking 31 trips since assuming office in 2009. The 119 days spent overseas have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
At the same point in their respective presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 116 days on 28 trips, Bill Clinton had spent 113 days on 27 trips and Ronald Reagan had spent 73 days on just 14 trips.
In 2010, Obama flew aboard Air Force One 172 times, nearly every other day. Just the cost of flying aboard Air Force One to Obama’s hometown of Chicago reportedly hovers around $180,000 per hour.
In addition to all of his international travel, the president spends a significant amount of time traveling with his family. The Obama family has taken vacations to exclusive beaches in New England, private clubs in Key Largo and, of course, luxurious beaches in Hawaii.
According to the government watchdog group Judicial Watch, beginning with the infamous New York “date night,” the Obamas have spent $44,351,777.12 in taxpayer cash on travel expenses.
The actual total cost may be higher, as the White House is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
“Here we have a president that gets on the budget line by line, but this apparently doesn’t apply to his travel,” president of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton, said in an interview with The Daily Caller.
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Frequently missing from the data are the costs of housing the first family and staff, costs of prepositioning the Secret Service and their equipment, and other travel expenses such as meals and beverages.
“We’ve got this financial crisis here in Washington and the president and his family need to be more sensitive as to the cost concerned with his travel,” Fitton said. “We are especially concerned about the excessive luxury travel, such as his trip to Hawaii.”
In 2013 alone, President Obama incurred $7,396,531 in flight expenses for his family vacations to Hawaii and Martha’s Vineyard, as well as a trip to California to appear on the Jay Leno show.
“The Obamas are abusing the public trust and the taxpayers with unnecessary luxurious vacations and travel,” Fitton said in a press release. “These staggering costs show why these documents were covered up and we had to sue in federal court to get them. Another transparency fail for the Obama gang.”
June 27, 2014 By Matthew Burke
Former Newsweek editor and best-selling author Edward Klein’s new book about the “Blood Feud” between the Clintons and the Obamas is sure to cause liberal/progressive/communist heads to spin within the Democrat Party.
While always acting lovey-dovey on stage and anywhere in public, Klein contends that the leftist quartet actually hate each other.
“Blood Feud,” a follow-up to Klein’s NY Times bestseller “The Amateur,” pants a picture of two two-faced couples filled with political greed, working together only with extreme reluctance and only when political expedience outweighs the couple’s mutual hatred.
According to Klein, two months after Hillary Clinton resigned from her position as Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary told a group of friends, over one too many glasses of wine, that, about Obama, “You can’t trust the motherf***er,” while claiming that “Obama has turned into a joke.”
The boozed-up rant took place in May of 2013, according to Klein, at Le Jardin Du Roi, a French restaurant near the Clinton mansion in Chappaqua, New York.
Klein says Hillary told her friends that the Clintons made a deal with the Obamas that they would help him get re-elected in 2012, in exchange for Obama’s support in getting Hillary elected to the presidency in 2016.
“He agreed to the arrangement but then he reneged on the deal. His word isn’t worth sh*t,” Hillary reportedly said.
Many have reported, and it’s no great secret that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama aren’t the best of friends, and even dislike each other. However Klein reported in “Blood Feud” that it goes much deeper than a casual distaste.
“I hate that man Obama more than any man I’ve ever met, more than any man who ever lived,” Klein quotes Bill Clinton as having said about the Democrat president.
Klein claims that Valerie Jarrett, a top Obama adviser and longtime friend, and Michelle Obama nicknamed Hillary Clinton “Hildebeest,” comparing her to the ugly gnu that can be seen wandering the Serengeti region in Tanzania.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an Al-Qaeda-inspired Sunni militant group, is mocking Michelle Obama and so-called hashtag diplomacy on social media. The jihadists’ Tweets are also bragging about the capture of Iraqi military vehicles.
On June 10, less than a thousand of ISIS militants in soft-shelled pickup trucks occupied the northern Iraqi city of Mosul with a population of 1.8 million people. The city fell with no apparent resistance as scores of Iraqi troops fled dropping their uniforms and leaving precious US-made hardware behind. The militants celebrated getting US-made Humvees and tanks – some of which have since headed to Syria to be used against the government forces – and even allegedly captured at least one Black Hawk helicopter.
As President Obama inches closer to entering the final half of his second term, speculation is emerging that the current first lady may pull a Hillary Clinton and run for a Senate seat.
In a Thursday column for Reuters, Keith Koffler writes that it shouldn’t be a surprise if Michelle Obama decides she wants to take a run at incumbent Illinois Republican Mark Kirk in 2016. Not only would she immediately deliver the kind of star power that would elevate her above her opponent, he writes, but her increasingly “bold profile” suggests she is placing herself in a position to at least seriously consider a Senate campaign.
To back up his reasoning, Koffler points to numerous instances in which the first lady has placed herself in the public eye. Earlier this year, she traveled to China with her daughters on what was a highly publicized trip, and she has been active on the fundraising front, holding two events for Democratic candidates this week alone.
On a more substantive front, Obama has involved herself in drumming up support for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls – a Twitter campaign that turned against her in some ways when people began posting photos of children killed during drone strikes authorized by the administration. She has also waded into domestic battle with Republicans over her school lunch program. Just recently, she attacked conservative politicians for “playing politics with our kids’ health” and attempting to “override science.”
Even the first lady’s graduation speeches have drawn further attention and scrutiny. Speaking to five graduating high school classes in May, Obama warned segregation is still an issue decades after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. She called on the younger generation to speak up when they hear racist comments from their family members, a statement that caused ire among some commentators who accused her of trying to police people for politically incorrect thoughts.
With Kirk up for reelection in 2016 and his health in question, it could be an opening for Obama – if she’s interested.
“She would quickly become the most recognizable face in the Senate,” Koffler wrote. “Her fame and fundraising ability would command deference in a body that normally operates on seniority. Whether the recent elevation of her profile suggests a plan to run is unclear, but she will be well positioned should she jump in.”
Punditry aside, would Obama have a chance if she decided to run? Kirk is a strong candidate, but as noted by NBC Chicago, a survey by Public Policy Polling released in December 2012 found she’d easily become the front-runner.
“If Michelle Obama decided she wanted to follow the Hillary Clinton route once her husband leaves office in 2016 and go to the Senate, she’d have the upper hand on Mark Kirk,” the firm stated. “She leads him 51/40 in a hypothetical head to head. Kirk’s approval numbers are ok with 34% of voters approving of him to 19% who disapprove. But those numbers are no match for the first lady, who’s seen positively by 60% of voters to 33% with a negative one.”
Whether Obama is actually interested in running for office, though, remains unclear. In 2012, she said she would “absolutely not” run for office before qualifying her statement with a “probably.”
“One of the things you learn about yourself as you get older are what are your strengths and what are your interests. And for me, it’s the other stuff that is not being president,” she said, as quoted by ABC News. “So I probably won’t run.”
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that at a Democratic fundraiser on Monday, Obama let slip some language indicating she took office when her husband was elected – a possible Freudian slip she quickly corrected.
“And then there were those of you (who) joined us after the primaries, and you were there when Barack and I first took office — or I took office alongside — or he took office and I was there,” she said to laughs from the audience.