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Those living outside the United States might well ask, ‘Who is Reince Priebus?’

Reince Priebus was the chairman of the Republican Party in 2016 who went on to serve as President Donald Trump’s first chief of staff. General John Kelly is the current chief of staff.

Vanity Fair has an explosive article by Chris Whipple, author of the forthcoming book, The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.

Whipple’s article, adapted from the book, is called “Who Needs a Controversy Over the Inauguration?” It is a must-read for anyone interested in the Trump White House. Whipple, not a Trump fan, talked to Priebus for his book. Admittedly, Priebus was only there for six months, but he saw a lot.

There are a number of things conservative Trump supporters are in denial about, especially Trump’s phone situation and, more importantly, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. Reince Priebus dispels both of these myths — and others.

Conservative Trump supporters — by which I mean traditional Republicans — are so far in the tank for Jeff Sessions it’s unreal. They need to open their eyes and see the truth. Honestly, they complain about Democrats being in the tank for Obama and Hillary. They have only to look at themselves to see they’ve fallen for the same emotional involvement.

Trump’s phone and the tweets

In 2017, Roger Stone, whom the traditional Republicans loathe for some reason, gave a lot of interviews to Alex Jones of Infowars about Trump’s phone. Stone has known Trump for many years and was accustomed to reaching his friend in the White House from time to time. Last year, Stone told Jones he was unable to do so. He said someone else would pick up Trump’s phone, take messages, then not relay them.

Conservative Trump supporters did not believe this at the time. Perhaps this was why they discounted Stone.

Priebus said that he perceived that Trump’s phone and the tweets were a problem. Priebus wanted to control Trump’s phone usage to prevent him from tweeting.

Priebus told Whipple about the phone situation (emphases mine):

At first Priebus thought he had succeeded in wresting Trump’s phone from him. “I talked about the security threat of having your own cell in the West Wing and got the Secret Service to go along with me to mothball his phone.” Priebus had managed to silence one device. But it turned out Trump had another.

Priebus and the White House staff around him attempted to wrest control of the president’s tweets:

Early on, the staff wrote daily tweets for him: “The team would give the president five or six tweets every day to choose from,” said Priebus, “and some of them would real­ly push the envelope. The idea would be at least they would be tweets that we could see and understand and control. But that didn’t allow the president to be fully in control of his own voice.

No one, not even First Lady Melania Trump, could do it:

After [last year’s] joint session [of Congress] we all talked to him, and Melania said, ‘No tweeting.’ And he said, ‘O.K.—for the next few days.’ We had many discussions involving this issue. We had meetings in the residence. I couldn’t stop it. [But] it’s now part of the American culture and the American presidency.

Priebus now concedes that Trump is right. His tweets serve a purpose in communicating with the American people:

And you know what? In many ways, the president was right. And all of us so-called experts might be totally wrong.

Correct.

Trump WAS angry with Jeff Sessions

This is the thing I believed from the very beginning, that Trump was — and probably still is — angry with Jeff Sessions.

Jeff Sessions’s recusal from investigating anything related to the 2016 campaign, because he worked on aspects of it, really landed Trump and his family — especially Don Jr and Jared Kushner — in hot water with the Mueller investigation into the charges of Russian collusion. The Mueller investigation would not have happened without Sessions’s recusal.

I am frustrated that traditional Republicans cannot see and understand this simple fact. They do not even want to know what Priebus witnessed.

Remember, nearly a year ago now, that Trump fired James Comey. Sessions’s recusal coupled with Comey’s firing landed Trump with Robert Mueller.

While the White House communications team argued about handling the backlash Trump got for firing Comey, Priebus heard dramatic news about Sessions. Priebus told Whipple something he’d never before revealed:

Priebus got an unexpected visit from the White House counsel—a story he has not told publicly before. “Don McGahn came in my office pretty hot, red, out of breath, and said, ‘We’ve got a problem.’ I responded, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘Well, we just got a special counsel, and [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions just resigned.’ I said, ‘What!? What the hell are you talking about?’ ”

It was bad enough that Trump, having fired Comey, would now be the target of a special prosecutor. Even worse, unbeknownst to Priebus, the president, only moments before, had subjected Sessions to a withering tirade in the Oval Office, calling him an “idiot” and blaming Sessions’s recusal from the Russia investigation for the whole mess. Humiliated, Sessions said he would resign.

Priebus told Whipple that he dashed out to the West Wing parking lot to find Sessions in the back seat of his car waiting to be driven away.

Priebus said he knocked on the car door, then opened it and jumped in to talk with Sessions:

I said, ‘You cannot resign. It’s not possible. We are going to talk about this right now.’ So I dragged him back up to my office from the car. [Vice President Mike] Pence and Bannon came in, and we started talking to him to the point where he decided that he would not resign right then and he would instead think about it.” Later that night, Sessions delivered a resignation letter to the Oval Office, but, Priebus claimed, he ultimately persuaded the president to give it back.

That was not the end of the issue, which resurfaced again during the summer. Trump gave an interview to the New York Times in which he spoke frankly about his attorney general. His tweets were equally as scathing (language alert in this quote):

In June, Trump was still on a tear. He considered dumping special counsel Mueller, according to The New York Times, but was dissuaded from doing so. And by July, Trump was back on Sessions’s case, tweeting insults and calling him “weak.”Priebus was told to get Sessions’s resignation flat out,” said a White House insider. “The president told him, ‘Don’t give me any bullshit. Don’t try to slow me down like you always do. Get the resignation of Jeff Sessions.’ ”

Sessions supporters say we cannot take the word of ‘a White House insider’. The truth of the matter is that every president has ‘a White House insider’. I’ve been reading that phrase for decades.

Priebus reacted wisely, because what he predicted about Rachel Brand (see the quote) happened on Friday, February 9, 2018. Rosenstein is still in place, but Brand might have sensed something. She resigned to take head global governance for Walmart in faraway Arkansas:

Once more, Priebus stalled Trump, recalled a White House insider. “He told the president, ‘If I get this resignation, you are in for a spiral of calamity that makes Comey look like a picnic.’ Rosenstein’s going to resign. [Associate Attorney General] Rachel Brand, the number three, will say, ‘Forget it. I’m not going to be involved with this.’ And it is going to be a total mess.” The president agreed to hold off. (Sessions didn’t comment on the resignation letter and last July publicly stated that he planned to stay on the job “as long as that is appropriate.” Brand, in fact, resigned this month.)

Anthony Scaramucci and Priebus’s resignation

Trump was vexed with Priebus, because, part of his job was to corral the GOPe NeverTrumpers into voting to repeal and replace Obamacare. Whipple reminds us of what happened and includes a quote from Steve Bannon, who also left the Trump administration last year:

Repeal and replace” crashed and burned—not once but twice, the second time when John McCain delivered a dramatic 1:30 a.m. thumbs-down on the Senate floor. The debacle proved that Priebus could not count—or deliver—votes. “When McCain voted against it,” Bannon recalled, “I said to myself, Reince is gone. This is going to be so bad. The president is going to get so lit up.”

