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On Tuesday, May 14, 2019, Zogby Analytics published a poll showing that President Trump’s popularity continues to rise:

Even the British noticed:

Larry Elder posted the link to Zogby’s findings:

Zogby’s article says, in part (emphases mine):

A new Zogby Poll® of 852 likely voters nationwide in the U.S., conducted from 5/2/19-5/9/19, with a margin of sampling error of +/-3.4 percentage points, shows President Trump’s job approval rating at its best since we’ve been tracking the figure

President Trump’s job approval rating has seen a post Mueller report boost! We called it a few weeks ago. But that’s not the complete story as to why the president has reached a peak in his job approval rating. Trump is also riding high on positive economic news-a record high stock market, low unemployment, and solid GDP growth at home. At the moment President Trump’s approval rating is higher than Obama’s at the same point in his presidency-Zogby Analytics had President Obama at 48% approve/52% disapprove on 05/09/2011.

Also:

One of the demographics to give Trump a very good job performance rating were self-identified social networkers (59% approve/40% disapprove-people who engage with social media). Trump has a huge following on Twitter and often utilizes his Twitter account to frequently get his message across to the public. The president also made strides with college educated voters (55% approve/45% disapprove), and saw support increase slightly with non-college educated voters (47% approve/50% disapprove).

Great news for 2020!

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Not knowing the circumstances surrounding the inferno at Notre-Dame in Paris is bad enough.

Now lovers of the mediaeval cathedral, the French capital’s monumental house of worship, wonder what is meant by the words ‘restoration’ and ‘rebuilding’.

Does the French government consider the two words to be the same as the average person who treasures what was lost? What about expert architects? What about building contractors?

This was what the cathedral looked like at the end of the day on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Protective coverings were placed over the vulnerable parts of the structure:

One week later, on Tuesday, April 30, Paris police released aerial footage of the protective sheet covering the cathedral’s massive roof from a drone’s eye view:

That day, Le Huffington Post reported findings of a YouGov poll they commissioned in France which showed that 54 per cent of people want a restoration ‘identical to the original’. Only 25 per cent support President Macron and Prime Minister Philippe’s plan for an ‘architectural gesture’:

Twenty-one percent of the people surveyed were undecided.

The more conservative the participant, the greater the desire for a full, authentic restoration: from 66 per cent to 69 per cent, depending on political orientation.

A design firm from Lyon, NAB, released its plans for a greenhouse roof garden and spire containing beehives unlikely to please those who love the original structure with its dramatic vaults. Le Huffington Post published NAB’s shocking images on April 26. Have a chair nearby, because you’ll need a sit down and a cuppa after seeing them.

That same day, Le HuffPo released a short video wherein an architect, a historian, an urban design expert and a sociologist gave their opinions of the current buzz by government officials, architects and building firms about the cathedral’s reconstruction. Interviewed separately, they said the same things. The project seemed to be politically motivated, with an objective of proposed plans devised too hastily involving companies eager to make money at the expense of France’s — and the world’s — heritage. One said that the stone needs at least a year to dry out thoroughly, therefore, completing the reconstruction in five years’ time was a nonsense:

Those hoping to be part of Prime Minister Philippe’s working group on the way forward for Notre-Dame will need to take UNESCO’s perspective on board, too. Fortunately, UNESCO agrees with the French public with whom YouGov spoke:

The Art Newspaper‘s editorial begins with this (emphases mine):

The 28 April appeal by over 1000 academics, restorers and architects for an extension to President Macron’s five-year deadline for the restoration of Notre Dame can find comfort in the the cathedral’s status as a Unesco World Heritage site, because the guidelines on how to approach restoring such a great monument already exist.

They are implicit in the conditions accepted by France when Notre-Dame was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991 as part of a grouping that includes the great buildings along the Seine from the Pont de Sully to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.

First and foremost, Notre Dame’s World Heritage status calls for international principles of restoration to be integrated into the discussions on how to restore it. Decisions will have to be taken on how to consolidate its structural parts, restore the damaged surfaces, reconstruct the roof, the spire and the stained-glass windows. All these choices need to be made in accordance with the conservation principles promoted by the World Heritage Convention and expressed in the Conservation Charters of the International Council on Museums and Sites (Icomos). While the international documents, starting with the 1964 Venice Charter, do not bear legal value per se, they are recognised by the French Codes as the basis for decisions on the conservation and reconstruction of historical monuments.

So far, so good.

The editorial goes on to say that this does not preclude using modern technologies and techniques to achieve a more ‘resilient and secure’ result. These would not affect what a visitor or regular worshipper sees, however:

The “contemporaneity” of this gesture will lie in its in its construction techniques and monitoring technologies, rather than the visible forms of the building.

But — and it’s a big ‘but’ — more modern stained glass might be part of the renovation and restoration:

if new windows are needed, it could be a great opportunity for contemporary artists, as with the designs of Marc Chagall and Imi Knoebel for Reims cathedral.

UGH. No, just no. Those modern stained glass designs are horrible, and I’ve viewed a number of them in European cathedrals from the 1970s to the present.

So, although that is just one man’s opinion, he happens to be Francesco Bandarin:

an architect and former senior official at Unesco, director of its World Heritage Centre (2000-2010) and assistant director-general for culture (2010-2018).

I do think a lot of French people will be upset if Notre-Dame is not restored to the original design. Admittedly, the following discussion took place on Holy Thursday, three days after the fire, when emotions were running high. From RMC’s Les Grandes Gueules:

One of the panellists, a young Protestant, said she wanted the cathedral restored to the original. She put forward her case with passion:

She said that she was quite conservative when it comes to restoring historic buildings because they are testaments to their respective eras:

Traditionalists could find 21st century help a boon to their cause.

In 2015, Andrew Tallon, an architectural historian, had the foresight to capture the complete design of Notre-Dame digitally:

As for the actual building work, BFMTV’s high-tech expert Anthony Morel said that the use of 3D design enabled one monument in Egypt to be rebuilt to the original, down to the smallest detail. He says the same can be done with Notre-Dame. This is a great little video. Just watch the pictures:

As for recreating the Forest — the oak roof — offers have been coming in from around the world from owners of large estates with old oak forests who are willing to cut down trees a few hundred years old and replant new ones.

