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Millions of Fox News viewers were delighted when Judge Andrew Napolitano returned to the network on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Napolitano has great insight into the inner workings of Washington, DC, particularly with regard to recent claims of surveillance of President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On March 13, he said:

Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA. He didn’t use the CIA. He didn’t use the FBI, and he didn’t use Department of Justice. He used GCHQ. What the heck is GCHQ? That’s the initials for the British spying agency. They have 24/7 access to the NSA database. So by simply having two people go to them saying, ‘President Obama needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump, conversations involving president-elect Trump,’ he’s able to get it, and there’s no American fingerprints on this.

The Conservative Treehouse goes into the timeline thought to be behind the judge’s allegation.

On March 17, Media Matters, founded by the highly powerful Democrat operative David Brock, currently recovering from a heart attack, accused the judge of obtaining his ‘conspiracy theory’ from ‘Russian media’.

Napolitano repeated the claim on his Fox News show Napolitano’s Chambers, after which, many in the media thought the network fired him:

That story began with the Los Angeles Times on March 20:

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is being kept off the air indefinitely amid the controversy over his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the behest of former President Obama.

Fox News did not respond to inquiries about Napolitano’s status Monday. Napolitano was conspicuously missing from the network’s coverage of the confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — an event in which he typically would have played a significant role. He has not been on the air since Thursday.

People familiar with the situation who could speak only on the condition of anonymity said Napolitano is not expected to be on Fox News Channel any time in the near future. Napolitano was not available for comment.

A Twitter user picked up more detail about Napolitano’s allegations:

Note that the penultimate paragraph begins (emphases mine):

I hope the investigation of Trump’s allegation discover and reveal the truth — whatever it is.

And, in the first video above, he did say that we do not know for sure.

However, did Fox News actually suspend him? Roger Stone, a longtime friend of Trump, thought they did and said on his April 19 segment on the Alex Jones Show that the network should pay him for the week or so when he was off the air and issue him a formal apology.

Others ask if Fox News gave him a few days off when the issue got heated enough.

Or did Napolitano enjoy a scheduled holiday on his farm in New Jersey? The farm produces maple syrup. Tapping season closes between the end of March through the beginning of April.

Whatever happened, on Wednesday, March 29, Napolitano returned to the network, still standing by his controversial story. PJ Media reported the judge told host Bill Hemmer:

“And the American public needs to know more about this rather than less because a lot of the government surveillance authority will expire in the fall and there will be a great debate about how much authority we want the government to have to surveil us, and the more the American public knows about this the more informed their and the Congress’ decision will be.”

Napolitano later said that “a lot more is going to come” on the issue.

The_Donald has more on the judge’s comments (start halfway down the page).

More posts on surveillance will follow.

In the meantime, you can read Napolitano’s views on Hillary Clinton’s emails (2016), who hacked them (2016) and the timing of these intermittent email drops by the FBI (January 2017).

The case continues.

A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump and Julian Assange connected on Twitter.

Throwing out a question, as he does, Trump received the following reply from Assange shortly afterwards.

The exchange took place on Monday, April 3, 2017. It concerns whether Hillary Clinton received a set of debate questions during the Democratic primary season from DNC operative Donna Brazile, who also worked for CNN at the time:

At that time, I thought that was excellent, hoping there will be more of those exchanges in future.

Since then, things have changed. CIA director Mike Pompeo strongly criticised WikiLeaks. President Donald Trump — who owes his victory in large part to WikiLeaks — followed suit.

On April 17, Roger Stone, a longtime friend of Trump and, briefly, his first presidential campaign manager, wrote (emphases mine):

Sadly, Donald Trump’s appointee of Director of Central Intelligence has clearly been conned by the Neo Con careerists at the CIA. Former Congressman Mike Pompeo was appointed at the behest of Vice President Pence who was friendly with Pompeo in the House. While Mr. Pompeo is a Harvard lawyer, his training at West Point was in mechanical engineering. Although he served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at no time has he expressed any concern about the CIA’s sorry track record of insisting that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that prisoners of war are not being tortured at Abu Ghraib prison, that the United States was farming terrorists out to 3rd party countries which utilized torture in a practice called rendition, that our mission in Benghazi was attacked by a mob whipped into a frenzy by an anti-Islamic video shown in Turkey, as well as the Intelligence agencies role in the collection of metadata on millions of Americans in violation of the US Constitution.

President Donald Trump said on Oct, 10, 2016 “I love Wikileaks” and Pompeo who previously had praised the whistleblowing operation now called Wikileaks “a non-state hostile Intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia”.  Mr. Pompeo must be pressed to immediately release any evidence he has that proves these statements. If he cannot do so ,the President should discharge him.

Julian Assange issued the following statement:

 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C9aDKGhUIAAXxHX.jpg:small

 

Stone had more in his post:

After some soul searching I have elected to support the President’s limited incursion into Syria because of the strong geo-political message it sends the North Koreans, Iranians and Chinese. It also underlined the foolish of the entire “Russians helped Trump” narrative.

Acting on faulty intelligence endorsed by Director Pompeo, the President has now violated international law, the UN Charter and the War Powers Agreement with Congress. While he has won praise from hawks on both sides of the aisle, who have denounced him in the past, and has been lauded by the mainstream media, which holds him in contempt. A further expansion of the war in Syria would mean violation of end of the non-interventionism, the very concept that won Donald Trump the presidency. It would be the functional end of “Trumpism”.

The competence of Wikileaks, which has yet to release even one inauthentic email, compares very favorably with the performance of the CIA, which neither anticipated the collapse of the Soviet Union or the “terrorist attack” of 9/11. But not only is the public shortchanged by an agency that all-too-often misses either the boat or gets things wrong, its operations around the world have gone far beyond the scope of its charter. The agency is out of control.( See “The CIA’s Record of Duplicity” on the StoneCold Truth.com ) …

Assange is a hero who has rendered valuable service to the American people. Mr. Pompeo has demonstrated that he is far too gullible to serve as the CIA Director and will pretty much swallow anything that the spooks in Langley dish out to him despite the obvious lack of any hard evidence whatsoever. Clearly Mr. Pompeo should resign.

