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Yesterday’s post was about Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the White House.

This is the first state visit of the Trump presidency. The first state dinner, honouring Emmanuel Macron, took place on Tuesday, April 24.

Much was made of the fact that First Lady Melania Trump did not hire an event planner. Instead she worked with a closely-knit group of ten staff in the East Wing:

This was the menu. Note that President Trump agreed to have wine served. Every other event has been tee-total. I expect that an exception was made for the French, for whom wine with dinner is a must. The wine is not included on the press tweet below. The one served with the main course came from French vines planted in Oregon generations ago.

 

The day’s schedule was as follows:

History lover Macron understood the importance of everything happening that day:

Official welcome and meetings

The official arrival ceremony took place on the South Lawn (41-minute White House video here).

Hail to the Chief was played as the Trumps emerged from the White House to await the Macrons.

This is a great photo:

During the ceremony, both nations’ national anthems were played.

Both gave short speeches and spoke of the history between the two countries dating from the Revolutionary War. I am positive that the incomparable Stephen Miller had a hand in Trump’s:

Selected members of the public were invited, with local schoolchildren in attendance:

Once again, Macron sought out his father figure, who indulged him with a kiss this time:

Gateway Pundit‘s Jim Hoft enjoyed it:

Afterwards, the Trumps and the Macrons greeted members of the French delegation:

Then it was time for the restricted bilateral meeting, the topic of which was Iran. Trump rightly wants to re-negotiate the deal, Macron doesn’t.

Papa Trump led his young subject away after their public remarks:

The next meeting, the expanded bilateral one, was held in the Cabinet Room. Before it began, Trump and Macron discussed the restricted bilateral meeting. Excerpts follow:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Please. We were going to have a short little meeting, and it turned out to be a long meeting, and it could have gone on for another two hours.

We discussed a lot of things, a lot of problems in the world, a lot of problems that we think can be solved. But we’ve come a long way, just the two of us, I think, as understanding. We talked about Iran; we talked about Syria. We talked about a lot of subjects that really are big, big, hard situations. And we think we have solutions to a number of them.

So we’re going to continue that now, and then Emmanuel and myself will meet again, I think, after this meeting. But we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts in the room. We have great experts on both sides, so we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts …

PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you, Mr. President, for these words. We will have this large meeting with (inaudible) together again before the press conference, just to say we have had very good discussion, indeed, on Syria, on Iran, the overall region, and some other very important topics regarding our security.

And I think we have to work together because we’ve always worked together on these issues, and it’s very important to preserve the stability of this region. And I think what we want to do in the interest of our people is precisely to preserve stability of sovereign states, without any hegemon.

As for the trade issue, you presented your perception of the situation and you were fair to remind everybody that bilateral relationship is balanced between France and the U.S.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s true.

PRESIDENT MACRON: And I think it’s very important to bear in mind that, between allies — I mean, regarding so important security issues, it’s impossible to make any trade war …

After the expanded bilateral meeting, the two presidents held a joint press conference (full White House video here), which began with this:

President Trump was thorough in his remarks, enumerating not only current international challenges but also France’s helpful contributions. Excerpts follow:

France and the United States also agree that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, and that regime must end its support for terrorism all over. No matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran behind problems.

I also want to thank President Macron for France’s vital contribution to our very successful campaign against ISIS. As we drive these ISIS killers from Syria, it is essential that the responsible nations of the Middle East step up their own contributions to prevent Iran from profiting off the success of our anti-ISIS effort. Very rich countries are in the Middle East. They have to make major contributions. They have not been doing it as they should. A major topic that we discussed a little while ago: They have to step up tremendously — not a little bit, but tremendously — their financial effort …

Both the United States and France are dealing with a challenge that has gone on for a long, long time. It’s uncontrolled migration. In the United States, we are taking strong action to regain control over our borders and over our sovereignty. It’s gone on for too long. And we’ve slowed it down very substantially, but we’re going to stop illegal immigration. I know that you face similar challenges in France. And, Mr. President, I admire the leadership you have shown in addressing them in a very honest and direct fashion, and not always popular.

Macron began his remarks by discussing the Iran deal:

Mr. President, please allow me to go back to a number of issues, which are fundamental for not only our relationship, but beyond. The first topic is Iran. You said once again, in front of the press, what your position was during the campaign and as well as the President of the United States. It’s not a mystery we did not have the same starting positions or stances, and neither you nor I have a habit of changing our stances or going with the wind.

That being said, I can say that we’ve had very a frank discussion on that, just the two of us. You consider that the Iranian deal, the JCPOA — the one negotiated in 2015 with Iran — is a bad deal. For a number of months, I’ve been saying that this was not a sufficient deal, but that it enabled us, at least until 2025, to have some control over their nuclear activities.

We therefore wish, from now on, to work on a new deal with Iran. What we need — and I believe that on that, our discussions allowed us to shed light on our convergence of views — is that we need to cover four topics.

The first one is to block any nuclear activity of Iran until 2025. This was feasible thanks to the JCPOA. The second is to make sure that, in the long run, there is no nuclear Iranian activity. The third fundamental topic is to be able to put an end to the ballistic activities of Iran in the region. And the fourth one is to generate the conditions for a solution — a political solution to contain Iran in the region — in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, and in Lebanon.

On these topics, I did not change. I constantly said that we needed to find the framework so that, together, and with the powers of the region, and with the Iranian leaders, manage to find a deal. I therefore would like us to commit to that effect in the weeks and months to come.

This is the only way to bring about stability. France is not naïve when it comes to Iran. We have also a lot of respect for the Iranian people, which, through their history — its history — has always shown its strength.

But we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Each time we tried to unilaterally replace the sovereignty of the people, we brought about some more terror. But for our allies, we want sustainable stability …

After the press conference, the two gripped hands (Trump probably did not want another kiss):

Afterwards, President Trump went to a private lunch with the Secretary of Defense.