And so he did. But Priebus held on, withstanding Trump’s verbal put downs. Then Priebus got on the wrong side of Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. They wanted Bannon gone. Priebus wouldn’t fire him.

The only thing that would make the Wisconsin guy Priebus leave was the unpredictable New Yorker, Anthony Scaramucci, who was hired and stayed only several days that summer:

And then came the last straw: the sudden arrival of a new, flamboyant communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. Priebus had opposed his hiring. Scaramucci immediately turned the West Wing into a circular firing squadHe went on, in a tweet, to all but accuse Priebus of leaking classified information about Scaramucci’s finances (which were publicly available). “When he accused me of a felony,” recalled Priebus, “I thought, What am I doing here? . . . I went in to the president and said, ‘I gotta go.’ ” Trump would say nothing publicly in Priebus’s defense. The president accepted his resignation.

It was even worse, as Priebus expected to work his notice period. President Trump must have been angry with him, because the next day, he announced the appointment of General Kelly as his new chief of staff:

The sudden shake-up was vintage Trump; the timing blindsided Priebus, who stepped off the plane into a drenching rain and was whisked away by car.

Priebus took a break, but landed on his feet as president of a law firm and public speaker:

Conclusion

Although Trump’s base might find the roller coaster of daily drama too much at times, Priebus says Trump clearly enjoys it as long as he wins in the long run:

[Trump] is a man who fears no one and nothing,” continued Priebus, “and there is absolutely nothing he’s intimidated by. . . . And that’s very rare in politics. Most people in politics are people who have sort of an approval addiction. Now, granted, President Trump does too, but he’s willing to weather one storm after the next to get to an end result that most people are not willing to weather. . . . He doesn’t mind the craziness, the drama, or the difficulty, as long as an end goal is in sight. He will endure it.”

I came to that realisation a few weeks ago, before Vanity Fair published Chris Whipple’s article. One day, while reading the latest instalments on White House goings-on, it occurred to me that Trump probably enjoys this, because he is getting briefings and intelligence that the media and public are not.

Perhaps it is time for Trump supporters, myself included, to relax, sit back and enjoy the show.

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On Monday, February 12, 2018, Q posted on what he/they term The Inner Circle (message 740):

Q !UW.yye1fxo   No.87

The Inner Circle.
Mika Brzezinski.
Background.
Family/careers.
McLean, Virginia.
The age of tech has hurt their ability to hide/control.
Majority today were ‘born in’ to the circle.
Investigate those in front of the camera who scream the loudest.
These people are really stupid.
End is near.
The media cleanse/JFK.
Q

This is what Mika’s dad, Zbigniew, wanted to see happen to the United States (image courtesy of CBTS_Stream):

The late Zbiegniew Brzezinski was an advisor to Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter. He was very much a globalist and elitist. Look at the title: ‘Tactician for the Establishment’.

Reading past the first highlighted section, notice how he leaves ordinary people out of the equation:

“some of the recent upheavals have been led by people who increasingly will have no role to play in the new technocratic society”, the unrest being a mere reaction to becoming “historically obsolete” … “merely the death rattle of the historical irrelevants.”

The next highlighted bit discusses ‘the requisite “new international system”.

The next paragraph begins with Zbig saying that a problem arises in ‘generating the political will necessary’ to implement a change in the way people live, socially and politically. Even worse, he calls on the nation to ‘sacrifice’ (what they are used to)!

He says that a national sacrifice (of a prosperous way of life):

would contribute a great deal to the restoration of optimism, for sacrifice generates optimism. Indulgent, miasmic and passive behavior stimulate pessimism.

What a load of old hogwash. I don’t remember people being unhappy in the West in 1977. We were all hopeful for the future, one that never came.

Yet, it seems as if this has been happening not only in the United States but in other Western — ‘advanced’ societies.

Enter Donald Trump, who becomes the leader of the Free World, who campaigned against what he terms:

the false song of globalism.

He is upsetting the cynical plan of the elites — and the stupid — who want him out of office.

Zbig’s daughter Mika — currently the co-presenter of MSNBC’s Morning Joe — has been in television news for the length of her career. She has had every material blessing in life. I remember hearing her say that she really enjoyed seeing the world with her dad, who would take the family with him on his official trips.

Mika used to like Donald Trump. There was a YouTube compilation, now deleted, of Donald Trump’s appearances on her shows. She used to fawn over him as if she were a little girl.

Then she changed during the 2016 campaign. So did her Morning Joe co-presenter Joe Scarborough.

In 2017, the two started pushing the narrative that President Donald Trump is mentally ill. Rush Limbaugh’s transcript of June 29, 2017 has more. Excerpts follow (emphases mine):

… from TheHill.com: “Morning Joe cohost: Trump May Be Mentally Ill — MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski said Thursday President Trump is ‘not well,’ and even possibly ‘mentally ill.’”

So this June 8th, roughly three weeks ago. Brzezinski said, “I think he’s such a narcissist, it’s possible that he is mentally ill in a way. He’s not well. At the very least he’s not well.”

“Brzezinski explained that Trump may be narcissistic because ‘he does not believe the rules apply to him,’ adding that this belief likely led to a sort of ‘ignorance’ and applied it to the 2005 Access Hollywood tape recording in which Trump made lewd comments about women.”

Mika Brzezinski three weeks ago said, “And he’s so narcissistic he does not believe the rules apply to him. That’s where the ignorance label may apply because this is a man who says he can grab women anywhere because he’s famous. The point is, he feels he can say or do things different from the norm because he’s famous, because he’s a celebrity, because he has power.”

Brzezinski’s comments come the same day former FBI Director James Comey is set to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee about his investigation into Russia.” I don’t know if you know this or not, that when Brzezinski and Scarborough announced their engagement — and that was fairly recently — that Trump offered to officiate, and Brzezinski said (raspberry) no. (imitating Mika) “I mean, if Jimmy Carter were in the White House like when my dad was there, but no. No. No way.”

Last summer during the presidential campaign and even during 2015, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were salivating all over Donald Trump. Trump appeared regularly on PMSNBC in the morning, and they loved him and they were sucking up like you can’t believe, and it was like three great friends. Everybody was mad at Mika and Joe for not being objective and acting like they were best buds sucking up to Trump. So something has gone wrong in paradise.

Rush doesn’t know what happened. That said, read the whole transcript, because it is an insider look at not only Mika and Joe but also President Trump. Fascinating.

However, going back further to nearly a year ago — February 22, 2017 — Mika got into a Twitterstorm with people accusing her of telling Americans what to think. She hotly denied it.