So, although one of France’s heritage experts said on April 16 that rebuilding the Forest cannot be done

Bertrand de Feydeau, vice-president of Fondation du Patrimoine, said the cathedral’s roof cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire because “we don’t, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century.”

… do a search online for offers of oak donations and there are many news articles to read, including this one from England’s Nottingham Post on April 19:

The Duke of Rutland has pledged to send ancient oak trees from the Belvoir Castle estate to France to help with the rebuilding of Notre-Dame following a devastating fire.

The historic cathedral in Paris was hit by fire on April 15, causing huge damage to the building, large parts of which were made from wood.

Donations have been pouring in from around the world to help with the project, and British estates and gardens have also got in on the act.

Around 100 historic homes have pledged to donate oak trees which were planted hundreds of years ago to be used for timber, including the Duke of Rutland, who owns Belvoir Castle.

He said: “Anyone who lives in an old building knows there’s something special about the way it was built and the materials used.

“The trees in the original roof at Notre-Dame probably started growing over a thousand years ago.

“We’re able to donate replacements because my great-great-grandfather had the foresight to plant trees that would only be valuable long after he died.

“And in turn we’ll replant every tree we fell – someone will need them for something in another few hundred years …

Belvoir Castle itself has been destroyed by fire, last being rebuilt in 1832.

It is a member of Historic Houses, an association for independently owned historic homes and gardens in Britain.

It was the Duke of Rutland who suggested to the members they should donate oaks towards the rebuilding of Notre-Dame.

And even though they will only be able to donate a fraction of what is needed, they hope it will inspire others to do the same.

There is hope. People WANT to help — and ARE helping!

Let us continue to pray for the proper and full restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

My next post will look at Notre-Dame from the perspective of the positive influence of aesthetics on the meaningful religious experience.

Warning: this post contains references to suicide as per reports listed below.

An American mother, Dr Free N. Hess (aka PediMom), has a warning for parents whose children watch YouTube Kids videos. Some of them have to do with suicide and contain other content inappropriate for younger viewers.

On February 23, CBS News reported:

Video promoting self-harm tips — spliced between clips of a popular video game — has surfaced at least twice on YouTube and YouTube Kids since July, according to a pediatrician and mom who discovered the video.

The suicide instructions are sandwiched between clips from the popular Nintendo game Splatoon and delivered by a man speaking in front of what appears to be a green screen — an apparent effort to have him blend in with the rest of the animated video …

The man featured is YouTuber Filthy Frank, who has over 6.2 million subscribers and calls himself “the embodiment of everything a person should not be,” although there is no evidence that Frank, whose real name is George Miller, was involved in creating the doctored video. He did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment. 

When Free Hess found the video on YouTube last week, she posted it on her blog — warning other parents to take control over what their kids may be watching. 

“Looking at the comments, it had been up for a while, and people had even reported it eight months prior,” Hess told CBS News on Friday.

Shortly after she published her blog post, YouTube took the video down, saying it violated the site’s community guidelines, according to Hess.

This is not Dr Hess’s first foray into YouTube videos for children. She and a group of parents were able to successfully campaign for another video’s removal in July 2018.

CBS reports that Hess became concerned about what children were viewing based on her own experiences as a paediatrician (emphases mine):

Hess said after seeing higher rates of suicide in children in her own emergency room over the last few years, she made it her mission to bring awareness to disturbing and violent content being consumed by children on social media. She said she’s reported hundreds of unsettling videos to YouTube, with some success. On Friday, she found and reported seven more disturbing videos on YouTube Kids, and said they were just the tip of the iceberg.

“I had to stop, but I could have kept going,” Hess said. “Once you start looking into it, things get darker and weirder. I don’t understand how it’s not getting caught.”

YouTube Kids is not for pre-teens. In fact, quite the opposite. The videos are intended for children under the age of eight.

Hess described what she saw:

She said she logs onto the app posing as a child, rather than an adult, so that she can see exactly what kids around the world are seeing. The videos Hess has found contain mentions or visuals of self-harm, suicide, sexual exploitation, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse and gun violence, including a simulated school shooting. She said many of the kids she treats in the ER list videos on YouTube as a method used to learn destructive behaviors and self-harm techniques.

Good grief.

It’s interesting that YouTube has no problem removing content from and accounts of conservative video posters, yet they allow this depravity aimed at small children, which was first reported in 2017.

CBS provides the apologies from YouTube, but:

This week, new cases of inappropriate content prompted high-profile responses, including from Disney and Nestle, which pulled advertising from YouTube after a blogger described “a wormhole into a soft-core pedophilia ring” on the site.

To be fair, YouTube has taken action, but compared to what they do to conservatives — actively seeking out accounts to ban — theirs is a reactive stance when it comes to perverse videos, especially where children are concerned:

Hess has more information about these videos on her website, including this:

Exposure to videos, photos, and other self-harm and suicidal promoting content is a huge problem that our children are facing today. Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 and the numbers of children exhibiting some form of self-harm is growing rapidly. In a nationwide survey of high school students in the US 16% of students stated they had seriously considered suicide, 13% admitted to creating a plan, and 8% admitted to attempting suicide at some point in the 12 months prior to the survey. Every year 157,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 present to Emergency Departments for self-inflicted injuries and/or suicide attempts.

Many experts believe that access to self-harm and suicide promoting content is making the situation worse. There have been several recent reports of teens committing suicide after viewing self-harm and suicide material online and on social media platforms. More and more researchers are starting to look into how access to this type of material is linked to self-harm and suicide in adolescents. One such study has just been commissioned and will hopefully give us some good insight into this issue.

But we have to start doing something NOW and we should start by educating ourselves, educating our children, and speaking up when we see something that is dangerous for our children. We also need to fight to have the developers of social media platforms held responsible when they do not assure that age restrictions are followed and when they do not remove inappropriate and/or dangerous material when reported. 