Lunch honouring Macron

Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan and Vice President Mike Pence hosted a lunch for President Macron at the Harry S Truman Building. Afterwards, Sullivan gave a short speech:

Then Pence spoke and offered a toast. Macron responded with a speech and a reciprocal toast. (Full transcript here.)

Presidents’ wives visit National Gallery of Art

The White House published a précis of what the presidents’ wives did during the day, excerpted below:

In tradition with State Visits, First Lady Melania Trump hosted Mrs. Macron for a spousal event, choosing to visit the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. this morning. Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Macron were met by Frank Kelly, Deputy Director of the museum. The tour of the National Gallery of Art was crafted to particularly note the incredible work of French artists to complement the long-standing friendship between the United States and France.

“Everyone understands the language of art,” said Mrs. Trump. “The historically famous and beautiful works that currently live in the National Gallery of Art are breathtaking.”

The Macrons at JFK’s grave

That afternoon, the Macrons paid a reverent visit to John F Kennedy’s grave:

The linked tweet has an excellent photo and the same text in French. The responses are very anti-Macron.

French Embassy presentation to American veterans

At the French Embassy that afternoon, Macron presented Legion of Honour medals to three American veterans of the Second World War.

The News Virginian has the story:

William Barr, who currently lives at The Legacy at North Augusta in Staunton, was honored Tuesday along with two other veterans at the French Embassy in Washington …

After personally awarding the medals to Barr and the other two men, Robert Ewald and Stanley Rzucidio, at Tuesday’s ceremony, President  Macron praised the three veterans and all of those who helped defeat tyranny during World War II.

“My generation has the opportunity to defend these values today because your generation, and especially people like you, decided to take all the risks to protect these values, to protect my country,” Macron said. “[I am] also paying tribute to the blood shed by all your comrades.”

Barr was a World War II Army Air Forces airplane mechanic who participated in the Battle of the Bulge and other key campaigns …

“Robert, Stanley, William, those are names of heroes. During World War II, your generation decided to take all the risks to protect France. You fought for freedom. Eternal gratitude from the French people,” Macron tweeted.

The article states that the Legion of Honour, which Napoleon established in 1802, is the highest French order of merit.

The State Dinner

The climax of the Macrons’ visit was the state dinner that evening, the Trumps’ first.

Laura Dowling, former chief floral designer at the Obama White House, wrote an excellent article for Fox News, describing the symbolism not only in floral decorations but also the particular symbolism that goes into a state dinner. A short video is also included, with amazing photos and statistics on this particular dinner (emphases mine):

I was honored to help design décor and flowers for two visits by heads of state from France: the private dinner that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted for President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, in 2010; and the state visit of President Francois Hollande in 2014.

For both events, the flowers were designed to carry out diplomatic, cultural and historical themes – with the goal of honoring France and the individual leaders, as well as to celebrate cherished American traditions and ideals …

Some of the most beautiful and historic pieces in the White House collection have a French provenance – the 18th century gilt mirrored Monroe Plateau, the early 19th century marble-topped table in the Red Room by a French-American cabinetmaker, and the French Blue Room furniture acquired by President Monroe are just a few examples …

In addition to highlighting the White House collection of French decorative arts, the first lady is paying tribute to former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush by selecting their china for this inaugural state visit.

Additional décor includes the large urns of cherry blossoms lining the Great Hall. Cherry blossoms are not only the quintessential emblem of spring in Washington, but also in Paris, where they are currently in bloom in the Jardin de Tuilieries near the Elysses Palace, the home of the French first couple.

The Daily Mail has an article on the dinner with excellent photos.

This was the menu in full, with the wines from Oregon listed. The gold rimmed plate, an edge of which can be seen underneath is a Clinton plate:

There’s a story behind this china:

The Conservative Treehouse posted on this and included the above tweets as well as a link to the 2001 ABC story, excerpted below:

Former President Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, have sent $28,000 worth of household goods back to Washington after questions arose over whether the items were intended as personal gifts or donations to the White House.

“We have been informed that it is being shipped back, and the National Park Service is ready to receive it, take possession of it and take custody of it,” Jim McDaniel, the National Park Service’s liaison to the White House, said Wednesday.

“The property is being returned to government custody until such time that the issues can be resolved. It may well turn out that that property is rightly the personal property of the Clintons.”

After they were criticized for taking $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts with them when they left, the Clintons announced last week that they would pay for $86,000 worth of gifts, or nearly half the amount.

Their latest decision to send back $28,000 in gifts brings to $114,000 the value of items the Clintons have either decided to pay for or return.

On that subject, one of the commenters at The_Donald had an anecdote about the Clintons:

I personally know one of the White House Interior Decorators that was at The White House when Clinton’s arrived. She said it was like The Beverly Hillbillies come to town. They ruined so much historical stuff, decorated things totally trashy and they did try to and did take tons of stuff out of there. They personally ruined things, broke things trashed things that had been around a long time that had history behind them. I didn’t hear much about Bill from my friend, but she said Hillary was a piece of work and nasty. This from someone that lived through it.

Back to the present now and America’s current first couple. For interested ladies — Mrs Trump wore Chanel:

A light rain fell as the Trumps greeted the Macrons.

This video shows you how grand it was, with the military escort. The first couples pose for a photo at the 1:15 mark:

As for the guests, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was the first to arrive:

Here is the only Democrat invited — the governor of Louisiana:

The following links have photos of other notable guests: the Vice President and Mrs Pence, the Speaker of the House and Mrs Ryan, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, the Chief of Staff and Mrs Kelly, the Press Secretary and Mr Sanders, the Director of the CIA and Mrs Pompeo, the Surgeon General and Mrs Adams, the Secretary of the Treasury and Mrs Mnuchin, the Chief Justice and Mrs Roberts, Henry and Nancy Kissinger (must see) and Rupert and Jerry (Hall) Murdoch. More guests are listed here and here.

