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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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The week of December 11, 2017 has been chock-a-block with news.

It’s unlikely Big Media have reported the bulk of it. What follows are a few stories people might have missed.

The anti-Trump FBI ‘insurance policy’

A series of text messages between FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page were released on Tuesday, December 12. The Daily Caller reports (emphases mine):

Two FBI officials who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation exchanged text messages last year in which they appear to have discussed ways to prevent Donald Trump from being elected president.

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok wrote in a cryptic text message to Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer and his mistress.

It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok wrote in the text, dated Aug. 15, 2016.

Andy is likely Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Several congressional panels have been after these text messages since the beginning of December, when news emerged of their existence. However, Strzok was dismissed from the Mueller investigation four months ago.

The text messages, some of which The Daily Caller quotes, are anti-Trump. Some have four letter words. Most are cryptic:

“Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” Page wrote.

“I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps,” Strzok replied.

Like many of the exchanges, the full context of the message is not entirely clear.

Strzok also offered praise for Clinton while suggesting that he planned to vote for her.

In a March 2, 2016 text Strzok said he would likely vote for Clinton. In another exchange he wrote that if Trump won the Republican primary, Clinton would likely win the presidency.

On Wednesday, December 13, the Department of Justice inspector general, Michael Horowitz, released more information about the texts. The Daily Caller has more on the story. Horowitz received the text messages on July 20:

A week later, he met with Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to inform them of the politically-charged texts.

Strzok was “immediately” removed from the investigation after Mueller was told of the texts.

Strzok, who then served as the FBI’s No. 2 counterintelligence official, conducted many of the biggest interviews in the investigation, including with Clinton and her top aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills

The FBI handed over those messages on July 20, 2017. After reviewing those exchanges, Horowitz expanded the investigation to include all of the text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page from Nov. 30, 2016 to July 28, 2017.

Horowitz’s office received those messages on Aug. 10.

Strzok’s departure from Mueller’s team was reported by ABC News on Aug. 16. The network reported that Strzok had been placed in a job in the FBI’s HR department.

The reason for Strzok’s demotion remained a secret for nearly four months as the Justice Department and Mueller’s office declined media and congressional requests for an explanation. The levy finally broke on Dec. 2, when The Washington Post and New York Times simultaneously reported the existence of the text messages.

A sample of the texts were released Tuesday night ahead of Rosenstein’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee …

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee pressed Rosenstein on that text message, suggesting that Strzok was indicating that he planned to prevent Trump from being elected.

[Senator Charles] Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Rosenstein on Wednesday inquiring about the text message.

Rosenstein said Wednesday that the Justice Department and FBI plan to soon make Strzok available for an interview with the House Intelligence Committee.

Strzok’s cryptic Aug. 2016 text [re the insurance policy] was sent just after he was handpicked to supervise the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Horowitz’s letter leaves a few questions unanswered. For one, it is not clear whether Strzok sent politically-charged texts with anyone else. It is also not clear whether the messages contained in the second requested batch of Strzok texts contain any controversial remarks.

The Wall Street Journal has more (note final paragraph):

This is a developing story which has the potential for unveiling criminality — but ultimately:

Alabama special election

In a surprise upset, the Democrat candidate Doug Jones was elected to the Senate, defeating Roy Moore.

The background to the story is that Jeff Sessions vacated his Senate seat in Alabama to serve as Attorney General earlier this year. Sessions appointed Luther Strange to replace him. Alabama governor Kay Ivey directed that a special election take place. However, I read anecdotally that she did not need to hold a special election. Strange could have served until his term ran out.

In any event, Luther Strange ran against Judge Roy Moore in the Republican primary. Strange lost to Moore. Accusations of molesting a teenage girl in the 1970s — unproven — led by an attorney who tried to smear then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 — dogged Moore. Even so, Moore did not have any get-out-the-vote programme, whereas Jones and the Democrats did. Moore then lost to Jones — but only by 1.5%.

Could this have been a case of voter fraud in a state that votes overwhelmingly Republican?

Rumours are circulating that out-of-state voters were brought into Alabama and driven around from polling station to polling station — a classic Democrat strategy that works.

The Republican Party — specifically Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader — also refused to help Moore. McConnell’s detractors refer to him as Turtle.

Imperator_Rex has a good analysis, excerpted below:

He concludes that Trump surely has a game plan in mind.

The 2018 mid-terms require Republicans like McConnell to shape up or ship out.

However, as Imperator_Rex says, McConnell and his ilk don’t really care. They are all part of the Uniparty, so life continues for them much as before. Democrat dominance, especially when it comes to opposing Trump, is preferable to a Republican majority that might be persuaded to turn Trump policies into law.

Jones’s election nearly puts the number of Democrat senators on a par with Republicans. Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

Message to the black electorate

On December 13, the Revd Leon Benjamin and his family were guests at the White House.

They are an example of the middle class families helped by Trump’s proposed tax reform. Trump spoke about the tax plan, then invited the pastor to speak.

Pastor Benjamin had an important message, which began with:

To God be the glory!

Former Milwaukee sheriff David A Clarke expressed similar sentiments the day before:

Happy news

On Wednesday, December 13, First Lady Melania Trump participated in a charity drive for toddlers, the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots, at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders received a verbal kicking after Thanksgiving from CNN’s April Ryan, an annoying journo at the White House press briefings. Ryan criticised Sanders’s pecan pies, accusing the press secretary of not having made them herself.

So (although the crusts look store-bought) …

Here’s what happened on the day. Food really does bring people together:

Never mind that. Sarah’s dad had a message for her:

This will be my last news-related item until after Christmas.

On Monday, November 27, 2017, First Lady Melania Trump welcomed a group of schoolchildren to the White House which she has transformed into a magical Winter Wonderland.

Ballet dancers performed selections from The Nutcracker Suite. The US Marine Corps band provided musical accompaniment. (Ignore the sarcasm from the CNN reporter’s caption.)

AP has a good video here of the dancers and Mrs Trump’s warm hugs for each child. She also sat down to talk and listen to their Christmas letters to the US military and helped them decorate Christmas wreaths:

This video shows more of Mrs Trump’s dress (see the back at 40 seconds in). There were two tables set up for the pupils, but the children at the second table quickly left to stand behind Mrs Trump at her table. One girl sat on her lap:

One child compared America’s first lady to an angel:

Indeed. Mrs Trump’s dress was perfect for the occasion:

The Gateway Pundit reported that the children are from Joint Base Andrews:

NBC News tweeted heartwarming footage of Melania Trump welcoming students from Joint Base Andrews at a White House Christmas event. The children were stunned as the angelic First Lady entered the room.

“Are you the first lady?!” a boy asked as he hugged Melania Trump.

“She seriously looks like an angel,” added another child.

Look at the kids run to her:

They clearly enjoyed being with her:

The White House issued a press release on this year’s Christmas decorations, excerpted below (emphases mine):

The First Family will celebrate their first Christmas in the White House with a nod to tradition. This year’s theme, “Time-Honored Traditions” was designed by First Lady Melania Trump to pay respect to 200 years of holiday traditions at the White House.

