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President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.

Last year, he gave a presidential address to both houses of Congress on February 28. The format was very similar to the State of the Union address.

Here is his address in full:

The White House site has a transcript. Stephen Miller, his speechwriter, did a formidable job once again. Miller is highly inspirational.

Most of President Trump’s speech follows. I have interspersed it with tweets of text and reactions, especially from Democrats.

Special guests

Beforehand, Trump welcomed his special guests privately in the Oval Office. He mentioned all of them in his address. They were ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Supervisory Special Agent Celestino Martinez, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert for her work during Hurricane Harvey, Staff Sergeant Justin Peck who rushed to save an officer stricken by an IED blast in the Middle East, police officer Ryan Holets and his wife Rebecca for adopting a baby born to a drug addict, three employees from Staub Manufacturing to highlight the new tax plan, two sets of parents who lost children to gang violence, Otto Warmbier’s parents who suffered deeply after their son needlessly died shortly after returning from North Korea, Ji Seong-ho who also suffered at the hands of the North Koreans, firefighter David Dahlberg who rescued 60 children from a California wildfire and 12-year-old Preston Sharp who has organised the decoration of 40,000 veterans’ graves with American flags and red carnations.

The guests sat with First Lady Melania Trump:

The address

Early in his address, President Trump set the tone for his review of 2017:

He said (emphases mine below):

Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have imagined. We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship. We endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel in America’s spine.

Each test has forged new American heroes to remind us who we are, and show us what we can be.

We saw strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip.

We heard tales of Americans like Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert, who is here tonight in the gallery with Melania. Ashlee was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. Through 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee braved live power lines and deep water, to help save more than 40 lives. Thank you, Ashlee.

We heard about Americans like firefighter David Dahlberg. He is here with us too. David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped at a California summer camp threatened by wildfires.

To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, California, and everywhere else — we are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together.

Some trials over the past year touched this chamber very personally. With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House — a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three and a half months later: the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise.

We are incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police Officers, the Alexandria Police, and the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who saved his life, and the lives of many others in this room.

In the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people. But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy. Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.

Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If there is an opportunity, we seize it.

So let us begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our Union is strong because our people are strong.

And together, we are building a safe, strong, and proud America.

Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.

Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value. That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts.

And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.

Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.

To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. We also doubled the child tax credit.

A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 — slashing their tax bill in half.

This April will be the last time you ever file under the old broken system — and millions of Americans will have more take-home pay starting next month.

We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year — forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans. We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare — the individual mandate is now gone.

We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world. These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000.

Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.

Here tonight are Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of Staub Manufacturing — a small business in Ohio. They have just finished the best year in their 20-year history. Because of tax reform, they are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding into the building next door.

One of Staub’s employees, Corey Adams, is also with us tonight. Corey is an all-American worker. He supported himself through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder. Like many hardworking Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax‑cut raise into his new home and his two daughters’ education. Please join me in congratulating Corey.

Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonusesmany of them thousands of dollars per worker. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers.

So to every citizen watching at home tonight — no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time.

Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of Nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.

We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag.

Together, we are rediscovering the American way.

In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is “in God we trust.”

And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.

Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans’ graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day. He decided to change that, and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes.

Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. Preston’s reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why …

For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their Government.

Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court Justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.

We are defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.

And we are serving our brave veterans, including giving our veterans choice in their healthcare decisions. Last year, the Congress passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. Since its passage, my Administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve — and we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do.

I will not stop until our veterans are properly taken care of, which has been my promise to them from the very beginning of this great journey.

All Americans deserve accountability and respect — and that is what we are giving them. So tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.

In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.

In Detroit, I halted Government mandates that crippled America’s autoworkers — so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again.

Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States — something we have not seen for decades. Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan; Toyota and Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama. Soon, plants will be opening up all over the country. This is all news Americans are unaccustomed to hearing — for many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are coming back.

Exciting progress is happening every day.

Trump then spoke about healthcare:

He then spoke about the importance of getting trade deals that are fair to the United States, ending with:

He outlined his plan for infrastructure:

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.

Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.

Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.

Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.

The next topic was safety, security and gangs:

Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers: Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens. Their two teenage daughters — Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens — were close friends on Long Island. But in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa’s 16th Birthday, neither of them came home. These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown. Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and Nisa’s murders. Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors ‑- and wound up in Kayla and Nisa’s high school.

Evelyn, Elizabeth, Freddy, and Robert: Tonight, everyone in this chamber is praying for you. Everyone in America is grieving for you. And 320 million hearts are breaking for you. We cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow, but we can make sure that other families never have to endure this pain.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country. We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents, so that this cannot ever happen again

He spoke of America being compassionate:

Then came the sentence everyone will remember:

Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country: Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez — he goes by CJ. CJ served 15 years in the Air Force before becoming an ICE agent and spending the last 15 years fighting gang violence and getting dangerous criminals off our streets. At one point, MS-13 leaders ordered CJ’s murder. But he did not cave to threats or fear. Last May, he commanded an operation to track down gang members on Long Island. His team has arrested nearly 400, including more than 220 from MS-13.

