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Last week, GB News, thanks to Nigel Farage, scored a world exclusive with an interview of Donald Trump, who has not been on television outside the United States since he left office in January 2020.

GB News is available to view worldwide. I suggest their YouTube channel, which has not only live streaming but also full episodes of most of their shows.

Here’s the full show from Wednesday, December 1. The 30-minute interview with President Trump at Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach is shown in two parts:

Others interviewed include Trump’s former speechwriter Stephen Miller, ex-press secretary Sean Spicer and CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp as well as two Democrats advising Joe Biden.

Unfortunately, the 30-minute interview of Trump is no longer available.

The first half of the interview is about the 2020 election. Highlights follow.

Trump talked about his January 6 rally and the violent incident at the Capitol building:

Asked by GB News presenter Nigel Farage whether it was ‘a mistake to have that rally on that day’, Mr Trump said: ‘The insurrection took place on November 3rd, that was Election day, and before and after, that was to me the insurrection and the January 6th was a protest.’

The 45th President went on: ‘I have spoken to very big crowds. I have never spoken in front of a crowd that size, nobody ever talks about that.

‘And then unfortunately some bad things happened, but also the other side had some very bad things happen.

‘And add this, I offered 10,000 and suggested 10,000 national guardsmen… or even the military, because I knew the crowd was going to be massive, because I knew the anger that took place over the election being rigged and I understood that, I understood it better than anybody.’

‘And Pelosi and these people turned it down. We would have had tremendous security but they turned it down.’

Trump lamented the current status of the United States:

I think it’s at the lowest point it’s ever been at.

I don’t think it’s ever been in a position like this.

We’re not respected anymore.

Trump did not say for certain that he would be running again in 2024. Pundits say he is awaiting the outcome of the 2022 mid-term elections, but he gave Farage a few hints:

Speaking to GB News presenter Nigel Farage, Mr Trump was asked why he would consider ‘going back into hell again’ and re-enter mainstream politics.

The 45th President responded: ‘If you love the country you have no choice – it’s not a question.

‘I love our country. I brought the country to a level it’s never seen before.

‘Then we had Covid come in and then I brought it back, came up with vaccines that you’re using, we’re all using, the world is using, saved tens of millions of people throughout the world in less than nine months.

‘It was supposed to take 12 years… they were expecting it to take 12 years and everyone said it wasn’t going to work and they worked incredibly well.

‘We’ve done an amazing job.

‘This is a wonderful, beautiful life, but I like that [politics] too because I’m helping people.

‘That’s why I did it.’

Mr Trump further indicated his intention to try and regain office in 2024, saying: ‘I think you’ll be happy in the future too, because that’ll be your next question.’

Nigel Farage responded: ‘Well I know you can’t answer that question because it would start the campaign clock ticking.’

To which Mr Trump replied: ‘That’s right.’

The second half of the interview was about British politics and the Royal Family.

Farage asked Trump about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s green policies. Trump is not a fan of windfarms and thinks that Boris has moved to the left:

Nigel Farage informed Mr Trump about the Prime Minister’s comments that he wants the UK to become the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’, to which Mr Trump replied: ‘I think it’s a shame.’

‘I’m surprised that he would allow that to happen because you’ve got one of the most beautiful countries in the world and you’re destroying it with all these wind turbines all over the place.

‘In Aberdeen they built this ugly wind farm in the ocean. It’s so disgusting to look at it – it’s a shame.

The former President continued: ‘I think it’s a shame what’s happened in Scotland, in [the] UK, all over the place. You take a look.

‘I think Ireland’s been better about it, if you want to know the truth.

Despite Mr Trump’s assault on the Prime Minister’s support for wind energy, the former President still spoke warmly of his relationship with Boris Johnson: ‘I like him, I like him. I get along with him, I’ve always gotten along with him.

However, he told GB News he felt Mr Johnson was erring away from conservative values, noting: ‘He’s gone a little on the more liberal side.’

Trump also thinks that pursuing a Net Zero policy is mistaken:

The former President then attacked the Westminster Government’s pursuit of net zero.

‘In your country [the UK], which I do know something about… I see what they’re [the Westminster Government] doing and I think they’re making a tremendous mistake.’

Then Farage asked him about the Royal Family, beginning with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, better known as Harry and Meghan:

Donald Trump has accused the Duchess of Sussex of being “disrespectful” to the Queen and the royal family.