The folks at The_Donald, where a forensic examination of every Podesta WikiLeaks dump can be found, are equally disappointed in Pompeo. They think Trump should ask him to resign.

Trump won over a lot of twenty- and thirty-somethings who read The_Donald and their WikiLeaks analyses. Many of these people were Obama voters or Bernie supporters. Trump should be offering Assange residence in the United States — with no charges against him.

No, Assange isn’t perfect. Nor is Trump. Nor is Pompeo (obviously). However, let’s give credit where credit is due.

If Pompeo doesn’t like WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 releases over the past few weeks, he shouldn’t blame the messenger. He needs to look inside his own agency. They’re the ones who made that software available to all and sundry, for nefarious means.

Now Attorney General Jeff Sessions is getting in on the act.

I was disappointed to see the following in Trump’s interview with the AP of April 23:

AP: If I could fit a couple of more topics. Jeff Sessions, your attorney general, is taking a tougher line suddenly on Julian Assange, saying that arresting him is a priority. You were supportive of what WikiLeaks was doing during the campaign with the release of the Clinton emails. Do you think that arresting Assange is a priority for the United States?

TRUMP: When Wikileaks came out … never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileaks came out, all I was just saying is, “Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff”

AP: Can I just ask you, though — do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange?

TRUMP: I am not involved in that decision, but if Jeff Sessions wants to do it, it’s OK with me. I didn’t know about that decision, but if they want to do it, it’s OK with me.

I do not think that Trump has the full information on all of this.

I do hope that someone fills him in. Steve Bannon must surely know. So must others within close proximity to the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump’s supporters have learned a lot about the political process and the media within the past year.

Last year at this time, they learned the difference between primaries and caucuses and how each works.

Those who were in the dark about the Electoral College found out more about it after the election last November.

So much news — real and fake — about Trump is posted every day on websites great and small that it is difficult to keep up.

As Trump supporters are dropping Big Media sites as their main source of news, they have been increasingly turning to — of all things — White House press briefings.

Who has ever watched White House press briefings? No one. They were something for media insiders, not the average American. They were dull and sycophantic.

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, and the media have changed all that. Since the inauguration, these briefings and ‘gaggles’ (the latter by invitation only) have become must-see or must-read events.

Who knew White House press briefings could be so popular?

On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 — still within Trump’s first 100 days as president — the Washington Examiner reported that Sean Spicer is one of the best known people in his administration. And it’s all thanks to his press briefings.

Excerpts from WashEx‘s article, ‘Huge: Spicer briefings draw 4.2 million viewers‘ follow, emphases mine:

There’s a reason why TMZ’s Harvey Levin recently called White House spokesman Sean Spicer one of the “most visible” people in all of Washington.

Because next to President Trump and his globe-trotting vice president, Mike Pence, Spicer’s afternoon briefings continue to be Must See Cable TV for millions of political junkies and the midday click for hundreds of thousands on Yahoo.

The ratings are stellar:

A Nielsen survey for Secrets of two weeks of ratings from CNN, MSNBC and Fox News put Spicer’s average daily viewership at 3.64 million, higher on newsy days to 4.5 million viewers.

And Yahoo told us that Spicer’s online audience sometimes averages 600,000 a day, and at least 3 million a week.

We’d definitely consider these good, and certainly fair to say the briefings have found an audience on Yahoo,” said a spokeswoman.

In addition to Spicer, Trump’s counsellor (in an advisory sense) Kellyanne Conway is also well known to the public. TMZ’s Levin says:

To me, outside of Trump and maybe, maybe Pence, the two most visible people in D.C I think it’s her and Sean Spicer. I’m saying more than anybody in Congress right now.

Unlike in previous administrations, Big Media reporters who pole up to the White House are universally opposed to Trump. Spicer, an active US Navy reservist, has a struggle on his hands every day. He rarely falters in attempting to set the record straight, day after day.

The place is standing room only every time, which also adds to the interest.

Combined, these elements make Spicer’s press briefings compelling viewing:

Conflict makes for great television,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center. “It’s no secret that the liberal media despise President Trump. His spokesman Sean Spicer is pushing back — hard. The media have never been slapped around like this. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on, it is most entertaining,” he added.

A new feature of the briefings is that Spicer occasionally takes Skype questions from local television network news affiliates and alternative media commentators from a screen near his podium. Big Media baulked when he began opening up the floor, but the reporters and pundits on Skype ask much more informed questions than the big boys and girls do.

The press briefings are an important means of communication to all Americans, but especially to Trump supporters:

Fellow Republican spox Ron Bonjean, who handled White House communications for the effort to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, said having a big TV and internet audience helps Trump keep his message directly in front of Americans.

“The reason why the press secretary holds televised briefings is to communicate directly with the American people. This means that when millions of voters are watching Sean Spicer’s press briefing, it can only help him directly deliver what President Trump’s priorities are on a daily basis,” said Bonjean.

“Basically it keeps a constant connection for Donald Trump to use the live news coverage to people that have supported him across the country,” added Bonjean, the chief communicator for a former House speaker, former Senate majority leader and former Commerce Department secretary.

Videos of each press briefing can be found on the White House Featured Videos page.

After viewing a few of these, some prefer reading the transcripts, which will save time — and frustration with reporters who come in with the same doggone questions every day. Transcripts are on the White House What’s Happening page.

Videos can also be found on YouTube via The White House channel under Press Conferences.

Here is the corresponding transcript.

As my post on the Easter Egg Roll mentioned, Spicer is no stranger to the White House. He worked as a staffer in the George W Bush administration, when he also played the role of an Easter bunny for the Egg Roll.

On December 22, 2016, Fox News reported:

President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that Spicer will get the coveted job of White House press secretary, as he announced the senior members of his communications team.

This also includes: Hope Hicks as director of strategic communications; Jason Miller as director of communications; and Dan Scavino as director of social media.

“Sean, Hope, Jason and Dan have been key members of my team during the campaign and transition. I am excited they will be leading the team that will communicate my agenda that will Make America Great Again,” Trump said in a statement.