CJ: Great work. Now let us get the Congress to send you some reinforcements.

The next topic was immigration. Trump explained that his plan has four pillars: 1) an amnesty for 1.8 illegals whose parents took them to the US at a young age, 2) the wall and more border agents, 3) an end to the visa lottery and 4) an end to chain migration.

These four pillars represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.

For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen.

Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first. So let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done.

These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.

As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best in America.

We see a vivid expression of this truth in the story of the Holets family of New Mexico. Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. He is here tonight with his wife Rebecca. Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: “You will do it — because you can.” He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.

Then it was on to defence:

As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression. Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.

Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck is here tonight. Near Raqqa last November, Justin and his comrade, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, were on a mission to clear buildings that ISIS had rigged with explosives so that civilians could return to the city.

Clearing the second floor of a vital hospital, Kenton Stacy was severely wounded by an explosion. Immediately, Justin bounded into the booby-trapped building and found Kenton in bad shape. He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an airway. He then performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground transport and maintained artificial respiration through 2 hours of emergency surgery.

Kenton Stacy would have died if not for Justin’s selfless love for a fellow warrior. Tonight, Kenton is recovering in Texas. Raqqa is liberated. And Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star, with a “V” for “Valor.” Staff Sergeant Peck: All of America salutes you.

Also:

So today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay.

And:

I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.

As we strengthen friendships around the world, we are also restoring clarity about our adversaries.

When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.

I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.

Then, Trump discussed North Korea:

We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and our allies.

Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return.

Otto’s Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight — along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta. You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all.

Here is a photo of Otto Warmbier before he left North Korea. (Background: Warmbier’s parents had contacted the Obama administration, which claimed to have been trying to do something to get him released. Mr Warmbier rightly thought that much more could have been done.)

Trump had one more North Korean story. This, too, is incredible:

Finally, we are joined by one more witness to the ominous nature of this regime. His name is Mr. Ji Seong-ho.

In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain. His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves — permanently stunting their own growth. Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians. He had — and he resolved to be free.

Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death.

Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most ‑- the truth.

Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.

It was that same yearning for freedom that nearly 250 years ago gave birth to a special place called America. It was a small cluster of colonies caught between a great ocean and a vast wilderness. But it was home to an incredible people with a revolutionary idea: that they could rule themselves. That they could chart their own destiny. And that, together, they could light up the world.

That is what our country has always been about. That is what Americans have always stood for, always strived for, and always done.

Atop the dome of this Capitol stands the Statue of Freedom. She stands tall and dignified among the monuments to our ancestors who fought and lived and died to protect her …

And freedom stands tall over one more monument: this one. This Capitol. This living monument to the American people.

They work in every trade. They sacrifice to raise a family. They care for our children at home. They defend our flag abroad. They are strong moms and brave kids. They are firefighters, police officers, border agents, medics, and Marines.

But above all else, they are Americans. And this Capitol, this city, and this Nation, belong to them.

Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them

It is hard to see what people object to in that speech. I will have reactions from both sides of the aisle and the media on Friday. Here’s an interesting fact:

For now, it is easy to see why Trump won the 2016 election.

He really does care about Americans and America.

It makes no sense other than to people who are sick in the head. More on the Democrats on Friday.

On Monday, September 11, 2017, I listened to the Howie Carr Show, broadcast from Boston.

Howie’s poll question was about media coverage of Irma. Fifty-nine per cent of his listeners thought it was overkill. Forty-one per cent thought it was just right.

Howie, whose property in West Palm Beach is fine, lamented that the 41% who were interested in Irma either a) had homes in Florida, b) visited the state or c) knew people there. I fit two out of three categories — not a), I hasten to add.

I very much appreciate getting updates, so please feel free to comment. Thank you to my two readers who have sent in reports!

If this had been the worst case scenario, the US would have had an historic humanitarian disaster on its hands. As it is, there is still much clean up and restoration to be done.

I have heard and read that there is much criticism for the ‘lack of response’ in the Caribbean by the British and French governments in British territories and Saint Martin, respectively.

Amazingly, one of the lefty panellists on RMC (talk radio) yesterday said he was sick and tired of hearing about it. He said that the French government was doing what it could to help. This man blamed naive people visiting the island during hurricane season. He also said that French people who moved there have a responsibility to know how to deal with hurricanes. He was annoyed that people expected the government to do everything for them.

South central Florida

I have been reading Sundance’s updates on The Conservative Treehouse. He has lived in southwest Florida for many years and goes out to help with aid and rescue after hurricanes. The media are covering only the west coast cities and Keys. Less has been said about the east coast, which suffered worse damage, and central Florida, parts of which are also flooded.