… the former US president also said he thinks the Duke of Sussex has been “used horribly”.

Speaking about Meghan, Mr Trump said: “I’m not a fan of hers. I wasn’t from day one. I think Harry has been used horribly and I think someday he will regret it.”

He added: “I think Harry’s been used and been used terribly.

“I think it’s ruined his relationship with his family, and it hurts the Queen.”

In response to comments from GB News presenter Nigel Farage about Meghan using Duchess of Sussex headed writing paper to lobby members of Congress, Mr Trump said: “She is trying do things that I think are very inappropriate.”

He had high praise for the Queen and said he really enjoyed meeting her in 2019 while he was president:

Former President Donald Trump says he has been watching the Queen ‘very closely’ after a ‘tough year’, but hopes she is ‘not too ill.’

In a world exclusive interview for GB News, the 45th President told Nigel Farage that the Queen is ‘a fantastic woman’ who is ‘respected by everyone.’

Mr Trump recounted his interactions with Her Majesty whilst President: ‘I was supposed to spend like a half an hour with her [but] I ended up being there for much more than an hour.

‘Everyone said “oh that’s so rude” but I said “no but she liked it and I liked it I’m not going to be rude”.’

He went on: ‘We had a great time together, we then had an evening the likes of which you rarely would see.

‘She was really laughing and smiling, we got along great, we talked the whole night.’

Mr Trump continued: ‘She is a great, wonderful woman… and respected by everyone.

‘And no scandal, no anything, think of it.

‘She’s done this for more than 70 years and she’s never had a scandal about herself.’

Mr Trump met the Queen in June 2019, during a state visit, and again in December of the same year during a Royal family reception at a NATO summit hosted at Buckingham Palace.

His love for the Queen began with his mother, who had emigrated from Scotland in the 1930s:

He said of his mother: She was really somebody who respected the Queen, she loved the Queen.

‘Anything with the Queen, when they were doing anything ceremonial… she was glued to the television.

‘She had great respect and love for the queen.’

Trump denied former press secretary Stephanie Grisham’s claim that Prince Charles bored him:

Nigel Farage asked Mr Trump about claims from his former Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, that he found the Prince of Wales ‘boring’ during a private dinner hosted by the Queen.

 

The former President responded: ‘No I wasn’t bored, I like Charles, I thought he was good.

‘No, he’s an environmentalist, he talked about the environment most of the meeting, which was fine.

‘I understood that was the purpose of the meeting and he was telling me his views.

‘I was not bored at all, no, I think Charles is a wonderful person.’

Sean Spicer gave an upbeat interview, facing off against the Democrats’ Eric Guster about a second Trump term in the White House and his Twitter account:

Dan Wootton’s show followed Farage’s interview.

Wootton asked him if Trump had said more than what was shown on television. Farage demurred, saying that he does not discuss private conversations:

Wootton is clearly in the tank for Trump’s 2024 candidacy, should it happen:

His fellow conservative panellists, however, were far less enthusiastic.

It was good of The Times to cover the interview early Wednesday morning before it aired that evening.  Most mainstream newspapers, especially The Telegraph, have taken pot shots at GB News since it launched on Sunday, June 14.

Guido Fawkes also plugged the interview:

Guido also recapped the highlights the following day:

The interview was a huge ratings success for GB News, the best since their launch night:

Guido’s accompanying post says that GB News trumped (!) the BBC during the two-hour special (emphases in purple mine):

Unsurprisingly, Farage’s interview with Trump last night was box office for GB News. Figures seen by Guido show the interview pulled in Farage’s highest ever viewer count, and the largest GB News viewership since its original opening night. For two whole hours between 7pm to 9pm, GB News beat the BBC’s average by 155,600 viewers to their 118,200, with Sky News some distance behind on 60,500. The interview reached 208,500 just after 7pm and held steady for the next hour. Nigel’s certainly earning his fee…

Nigel Farage has been great for GB News. I rarely miss his show, especially the revelatory Talking Pints segments.

Thanks go to President Trump and the other interviewees for taking the time to give Britain — and the world — an excellent two hours of television.

On Monday, December 14, while the London area worried about moving into severe coronavirus tiers on Wednesday, electors from the 50 US states voted for the next leader of the free world.