Toasts were made before dinner (full transcript here):

Then it was Macron’s turn:

Knowing how much hard work went into the event, President Trump tweeted his appreciation to his First Lady:

Wednesday, April 25

Early the next day, Trump tweeted:

The video of Macron’s speech is here. He laid out his international policies and perspectives, which are very different to Trump’s. He received a standing ovation from both houses of Congress.

Macron then went to speak at George Washington University on a variety of topics …

… including religion, which is a hot topic for him right now in France:

He also held a press conference there:

President and Mrs Macron left for Paris later that day.

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The Revd Billy Graham departed this mortal coil on February 21, 2018, aged 99.

Only the good Lord knows how many people he converted or awakened to Christianity. If he spoke in person to 250 million people around the world during his ministry, imagine the hundreds of millions of people watching his televised Crusades and specials or listening to him on radio. What he accomplished over his 80 years as a preacher was so extraordinary that it might not be repeated for generations to come.

CBS News reported that Graham was (emphases mine):

the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history

Spokesman Mark DeMoss said Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning.

Tributes from American presidents

President Donald Trump tweeted and followed up with a formal statement later that day:

President Trump’s statement reads as follows:

Melania and I join millions of people around the world in mourning the passing of Billy Graham. Our prayers are with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who worked closely with Reverend Graham in his lifelong ministry.

Billy’s acceptance of Jesus Christ around his seventeenth birthday not only changed his life—it changed our country and the world. He was one of the towering figures of the last 100 years—an American hero whose life and leadership truly earned him the title “God’s Ambassador.”

Billy’s unshakeable belief in the power of God’s word to transform hearts gave hope to all who listened to his simple message: “God loves you.” He carried this message around the world through his crusades, bringing entire generations to faith in Jesus Christ.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001, America turned to Billy Graham at the National Cathedral, who told us, “God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.”

Reverend Graham would be the first to say that he did not do it alone. Before her passing, his wife Ruth was by his side through it all—a true partner, a wonderful mother, and a fellow missionary soul. He also built an international team and institution that will continue to carry on Christ’s message.

Melania and I were privileged to get to know Reverend Graham and his extraordinary family over the last several years, and we are deeply grateful for their love and support.

Billy Graham was truly one of a kind. Christians and people of all faiths and backgrounds will miss him dearly. We are thinking of him today, finally at home in Heaven.

George H W Bush also issued a statement:

Billy Graham was America’s pastor. His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world,” Bush said. “I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend. He would come to Maine to visit with Barbara and me, and he was a great sport. He loved going really fast in my boat. I guess you could say we had that in common. Then we would come home and talk about life. He was a mentor to several of my children, including the former president of the United States. We will miss our good friend forever.

It’s true. There was never a whiff of scandal around Billy Graham. God blessed him abundantly, and the Holy Spirit worked through him until the end.

CBS News discussed the long line of past presidents Graham met with:

from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, but always denied any role in setting policy saying, “I don’t advise them, I pray with them,” CBS News reported. Lyndon Johnson looked up to his close friend, the pastor. Richard Nixon asked for his counsel during Watergate. The elder Bush called Graham to the White House the night before he launched the first Gulf War. Younger President Bush has credited Graham with turning him away from drinking and towards embracing God.

These are the names of those 12 past presidents from at least the early 1950s through to the present day: Harry S Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard M Nixon, Gerald R Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama. That’s a mighty long list.

And he met with President Trump.

That’s 13 presidents in all.

Obama was the first sitting president to visit Graham at his home in North Carolina. That was in 2010, three years after Graham’s wife Ruth went to her heavenly rest.

CBS reported that Graham also became friends with Martin Luther King Jr about a decade before the civil rights movement took root:

In 1952 he stopped segregating his crusades and began a friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“All the problems of America tonight and of the world stem from the fact that we as the human race have sinned against Almighty God,” he said in May 1997.

Such was the impact of Billy Graham’s life that flags flew at half mast in Washington DC from February 21 to March 2, the day of his funeral and burial:

Tributes from clergy

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, remembered his family’s respect for Graham’s ministry:

As anyone growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s can tell you, it was hard not to notice and be impressed by the Reverend Billy Graham,” Dolan said in a statement. “There was no question that the Dolans were a Catholic family, firm in our faith, but in our household there was always respect and admiration for Billy Graham and the work he was doing to bring people to God. Whether it was one of his famous Crusades, radio programs, television specials, or meeting and counseling the presidents, Billy Graham seemed to be everywhere, always with the same message: Jesus is your Savior, and wants you to be happy with Him forever. As an historian, my admiration for him only grew as I studied our nation’s religious past, and came to appreciate even more the tremendous role he played in the American evangelical movement. May the Lord that Billy Graham loved so passionately now grant him eternal rest.

One of Graham’s grandsons, the Revd Tullian Tchividjian, noted his grandfather’s universal appeal:

My granddad wasn’t just Christian-famous, he was famous-famous, he was crossover famous.

Unfortunately, Tchividjian succumbed to temptation in his own ministry. He resigned his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale after admitting to an extramarital affair. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) deposed him from their South Florida Presbytery as being ‘unfit for Christian ministry‘. A subsequent pastorate and outreach ministry also failed because of more sexual impropriety. In 2015, Tchividjian divorced his first wife Kim after 21 years of marriage. He married his second wife Stacie the following year. Hmm. What a contrast to his grandfather.