Sundance said that Lake Okeechobee (the big ‘O’ lake visible in the southern end of the state) burst its banks and is flowing into the Peace River near Arcadia. This is part of his ground report:

En route to the coast we got a ham radio call, well, more of a desperate plea for help on U.S. 17 for a group of families stuck between Wachula and Arcadia. By the time we got there… yikes, desperate homeowners and families trying to salvage anything amid chest high water actually flowing on US 17.

We were able to get about 5 families and their pets, and a few belongings, relocated about 2 miles away and called for the United Way to get there and help. It was like something out of a farm movie. These people are suffering, and they didn’t have much to start with; and they are so thankful …

The center of Florida is rural, farming, working class, and also lots of poor people. The coasts are more well-off. I think all the attention is going to the coasts. The center of the state is of Florida is FUBAR. Truth. Really bad. Those fine God-loving people didn’t have much and now they have less.

As he wrote last week, getting any kind of fuel continues to be a major problem. He thinks he will probably be restricted to helping in local cleanups for now.

This is more of what he saw yesterday near the Peace River after rescuing the families:

By the time we got them to safety, we couldn’t get back to where we came from.  We had to drive 20 miles north; to head West toward I-75 near Bradenton; to head South. On the way across SR64 there were people stuck with the Peace River flowing down the streets and driveways.  We helped who we could amid widespread downed power lines; broken power poles snapped like twigs (East to West wind); and trees as thick as cars that were blown over (North to South wind).

It took us 4 hours to cut through the trees blocking the road just to clear enough roadway to get to I-75 (West coast).  There’s massive power outages all over; made worse by flooding, that, as far as I can tell, the radio news media seemed to be overlooking.

Cell phone service is poor to non-existent. Out of frustration our team split up to check on our own situations before we lost light …

I’m writing this from a phone hotspot, which is the only source of internet access (probably because cables are down all over) and using the fuel remaining in the generator. to power up the drained laptop. I haven’t seen a second of TV (and don’t care to) and have no idea what media is saying about storm. However, if radio talk is any indicator, these pontificating doofuses are stuck in their Vichy boxes not looking past the coastal metropolitan areas.

If the media are covering only certain Irma stories round the clock, it is no wonder Americans are tired of hearing about it. Why can’t these news channels come up with additional reporting, which, surely, they could get from other networks’ local affiliates?

What follows are more videos and images I did not have the space to post yesterday. I will also give an update on Irma’s aftermath as experienced in other southern states on Monday.

Current forecast

This was the forecast late on September 11:

Later:

The NHC Atlantic Ops attention is now on Jose’s path.

Here is a map of Florida to help with the updates below. By the way:

Orlando

Dangerous creatures are lurking, even inland:

Disney World and Universal Studios reopened on Tuesday.

East coast

In the north, Jacksonville was hit in a major way:

A Pizza Hut manager in the city is in trouble for telling employees they could not evacuate early:

“We absolutely do not have a policy that dictates when team members can leave or return from a disaster, and the manager who posted this letter did not follow company guidelines,” the company said in a statement.

The company added that all stores in Irma’s path had been shuttered and wouldn’t reopen “until local authorities deem the area safe.”

These pictures were taken near St Augustine:

Going south, here’s Daytona Beach:

There was also flooding:

Going further south towards Palm Beach, here are the cities of Stuart:

And Fort Pierce:

Jupiter residents were advised to stay off the roads:

Moving south past Palm Beach, this was the scene in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, September 9 (another view of the tornado here):

On Sunday, Irma uprooted at least one tree:

Three huge construction cranes fell. The first two were in Miami and the third was in Fort Lauderdale. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Not far south from Fort Lauderdale lie Miami and Biscayne Bay.

This is what it was like on Saturday night:

The flooding from storm surge is unbelievable:

Biscayne Bay flooding:

The Keys

The Keys lie south of the Florida peninsula.

As was forecast, Irma ravaged large parts of this area, from Key Largo westward to Key West:

Residents who evacuated and want to return will have a long wait (another photo here):

Key Largo is now open. Another two opened on Tuesday:

This man says that he saw a lot of mobile homes tipped over:

Marco Island

Irma hit the mainland on Marco Island on Sunday, September 10:

How awful:

Animal rescues

Many animals were rescued during and after Irma:

South Carolina

Irma reached South Carolina as a tropical storm on Monday:

There were also tornado warnings.

North Carolina

As forecasted, Irma made it to the western part of North Carolina:

Georgia

Irma also went north from Florida into neighbouring Georgia:

Atlanta felt Irma’s wrath:

Uber suspended service Monday afternoon. Air transport posed a similar problem in tropical storm force winds.

There were also tornado warnings.

Alabama

Much of Alabama was cool on Monday. Irma brought heavy rain.