In the East Wing, visitors find a tribute to our service members and their families with the Gold Star Family Tree, which has been decorated with gold stars and patriotic ribbon. Visitors are encouraged to write a message to their loved ones who are on duty or abroad on the digital tablets provided.

After passing through the East colonnade, visitors will see the China Room, which honors the holiday traditions of dining and hospitality. The room is set up for a family Christmas dinner, with the table displaying the china from President Ronald Reagan. Then, visitors will see the Library, which features President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1866 edition of “A Christmas Carol,” as they recall the time-honored custom of reading Christmas stories to loved ones.

On the State Floor of the White House, the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall celebrate the first themed White House Christmas, which was the “Nutcracker Suite” in 1961. The Green Room honors the festivities of crafts, paper, and classic design. The Blue Room holds the official White House Christmas tree, which is decorated with glass ornaments depicting the seal of each State and territory. The Red Room hosts delightful holiday treats, and has been decorated with peppermints, candy, and cookies. The State Dining Room holds a traditional gingerbread house, which depicts the South facade of the White House and features Mrs. Trump’s signature Christmas wreaths.

I mentioned the gingerbread house last week. It is something to behold.

The White House will be receiving many visitors in the run up to Christmas:

the White House will host more than 100 open houses and many receptions. More than 25,000 visitors will walk the halls taking part in public tours.

Unlike presidential palaces, it is considered the People’s House, and the Trumps have opened the doors to tens of thousands of Americans, many for special recognition, in addition to those attending tours.

After many years in storage, the Nativity scene has reappeared:

You can see it from a distance in this video, at the end of a corridor full of brilliantly decorated Christmas trees:

This video shows the Nativity scene close up at the beginning of the following video (detail photo here). How beautiful:

In addition to views of the other rooms — including the Blue Room with the main Christmas tree (also see) — that video also has an excellent extended close-up of the gingerbread house, complete with portico and columns. How did they make that? Wow!

Mrs Trump also has Christmas booklets printed which explain a bit about the history of the White House rooms. The boy in the illustration is the First Son, aged 11:

Along with millions of Americans, I am so grateful for such a wonderful First Family.

No more Mao ornaments, as favoured by the Obamas. Thank goodness for that.

Compare and contrast the 2016 White House decorations with this year’s. (No Mao ornaments, but the difference is startling.)

Even worse were the Clintons’ White House displays. Please read the story at that link (content too indecent to summarise here).

In closing, here is another video.

I am also grateful that the Gateway Pundit‘s Jim Hoft gave special emphasis to the Nativity scene:

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are bringing Christ back to Christmas.

Melania released video of the beautiful White House decorations.

And this year a Nativity scene was included.

Yes! Christmas makes a comeback!

And the White House has never looked as beautiful as it does now.

———————————————————————————-

UPDATE: CNN announced they will be boycotting the Trumps’ White House Christmas party for the media. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is delighted, and Trump says we should turn off CNN.

The 2017 White House Christmas tree arrived from Wisconsin on Monday, November 20.

First Lady Melania Trump and 11-year-old Barron Trump received the tree, which was placed in the Blue Room.

The Chapman family, owners of Silent Night Evergreens in Endeavor, Wisconsin, won this year’s National Christmas Tree Association contest and, by virtue of that, supplied the White House tree.

The Daily Mail has more.

A military band played O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum, my late father’s favourite carol) before the arrival of the horse-drawn carriage:

The building to the right in that video is the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the vice president and cabinet officials have their offices.

Barron is taller than his mother, who was wearing high-heeled knee-high leather boots:

Mrs Trump spoke with the Chapmans before she and Barron posed for a photograph:

This video shows how many men it took to unload and take the tree indoors:

It looks as if there is also — in another room — a huge gingerbread representation of the White House, baked and assembled by the pastry chefs (click on each of the top two photos):

It is interesting that this year’s White House ornament (below) honours a Democrat. That said, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the longest serving US president. He died in office, but many Americans thought his four-term tenure was turning him into a dictator. In 1947, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment,  restricting a president to two terms. The 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified in 1951.

Tree, sugar sculpture, wreaths and ornaments aside, for the first time in several years, a nativity scene will be on display in the White House.

The Trumps are making Christmas great again.

Best wishes to my American readers for a very happy Thanksgiving! May you have an abundance of food and fun.

On Tuesday, November 21, 2017, President Donald Trump pardoned his first Thanksgiving turkeys, Drumstick, which weighs 47 pounds, and Wishbone, a 36-pounder:

Drumstick and understudy Wishbone spent Monday night at the luxurious Willard Hotel in Washington, as per turkey pardon tradition, before visiting the White House:

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders enjoyed the experience with one of her children:

The First Family also enjoyed the event. The Daily Mail has great photos of Trump children and grandchildren.

The video of the pardon is worth watching for history, jokes and, on a serious note, thanks to the American people. First Lady Melania Trump and First Son Barron, 11, joined the US president:

Although Trump read off a teleprompter, his delivery was spot on. Excerpts from his remarks follow (emphases mine):

… I’m especially pleased that we’re joined for this great occasion by Carl Wittenburg, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, along with his wife, Sharlene, and sons, Nate and Wyatt.

It was 70 years ago that the National Turkey Federation first presented the National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Harry Truman — who, I might add, did not grant the pardon. He refused. He was a tough cookie. (Laughter.) Today, I’m going to be a much nicer President.

Over the past 10 months, Melania and I have had the pleasure of welcoming many, many special visitors to the great White House. We’ve hosted dozens of incredible world leaders, members of Congress, and, along the way, a few very strange birds. But we have yet to receive any visitors quite like our magnificent guest of honor today — Drumstick. Hi, Drumstick. Oh, Drumstick, I think, is going to be very happy …

Drumstick was raised on Carl and Sharlene’s turkey farm in Douglas County, Minnesota, with the help of five young women from the Douglas County 4-H chapter who are here with us today. And I want to say, great work. Where are they? Please stand. Great job you’ve done. (Applause.) 4-H. That’s great. Thank you.

Upon being pardoned, Drumstick and his friend, Wishbone, will live out their days at “Gobbler’s Rest” — beautiful place. It’s custom-built; it’s an enclosure on the campus of Virginia Tech. Tremendous school. There, they’ll join Tater and Tot, the two turkeys pardoned last year by President Obama.

As many of you know, I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor. However, I have been informed by the White House Counsel’s Office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot, under any circumstances, be revoked. So we’re not going to revoke them. So, Tater and Tot, you can rest easy.

I’d also like to thank the National Turkey Federation for bringing along two other turkeys from Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania — the great state of Pennsylvania. We’re donating these turkeys to Martha’s Table, a truly fantastic charity right here in Washington D.C., which provides warm meals to people in need. They do a fantastic job.

Before we get to the pardon, I would like to take a moment to extend our very heartfelt special message: Thanks. Thanks, folks — to the finest and bravest people in the entire world, our great men and women in uniform: the military, law enforcement, first responders. These are incredible people. So, thank you.