RealClearPolitics has the story, along with tweets and a transcript. Mika was angry that the American president was expressing his opinions, which half the nation deeply appreciates:

The hosts of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ comment on President Trump’s efforts to “undermine the media.”

Co-host Mika Brzezinski commented Wednesday morning that she is upset to see President Trump has moved in on the media’s turf when it comes to the area of mind control.

“He is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts,” she said about Trump. “And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think.”

And that, that is our job,” she noted, referring to the media.

Never forget that. I’ve been wanting to write about her for a year but couldn’t quite figure out what context to put it in to make a standalone post.

Q’s now given me that context.

Think about what Mika said. She denied it — but it’s there in the transcript!

Many years ago, this little boy lived in Queens:

Today, the man lives at the White House.

Friday, January 19, 2018, marks the end of President Donald Trump’s first year in office. Below are incredible achievements he and his administration have made, despite the most hateful efforts on the part of Democrats, the media and Republicans to oppose him and even end his presidency.

This is a long post of the Trump administration’s achievements. It has most of the news Big Media won’t tell you. They’re too busy nattering about how many scoops of ice cream, hamburgers and Diet Cokes he consumes.

If you prefer a short version, the GOP can oblige (scroll down past the Fake News Awards).

Health

Last week the president, aged 71, had a health examination, which Rear Admiral Dr Ronny Jackson conducted:

The president requested — and received — a cognitive examination in addition to a physical.

Contrary to media reports, he isn’t crumbling under the pressure of the presidency:

Foreign policy

Because so many people around the world still think Trump will start World War III, below are excerpts of what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on December 15. Emphases mine below.

North Korea

The main strategy involves economic sanctions:

We have put in place now over the past many months the most comprehensive set of economic sanctions that I think have ever been assembled through two very comprehensive UN Security Council resolutions with the support, notably, of both China and Russia, clearly indications of how they view the seriousness of the threat as well.

These sanctions now have banned all coal exports from the North – from North Korea. They have ended their textile exports. They have put limits and will bring to an end the export of forced labor. They have also limited the imports of fuel and reduced all imports, each – with each action increasing the pressure on North Korea.

We do know that these are having effects on the North. This is evidence in terms of what we see happening with fuel prices for North Korean citizens, which initially jumped 90 percent. They’re now back to where they’re up only 50 percent. We also know there are shortages beginning to appear, and there’s also, though appearing on the shelves of North Koreans, products which previously had been exported. So now they have to be consumed internally.

These are combined with diplomatic sanctions where we have called on nations the world over to not just fully implement the UN Security Council economic sanctions, but where they have a sense and a desire to do so, to also isolate the North Korean regime further by recalling their diplomats, closing their offices, and letting North Korea know that with each one of these provocative tests, they only become more and more isolated.

More than 22 countries have sent North Korea’s diplomats back home. And for some, it may not seem significant, but for small countries that may not have a lot of economic influence, it is yet another important signal. So from nations like Peru to Spain to Italy to Portugal have cut off the diplomacy ties as well. And we know the regime notices when that ambassador comes home because they’re not representing that office elsewhere, further isolating them from their contact with the rest of the world.

China and the Indo-Pacific

The US is working well with China and India on creating a free and open Indo-Pacific region:

So I think with respect to our relationship with China, we now have a very active mechanism in which we can put complex issues on the table. And we have differences, such as the South China Sea and China’s building of structures, militarization of these structures, and how that affects our allies in the region as well in terms of free and open trade. As we’ve said to the Chinese, we hope we can find a way to freeze this particular activity. Whether we can reverse it remains to seen. But it is not an acceptable – it’s not acceptable to us that these islands continue to be developed, and certainly not for military purposes.

In Southeast Asia, we had a – we put forth a policy here not too long ago of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and this was built on the back of some of our views about China’s One Belt, One Road policy. China’s One Belt, One Road, we understand, is a policy they have to continue their economic development, and our policies do not seek to contain China’s economic development. But China’s economic development, in our view, should take place in the system of international rules and norms, and One Belt, One Road seems to want to define its own rules and norms. I like to quote Secretary Mattis’ comment on One Belt, One Road. For China, he said: Well, the U.S. and the rest of the world has many belts and many roads, and no one country gets to decide what they are. So a free and open Indo-Pacific means all countries have access to continue their economic development and free access for trade through the region.

As part of the free and open Indo-Pacific, we have elevated our engagement with India. We’ve long had a trilateral relationship in the Indo-Pacific between Japan, Australia, and the U.S., and we’re now working towards whether this will become a quad relationship to include India because of the importance of India’s rising economy as well and I think shared national security concerns that we have with India.

ISIS

Obama’s ‘JV team’ is defeated in Iraq, and good progress continues in Syria:

In moving to the defeat ISIS campaign quickly, in Iraq and Syria, as the President entered office, he took a significant policy shift in the war to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria and ordered aggressive new strategies and empowered our military commanders on the ground to carry out battlefield decisions in a way that would win the war on the battlefield. After fully activating the DOD approach of buy, with, and through others, with his authorities the military has, in fact, begun to make significant gains. And as we know today, Prime Minister Abadi recently declared ISIS defeated in Iraq. We are still defeating ISIS in Syria, but significant progress has been made.

As a result of the military success, we in the State Department have really had to run fast to catch up with the military success with the diplomatic plans as to what comes after the defeat of ISIS, and we’ve executed much of this through the Coalition to Defeat ISIS, a coalition of 74 members, 68 countries and including organizations such as NATO, INTERPOL, EU, and others.

Seven and a half million people have now been freed of ISIS’ clutches in Iraq and Syria; 95 percent of territory previously controlled by their caliphate has now been liberated. Our efforts now are to stabilize these areas after liberation to avoid a re-emergence of ISIS but also to avoid a re-emergence of local conflicts between various groups.

So our work with the DOD is to deconflict the battlefield and to stabilize areas, and we’ve had success working with Jordan and with Russia in Syria to create de-escalation zones that prevent the re-emergence of a civil war – all directed towards moving the talks in Syria to Geneva to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a new Syrian constitution and elections be overseen by the United Nations in which all Syrian diaspora will vote. So this includes the voting of Syrians who have been displaced because of the fighting, whether it be due to the civil war or subsequently due to ISIS’ emergence.

A very important joint statement was issued by President Trump and President Putin on the margins of APEC in Danang, Vietnam, in which both leaders affirmed their commitment to this process as the way forward to ensure a unified, whole, democratic, and free Syria. Talks have begun in Geneva again with a reformed opposition representation. And we have asked Russia to ensure the regime participates in these talks, and the regime has been present at the talks. And now, we need to keep everyone at the table. We will continue to work with Russia in areas where we can and Syria to continue to promote a de-escalation of the violence, stabilization of the areas, and a resolution for Syria that will be a product of the Geneva process.