Honour of lying in state in Capitol Rotunda

Billy Graham was honoured greatly prior to his funeral:

This is a good photo of the exterior of the Capitol Building from Billy’s son’s — Franklin Graham’s — Samaritan’s Purse ministry:

A memorial service took place. Pictured is one of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughters, Lynda Bird. I remember when she and her husband married in 1967:

President Trump spoke at the service:

What follows is the text of President Trump’s address. It’s very moving — probably written by the incomparable Stephen Miller — and really expresses not only who Billy Graham was but how much he appealed to his audiences. I remember watching his Crusades when I was a child. During the first one I watched at the age of seven, I approached the television set when he made his call for people to come forward!

11:21 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell. And, most importantly, thank you to the entire Graham family for honoring us with your presence here today. Thank you.

In the spring of 1934, Billy Graham’s father allowed a group of Charlotte businessmen to use a portion of the family’s dairy farm to gather for a day of prayer.

On that day, the men prayed for the city. They prayed that, “Out of Charlotte, the Lord would raise up someone to preach the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.”

We are here today, more than 80 years later, because that prayer was truly answered.

Billy Graham was 15 years old at the time. Just a few months later, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

That choice didn’t just change Billy’s life — it changed our lives. It changed our country, and it changed, in fact, the entire world.

The North Carolina farm boy walked out of those fields, into a great and beautiful history.

And I remember that, because my father said to me, “Come on, son” — and, by the way, he said, “Come on, mom. Let’s go see Billy Graham at Yankee Stadium.” And it was something very special.

But Americans came in droves to hear that great young preacher. Fred Trump was a big fan. Fred Trump was my father.

In London, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogota, Moscow, New Delhi, Saigon, Johannesburg, and scores of other places all over the world, Reverend Graham shared the power of God’s word with more than 200 million people, in person, and countless others through television and radio where people loved to watch and listen.

In 1978, with the support of the Catholic Bishop who would soon become Pope John Paul II, Reverend Graham went to Poland and spoke of the meaning of the cross to a people suffering under the soulless oppression of communism.

Billy Graham carried his message around the world, but his heart, as Franklin will tell you, was always in America.

He took his message to the poorest places, to the downtrodden and to the brokenhearted, to inmates in prison, and to the overlooked and the neglected. He felt a great passion for those that were neglected.

Everywhere he went, Reverend Graham delivered the same beautiful message: God loves you. That was his message. God loves you.

We can only imagine the number of lives touched by the preaching and the prayers of Billy Graham –- the hearts he changed, the sorrows he eased, and the joy he brought to so many. The testimony is endless.

Today, we give thanks for this extraordinary life. And it’s very fitting that we do so right here in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, where the memory of the American people is enshrined.

Here in this room, we are reminded that America is a nation sustained by prayer. The painting to my left is of the pilgrims as they embarked for America, holding fast to the Bible and bowing their heads in prayer.

Along these walls, we see the faces of Americans who prayed as they stood on the Lexington Green, who prayed as they headed west, prayed as they headed into battle, and prayed as they marched for justice, and always marched for victory.

Around us stand the statues of heroes who led the nation in prayer during the great and difficult times, from Washington to Lincoln to Eisenhower to King.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you very much.

END

11:28 A.M. EST

That evening, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted a dinner for the Grahams. Franklin Graham is sitting to the left of Mrs Trump (her right):

The funeral

Billy Graham’s funeral took place in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, March 2.

His grandson Roy provided the story behind the evangelist’s simple wooden casket. Recommended video:

This was the scene under a tent at the Billy Graham Library before the funeral:

The Trumps and the Pences walked together:

The Charlotte Observer reported:

His funeral service under a massive tent at the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte drew more than 2,000 guests, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, governors, senators, religious leaders, celebrities and longtime Graham family friends. It was the kind of star-studded turnout that would have made Graham blush, suggested some of the speakers, who lauded this pastor to presidents and everyday people for always trying to steer the attention away from himself and toward Jesus Christ.

Family members escorted Graham’s plain wooden casket into the 28,000-square-foot tent, which was meant to harken back to Graham’s 1949 crusade in a “canvas cathedral” in downtown Los Angeles that shot him to national attention.

The service lasted the planned 90 minutes. Franklin Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — BGEA — as well as his own Samaritan’s Purse, gave the address:

My father’s greatest longing has been granted,” the younger Graham said. “He’s in the presence of God” …

Franklin Graham recalled his father’s love of his late wife, Ruth, his sense of humor and joy in his grandchildren. “The Billy Graham that the world saw on TV, and in the big stadiums, is the same Billy Graham we saw at home,” he said. “There weren’t two Billy Grahams.”

But Graham said the late evangelist also believed in heaven and hell, and in the Bible as the infallible word of God: “He didn’t understand it all, but he sure believed it all.”

In an era of political correctness, he added, some “want you to believe there are many roads to God. It’s just not true.

“Daddy, I won’t see you on this earth again,” he ended, gazing at the casket before him, “but I will see you again, and maybe soon.”

The article concludes by stating that the Graham family and the BGEA consider the funeral to be the Last Crusade. They hope it will stimulate new interest in the Gospel.

The videos of the funeral service follow:

More on Billy Graham to follow.

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 Sunday, November 12, 2017, President Donald Trump left Vietnam for the Philippines.

The ASEAN summit in Manila, including a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, was Trump’s final event prior to his return to Washington DC.

Mrs Duterte gave President Trump a warm welcome. Duterte is characteristically less expressive:

This video shows the reception going on while every attendee was personally welcomed and had a photo op with the Dutertes.

Later, a group photo was taken:

The men are wearing barongs, the traditional Philippine shirts for men. Many of the women — see the lady on the right — are wearing a terno dress or jacket. The pointy shoulders are traditional for Philippine women.