We need to all work together to #ProtectOurKids and let them know that #ParentsDemandAction!

Who knew children’s videos were so injurious to kids’ mental health?

I also think that there could be peer pressure associated with these videos. Some children think these videos are ‘cool’ and that, if their peers do not watch them, they are wimps. Parents will have to know how to combat that, too.

In the Western world, we increasingly hear that we should be consuming less meat.

Interestingly enough, our forebears would have enjoyed the luxury of eating meat at nearly every evening meal. That option was not open for many of them.

Meat — especially red meat — has dietary importance for humans at every stage in their lives.

Children and adolescents

A 2007 study showed that meat is vital for children and adolescents. The following study, summarised below, is from the September 1, 2007 issue of The Journal of the Dieticians Association of Australia and appears at The Free Library.

These are the key points (emphases mine):

* Optimal nutrition during the first years of life is crucial for optimal growth and development and, possibly, the prevention of chronic disease of adulthood.

* Iron-deficiency anaemia in childhood and adolescence is associated with serious adverse outcomes that may not be reversible, making detection and early treatment an imperative.

* Zinc plays a major role in cellular growth.

* Vitamin A is essential for the functioning of the eyes and the immune system.

* Vitamin A is necessary for membrane stability, and zinc is essential for mobilisation of the beta-carotene. Vitamin A deficiency contributes to anaemia by immobilising iron in the reticuloendothelial system, reducing haemopoiesis and increasing susceptibility to infections.

* Like iron, iodine appears to be involved in myelin production and, hence, nerve conduction.

* Meat is a core food in the diet for children and adolescents because it provides significant amounts of these micronutrients.

Meat is essential in ensuring that nerve and motor development evolve for overall health, particularly for the myelin sheath, which a number of us will remember studying in our high school biology classes:

Development of functional activity may be associated with myelination. Many nerve fibres are covered with a whitish, fatty, segmented sheath called the myelin sheath. Myelin protects and electrically insulates fibres from one another and increases the speed of transmission of the nerve impulses. Myelinated fibres conduct nerve impulses rapidly, whereas unmyelinated fibres tend to conduct quite slowly. This acceleration of nerve conduction is essential for the function of the body and survival. In humans, the myelin sheath begins to appear around the fourth month of foetal development and first appears in the spinal cord before spreading to the higher centres of the brain. It is assumed that this myelination precedes functional activity. This paper considers micronutrient deficiency in the context of myelination and other developmental features to highlight the need for micronutrients which can be delivered in the diet through red meat.

Note: red meat.

Meat provides the following essential building blocks to good developmental health.

Iron

A young brain needs iron:

Iron is essential for brain development. Brain iron is stored preferentially in the extra pyramidal tracts and is laid down in the first 12 months of life. Once the blood-brain barrier closes, very little iron can be deposited in the brain and, hence, an adequate dietary intake of iron is essential during this critical period … Several studies have now shown that iron-deficient anaemic 6- to 24-month-old infants can score lower on tests of mental development compared with non-iron-deficient controls (13,19,20) and are at risk for poorer cognitive, motor, social-emotional and neurophysiological development at least in the short term. Furthermore, at least one study has shown that these deficits appear to be permanent. (19) These infants appeared to have reproducible deficits in body balance and coordination and in language skills, which could be interpreted as implying problems with nerve conduction and hence myelination

Required iron levels vary with the onset of adolescence. Boys need less. Girls need more:

With the slowing of growth, at the end of puberty, iron requirements decline. Although girls develop less extra muscle tissue than boys, menarche increases the need for iron, and this increased need continues throughout reproductive life. (37) The adolescent girl is therefore at risk for developing ID due to the combined effects of continuing growth, menstrual iron losses and a low intake of dietary iron.

Zinc

Zinc deficiencies can affect mental and physical health:

Zinc is also an essential nutrient for human health. Zinc plays a major role in cellular growth, where it is crucial in the enzyme systems necessary for the production of RNA and DNA. In the brain, zinc binds with proteins and is involved with both structure and function. Severe zinc deficiency in animals has been associated with significant malformations such as anencephaly and microcephaly, and with functional deficits such as short-term memory deficits and behavioural problems. (23) In humans, cerebella dysfunction, behavioural and emotional disturbances have all been described. (23) In spite of the proven benefits of adequate zinc nutrition, approximately 2 billion people still remain at risk of zinc deficiency. (6) When zinc is provided as a supplement to children in lower-income countries, it reduces the frequency and severity of diarrhoea, pneumonia, and possibly malaria. Moreover, studies have shown that children who receive zinc supplements have lower death rates. (6)

Vitamin A

Many children in the developing world lack adequate Vitamin A. Vitamin A needs zinc:

Vitamin A is necessary for membrane stability, and zinc is essential for mobilisation of the beta-carotene. Vitamin A deficiency contributes to anaemia by immobilising iron in the reticuloendothelial system, reducing haemopoiesis and increasing susceptibility to infections. Vitamin A is essential for the functioning of the eyes as well as the immune system.

Vitamin A deficiency is associated with impaired humoral and cellular immune function, keratinisation of the respiratory epithelium and decreased mucus secretion, which weaken barriers to infection.

Iodine

Iodine deficiency is a worldwide problem:

Iodine deficiency is estimated to have lowered the intellectual capacity of almost all of the nations reviewed by as much as 10-15%. (6) In developed nations there has been a recent and disturbing increase in iodine deficiency, with as many as 25% of children and women of child-bearing age being deficient. (6) This increase has coincided with the declining dietary intake of iodized salt and also the elimination of iodophor-based cleaning compounds in commercial dairies. (25) Impaired physical and mental development is common. (26) Foetal iodine deficiency in the first and early second trimester of pregnancy results in retardation and deaf mutism, whereas in the early postnatal period, the main abnormalities are growth stunting and somatic abnormalities. (27) The hearing loss can be variable, depending on the age of onset, and can also be associated with dysarthria and other disorders of speechThe critical stage of foetal development for iodine appears to be around the 14th week of foetal lifeLike iron, iodine appears to be involved in myelin production and, hence, nerve conduction. This appears to be supported in animal model research where rats fed upon an iodine-deficient diet were found to have alterations in myelin basic protein immunoreactivity and hence function. (29) 