Many of you are always — and you know your loved ones — and you’re far away, and you spend so much time away. This Thanksgiving, I want each of you to know that we’re forever grateful for the incredible job and for the incredible sacrifices that you and your families make in defense of our nation, our freedom, and our truly great American flag.

I’d also like to express my thanks to the wonderful citizens of our country — the people who care for our communities, raise America’s children, uphold our laws and our values, and make this amazing land into our national home …

And now I think Drumstick and Wishbone would be very thankful if we would just get around to the pardon. They say,

“Enough talk, please pardon us.”

So I want to thank everybody for being here today and wish everybody a very, very happy Thanksgiving — very special people[,] a very special country.

Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

Given the political climate in the United States, the pardons gave rise to humour:

Earlier in the day, Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin for over an hour, discussing a variety of topics.

Before departing the White House to spend Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, he spoke with the press, who, for the most part, badgered him with their usual stupid questions. However, someone did ask about his conversation with Putin:

We had a great call with President Putin. We’re talking about peace in Syria — very important. We’re talking about North Korea. We had a call that lasted almost an hour and a half. We’ve just put out a release on the call. But we’re talking very strongly about bringing peace for Syria. We’re talking about very strongly about North Korea and Ukraine.

Another reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving. Great things are happening in the United States — and the world.

On Friday, November 10, 2017, President Trump left China for Vietnam. First Lady Melania Trump remained in China for another day:

Mrs Trump visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage for the Month of the Military Family Celebration. She then returned to Washington DC.

The US president spent two days in Vietnam before flying to the Philippines:

At the zoo, a group of schoolchildren greeted Mrs Trump. She had a gift for every child:

For anyone wondering:

Lucky children. They were able to tour the zoo with her:

Mrs Trump expressed her thanks for being able to see GuGu the panda:

Then it was time for her final destination:

The Conservative Treehouse gives us background on the tour:

First Lady Melania Trump visited the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall in China as the sun was starting to settle low on the horizon. It was windy and slightly cold as our First Lady signed a guest registry and was presented with a scroll from atop one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

A state official said that Yukun Zhang, chairman, Mutianyu Great Wall Travel Service Co., Ltd, received the first lady after the ride up on the cable car. After signing the guest registry Mrs. Trump made her way up a short flight of stairs to the Great Wall.

Mrs Trump wore flats:

Meanwhile, the US president landed at Da Nang International Airport:

Trump met US veterans who chose to live in Vietnam after the war. They met at the Hyatt Regency Da Nang Resort and Spa. This transcript has his address and exchange with the retired soldiers. An excerpt follows:

Our accountability efforts in Vietnam are very, very important to all of us. We will not rest until all of the 1,253 missing veterans are returned home. I want to thank the government of Vietnam for their assistance in our efforts.

Today, I’m signing a proclamation to honor the veterans of the Vietnam War. This is part of the ongoing 13-year commemoration of their sacrifice for freedom. And I just want to thank these seven very brave people for being here. I got to know them for a few minutes upfront, and they are definitely tough, smart cookies. We like them. I think they like me too. I’m not sure, but I think — (applause) — no, I think they do. I think they do. I think they see what we’re doing for our military.

Would you like to say a few words, any of you guys? Would you like to say something? Huh?

MR. HOPPER: Sure.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Come on. Come on up here. Here’s your chance. You can be a big star now.

MR. HOPPER: Well, I’m not sure about that. But just on behalf of many of us standing up in the front of the room today, I just want to say what an honor and privilege it is to be with our President. I so admire what you’re doing for our country.

Thank you for your dedication to our military, our country. And we’re all behind you in making America great again.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. That’s so nice. Thank you very much.

MR. HOPPER: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. REYNOLDS: It’s an honor to be here. My family is so proud. My wife loves you. (Laughter.) She does. We all love you.

All of the veterans that I represent in my community asked me to say to you: Keep doing what you’re doing. We need to win. We need to make America great again. And we definitely think you are on the right track. So, thank you. It’s honor to meet you, sir.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We will keep it going, and we will get it done.

MR. REYNOLDS: Absolutely.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No doubt.

MR. REYNOLDS: I believe it. Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Anybody?

MR. MORGAN: Mr. President, from my heart, thank you for your support of the military, and it’s an honor to be here as one of seven Vietnam veterans representing the 58,000 heroes who never made it home.

Thank you so much.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you so much. (Applause.)

MR. MORGAN: Thank you, sir. Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You nervous?

MR. GOODE: I am nervous.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

MR. GOODE: I am nervous.

You know, it’s an honor for me to be here today to meet the President of the United States that’s doing such a fine job for America. I’m so proud of him and what he’s doing, and I’m also really proud to represent all those veterans that are back home to be one of seven of these veterans that are here today. It’s such an honor to represent the rest of those veterans in the United States of America.

Thank you.

This is the text of the aforementioned proclamation. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Nearly every president since then has made a statement about finding the 1,253 missing veterans. Perhaps Trump will be the one to make that happen.

He also tweeted a 242nd happy birthday greeting to the United States Marine Corps.

Trump then went to the APEC CEO Summit 2017 at the Ariyana Da Nang Exhibition Center.

Trump addressed the summit. Note ‘H.E.’ before his name — His Excellency — in the video below:

The full transcript is here. This is is some of what he said:

This next one is really important:

This is also very important (emphases mine):

Earlier this week, I addressed the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea and urged every responsible nation to stand united in declaring that every single step the North Korean regime takes toward more weapons is a step it takes into greater and greater danger. The future of this region and its beautiful people must not be held hostage to a dictator’s twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail

We must also deal decisively with other threats to our security and the future of our children, such as criminal cartels, human smuggling, drugs, corruption, cybercrime, and territorial expansion. As I have said many times before: All civilized people must come together to drive out terrorists and extremists from our societies, stripping them of funding, territory, and ideological support. We must stop radical Islamic terrorism.

So let us work together for a peaceful, prosperous, and free Indo-Pacific. I am confident that, together, every problem we have spoken about today can be solved and every challenge we face can be overcome.

If we succeed in this effort, if we seize the opportunities before us and ground our partnerships firmly in the interests of our own people, then together we will achieve everything we dream for our nations and for our children.

We will be blessed with a world of strong, sovereign, and independent nations, thriving in peace and commerce with others. They will be places where we can build our homes and where families, businesses, and people can flourish and grow.

If we do this, will we look at the globe half a century from now, and we will marvel at the beautiful constellation of nations — each different, each unique, and each shining brightly and proudly throughout this region of the world. And just as when we look at the stars in the night sky, the distance of time will make most of the challenges we have and that we spoke of today seem very, very small.

What will not seem small — what is not small — will be the big choices that all of our nations will have to make to keep their stars glowing very, very brightly.

Another fabulous speech by Stephen Miller. What a man he is, blessed by God with a talent for prose.