In Iraq, the liberation of all areas is now complete, and in both the campaigns we’ve now recaptured the caliphate’s capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. I think the early engagement in Iraq with Arab neighbors has been important to the future of Iraq also being sustained with its democratic government and sustaining Iraq as a unified country. Having Arab neighbors engage early as the war to defeat ISIS progressed, importantly with the historic visit because it’s been more than three decades since the Arab world had relationships with Baghdad, the Saudis were the first to engage and have created now economic talks and consultative committees. They’ve reopened two border crossings, they’re resuming flights between Baghdad and between Riyadh, sending an important message to all Iraqis that – and reminding them that Iraqis are Arab, and you should re-engage and reunite with the Arab world.

Central and South America

The State Department is working well with nations in Central and South America:

So lastly, in the Western Hemisphere, the things that we’ve been concerned with are obviously migration from Central America, from Mexico, transcriminal organizations, the narcotics trade in particular, which also supports human trafficking trade. But we do see many other opportunities with Central and South America. We have developed strong transcriminal organization dialogues with Mexico. We’re hosting another round this week at the ministerial level. We co-hosted an event in Miami this year to – on Central American security and prosperity. And we are working together on the situation in Venezuela, both through the OAS and through the Lima Group.

Economy

On December 14, 2017, Reuters reported that the economy was on a roll. Retailers had an unexpectedly good November, with a 0.8% increase in sales. October’s sales showed a 0.5% increase, surpassing the previously reported 0.2%.

Also:

Retail sales accelerated 5.8 percent on an annual basis. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing only 0.3 percent in November.

The dollar .DXY rose against a basket of currencies after the release of the data, while prices for U.S. Treasuries fell. U.S. stocks were trading higher.

In 2018:

2018 could be historic:

Stock market

The stock market has never been healthier:

In 2018:

Industrial production

Contrary to what naysayers predicted, 2017 saw an increase in industrial production:

Energy

For the first time in 60 years — 1957the United States became a net gas exporter, thanks to exports of LNG (liquid natural gas). That means America’s trade imbalance got that much smaller.

On November 27, 2017, Shale reported that the Rust Belt could boom again thanks to the Marcellus and Utica Shale development:

which has proven to be an answer to the prayers of communities up and down the Ohio River. These communities are now reporting that union halls are empty due to a surge of oil- and natural gas-related work. Shale has not only been a game-changer — it’s been a life-changer for thousands of families in some of the hardest hit regions of the country. Manufacturing is starting to come back, and we are even making and shipping domestically produced steel again along the Ohio River. It’s hard to imagine now, but the Rust Belt may soon shed its longtime persona and emerge as a new hub where domestically produced products proudly display “Made in America.”

For the past few years, the building and construction trade unions have been aggressively fighting against fringe environmental activists and the “keep it in the ground” agenda. From a political perspective, this trend played out on the national stage in November: For the first time in years, a majority of Ohio union households voted Republican in a presidential election. President Trump won the union vote by 9 percent over Hillary Clinton in the Buckeye State. Why? Because the building and construction trades are going back to work thanks to shale development, which Trump unabashedly supports.

Please take the time to read the rest of the article, which is really encouraging. Thousands of people are back to work.

In early July, just in time for Independence Day, gas prices were the lowest since 2005. Politico reported:

AAA said Monday that the national average of $2.23 per gallon was the cheapest gas has been all year.

A further drop took place just before Christmas.

Unemployment

On December 14, Reuters reported:

the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropping to near a 44-1/2-year low last week.

2017 was the best year for employment figures since … 1973!

This was good news for the whole country:

Deregulation

On December 14, The Conservative Treehouse posted an excellent article explaining the Trump administration’s progress on promised deregulation.

In the following tweet, you see two stacks of paper. The small one represents the amount of regulation in the United States in 1960, and the gigantic one is today’s:

This costs small businesses an astounding amount of money:

Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget, says that huge progress was made in 2017:

The Conservative Treehouse article says:

Notably, President Trump said his administration plans to keep regulations that have been beneficial to our nation. Those will remain on the books, he said, specifically ones tailored for protecting workers, ensuring clean water and air, and protecting our country’s natural beauty. But POTUS described each unnecessary page in the stacks as representing hidden tax and harmful burdens for workers and businesses. “Unnecessary regulations,” he said, “threaten our entire Constitutional system, not just the U.S. economy.”

Tax cuts

On December 19, Trump tweeted:

Democrats are downplaying this legislation, but it immediately had a huge effect in the United States:

On December 20 — when the bill passed — a number of large companies made announcements about bonuses and investment:

Comcast announced it would give $1,000 bonuses to more than 100,000 eligible employees and:

invest $50 billion over the next five years in infrastructure “based on the passage of tax reform”.

Boeing announced:

$300M employee-related and charitable investment as a result of legislation to support our heroes, our homes and our future.

AT&T said it would give $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees and:

invest $1.0 billion.

FedEx said the new tax plan would add to their earnings, fund the pension plan and facilitate hiring more employees.

First Third Bancorp raised their hourly minimum wage to $15 and gave employees $1,000 bonuses.

Wells Fargo also raised their hourly minimum wage to $15 and said it would aim to give $400m in philanthropic donations in 2018.

On January 17, 2018, Apple announced it would be hiring 20,000 more people in the United States and open a new campus. The company also gave employees $2,500 bonuses in the form of restricted stock units. It will be investing $350 billion over the next five years in the US. Trump applauded the move.

Other corporations also reacted positively to the new legislation.

Veterans Affairs

Dr David Shulkin has done sterling work this year on improving the healthcare, housing, wellbeing and job prospects for American veterans. His full report is here.

The Veterans Administration has been a shambles for decades. Much work remains to be done, but in one year it has undergone many positive changes and reforms.

Trump’s supporters

Unlike past presidents, Trump’s base has probably increased over the past year:

Among Trump voters, the mood is buoyant. I understand CNN broadcast this clip only at 4:50 a.m. and at 7:50 p.m. (better pic/video here):

Fox News also interviewed Ohio voters. I bet they broadcast this clip more often than CNN did theirs:

Conclusion

I’ll let the president say it in his own inimitable way (includes video):

AMERICA will once again be a NATION that thinks big, dreams bigger, and always reaches for the stars. YOU are the ones who will shape America’s destiny. YOU are the ones who will restore our prosperity. And YOU are the ones who are MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

Trump gave that speech in Pennsylvania on January 18.

Reach for the stars, Americans! MAGA!

On December 31, 2017, Fox News had an excellent guest editorial by financial columnist Liz Peek.

A summary and excerpts from ‘Liz Peek: What Trump DIDN’T Do in 2017’ follow.

Casting our minds back to 2016, after President Donald Trump’s victory, an ‘expert’ made the following predictions:

Paul Krugman predicted the stock market, which initially sold off on the unexpected outcome, would “never” recover from the blow.