Spicer was thought to have the inside track for the job, in part because of his ties to incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who currently runs the Republican National Committee.

Spicer worked alongside Priebus throughout the 2016 campaign as chief strategist and communications director at the RNC

A commissioned officer in the Navy Reserves, Spicer previously served as Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) for Media and Public Affairs under the George W. Bush administration, and worked for the House Republican Conference before that

Here is a photo of him on duty in uniform taken last week with a reporter from Today, NBC’s breakfast show (photo courtesy of The_Donald):

 

On April 14, 2017, Fox News reported that Spicer has longstanding ties to both the Navy and media work:

Spicer reported to fulfill his duty at the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices, a White House official told Fox News. The well-known spokesman holds the rank of commander — which sits just under the higher rank of captain in the Navy.

Spicer, who joined the Navy Reserve nearly 20 years ago while maintaining his primary work as a Republican media operative and strategist, also possesses a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

As a media operative and strategist, Spicer was part of joint naval exercises overseas in Guam, Germany and Sweden. He also oversaw media coverage of the US Navy’s operations at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

Spicer’s wife, Rebecca Miller, also has a career in media and communications. When the two were married in 2004 at St Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, she was a television producer. Miller is now senior vice president, communications and public affairs, for the National Beer Wholesalers Association. The Spicers have two children.

First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump hosted the 139th Easter Egg Roll at the White House on Monday, April 17, 2017.

The Easter Egg Roll falls under the first lady’s remit. Mrs Trump carefully researched the history of the event and decided to return to tradition.

CNN had a good, if biased, article on how this developed. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

“She wanted to get back to the tradition, so we’re bringing back some traditional elements, like military bands, and focusing on the family itself,” Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s communications director, told CNN.

Those traditional elements include the egg roll, an egg dying station, a cookie decorating station, an art wall, a thank-you card station where children can write notes to troops and veterans, and a reading nook …

Tickets were allocated to schools, children’ hospitals and military and law enforcement families, as well as the families of White House staff, according to [Press Secretary Sean] Spicer.

Planning an egg roll is a tricky balancing act, a collaboration between the East Wing, the White House Visitors’ Office, and volunteers …

Wells Wood Turning crafted 18,000 custom commemorative wooden eggs that will be given to each child in attendance. They arrived at the White House last week in five colors, including, naturally, a shiny gold.

Here are the eggs. Note the similarity in the first couple’s signatures:

CNN also gave us the history behind this popular — and very visible — White House event:

The egg rolling tradition began in the 1870s on Capitol grounds. After a particularly rotten 1876 roll, President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation to protect Capitol grounds, which prohibited egg rolling, per the National Archives.

But in 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes allowed children to roll their eggs on the White House South Lawn, and 139 years later, the tradition continues.

It’s always been quite a production for the first lady’s office.

Florence Harding wore a feathered hat in 1922. Grace Coolidge brought her pet raccoon, Rebecca, in 1927. Eleanor Roosevelt oversaw the egg roll during her husband’s four terms in office, including 1937, when more than 50,000 children attended.

The tradition of the costumed Easter Bunny began with a Pat Nixon staff member in 1969, per the White House Historical Association.

Spicer has a history with the Egg Roll himself: as a staffer in the George W. Bush administration, he was the man inside the Easter bunny suit.

With a new administration this year and not many staff in place, the planning time was short. Wells Wood Turning of Buckfield, Maine contacted the White House on February 20 to say that they needed to know how many eggs to make because time was running out.

Mrs Trump also had a skeleton staff at that point, so all hands were on deck. The White House engaged the services of event planning company Harbinger, which has organised events for a wide array of clients. The Obamas used C3 Presents.

That said, hundreds of volunteers are needed every year for the Egg Roll. After all, 21,000 people were expected this year. Easter baskets must be filled with a variety of sweet treats and other fun items. Four hundred volunteers, most of whom live locally, showed up on Holy Saturday to organise the gifts and work on other aspects of the event:

Part of the prep happened this Saturday, when 100 or so volunteers worked elbow-to-elbow in a fenced-in, tented portion of the Ellipse, behind the South Lawn of the White House. Creating a lengthy assembly line, they spent hours stuffing candy, coloring books and commemorative eggs into goodie bags for families attending the roll.

According to a source who participated in the preparation the weekend, the volunteers — many holdovers from years’ past and former administrations — arrived at 10 a.m. ET, working alongside Visitors Office and Social Office staffers. Truckloads of donated products were unpacked, grouped and placed into their designated spots, said one volunteer team leader. The items included arts and crafts supplies, as well as non-perishable foods. And yes, the source confirmed, there were also Peeps.

Peeps are a marshmallow Easter candy, most of which are coated with brightly coloured sugar.

Everything is carefully planned and diligently executed:

By the end of the afternoon, thousands of bags were completed, with the goal each child will receive a souvenir goodie bag and commemorative egg, added the source.

“Everyone at the White House is very excited about (Monday’s) Easter Egg Roll. Preparations are continuing through the weekend to ensure that every child who attends has a positive experience they’ll remember for years to come,” said Grisham.

Whereas Mrs Obama favoured popular music at the Easter Egg Roll, Mrs Trump scaled such music back, preferring to bring back the military bands from older Easter Monday events.

CNN says that special thanks go to Rickie Niceta Lloyd, Mrs Trump’s social secretary and the White House Visitors Office which organised four orientation sessions for the volunteers beforehand.

The next few tweets give us a glimpse of what went on over Easter weekend:

This was the graphic for the event. The bunnies have wooden spoons in their paws, because egg rolling contestants need them to push the eggs to the finishing line (see below):

It had rained and the ground was damp. Nevertheless, there was a rainbow, which impressed ‘Teddy Roosevelt’:

By the time the Trumps appeared on the balcony, the lawn had a crowd awaiting the official opening of the event:

President Trump introduced the event, followed by the the first lady:

Watch Mrs Trump nudge her husband to put his hand over his heart for the National Anthem, performed by the United States Marine Corps band. I saw another clip of this and Barron was first, closely followed by his mother:

Journalists covered the event for television. CNN’s Jim Acosta shared a laugh with a Mutant Ninja Turtle:

However, Today‘s Al Roker, who is the NBC morning show’s weatherman and co-host, appeared less amused. I think he is still angry Hillary lost:

One boy had Acosta’s number. As Acosta gave a live report, the lad on the left kept mouthing ‘Fake News!’ The video below should go straight to the 17-second mark (H/T: The Conservative Treehouse):

If that gets taken down, Newsbusters has a copy.