The paper’s summary makes salient points about meat and the types of necessary meat protein:

Meat plays a central role in the diet, providing a significant contribution to the intakes of 10 key nutrients: energy, protein, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron and zinc. In young children, an over-dependence on milk may put young children at increased risk of poor iron status, owing to its displacement of iron-rich or iron-enhancing foods from the diet. This risk becomes nonsignificant when moderate to high amounts of iron-rich or iron-enhancing foods (e.g. meat and fruit, respectively) are also consumed. A study performed on infants in the UK has shown that the addition of meat powder to a weaning food has a marked enhancing effect on the absorption of iron, (38) which reinforces the fact that lean red meat is not only an appropriate weaning food but should be considered an essential food during the critical stages of brain development. Dietary diversification involves promotion of a diet with a wider variety of naturally iron-containing foods, especially red meat, poultry and fish. These foods have a high content of highly bioavailable haem iron, and thus are most appropriate for infants and children on weaning. Despite their widespread availability, foods from this group are not always used or may be diluted before use (e.g. meat is rich in iron but meat broth is not). Given the information above, however, it is reasonable to argue that meat is a core food in the diet for children and adolescents because it provides significant amounts of essential micronutrients.

Adult depression — and some physical ailments — linked to L-carnitine deficiency

We in the West seem to be undergoing a depression epidemic.

I know many people offine who are taking anti-depressants. We had fewer of these issues 40 years ago.

A Stanford Medicine study published on July 30, 2018 links depression to a lack of L-carnitine, an amino acid that the body produces naturally. Natalie Rasgon’s study showed that patients responded positively within days to acetyl-L-carnitine supplements to ease their depression. By contrast, anti-depressants can take a few weeks to be effective.

She says that, although L-carnitine supplements are available at health food shops, more research needs to be done to find out exactly what L-cartinine supplements will help.

WebMD explains that low L-carnitine levels can be genetic or related to medicines. Ultimately:

The body can convert L-carnitine to other amino acids called acetyl-L-carnitine and propionyl-L-carnitine. But, no one knows whether the benefits of carnitines are interchangeable. Until more is known, don’t substitute one form of carnitine for another.

WebMD also lists physical ailments that can arise from low L-cartinine levels:

L-carnitine is used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels including heart-related chest pain, congestive heart failure (CHF), heart complications of a disease called diphtheria, heart attack, leg pain caused by circulation problems (intermittent claudication), and high cholesterol.

Some people use L-carnitine for muscle disorders associated with certain AIDS medications, difficulty fathering a child (male infertility), a brain development disorder called Rett syndrome, anorexia, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, overactive thyroid, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), leg ulcers, Lyme disease, and to improve athletic performance and endurance.

However, eating meat might be the simplest way to help increase natural L-cartinine levels.

According to a 2004 abstract from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, ‘Species and muscle differences in L-carnitine levels in skeletal muscles based on a new simple assay’, red meat — especially deer, horse and goat — has the highest levels of this essential amino acid:

We have adapted the enzymatic method [Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 176 (3) (1991) 1617] for the safe and rapid assay of L-carnitine (L-CA) in skeletal muscle using a microplate reader. The concentration of L-CA in fresh semitendinosus muscle from broiler chicken, pig, beef cattle, deer, horse and goat muscle were 0.69, 1.09, 1.86-3.57, 4.57, 4.95 and 11.36 μmol/g wet weight, respectively. The animals which had higher concentration of L-CA, also had the highest amounts of myoglobin as an index to the redness of the muscle. Furthermore, we investigated this relationship between white muscle, M. pectoralis profundus, and red muscle, M. soleus, in laying hens. The L-CA and myoglobin concentration in red muscle were significantly higher than those in white muscle (p<0.01). These findings suggest that L-CA concentration in muscle is related to oxygen metabolism and to myofiber types.

Conclusion

It’s time to stop obsessing over eating meat, especially red meat, which has been a no-no for decades.

Red meat helps to ensure good health — at any stage of life.

Enjoy it.

Last week, I posted a summary of President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union (SOTU) address.

In case you missed the event, CBS has a video and full transcript.

It created such a buzz that I have more bookmarks than would fit into one post.

What follows are America’s views of the SOTU as seen online.

Polling

Trump got high marks from viewers at home:

The CBS reporter seemed shocked that Americans side with Trump on immigration. He can barely get the words out:

Trump’s much vaunted ‘wall’ is gaining traction. This was the issue that the media said would lose him votes in 2016. In the end, he won the election, and now a clear majority of voters agree with him on this most controversial issue.

Here is a breakdown by political party:

Note that nearly one-third of Democrats approve and — just as importantly for 2020 — 82% of Independents do, too.

CNN also conducted a poll. The results must have upset them greatly:

Adding both positive percentages together gives Trump’s SOTU a 76% approval rating — the same as CBS’s. There appears to be a rounding error in CNN’s:

The Republican National Committee (RNC) calls it ‘Spirit of 76%’ (an association with 1776):

Television ratings

Trump’s speech was a huge televisual draw.

On February 6, The Hollywood Reporter provided the ratings (emphases mine below):

The State of the Union was a slightly bigger draw than it was in 2018.

Just under 46.8 million people — 46.79 million, to be precise — watched President Trump’s address to Congress across 12 networks, about 3 percent more than watched a year ago.  

The 2018 address drew 45.55 million viewers. Trump’s first address to Congress in 2017 — not technically a State of the Union, as he had only been in office a few weeks — drew the largest audience of his term to date with 47.74 million

Fox News led the field 11.27 million viewers from 9-10:30 p.m. ET, off slightly from the 11.5 million who watched the 2018 SOTU. NBC topped broadcast networks with 7.14 million viewers, followed by CBS (6.68 million) and ABC (5.91 million). The Fox broadcast network’s 4.2 million viewers beat out both MSNBC (3.79 million) and CNN (3.47 million).