Toasts were made. Trump was seated next to Duterte:

A lavish dinner followed. Trump, apparently, asked Duterte to sing:

The Conservative Treehouse has a good post on the importance of ASEAN and Trump’s objectives:

Those who have walked in the deep weeds of geopolitical strategy know the emphasis the Trump administration has placed on ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) as a counter-balance (control leverage) to the Chinese trade and military expansion.

The ongoing trade and security relationship between the U.S. and India, as well as other regional partners, is a large part of the overarching dynamic. The ASEAN Summit in Manila[,] Philippines is an opportunity for President Trump to expand the conversations; enter into deeper discussions surrounding the terms of partnership; and deepen commitments toward larger U.S. international objectives.

The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region including India, comprises a combined population of 1.85 billion people, one-fourth of the global population.

Here is a graphic of all the attendees:

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was delighted to renew his friendship with President Trump:

NDTV reported:

Prime Minister Modi is likely to reassert India’s push to create a global approach to deal with terrorism. He will also pitch steps to boost regional trade. One of the more significant meetings will be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with US President Donald Trump.

India Today has more on the geopolitical situation in Asia and with the Trump administration.

Here is a photo from the gala dinner that night. Stephen Miller, adviser and speechwriter, is on the left (Trump’s personal assistant John McEntee is next to him, followed by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders). On the right are General HR McMaster and Communications Director Hope Hicks:

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Manila, violent anti-Trump protests broke out. Sky News Australia reported:

Hundreds of leftist activists, farmers and students have burned an effigy of US President Donald Trump in the shape of a swastika after clashes with anti-riot police in Manila left at least 16 people injured.

Police used water cannons on the demonstrators as they marched along Taft Avenue, about 6 kilometres away from the venue of the leaders summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Six of the 16 injured were police officers.

The ASEAN summit opened on Monday, November 13 with a welcome ceremony, group photo and customary group handshake:

Here is a video of the photo op:

Modi was delighted with the opening ceremony’s entertainment:

This was Trump’s schedule for the rest of the day (emphases in the original):

10:15am / 9:15pm THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia – Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Manila, Philippines. [Duration 1 hr]

11:50am / 10:50pm THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines – Philippine International Convention Center, Manila, Philippines (Host of ASEAN) [Duration 1 hr]

12:55pm / 11:55pm THE PRESIDENT attends the 5th U.S.-ASEAN Summit – Philippine International Convention Center, Manila, Philippines.

3:30pm / 2:30pm THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India – Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Manila, Philippines.

5:00pm / 4:00am THE PRESIDENT participates in an embassy meet and greet, Manila, Philippines.

In a historic move, representatives from the US State Department met with officials from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was the first time these countries had met since 2007. The time gap was because of objections from the Chinese and Obama.

Part of the State Department’s announcement reads as follows:

The officials examined ways to achieve common goals and address common challenges in the region, such as: upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, including freedom of navigation and overflight, respect for international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes; increasing connectivity consistent with international law and standards, based on prudent financing; coordinating on counterterrorism and maritime security efforts in the Indo-Pacific; and further cooperating to curtail the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs and unlawful acts. The quadrilateral partners committed to deepening cooperation, which rests on a foundation of shared democratic values and principles, and to continue discussions to further strengthen the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.

Trump included Japan’s Shinzo Abe in his meeting with Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull:

The three leaders met with the press. An excerpt from the transcript follows (emphases mine):

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. It’s great to be with Prime Minister Turnbull and Prime Minister Abe of Australia and of Japan. You know them well; I know them well.

We’ve had many meetings. We’re having another one right now, primarily focused on trade, North Korea, other subjects. But we’re very far along. The dialogue has been very good, I think, for all countries. And we look forward to the continuation of that dialogue.

Mr. Prime Minister, would you like to say something?

PRIME MINISTER TURNBULL: Thank you, Mr. President. It is great to be with you and Prime Minister Abe. We’re working very closely together. We’ve got the same values and the same focus on ensuring that the North Korean regime comes to its senses and stops its reckless provocation and threats of conflict in our region.

Peace and stability have underpinned the prosperity of billions of people over many decades, and we’re going to work together to ensure we maintain it.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) So for three of us, the immediate challenge is the issue of North Korea. And also, three very close partners with each other — Japan, the United States, and Australia — share fundamental values, as well as strategic interest.

So I do hope that we are going to have a meaningful discussion, particularly on the issue of North Korea so as to ensure regional peace and stability.

And also, I think the key for us is to ensure very close trilateral cooperation so as to bring peace and stability on the ground. So I do look forward to having a very productive discussion with the two leaders.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: In addition, a lot of things are happening on trade. And I’ll be announcing pretty much what happened here, and also with other meetings, including China and South Korea and lots of other places. We’ll be announcing that, for the most part, in a statement. I’ll make it from the White House, as opposed to from here. We’ll probably do that on Wednesday …

Sky News Australia reported that Turnbull is beset by domestic problems but is intent on working to resolve the dangerous situation with North Korea and also terrorism:

‘These are dangerous times that we live in our region,’ Mr Turnbull told reporters in Manila, adding it was his job to keep Australians safe.

‘The threats to our peace and stability are greater than they have been for many many years.’

Turnbull understands the strategy for North Korea:

Trump met with Duterte. Beforehand, Duterte made a brief announcement to the media, absent at that point:

Duterte: “We will be discussing matters that are of interest to both the Philippines and…with you around, guys, you are the spies.”
“Hah, hah, hah,” Trump said laughing.
“You are,” Duterte repeated.
[Duterte’s reference was to “spies” (i.e. the media), not “spice.”]

Once the media showed up, Duterte wanted them gone:

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: (In progress.) But on the whole, I think I have so many things to say about (inaudible). I will just summarize (inaudible).

We are your ally. We are an important ally. (Inaudible.)

And I will request everybody to — after you’ve taken the shots, with the best angles that you would like — kindly go out.