Joe Biden won the Electoral College vote 306-232 with no faithless electors, however, the vote still has to be ratified on January 6, 2021, by the new Congress.

Biden gave an acceptance speech, riffing Margaret Thatcher’s of many years ago which featured the Prayer of St Francis:

Guido Fawkes reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) acknowledged Biden’s December 14 win:

Our country has officially a President-elect & a Vice President-elect… The Electoral College has spoken… Today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.

Newsmax, the new network for disgruntled Fox News viewers, will now refer to the Democrat as President-elect Biden, even though reporters and presenters will continue to cover Team Trump’s election battles.

It will be interesting to see what happens on January 6:

That is what the Trump supporters’ Stop the Steal coalition hopes will happen. They said as much in their press conference after the electors voted and Mitch McConnell announced his congratulations to Biden and Harris:

McConnell doesn’t want any Republicans countering the Electoral College result:

However, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) is ready:

Brooks explained his position as follows:

I’m quite confident that if we only counted lawful votes cast by eligible American citizens, Donald Trump won the Electoral College, and we should not be counting illegal votes and putting in an illegitimate President of the United States.

President Trump is not wrong:

Would Mike Pence be ready to defend the Republic on January 6? He has that power, if he chooses to use it:

But, let’s go back to Monday. A lot happened.

Earlier that day …

President Trump’s adviser and speech writer Stephen Miller (with the dark tie below) spoke about an ‘alternative slate’ of electors:

Miller probably meant this:

I do not know if this would work or not, but former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik says:

The New York Times has a map that shows the result from each state.

In Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania, the electors’ votes went to Biden.

However, Right Side Broadcasting (RSBN) showed a different result for Nevada:

Gateway Pundit reported that Georgia and Pennsylvania — much larger votes — also voted for the incumbent (emphases mine):

Electors in Georgia and Pennsylvania also cast procedural ballots for Trump while the states continue to be contested.

Procedural ballots are cast in states where the result is contested.

Yet, as I mentioned above, the NYT map shows that Biden won those states.

Trouble for Michigan’s Republican electors

Meanwhile, appointed Republican — GOP — electors in Michigan were not allowed to vote. They could not even get in the building.

Gateway Pundit reported and included tweets:

A group of GOP electors on Monday arrived at the Michigan State Capitol to cast their votes for President Trump …

The police would not allow the Republicans in:

The electors are already here, they’ve been checked in,’ the police said as they blocked access to the Capitol.

The police told the Republican electors:

If you have a problem, you can contact the Governor’s office.

Gateway Pundit stated that a Trump elector asked for the Sergeant at Arms. The police replied that he was in a meeting.

With that, the police directed the electors to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office. She’s a Democrat, by the way:

The Republican electors explained that they wanted to vote because Michigan’s result is in dispute and under investigation (see below):

Meanwhile — Michigan: audit of Antrim County voting equipment

However, other big news took place in Michigan that day. A state judge, Kevin J Elsenheimer, ordered the release of the results of the December 4 audit of Dominion voting machines in Antrim County. (If you’ve ever visited Traverse City, famed for its annual Cherry Festival held in July, you’ve been in Antrim County.)

This is a big victory for Team Trump. As The Election Wizard explains:

The results had been shielded by a protective order, but this morning, Judge Elsensheimer removed that order, clearing the way for the audit results to go public.

The judge further ordered that the case move to the discovery phase and mentioned the case could go to trial by April of 2021.

The hearing was conducted by ZOOM and streamed live on YouTube this morning.

The release of the report is a major victory for President Trump and his supporters, who have called into question the Dominion machines.

However, the journey from December 4 to the 14th was an uneasy one for Constitutional Attorney Matthew DePerno of the DePerno Law Firm, who represented William Bailey, a member of the team who audited the county’s voting equipment.

Gateway Pundit reported that Bailey and his team looked at everything:

the 16 Dominion voting machines, tabulators, thumb drives, related software and the Clerk’s ‘master tabulator’ used in the November elections in Antrim County, MI.

The audit — inspection — resulted in a ‘collection’ and took eight hours:

With 16 CF cards (similar to SIM cards), 16 thumb drives, and forensic images of the Dominion voting machines in hand, the IT team was escorted to the local Antrim County Airport by two Antrim County Sheriff vehicles, where they boarded their jet plane with evidence in hand.

