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President Donald Trump’s supporters have learned a lot about the political process and the media within the past year.

Last year at this time, they learned the difference between primaries and caucuses and how each works.

Those who were in the dark about the Electoral College found out more about it after the election last November.

So much news — real and fake — about Trump is posted every day on websites great and small that it is difficult to keep up.

As Trump supporters are dropping Big Media sites as their main source of news, they have been increasingly turning to — of all things — White House press briefings.

Who has ever watched White House press briefings? No one. They were something for media insiders, not the average American. They were dull and sycophantic.

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, and the media have changed all that. Since the inauguration, these briefings and ‘gaggles’ (the latter by invitation only) have become must-see or must-read events.

Who knew White House press briefings could be so popular?

On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 — still within Trump’s first 100 days as president — the Washington Examiner reported that Sean Spicer is one of the best known people in his administration. And it’s all thanks to his press briefings.

Excerpts from WashEx‘s article, ‘Huge: Spicer briefings draw 4.2 million viewers‘ follow, emphases mine:

There’s a reason why TMZ’s Harvey Levin recently called White House spokesman Sean Spicer one of the “most visible” people in all of Washington.

Because next to President Trump and his globe-trotting vice president, Mike Pence, Spicer’s afternoon briefings continue to be Must See Cable TV for millions of political junkies and the midday click for hundreds of thousands on Yahoo.

The ratings are stellar:

A Nielsen survey for Secrets of two weeks of ratings from CNN, MSNBC and Fox News put Spicer’s average daily viewership at 3.64 million, higher on newsy days to 4.5 million viewers.

And Yahoo told us that Spicer’s online audience sometimes averages 600,000 a day, and at least 3 million a week.

We’d definitely consider these good, and certainly fair to say the briefings have found an audience on Yahoo,” said a spokeswoman.

In addition to Spicer, Trump’s counsellor (in an advisory sense) Kellyanne Conway is also well known to the public. TMZ’s Levin says:

To me, outside of Trump and maybe, maybe Pence, the two most visible people in D.C I think it’s her and Sean Spicer. I’m saying more than anybody in Congress right now.

Unlike in previous administrations, Big Media reporters who pole up to the White House are universally opposed to Trump. Spicer, an active US Navy reservist, has a struggle on his hands every day. He rarely falters in attempting to set the record straight, day after day.

The place is standing room only every time, which also adds to the interest.

Combined, these elements make Spicer’s press briefings compelling viewing:

Conflict makes for great television,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center. “It’s no secret that the liberal media despise President Trump. His spokesman Sean Spicer is pushing back — hard. The media have never been slapped around like this. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on, it is most entertaining,” he added.

A new feature of the briefings is that Spicer occasionally takes Skype questions from local television network news affiliates and alternative media commentators from a screen near his podium. Big Media baulked when he began opening up the floor, but the reporters and pundits on Skype ask much more informed questions than the big boys and girls do.

The press briefings are an important means of communication to all Americans, but especially to Trump supporters:

Fellow Republican spox Ron Bonjean, who handled White House communications for the effort to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, said having a big TV and internet audience helps Trump keep his message directly in front of Americans.

“The reason why the press secretary holds televised briefings is to communicate directly with the American people. This means that when millions of voters are watching Sean Spicer’s press briefing, it can only help him directly deliver what President Trump’s priorities are on a daily basis,” said Bonjean.

“Basically it keeps a constant connection for Donald Trump to use the live news coverage to people that have supported him across the country,” added Bonjean, the chief communicator for a former House speaker, former Senate majority leader and former Commerce Department secretary.

Videos of each press briefing can be found on the White House Featured Videos page.

After viewing a few of these, some prefer reading the transcripts, which will save time — and frustration with reporters who come in with the same doggone questions every day. Transcripts are on the White House What’s Happening page.

Videos can also be found on YouTube via The White House channel under Press Conferences.

Here is the corresponding transcript.

As my post on the Easter Egg Roll mentioned, Spicer is no stranger to the White House. He worked as a staffer in the George W Bush administration, when he also played the role of an Easter bunny for the Egg Roll.

On December 22, 2016, Fox News reported:

President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that Spicer will get the coveted job of White House press secretary, as he announced the senior members of his communications team.

This also includes: Hope Hicks as director of strategic communications; Jason Miller as director of communications; and Dan Scavino as director of social media.

“Sean, Hope, Jason and Dan have been key members of my team during the campaign and transition. I am excited they will be leading the team that will communicate my agenda that will Make America Great Again,” Trump said in a statement.

Spicer was thought to have the inside track for the job, in part because of his ties to incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who currently runs the Republican National Committee.

Spicer worked alongside Priebus throughout the 2016 campaign as chief strategist and communications director at the RNC

A commissioned officer in the Navy Reserves, Spicer previously served as Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) for Media and Public Affairs under the George W. Bush administration, and worked for the House Republican Conference before that

Here is a photo of him on duty in uniform taken last week with a reporter from Today, NBC’s breakfast show (photo courtesy of The_Donald):

 

On April 14, 2017, Fox News reported that Spicer has longstanding ties to both the Navy and media work:

Spicer reported to fulfill his duty at the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices, a White House official told Fox News. The well-known spokesman holds the rank of commander — which sits just under the higher rank of captain in the Navy.

Spicer, who joined the Navy Reserve nearly 20 years ago while maintaining his primary work as a Republican media operative and strategist, also possesses a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

As a media operative and strategist, Spicer was part of joint naval exercises overseas in Guam, Germany and Sweden. He also oversaw media coverage of the US Navy’s operations at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

Spicer’s wife, Rebecca Miller, also has a career in media and communications. When the two were married in 2004 at St Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, she was a television producer. Miller is now senior vice president, communications and public affairs, for the National Beer Wholesalers Association. The Spicers have two children.

On Monday, March 6, 2017, Fox News host Tucker Carlson was one of the speakers who addressed the International Association of Fire Fighters at their annual legislative conference in Washington, DC.

Fox 10 Phoenix has the entire 34 minute video — recommended viewing:

For decades, average Americans have wondered why there is such a gulf between Washington and most of the United States.

Carlson explains the DC disconnect.

Starting with Trump’s surprise win in 2016, Carlson said that the middle class was simply fed up with the DC elite ignoring their cries for help regarding immigration and trade.

He said that the DC elite are oblivious to average Americans. Washington DC has full employment and more people working as housekeepers than ever before. Conversation revolves around the theoretical, e.g. economic theory, rather than reality.