I cannot discuss the things that they want to say. You may want to make an — just a statement so that the media is going to have something to go back home.

Trump picked up on the ‘spies’ joke:

I will say this: The media was a little bit late, and you actually missed the best part of the President’s statement. (Laughter.) I think he should make it again, but it was good.

But we’ve had a great relationship. This has been very successful. We have many meetings today with many other leaders. And the ASEAN conference has been handled beautifully by the President in the Philippines and your representatives. And I’ve really enjoyed being here …

But we very much appreciate the great treatment you’ve given us

Then:

Later, Trump addressed ASEAN (General HR McMaster is on the left and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the right):

The full transcript is here. Excerpts follow. Notice how Trump refers to the region not as Asia-Pacific but as Indo-Pacific:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: President Duterte, distinguished leaders, friends and partners: I’m honored to represent the United States of America at this U.S.-ASEAN Commemorative Summit. We gather today at a time of great promise and great challenge.

I speak to you on behalf of 350 million Americans with a message of friendship and partnership. I’m here to advance peace, to promote security, and to work with you to achieve a truly free and open Indo-Pacific, where we are proud and we have sovereign nations, and we thrive, and everybody wants to prosper.

This year we mark 40 years of friendship and cooperation between the United States and this organization. It’s a long time. I also want to congratulate ASEAN on 50 years of promoting peace and prosperity and stability in Southeast Asia and in the broader Indo-Pacific region.

Rodrigo, I would like to commend you on your success as ASEAN chair at this very critical moment in time and in the association’s history — such an important event. And I want to thank you for your incredible hospitality …

I also want to thank Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia for the excellent job you’ve done as coordinator, and I appreciate it very much. I really appreciate it. You have coordinated so well with us …

The United States remains committed to ASEAN’s central role as a regional forum for total cooperation. This diplomatic partnership advances the security and prosperity of the American people and the people of all Indo-Pacific nations

So we want our partners in the region to be strong, independent, and prosperous, in control of their own destinies, and satellites to no one. These are the principles behind our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

So again, I wish you all the best of luck. It’s an honor to be here. And, Rodrigo, thank you very much for the way you treated all of us. Thank you. (Applause.)

Afterwards, Trump met with Narendra Modi:

Then it was time to visit the US Embassy:

That evening, Trump had dinner with Malcolm Turnbull.

Afterwards:

On Tuesday, Trump was scheduled to attend more ASEAN sessions, however, as they were running late, he asked Rex Tillerson to attend the plenary session in the afternoon on his behalf. During his brief conversation with the media on the way home, Trump told the press that he was able to make his closing remarks at lunch.

It was time to return to Washington. Air Force One made a refueling stop at Hickam in Hawaii:

Thanks to a favourable jet stream, he arrived at the White House two hours earlier than expected Tuesday night. The tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, oddly, was unlit.

A short time later:

Before leaving the Philippines, Trump expressed his delight with the hospitality he received:

Later on, social media director Dan Scavino received this anime of Ivanka:

Once back at the White House, Trump tweeted:

It is a pity that Western media did not cover those 12 days better. They are historic. Trump has built solid relationships among the principal players: Abe, Xi and Modi. He also emphasised national sovereignty, which one hopes will be a game-changer for the region.

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 July 24, I wrote about the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect coined by the late Michael Crichton about our misplaced trust in Big Media.

There is a psychological condition that appears to affect some journalists in Big Media. It is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which can be boiled down to this:

‘Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments’

Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger were intrigued by a crime report about a man who:

robbed two banks after covering his face with lemon juice in the mistaken belief that, because lemon juice is usable as invisible ink, it would prevent his face from being recorded on surveillance cameras.[3]   The authors noted that earlier studies suggested that ignorance of standards of performance lies behind a great deal of incorrect self-assessment of competence.

In 1999, they performed a series of experiments with the participation of Cornell University students as their subjects. The students performed a variety of tasks and were asked to assess their predicted and actual performance:

This pattern of over-estimating competence was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, practicing medicine, operating a motor vehicle, and playing games such as chess or tennis. Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:[4]

  • fail to recognize their own lack of skill
  • fail to recognize the extent of their inadequacy
  • fail to accurately gauge skill in others
  • recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill

Ultimately:

“If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent.… [T]he skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”[5]

The Dunning-Kruger effect was in play at the White House press briefing on Wednesday, August 2, 2017.

Before I go into the story, the only person in the White House I trust 100% — other than President Donald Trump — is his senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, born to Democrats in California. He saw the truth about leftism as a high school student and became a conservative. He worked for then-Senator (now Attorney General) Jeff Sessions for several years prior to Sessions joining Trump’s campaign team, at which point Miller joined his boss to develop policy for Trump’s campaign. Miller appeared at several Trump rallies in 2016 and also writes the president’s speeches. I know a Miller speech when I hear it. They are factual and rousing, a difficult combination to achieve.

On August 2, Miller explained to the media the Trump administration’s latest endeavour, the RAISE Act, which is Green Card reform. Miller helped to produce it.

The following excerpts come from the White House transcript of the press briefing. Miller stated (emphases mine):

Every year we issue a million green cards to foreign nationals from all the countries of the world, but we do so without regard to whether that applicant has demonstrated the skill that can add to the U.S. economy, whether they can pay their own way or be reliant on welfare, or whether they’ll displace or take a job from an American worker.

And as a result of this policy, in place now for many years, we’ve seen significant reductions in wages for blue collar workers, massive displacement of African American and Hispanic workers, as well as the displacement of immigrant workers from previous years who oftentimes compete directly against new arrivals who are being paid even less.

So it’s a policy that’s actually exacerbated wealth inequality in the country in a pretty significant way. So you’ve seen over time, as a result of this historic flow of unskilled immigration, a shift in wealth from the working class to wealthier corporations and businesses. And it’s been very unfair for American workers, but especially for immigrant workers, African American workers, and Hispanic workers, and blue collar workers in general across the country.