He also met Vladimir Putin ahead of their meeting on November 11. Men were given silk Vietnamese shirts to wear for the evening’s events (the more formal photo is here):

The two did not meet formally at APEC, although they found time to converse. Reuters reported that they discussed defeating ISIS and confirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty. The Daily Mail has more. Both media outlets say that the Kremlin issued a joint statement, however, the White House offered no confirmation.

The APEC gala dinner followed. Before dinner:

A cultural performance concluded a busy day.

Meanwhile, Mrs Trump was in Alaska and spent time talking with the children attending school at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. The children were decorating paper fish and sculpting Play Doh:

She also spoke with military personnel:

Mrs Trump arrived at the White House late that night.

More on Trump’s second day in Vietnam tomorrow.

As part of their tour of Asia …

… President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump landed in China on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, as guests of President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan.

The caption refers to the contrast with Obama’s arrival on September 4, 2016 in Beijing for the G20 summit, as the Telegraph reported:

All the other world leaders appeared to have been welcomed to the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou in traditional diplomatic style, treading onto a red carpet laid on a rolling airport staircase positioned outside the main exit of the aircraft.

Mr Obama, however, instead used Air Force One’s smaller exit as he arrived on his final tour of Asia, sparking suggestions that he had been snubbed by his Chinese hosts.

The Chinese gave the Trumps a warm welcome, complete with a military honour guard, a marching band and cheering children (start at 12:00):

AP reported that this is highly unusual:

The ceremony accompanying Trump’s arrival Wednesday afternoon was elaborate even by China’s lavish standards. Heads of state are usually given a low-key reception at the airport, with the real pomp and circumstance reserved for his or her arrival at the Great Hall of the People in the center of Beijing.

This was the schedule for the day:

3:30pm / 2:30am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY will have tea with President Xi Jinping of the Peoples Republic of China and Madame Peng Liyuan, Forbidden City, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China

3:55pm / 2:55am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY tour the Forbidden City and view an opera performance with President Xi and Madame Peng Liyan, Forbidden City, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China.

6:00pm / 5:00am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY have dinner with President Xi and Madame Peng, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China

7:05pm / 6:05am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart the Forbidden City en route their overnight accommodations, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China.

The Forbidden City provided beautiful photo ops. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is in the background:

Someone tweeted:

Nothing says MAGA like tea and opera!

Indeed.

On the MAGA front, AFP reported:

US and Chinese companies signed nearly 20 deals worth a total $9 billion on Wednesday at the start of President Donald Trump’s state visit to Beijing.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang oversaw a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People but they did not immediately give details about the 19 deals.

Wang said the agreements were merely a “warmup” before Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping oversee their own ceremony on Thursday involving bigger deals, including in exports of natural gas and soybeans.

Trump plans to use the three-day trip to press Xi on China’s massive trade surplus with the United States, which slightly fell in October to $26.6 billion, according to official Chinese data released on Wednesday.

The Daily Mail has photos of the Trumps touring other parts of the Forbidden City, including the Conservation Scientific Laboratory, where the elaborate automata clocks intrigued the president.

Then it was time for pleasant entertainment, albeit outdoors. There is no glass on the window where the Xis and the Trumps sat:

Afterwards, the Xis and the Trumps had dinner in the Forbidden City. Several media outlets have reported that no foreign leader has been given this honour since the People’s Republic of China was founded 68 years ago. This is YUGE!

That evening, Trump tweeted:

That tweet is a big deal, because China blocks access to Twitter, Facebook and other Western social media. Reuters reported that not only did Trump manage to evade what is known as the Great Firewall, he also changed his Twitter banner to a photo taken at the opera that evening:

The Twitter banner upload did not go unnoticed by Chinese state media, with state broadcaster CCTV flashing screenshots of the photograph on Thursday.

Trump’s visit was also the third-most talked-about topic on Chinese social media platform Weibo over the last 24 hours, trailing only the birthday of a singer in a Chinese boy band and a weekly Asian pop song chart.

Many people wondered how Trump managed to evade China’s tough internet controls …

Many foreigners log on to virtual private networks (VPNs) to access content hosted outside of China. Another option is to sign up for a data-roaming service before leaving one’s home country.

On the morning of Thursday, November 9, an impressive welcome ceremony took place, which shows what honoured guests the American president and first lady were.

The main American news channels did not broadcast this.

Yet, in China, this was the first time such an event was broadcast on live television.

Everything was more than perfect, from the soldiers’ standing to attention, their formations, to the military band music — which included The Star-Spangled Banner and Hail to the Chief — to the cheering Chinese and American schoolchildren. I’ve never seen such precision:

 

Afterwards, Xi, Trump and their respective delegations met in Peking’s Great Hall for a series of meetings. The two men met first in a closed door session, then invited their delegations to join them for discussions on trade, finance and security.

Reuters reported that a soybean deal was made. The US has a record crop:

The United States soybean industry has signed two letters of intent with Chinese importers covering a $5 billion purchase of an additional 12 million tonnes of soybeans in the 2017/18 marketing year.

The non-binding agreements, disclosed by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) in a statement, are among a series of trade deals announced during the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to Beijing. China is the world’s top soybean buyer, and the United States is its second supplier after Brazil.

In the first agreement, signed on Nov. 8, the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce said it intended to purchase 8 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans worth $3.4 billion.

A second agreement will be signed on Thursday between grains trader ADM and China’s COFCO for intent to purchase 4 million tonnes of soybeans worth $1.6 billion, said the USSEC.

LNG — liquid natural gas — was also on the agenda, as CNBC reported:

Despite the recent gains and the agreement with Trump, Chinese buyers are still only purchasing U.S. LNG from third parties in short-term spot trades. And there is currently only one company, Cheniere Energy, capable of exporting large shipments of LNG from the United States.

Cheniere CEO Jack Fusco and Texas LNG Chief Operating Officer Langtry Meyer are joining the Trump delegation. The companies did not respond to questions about their agenda in China, but energy research firm Wood Mackenzie said securing commitments is likely at the top of Trump’s list.

“The fact that Trump will arrive in Beijing with a large business delegation in tow, including a sizeable contingent from the energy sector, indicates that the White House is looking to secure concrete commercial agreements from the upcoming trip,” Kerry-Anne Shanks, head of Asia gas and LNG at Wood Mackenzie, said in an email briefing on Tuesday.

While meetings took place, Madame Pen Liyaun took Mrs Trump on a tour of China’s Art and Design School in Beijing:

That afternoon, the two leaders held a joint press conference in the Great Hall.

The Conservative Treehouse summarised Trump’s remarks (emphasis in the original):

President Trump followed President Xi’s remarks with a speech as deliberate and unambiguous as the internal audience would ever fathom hearing.  President Trump respectfully pulled no punches in his direct and emphatic style; stating that China needed to engage in, well, to use China’s familiar wording, “correct thinking” on a variety of issues – including trade and their necessary responsibility toward North Korea.