He explained that two things that people in DC love are immigration and free trade. Immigration is great because DC residents can get servants very cheaply. In some cases, he said, they are paid a child’s allowance as a salary. DC residents then feel they are being virtuous towards the less fortunate.

However, what works for DC doesn’t work for the rest of the nation. The middle class tried time and time again to point that out to the elite, who dismissed them as being racist and stupid.

The same scenario occurred with trade. The middle class are losing their jobs. The elite in DC do not care.

This broad swathe of dissatisfied Americans took to the ballot box in November 2016. They mounted a peaceful revolution by electing Donald Trump to the White House.

Carlson talked about the rabid hate of Trump in Washington, where 90%+ of voters plumped for Hillary Clinton. Carlson said that, out of three million government employees, only 50 actually like Trump. Whether that is numerically accurate is beside the point. Trump faces an uphill climb.

Furthermore, as much as Democrats loathe Trump, it’s even more entrenched on the Republican side.

He said that Trump can come up with the most sensible policies — buying cheaper drugs from Canada — and politicians simply shut him out. They cannot hear what he is saying. I call that Trump Derangement Syndrome. The term was used about Bush and Obama’s opponents in their time.

Carlson said that nothing in this world is 100% good. Immigration and market-driven trade are two of these things. They work well for the top one per cent but are disastrous for everyone else. He pointed to other examples of where people have noticed and vote accordingly: the UK, with Brexit, and France, with Marine LePen (doing well in the polls).

Carlson spoke about the disaster coming from mass unemployment, particularly among men. Unemployment, he said, drives men crazy. Men need to work in order to feel that they have value and purpose in life.

He said that the current immigration model — and this is true for other Western countries — is predicated on a large manufacturing base. Unfortunately, that manufacturing base no longer exists. Therefore, immigration policy must change accordingly to fit reality.

This also holds true with regard to war and trade. Trump opposes needless American intervention in other nation’s affairs. Trump supports trade deals that will help, not hinder, America.

Carlson also warned about driverless vehicles. Once again, all of Washington waxes lyrical about how ‘cool’ these are. Yet, they will put 8 million people out of jobs overnight if they become reality on the nation’s roads. Carlson pointed out that the most popular occupation among recent high school graduates is driving a truck.

If truck drivers — and taxi drivers — become obsolete, what are they going to do for work? Carlson correctly surmised that they won’t be retraining to become computer programmers. He said that the Trump administration should ban them outright. I agree, in part. They should be banned for commercial use, at least.

He also talked about the Tea Party, which failed, in his estimation, because it lacked a leader. The Tea Party, he explained, was a way for conservative Republicans to express their dissatisfaction with the Republican Party, which clearly does not share their interests.

Then along came Donald Trump. Carlson found it interesting that Trump has never really issued a concise statement about what his movement or ideology stands for. Yet, he struck a chord with millions of Americans who felt he spoke for them.

I’ll conclude with something that Carlson opened with. He said that Republicans and Democrats must really take in and understand what upsets Americans and why they voted for Trump. He said that serious soul searching must take place in the two main political parties. Unfortunately, he noted, that has not yet begun.

As for what Trump’s ideology is with regard for America, I predict we will all be able to articulate it by 2020.

I nearly forgot to mention Carlson’s opinion of the media: ‘dumb’, except for his colleagues at Fox. He told the fire fighters that he has worked for every cable news network and knows whereof he speaks. He said that no one with an ounce of intelligence goes into media. (That should tell us something about students in Media Studies.)

Carlson’s speech was great. He spoke for 13 minutes then took three questions from the audience, for the next 20. He’s much livelier giving a speech than he is in interviews on Tucker Carlson Tonight. And rightly so. This address shows a different side to his personality.

Friday, January 20, marked the beginning of the Don of a new era for the United States.

As many have said, it is always darkest before the Don.

What follows are highlights of not only Inauguration Day but the whole weekend.

Far from being austere, as many of us expected, it was wall-to-wall activity from dawn to dusk!

Before the post unfolds, let’s remember that:

It is possible because Big Media are — and have been — plain contrary. That’s an archaic use of contrary, but, in that sense, it means stubborn and resistant to reason.

All credit to Bill Mitchell, he boarded the Trump Train just before or after the Republican National Convention. Even though he objected to Pepe the Frog, the unofficial Trump mascot, he duly apologised on Twitter. Pepe gained traction with Hillary Clinton, who even lambasted the cartoon frog in a campaign speech.

Bill Mitchell hosts and presents YourVoice™ Radio, likely to become more popular over the next four years.

Even more interesting is this quote from Pastor Robert Jeffress, a big Trump supporter:

Thursday, January 19

January 19 was a busy day for the Trump family.

Flight from La Guardia to Joint Base Andrews

Donald Trump’s flight with his family, including his two sisters and brother, would be the last one he would take before becoming president.

Fox 10 Phoenix has a great video of the plane landing at Andrews. The interesting bit starts at 10:55 when someone on board tells ten-year-old Barron to leave the plane first. Not surprisingly, Barron, unusually wearing his hair over his forehead, is reluctant. The future first couple disembark at the 13:00 point. The extensive motorcade departs at 17:07, complete with a first-responder truck and an ambulance. The black Chevy Suburban vans are reinforced just like armoured cars:

Inauguration Luncheon

Once in DC, the Trumps went to the Trump International Hotel (The Old Post Office), where the incoming president held an Inauguration Luncheon to honour Republican Party leaders:

Welcome Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial

That afternoon, the Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration took place in front of the massive — and grand — Lincoln Memorial, which is considerably larger than one imagines. Seeing it in person is awe-inspiring.

A variety of musical acts, including splendid military bands, performed. Trump gave a speech before a display from Grucci Fireworks ended the event in the early evening. Unfortunately, the last two displays let the whole thing down. ‘USA’ appeared as ‘USR’ and the American flag was, sadly, a blur. It is a pity, because their fireworks show before that was excellent.

This short video from Dan Scavino, Director of Social Media, gives a great summary of the event, including the fireworks. From left to right are Tiffany Trump (mother is Marla Maples Trump), Ivanka (Ivana Trump), the first couple, granddaughter Kai (Donald Jr’s daughter), Donald Jr (Ivana) with his wife Vanessa and son, then to the far right, Eric (Ivana) and his wife:

The first couple contemplated the larger than life statue of Abraham Lincoln:

The event ended with the new first couple thanking their supporters. Never mind the sentiment from a Twitter user. I wanted to show you just how ‘yuuge’ Lincoln’s statue is:

The Daily Mail has a comprehensive article, complete with photos and a video, about the concert and Trump’s address at the end, just before the fireworks.

