Sunday, March 23; Hosts roundtable on education; visits Great Wall – Monday; March 24: Arrives Xi'an, visits Terra Cotta Warriors Museum, Xi'an City Wall – Tuesday, March 25: Visits Chengdu No. 7 High School; meets with staff and families of U.S. Consulate – Wednesday (final day) March 25: Visits Chengdu Panda Base; has lunch at a Tibetan restaurant.
Every staff member in the White House was aware of the first lady's dream of going to China. She "has been looking for an opportunity to go to China," a White House official said last Monday.
Her taxpayer-funded trip is now reality as she left early this week on a government plane with her two daughters and mother on what was described as a "real treat." A trip she's making at considerable expense to taxpayers, although the White House refused to give a dollar figure.
The vacation, being described as “an opportunity to learn about other cultures," is much like her past trips to Spain and Hawaii – very little importance to the American taxpayer and astronomical expense with the Secret Service, military and massive staff cost.
Mrs. Obama’s Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen, (she has a huge crew) said in a conference call last Monday, "I think, as she said before, before they came here to the White House, Mrs. Robinson (her elderly mother) had not done any travel internationally, so the opportunities when she's been able to do that have been a real treat, I think, for Mrs. Robinson, for the first lady, for her daughters as well to travel together and to see these places and experience them together."
Taxpayers are so happy they can finally travel in luxury on their dime.
Tchen went on to say in glowing terms, the Obamas "understand the significance of three generations of family traveling together, which I think the Chinese will appreciate, and will appreciate the ties and the bonds that the Obama family have with one another across generations. And this is a great opportunity for the Obama family to experience that, and I think for the Chinese to see that as well in an American family."
What is the real cost of this taxpayer-funded love fest? Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes replied, "As a general matter, we don't disclose the details associated with the security of either the president or the first lady. This question comes up on many trips. What I would say is that determinations about the protection of the President and first lady are made by the Secret Service. We don't interfere in those decisions at all, nor do we publicize the details of that information."
In taxpayer language, “We’d just as soon not tell you since the president’s polls are low enough already.” But asked if the Obamas will reimburse the U.S. government for the cost of the children and grandmother, Tchen also refused to answer: "We are not discussing or disclosing information regarding the details or the logistics of the trip."
Anyone starting to feel used by the Obamas?
CNS News reported travel by an American first lady typically includes the military passenger jet that carries her and the children, Secret Service personnel to provide security, and a separate cargo plane to haul official vehicles.
Millions and millions of dollars.
But Americans should remember that Mrs. Obama plans to “raise human rights and other concerns with the Chinese government.”
I’m sure the Chinese will be all ears.
"We don't think that the first lady should make this a focus at all of her trip," Rhodes said. "This is a very different purpose. This is the purpose, again, of building those people-to-people connections; of reaching out to young people in China, broadening the ties between our two countries. So we'll continue to raise those issues in all of our diplomatic contacts with the Chinese. I think the first lady's message and I think her -- the nature of her visit is quite different."
Rhodes used words like "focus on people-to-people relations" as well as education and "youth empowerment."
Anyone in this country paying ridiculously high taxes getting really mad?
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