There were also strong winds in places:

There were 20,000 power outages.

Yet, other parts of the state near the Gulf were warm and sunny.

Mobile Bay had the phenomenon of its water being sucked out:

Anyone interested in tracking Irma’s final gasps can follow the NOAA satellite image which, as I write in the afternoon UK time, is showing the storm moving into Louisiana and Oklahoma and as far north as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Conus (Continental US) image from the National Weather Service is a great Doppler image worth checking out.

In other news, as Mexico is cleaning up and rescuing people after its earthquake, it will discontinue helping Texas post-Harvey:

And finally, September 11 is the anniversary of another severe hurricane — Iniki, which struck the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i in 1992.

Wow. What a time of acts of God, from Harvey to Mexico’s earthquake to Irma. We will remember 2017 for some time to come.

On Friday, September 1, 2017, President Donald Trump proclaimed that Sunday would be a National Day of Prayer in the United States for those affected by Hurricane Harvey — victims, first responders and rescuers:

Trump’s pastor friends are behind him laying on hands in prayer. Pastor Robert Jeffress is on the left with the red tie.

Trump also thanked the first responders and rescuers doing so much to mitigate Harvey’s ravaging effects.

Trump spoke then signed the proclamation (3:08 mark above). The White House has a transcript of his proclamation, most of which follows:

Americans have always come to the aid of their fellow countrymen — friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, and stranger helping stranger — and we vow to do so in response to Hurricane Harvey. From the beginning of our Nation, Americans have joined together in prayer during times of great need, to ask for God’s blessings and guidance. This tradition dates to June 12, 1775, when the Continental Congress proclaimed a day of prayer following the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and April 30, 1789, when President George Washington, during the Nation’s first Presidential inauguration, asked Americans to pray for God’s protection and favor.

When we look across Texas and Louisiana, we see the American spirit of service embodied by countless men and women. Brave first responders have rescued those stranded in drowning cars and rising water. Families have given food and shelter to those in need. Houses of worship have organized efforts to clean up communities and repair damaged homes. Individuals of every background are striving for the same goal — to aid and comfort people facing devastating losses. As Americans, we know that no challenge is too great for us to overcome.

As response and recovery efforts continue, and as Americans provide much needed relief to the people of Texas and Louisiana, we are reminded of Scripture’s promise that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Melania and I are grateful to everyone devoting time, effort, and resources to the ongoing response, recovery, and rebuilding efforts. We invite all Americans to join us as we continue to pray for those who have lost family members or friends, and for those who are suffering in this time of crisis.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 3, 2017, as a National Day of Prayer for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey and for our National Response and Recovery Efforts. We give thanks for the generosity and goodness of all those who have responded to the needs of their fellow Americans. I urge Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers today for all those harmed by Hurricane Harvey, including people who have lost family members or been injured, those who have lost homes or other property, and our first responders, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and medical professionals leading the response and recovery efforts. Each of us, in our own way, may call upon our God for strength and comfort during this difficult time. I call on all Americans and houses of worship throughout the Nation to join in one voice of prayer, as we seek to uplift one another and assist those suffering from the consequences of this terrible storm.

The Left went mad.

They complained of mixing church and state. Unlike France, the United States does not prohibit the mixing of church and state. The United States grants the freedom for people to practise their own religion and says there will be no state religion. For more information on church and state in America, see ‘Church, state and the First Amendment’, which I wrote earlier this year.

They accused Trump of intimating that people who were non-Christian could not participate. Does he have to draw them a picture every time he speaks? Everyone was encouraged to participate in their own way: ‘all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds’.

The aforementioned Pastor Jeffress gave an interview to Judge Jeanine Pirro of Fox News on November 2. He is grateful that God gave America Donald Trump:

I read somewhere last week that President Trump might not be a religious president, but he is a prayerful one. That works for me.

In July 2012 — the year of Obama’s re-election — there was the 714-PROJECT for America, which was a general — not presidential — call to prayer and meditation based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. That verse was useful then and continues to be so now:

I think of that verse often, not only for the US, but also for other nations, including the UK.

However, it does not take a national day of prayer for the faithful to bow their heads and ask for God’s blessing (the date of the tweet shows here as November 3 but is actually November 2):

Breitbart has a good article on previous National Days of Prayer. Excerpts follow.

As Trump said, Washington was the first to make such a proclamation:

“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States,” Washington declared in his first Inaugural Address, the first words uttered by a president of the United States.

It is therefore hardly surprising that when the first Congress passed a resolution on September 25, 1789, calling upon Washington to proclaim a National Day of Prayer, the Father of His Country issued a proclamation to all Americans that November 26, 1789, would be a day to “offer our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions.”

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful to his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor,” Washington’s proclamation begins, then encourages Americans to pray in their churches and homes on the designated day …

John Adams, the second president, made two: in 1798 and 1799. He asked for a day of:

solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer.