At the same time, it has cost taxpayers enormously because roughly half of immigrant head of households in the United States receive some type of welfare benefit — which I know is a fact that many people might consider astonishing, but it’s not surprising when you have an immigration system that doesn’t look at questions like skill level or self-sufficiency.

And so this proposal has several major historic changes. First, it eliminates so-called chain migration. So right now, what does chain migration mean? It means that if you come into the United States on a green card — and just so we’re all clear, a green card gives the recipient lifetime work authorization, the ability to bring in their family members. It gives them a fast track to U.S. citizenship and, with that, all the benefits that come with being an American citizen.

And so the individuals right now who are receiving green cards, they can bring in, say, an elderly relative who could immediately go on to public assistance if they become unable to support themselves financially. And then that person can bring in a relative who can bring in a relative who can bring in a relative, and that’s why they call it chain migration. And over years, that has massively de-skilled the migrant flow into America and produced all of those effects I’m talking about.

So we’re proposing to limit family-based migration to spouses and minor children. Additionally, we’re establishing a new entry system that’s points-based. Australia has a points-based system, Canada has a points-based system. And what will this system look at? It will look at: Does the applicant speak English? Can they support themselves and their families financially? Do they have a skill that will add to the U.S. economy? Are they being paid a high wage?

And so that’s a major historic change to U.S. immigration policy. The effect of this, switching to a skills-based system and ending unfettered chain migration, would be, over time, you would cut net migration in half, which polling shows is supported overwhelmingly by the American people in very large numbers.

Two reporters demonstrated the Dunning-Krueger effect: Glenn Thrush of the New York Times and Jim Acosta of CNN.

Glenn Thrush

Most people, Americans included, have no idea who Glenn Thrush is.

In 2015, Thrush was working for Politico, at which time he was fawning all over Hillary Clinton’s campaign supremo John Podesta. Thanks to the Podesta WikiLeaks, we have proof in email 12681, which shows that Thrush willingly showed his copy in advance to Podesta:

On Apr 30, 2015 3:00 PM, “Glenn Thrush” <gthrush@politico.com> wrote:

No worries

Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains

to u

Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this

Tell me if I f[–]ked up anything

Thrush asked Miller two questions. The first doubted that immigration affected jobs for workers already in the United States and the second doubted that immigration was more important than infrastructure, another area that Trump wants to reform.

Miller refuted that immigration was more important and then went on to name the immigration studies the administration has looked at, from the Cuban Mariel boatlift in the 1970s to the present day. He then said:

But let’s also use common sense here, folks. At the end of the day, why do special interests want to bring in more low-skilled workers? And why historically —

The following exchange ensued. Miller put Thrush in his place:

Q Stephen, I’m not asking for common sense. I’m asking for specific statistical data.

MR. MILLER: Well, I think it’s very clear, Glenn, that you’re not asking for common sense, but if I could just answer your question.

Q No, no, not common sense. Common sense is fungible. Statistics are not.

MR. MILLER: I named the studies, Glenn.

Q Let me just finish the question. Tell me the specific —

MR. MILLER: Glenn, Glenn, Glenn — I named the studies. I named the studies.

Q I asked you for a statistic. Can you tell me how many —

MR. MILLER: Glenn, maybe we’ll make a carve-out in the bill that says the New York Times can hire all the low-skilled, less-paid workers they want from other countries, and see how you feel then about low-wage substitution. This is a reality that’s happening in our country.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. MILLER: Maybe it’s time we had compassion, Glenn, for American workers. President Trump has met with American workers who have been replaced by foreign workers.

Q Oh, I understand. I’m not questioning any of that. I’m asking for —

MR. MILLER: And ask them — ask them how this has affected their lives.

Q I’m not asking them. I’m asking you for a number.

MR. MILLER: Look at — I just told you.

Q Give me the number of low-skilled jobs that Americans might otherwise have —

MR. MILLER: If you look at — first of all, if you look at the premise, Glenn, of bringing in low-skilled labor, it’s based on the idea that there’s a labor shortage for lower-skilled jobs. There isn’t. The number of people living in the United States in the working ages who aren’t working today is at a record high.

One in four Americans — or almost one in four Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 aren’t even employed. For African American workers, their labor force participation rate who don’t have a high school diploma — I guess, African American males without a high school diploma has plummeted some 40 percentage points since the mass wave of unskilled migration began.

The reality is that, if you just use common sense — and, yes, I will use common sense — the reason why some companies want to bring in more unskilled labor is because they know that it drives down wages and reduces labor costs.

Our question as a government is, to whom is our duty? Our duty is to U.S. citizens and U.S. workers to promote rising wages for them. If low-skilled immigration was an unalloyed good for the economy, then why have we been growing at 1.5 percent for the last 17 years at a time of unprecedented new low-wage arrivals? The facts speak for themselves. At some point, we’re accountable to reality.

On the other hand, like I said, you have ultra-high-skilled workers who are at the back of the line, which makes no sense in the year 2017.

I put the figures in there to show that Miller answered Thrush’s question in full — and to provide anti-Trumpers with the rationale behind the RAISE Act.

I doubt Thrush got what Miller was saying to him about low-wage substitution. (I’d be thrilled if that happened to these reporters as it has with sub-editors.) In fact, Thrush probably thinks he won that round.

Jim Acosta

Thrush is a media minnow compared to the mighty Jim Acosta of CNN.

He was upset when Sean Spicer, who has been relieved of his White House duties, no longer televised the press briefings.

Acosta often reminds everyone that he is the child of Cuban immigrants. Yes, he and millions of others are, but why continue to put so much emphasis on it? My Cuban immigrant friends from university days never did. They emphasised being American over being Cuban.