Interestingly, Trump had a special meeting afterwards with a 23-year-old single father, Shane Bouvet, from Illinois who had given an interview to the Washington Post just days before. Trump saw the article and made sure he could meet the man, who is struggling to make ends meet. The billionaire had a private conversation with Bouvet and gave him a cheque for $10,000.

Campaign donors dinner

However, the evening had only just begun. A dinner to thank campaign donors took place afterwards at DC’s majestic Union Station. Both the Trumps and the Pences attended and addressed their guests.

Mike Pence opened his remarks by saying the administration would repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump (2:59) said that choosing Mike Pence was one of the best decisions he’s ever made. He then went on to talk about the amazing election results where Republicans won in states they had lost forever. He mentioned Iowa. They had not won there since 1952. He then spoke about his cabinet nominees. The high point, however, was when he thanked Kellyanne Conway (18:28), the first successful female presidential campaign manager in American history. (I don’t understand what these feminists were protesting at the weekend in DC. Surely, Kellyanne’s success and the many women employees at the Trump Organization prove them wrong.)

Then it was time to turn in for some rest. The Pences returned to their house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which they rented and moved to soon after the election.

The first couple and family members spent the night at Blair House, a complex of four buildings for guests of the president.

The photo below shows Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner at Blair House. Kushner will play a principal role as a presidential adviser. Both are practising Jews. Ivanka converted before her wedding. Kushner recently gave up holdings in his family real estate firm to be able to take on his new role:

Inauguration Day

Early in the morning, preparations for the inauguration ceremony began.

Meanwhile, Bikers For Trump were arriving in Washington, DC to form ‘a wall of meat’ in case the new president needed protection. Days earlier, Clinton family friend Dominic Puopolo, 51, was arrested by Miami Beach police for saying that he would be at the inauguration to ‘kill President Trump’.

This photo shows Donald Trump ready to leave Blair House in Washington, DC early in the morning of January 20. Trump’s granddaughter Kai (Donald Jr’s daughter) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former head of the Republican Party, are to the right of Trump:

Church service

From there, it was on to a morning service on Friday at St John’s Church (Episcopal) — known as the Church of the Presidents — in Lafayette Square, near the White House. The rector, the Reverend Dr. Luis León, greeted the first couple in front of the church.

They were joined by family and prominent well wishers. The first couple are on the far left centre of the photo. The Pences are in the lower left-hand corner:

The aforementioned Pastor Jeffress delivered the sermon:

Meeting at the White House

The first couple left St John’s for the White House, where they had coffee with the Obamas:

Melania Trump gave a large gift from Tiffany & Co to Michelle Obama. Presenting a gift is a tradition from an incoming first lady to a departing one.

Afterwards, it was on to the Capitol building for the swearing-in ceremony:

Inauguration ceremony

Trump quipped at the donor’s dinner the night before that he didn’t care if it rained on Inauguration Day, because at least people would see that his hair was real!

The incoming president awaited his cue inside the Capitol building:

All living former presidents are invited to attend the inauguration and are seated near the front. Former presidents Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn, William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary and George W Bush (Bush II) and Laura were in attendance.

George H W Bush (Bush I) and Barbara sent in their acceptance but were hospitalised days earlier. On Tuesday, January 10, he sent Trump a cordial, witty letter of regret.

Although Bush II tweeted the following earlier, at the swearing-in ceremony, he joked ad nauseam with the Clintons, seated next to him and Laura, signifying to the television viewer that he was closer to them than to Trump, his fellow Republican. But we all knew that the Bushes were NeverTrumpers because they said so.

Despite Trump’s sincerity, here’s the hypocrisy of it all. Dan Scavino Jr, rightly, took it sincerely. Then, the live coverage rolled and something else entirely was on display. Trump, no doubt, expected something different based on this (Bush I was the 41st president, by the way):

These were the prayers offered before the inauguration by clergy who were principal Trump supporters:

The Revd Franklin Graham did not hesitate to say there is only one God:

Please note:

Here is the swearing-in by Chief Justice John Roberts. The first couple’s son, Barron, 10, is to the right of the first lady. She held two closed Bibles, the Lincoln Bible (bottom) and Trump’s own, a gift from his mother (top):

Entertainment Weekly reports that Trump’s inauguration received the second highest television ratings for that event. Top-rated was Obama’s first swearing-in, which 37.8m Americans watched in 2009. Trump’s audience was 30.6m. However, Heavy points out that, in 1981, 41.8m people watched Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration. That places Obama in second place and Trump in third. Definitive online viewing figures are unavailable at this time.

Important lines from the inaugural speech included the following. First, on the elites, several of whom were present. Politico reported:

“Their victories have not been your victories,” he said. “Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.” He also made a promise: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Also these (see here, here and here):

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

The closing lines were the following:

To Americans: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. Your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again – and yes, together, WE WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

However, most important were Trump’s mentions of God, including:

We will be protected by God.

You can view the full speech here or here. You can find the transcript here and here.

WND‘s Garth Kant wrote of the contrast between Trump and his predecessor with regard to the inauguration speech:

Trump mentioned himself just three times in the 1,400 words he delivered in his speech lasting 16 minutes and 20 seconds. He referred to the American people 45 times.

By comparison, Obama, as is his wont, mentioned himself 207 times in 84 minutes while campaigning for Hillary during a November speech ostensibly about her.

And, to make sure it was crystal clear that there has been a sea change not just in style but also in substance, Trump emphatically uttered the Obama administration’s three forbidden words: “radical Islamic terrorism,” which, he promised, “we will eliminate from the face of the earth.”

Kant channelled JFK’s Camelot:

However, the speech wasn’t just about ending American erosion. It was about a bright new beginning. Just as did Kennedy, Trump envisioned a promising future. One in which:

“We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

“We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

“We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.”

One could arguably call it Kenndyesque.

Kant was most complimentary of the first daughter but couldn’t say enough about the new first lady:

This was grace personified.

A stately, poised, and stunning elegance were certainly part of it. But there was more. It wasn’t just what she was wearing. It was her bearing. Her perfectly poised demeanor.

And the crowd could clearly sense it, even if they could no more articulate it than to say “wow” over and over, which was what so many were doing.

She was a regal presence.

There was nobility.

Not because of her new station in life, but because of her carriage. The way she carried herself. Full of poise and grace.