No-one else could pull this off, except Trump. Not that way. The best part is always the emphatic part at the end.  President Trump gives the look saying: well, that’s that then; that’s all I’ve got to say about that... smiles bigly, and the diplomatic opponent tries not to look smaller than they were ten minutes earlier. [key word, ‘tries‘] …

Also note Trump’s alpha male handshake:

That evening, President Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan hosted a state dinner in the Trumps’ honour. Like the welcome ceremony, films of the two men from prior meetings were shown beforehand. The optics were clear — Xi clearly respects Trump. As the original video posted was withdrawn, I had to swap to a less detailed one:

After the film clips, Xi gave a speech, followed by Trump.

Xi recalled President Richard Nixon’s trip to China 45 years ago during the Cold War. He spoke of the two countries’ continuing partnership and co-operation to better mankind. He then offered a toast. Trump smiled broadly, raising his glass (soft drink).

Then, it was Trump’s turn to speak. A flourish of trumpets preceded his speech. He thanked Xi for his ‘generous words’ and warm hospitality ‘from the moment we arrived’. He spoke of their tour of the Forbidden City. He said their meetings presented an ‘incredible opportunity’ to spread ‘peace and prosperity’ around the world. He spoke of the historic characteristics that the US and China share, including venturing into the unknown. He spoke of achieving a ‘more just, fair and peaceful world for our children’. He looked forward to ‘a friendship that will grow stronger and stronger’. He then offered a toast.

President Xi — and the rest of the room — gave Trump a standing ovation.

After a film of Trump’s granddaughter Arabella Kushner (Ivanka’s daughter) sang all the verses of a folk song — My Good Mother — in Mandarin, which the Xis clearly loved. Peng Liyuan, a former folk singer, sang along softly. Arabella began by addressing Xi and Peng as ‘grandpa’ and ‘grandma’ — a child diplomat!

Then, dinner was served. Afterwards, entertainment was provided in the form of a cultural performance.

On the subject of fair trade and how China has taken advantage of the United States for so many years, Trump said:

Trump had a tremendous visit:

CNBC reported that 37 major trade deals have been signed:

The dollar value of those deals is in excess of $250 billion. Caterpillar, Boeing, and Goldman Sachs are just some of the notable names on the list of companies that made deals with China, the full list of which is below.

See the article for more details.

More to follow tomorrow. Mrs Trump stayed in China for another day while President Trump flew to Vietnam.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are on a tour of Asia. Mrs Trump will be returning to the United States from China, but the US president has more stops to make in what promises to be a historic trip in terms of diplomacy, a strategy for North Korea and trade:

The Trumps left Japan for South Korea, arriving on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 — one year after his election win.

President Moon Jae-in visited the White House at the end of June. Fox News reported that trade was at the top of the agenda:

Trump, who discussed a variety of trade issues with President Moon Jae-in during his visit to the White House, praised South Korean companies for investing in the U.S. Multiple companies, including Samsung, announced combined investments of $12.8 billion to coincide with President Moon’s meeting with Trump.

Cheniere, the only company that exports liquefied natural gas (LNG) from U.S. shale, said earlier this week that its export terminal in Louisiana began shipments to South Korea this month, officially kicking off a deal that was signed in 2012. Under terms of the 20-year agreement, Cheniere will make 3.5 million tons of LNG available to Korea Gas Corp. on an annual basis.

Security in South Korea was at ‘highest-level’, as the Korea Herald reported. A number of rallies and demonstrations were planned. The pro-Trump rallies included groups grateful for American protection against North Korea:

Pro-US rallies were also held across the nation on a smaller scale. The protesters, mostly elderly, hailed the US as the savior of South Korea for protecting it from its communist neighbor. They called for a stronger response to the North’s military provocations.

The Korea Herald also provided interesting details about the trip. Excerpts follow:

Trump’s stay here will last approximately 24 hours, the shortest in his five-nation tour. Due to time constraints, the US leader has decided to skip a trip to the Demilitarized Zone, the tense border with North Korea, which has virtually become a staple in any official itinerary to South Korea …

Actually, he did attempt to visit the DMZ on Wednesday, but heavy fog grounded Marine One at Yongsan.

Also:

Seoul officials are said to be mulling how best to congratulate Trump on the anniversary during a state dinner scheduled for Tuesday without wine or Champagne, as the US leader does not drink.

First lady Melania Trump will accompany her husband to S. Korea, although little is known about her planned schedule here. First daughter Ivanka Trump, however, will not be coming. She had planned to join her father in Japan, Korea and China, but decided to visit only Japan, leaving before he arrived. Jared Kushner, her husband and a White House senior aide, is coming with Trump and many other top aides.

With regard to Camp Humphreys, Trump’s first stop:

Already the US’ largest overseas military base by area, commanding a space of 14.67 million square meters, it is set to be the largest by population in 2020, with some 46,000 people, when more US soldiers from several other bases in Korea move in.

This was Trump’s fourth visit to South Korea:

The two previous visits in June 1998 and May 1999 were arranged by the now-defunct Daewoo Group here, which General Motors acquired in 2002. Daewoo’s engineering and construction arm collaborated with Trump on building the 262-meter high Trump World Tower near the United Nation’s headquarters in Manhattan, New York, which was completed in 2001.

During his visit in the summer of 1998, Trump toured a shipyard and car factory under Daewoo Group. He reportedly asked then-ranking officials at the South Korean company to build him a destroyer, so he could customize it into a private yacht. It is not clear whether he said this in a joking manner. Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, accompanied him on the trip.

A year later, Trump embarked on a brief one-day trip to South Korea to attend an opening event for a model house and to discuss the management of the residential buildings here called “Trump World.” As a businessman, he had lent his name as a brand to the high-rise residential buildings.

There are now seven Trump World buildings in South Korea.

I liked the way the Herald discussed the anti-Trump protests (emphases mine):

Thousands of Americans critical of Trump are planning a collective screaming session on Wednesday, marking the first anniversary of his election victory over Hillary Clinton. But Trump will be nowhere close enough to hear, as he will be … rounding up his visit to South Korea and heading for the next stop, China.

The Yonhap News Agency had a one-line news story:

(URGENT) Trump says does not wish to use force against N. Korea

At his joint press conference with Japanese president Abe, Trump said:

Some people said that my rhetoric is very strong. But look what’s happened with very weak rhetoric over the last 25 years.

He also said the North Koreans are:

“a great people under a very oppressive regime.” Hopes showdown “all works out…will be better for everybody.”

The flight from Tokyo to Osan Air Base outside of Seoul took two hours.