The following video from Fox News 10 in Phoenix shows how crowded the White House lawn was. President Trump turns up at the 27:52 mark to have pictures taken with guests. He also signed hats and programmes:

In the following video, jump to the 17:25 mark to watch the first Egg Roll of 2017. It only lasts 20 seconds:

Here’s a view from the finishing line:

The First Family was present at the starting line for the first Egg Roll. Trump’s daughter Tiffany (Marla Maples’s daughter) is in the pink dress and son Eric (Ivana Trump) is between Mrs Trump and Barron:

The Trumps went on to engage with their young guests:

Happy days bring happy experiences. The photo below appears thanks to The Truth Division and The_Donald:

 

The two clearly enjoyed each other’s company (click on top left photo below). (Donald Trump Jr, his wife and daughter are in the same photo. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln characters are in the baseball shirts, top right. Al Roker continues to be unamused, bottom left.)

Eric Trump and his wife Lara Lee brought along their dogs.

The American Egg Board supplied hen’s fruit (top left) and a fun display, An Egg’s Journey (top right):

Bro4 provided popular music. Martin Family Circus also entertained the guests.

Mrs Trump managed to persuade her husband’s press secretary and much of the cabinet to follow her lead in reading to the children in the Reading Nook. She chose Party Animals by Kathie Lee Gifford, wherein different animals find out how much they have in common. Mrs Trump said it was a particular favourite:

Press Secretary Sean Spicer read How to Catch the Easter Bunny with young Joshua, the only one in the audience who knew the story:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions read It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny, accompanied by his wife and four of their grandchildren:

Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Dr Ben Carson, accompanied by his wife and granddaughter, read The Grouchy Ladybug:

General Kellogg read Giraffes Can’t Dance. He did a great job, too:

Education Secretary Betsy De Vos and Counsellor to the President Kellyanne Conway also read to the youngsters. Conway chose God Gave Us Easter. Mrs De Vos, with one of her grandchildren, gathered the children up closely around her.

Military bands, the boy band and the circus act performed on the Bunny Hop Stage.

The United States Army Band chose traditional songs that the many of the children would not have heard before as well as better known numbers:

The Air Force Band and their Singing Sergeants brought an accomplished bluegrass air to proceedings:

First Son Barron, who turned 11 on Monday, March 20, is as tall as his mother:

I also hope this was a great success for First Lady Melania Trump. I am especially pleased that she blended the traditional with the contemporary so well, ensuring that Easter Monday was a delightful day out for all her guests.

President Donald Trump and his family attended an Easter service at Palm Beach’s Episcopal church, Bethesda-by-the-Sea, on April 16, 2017.

The Palm Beach Post tells us:

Bethesda-by-the-Sea was founded in 1889, making it the first church in Palm Beach County and the oldest Protestant church in South Florida. The rectory was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth, who also drew the plans for the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and the original Norton Museum of Art, according to the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.

The church’s architecture, dozens of stained-glass windows and gardens make it a popular spot for weddings and photo shoots.

It is a beautiful church, in line with most Episcopal houses of worship in the United States, as the following tweets will demonstrate.

I also enjoyed looking at members of the congregation. They remind me of the people I attended church with during my young adulthood in an Episcopal church. I miss them! (We are quite scruffy here in England when it comes to Sunday worship.)

Bethesda-by-the-Sea is the Trumps’ church:

Trump has a history with the church: He married first lady Melania there in 2005, and his youngest son, Barron, was christened there. The Trumps attended the most recent Christmas Eve service at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, receiving a standing ovation as they entered the sanctuary. Last Easter, the president, first lady and Barron attended the church’s 11 a.m. Sunday service.

And when Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, visited Mar-a-Lago in February, the first lady included a trip with Akie Abe to Bethesda-by-the-Sea as part of her hosting.

This is a good photo of the interior:

The Palm Beach Post advised people wishing to go to the 11 a.m. service — the one the first family attended — to make arrangements to show up early because of security arrangements. Easter services are crowded anyway, and nearly everyone who regularly attends Bethesda-by-the-Sea shows up for worship.

This is how the morning of April 16 went at the church, thanks to the tweets from Aleese Kopf, reporter for the Palm Beach Daily News — a.k.a. The Shiny Sheet, because of the smooth paper.

The Sun Sentinel shows the Trumps’ arrival. Daughter Tiffany (mother Marla Maples, second wife) holds a pink handbag:

The next set of tweets comes from Michael Delauzon, who works at the White House.

The first family entered from a door near the pulpit and the altar.

The rector, The Rev. James Harlan, greeted them:

The man in front of Barron is not the president. He is likely to be Melania’s father:

 

The president has the aisle seat.

In ‘UPDATES: Trump attends Easter service at Palm Beach church‘, the Palm Beach Post reported that a well-dressed, concerned but polite protester had been along the route to the church. She held up a pro-immigrant sign asking that Trump express concern for them. As if Donald Trump doesn’t know about immigrants! The Palm Beach Post surmised she probably went unnoticed by the first family.

The article went on to say:

A block away, the president, first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron; Trump’s daughter, Tiffany; and the first lady’s parents entered the church for 11 a.m. services from a series of tents erected to give the family privacy. 

The Rev. James Harlan, the church’s rector, gave a welcome message before the service with instructions on receiving communion- and turning off cell phones and cameras …

Trump left after taking communion. The first family planned to brunch at Mar-a-Lago with Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., followed by an afternoon Easter egg hunt. 

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s director of communications, provided the photo of Mar-a-Lago:

The Trumps left later that day to return to Washington, DC.

The Palm Beach Daily News has more.

Tomorrow I hope to have a post about the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn, which took place on Monday, April 17.

On Monday, April 3, 2017 President Donald Trump welcomed Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to the White House.