Congressional Lunch

Before lunch, President Trump had work to attend to at the Capitol, signing his cabinet nominations into law. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R, WI) is standing next to Barron. At the front are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) and, on the right, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA):

Trump spoke at the lunch and was gracious enough to publicly acknowledge his opponent Hillary Clinton, present with Bill. Trump’s daughter Tiffany sat at their table. You can see all the speeches here.

The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) once again lent their Eagle Lectern for use at the luncheon.

Inaugural parade

The Trumps walked for two minutes in the inaugural parade:

After the walk along Pennsylvania Avenue, the motorcade drove up to the White House, where the Trumps, Pences and family members disembarked and walked to the reviewing stand.

Barron probably found the two-hour event overwhelming at times (I would have), but he enjoyed himself:

The military bands played and marched past, as did a myriad of high school and university bands and special groups representing American history and service.

One of the those groups was the Navajo Code Talkers. Only two were able to make it to the parade. One of my readers, the author of the Pacific Paratrooper blog, wrote about their invaluable role in the Pacific during the Second World War. Well worth a read.

The Talledega College Marching Tornado Band from Alabama participated for the first time. Talledega is an all black college founded by two former slaves after the Civil War. Their band director received threats when he said the college wanted to perform in the parade. Since then, they have received more than $1m in donations which will be dedicated to the band’s needs. Talledega are a special band, because the college has no football team, so they rely on band contests and big parades such as this.

The full video of the parade is below. New York Military Academy, Trump’s alma mater, are at 2:03. Talledega are at 2:09. The Navajo Code Talkers are at 2:14. Virginia Military Institute closed the parade.

But, for Barron, the big highlight was the Rural Tractor Brigade (2:22:00), magnificently souped up. Look at his face (2:23:00). He beams and says, ‘Yesss!’ At 2:24:00, it looks as if Mike Pence sees the lad’s enthusiasm. He probably thought, ‘We’ve got to get him to Indiana for a tractor ride!’ (Separate tractor video here.)

After the parade

President Trump was eager to do some work before attending the evening’s events:

The Daily Mail has more.

Inaugural balls

The president and first lady — and the Pences — attended three inaugural balls.

Two took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The other was held at the National Building Museum.

Donald Trump Jr, his wife Vanessa and daughter Kai were ready to go:

This video shows President Trump and First Lady Melania at one of the balls dancing to My Way:

At the Armed Services Ball, the Trumps and Pences danced with military personnel (starts at 2:21):

There was also a magnificent cake for all to enjoy:

You can read press pool reports here and here.

First lady and first daughters attire

Melania Trump’s stunning inauguration outfit was a Ralph Lauren creation.

The first lady co-designed her striking silk crepe inaugural ballgown with Hervé Pierre, former creative director at Carolina Herrera. This stunning creation will help him launch his own couture house.

Pierre told Women’s Wear Daily:

“It was an amazing experience!” he continued, noting that Trump’s contributions were technical as well as aesthetic. “She knows what she likes. Our conversations were, and are, very easy. She knows about fashion, as a former model. She is aware about constructions, so we have already the same vocabulary when it comes to designing a dress.”

Ivanka Trump’s sparkling gown came from Carolina Herrera’s fashion house. Tiffany Trump purchased her gown from a Hollywood design house, Simin Couture. Ladies will enjoy full size photos and the article in the Daily Mail.

Saturday, January 21

Newspapers from around the world featured the inauguration on their front pages.

Saturday was a day of prayer and work for President Trump.

Prayer came first.

National Prayer Service

The National Prayer Service was held at the National Cathedral (Episcopal) in Washington, DC.

It featured 26 religious leaders. Most were Christian. Others came from world faiths such as Judaism and Islam as well as more diverse groups, such as the Navajo Nation.

The following are short videos and photos from the service:

This girl, Marlana Van Hoose, was born blind and given only a year to live. The video below is from the service. She received a standing ovation afterwardsled by the First Lady!

Marlana is a committed Christian, firm in her faith. God has blessed her with a beautiful voice. She praises Him in song splendidly. She is yet another argument against abortion. May God bless her parents for giving her life and good, loving care.

In the next photo we see the Trumps and the Pences in the front row. May God bless them and keep them safe in the years ahead.

Sunday, January 22

On a lighter note, one of Trump’s grandsons feels at home in the White House:

Later, there was serious work to attend to:

The Conservative Treehouse has an excellent post on this group of people, most of whom hold no political office (emphases in the original):

This afternoon President Trump and Vice-President Pence participated in swearing in the White House Senior Staff.  These are officials who represent the office of the President.  For the first time in modern political history, these are mostly ordinary citizen staff members from outside public office….

…A representative staff of outsiders, reflecting a

representative government for outsiders… Forgotten no more.

President Donald Trump has only selected a group of 30 people for commission to act as officers of the President and representatives of the White House.  Together with their families, the official ceremony to pledge an oath to their office took place this afternoon.

Then:

Like millions around the world, I am praying in thanksgiving for the new president’s safe inauguration. We were very worried something would prevent it from taking place.

Now we look ahead, remaining prayerful for success.

How blessed America is! How blessed the world is!

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.                      2 Chronicles 7:14

In His infinite mercy, God heard our prayers and acknowledged our repentance by giving us Donald Trump. Those were words I never thought I would write, yet, here we are.

Yesterday’s post looked at Dwight D Eisenhower’s two inaugurations in 1953 and 1957.

Today’s explores John F Kennedy’s inauguration on January 20, 1961. To date, he is the only Roman Catholic to have ever been president. He was the youngest man to ever be elected president, aged 43. There are more firsts below.

In his farewell address, Eisenhower spoke of the ‘unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex’ (8:55):

We still do not know whether the military-industrial complex was involved in Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963, but it was a very sad time for millions of Americans.

This is the measured interview Eisenhower gave on that fateful occasion. It’s only five minutes long and well worth watching. Note how he evades sensational questions from the media:

It should be noted that the reference to Kennedy’s presidency as Camelot came after his brutal death. His widow, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (later Onassis), came up with it. Camelot was her favourite musical. It was written by one of her late husband’s classmates at Harvard, Alan Jay Lerner.

Weather

Kennedy was not as fortunate as his predecessor for inaugural weather.

A strong nor’easter blew through Washington, DC — as well as much of New England and the mid-Atlantic states — on January 19. It was a Category 3 — major — storm.