The four broadcast networks and big three cable news outlets combined for 42.46 million viewers. PBS, Telemundo, Univision, Fox Business and CNNe combined to averaged 4.33 million.

Tuesday’s address drew more viewers than the comparable ones in the first terms of Barack Obama (42.79 million in 2011) and Bill Clinton (42.2 million in 1995) but fell well short of George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union, which drew 62 million as Bush made a case for invading Iraq. That address is the most-watched State of the Union in this century.

In earlier metered-market ratings, the State of the Union averaged a 16.3 household rating across ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, up about 10 percent from a 14.8 last year. The SOTU was also slightly higher in metered markets than Trump’s 2017 address, which is not technically considered a State of the Union speech as he’d only been in office a few weeks.

Two anti-Trumpers’ positive verdicts

At least two anti-Trump pundits praised him for a great speech.

Here is Bret Baier from Fox News:

And the Wall Street Journal‘s Peggy Noonan, who wrote Bush I’s ‘Thousand Points of Light’ acceptance speech for the Republican nomination in 1988:

As for those who watched at home:

Favourite SOTU themes

Many of the tweets I saw were supportive of Trump’s views on socialism, abortion and human trafficking.

Socialism

Trump firmly denounced socialism. If you think that is unfair, look at how Venezuela, once South America’s jewel in the crown, has deteriorated:

A number of people picked up on Bernie Sanders’s reaction:

Here’s a graphic — meme — to circulate:

The Dems have a plan of attack, though. In fact, they already previewed a new lie of theirs on a Sunday news show:

Abortion

Stephen Miller did a marvellous job writing the speech, but the part on abortion was especially moving:

The following day, House Republicans re-introduced the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by Ann Wagner (R-Missouri) and Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana). Unfortunately, the measure failed to pass for consideration, as the vote had to be unanimous.

Ann Wagner had this to say:

Behind the scenes

According to The Daily Caller‘s Benny Johnson, someone fainted during the speech:

Benny also liked Trump’s speech:

Democrats

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her freshmen Representatives received rightful criticism.

However, all the Democrats deserve the public’s censure for booing Trump when he introduced the critical subject of border security by mentioning the migrant ‘caravans’. The Daily Caller reported conservative commentator Michelle Malkin’s reaction:

When you have the Democrats booing because President Trump was exposing and continuing to hammer the fact that these caravans are endangering the country and posing enormous costs to people at the border, let alone in the interior, this is a message I think is going to resonate all the way through 2020, and it’s going to pose a huge optics problem for the Democrat party,” Malkin said …

“I think it underscores an important point that President Trump himself has made in the face of this debate and the intransigence of the open borders Democrats — and that it’s not just about a wall. As long as you have these magnets drawing people here and everybody’s aware of it around the world, it’s not going to stop,” she said earlier in the interview.

And that is a point that President Trump made during the address last night. … President Trump delivered very defining moments that contrast the differences between the parties.”

I hope she is right.

Joe Manchin

There was only one Democrat who stood with the president, at least on energy and abortion: Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia. He’s delighted to see the revival of coal mines in his state. On abortion, he had this to say:

Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi, a notional Catholic, invited the president of Planned Parenthood as a special guest:

Then, there was Pelosi’s jewellery.

She wore a long gold brooch, a tiny version of the Mace of the United States House of Representatives. The Mace is modelled on the Roman-era fasces, which has always represented authority:

AlterNet has a photo of Pelosi and a bit of history on how the Mace has been used in the House of Representatives. It is on regular display when the House is in session (emphases mine):

At each daily session, the Sergeant at Arms carries the mace in procession, ahead of the speaker in to the rostrum. While the House is in session, the mace stands on a pedestal at the speaker’s right handThe mace is almost four feet in length and made of silver and 13 ebony rods (representing the original states in the union).

It’s the people’s house, and the people have entrusted it to Speaker Pelosi for this term. Along with it comes the power to maintain order in the House.

The Roman authorities used fasces on criminals and people disturbing the peace. Lictors — officials similar to law enforcement officers — could beat miscreants and criminals with the whole fasces or untie the bundled rods and go after several at a time. They also had the authority to use the axe inside the fasces to put them to death, when necessary.

Later in history, fasces became a symbol representing national unity and indivisibility: many rods bundled together make a single entity.

This American Intelligence Media video purports that Pelosi wore the mace pin to signal that she is the equal to President Trump. That’s a very real possibility.

Whatever the case, there were times when it was clear she does not want Americans to succeed:

Democrat women

The only time Democrat women rose was to cheer Trump’s stats on women in the workforce and in Congress.

That’s right, gals, applaud yourselves:

As TurningPoint USA’s Candace Owens pointed out:

The Daily Wire‘s Ryan Saavedra tweeted this in response to AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from Queens):

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) seemed to deny the crime going on at the southern border:

Prescription drug prices

There is one important SOTU topic that has not received much coverage — the cost of prescription drugs:

I found this response to the tweet interesting:

Democrat rebuttal

Since President Reagan’s tenure, Democrats believe it is their duty to provide a short SOTU rebuttal to Republican administrations.

Before I return to and conclude on the SOTU, it is worth mentioning the 2019 rebuttal.

The Democrats who give these short speeches are not exactly la crème de la crème. Last year’s was a young member of the Kennedy clan who did not do well at all, either visually or rhetorically.

This year, it was the turn of Stacy Abrams, who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Georgia last year and indirectly complained about her loss:

According to the Gateway Pundit (emphases in the original):

Stacey Abrams opened the Democrat Party response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address by wishing everyone a happy Lunar New Year.

Stacey Abrams: “Good evening my fellow Americans and Happy Lunar New Year.”

And it went down hill from there.

And they wonder how they lost the working class and Middle America?

The chairwoman of the Republican Party — Mitt Romney’s niece — tweeted:

I’m not sure what universe Abrams is living in, but what she said is patently untrue:

The Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel put it this way:

SOTU fact checking

Some readers might wonder how wrong Stacy Abrams was.

The Daily Signal posted a well sourced article supporting Trump’s speech content: ’13 Fact Checks on the State of the Union Address’, which three of their journalists compiled.