… a despondent Krugman said Trump would plunge the country into a terrible recession.

In fact, on November 9, 2016, the day after Trump won:

the Dow soared 257 points, and has barely paused for breath ever since.

After ‘Trump can’t win’, we had ‘Trump won’t last’:

Columnist David Brooks, who fancies himself a moderate, said Trump would “probably resign or be impeached within a year.”

There were also widespread predictions that Trump would start World War III. Europeans, in particular, lost their collective mind.

Remember, too, that Trump was going to mess with monetary policy and start a trade war.

Earlier in 2017, ‘experts’ predicted Trump would:

fire Special Counsel Mueller or Attorney General Sessions.

None of the ‘expert’ predictions came true.

In reality:

President Trump accomplished a great deal in his first year of office: helping to pass a massive tax overhaul, putting Neil Gorsuch on the court, snuffing out President Obama’s regulatory excesses, signaling a more robust foreign policy and damping illegal immigration, for starters …

Moreover, the president surprised many by following through on his threat to withdraw from the TPP trade deal (a promise also made by Hillary Clinton), his disavowal of the Paris climate accord and, most recently, by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel.  There is nothing incoherent or reckless in these decisions however; they are compatible with Trump’s focus on jobs, and applauded by his supporters. While 66 percent of Democrats worry about climate change “a great deal”, for example, only 18 percent of Republicans are so concerned. Trump voters, like the president, see the Paris deal as bad for our economy.

A realistic assessment of Trump’s first year would note a transition to a smoother and more disciplined White House, better coordination with Congressional allies and a more integrated messaging on foreign policy.

Yet, people are still freaking out about Donald Trump.

Peek concludes by saying that the media and other Democrats will continue to push the same talking points in 2018, particularly impeachment. That said:

If the economy continues its steady climb, wages move higher (as is almost certain), and the stock market follows suit, they will need new talking points. Judging from surveys of consumer and business sentiment, Americans do not think the world is coming to an end.

I will post a list of Trump’s 2017 accomplishments soon.

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

Pew Research Center did not say directly that their December 26, 2017 study finds that Americans are increasingly polarised, but, sadly, the results certainly indicate it.

Excerpts from ’17 striking findings for 2017′ follow. Pew illustrate their findings with detailed graphs, which are worth checking out. The second excerpt below is from Pew’s Global Attitudes Survey.

Emphases in the original:

Partisan divides dwarf demographic differences on key political values. The average gap between the views of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents across 10 political values has increased from 15 percentage points in 1994 to 36 points today. Two decades ago, the average partisan differences on these items were only slightly wider than differences by religious attendance or educational attainment, and about as wide as differences across racial lines. Today, the partisan gaps far exceed differences across other key demographics.

2  Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States. A global median of just 22% have confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs, according to a survey conducted last spring. The image of the U.S. abroad also suffered a decline: Just 49% have a favorable view, down from 64% at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency.

4 Democrats and Republicans disagree now more than ever on the news media’s “watchdog” role. Roughly nine-in-ten Democrats say news media criticism keeps political leaders from doing things that shouldn’t be done, compared with 42% of Republicans ­who say this – the widest gap in Pew Research Center surveys conducted since 1985. This stands in stark contrast to early 2016, when similar shares of Democrats (74%) and Republicans (77%) supported the media’s watchdog role.

7 Americans see fundamental differences between men and women, but men and women have different views on the cause of these differences. Majorities of women who see gender differences in the way people express their feelings, excel at work and approach parenting say differences between men and women are mostly based on societal expectations. Men who see differences in these areas tend to believe biology is the root.

9 The share of Republicans who hold negative views of the effect of colleges and universities on the country has grown significantly since 2015. Nearly six-in-ten Republicans and Republican leaners (58%) now say colleges have a negative effect. Two years ago, by contrast, 54% of Republicans said colleges were having a positive effect. Democrats and Democratic leaners have consistently held positive views of the effect of colleges on the U.S.; 72% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say this today.

This next one is particularly disappointing (purple highlight mine):

12 In the past 10 years, the share of U.S. adults living without a spouse or partner has increased. This rise in “unpartnered” Americans, from 39% in 2007 to 42% today, has been most pronounced among young adults: Roughly six-in-ten adults younger than 35 are now living without a spouse or partner. The share of “unpartnered” adults also has risen more sharply among those who are not employed.

That is because they can marry the government instead. The government fulfils the material role of husband for too many women — and not just in the United States.

I could see this starting in the 1960s when I was growing up and attending Catholic school. When I was in primary school, only two students came from a ‘broken home’, common parlance then, now taboo.

Few of my Catholic high school friends came from single-parent homes; it was far from commonplace.

Among my adult neighbours during those years, only one woman I knew got a divorce. She said she was ‘bored’ and, anyway, she could find a job and work full time. I do wonder what happened to her and her two children. I felt very sorry for her husband, who was shell-shocked by the situation. He really loved her.

Catholic university was pretty much the same, with very few coming from single-parent households.

It wasn’t until I was earning a living on my own that I started meeting colleagues whose parents were divorced. It seemed such a strange concept to me. The last time I uttered the words ‘broken home’ in public was sometime during the 1980s. Someone I didn’t know that well barked at me, ‘Don’t tell me my home was ‘broken’! My mom did a great job!’ I explained the reference, but to no avail.

Anyway, in closing, the Republican-Democrat divide is equally troubling as we enter a new year.

There appears to be no end in sight for the foreseeable future. The same probably holds true in many Western nations.

I pray that our respective nations come together. I have never lived through a more divisive time, especially in such an era of ‘tolerance’.

As I mentioned yesterday, slowly but surely, the war on Christmas is making more incursions in the United States.

Pew Research findings prove it.

A December 18, 2017 Pew Research Fact Tank article, ‘5 facts about Christmas in America’, shows that little by little, year after year, secularist thought is turning the tide.

A summary with excerpts follows. Bold emphases in the original, those in purple mine.

The first fact states that, although 90% of Americans and 95% of Christians celebrate Christmas — holding steady over recent years:

the role of religion in Christmas celebrations appears to be declining. Today, 46% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious (rather than cultural) holiday, down from 51% who said this in 2013, with Millennials less likely than other adults to say they celebrate Christmas in a religious way. A majority of U.S. adults (56%) also say religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less in American society today than in the past, though relatively few are bothered by this trend.

Wow! So now, only 46% of Americans celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious holiday.

And over half don’t care if the religious aspect is de-emphasised, which, as Americans told Pew, is happening.

The second fact concerns the greetings ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’:

 About half of Americans (52%) now say it doesn’t matter how stores greet their customers over the holidays, up from 46% in 2012. About a third (32%) choose “merry Christmas” – down considerably from the 42% who said this five years ago. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say they prefer “merry Christmas.”