On the morning of December 5 — the following day — Matthew DePerno received a worrying phone call about a previous legal case about which he’d never had a complaint:

Mr. DePerno received a call from the MI State Bar warning him that they have opened an investigation into a case he tried over a year ago in Lapeer, MI.

In case anyone wonders if Lapeer is near Antrim County, it is in the opposite direction: south east central. Antrim County is in the north west.

The caller told DePerno that the State Bar of Michigan had requested 6,000 pages of documents related to the case that had never had a single complaint filed about it. DePerno told Gateway Pundit that the call might have been ‘an act of intimidation’ on the part of Michigan’s Attorney General, Dana Nessel.

On December 9, DePerno and his client William Bailey awaited the forensic results from the election equipment inspection. While they awaited the outcome, DePerno discovered that he was named in a legal motion regarding Antrim County. It was a protection order filed by AG Dana Nessel to prevent the results of the investigation being made public.

The following day, DePerno filed an emergency order with the aforementioned state judge, Kevin J Elsenheimer, to lift the protection order, which the judge granted on Monday, December 14.

What an ordeal.

Here’s a tweet with a summary of the findings:

Also, on the same topic:

One can only hope that Team Trump can use this information in their legal pursuits.

Georgia Dems gear up for January state run-off

Democrats in Georgia are gearing up for the state senate run-off in early January 2021.

On December 14, Newsmax reported that failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams was ready:

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, now the founder of the voting rights organization Fair Fight, said that Democrats are prepared to win the Senate runoff race in January, and that 1.2 million absentee ballots have already been requested.  

“We know from the numbers that we’re in a good place; 1.2 million absentee ballots have been requested thus far,” Abrams told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “Just to put that into context, 1.3 million were requested for all of the general election.”

It is so sad that the United States has sunk this low. I never would have expected it.

Ongoing violence has its part to play

Political violence has been part of America’s urban life since the summer. Granted, it hasn’t been taking place everywhere, but it’s been endemic in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington. Other sporadic outbursts of violence have occurred in other American cities, including Washington, DC, and towns, such as Kenosha, Wisconsin.

A former Democrat, who is a retired lawyer, commented on this year’s violence on a website for ex-Dems, ex-Hillary supporters. While I disagree with most of it, the first two lines reminded me of what the Bolsheviks must have thought a little over a century ago:

For violence solves nothing, so they say.

But it does change the status quo, in ways words never can

Think about that, then consider one possibility why the Supreme Court might not want anything to do with defending President Trump. This tweet comes from someone who seems to have an inside track on the election:

However, there is no need to be as senior as a Supreme Court Justice to receive threats:

Therefore, it seemed almost natural that the election would have gone to Joe Biden, because those committing the violence are like so many neighbourhood bullies. Sadly, they are much more serious.

Conclusion

For nearly a century, there has been a saying in Europe:

When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.

Good grief, please keep this corruption away from our shores. Thank goodness we have handwritten paper ballots and far fewer mail-in ballots.

Millions of us support President Trump even if we are thousands of miles away.

Last week, I posted a summary of President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union (SOTU) address.

In case you missed the event, CBS has a video and full transcript.

It created such a buzz that I have more bookmarks than would fit into one post.

What follows are America’s views of the SOTU as seen online.

Polling

Trump got high marks from viewers at home:

The CBS reporter seemed shocked that Americans side with Trump on immigration. He can barely get the words out:

Trump’s much vaunted ‘wall’ is gaining traction. This was the issue that the media said would lose him votes in 2016. In the end, he won the election, and now a clear majority of voters agree with him on this most controversial issue.

Here is a breakdown by political party:

Note that nearly one-third of Democrats approve and — just as importantly for 2020 — 82% of Independents do, too.

CNN also conducted a poll. The results must have upset them greatly:

Adding both positive percentages together gives Trump’s SOTU a 76% approval rating — the same as CBS’s. There appears to be a rounding error in CNN’s:

The Republican National Committee (RNC) calls it ‘Spirit of 76%’ (an association with 1776):

Television ratings

Trump’s speech was a huge televisual draw.

On February 6, The Hollywood Reporter provided the ratings (emphases mine below):

The State of the Union was a slightly bigger draw than it was in 2018.