The two had met once before, on Monday, September 19, 2016, during the presidential campaign. Al-Sisi also met with Hillary Clinton that day in a separate exchange. As I explained in my post of September 23, Al-Sisi’s meeting with Trump was much more rewarding. Sensible Egyptians do not like Clinton because she was friendly with the wife of Mohamed Morsi, Al-Sisi’s predecessor, and had sympathies with his regime, which had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ahramonline reported:

the talk was about an exceptional chemistry between the two men, who saw eye to eye on the need to combat militant Islamism and to find a holistic approach to resolving Middle East issues, including the Israeli-Palestine conflict and the instability in Syria and Libya.

I understand from online comments that this month’s historic meeting went uncovered by Big Media, which focussed on Trump’s notionally chaotic White House instead.

However, the Egyptian press gave it careful coverage.

On April 1, 2017, Daily News Egypt reported (emphases mine):

A number of politicians and experts have praised the importance of the five day visit of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to the US capital Washington, DC, where he will meet with US president Donald Trump following an official invitation.

Al-Sisi is also scheduled to meet with a number of US cabinet members and representatives of the decision-making circles in the US, as well as Republican and Democratic members of the US congress and the heads of a number of committees.

The meeting will include reviews on Egypt’s economy and political conditions, discussions over boosting bilateral relations, and ways of increasing investments between both countries …

Regarding topics that Al-Sisi will focus on, the president will review what Egypt has recently achieved, especially with its new national projects. The primary focus will also include challenges Egypt is facing, particularly with terrorism and the circumstances that led to the signing of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Egyptian pundits looked forward to a cordial, constructive discussion, the newspaper said:

Political science professor Hassan Nafaa told Daily News Egypt that the visit is of great importance for the two countries, as there were tensions between both countries that occurred after the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated regime. He stated that this visit would contribute to more Egyptian-American cooperation.

During the administration of former US president Barack Obama, the relations deteriorated, as he believed the ouster of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi by the armed forces in 2013 was a military coup. The US, as a result, cut its military aid to Egypt, but decided to continue payments and shipments of military goods in 2015.

Ahramonline explained:

Relations between the El-Sisi regime and the Barack Obama administration were not particularly comfortable, given the hesitation of the previous US administration in acknowledging the political change that occurred in Egypt in June 2013.

A meeting between El-Sisi and Obama in New York a year later, following the election of El-Sisi to the top executive job in June 2014, secured stable bilateral relations, including strong support from the Obama administration for Egypt in getting an IMF loan last year. However, it failed to move beyond that.

El-Sisi never visited the White House during the Obama administration.

Today, he is hoping to turn a new page in bilateral relations with a new administration.

The media outlet also reported that there is hope that Egypt and the US could resume a relationship the two countries have not enjoyed for 40 years:

According to Egyptian officials involved in the preparation for El-Sisi’s visit, Cairo wants to see advanced security cooperation that goes beyond anything that the two countries have had since the construction of a close alliance in the late 1970s in the wake of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.

The following video shows Trump and Al-Sisi speaking of their objectives for the trip and for the future. Al-Sisi’s interpreter addresses Trump as ‘Your Excellency’ more than once. Al-Sisi calls terrorism an ‘evil ideology’ (2:15) and pronounces it the ‘problem of the century’ (4:25). He said he is confident that the Trump administration will ‘resolve this issue’ (4:28). Trump responds, ‘We will do that together. We will fight terrorism and other things and we’re going to be friends for a long, long time’ (4:35):

You can read more from Time‘s Zeke Miller.

Globalist heads no doubt exploded at this news, which, coupled with the expected visit by the King of Jordan, is sure to disrupt their NWO plans in future. Together, these three men could bring peace to the Middle East.

CBS’s Mark Knoller tweeted:

Trump posted photos from the meetings:

The Conservative Treehouse has great close-up photographs of Al-Sisi’s arrival at the White House. Trump is starting a new presidential tradition of greeting official guests at the front door, something his predecessors did not do.

Here is a photo of Al-Sisi’s departure that day:

This is the first time in eight years that an Egyptian president has visited the White House.

On Wednesday, April 5, Al-Sisi gave an interview to Brett Baier of Fox News. The Conservative Treehouse provided a partial transcript, including this:

al-Sisi: “I first saw the campaign of his excellency President Trump, and I listened to his speech of the neccessity of facing and confronting terrorism all over the world; that he is a great personality and a unique individual, and that he will find great success.”

“I fully trust the capabilities of President Trump, and I have full conviction that he can do things, exert efforts, that very few people can do.  And he can succeed in so many fields that others cannot.  I trust him wholeheartedly.  And again, I congratulate you for having him.”

Many older readers will join me in hoping that the two countries can recoup the warm co-operation they had in the 1970s. This looks like a great start.

It is interesting that the King and Queen of Jordan visited the White House on the same day that Al-Sisi gave his interview to Baier.

 

Trump addressed the press concerning this significant meeting between the two leaders. He said, in part:

The King has been a leader in calling for a plan to defeat ISIS once and for all.  And I’m with you on that.  We’re both leaders on that, believe me.  That’s what we speak about today, and that is what we are going to do.  And it will be a shorter fight than a lot of people are thinking about, believe me.  We’ve made tremendous strides as we discussed.

As you know, we had a very, very fine delegation come over from Egypt and also from Iraq, and they said more has been done in the last six weeks than has been done in years with the previous administration.  And believe me, we’re going to keep it that way.

We will destroy ISIS and we will protect civilization.  We have no choice — we will protect civilization. King Abdullah and I also discussed measures to combat the evil ideology that inspires ISIS and plagues our planet.  In addition, we also acknowledge the vital role that Jordan has played in hosting refugees from the conflict in Syria.  We have just announced that the United States will contribute additional funds to Jordan for humanitarian assistance.  This aid will help countries like Jordan host refugees until it is safe for them to return home.  The refugees want to return home.  I know that from so many other instances.  They want to return back to their home.  And that’s a goal of any responsible refugee policy.

Finally, we discussed to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East, including peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.  And I’m working very, very hard on trying to finally create peace between the Palestinians and Israel, and I think we’ll be successful.  I hope to be successful, I can tell you that.