The preference for ‘Merry Christmas’ dropped by ten per cent in only five years’ time! It’s now under one third.

Also, why is it not surprising that more Republicans than Democrats prefer ‘Merry Christmas’?

The third fact concerns public Nativity displays on government property:

A growing share says religious displays should not be allowed on government property under any circumstances (26%, up from 20% three years ago). At the same time, a declining share say Christian symbols should be allowed on government property even if they are unaccompanied by symbols from other religions (37% today, down from 44% in 2014). Roughly three-in-ten (29%) say these displays should be allowed only if they are accompanied by other religious symbols like Hanukkah candles, a share that has held relatively steady in recent years.

In 2014, 20% believed there should be no religious displays on government property. In just three years, that percentage has grown by six points.

Furthermore, the number those who support Christian symbols on government property at Christmas has decreased by seven per cent in the same time period.

That is a lot in such a short space of time.

The fourth fact is not a survey piece as such but relates to Christmas displays on public property and how successful they are in going unchallenged:

In the 1980s, the Supreme Court handed down two landmark rulings that allow for displays of Christmas crèches, Hanukkah menorah and other religious holiday symbols on public property so long as they do not actively endorse or promote a particular religion or religion in generalIn practice, religious symbols that are a part of larger secular holiday display (containing, say, Christmas trees, Santa Claus and reindeer) have had a much better chance of surviving a court challenge than those displays that are solely or more overtly religious.

The fifth fact relates to Americans’ belief in the biblical Christmas story between 2014 and 2017:

Two-thirds (66%) say Jesus was born to a virgin, compared with 73% who said this in 2014; 75% believe he was laid in a manger, down from 81%. Similarly, the shares who say they believe that wise men, guided by a star, brought Jesus gifts — and that an angel appeared to shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus — also have declined. A slim majority of U.S. adults (57%) believe that all four of these things actually happened, down from 65% three years ago. Belief in these events has declined not only among people with no religious affiliation, but among Christians as well. Overall, about one-in-five Americans (19%) now say none of these things actually happened.

Ding! Ding! Ding! An increasing number of Christians no longer believe the events of Christmas and Epiphany took place.

How sad is that?

Also, in 2014, just under two-thirds of Americans believed all four events took place. That percentage has dropped eight points since then to an anaemic 57%.

Again, this has happened in only three years’ time.

Good grief.

What will the results be in 2020? I shudder to think.

Don’t let anyone tell you there is no war on Christmas. There is, and the anti-Christmas people are winning, bit by bit, year by year.

Another Pew survey follows tomorrow.

As we are still in Christmastide (through January 6, Twelfth Night), my next two posts will address the war on Christmas as seen in the United States.

Secularists and leftists laugh at this notion, but it does exist.

On December 22, 2017, Fox Radio host Todd Starnes had a poignant news story about a Christian couple, Mark and Lynn Wivell, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Among the Wivells’ outdoor Christmas decorations was a beautiful display that read ‘JESUS’.

Todd Starnes tells us:

A few days later they received an email from the homeowner’s association asking them to remove the sign. One of their neighbors had complained that the “JESUS” display was offensive.

“We know that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus,” Mr. Wivell told the Evening Sun newspaper. “I was quite shocked it offended somebody, but I guess in today’s world I shouldn’t have been.”

The homeowner’s association came up with a brilliant wheeze to get the Wivells to take the sign down:

They argued that the “JESUS” display was a sign – and signs are not permitted.

The Wivells were unmoved and kept the display up. Good! I hope they had a happy and blessed Christmas.

Starnes then discussed the war on Christmas:

Over the past few months we’ve heard the Mainstream Media tell us that Christmas is really not a big deal. They’ve tried to discount the meaning of the holiday.

Public colleges and universities have demanded that Christmas be an all-inclusive holiday — and it should be celebrated without religious references or traditions.

Even some government leaders have tried to erase Christmas from the public marketplace — fearing that people might be offended by the true meaning of the Christmas season.

I will go into that in tomorrow’s post. This war is working. Pew Research Center results prove it.

Starnes came up with his own brilliant strategy for reminding his listeners of the Reason for the season:

And that’s why I’ve started a new tradition at the Todd Starnes Show. Beginning this Christmas, I will read the Gospel of Luke’s account of the birth of Christ on the radio — verse by verse.

So I hope you will take a moment to our recitation of the birth of Christ …

Merry Christmas, America!

Well played! It’s about time.

Earlier this week, I posted about an anti-Christmas message from 2014 that the Washington Post recycled this year.

There is more news about WaPo to tell.

A WaPo reader is upset

Jean-Marie Simon, who has read WaPo for 20 years, gave the paper information about her Christmas flight on United. Simon had bought a first-class ticket — seat 1A — only to find that she had been bumped by congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).

The Daily Mail has the full story with photos and Simon’s relevant Facebook posts. It is not surprising that WaPo did not want to cover it. What is surprising is that Simon, a schoolteacher, thought they would do so (Facebook post courtesy of Reddit):

Here’s another — albeit facetious — view of the situation. Courtesy of 8chan:

One wonders if Simon will continue to read WaPo after this.

Perhaps this incident red-pilled her.

The Post

In other WaPo news, a movie — The Post — made its debut before Christmas. The New York Post gave it three out of four stars.

This film documents how WaPo increased its national prominence as a newspaper.

The story is about the Pentagon Papers, which was a huge exposé in 1971 about how Lyndon Johnson’s administration lied about the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg was the Edward Snowden of his day. He had worked on the papers, a study officially called United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense.

Ellsberg and a friend, Anthony Russo, photocopied the pages in 1969 and approached a few political luminaries to see if they would be interested in disclosing it. Henry Kissinger, who was Richard Nixon’s national security adviser at the time, declined. So did two Democrat legislators.

In 1971, Ellsberg approached a reporter at the New York Times, giving him 43 volumes the following month. These were not published until June 13 that year. The excerpts were dubbed The Pentagon Papers.

The Nixon administration quickly tried — but failed — to stop the NYT from publishing another excerpt on June 14. Although one would have thought Nixon — a Republican — would have relished this as Johnson was a Democrat, Henry Kissinger told him that allowing the excerpts to continue would be dangerous, as nothing would prevent newspapers from publishing dirty laundry from his administration.

Oh, the irony — think Watergate, which WaPo broke with daily coverage from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Furthermore, the Nixon administration argued that Ellsberg and his friend Russo were guilty of a felony because they were circulating classified documents.

Attorney General John Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal injunction forcing the NYT to stop publication after three articles. The NYT appealed and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly ended up in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Ellsberg had given other portions of the study to WaPo reporter Ben Bagdikian, who took them to the paper’s legendary editor, Ben Bradlee. WaPo began publishing the excerpts on June 18.

Assistant Attorney General William Rehnquist asked WaPo to stop publishing, but WaPo refused. Rehnquist tried — but failed — to get an injunction issued in US district court.