From James Madison — the fourth president — onwards, every president proclaimed that at least one day be a National Day of Prayer.

This was not a rare occurrence.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed March 30 to be a:

Day of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer.

He announced:

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord; I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

The proclamations of national days of prayer continued until 1952.

In 1952, President Harry S Truman’s and Congress’s intentions were good, however, instituting the first Thursday of May as the National Day of Prayer in perpetuity became a day viewed by most as a time when the president’s favourite pastors go to the White House for prayer and breakfast. It is no longer an exceptional occasion which captures most Americans’ hearts. It should, but, as the decades pass, it just looks too institutionalised.

It’s better to retain that and, when necessary, add special National Days of Prayer for specific events.

Various presidents after Truman have done so. Prior to President Trump, the last to do so was George W Bush after 9/11 in 2001.

Obama had no specially designated National Days of Prayer.

Thank goodness that President Trump is resuming the tradition.

To those who do not understand a national call to prayer, Breitbart explains:

all the Establishment Clause forbids is the government officially adopting a national religion or coercing Americans to participate in a religious activity that violates their conscience.

This is what would be unconstitutional:

ordering Americans to attend church to pray this Sunday and threatening them with federal prison if they refuse …

These National Days of Prayer are appeals:

issuing a proclamation that encourages all Americans who are willing to offer prayers that accord with their individual conscience is entirely constitutional.

The Left questioned whether Trump went to church on Sunday.

Yes, he did.

He attended St John’s Episcopal Church — the Church of the Presidents — which is in Lafayette Square, very close to the White House:

As the Trumps left after the service, the president answered a question from the press:

In case that video gets deleted, here are three tweets: first, second and third.

It was great to see tweets from others who participated in this National Day of Prayer at their own local churches:

Hurricane Harvey presented a perfect opportunity to unite the country and bring people closer to God through an officially proclaimed National Day of Prayer.

As I wrote yesterday, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania spent part of Saturday, September 2, 2017 in Texas, meeting with officials but, more importantly, talking with Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Yesterday’s post has a news update.

Today’s post has photos and videos. Trump definitely made more friends in Texas with that trip.

This image comes courtesy of The_Donald from someone who saw it on a left-wing Houston website:

This is how the day went.

First, the media kerfuffle over the First Lady’s footwear showed no signs of abating. A particularly scathing — and inaccurate — article appeared on Yahoo, ‘Melania Trump wears $1,590 dress and stilettos (again!) for second trip to Houston’:

On her first visit to Houston after the hurricane, the first lady took a lot of flak on the internet and elsewhere in the media for her shoes. Although she tried to pull together a utilitarian look for the occasion, her stilettos threw people off.

False. The Trumps did not go to Houston last week. They went to Corpus Christi and Austin. Houston was too waterlogged and emergency crews too busy.

The New York Post described Saturday’s stilettos:

Defying the fashion scolds who expressed horror at her footwear earlier in the week, Melania Trump chose a pair of snakeskin Manolo Blahnik pumps for her stroll to Air Force One Saturday as she headed once again toward the Hurricane Harvey disaster zone.

Trump Organization employee Lynne Patton, who also made a video last year about her family’s long association with Trump, tweeted:

Speaking of footwear, here’s an irresistible digression:

It wasn’t just Mrs Trump’s shoes that freaked out the media. They also had a go at her for wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day in Washington, or as the press pool put it, ‘dark’. Well, it was sunny down South.

She took two caps with her: one for Texas and one for Louisiana, which had an appliqué of the state on the front.

Mrs Trump’s office provided this statement afterward, which details where the First Couple went and who they saw:

Then the Trumps, Dr Ben Carson (Secretary for Housing and Urban Development) and Betsy DeVos (Secretary for Education) left from Joint Base Andrews and arrived in Houston later that morning. They flew in to Ellington Field, Texas (another video here) and went from there to the NRG Stadium, one of the big shelters for Harvey victims. This video shows what the residential area looks like (25 seconds in).

At NRG Stadium, the Trumps made many new friends. There were lots of selfies. The children particularly gravitated towards the president. I bet it killed CNN to cover this:

(By nightfall, CNN’s — and MSNBC’s — coverage returned to Russian collusion, with no further mention of the Texas-Louisiana trip.)

This was in the play area of the stadium’s shelter. CBSN’s video has a bit more footage than CNN’s of the kids when the Trumps entered. They can’t get to him quickly enough! You can also see Governor Abbott with a little girl on his lap. He’s giving her a ride in his wheelchair:

First Lady Melania has young admirers, too:

The Trumps handed out hot dog and potato chip lunches to grateful Houstonians. (Vegetarian options are unpopular in the city.)