Just under 46.8 million people — 46.79 million, to be precise — watched President Trump’s address to Congress across 12 networks, about 3 percent more than watched a year ago.  

The 2018 address drew 45.55 million viewers. Trump’s first address to Congress in 2017 — not technically a State of the Union, as he had only been in office a few weeks — drew the largest audience of his term to date with 47.74 million

Fox News led the field 11.27 million viewers from 9-10:30 p.m. ET, off slightly from the 11.5 million who watched the 2018 SOTU. NBC topped broadcast networks with 7.14 million viewers, followed by CBS (6.68 million) and ABC (5.91 million). The Fox broadcast network’s 4.2 million viewers beat out both MSNBC (3.79 million) and CNN (3.47 million).

The four broadcast networks and big three cable news outlets combined for 42.46 million viewers. PBS, Telemundo, Univision, Fox Business and CNNe combined to averaged 4.33 million.

Tuesday’s address drew more viewers than the comparable ones in the first terms of Barack Obama (42.79 million in 2011) and Bill Clinton (42.2 million in 1995) but fell well short of George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union, which drew 62 million as Bush made a case for invading Iraq. That address is the most-watched State of the Union in this century.

In earlier metered-market ratings, the State of the Union averaged a 16.3 household rating across ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, up about 10 percent from a 14.8 last year. The SOTU was also slightly higher in metered markets than Trump’s 2017 address, which is not technically considered a State of the Union speech as he’d only been in office a few weeks.

Two anti-Trumpers’ positive verdicts

At least two anti-Trump pundits praised him for a great speech.

Here is Bret Baier from Fox News:

And the Wall Street Journal‘s Peggy Noonan, who wrote Bush I’s ‘Thousand Points of Light’ acceptance speech for the Republican nomination in 1988:

As for those who watched at home:

Favourite SOTU themes

Many of the tweets I saw were supportive of Trump’s views on socialism, abortion and human trafficking.

Socialism

Trump firmly denounced socialism. If you think that is unfair, look at how Venezuela, once South America’s jewel in the crown, has deteriorated:

A number of people picked up on Bernie Sanders’s reaction:

Here’s a graphic — meme — to circulate:

The Dems have a plan of attack, though. In fact, they already previewed a new lie of theirs on a Sunday news show:

Abortion

Stephen Miller did a marvellous job writing the speech, but the part on abortion was especially moving:

The following day, House Republicans re-introduced the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by Ann Wagner (R-Missouri) and Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana). Unfortunately, the measure failed to pass for consideration, as the vote had to be unanimous.

Ann Wagner had this to say:

Behind the scenes

According to The Daily Caller‘s Benny Johnson, someone fainted during the speech:

Benny also liked Trump’s speech:

Democrats

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her freshmen Representatives received rightful criticism.

However, all the Democrats deserve the public’s censure for booing Trump when he introduced the critical subject of border security by mentioning the migrant ‘caravans’. The Daily Caller reported conservative commentator Michelle Malkin’s reaction:

When you have the Democrats booing because President Trump was exposing and continuing to hammer the fact that these caravans are endangering the country and posing enormous costs to people at the border, let alone in the interior, this is a message I think is going to resonate all the way through 2020, and it’s going to pose a huge optics problem for the Democrat party,” Malkin said …

“I think it underscores an important point that President Trump himself has made in the face of this debate and the intransigence of the open borders Democrats — and that it’s not just about a wall. As long as you have these magnets drawing people here and everybody’s aware of it around the world, it’s not going to stop,” she said earlier in the interview.

And that is a point that President Trump made during the address last night. … President Trump delivered very defining moments that contrast the differences between the parties.”

I hope she is right.

Joe Manchin

There was only one Democrat who stood with the president, at least on energy and abortion: Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia. He’s delighted to see the revival of coal mines in his state. On abortion, he had this to say:

Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi, a notional Catholic, invited the president of Planned Parenthood as a special guest:

Then, there was Pelosi’s jewellery.

She wore a long gold brooch, a tiny version of the Mace of the United States House of Representatives. The Mace is modelled on the Roman-era fasces, which has always represented authority:

AlterNet has a photo of Pelosi and a bit of history on how the Mace has been used in the House of Representatives. It is on regular display when the House is in session (emphases mine):

At each daily session, the Sergeant at Arms carries the mace in procession, ahead of the speaker in to the rostrum. While the House is in session, the mace stands on a pedestal at the speaker’s right handThe mace is almost four feet in length and made of silver and 13 ebony rods (representing the original states in the union).