Ultimately, the NYT won the case in the Supreme Court on June 30, 1971. Fifteen other newspapers began publishing parts of the Pentagon Papers. In 1973, all charges against Ellsberg and Russo were dismissed — because of theft and bribery by the Nixon administration with regard to the case.

The Post shows how WaPo decided to publish the Pentagon Papers with all the drama involved.

The film also shows the male-dominated world of Katharine Graham, the only female publisher of a notable newspaper at the time. She was WaPo‘s publisher from 1969 to 1979. She then became chairman of the board and CEO before relinquishing the latter position in 1993. She continued to serve as chairman of the board until her death in 2001 at the age of 84.

Graham wisely put investigative reporting front and centre in a successful effort to ensure the NYT would not grab all the big Washington stories, such as the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.

The New York Post‘s review says that, when this film was made, a female occupant of the White House was envisioned for 2017.

So much for that.

The present occupant makes much out of fake news, predominant in today’s WaPo and the NYT.

Philip Graham

Katharine Meyer Graham rose to the top at WaPo because she succeeded her husband Philip. Also of note is that her father, Eugene Meyer, bought the paper in a bankruptcy auction in 1933. Philip Graham succeeded his father-in-law as publisher in 1946.

Philip Graham (1915-1963) was an interesting character with a lot of Deep State connections. Spartacus Educational has a well-researched entry on him. Do read it all, including the footnotes. A summary with excerpts follows.

He was born in a small town in South Dakota. His parents relocated to Florida during his childhood. Graham ended up attending Harvard Law School and edited the Harvard Law Review.

He married Katharine Meyer in 1940, during which time he was a law clerk for the famous Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. Graham joined the Army Air Corps in 1942. He worked for the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), William Donovan. In 1944:

Graham was recruited into the “Special Branch, a super-secret part of Intelligence, run by Colonel Al McCormick”. He later worked under General George Kenney, commander of the Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific. Graham was sent to China where he worked with John K. Singlaub, Ray S. Cline, Richard Helms, E. Howard Hunt, Mitchell WerBell, Jake Esterline, Paul Helliwell, Robert Emmett Johnson and Lucien Conein. Others working in China at that time included Tommy Corcoran, Whiting Willauer and William Pawley.

From this, we can see that he was incredibly well-connected to power.

After the war, as the publisher for WaPo, he expanded his network further with a group of men known as the Georgetown Set. They included:

Frank Wisner, George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Joseph Alsop, Stewart Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Thomas Braden, David Bruce, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen, Cord Meyer, James Angleton, William Averill Harriman, John McCloy, Felix Frankfurter, John Sherman Cooper, James Reston, Allen W. Dulles and Paul Nitze.

Whilst this is showing my age, I grew up hearing and reading a lot of those names.

It is likely that Graham already knew some of those men from the war. Allen Dulles, to name but one, ran the New York OSS office.

Dulles headed the CIA during Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency. Richard Bissell worked with him. Cord Meyer was in the CIA. Meyer was involved with Project, or Operation, Mockingbird, which used big media outlets to drive a government narrative:

According to Katherine Graham, her husband worked overtime at the Post during the Bay of Pigs operation to protect the reputations of his friends who had organized the ill-fated venture.

By the time of the 1960 presidential campaign, Graham did what he could to get Lyndon Johnson in the vice presidential slot for John Kennedy:

Graham met Lyndon B. Johnson in 1953. Graham believed that one day Johnson would make a good president. Graham told Johnson that his main problem was that he was perceived in Washington as someone under the control of the Texas oil and gas industry. Graham added that his attitude towards civil rights was also hurting him with liberals in the North. He was advised to go a “bit beyond (Richard) Russell and yet far short of (Hubert) Humphrey”.

Graham was a supporter of the Democratic Party and did what he could to get Johnson the nomination in 1960. When John F. Kennedy defeated Johnson he sent Clark Clifford to ask Stuart Symington to be his running-mate. Symington accepted the post but said: “I bet you a hundred dollars that no matter what he says, Jack will not make me his running mate. He will have to pick Lyndon”.

In the background Graham and Joseph Alsop were attempting to persuade John F. Kennedy to appoint Lyndon B. Johnson instead. Despite the objection of Robert Kennedy and other leading advisers, Kennedy decided to replace Symington with Johnson.

Once Kennedy was in the White House, Graham succeeded in persuading him to appoint his (Graham’s) buddies to administration positions: Douglas Dillon as Secretary of the Treasury, Arthur Schlesinger (former OSS) as a presidential adviser and David Bruce as ambassador to London.

Graham was able to expand the Washington Post Company by purchasing a radio and a television station as well as Newsweek and two prominent art magazines:

The main person involved in arranging Graham’s takeover of other media companies was Fritz Beebe. He ran the law firm Cravath, Swaine, & Moore. This was the company owned by Al McCormick, who Graham met during the war. Averell Harriman was another one involved in these negotiations.

Behind the scenes, things were less rosy, Even before Eugene Meyer died in 1959, a rift was growing between Philip and Katharine — Kay, to her friends. Graham’s mental state was not very good, either. Meyer wondered whether he should turn the company over to his son-in-law:

The Post publisher took a mistress, Robin Webb, whom he set up in a large house in Washington and a farm outside of the city. A heavy drinker who reportedly had manic-depressive tendencies, Graham, in some respects, was his own worst enemy, stridently abusive to his wife, both privately and publicly.

Katharine Graham’s biographer, Deborah Davis, posited that Graham was beginning to bother the CIA. After his second nervous breakdown he talked openly about how troubling he found Operation Mockingbird in terms of manipulating journalists:

He said it to the CIA… He turned against the newsmen and politicians whose code was mutual trust and, strangely, silence. The word was that Phil Graham could not be trusted. Graham was actually under surveillance by somebody. Davis has noted that one of Graham’s assistants “recorded his mutterings on scraps of paper.”

Others suggest that Graham had been damaged from undergoing CIA and other psychiatric treatments involving mind-altering drugs.

Graham told one of his close friends, WaPo attorney Edward Bennett Williams, that he wanted a divorce and planned on rewriting his will to leave everything — including the Washington Post Company — to his mistress instead of to Kay.

Williams was able to delay a divorce, but Graham rewrote his will three times in the spring of 1963. The last version omitted Kay altogether.

Then, Graham addressed a newspaper publishers convention in Arizona in a tirade about the CIA and Washington:

even to the point of exposing his friend John Kennedy’s affair with Mary Meyer, the wife of a top CIA official, Cord Meyer (no relation to Katharine Graham).

Katharine heard about it and flew to Phoenix:

and snatched up her husband who was captured after a struggle, put in a straitjacket and sedated. He was then flown to an exclusive mental clinic in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Md.

On the morning of Aug. 3, 1963, Katharine Graham reportedly told friends that Philip was “better” and coming home.