The Q Tree has more facts backing up Trump’s speech: ‘The State Of Our Union’.

Unity

The SOTU theme of ‘Choosing Greatness’ points to Trump’s call for national — and political — unity.

Recall that the motto for the United States is E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One.

Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager tweeted:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee — father of Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — made a political observation:

And, socially, the Trumps’ ingenious choice of special guests showed national unity, with young and old from so many different backgrounds and personal experience. I won’t show this year’s White House tweet in full, because the photo included was from 2018, however, the text reads as follows:

President and guests all come from different walks of life. No matter their story, each has something important in common: They represent the very best of America.

They are an impressive group of people.

Matthew Charles exemplifies the good results that come when politicians put party differences aside and work together, as Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s victorious 2016 campaign manager explains:

Matthew Charles deserved his release, as BreakPoint.org explains in ‘Restoring All Things — One Person At A Time’, a moving account of Charles’s personal transformation.

Conclusion

I am very much looking forward to seeing what the next year brings for the Trump Administration — and for the United States, as well as the world.

With Donald Trump, we are witnessing history in the making. This era will be written about for generations to come. Enjoy it and embrace it while it lasts.

On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, President Trump will address the nation about the situation on the southern border of the United States.

The main networks, including cable, will broadcast his address, which is scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

Whilst many Americans are coming round to Trump’s idea of ‘the Wall’, about half as many (depending on what national surveys one reads) think such a physical barrier is overkill.

On January 7, Ryan Saavedra of the Daily Wire tweeted statistics from the GOP (‘Grand Old Party’, Republican Party) about the chaos along the border with Mexico:

Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, says that terrorists are also entering the United States via Mexico:

The GOP is helping raise awareness of the very real danger of a nearly uncontrollable flux of people entering the United States illegally. The advert is powerful (also see the YouTube version):

The latest tragedy involved the December 26 shooting of a police officer from Newman, California, Ronil (‘Ron’) Singh, who was on shift but looked forward to spending time later with his family. That time never came, sadly for him and his family.

Ronil Singh, a legal immigrant from Fiji, was murdered in cold blood, allegedly by an illegal alien suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. Singh’s tragic story is also in the GOP advert:

Ryan Saavedra reported on the stubbornness of Democrat leaders who refuse to help safeguard the American people:

The video was released as part of a new website launched by the RNC called Borderfacts.com, which was created to combat misinformation from the media and Democrat Party.

“President Trump is committed to fighting for American citizens and our national security,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “Meanwhile, Democrats are committed to fighting President Trump.”

Saavedra pointed out that Democrats used to believe that a secure southern border was a high priority.

Here’s more from Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, back in 2009:

On January 7, the retired sheriff of Milwaukee, David A Clarke Jr, wrote an article about Officer Singh’s murder for Townhall: ‘Enabling Criminal Aliens’. I encourage everyone to read it, especially those who think that all and sundry should be allowed to cross the border and take up residence.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Singh, 33, legally immigrated to the United States, became a U.S. citizen, and then became one of Newman’s finest citizens serving as a police officer for twelve years. Singh’s legal entry into the U.S. added value to our country. Sadly, this husband and father of a 5-month-old son was allegedly murdered by an illegal criminal alien gang member on Christmas Eve.

This tragedy was preventable.

Singh’s suspected murderer had “prior criminal activity that should have been reported to ICE,” Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson had said. “Law enforcement was prohibited because of sanctuary laws and that led to the encounter with (Cpl.) Singh… the outcome could have been different if law enforcement wasn’t restricted or had their hands tied because of political interference.”

California is a state that provides a safe harbor for people illegally in the country. California boasts its status as a sanctuary state in violation of federal law and the supremacy clause in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. California cities have passed laws prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with law enforcement officers from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the apprehension of illegal immigrants even after they have committed a crime. Many of these illegal criminals continue on to murder, rape and rob U.S. citizens post-release from a local jail under the catch-and-release policies before notifying ICE officials.

Such criminals, Clarke writes, are detained only for the most serious of crimes while they await an immigration hearing. Most are handled on a catch-and-release basis. Anything could happen between their being caught and their hearing date.

Several serious offences do not require detention of an illegal alien:

Typically the definition to detain involves only crimes such as murder, rape, and armed robbery. That’s about it. Serious drug dealing or gun possessions are not considered crimes of violence under this strict definition. Neither does burglary or the severe crime of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Do these lenient rules apply to American citizens? No, they do not:

Burglary is a felony and as far as I am concerned a crime of violence. It’s not merely a property crime that results in minor victimization. It involves forced entry. It is a category Part I crime by FBI statistics. Part I crimes are serious felonies. Anybody whose home has been broken into suffers a traumatic mental experience. I have seen it when investigating burglaries. People who once felt safe in their homes lose that sense of security after their home is burglarized.

Drunk driving, which Singh’s alleged killer was stopped for, is hardly a minimal offence, either:

Another offense that is marginalized by sympathetic lawmakers is driving under the influence. It is not merely a traffic offense. Tens of thousands of people are killed and maimed by impaired drivers every year. I have arrived on the scene of crashes involving impaired drivers. Seeing lifeless and mutilated bodies is not pretty. This is why most states take it so seriously that a first offense is a crime punishable by imprisonment. Many make a second and third offense a felony. It’s worth mentioning that the illegal alien who allegedly murdered Cpl. Singh had two prior arrests for DUI and was being stopped by Cpl. Singh for suspected driving under the influence again.

Clarke cited data from a Pew Research Survey which looked at crimes illegal aliens committed in 2016 and 2017:

the bulk of those arrested in 2016 and 2017 had prior criminal convictions. It indicates that in 2017 illegal immigrants with past criminal convictions accounted for 74% of all arrests made by ICE which is a 30% increase from the year before. The study points out that those with no previous conviction increased by 146% compared to a 12% increase of those with a past criminal conviction. They have demonstrated a propensity to victimize. This conviction rate includes nearly 60,000 arrested for drunk driving and approximately 58,000 arrested for dangerous drug dealing (opioids). The other classification of convictions are as follows:

Assaults: 48,454

Larceny: 20,356

General Crimes: 17,325

Obstructing Police: 14,616

Burglary: 12,836

Clarke rightly says that crime is expensive, not only for the victim and the victim’s employer, but also for the criminal in terms of law enforcement, incarceration and court costs. Therefore, when it comes to illegal aliens:

the policy on when to deport and for what reasons also needs to reflect these costs to the American people. The time to deport is before they go on to serious offenses, not after.