The Trumps received a highly respectful welcome:

This was the schedule for Tuesday:

12:55pm / 10:55pm THE PRESIDENT has lunch with troops from the United States and the Republic of Korea – Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea

1:20pm / 11:20pm THE PRESIDENT receives an operational briefing, Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea

2:30pm / 12:30am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY participate in an arrival ceremony, Blue House, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

2:35pm / 12:35am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY participate in a guestbook signing, Blue House, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

2:45pm / 12:45am THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with President Moon Jae-In of the Republic of Korea, Blue House, Seoul, Republic of Korea

2:55pm / 12:55am THE PRESIDENT participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with President Moon, Blue House, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

♦4:10pm / 2:10am THE PRESIDENT participates in a friendship walk with President Moon, Blue House, Seoul, Republic of Korea

4:20pm / 2:20am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY will have tea and take photographs with President Moon, Blue House, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

4:45pm / 2:45am THE PRESIDENT participates in a joint press conference with President Moon, Blue House, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

7:35pm / 5:35am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY attend a state dinner, Blue House, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

The Trump motorcade passed through central Seoul. Contrary to what the caption below says, President and Mrs Trump parted company at Osan Air Base, as she had a different lunch engagement. They kissed each other goodbye.

Enthusiastic South Koreans lined the street:

There’s another photo of Trump supporters here.

There is something very wrong with the West in their hate of Trump when other countries love the man.

At Camp Humphreys, General Vincent Brooks U.S. Forces Commander Korea and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greeted the president.

Trump sat with the troops for lunch, with the Korean president to his left:

Trump said, ‘Good food!’

After lunch, he addressed the troops, followed by the Korean president.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders enjoyed the visit:

The following day, an Army Ranger lent Sanders his jacket on the abortive trip to the DMZ.

While the US president was at Camp Humphreys, the first lady met young fans of hers:

The Trumps met up in the afternoon for a traditional and elaborate welcome ceremony in Seoul:

At the Korean president’s residence, the Blue House, enthusiastic schoolchildren welcomed the Trumps:

Once inside, the Trumps signed the guest book.

That evening, President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim hosted a lavish four-course state dinner for the Trumps. The Daily Mail reported:

President Moon Jae-in observed the date – Election Day in the United States – and marked one full year since Trump won the White House.

‘In Korea, we have a custom of holding a special celebration on one’s first birthday,’ he said at the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential mansion.

‘So after pondering about how to best celebrate the first anniversary of President Trump’s victory, I decided to invite the President to Korea as a state guest and hold a banquet.’

Moon said Trump’s presidency ‘is already making America great again.’

Trump returned the compliment.

‘The relationship that we have is a fantastic one,’ he said. ‘The partnership between our two nations and our two people is deep and enduring.’

‘Together our nations remind the world of the boundless potential of societies that choose freedom over tyranny,’ he added, a not-so-subtle reference to the communist North.

Trump toasted with a glass of cola.

Foodies will love the Mail‘s exquisite photos of each course: corn porridge, grilled sole, grilled Hanwoo (Korean beef) with 360-year-old soy sauce and, for dessert, triple chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and cinnamon-punch granita.

Anti-Trump protests took place in Seoul that night.

On Wednesday, Presidents Moon and Trump gave a joint press conference:

Afterwards, Trump was:

The US president signed the guest book:

Assembly Speaker Chung gave Trump the highest accolade possible (also reported elsewhere):

South Korea just introduced President Trump as the LEADER OF THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!

He added:

Trump exhibits “excellent leadership” and “great negotiating ability”.

I love it!

From the prose style, I can tell that Trump adviser Stephen Miller wrote the speech. He is the best speechwriter — ever. Excerpts follow.

Trump began with a review of modern history, which started with this:

This alliance between our nations was forged in the crucible of war, and strengthened by the trials of history. From the Inchon landings to Pork Chop Hill, American and South Korean soldiers have fought together, sacrificed together, and triumphed together.

After the Korean War:

over the next two generations something miraculous happened on the southern half of this peninsula. Family by family, city by city, the people of South Korea built this country into what is today one of the great nations of the world. And I congratulate you. (Applause.) In less than one lifetime, South Korea climbed from total devastation to among the wealthiest nations on Earth.

With regard to North Korea:

in the end, we will work things out far better than anybody understands or can even appreciate. I know that the Republic of Korea, which has become a tremendously successful nation, will be a faithful ally of the United States very long into the future. (Applause.)

He enumerated and praised South Korea’s great accomplishments in recent times before discussing the poverty and atrocities in North Korea. Please read the transcript starting halfway down. What is going on there is worse than many of us — myself included — imagine.

After that, he said:

North Korea is a country ruled as a cult. At the center of this military cult is a deranged belief in the leader’s destiny to rule as parent protector over a conquered Korean Peninsula and an enslaved Korean people.

The more successful South Korea becomes, the more decisively you discredit the dark fantasy at the heart of the Kim regime.

In this way, the very existence of a thriving South Korean republic threatens the very survival of the North Korean dictatorship.

This city and this assembly are living proof that a free and independent Korea not only can, but does stand strong, sovereign, and proud among the nations of the world. (Applause.) …

This reality — this wonderful place — your success is the greatest cause of anxiety, alarm, and even panic to the North Korean regime. That is why the Kim regime seeks conflict abroad — to distract from total failure that they suffer at home.

Trump discussed the violations of the armistice by the North Koreans as well as their build-up of nuclear and ballistic weaponry. Then he said:

Today, I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us, and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.

We did not choose to draw here, on this peninsula — (applause) — this magnificent peninsula — the thin line of civilization that runs around the world and down through time. But here it was drawn, and here it remains to this day. It is the line between peace and war, between decency and depravity, between law and tyranny, between hope and total despair. It is a line that has been drawn many times, in many places, throughout history. To hold that line is a choice free nations have always had to make. We have learned together the high cost of weakness and the high stakes of its defense.

Also:

That is why I have come here, to the heart of a free and flourishing Korea, with a message for the peace-loving nations of the world: The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times. (Applause.) The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation.

All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea — to deny it and any form — any form of it. You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept. We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime, and sever all ties of trade and technology.

It is our responsibility and our duty to confront this danger together — because the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows, and the fewer the options become. (Applause.) And to those nations that choose to ignore this threat, or, worse still, to enable it, the weight of this crisis is on your conscience.

He concluded:

Together, we dream of a Korea that is free, a peninsula that is safe, and families that are reunited once again. We dream of highways connecting North and South, of cousins embracing cousins, and this nuclear nightmare replaced with the beautiful promise of peace.

Until that day comes, we stand strong and alert. Our eyes are fixed to the North, and our hearts praying for the day when all Koreans can live in freedom. (Applause.)

Thank you. (Applause.) God Bless You. God Bless the Korean people. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

The National Assembly gave him a standing ovation:

Also note in the caption the historic significance of the speech:

The last US president to address the National Assembly was Bush I.

Yonhap News Agency reported on the joint press conference, excerpted below:

U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is making “a lot of progress” in efforts aimed at forcing North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile ambitions.

In a joint press conference after a summit in Seoul with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump also urged the international community to closely cooperate in putting pressure on the recalcitrant state.

“I think we are making a lot of progress,” Trump said. “We are showing great strength and I think they understand we have unparalleled strength. There has never been strength like it.”

The Trumps’ final stop was to Seoul National Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony.

Then it was time to leave South Korea:

Mrs Trump expressed her gratitude to the South Koreans:

The Trumps will have fond memories of their trip. Here is another photo from the welcoming ceremony:

I will cover the China trip early next week.