In Washington, temperatures were cold: 20 °F (−7 °C). A total of eight inches of snow fell that day. Travel was severely disrupted, preventing Herbert Hoover from attending the inauguration.

Prospects looked grim for the Inauguration Day parade, however, Wikipedia states that clearing the snow began as soon as possible:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was put in charge of clearing the streets during the evening and morning before the inauguration, and were assisted by more than 1,000 District of Columbia employees and 1,700 boy scouts.[6] This task force employed hundreds of dump trucks, front-end loaders, sanders, plows, rotaries, and flamethrowers to clear the route.[6] Over 1,400 cars which had been stranded due to the conditions and lack of fuel had to be removed from the parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue.[6]

Inauguration ceremony

On the morning of January 20, Kennedy attended Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church near his home in Georgetown.

Afterwards, he made his way to the White House to have coffee with the Eisenhowers and the Nixons.

Once the ceremony began at the Capitol building, the invocation and prayers took a total of 28 minutes. Cardinal Richard Cushing gave a 12-minute invocation. Additional prayers were given by Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Revd Dr John Barclay of the Central Christian Church in Austin, TX and by Rabbi Nelson Glueck. He gave the blessing.

The internationally renowned black contralto Marian Anderson sang The Star Spangled Banner, as she had done for Eisenhower in 1957. Although the new president mouthed the words, he neglected something which raised the ire of a television viewer (emphases mine below):

Kennedy could be seen mouthing the words to the second verse, but that was not good enough for Eugene Hunt, of Dallas, who sent a telegram to the White House that day demanding to know: why wasn’t your hand over your heart during the playing of the star-spangled banner? Some things never change.

Leonard Bernstein of West Side Story fame composed a special piece called Fanfare for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy, which was then played.

Kennedy’s was the first inauguration to be televised in colour. It was also the first to feature a poet.

After Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as vice president, Robert Frost recited a special poem which Kennedy had asked him to compose for the occasion. Unfortunately, the 86-year-old had a difficult time reading it because of the glare from the sun on the snow. Johnson tried to shield the glare with his top hat, but Frost rejected his help. Realising that time was of the essence, Frost instead recited his famous poem The Gift Outright. He later gave his handwritten inauguration poem to Stewart Udall, the incoming Secretary of the Interior, with a request for him to type the text. Udall duly obliged. These are the closing lines from For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration which aptly sum up the mood of much of the nation at that time:

The glory of a next Augustan age
Of a power leading from its strength and pride,
Of young ambition eager to be tried,
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay,
In any game the nations want to play.
A golden age of poetry and power
Of which this noonday’s the beginning hour.

Kennedy took his oath of office on a closed family Bible.

He gave his famous inaugural address which was only 1364 words long and took just under 14 minutes to deliver. The whole world knows lines such as the following:

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

With that responsible outlook, I doubt Kennedy would have been allowed to be a Democrat today.

He and speech-writer Ted Sorenson crafted the address with input from close friends of the president.

This line was nearly identical to the one suggested by Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith:

Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

This one came from a suggestion by Adlai Stevenson II (Eisenhower’s Democratic rival in 1952 and 1956):

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

Kennedy took office at the height of the Cold War. Echoing Eisenhower’s warning in his aforementioned speech, he talked about the dangers of combining an escalating arms race with nuclear power. In another nod to his predecessor, who advocated helping other nations in constructive ways, Kennedy said he would maintain good international relations and help the impoverished in less fortunate nations.

Kennedy was also keenly aware of civil rights. A Vanity Fair article from 2011 has a fascinating account of the inauguration, complete with interviews with people who were there. On this topic:

Harris Wofford, Kennedy’s civil-rights adviser, was listening intently to see if any of the language he and his colleague Louis Martin had suggested to reflect concern for civil rights had made it into the final draft. Six crucial words had. As Kennedy proclaimed himself “unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today,” he added the phrase “at home and around the world.”

“I was very happy he’d put it in,” Wofford, now 84, recalls. “And it made a considerable difference with the civil-rights constituency …”

Now onto a more mundane topic: hats. I wrote that Eisenhower traded the top hat for a homburg. Kennedy reverted to the more traditional silk top hat on Inauguration Day.

However, in everyday life, Kennedy went hatless. American men followed his example. For this reason, Kennedy was said to be the man who put paid to the hat industry. It might have been true. LBJ also eschewed hats, including at his inauguration in 1965.

Parade

The weather remained bitterly cold. Despite that, the inaugural parade was three hours long!

President Harry Truman joined the new president and first lady on the reviewing stand. Former first ladies Edith Wilson and Eleanor Roosevelt were also present. Wikipedia tells us:

Sixteen thousand members of the US armed forces marched with displays of modern weaponry like the Minuteman missile and the supersonic B-70 bomber. A further sixteen thousand marchers were civilians ranging from federal and state officials to high school bands and Boy Scouts, accompanied by forty floats.[43]

In more recent inaugurations, floats have not made an appearance. More’s the pity. I used to enjoy them as a child. Many other people did, too.

Inauguration Day newsreel

This seven-minute newsreel gives an excellent summary of events, complete with subtitles:

Kennedy’s image

After eight years of Eisenhower, Kennedy marked a big change in the presidency. As stated above, he is still the youngest to have been elected to that office. Furthermore, his predecessor was, at that time, the oldest to leave the White House. He was 70. It is interesting that Donald Trump has just been sworn in at that age. Reagan is currently the oldest president to leave office. All being well, Trump will surpass him.

The American public were highly aware that Eisenhower was a general during the Second World War while Kennedy was serving on a PT boat.

ABC News provided an interesting retrospective on Kennedy in 2011, the 50th anniversary of his inauguration. The article, complete with video, tells us:

Those close to him also remember him as an amiable, funny president, a marked departure from his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“President Kennedy, the first time he met you he asked your name and he never forgot it. The second time, he asked your wife’s name and your children’s names, and he was personable with the agents and very much a free spirit compared to President Eisenhower,” said Gerald Blaine, a Secret Service agent in Eisenhower and Kennedy’s security detail and co-author of the “The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence.”

“It was such a contrast because he was so young and was totally different.”

Kennedy also brought youth and intrigue to the White House. His fashionable and glamorous wife, Jackie Kennedy, and two young children, captured the fancy of Americans in a way that no other first family had done before.

To have that after the years of Eisenhower and Truman and Roosevelt, suddenly to have this young energetic family was just a complete shot of adrenaline into the city, and tons and tons of young people came to town to participate in government,” [reporter Cokie] Roberts said.