He would like to see more offences allowing illegal aliens to be detained:

Redefining what constitutes deporting a criminal alien is needed. By changing the definition from what is considered a ‘violent act’ to a ‘serious act’ would be more inclusive of the dangerous crimes I have highlighted in this article. Our laws need to reflect the protection of the American people not sympathy for criminal aliens.

He also says, rightly, that were Americans committing such crimes in foreign countries, punishment — and deportation — would be swift. You bet it would.

Clarke warns against watering down the definition of crime:

When we water down the standard for what is criminal behavior, we are heading toward a very dark place. Crime is crime. Period. This should be the standard for automatic deportation for criminal aliens.

Clarke is a strong supporter for building a wall:

Once we get the criminal illegals out, a wall is required to prevent these thugs from running back in and continuing to victimize Americans like Cpl. Singh who hours before his death stopped home to visit his family on Christmas Eve, kissing his wife and child for the last time.

Here is the final Singh family photograph taken during that visit, re-tweeted many times since his death:

Let’s look at the grief:

Let’s end by considering the following:

Furthermore, he thought enough of his adopted country to serve his local citizens in a dangerous job. Millions of people not only in the US but also around the world are so sorry he suffered that danger by being killed on duty.

In closing, President Trump is scheduled to visit McAllen, Texas, a border city on Thursday, January 10. His press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, tweeted:

A border wall sounds cruel until we start to look at all the criminal statistics involved.

Another serious crime taking place along the border is human trafficking, including (especially?) that of children, but that topic will be covered in a separate post.

Whether people realise it or not, President Trump’s economic policies are designed to redress the increasing inequality in the United States.

Look at this chart (click image to see it in full) of data from the Census Bureau comparing 1977 with 2016:

I came of age that year, and I can tell you that, minus the Internet (unimaginable), life in 1977 was definitely better on the whole than life in 2016 for young adults.

Our generation was highly optimistic — perhaps naively so — about the future. As you can see from the chart, we had reason to be.

Whether it is ‘Boomer Privilege’, as the tweeter states, is another matter. Economic policies — despite Carter’s presidency — still favoured the middle class at that time. So did lower university tuition fees. When necessary, students took a job on or off campus that pretty much paid their annual room and board. These days, most students have to take out a loan they cannot easily pay back.

On that note, a high school diploma was all that was required four decades ago. Now most young people must have at least a four-year university degree.

The responses to Jeff Giesea’s tweet are varied and interesting. Some blame feminism. A few others, more switched-on, blame successive economic policies that eventually ruined any continuation of a normal middle class lifestyle. An average household did not need two incomes in the 1970s. Now both husband and wife have to work out of necessity.

Of course, on the other hand, older people responding to the tweet pointed out that the 1970s was still a time of mend-and-make-do. Americans weren’t going out to eat every doggone day, either. Dining out was, for most families, a special treat, not a habit.

Another huge factor was that the United States still made most of its own goods in the 1970s. When all of that, including ceramic mug manufacture, went to Asia — particularly China — plants closed and people who had been making a decent wage lost their jobs.

There also wasn’t the influx of immigrants, either, which has had an impact on the job market. In some states, you must now be fluent in Spanish in order to get some types of jobs. That was not always the case, as those of us who are long in the tooth know. But, nowadays, it is the new normal.

Furthermore, globalism didn’t exist in the 1970s. Few have benefited from it. More have been damaged by it since the 1990s.

In closing, here are more outside sources saying roughly the same thing. However, there is also some good news below, a testament to the successful policies of Donald Trump for the working man and the middle class.

First, here is a chart from TheLastRefuge showing US changes in prices between 1997 and 2017. TheLastRefuge is Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse:

Secondly, for years, what The Conservative Treehouse calls the Wall Street economy has been vastly promoted by politicians, the Federal Reserve and the rest of the Establishment at the expense of the Main Street economy which concerns everyday Americans. However, President Trump has been gradually — and successfully — redressing the balance. Another factor is that Trump’s policies are increasing employment in decent jobs. On January 4, ZeroHedge posted an article, ‘Jobs Blowout: December Payrolls Soar By 312K As Wages Jump Most Since 2009’: (emphases in the original):

the BLS reported that in December the US added a whopping 312K jobs, far above the 184K expected, and the highest since February 2018. The total number of payrolls surged above 150 million for the first time ever, to 150.263 million to be specific …

After revisions, job gains have averaged 254,000 per month over the last 3 months

It wasn’t just the scorching payrolls number, but also the average hourly earnings print, which jumped by 3.2%, higher than both the November 3.1% and the 3.0% consensus; in fact it was the highest number since April 2009!

The article says that these results give the Fed — which promotes Wall Street — a bit of a problem. Another ZeroHedge article featuring Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow quotes him as saying (emphasis in purple mine):

“There’s no recession in sight…I know this has been a gloomy period and I know people are concerned about the stock market,” Kudlow said.

Kudlow also criticized the Philips Curve – the Fed’s go-to inflation model – arguing that “more growth, more people working does not cause inflation” (since the financial crisis, the relationship between employment and inflation has apparently broken down).

Finally, Tucker Carlson had an excellent opening editorial on January 2 explaining how America has declined over the years. (See the first 14 minutes of his show below; those who are politically aware can start four minutes in). He said that the Establishment’s focus on corporate shareholders at the expense of the American people’s well being (e.g. ability to get married and raise a family) is killing the country. This is a policy, he says, that has been governing the US for the past few decades. It has produced family breakdown. Only the most financially comfortable can envisage marriage and a family. Meanwhile, the blight that affected cities like Newark and Detroit in the 1970s is now spreading to smaller cities and rural areas. There is a sharp increase in drug addiction and an inability for Americans to function properly. He says that Republicans must step up to the plate to redress this balance. He says it will lose them donors, but, if successful, they will be able to repair the frayed fabric of the nation:

It will take time to resolve America’s social problems, e.g. drug addiction and family breakdown, but, from this, it should be more apparent that the rot has been setting in over decades and is only now starting to be addressed. That said, as Tucker Carlson points out, more Republicans — because the Democrats are too far gone — must fully support President Trump’s agenda to Make America Great Again.