The Conservative Treehouse points out:

Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egypt’s Fattah al-Sisi have a very close regional relationship.

It would be interesting to find out if they met privately as they were both in Washington on the same day.

While the King of Jordan met with President Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took First Lady Melania Trump and Queen Rania for a tour of a local school. They visited a science class.

Both the president and first lady were pleased to welcome the King and Queen of Jordan.

I’ll leave the last word to The Conservative Treehouse (emphasis in the original):

Think of the nationalist possibility.  ♦ Fattah al-Sisi (Egypt), ♦ King Abdullah II (Jordan), ♦ Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel), ♦ Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority), ♦ King Salman and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Saudi Arabia), and ♦ U.S. President Donald Trump.  Together they have a remarkable canvas.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is an American association with 14,000 members.

For 20 years, the NAM has polled its members on economic confidence and published the results in the NAM National Outlook Survey.

The latest one concerns the first quarter of 2017. These manufacturers express strong optimism for President Donald Trump. In fact, more importantly, this is the most optimistic they’ve ever been in 20 years!

The presidents over that time period have been Clinton, Bush II and Obama. What does that tell us about President Trump? Plenty.

The overview is on page 2 of the PDF. A few highlights follow:

  • Percentage of Respondents Positive in Their Own Company’s outlook: 93.3% (77.8% in December 2016)
  • NAM Manufacturing Outlook Index: 63.7 (53.3, December 2016)
  • Expected Growth Rate for Full Time Employment Over the Next 12 Months: 2.3% (1.0%, December 2016)
  • Expected Growth Rate for Inventories Over the Next 12 Months: 0.8% (-0.1%, December 2016)

Then, there’s this:

“Do you think the United States is headed in the right direction, or is our country on the wrong track?”

RIGHT TRACK: 59.9%  WRONG TRACK: 9.4%  UNSURE: 30.8%

(December: Right Track: 25.7%, Wrong Track: 27.0%, Unsure: 47.3%)

What a change in those numbers, particularly the last set, in such a short space of time. Incredible.

This survey is worth more than a mountain of polls. These are statistics from 14,000 manufacturers nationwide, taken by their own association — not a thousand or so people surveyed by an agenda-driven polling company.

President Trump met with members of the NAM and its president and CEO Jay Timmons at the White House on Friday, March 31, 2017 (H/T: The Conservative Treehouse).

Those who do not have time to watch the 12-minute video will find the transcript very interesting with regard to the variety of industries and businesses represented.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

THE PRESIDENT:  Great job, Jay.

My administration is working every day to make it easier for manufacturers to build, hire, and grow in America.  We’re removing job-killing regulations and lifting the burdens on American industry like I would say have never been lifted before. We’ve done a lot of work over the last 60, 70 days, and I think you’re seeing some real production

Earlier this week, I signed an executive order to end the war on coal.  We had coal miners up at the office.  It was an amazing scene.  You had very tough, very strong, very powerful men that were crying actually; and they were crying with happiness.  And produce more American energy and more American jobs, which is how I got elected in the first place …

One of the reasons we’re here today is to announce the extraordinary results of a new survey from the National Association of Manufacturers.  Your survey shows that 93 percent of manufacturers now have a positive outlook on the future of their business in this country — 93 [percent].  And it was just a few months ago, 56 [percent].  That’s a slight difference.  (Laughter.)  That’s a slight difference.  (Applause.)

That’s a 20-year, record high — highest it’s been in 20 years, and it’s going higher.  Believe me, you could come back next month, Jay.  (Laughter.)  I don’t know how much higher it can go.  And so I’m very proud of that, and we’re all very proud of that.  And the manufacturers are really starting to invest big money, and a lot of things are happening.  It’s a new surge in optimism, which is sweeping all across our land.

These survey results are a further vote of confidence in our plan to bring back jobs, lower taxes, and provide a level playing field for our workers.  The manufacturing companies represent — and represented here today — are just an extraordinary group of people. They’re leaders.  They’re brilliant in so many ways.  The field has not been a level field.  Jobs have been leaving our country, going to China and Mexico and lots of other places.

And you’ll be seeing what’s happening over the next few weeks.  It should be very interesting for you to watch.  As you know the President of China is coming to Florida.  We’re having a meeting — big meeting — at Mar-a-Lago.  We call it the Southern White House, which it actually is.  It was originally built as the Southern White House, a lot of people don’t know

MR. TIMMONS:  … I want to reemphasize for the media here that this quarterly survey of our 14,000 members has been going on for 20 years.  And to the point you made, this was the highest level of optimism that our manufacturers have expressed in 20 years.

MR. TIMMONS:  And the other statistic that I think you’ll find interesting is the right-track/wrong-track question that our manufacturers answered.  Just the month before Inauguration Day, the right-track number was only 26 percent.  Today it is over 60 percent.  So that’s a huge growth, as well.  And that’s because of the focus on taxes, regulations, infrastructure investment.  We appreciate your commitment to investment in job creation and manufacturing.  And we’re going to deliver.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Jay.  That’s really nice.  

MR. TIMMONS:  Thank you.  

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Patricia, would you like to say something?  Pretty outstanding what you’ve done.

MS. MILLER:  Thank you.  I appreciate being here today.  I own a plastics manufacturing company in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.  We’re a three-year entrepreneurial in growth phase with a 40-year legacy.  It’s great to be part of manufacturing in the U.S. 

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s a really great job.  You’ve done a great job.  Really great.