On Friday, November 3, 2017, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump began their first tour of Asia.

Their first stop was Hawaii, where they stayed overnight before flying to Japan.

The Conservative Treehouse has an excellent report on the visit. Their agenda for the first day was as follows:

♦ 1:10pm local / 7:10pm Eastern THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive in Hickam, HI – Hickam Air Force Base
♦ 1:45pm local / 7:45pm Eastern THE PRESIDENT participates in a United States Pacific Command briefing, Aiea, HI
♦ 5:25PM local / 11:25pm Eastern THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY participate in a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, Aiea, HI

Upon arrival, the Trumps were greeted in true Hawaiian fashion (emphases mine below):

The President and First Lady were greeted with leis by Hawaii Gov. David Ige and his wife, Dawn Ige along with US Navy Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, his wife, Bruni Bradley; and Mikayla Webb, the daughter of Adm. Harris’ aide.

President Trump was given a brightly colored orange and yellow lei decorated with Maile & Ilima flowers, a combination traditionally presented to royalty on the island. The first couple spent about 15 minutes shaking hands with a group of greeters, a mix of troops and civilians at the airport:

President Trump participated in a United States Pacific Command briefing, Aiea, HI:

The Trumps then toured the USS Arizona memorial in Honolulu. The Daily Mail has an outstanding set of photographs and a brief report.

They placed a memorial wreath at the monument remembering American soldiers who died nearly 80 years ago in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Trumps also threw hibiscus flowers on to the sea in memory of the fallen.

The First Lady was visibly moved:

They arrived in Japan on Sunday, November 5 as guests of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mrs Akie Abe.

The Conservative Treehouse has the day’s schedule:

♦ 10:45am (local) / 9:45pm (EST) THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive in Tokyo, Japan.

♦ 11:00am (local) / 10:00pm (EST) THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY participate in a Yokota Air Base troop event. – Yokota Air Base, Japan

♦ 12:05pm (local) / 11:05pm (EST) THE PRESIDENT has lunch with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and professional Japanese golfer Mr. Hideki Matsuyama. – Kasumigaseki Country Club, Kawagoe, Japan

♦ 12:45pm (local) / 11:45pm (EST) THE PRESIDENT golfs with Japanese Prime Minister Abe and Mr. Hideki Matsuyama. – Kasumigaseki Country Club, Kawagoe, Japan

♦ 7:35pm (local) / 5:35am (EST) THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY have dinner with Prime Minster Abe and Mrs. Akie Abe – Ginza Ukai Tei, Tokyo, Japan

Reuters reported that this was the longest presidential trip to Asia since George H W Bush’s in 1992.

Security throughout the country was tight as bomb threats had been made in several cities.

These two videos show some of Saturday’s events — arrival in Tokyo and the president’s address to the troops at Yokota Air Force Base:

The Trump and Abe delegations ate lunch together:

While their husbands discussed official business, Mrs Abe and Mrs Trump spent time together meeting schoolchildren, who sang to them:

President and Mrs Trump met with some very special people that day:

They were most grateful:

Prime Minister Abe and President Trump met privately before holding a joint press conference:

The two couples ended the day with dinner at Ginza Ukai Tei, the flagship of the upmarket Ukai restaurant chain in Tokyo. The restaurant’s speciality is teppanyaki:

Bloomberg reported that Ukai Co. stock soared on Monday. As for the menu:

The guests were served a “special menu,” which included grilled Hokkaido scallop, the restaurant’s “best quality” steak and a chocolate sundae, according to a spokeswoman for Ukai.

On Monday, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were greeted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Residence in Tokyo at about 11:03 am for a 30-minute meeting. The Conservative Treehouse has excellent photos of their meeting each other for the first time.

Here is a tweet from elsewhere:

Trump did not say he didn’t bow to anyone. The caption refers to his predecessor:

The Trumps returned to Akasaka Palace, where the Abes gave them a welcome ceremony. Trump and Abe also reviewed the troops. Lunch followed.

Afterwards, Abe and Trump fed koi carp. Contrary to what you saw on the mainstream news, Trump followed Abe’s example:

That evening, the Abes hosted a state dinner for the Trumps at Akasaka Palace:

The lady below is the glamorous White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who used to work for Ivanka Trump before her father whisked her (Hicks) away to work on his presidential campaign. (If you understand the CNN reporter’s humour, please let me know.)

Prime Minister Abe addressed the guests, followed by President Trump (here is another view):

 

The White House provided a transcript of their remarks, most of which follow:

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) …

Yesterday’s golf diplomacy between Donald and me attracted so much attention, and we actually made everything public, except for the score. And, through golf, we could demonstrate to the world how strong the bond is between Japan and the United States.

But Donald and I are not the first to promote this unique golf diplomacy. Just 60 years ago, my grandfather, Prime Minister Kishi, and President Eisenhower are the ones who initiated this tradition. And after the golf match, President Eisenhower shared two lessons with my grandfather. One, once you become a President of the United States, you need to be at a table with a group of people whom you don’t like to hang out. Second, when it comes to playing golf, you can play golf only with those who you really, really like to hang out.

But speaking of my relationship with President Trump, that is not enough. If I may add another lesson to the legacy of Prime Minister Kishi and President Eisenhower, I would say it like this: When you play golf with someone not just once, but for two times, the person must be your favorite guy.

So, yesterday, we had the pleasure of playing golf together with Mr. Hideki Matsuyama. And, tonight, we are so honored to have the participation of Mr. Isao Aoki, who is a pioneer in Japanese golf. (Applause.)

Speaking of the First Ladies, I understand that my wife Akie and Madam First Lady had a chance to try Japanese calligraphy. Each wrote one Chinese character, or kanji: “hei” by Madam First Lady, which means being smooth and calm; and “wa” by my wife Akie, which stands for harmony. And when combined, these two letters literally mean “peace.” And I think their wonderful joint work represents our alliance very nicely.

Under our alliance, Japan and the United States work hand-in-hand to contribute to regional and global peace.

For two days, President Trump and I spent many, many hours together, and had an in-depth discussion on various global challenges. And I’m particularly grateful for President Trump and Madam First Lady, who kindly spent their time with a former abductee and the family members of those who had been abducted by North Korea.

Last but not least, let me share with you my honest impression about President Trump’s visit to Japan this time. As I said, this was the very first visit by President Trump and it was indeed a historic visit. And I do hope that you will enjoy your last night in Tokyo as you wish. And also, I sincerely hope that you will have a really successful trip to Asia this time, which started here in Japan.

So with that, I now would like to propose a toast wishing all the best to President Trump and Madam First Lady, and also wishing for the further development of the friendship between Japan and the United States.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Prime Minister and Mrs. Abe, this has been a really wonderful two days. We have to spend more time together because I have enjoyed every minute of it, even though he’s a very, very tough negotiator. And, Melania, a real friend of yours now is Mrs. Abe. And I know you enjoyed it with me. You enjoyed it in Florida and you enjoyed it here, and maybe even more so. But I want to thank you for the royal welcome.