A Twitter user from Britain enquired what people’s impressions of President Trump were during his visit to the UK last week.

The poll was taken by:

Here are the poll results:

A superb comment thread follows. This poll did not go as planned:

I especially liked this comment from MAGA!!! Mattdaddy:

Nice one!

Oh, well, better luck next time!

A 20-year old self-described financier and Trump supporter recently posted an excellent tweet of eight Time cover pages:

His tweet got this response:

Of course, an anti-Trumper tweeted:

I bet you can’t produce a date or the group that conducted this poll….

It was easy enough to find the source — a July 2, 2014 USA Today article by David Jackson, ‘Poll: Obama “worst president” since World War II’. This was the reality of the situation four years ago (emphases mine below):

In a new Quinnipiac University Poll, 33% named Obama the worst president since World War II, and 28% put Bush at the bottom of post-war presidents.

“Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Also:

Obama received only 8% in the best presidents poll.

The Quinnipiac poll also reports that 45% believe the nation would be better off had Mitt Romney defeated Obama in the 2012 presidential election; 38% say the country would be worse off with a Romney presidency.

The media purposely mislead people. It’s high time we stopped believing their propaganda.

Incidentally, if you missed my post on the ties intelligence agencies have with journalists, please do read it.

We’re still in Christmastide (through January 6, Twelfth Night), so I am continuing — and concluding — a short series on Americans’ views of Christmas.

On Monday, I explained that there really is a war on Christmas: Jesus offends.

On Tuesday, I recapped Pew Research’s ‘5 facts’ about Christmas in the United States. That was the big picture.

Now we drill down into Pew Research Center’s detail, published on December 12, 2017: ‘Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life’.

In short, the people conducting the war on Christmas are winning. And, yes, there is a war on Christmas.

A summary with excerpts from Pew follow. Emphases mine below, unless noted otherwise.

The numbers of Americans celebrating Christmas are still over 90% per cent, however, less than half of those celebrating now consider December 25 as primarily a religious holiday:

Currently, 55% of U.S. adults say they celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, including 46% who see it as more of a religious holiday than a cultural holiday and 9% who celebrate Christmas as both a religious and a cultural occasion. In 2013, 59% of Americans said they celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday, including 51% who saw it as more religious than cultural and 7% who marked the day as both a religious and a cultural holiday.

Americans are not bothered too much about the declining emphasis on the religious aspects of Christmas. Some of those polled perceived a de-emphasis; others did not:

Overall, 31% of adults say they are bothered at least “some” by the declining emphasis on religion in the way the U.S. commemorates Christmas, including 18% who say they are bothered “a lot” by this. But the remaining two-thirds of the U.S. public either is not bothered by a perceived decline in religion in Christmas or does not believe that the emphasis on the religious elements of Christmas is waning.

There is also a political party split on those perceptions:

A higher share of Republicans than Democrats express the view that the religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less now than in the past (68% vs. 50%). And the partisan gap is even bigger when it comes to whether this perceived trend is seen as negative. Fully half of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP say they are bothered “a lot” (32%) or “some” (20%) by a declining emphasis on the religious aspects of Christmas. Among Democrats, just one-in-five say they are bothered “a lot” (10%) or “some” (11%) by these changes.

There was also a political divide between the two parties’ adherents and church attendance at Christmas:

Nearly two-thirds of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP say they will attend church on Christmas (65%). Among Democrats, 45% plan on attending religious services this year.

There was a slight religious split — between Protestant Evangelicals and other denominations — with regard to the seasonal greetings ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’:

Most white evangelical Protestants say they prefer for stores and other businesses to greet their customers by saying “merry Christmas” during the holidays. But evangelicals are somewhat less likely to express this view today (61%) compared with 2012 (70%).

Within every other major Christian tradition, there are at least as many people who say the holiday greetings used by stores and businesses don’t matter to them as there are who say they prefer “merry Christmas.”

As for the biblical narrative, Pew asked their subjects about belief in four biblical Christmas details: the Virgin Birth, Jesus in a manger, the angel announcing His birth to shepherds and the arrival of the Magi. All results below are comparisons between 2014 and 2017. All show a decline.

Those who believe in the Virgin Birth have declined by seven per cent: 73% to 66%.

Those who believe that the Christ Child lay in a manger declined by six per cent: 81% to 75%.

Those who believe that the angel announced His birth to shepherds declined by seven per cent: 74% to 67%.

Those who believe the Magi visited Jesus declined by seven per cent: 75% to 68%.

The number who believe all four events took place dropped eight per cent: 65% to 57%.

Worryingly, fewer Christians believe these events took place:

Overall, the share of Christians who believe in all four of these elements of the Christmas story has dipped from 81% in 2014 to 76% today. This decline has been particularly pronounced among white mainline Protestants (see below for details).

The survey report did not say why, but the decline could be due in part to churches’ de-emphasis on the Bible in general. Many denominations are now social justice centres, nothing more.

The decline in three years’ time was most marked among Millennials, adults born after 1980. These are all big drops:

Millennials’ belief in the Virgin Birth fell from 67% to 55% — 12 points.

Their belief that Baby Jesus lay in a manger fell from 78% to 65% — 12 points.

Their belief that an angel announced His birth to shepherds fell from 68% to 54% — 14 points.

Their belief that the Magi visited Jesus fell from 75% to 57% — 15 points.

The percentage of Millennials believing all four events took place fell from 59% to 44% — 15 points.

WHY?

This generation is now raising children. What are these parents telling their offspring about Christ’s birth?

Something is very wrong with the Christmas picture in the United States.

End of series

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