The ABC article explains that Cokie Roberts was a college freshman at the time and, because of the weather, couldn’t make it to the inauguration. However, she has been a reporter ever since I can remember. So have other news broadcasting veterans such as CBS’s Bob Schieffer, who appeared during the 2016 election to offer his opinion and a historic perspective.

Although Schieffer was working at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram during Kennedy’s presidency, his career evolved on the day of the assassination in Dallas. A woman who asked him for a ride to the scene turned out to be Marguerite Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother. Through her, he also met Oswald’s wife Marina. The scoops kept coming and coming that day and he received his first major journalistic recognition. Later, he was promoted to the Star-Telegram‘s television station. He joined CBS in 1969.

It’s also worth noting that Kennedy’s Peace Corps attracted no end of volunteers, hopeful that they could effect positive change in the poorest countries.

Jackie’s image

Jackie Kennedy captivated not only the international media but millions of women around the world.

Not many people alive today know that on Inauguration Day she was still recovering from the caesarian birth of her son John, born late in November 1960. As a result, Kennedy attended several events before and after the inauguration on his own.

The following interview, which Jackie gave two months after the inauguration, gives us a glimpse into this young first lady, only 30 years old. On the one hand, she has a breathy, girly voice. On the other, she clearly understands art, antiques and the history of the White House. She tells the interviewer, Sandur Vanocur (another household name of the day), that she would like to make ‘a museum’ out of what she rightly called the people’s house. He asks her why there are so few antiques. She tells him that the first pieces were destroyed in the War of 1812. Subsequent presidents auctioned off furniture at the end of their terms. It was only in 1902 that Theodore Roosevelt put a stop to the practice (1:50):

On February 14, 1962, she gave an update on her work, which comprised an hour-long documentary. Her voice is less breathy, now velvety smooth. Her hairstyle and attire also changed. Enjoy this tour, complete with old photographs as well as antiques:

Inaugural balls

John F Kennedy attended all five inaugural balls. Because of her poor health at the time, Jackie only made it to two.

Business Insider has a photo of her with the president looking captivating in a gown and cape she co-designed with the designer. Melania Trump did the same in 2017.

Jackie wore the gown not only to the inaugural balls on January 20 but also to one held the night before, given by Frank Sinatra and actor Peter Lawford, John Kennedy’s brother-in-law. Both were members of the Rat Pack, who were closely associated with the Kennedys, much to the chagrin of pious Protestants.

Kennedy’s father, Joseph, also held a ball that night, which his son attended. Jackie did not, again, for health reasons.

Sinatra’s ball was considered one of the biggest parties ever held in Washington. It was held at the DC Armory, the prime venue for inaugural balls. Sinatra recruited big celebrities of the day and tickets were priced to garner as much money as possible to pay off the debt of the Democratic Party campaign. Wikipedia says:

With tickets ranging from $100 per person to $10,000 per group, Sinatra hoped to raise $1.7 million ($13.6 million in today’s dollars) for the Democratic Party to eliminate its debt brought on by a hard-fought campaign.[3][4]

Vanity Fair notes:

It was an only-in-America blend of high culture and low comedy, of schmaltz and camp, and it may have marked the moment when popular entertainment became an indispensable part of modern politics.

Quite possibly. Carl Anthony at carlanthonyonline.com writes in  ‘Inauguration Swinging-Sixties Style: LBJ’s Big Day, 1965’ that Lyndon Baines Johnson had many celebrities at his inauguration celebrations.

Returning to Sinatra’s ball, Vanity Fair says:

The bill was thoroughly integrated. Five of the two dozen performers were black: Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson, Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald.

The magazine gives us yet another first for Kennedy’s inauguration. On January 20:

J.F.K. would become the first president to dance with black women at an inaugural ball.

Celebrities

I cannot think of an inauguration that had as many well known people in such diverse fields as Kennedy’s.

At the inauguration ceremony, Robert Frost was not the only poet in attendance. Carl Sandburg was also there. Authors John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway attended. Artist Mark Rothko showed up. So did Mr and Mrs T Reed Vreeland. If that name looks familiar, Diana Vreeland was soon to become the editor of Vogue, a post she held for many years.

Vanity Fair introduces ‘From That Day Forth’, their article on the Kennedy inauguration, as follows:

Washington was bracing for what became perhaps the biggest and best political party of the 20th century—a “gilt-edged, mink-lined, silk-hatted, 10-gallon, 100-proof” celebration, as a greenhorn Washington Post reporter named Tom Wolfe summed it up at the time. Everyone who was anyone in Democratic politics was there, or wanted to be. The president-elect and his elegant wife, Jacqueline, had made a special point of inviting not only the usual hacks and flacks but also a select group of scholars, artists, writers, and thinkers

That is what characterised not only the inauguration — more pictures here — but the short-lived Kennedy White House. I can understand why it captivated my parents and how these names first entered my consciousness.

Even though I was a little nipper, no White House has come close to matching the magic of the Kennedys’.

Coming soon: the Trump inauguration

Hand of God leedsacukIn anticipation of Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017, below are two Prayers for the President of the United States from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP), used by the Episcopal Church in America.

The 1928 BCP is used in very few Episcopal churches these days, but many of us who worshipped with it miss its beauty.

These prayers form part of the Morning Prayer liturgy:

A Prayer for The President of the United States, and all in Civil Authority.

O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favour to behold and bless thy servant THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ Or this.

O LORD our Governor, whose glory is in all the world; We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and to all in Authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness; and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Trumps and the Pences will attend a morning service on Friday at St John’s Church in Lafayette Square, near the White House. It is known as the Church of the Presidents. No doubt, the celebrant will use a more modern version of one of the above intercessions for the incoming president and his advisers.

As an Episcopalian — now Anglican, by virtue of living in the UK — I am delighted that the president-elect worships in Episcopal churches. (He and the future first lady were married at Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach and attend services there. Trump was raised a Presbyterian.)

St John’s Church has served the faithful of Washington, DC since 1815. Its bell, erected in 1822, was designed by Paul Revere’s son, Joseph. It has been in continuous service ever since.

The church’s 25 stained glass windows were made in Chartres, France, a historic centre of stained glass since the Middle Ages. They were installed between 1883 and 1885. They depict events in the life of Jesus. The main window above the altar interprets the Last Supper.

Beginning with James Madison, every US president has attended services at St John’s. That said, everyone is welcome as a member or as a visitor. There are 1,000 members of the congregation.

You can read more about their church services here.