MR. EDDY:  Good morning, Mr. President.  My name is Joe Eddy.  I’m the president and CEO of a company in northern West Virginia called Eagle Manufacturing.  We’re 125 years old this year; a family-owned business.  We manufacture products out of steel and plastic.  We make over a thousand industrial safety and hazardous materials handling products.  And I bring from West Virginia a major thank you for the work you’ve done for coal …

MR. GREENBLATT:  My name is Drew Greenblatt.  I’m the owner of Marlin Steel.  We’re a steel factory, make wire baskets for the automotive industry and the pharmaceutical industry.  We make everything in Baltimore City, Maryland.  We import nothing.  We use steel from Illinois, we use steel from Indiana.  We’re thrilled with the policies that you are pursuing.  We feel great optimism, and we’re thankful for those approaches you’re taking. Obviously — we’re 45 miles from where you’re sitting right now  — we’d love for you to come visit us …

MR. RIORDAN:  Mr. President, good morning.  My name is Tom Riordan.  I’m the CEO of Neenah Enterprises.  We’re a casting and forging operation in Wisconsin — 145 years old.  First products were plowshares back in the Civil War.  Today most of our products are related to infrastructure in terms of street casting, sewer covers, and so on.  The other half of our business is really tied to on/offload vehicles with folks like Caterpillar and John Deere.  We’re very much dependent upon your policies moving forward …

MR. MAGYARI:  Nice to meet you.  My name is Doug Magyari.  I’m the CEO of IMMI, Inc.  We’re a Troy, Michigan company, suburb of Detroit.  And we’re very much a leading-edge research and development company on advanced technologies, and in particular, we’ve built the most advanced augmented reality and virtual reality glasses in the world.  And it’s an extremely important technology that’s going to affect not only everybody at this table, but really every facet of our lives.  And there’s military applications and all sorts of medical applications, as well as entertainment

MS. BUCHWALD-WRIGHT:  Hello.  It’s nice to see you again.  I’m Karen Buchwald-Wright.  And I’m the president and CEO of a family business that manufactures natural gas compressors.  We’re from Mt. Vernon, Ohio.  And gas compressors are used in both the oil and gas industry, so I’m especially thankful that you have gotten the Keystone

THE PRESIDENT:  Very busy.

MS. BUCHWALD-WRIGHT:  Yes, we are going to be.  

THE PRESIDENT:  You have to be.  Big difference.  That industry has changed over the last couple of months — actually, over the last couple of weeks, that industry has changed …

MR. BARR:  Good morning, Mr. President.  I’m Matt Barr with Carolina Color.  We manufacture colors for the plastics industry. We’re a family-owned business — we also celebrated our 50th anniversary this year, 120 employees.  We’re in Delaware, Ohio, and we’re headquartered in Salisbury, North Carolina …

MS. JOHNSON.  Good morning, Mr. President.  I’m Kellie Johnson, president of ACE Clearwater Enterprises.  It’s a 16-year-old family business — third generation.  We’re a supplier to the aerospace and power generation industries.  We build products out of metal.  If it flies or is launched, our parts are on it.  We employ 200 of the best men and women in our industry. And on behalf of all of them, thank you for what you’re doing.  

And we would love to have you come and visit next time you’re in southern California.  In fact, I’ll never forget my husband and I approaching you in the lobby of your golf course in Palos Verdes when the flag controversy was going on.  And we respected your position and we are so proud that that flag is flying today.  Thank you.  It worked out well.

THE PRESIDENT:  It worked out.  That was a very good decision …

Anyone moaning about Trump really needs to stop going to Big Media as the main source for news. Turn off the television, put down the newspaper and get online.

Trump’s is the most transparent administration in modern history. All of Trump’s presidential activities are on the White House site, along with videos. All of Sean Spicer’s press briefings are there, too.

Trump is my kind of president!

On Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Theresa May triggered Article 50 to begin the process of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union.

May signed the letter on March 28 and a British official presented it to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, in Brussels the following day around 12:30 p.m. BST.

This tweet by Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh is dated March 28, 4:15 p.m.:

Tusk takes receipt of the letter on March 29:

Nigel Farage, former party leader of UKIP who pressed hard for the 2016 referendum, gave an interview earlier that day:

He also discussed it on his talk radio programme in London:

Contents of May’s letter

Bloomberg is one of the few news sites to have the full text of Theresa May’s six-page letter to Donald Tusk.

The first four paragraphs follow (emphases mine):

Dear President Tusk

On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.

Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.

This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.

Article 50

The European edition of Politico has the full text of Article 50, which is brief and comprised of five provisions. Wikipedia explains it further.

These are the salient items:

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

This means that the UK is still part of the EU until the exit process is complete.

However, we are no longer allowed to participate in European Council discussions. In fact, it was interesting that the English text ‘European Commission’ has been removed from signage in Brussels. It has been replaced with another European language, with the French words underneath.

From March 29 onwards, news reports will refer to 27 EU nations instead of 28.

The UK is in an EU limbo until our exit. We must still pay monies to the EU and are subject to EU law.

Article 50 means simply that the exit process begins.

The Telegraph has more. Briefly:

A withdrawal agreement, covering financial liabilities, citizens’ rights and the border in Ireland, will need to be accepted by a majority of 72 per cent of the EU’s remaining 27 member states.

The agreement would then need to be approved by the European parliament, voting by a simple majority.

The motion makes clear that the UK will remain bound by the rules of the EU and that trade talks with third party countries are not allowed for as long as it remains a member.

The irony of Article 50

There is a certain irony behind Article 50.

It was written by a Briton between 2002 and 2003 to apply to EU countries that could become dictatorships.

Veteran diplomat John Kerr, now Lord Kerr of Kinlochard — a cross-bench peer — told Politico that he never envisaged the UK invoking it. Lord Kerr:

drafted the text that sets out the procedure for leaving the European Union as part of an effort to draw up an EU constitutional treaty in the early 2000s.

That initiative was scuppered by referendum defeats in France and the Netherlands but some elements ended up in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009.

One of the sections pasted across became Article 50

“I don’t feel guilty about inventing the mechanism. I feel very sad about the U.K. using it,” Kerr told POLITICO. “I didn’t think that the United Kingdom would use it.”

When he was writing the text 14 or 15 years ago:

the rise of Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was a big worry for mainstream EU leaders and some southern European EU members had returned to democracy only in recent decades. Kerr imagined that the exit procedure might be triggered after an authoritarian leader took power in a member country and the EU responded by suspending that country’s right to vote on EU decisions.

“It seemed to me very likely that a dictatorial regime would then, in high dudgeon, want to storm out. And to have a procedure for storming out seemed to be quite a sensible thing to do — to avoid the legal chaos of going with no agreement,” Kerr said.