It’s the people’s house, and the people have entrusted it to Speaker Pelosi for this term. Along with it comes the power to maintain order in the House.

The Roman authorities used fasces on criminals and people disturbing the peace. Lictors — officials similar to law enforcement officers — could beat miscreants and criminals with the whole fasces or untie the bundled rods and go after several at a time. They also had the authority to use the axe inside the fasces to put them to death, when necessary.

Later in history, fasces became a symbol representing national unity and indivisibility: many rods bundled together make a single entity.

This American Intelligence Media video purports that Pelosi wore the mace pin to signal that she is the equal to President Trump. That’s a very real possibility.

Whatever the case, there were times when it was clear she does not want Americans to succeed:

Democrat women

The only time Democrat women rose was to cheer Trump’s stats on women in the workforce and in Congress.

That’s right, gals, applaud yourselves:

As TurningPoint USA’s Candace Owens pointed out:

The Daily Wire‘s Ryan Saavedra tweeted this in response to AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from Queens):

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) seemed to deny the crime going on at the southern border:

Prescription drug prices

There is one important SOTU topic that has not received much coverage — the cost of prescription drugs:

I found this response to the tweet interesting:

Democrat rebuttal

Since President Reagan’s tenure, Democrats believe it is their duty to provide a short SOTU rebuttal to Republican administrations.

Before I return to and conclude on the SOTU, it is worth mentioning the 2019 rebuttal.

The Democrats who give these short speeches are not exactly la crème de la crème. Last year’s was a young member of the Kennedy clan who did not do well at all, either visually or rhetorically.

This year, it was the turn of Stacy Abrams, who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Georgia last year and indirectly complained about her loss:

According to the Gateway Pundit (emphases in the original):

Stacey Abrams opened the Democrat Party response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address by wishing everyone a happy Lunar New Year.

Stacey Abrams: “Good evening my fellow Americans and Happy Lunar New Year.”

And it went down hill from there.

And they wonder how they lost the working class and Middle America?

The chairwoman of the Republican Party — Mitt Romney’s niece — tweeted:

I’m not sure what universe Abrams is living in, but what she said is patently untrue:

The Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel put it this way:

SOTU fact checking

Some readers might wonder how wrong Stacy Abrams was.

The Daily Signal posted a well sourced article supporting Trump’s speech content: ’13 Fact Checks on the State of the Union Address’, which three of their journalists compiled.

The Q Tree has more facts backing up Trump’s speech: ‘The State Of Our Union’.

Unity

The SOTU theme of ‘Choosing Greatness’ points to Trump’s call for national — and political — unity.

Recall that the motto for the United States is E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One.

Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager tweeted:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee — father of Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — made a political observation:

And, socially, the Trumps’ ingenious choice of special guests showed national unity, with young and old from so many different backgrounds and personal experience. I won’t show this year’s White House tweet in full, because the photo included was from 2018, however, the text reads as follows:

President and guests all come from different walks of life. No matter their story, each has something important in common: They represent the very best of America.

They are an impressive group of people.

Matthew Charles exemplifies the good results that come when politicians put party differences aside and work together, as Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s victorious 2016 campaign manager explains:

Matthew Charles deserved his release, as BreakPoint.org explains in ‘Restoring All Things — One Person At A Time’, a moving account of Charles’s personal transformation.

Conclusion

I am very much looking forward to seeing what the next year brings for the Trump Administration — and for the United States, as well as the world.

With Donald Trump, we are witnessing history in the making. This era will be written about for generations to come. Enjoy it and embrace it while it lasts.

On Tuesday, February 5, 2019, President Donald Trump gave his second State of the Union (SOTU) address.

His theme was ‘choose greatness’.

His able speechwriter and adviser, Stephen Miller, wrote an inspiring, fact-filled address.