In Washington, DC the Deploraball is scheduled to take place on the evening of Thursday, January 19. The event sold out quickly. It will be the people’s celebration featuring many speakers as well as fun.

Unfortunately, it might also be a target of protesters and people who wish to do attendees physical harm.

On January 16, James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released an undercover film made at Comet Ping Pong — hmm (Pizzagate) — about plans to disrupt it with butyric acid. The video tells us the event is being held at the National Press Building. A little butyric acid goes a long way. If such an attack is successful, the whole building would stink and guests with asthma or heart conditions could end up in hospital. Project Veritas has already been in touch with the authorities:

Americans who voted for Donald Trump are hopeful about his and his administration’s ability to ‘drain the swamp’. Washington, DC was built on a swamp, hence the term.

They are looking forward to an end to, as Trump put it during the presidential campaign, the ‘false song of globalism’. They are tired of the greed, the lies and the intrigue. Most of all, they are tired of seeing their standard of living fall, their children’s prospects damaged and the shrinking of the middle class.

Although Trump will not be appearing, this is why an event like the Deploraball is being held. There were three tiers of ticket prices, all of which were $500 or less. The cheapest one was well under $100. For those who cannot go, Deploraballs are being held across the nation. As their website says:

This was our election.
We emerged victorious.

I hope they have a great time in complete safety.

Acrylic paint has several advantages, among them ease of use and quick drying time.

Unfortunately, it isn’t very good for subtle tones. As a result, the finished canvas often looks sophomoric.

However, for high school art classes, acrylic’s advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Art

I’ve only ever seen two acrylic paintings that were any good. Both were by an amateur artist who exhibited them at an art fair in our area last year.

The artist did well to paint on small canvases which allowed her to use the medium to its best advantage: achieving fine detail.

That sounds contradictory, however, this lady’s paintings — one of a field of poppies, the other of daisies — were marvellous. She must have spent a lot of time on them, because all the leaves of grass were visible and natural, as were the dozens of flower petals. Both were pleasing to the eye and a joy to look at.

It was clear the artist understood and had perfected her brush strokes with the medium.

By contrast, I had a friend many years ago who painted large canvases with acrylic and achieved mediocre results for the most part. He was unable to properly blend one colour into another. That happens to most big-canvas acrylic artists who try to paint portraits or street scenes. Acrylic is best left for the abstract which requires dramatic colour and broad brush strokes.

An example of an acrylic painting follows. Subject matter aside, the brush strokes need work, a common mistake. Art teachers really need to teach students more about brush control, particularly according to paint medium.

The Cannon Tunnel, which connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol Building in Washington DC, is home to an exhibit of artwork by American high school students, winners of the Congressional Art competition. The artwork changes every year.

This photo shows part of the current selection, which, as you can see, is of high quality. I particularly like the masterful detail in the painting of the pair of shoes in the lower left hand corner.

The other painting which is striking is the black Liberty in the upper right hand corner. That student understands brush control, texture and subtlety.

There is a noticeable gap on the wall. An acrylic painting hung there, but a Republican congressman removed it for its subject matter. The amateurish acrylic brush strokes are a greater reason why it should not be there. Bill Clark of CQ Roll Call took this photo of Untitled #1:

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 5: A controversial painting by Missouri student David Pulphus depicting police as animals hangs in the tunnel connecting the U.S. Capitol to the Cannon House Office building as part of the annual student art exhibit on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017. The painting was selected as the 2016 Congressional Art Competition winner from Rep. William Lacy Clay's district in the St. Louis area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The depiction of Ferguson, Missouri, comes so close. The technique holds it back.

Roll Call reports:

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter has removed from display in the Cannon tunnel the controversial student art contest painting of police-community relations in Ferguson, Missouri, that depicts police officers as animals.

A Huffington Post reporter first tweeted a photograph of the empty space and said that Hunter removed it.

Hunter took it upon himself to take down the painting, Washington Republican Rep. Dave Reichert’s office later confirmed. It was sponsored by Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, who had defended it.

Reichert, who spent 33 years in law enforcement, had criticized the artwork earlier, and gave Hunter a phone call on Friday after finding out about the removal.

Fox News tells us that the Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement which read in part:

“The rehanging of this painting for public view represents more than just protecting the rights of a student artist, it is a proud statement in defense of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression to every American,” the statement said, noting it had been “removed without permission or proper authority” by Hunter. 

Hunter, R-Calif., personally unscrewed and removed the painting last Friday, saying he was angered by its depiction of law enforcement officers. He then delivered the painting to Clay’s office. 

“Lacy can put it back up, I guess, if he wants to,” Hunter told FoxNews.com at the time, “but I’m allowed to take it down.” 

The painting, hanging since June, was done by high school student David Pulphus, who had won Clay’s annual Congressional Art competition. 

However:

After the piece was removed Friday, Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said in a statement they were “very pleased.”

He said: “At a time of our country facing rising crime and a shortage of those willing to work the streets as police officers and deputy sheriffs, we need to make it clear that depictions of law enforcement officers as pigs in our Nation’s Capital is not acceptable.”

One could make a case for both points of view.

However, looking at the other Congressional Art winners on the wall, it does seem as if the painting was chosen for its subject matter rather than its artistry.

Art teachers should spend the first few lessons teaching brush technique. A small canvas will help students greatly in developing the patience — and art — of working with acrylics. Instead, I suspect, they teach colour mixing, perspective and get the students to begin expressing themselves boldly straightaway.

I arrived at this conclusion after attending an evening a few years ago with the since-deceased London Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell who studied at the Courtauld. He told us that a university art student sought his advice about improving his painting. Sewell advised the student to buy finer brushes — the type used to achieve detail on feathers and fur — and really practice with them before committing to a working canvas. Sewell lamented the lack of today’s training even at Britain’s best art schools. The brushes are on sale, he said, but teachers ignore them, consequently, students are unaware of them. The instructors, he concluded, are not interested in teaching fine art.

Reality

Moving on to Untitled #1‘s subject matter, it is surprising that, after two terms — eight years — of the nation’s first black president at the helm, America has such a racially divisive atmosphere, the likes of which have not been seen since the late 1960s when civil rights laws were just coming into existence.

Sadly, Obama never visited Ferguson. Instead, he sent Attorney General Eric Holder. However, the situation was so violent by then that the president should have made the journey himself. He missed a great opportunity to converse with the residents in person. He could have appealed for calm by giving them more facts behind the events, excerpted below:

Michael Brown robbed a Ferguson, Missouri, convenience store of two handfuls of cigarillos just minutes before Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot him on Aug. 9, according to his friend Dorian Johnson’s testimony before a St. Louis County grand jury. Wilson testified Brown’s possession of the cigarillos was the impetus behind the encounter that ultimately led to his death.