Before doing so, Trump answered a few questions from the media. This is important, because he told the media, ‘Have a good time, everybody’, not the hurricane victims (25-second mark):

The president revived a joke from the Republican primary season in 2016 about the size of his hands:

Look at all the men. They can hardly wait to shake Trump’s hand, talk to him and get a selfie. More from CNN (no doubt fuming):

This video shows more of Trump’s new fans. Skip to the five-minute mark. More conversations, more selfies:

At the beginning of this video, Trump sat and spoke to a little lad enthralled by a camera:

Governor Abbott was also delighted to be able to meet with so many people:

Trump was asked to autograph the wall in the rescue centre before he left. He duly obliged.

The Trumps then went to Pearland (pron. ‘Pear-land’), where they helped distribute supplies in a drive-through operation at the First Church of Pearland. Admittedly, Trump tells the first man — but only him — ‘Have a good time!’ As the man’s wife (?) was busy filming the president, it could be they are not suffering immense loss but needed interim emergency supplies. Note that Trump loads the vehicles himself:

This next video is touching. A lady tells Trump she prays for him every day. Note how she keeps her hand on his arm:

A young woman wrote into The_Donald to say that the lady is her great aunt:

My great-aunt got to meet President Trump and he helped load her car with supplies. She says he was one of the most compassionate people she ever met!

The president also thanked the church’s volunteers and reminded them that he officially proclaimed Sunday, September 3 as a national day of prayer (another version featuring huge cheers is here). Senator Ted Cruz, Trump’s last Republican rival last year, stands on the right:

Afterwards, the Trumps went to meet with residents of a neighbourhood impacted by Harvey, which is in the first minute of the video below. Trump spoke with them for several minutes to listen to their experiences:

The Trumps also took time for a photo opportunity. Incidentally, the shirt the man is wearing below came from Infowars in a limited run post-election:

I’m not sure whether this next video was filmed at the beginning or the end of the Texas visit, but the first couple also spent time with the US Coast Guard:

The Trumps then flew to Louisiana, where they were welcomed by Governor and Mrs John Bel Edwards (another copy of the video is here):

They went to the National Guard Armory in Lake Charles to thank the military, first-responders and Cajun Navy for their efforts in helping people affected by flooding there once Harvey turned into a tropical storm. They also received a briefing on progress thus far.

Here they are arriving at the armoury. You’d think film or pop stars were inside the vehicle. I’ve never heard a crowd cheer a president and first lady so loudly and enthusiastically:

In Lake Charles, the First Lady got support for her footwear:

This short video has various clips of the crowd and Trump speaking to various people involved in the relief effort:

The next video shows Trump met people and shook hands until the last moment before returning to Washington:

Ultimately:

These are some of the best photos ever. As soon as the woman in the pink shirt saw Trump, she screamed, ‘Dooonaald!’ and grabbed his arm, which she held onto. Everyone who met the Trumps showed incredible enthusiasm, which I hope will translate into electoral support when the time comes.

While she was taking the selfie, she said, ‘I just met my President!’:

Here’s the selfie. In my humble estimation, it’s the photo of the year. This cannot be scripted:

Brief interview:

The Left — Dems included — won’t like that one bit. Those ladies are far from alone.

You can see more photos from the day at The Conservative Treehouse, the Daily Mail and BT.com.

One week after Hurricane Harvey, and President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania were finally able to visit Houston and other affected cities nearby.

Many Americans online have been saying they have never seen a president and first lady so involved in helping their fellow citizens in person. Accompanying the Trumps were Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr Ben Carson and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Last week, Trump pledged $1m of his own money to the relief effort.

He has sent a letter to Congress requesting $7.85 bn be allocated to relief. Congress will vote on the funding this week.

Although flood water is receding in places, tens of thousands of Texans are in grave difficulty.

As of Thursday, August 31, 2017, more than 10,000 people were staying in relief centres in Houston.

The Texas Tribune interviewed Houstonians seeking shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Between 6,500 and 8,000 people are staying there indefinitely. Ten thousand had been there at the height of the storm. One enterprising woman has found a job at the convention centre as a cleaner. Others are contemplating starting from scratch:

Haley Gray and her family arrived at the Houston convention center early this week after their Channelview home flooded.

“It was almost like a river,” she said.

She and her sister’s seven children were rescued by a helicopter and have been at the shelter for four days. On Thursday, they were relocating to a hotel. From there, they’ll begin to figure out what to do next. Gray is on disability and helps take care of her sister’s kids, ages 1 to 11. The family’s car was likely totaled in the flood. Most of their belongings were ruined. Like many, they must now chart a new life with few resources and a cloud of uncertainty hanging over their heads.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to go back because it’s pretty bad,” she said as her nieces and nephews crowded around her.

On Saturday, September 2, the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, ordered a mandatory evacuation of 300 people who are still in their homes in flooded areas in West Houston. Some of the homes in this area were flooded when water from the Addicks and Barker-Cypress reservoirs had to be released last week.