And it was really a — very much a working holiday, even on the golf course. So we can call it a couple of days off, but it wasn’t. It was full work. Even as we played golf, all we did was talk about different things. (Laughter.) We better not go into it. But I have to tell you, we did, and we made a lot of progress on a lot of fronts.

I do want to congratulate Mr. Aoki. He was one of the great putters — probably still is. They say you never lose your putting. When you’re a great putter, you never lose your putting …

And I spoke yesterday with the great Matsuyama, who is doing great, right? He’s going to be a big star, and he’s going to be great. I don’t even know if he’s with us tonight. I don’t think he’s with us tonight. But he does want to get together in New York, and we’re going to get together …

So my relationship with Shinzo got off to quite a rocky start because I never ran for office, and here I am. But I never ran, so I wasn’t very experienced. And after I had won, everybody was calling me from all over the world. I never knew we had so many countries. (Laughter.)

So I was now President-elect. But I didn’t know you were supposed to not see world leaders until after you were in office, which was January 20th. So you were just not supposed to because it was considered bad form. It was not a nice thing to do, and I understand that from the standpoint of the President whose place you were taking.

So you can only take so many calls from world leaders — because, you know, everybody was calling. But Japan, you take. And some others — we took Germany, we took Russia, we took China, we took — we took your Prime Minister.

So it’s November, and he said to me, “Congratulations on your victory, it was a great victory, I would like to see you. I would like to see you as soon as possible.” And I said, “Anytime you want, just come on in, don’t worry about it.” But I was referring to after January 20th. (Laughter.) So I said, don’t worry about it. Anytime you want, I look forward to seeing you. Just give us a call, no problem, anytime you want. And all of the sudden, I get a call from, actually, Japan press. And they said that our Prime Minister is going to New York to meet with the President-elect.

So the press is going crazy because the Prime Minister of Japan is coming to see me. I think it’s absolutely fine, but I didn’t really mean now. I meant some time in February, March, or April. Meaning, you have a very aggressive — very, very aggressive, strong, tough Prime Minister. That’s a good thing, by the way — not a bad thing. (Laughter.)

So then the New York media started calling me, and I was getting all sorts of signals from Hope and Sarah, in a different position, and everybody. And they’re going crazy. They’re saying, “You cannot see him. It’s so inappropriate. It looks bad.” I say, “What’s wrong?” They said, “It’s a bad thing to see him. You have to wait until after, in all fairness, Barack Obama leaves office.” And I said, “What do I do?” And they said, “Let’s call.”

So I called him, and he wasn’t there. He was on the airplane flying to New York. (Laughter.) And I said, “You know what? There’s no way he’s going to land and I’m not seeing him.”

So I saw him, and it worked out just fine. Do you agree with that? (Laughter.) And he actually brought me the most beautiful golf club I’ve ever seen. It was a driver that’s totally gold. Right? It’s gold. (Laughter.) And I looked at it — I said, “If I ever use this driver — me — to use that driver at a golf club, I will be laughed off every course I ever go onto.” But it is the most beautiful weapon I’ve ever seen, so I thank you for that.

But we had a great meeting. It lasted forever. It was a very long meeting in Trump Tower. And for some reason, from that moment on, we had a really — and developed a really great relationship. And here we are today and better than ever, and we’re going to work together. And it’s going to get more and more special, and we’re going to work out problems of Japan and problems of the United States. And it’s going to be something very, very special for both countries.

And I just want to finish by saying that Melania and I today visited the palace. This is a beautiful, beautiful place. And we met two very beautiful people, the Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and the Empress, and spent a long time talking to them today. And there was a lot of love in that room for all of you people — I can tell you — from everyone from Japan. They love the people of Japan, they love this country dearly, and they have great, great respect for your Prime Minister. And they truly think that your Prime Minister did very, very well when he decided to marry — or she decided to marry him, Mrs. Abe. But they have great, great respect — I can tell you that.

And I just want to conclude by saying that our two great countries will have incredible friendship and incredible success for many centuries to come — not years, not decades, but for many centuries to come.

And again, it’s an honor to have you as my good friend, and I just want to thank you and Mrs. Abe. This is a very, very special two days. We will not forget, and we will be back soon. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

President Trump toasted with cola.

The dinner was the last event of the Trumps’ visit to Japan:

Trump tweeted:

There may well be some significance to +++, which I think relates to the Storm (draining the Swamp) rather than Japan. See this 4chan/pol/ post.

Tomorrow’s post will cover Korea.

One day after their visit to Puerto Rico to meet people affected by and working on rebuilding after Hurricane Maria, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flew to Las Vegas to meet with victims of and first responders to the Mandalay Bay massacre on Sunday, October 1, 2017.

The flag at the White House was at half mast on Tuesday, October 3:

On Wednesday, October 4, the Trumps flew to Las Vegas with this objective:

The Trumps’ first stop was the University Medical Center, which received over 100 patients on the evening of October 1.

This is a composite video (no dialogue, only music; another copy here):

Four people in particular stood out during this visit.

The first was Thomas Gunderson, who insisted on standing to meet the president. The first lady and a man in the room helped him up:

This is the sign outside of his hospital room:

The second person is this teenager:

After the Trumps left, she gave a brief interview:

The Trumps also met with the family of Rose-Marie Melanson, who is in hospital. The Daily Caller recapped the story:

A family who survived the Las Vegas massacre spoke highly of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, calling the Trumps real human beings who are sympathetic and caring.

Steve Melanson was at the concert with his daughters Stephanie and Paige along with their mother Rose-Marie, who was shot and is currently recovering.

“They’re real people. He’s a real human. She’s a real human,” Stephanie praised the Trumps on CNN’s “New Day” Friday.”They had a heart. They were caring. They were sympathetic. They had a listening ear. He sends his condolences.”

Melania ran over to hug the daughter and reassured her that her mother would pull through.

“Before he [Trump] could finish talking, she [Melania] got up and just b-lined over to us, and just hugged me and told me: Your mom is strong. She’s a fighter. She’ll be okay. She’s going to make it,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie began to tear up before calling her mother a “warrior.”

The Trumps also met with a Las Vegas policeman, Officer Cook, who had been in the job for only two days:

Upon leaving, President Trump expressed his gratitude to the doctors and nurses attending the patients. He refused to discuss the shooting but said that in the weeks to come we would find out what a ‘sick’ individual the shooter was. Later on, the president said he had extended an open invitation to the White House for everyone they met and said he would be there for them:

The Trumps’ next stop was to police headquarters. The president praised the response and efforts of the police, sheriff — and the taxi drivers — that night:

Afterwards, he gave a brief address:

President Ronald Reagan’s elder son Michael had high praise for the Trumps:

I’ll close with this:

Anyone not writing about what happened is correct in so doing. Many of us are gathering data from what has appeared in the media, especially social media.

I pray that the truth comes out about this horrific incident. It is unlikely to be what it appears. May God shine a blinding light on it in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, prayers for those who are recovering and for the families of the deceased.

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