Suicides

That day in 1963, Philip Graham killed himself at home while Katharine was napping upstairs. The New York Post gives us this detail that other media outlets often suppress. He:

committed suicide at age 48 by shooting himself with a 28-gauge shotgun in 1963, days after being released from a psychiatric hospital following six weeks of treatment.

As he was not of sound mind when he died, his will was declared invalid. As he died intestate, Katharine assumed control of the Washington Post Company.

On December 20, 2017, one of the Grahams’ sons, William, 69, also committed suicide. He did not work at WaPo. He was a lawyer and law professor at UCLA. In later life, he turned to philanthropy. He died at his home in Los Angeles.

WaPo reported:

The cause was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said his brother Donald E. Graham, a former Post publisher and chief executive.

Like Philip, William also left behind a wife and grown children. I hope they find comfort in the months ahead.

William did not live to see the national release of The Post.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left the White House for Mar a Lago on Friday, December 22, 2017.

Earlier that day:

Crowds welcomed him upon his arrival in Florida:

On December 24, the Trumps fielded telephone calls from American children eager for the arrival of Father Christmas. The Daily Mail has a report with spectacular photos:

… the first couple surprised kids who had called in to NORAD to find out where Santa Claus is.

The president and first lady were patched in to a handful of NORAD’s expected 150,000 Christmas Eve calls from the living room at Mar-a-Lago where the Trumps are celebrating their first Christmas in office.

‘What would you like more than anything?’ Trump was overheard asking a child named Casper from Virginia as members of the media briefly listened in.

Reporters were unable to hear Casper’s response, but the president gave the request away in his answer.

‘Building blocks. That’s what I’ve always liked too,’ said the president, who was a successful real estate developer before jumping into politics. ‘I always loved building blocks,’ Trump continued.

‘Well, I predict Santa will bring you building blocks. So many you won’t be able to use them all,’ said the president, using his trademark bombastic language.

Speaking to another child, Trump was impressed by the boy’s Santa request.

‘So you want your grandma to get out of the hospital?’ Trump said. ‘That’s what your wish is?’

‘That’s great,’ the president continued. ‘That’s better than asking for some toy or something, that’s better right?’

He then assured the young boy that grandma would be alright.

‘So your grandma’s gonna be good, OK? She’s gonna be good,’ the president said.

At another moment he told a child, ‘When you’re in Washington, you’ll come and see me.’

In total, the president chatted with 11 kids, while the first lady talked to ten.

This video — trending at No. 27 on YouTube on December 28 — has the conversations:

Trump held a teleconference with various branches of the military to send Christmas greetings:

The US Navy and the crew of the USS Sampson tweeted their appreciation.

The military sent some exceptional tweets this year. I especially liked the Navy’s video. Open in new tab, if necessary:

Trump tweeted another seasonal message later on Christmas Eve:

His friend in Israel sent customary Christmas greetings to the American people. This year, however, is a special one for Benjamin Netanyahu:

The president and Mrs Trump attended the 10:30 p.m. service at the Episcopal church they go to, Bethesda-by-the-Sea.

The Palm Beach Post reported:

Bethesda-by-the-Sea is just under a five-minute drive up the Atlantic Ocean from the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club. The historic sanctuary — it is the oldest Protestant church in the region — has played a major role in the first family’s lives: The president and first lady married there in 2005. Their son, Barron, was christened there the following year. And the couple, occasionally joined by other family members, have attended Christmas Eve and Easter services there.

When Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April, first lady Melania Trump took Mrs. Abe to Bethesda-by-the-Sea. “Proud to share part of my family history with Mrs. Abe at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea where @POTUS & I were married, where we celebrate and we pray,” the first lady said in a post on her @FLOTUS Instagram account accompanied by a photo of the church’s garden.

Security was tight:

Since his election, the president and first lady enter Bethesda-by-the-Sea from the south side of the building, a side entrance that allows more direct access to the seats set aside for them toward the front of the church.

The service was not on Trump’s schedule released to the media, and church officials have declined in the past to confirm whether Trump would attend.

But regular attendees are becoming familiar with the security practices put in place ahead of Trump’s arrival: Worshippers are ushered through metal detectors. Women’s purses are searched. Men in dark suits with earpieces walk the line of parishioners waiting to enter the 500-person capacity sanctuary.

Once inside:

The church was standing room only, but the Palm Beach Post article stated that a few people in the congregation managed to make contact with Trump:

During the greeting, several people gathered around the president to shake his hand. As Communion was offered, people who lined up next to Trump — who was seated on the center aisle — paused to say, “Merry Christmas,” offer words of encouragement or, as one woman did, mouth, “Thank you.”

The Gateway Pundit had a great write up with videos and tweets that I’ve used here, including one of the service. The article says that the choir’s version of Silent Night is ‘hauntingly beautiful’:

I won’t include any of the sermon, as it was the usual Social Justice Warrior material we have come to expect from a once-great denomination.

On December 25, Mrs Trump released a selfie:

Trump tweeted a brief video of the White House — along with a special greeting:

The Palm Beach Post reported:

“Melania and I are delighted to wish America and the entire world a very Merry Christmas,” Trump says in the video. 

Trump also quotes a verse from the bible in the book of Isaiah, noting what the celebration of Christmas is about.

Melania speaks about celebrating our blessings as Americans and “prays for peace all over the world.”

Fox News had more:

… the president and first lady Melania Trump released a video message, with Mrs. Trump saying “at this time of year, we see the best of American and the soul of the American people.” President Trump added his own remarks, calling on Americans to “renew the bonds of love and good will between our citizens —and most importantly we celebrate the miracle of Christmas.”

“For Christians we remember the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph that began more than 2,000 years ago. As the book of Isaiah tells us, for to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This good news is the greatest Christmas gift of all, the reason for our joy and the true source of our hope.”

Here is the YouTube version, which, even on December 28, is No. 8 in YouTube trends:

The same Fox News article also reported that Trump laid on a grand Christmas dinner for people often taken for granted:

… administration sources confirmed to Fox News that the president also provided and paid for hundreds of Christmas dinners served up to the U.S Secret Service agents and officers, military service members and Palm Beach County sheriff deputies who were working Christmas Day at Mar-a-Lago.

Described as a “Christmas feast,” served in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, the buffet meal included a menu of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and dessert. The buffet was offered from the early afternoon into the evening, in an effort to cover two of the shifts for security personnel working the holiday.

Christmas is a one-day celebration for President Trump:

The Trumps are still at Mar a Lago. On December 27, the president visited firefighters and first responders in West Palm Beach:

Meanwhile, although the president has to be the most people-oriented and transparent for generations, Trump Derangement Syndrome continues unabated.

And I’m still getting Christmas card messages from across the pond denigrating a man who truly loves his country!

What on earth is wrong with people?

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