The convention centre is one of seven large shelters run jointly by the city, Harris County and the Red Cross. Around 20 other smaller shelters are also open, however, officials would like to have residents transfer to NRG Stadium, southwest of downtown. The Trumps visited the stadium on Saturday.

Mayor Turner met with President Trump on Saturday and was one of his hosts in Houston along with Governor Greg Abbott. Turner called his meeting with Trump ‘productive’:

At NRG Stadium, the Trumps toured the facility and helped serve a hot dog and potato chip lunch. They also spent time talking with dozens of people, including children. Pictures and videos coming tomorrow.

After leaving Houston, the Trumps, Carson and DeVos went to Pearland (pron. ‘Pear-land’), where they helped distribute supplies to people driving up to the First Church of Pearland. Many people expressed their thanks to Trump, who spent time talking with some of the drivers before loading their vehicles.

The group left Texas to fly to Louisiana, where they spent time in Lake Charles, hosted by Governor John Bel Edwards and his wife.

Trump took a political risk with this trip. Last week, Turner, a Democrat, made no acknowledgement of Trump’s $1m donation and his Twitter feed expressed pessimism about federal money. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Houston) was among those at the airport to see Trump off. Neither is a Trump ally, even after his visit. And, there seems to be some negativity from the two Democrats towards the Republican governor, Abbott. Another Republican there was Trump’s primary rival from 2016, Senator Ted Cruz. Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, is a Democrat, but, fortunately, he has no complaints about Trump’s handling of Harvey efforts so far.

Elsewhere outside of Houston, some residents are without power. The Daily Caller reported:

Beaumont, a city of roughly 120,000 residents, is still without clean water or power, according to a CNN report. And the Associated Press reported Saturday that seven toxic waste sites in and around Houston have flooded.

The Guardian reported:

The scale of the disaster loomed clearer on Friday as rescuers worked their way through the 300-mile swath of south-east Texas drenched by Harvey. Some communities remained submerged; others lacked water and power. Texas officials estimate more than 185,000 homes were damaged and 9,000 destroyed. The Red Cross said 42,000 people were in shelters. At least 45 people have died.

Helping state and federal teams are groups of volunteers, including the Texas Navy and the Cajun Navy. Cajun Relief has a good article explaining how they know where to go:

The Texas Navy and Cajun Navy are fully controlled and dispatched by this organic army of tech and creative volunteers sitting behind their computers and working around the clock by organizing into shifts. If you’ve ever listened in on their Zello channel at 2am, you’ve heard one of the shifts dispatching boaters.

Here is how the whole system works.

First you need to have person to rescue. These requests come to the volunteers from their Zello app channel, called the Texas Navy. They also come by the hundreds as Inbox request sent to them from victims needing rescue through the Texas Navy Facebook page. Each request is entered into a database by one of the support team members and then vetted by another. Each of these team members are sitting in their own homes, which can be states and even countries apart. Once the need has been confirmed the dispatch team, some of them sitting in coffee shops possibly near you, advise boaters where to perform rescues.

Along with directing the boaters to perform a rescue, the citizen team also tracks where the water will be moving so they can pre-stage the boaters ahead of time. The boaters may get the glory but without the enormous efforts of citizens sitting behind their computers and using social media and technology to direct them many more thousands of lives would have been lost because boaters wouldn’t know where to go.

These dispatchers, researchers, messengers, managers and coordinators have never met, but by using technology and learning to work together they’ve had an enormous impact by saving flood victims lives.

You can see photos of the dispatchers following the article. What a diverse group of people who live all over the United States, from screenwriters to school bus drivers to small business owners.

The Texas Baptist Men and their female volunteers are busy, too. They have a mobile shower facility, which is a great idea. There are separate cubicles for men and women. The volunteers also supply fresh towels — and, afterwards, copies of the Bible:

So many unsung heroes are working around the clock, such as the owner of the Trump Truck:

So many people are getting the immediate help they need to survive. There is very little crime right now, largely because Texans won’t hesitate to shoot when necessary and, in Houston, because of Turner’s midnight curfew for everyone. It is still in effect.

Trump could well be right when he says that a lot will get done in the next six months thanks to such a positive spirit in the midst of disaster.

Videos and tweets coming tomorrow.

On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, President Donald Trump paid a visit to Texas, as he said he would a few days ago.

First Lady Melania Trump accompanied him, and, yes, she did change from stilettos into tennis shoes en route. Boy George defended her choices of footwear and added:

His tweet received much support, including this little GIF:

So much Big Media misinformation — or lack of coverage — surrounded this trip to Corpus Christi and Austin, that it needs to be laid out with videos.