He calls attention to the fifth provision of Article 50, the possibility of reversing a decision to leave the EU:

In other words, during the two-year negotiating period set out in the text, Britain could decide not to leave after all and simply remain an EU member. However, he says he cannot imagine how politics in Britain would allow such a U-turn.

Kerr summed up the exit process simply:

The process outlined in the text is, he noted, “about divorce … about paying the bills, settling one’s commitments, dealing with acquired rights, thinking about the pensions. It’s not an article about the future relationship.”

What is the timetable?

The BBC has a full timetable from now through March 2019. Of course, it is not written in stone, but it is the Brexit objective.

On Thursday, March 30, Brexit Secretary David Davis presented the Great Repeal Bill to Parliament, which will come into force as soon as the UK leaves the EU, i.e. in 2019 (all being well).

On Friday, March 31, Donald Tusk will publish negotiation guidelines that the EU will use.

In April, the 27 remaining EU members will adopt negotiation guidelines at the EU summit.

When Parliament opens again in the Spring, the Great Repeal Bill will be announced in the opening statement.

Michel Barnier, representing the EU, will begin participating in negotiation talks with the UK by late May or early June.

Late this year, Parliament will review the Great Repeal Bill in greater detail. If laws must be passed in certain areas to close any gaps, this will be done by mid-2018.

By the end of 2017, it is expected that Michel Barnier will have concluded the first round of negotiations. He expects to complete the negotiating process by September 2018.

At the beginning of 2019, both the UK and the EU will hold separate votes in Parliament and the EU Council, respectively, on the exit plan.

It is expected that the UK will leave the EU sometime in March 2019.

Impact of negotiations

The next 18 months will require careful negotiation to ensure that the UK is not adversely affected.

Attention to preserving human rights — including those for EU residents living and working in Britain as well as British expatriates living in Europe — will be essential.

Also essential will be negotiations concerning EU-sensitive industries such as farming and fishing.

The Telegraph and the BBC both have good Brexit Q&A on these topics and more (see halfway through).

Trade on food will also be negotiated. Currently, UK supermarkets sell a lot of EU fruit, vegetables and dairy products. We also export comestibles to the EU.

Banking and educational institutions are also weighing up their options. On March 30, Lloyd’s of London confirmed they will be opening a branch in Brussels. Oxford and/or Cambridge might open satellite universities in EU countries.

—————————————————————————————-

I’ll have more on Brexit soon and what we might expect to see over the coming months.

President Donald Trump enjoys his rallies and his supporters fully expect them to continue.

He enjoys the energy he receives from the American people.

The_Donald had a good thread about this on March 26, 2017. The person who created it posted this moving photo with a thoughtful description:

Trump touches the face of an America hero with no arms so that man can feel the touch of "human connection". Where was the media on this? Oh yeah... they were obsessing on "Russia".

The_Donald’s readers made up predictable Big Media headlines:

CNN: Trump violates a disabled man.

MSNBC: Trump slaps disabled man in the face.

Huffington Post: 10 Reasons Trump Touching This Man’s Face Shows He’s Crazy

There is another of him hugging a man at the Melbourne rally on February 18, 2017. He got to the rally at 4:30 a.m. and was interviewed by television crews throughout the day. Trump saw the coverage and invited him on stage for a big hug (1:22):

A year earlier, on February 16, 2016, two men dealt with an obnoxious protester at a Trump rally in South Carolina. Trump called the men onstage and invited the elder gentleman to speak to the crowd. Afterwards, Trump shook his hand, drew him close to give him a semi-hug and an air kiss (1:57). He invited the younger man to speak next. The younger man felt comfortable enough to touch Trump’s shoulder twice. Trump shook his hand and gave him a brief hug (3:10):

The interaction the American president has with the public is admirable and sincere.

Can you imagine Hillary Clinton or Obama doing that? I can’t.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s plan for healthcare was pulled on Friday, March 24, 2017. There wasn’t enough support to even hold a vote in the House of Representatives.

It wasn’t a very good plan, anyway: too many vested interests.

However, the media and other opponents of President Donald Trump said he failed.

Dilbert’s Scott Adams sees this as a good thing, because Trump has now risen from being a dictator to merely incompetent (emphases in the original):

The real story is happening in parallel with the healthcare story, and that’s what renders it invisible. Something enormous is happening that has nothing to do with anything you are seeing in the news. In fact, you’ll probably read it here for the first time.

I’m dragging this out to see if you can guess the big news before I tell you. It is something I predicted would happen. It is something the country needs MORE than healthcare. It was, until yesterday, perceived as the biggest problem in the United States, if not the entire world.

And that problem almost totally went away yesterday. The smell might linger, but the problem has ended. We should be celebrating, but instead we will be yammering about healthcare …

With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme. Look for the new meme to dominate the news, probably through the summer. By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to “Competent, but we don’t like it.”

I have been predicting this story arc for some time now. So far, we’re ahead of schedule …

In all seriousness, the Trump-is-Hitler illusion was the biggest problem in the country, and maybe the world. It was scaring people to the point of bad health. It made any kind of political conversation impossible. It turned neighbors and friends against each other in a way we have never before seen. It was inviting violence, political instability, and worse … 

No one wants an incompetent president, but calling the other side a bunch of bumblers is routine politics. We just went from an extraordinary risk (Trump=Hitler) to ordinary politics (The other side=incompetent). Ordinary politics won’t spark a revolution or make you punch a coworker. This is a good day for all of us …

As Adams illustrated in his post, that day, CNN came out with an article by Trump’s biographer Michael D’Antonio, ‘Why Trump the deal-maker came off looking incompetent’. It’s a shame D’Antonio didn’t use the word in his article. D’Antonio has a bee in his bonnet over Trump and trashed him last year. (For more information, see this Podesta WikiLeaks email from March 2016 and a LifeZette article from last October.)

However, we have a video of Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on CNN calling Trump incompetent. Way to go!

Of course, this could start calls from Democrats for action to be taken against Trump’s presidency. (On Sunday, March 26, an article appeared in The Atlantic discussing what would happen if Trump were impeached.)

Let’s hope Adams is right with his prediction of ‘Competent, but we don’t like it’.

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