Special guests

The president had an incredibly varied group of special guests, all of whom were mentioned in his speech and who sat with First Lady Melania Trump:

– a retired astronaut (Buzz Aldrin),

– three Second World War veterans (Herman Zeitchik, Joseph Reilly and Irving Locker),

– two law enforcement officers (DHS investigator Elvin Hernandez and Pittsburgh SWAT team member Timothy Matson),

– a survivor of the Holocaust as well as the Pittsburgh synagogue attack last year (Judah Samet, whose birthday it was),

– a concentration camp survivor (Joshua Kaufman),

– the father of a Navy Seaman who was killed on the USS Cole (Tom Wibberley),

– an Angel Family whose elders were murdered in their home by an illegal immigrant (Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, and Madison Armstrong),

– two reformed ex-convicts (Alice Johnson and Matthew Charles),

– a lumber mill manager (Roy James),

– a young mother who overcame drug addiction (Ashley Evans),

– two children (cancer survivor Grace Eline and a boy bullied for his name [no relation] Joshua Trump [please pray for this lad]).

On February 4, Big League Politics said that the guest list was Trump’s way of sending a clear message to Democrats about his priorities.

Everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Judah Samet, the Holocaust survivor. What a treat that must have been for him:

Meanwhile, some of the Democrats invited illegal immigrants.

Here is the video. The speech is very long: 1 hour and 22 minutes:

That said, I highly recommend watching the video, because in urging Congress and the American people to ‘choose greatness’, President Trump showed himself to be a unifier. As one viewer at home put it:

Before I go into the speech, it is worth pointing out that not everyone attends, in the event the worst case scenario occurs. This year’s designated survivor was Energy secretary Rick Perry:

Truth v speculation

So many people expected fireworks. Some expected Trump to declare a state of emergency. Others wanted revelations on FISA:

Think about it. The greatest US president in living memory wants to be re-elected in 2020. He’s going to play the long game.

There was also speculation as to whether Trump prepared two different speeches.

Some people think that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) got the wrong speech. She did spend a lot of time perusing whatever she received during Trump’s SOTU delivery.

Recall that Pelosi did not want Trump to deliver his SOTU at all, under spurious grounds of security, when the Secret Service and Homeland Security were already well prepared, as this event is an annual one.

Interestingly, the House of Representatives, which Pelosi heads, has been historically known as ‘the People’s House’, and is not defined by political party. The leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy (R-California), wanted the SOTU to go ahead on January 29.

Technically, Trump could have forced both the House of Representatives and the Senate to convene for the SOTU:

https://media.8ch.net/file_store/ec761245326e36b6ddee5d279cfe656c5e239ea73b1a05cb3d169f1b3ff53063.jpg

Some think that Pelosi might be ill or duly influenced by an outsider.

Nonetheless, Trump remained undeterred, despite Pelosi’s attempts to control the date of the SOTU, which should have taken place on January 29.

On January 28, Pelosi wrote Trump to say that the rescheduled date was Tuesday, February 5. The US president duly accepted in writing that same day.

In the end, she won. But, was it a Pyrrhic victory?

Let us not forget that another shutdown could start on February 15.

Meanwhile, in the Republican-controlled Senate, on the morning of the SOTU, to be delivered that evening, Trump tweeted about Chuck Schumer (D-New York):

Departure for the Capitol

First Lady Melania Trump left the White House separately, as she did in 2018. Up to that time, the first ladies accompanied their husbands:

Meanwhile, the president’s limousine was waiting:

The Trump children, except for Barron, were in attendance.

Note the CIA director’s fabric pattern:

Along with a few other Supreme Court members, Justice Kavanaugh arrived:

As people took their places, Dem presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris (California) took it upon herself to give a ‘pre-buttal’ SOTU message on Facebook, which Dem voters did not like one bit.

Democrat identity politics

There was no rerun of last year’s kente cloth and black clothing.

This year, many of the female Democrats wore all white, in tribute to the Suffragettes.

The address

As is customary at SOTUs, the Vice President sits behind the President to his right and the Speaker of the House to his left. Mike Pence had a simple glass of water in front of him whilst Nancy Pelosi had an ornate water display:

Normally, the Speaker introduces the President, but Trump took no chances and immediately began his speech, excerpted below, emphases mine.

Trump received many standing ovations. Townhall has an article with tweets stating when the Dems did not stand, some of which are below. They definitely do not want American greatness, that’s for sure.

He was careful to introduce political and national unity at the beginning:

The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people …

There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it. Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country.

He mentioned the 75th anniversary of D Day and mentioned his aforementioned special guests who were there on the Normandy beaches:

Here with us tonight are three of those heroes: Private First Class Joseph Reilly, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker, and Sergeant Herman Zeitchik. Gentlemen, we salute you.