For a start, Trump never said he would visit Houston immediately. He and the First Lady might travel there this weekend, depending on how relief efforts and flooding are going. They are highly unlikely to go to Houston if they could be getting in the way, particularly with the high security needed for a presidential visit. However, chances are good that they might visit elsewhere in Texas in a few days’ time.

The Trumps’ first stop was Corpus Christi, which was on the edge of Hurricane Harvey. Crowds lined the highway:

You can see the motorcade in this video:

You can hear the crowd shouting ‘USA! USA!’

Texas governor Greg Abbott was their host for the update they received on the situation in and around Houston:

Trump addressed first responders — and the crowd — outside. The cheers are overwhelming:

The Daily Mail has more on the Corpus Christi visit.

The next stop was Austin, the state capital:

At 3:10 p.m. the Trumps arrived at the state facility housing the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). As Owen Shroyer from Infowars explains below, the couple received a tour of the facility, then received a briefing from the EOC, again with Governor Abbott in attendance:

This video records Trump’s remarks and gratitude to the EOC staff:

Of course, it being Austin — unofficial motto, ‘Keep Austin Weird’ — there were protesters outside the facility:

The Trumps returned to Washington DC later that day. Mrs Trump disembarked in tennis shoes.

She issued this statement:

The effects of Hurricane Harvey will be felt in Texas, Louisiana, and other parts of the country for many months and years to come.  So far, 1.7 million people are under orders to evacuate their homes, and, as the floodwater in Houston rises, sadly, so will the number of evacuees.  

I want to be able to offer my help and support in the most productive way possible, not through just words, but also action.  What I found to be the most profound during the visit was not only the strength and resilience of the people of Texas, but the compassion and sense of community that has taken over the State.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Texas and Louisiana.

The situation in Texas is highly serious. Trump made it known in his remarks to the teams he met with that it will take a lot of money and a lot of time to resolve. Texas has a state emergency reserve fund of approximately $3 bn, which is likely to be allocated to clearing up the damage post-Harvey.

On Monday, August 28, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) held a press briefing to explain the situation. Unfortunately, it means more flooding, as water from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs must be released (emphases mine below):

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District announced today, water from Addicks and Barker dams extends beyond government-owned reservoir land …

“Based on the range of uncertainty of rainfall rates and totals, overflow of the northern Addicks spillway has potential to occur in the early morning hours tomorrow, Aug. 29, with flows migrating toward Buffalo Bayou along the Beltway 8 corridor and crossing I-10,” said Edmond Russo, Galveston District deputy engineer …

Dam releases are expected to occur for several months following this storm event.

With rainfall still occurring in downstream reaches of Buffalo Bayou and tributaries, as well as with the discharge of water from Addicks and Barker, the elevation of the bayou is holding fairly steady and may take several days to recede.

Radio show host Hal Turner explains what this means:

Aerial views of Houston reservoirs and all surrounding areas are very bad. The reservoirs are over-topping and will continue to over-top in areas above and below the reservoirs …

USACE says this area now a “flood pool” because nothing’s draining. There is nowhere for the water to go because the ground is totally saturated and all streams, rivers and ponds where normal storm drainage would take place, are all full.

Even worse, lakes are also backing up into the area and flowing over their banks. At least 48 hours before any drainage will start to occur because culverts are washing — out roads are washing out.

Also (emphases in the original):

The amount of rainfall is well past all engineering and flooding forecast models.  No developed society has ever dealt with this much rainfall — in such a short time — in all of recorded history.

The only option remaining is for everyone who has not evacuated, to BE EVACUATED.  The entire city and much of its surrounding area should be EVACUATED.

Trouble is, all the roads for evacuation are flooded closed.

The National Weather Service is saying they “have no idea what is going to happen now because what has taken place is unprecedented; everything from this point on is an unknown.”

And, Turner’s article states that — regardless of what other people are saying — the level of water has exceeded 50 inches in Cedar Bayou, Texas, which recorded a level of 51.88 inches from Harveya new record for the contiguous 48 states.

The death toll from Harvey is likely to be staggering.

Hurricane Harvey and the unprecedented rain in parts of Texas have wreaked havoc.

Unfortunately, last week, Houston’s mayor Sylvester Turner told the city’s citizens not to evacuate:

Texas governor Greg Abbott was right in encouraging people to get out of Dodge before the destruction:

This what happened:

This was the weather forecast for Sunday, August 27, 2017:

As you can see from that forecast, the rain is moving northeast to Louisiana.

These short videos give an idea of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey elsewhere in Texas:

The White House has been monitoring the situation for much of the past week:

A team from New York’s bravest and finest left for Texas:

Americans — local and out of state — are making journeys in by boat to help people:

Prayers are needed now. It is hard to imagine the heartbreak and hassle involved once this is over. Pest control and disease, including Zika, will also be lingering issues.

For the latest videos and reports, follow #Harvey and #HoustonFloods.

More information, photos and updates can be found in the comments below.

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