This was the exchange between Miller and Acosta. Acosta deliberately conflated the Statue of Liberty poem, the proposed wall between the US and Mexico and his father’s own emigration from Cuba:

… since the last question is not on the subject at hand, I will take one actual last question on the subject at hand.

Yes.

Q What you’re proposing, or what the President is proposing here does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration. The Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer.

Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you’re telling them you have to speak English? Can’t people learn how to speak English when they get here?

MR. MILLER: Well, first of all, right now it’s a requirement that to be naturalized you have to speak English. So the notion that speaking English wouldn’t be a part of our immigration system would be actually very ahistorical.

Secondly, I don’t want to get off into a whole thing about history here, but the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty and lighting the world. It’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to, that was added later, is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty.

But more fundamentally, the history —

Q You’re saying that that does not represent what the country —

MR. MILLER: I’m saying that the notion —

Q — has always thought of as immigration coming into this country?

MR. MILLER: I’m saying the notion —

Q Stephen, I’m sorry, but that sounds like some —

MR. MILLER: Jim, let me ask you a question.

Q That sounds like some National Park revisionism. (Laughter.)

MR. MILLER: No. What I’m asking you is —

Q The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country —

MR. MILLER: Jim — Jim, do you believe —

Q — and they’re not always going to speak English, Stephen. They’re not always going to be highly skilled. They’re not always going to be somebody who can go to work at Silicon Valley right away.

MR. MILLER: Jim, I appreciate your speech. So let’s talk about this.

Q It was a modest and incremental speech.

MR. MILLER: Jim, let’s talk about this. In 1970, when we let in 300,000 people a year, was that violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land? In the 1990s, when it was half-a-million a year, was it violating or not violating the Statue of Liberty law of the land?

Q Was it violating the Statue of Liberty and the —

MR. MILLER: No, tell me what years — tell me what years —

Q (Inaudible) call for a deportation force?

MR. MILLER: Tell me what years meet Jim Acosta’s definition of the Statue of Liberty poem law of the land. So you’re saying a million a year is the Statue of Liberty number? 900,000 violates it? 800,000 violates it?

Q You’re sort of bringing a “press one for English” philosophy here to immigration, and that’s never been what the United States has been about, Stephen. I mean, that’s just the case —

Mr. MILLER: But your statement is also shockingly ahistorical in another respect, too — which is, if you look at the history of immigration, it’s actually ebbed and flowed. You’ve had periods of very large waves, followed by periods of less immigration and more immigration. And during the —

Q We’re in a low period of immigration right now. The President wants to build a wall and you want to bring about a sweeping change to the immigration system.

MR. MILLER: Surely, Jim, you don’t actually think that a wall affects Green Card policy. You couldn’t possibly believe that, or do you? Actually, the notion that you actually think immigration is at a historic lull — the foreign-born population in the United States today —

Q The President was just with the new Chief of Staff on Monday talking about how border crossings were way down.

MR. MILLER: I want to be serious, Jim. Do you really at CNN not know the difference between Green Card policy and illegal immigration? You really don’t know the —

Q Sir, my father was a Cuban immigrant. He came to this country in 1962 right before the Cuban Missile Crisis and obtained a Green Card.

Yes, people who immigrate to this country can eventually — people who immigrate to this country not through Ellis Island, as your family may have, but in other ways, do obtain a Green Card at some point. They do it through a lot of hard work. And, yes, they may learn English as a second language later on in life. But this whole notion of “well, they have to learn English before they get to the United States,” are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?

MR. MILLER: Jim, it’s actually — I have to honestly say I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It’s actually — it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree that in your mind

Q Sir, it’s not a cosmopolitan —

MR. MILLER: No, this is an amazing moment. This an amazing moment. That you think only people from Great Britain or Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants who do speak English from all over the world.

Q My father came to this country not speaking any English.

MR. MILLER: Jim, have you honestly never met an immigrant from another country who speaks English outside of Great Britain and Australia? Is that your personal experience?

Q Of course, there are people who come into this country from other parts of the world.

MR. MILLER: But that’s not what you said, and it shows your cosmopolitan bias. And I just want to say —

Q It just sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country through this policy.

MR. MILLER: Jim, that is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant, and foolish things you’ve ever said, and for you that’s still a really — the notion that you think that this is a racist bill is so wrong and so insulting.

Q I didn’t say it was a racist bill.

MR. MILLER: Jim, the reality is, is that the foreign-born population into our country has quadrupled since 1970. That’s a fact. It’s been mostly driven by Green Card policy. Now, this bill allows for immediate nuclear family members to come into the country, much as they would today, and it adds an additional points-based system. The people who have been hurt the most —

Q You’re saying that people have to be English speaking when they’re naturalized. What is this English-speaking component that you’ve inserted into this? I don’t understand.

MR. MILLER: The people who have been hurt the most by the policy you’re advocating are —

Q What policy am I advocating?

MR. MILLER: Apparently, just unfettered, uncontrolled migration. The people who have been hurt the most by the policy —

Q (Inaudible) is for open borders. That’s the same tired thing that —

MR. MILLER: The people who have been hurt the most by the policy you’re advocating are immigrant workers and minority workers and African American workers and Hispanic workers.

No doubt Acosta thinks he won that round. And, of course, he was on television!

Disgruntled CNN viewers can always give their views via the online feedback form.

Conclusion

I reckon this particular press briefing’s ratings — and replays online — were through the roof.

You can see the full video here (Thrush comes in around the 10:00 mark and Acosta at 26:00):

Both Thrush and Acosta have an overly inflated sense of their personal competency. They cannot — or wilfully refuse to — see when they are in the wrong: the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Tomorrow’s post will look at what the Statue of Liberty and its associated poem are really about.

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