He also mentioned the 50th anniversary of the moon landing:

Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin. This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets.

The retired astronaut immediately rose to his feet to salute his Commander In Chief:

It’s obvious that Trump really wants national unity:

Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.

We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.

Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) — AOC — remained seated:

He went on to discuss his administration’s economic success — an incredible feat, considering where the US was in January 2017:

In just over 2 years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom — a boom that has rarely been seen before. We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.

Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue collar workers, who I promised to fight for, faster than anyone else. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. The United States economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world. Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. More people are working now than at any time in our history –- 157 million.

But someone broke rank. Uh oh:

Trump went on to describe tax cuts, removal of the Obamacare mandate as well as regulatory cuts.

Then he discussed energy production:

We have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) was practically the only Dem who applauded:

He spoke about criminal justice reform — the First Step Act — and discussed Alice Johnson:

Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing — and the need to remedy this injustice. She served almost 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the rest of her life.

In June, I commuted Alice’s sentence — and she is here with us tonight. Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny …

Inspired by stories like Alice’s, my Administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the First Step Act into law.

Matthew Charles followed:

We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee. In 1996, at age 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored fellow inmates. Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act. Matthew, on behalf of all Americans: welcome home.

Immigration and border security came next:

Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.

The Dems booed.

Trump continued:

No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.

Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.

Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel. One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.

Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.

Here’s the aforementioned Kamala Harris:

Trump then mentioned the Bissell family:

Here tonight is Debra Bissell. Just three weeks ago, Debra’s parents, Gerald and Sharon, were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien. They were in their eighties and are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren. Also here tonight are Gerald and Sharon’s granddaughter, Heather, and great‑granddaughter, Madison.

Afterwards, he introduced ICE Special Agent Elvin Hernandez:

When Elvin was a boy, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. At the age of eight, Elvin told his dad he wanted to become a Special Agent. Today, he leads investigations into the scourge of international sex trafficking. Elvin says: “If I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I’ve done my job.” Thanks to his work and that of his colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from horror and more than 1,500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars in the last year.

The Dems stood to applaud, although AOC remained seated:

The Dem women did get on their feet for three standing ovations when Trump mentioned females in the workforce and Congress:

No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before — and exactly one century after the Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.

He discussed trade then healthcare, introducing young Grace Eline:

Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer. Immediately, she began radiation treatment. At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer. When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered with tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read: “Last Day of Chemo.” Grace — you are an inspiration to us all.

He briefly discussed his support of school choice, then moved on to the dignity of human life, particularly that of the unborn:

There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our Nation saw in recent days. Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.

To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.

Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.

Two days later, on February 7, Congress once again — twice now — defeated that legislation.

Trump discussed the great progress being made internationally.

In talking about Venezuela, he attacked socialism:

We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.

Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence –- not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

Vermont senator, Bernie Sanders (who has returned to being an Independent), was the most furious. Many years ago, during the Cold War, he and his wife spent their honeymoon in Russia:

He mentioned Tom Wibberley:

Eighteen years ago, terrorists attacked the USS Cole — and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack.

We are honored to be joined tonight by Tom Wibberley, whose son, Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, was one of the 17 sailors we tragically lost. Tom: we vow to always remember the heroes of the USS Cole.

He discussed anti-Semitism and introduced Timothy Matson, Judah Samet, Joshua Kaufman and Herman Zeitchik:

Just months ago, 11 Jewish-Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. SWAT Officer Timothy Matson raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer. Timothy has just had his 12th surgery — but he made the trip to be here with us tonight. Officer Matson: we are forever grateful for your courage in the face of evil.

Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet. He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began. But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall — more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps. Today is Judah’s 81st birthday. Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Judah’s family braced for the worst. Then, his father cried out with joy: “It’s the Americans.”

A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. “To me,” Joshua recalls, “the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky.”

I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War. One of them was Herman Zeitchik. But there is more to Herman’s story. A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau. He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth. Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight — seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom. Herman and Joshua: your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire Nation.

Democrat reality

The Democrats, by and large, looked sombre. It could be because of this — from over a year ago:

The Trumps say thank you

The US president tweeted a full video of his speech, then followed up with this:

I have much more to follow on this, but will continue next week.

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.

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.

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