Wilson avoided indictment on criminal charges Monday after the grand jury decided there was a lack of probable cause to suggest that he committed a crime. The decision generated widespread outrage, particularly in Ferguson, where police used tear gas to subdue crowds that started fires and destroyed property.

In the days and months after Brown’s death, the convenience store robbery was considered a major factor in determining his and Wilson’s motives during their fatal encounter …

Johnson testified he had planned to pay for the cigarillos, but Brown reached over the counter and grabbed them. Brown walked toward the door and the store clerk rushed around the counter to prevent his exit. He shoved the clerk and left the store. As they walked out, the clerk said he would call the police …

But as Johnson and Brown walked down the middle of Canfield Drive, they encountered Wilson’s police cruiser. Wilson testified he told the pair to move to the sidewalk, prompting a vulgar response from Brown. “It was a very unusual and not expected response from a simple request,” Wilson told the grand jury …

Johnson testified Wilson initiated physical contact, that he never saw Brown throw a punch and that Brown was outside the police cruiser when Wilson shot him.

Wilson testified he acted in self-defense after Brown punched him and attempted to grab his gun. During the struggle for the gun, he said, Brown “had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”

Obama could have also explained that the average citizen looks at each police incident as an isolated event. By contrast, law enforcement officers see things differently. They encounter criminals or strange situations all the time. It’s what they do. They are trained professionals.

A 2015 US Department of Justice report agreed with Wilson’s actions (p. 84 of the PDF). The quotation below explains how difficult it is to fully judge a situation when seconds could mean life or death (emphasis mine):

While Brown did not use a gun on Wilson at the SUV, his aggressive actions would have given Wilson reason to at least question whether he might be armed, as would his subsequent forward advance and reach toward his waistband. This is especially so in light of the rapidly-evolving nature of the incident. Wilson did not have time to determine whether Brown had a gun and was not required to risk being shot himself in order to make a more definitive assessment.

For my readers who do not live in the United States, it is important to understand that American police shoot more white suspects than black. A 2016 study conducted at Harvard revealed the statistics. Emphases in the original below:

The study was conducted by the Harvard University economist Roland G. Fryer Jr., an African-American, who said it produced “the most surprising result of my career.” His team studied over 1,300 police shootings in 10 major police departments over the 2000-2015 span …

When encountering a suspect, police officers were about 16-19% more likely to use their hands on the suspect, push the person into a wall or to the ground, use handcuffs, and draw their weapons, if the suspect was black. They were also 24-25% more likely to point their weapons or use pepper spray or batons on a black suspect.

But when it came to shooting the suspects, police officers were more likely to fire without having first been attacked if the suspects were white. Additionally, the study learned that black and white civilians in the shootings were equally likely to be carrying a weapon.

And while zeroing in on the police department in Houston to get a more detailed picture, Mr. Fryer found that in situations of justifiable use of force, when, for instance, the officer is being attacked by the suspect, officers were 20% less likely to shoot at a black suspect. Accounting for other control factors in tense situations, Mr. Fryer saw similar results that there was either no difference between how blacks and whites were treated or that blacks were less likely to be shot.

Furthermore, police kill more whites and Hispanics than blacks. The Daily Wire has an equally interesting set of statistics from Heather MacDonald, the Thomas W Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Excerpts follow (emphases in the original):

1. Cops killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015. According to data compiled by The Washington Post, 50 percent of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, while 26 percent were black. The majority of these victims had a gun or “were armed or otherwise threatening the officer with potentially lethal force,” according to Mac Donald in a speech at Hillsdale College.

2. More whites and Hispanics die from police homicides than blacks. According to Mac Donald, 12 percent of white and Hispanic homicide deaths were due to police officers, while only four percent of black homicide deaths were the result of police officers.

“If we’re going to have a ‘Lives Matter’ anti-police movement, it would be more appropriately named “White and Hispanic Lives Matter,'” said Mac Donald in her Hillsdale speech.

4. Black and Hispanic police officers are more likely to fire a gun at blacks than white officers. This is according to a Department of Justice report in 2015 about the Philadelphia Police Department, and is further confirmed that by a study conducted University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway in 2015 that determined black cops were 3.3 times more likely to fire a gun than other cops at a crime scene. 

5. Blacks are more likely to kill cops than be killed by cops. This is according to FBI data, which also found that 40 percent of cop killers are black. According to Mac Donald, the police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black than a cop killing an unarmed black person.

MacDonald concluded that the ‘Ferguson Effect’ has resulted in a 17% murder spike in America’s 50 largest cities (emphases mine):

as a result of cops being more reluctant to police neighborhoods out of fear of being labeled as racists. Additionally, there have been over twice as many cops victimized by fatal shootings in the first three months of 2016.

It should also be noted that, contrary to 50 years ago, the United States has many more minority police officers. They get shot, too.

Master Sgt Debra Clayton lost her life on duty in Orlando on January 9, 2017. She had served 17 years as a law enforcement officer.

Clayton was one of the first responders to the Pulse shooting in June 2016. She was also a loving wife, a devoted mother and a caring neighbour. The photo below comes courtesy of the Orlando Police Department via the Orlando Sentinel:

OPD officer shot and killed; deputy dies in crash

The Sentinel reports that she:

was gunned down Monday morning near a Wal-Mart on John Young Parkway and Princeton Street in Pine Hills while confronting 41-year-old Markeith Loyd, who is wanted for murder.

Markeith Loyd is wanted for the fatal shooting on December 13, 2016 of his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon:

“Markeith Loyd is a suspect this community is familiar with. He should be considered armed and dangerous. He is a suspect in the murder of a pregnant woman in the jurisdiction of the Orange County Sheriff Office,” [police chief John] Mina said.

Dixon’s brother, Ronald Steward, was also shot and critically injured when he tried to come to her aid, investigators said.

Loyd is currently on the run. Interestingly, the admins at Facebook have not suspended his page:

It gets no realer then me,like it or not I’m go keep it 1,000…. I wear no mask,what you see is what you get..

Local ABC affiliate WFTV reported:

A witness to the shooting said the gunman was wearing a shirt that read “security,” but Mina said Loyd was not a security guard.

“(The shooter) was an average-looking dude, he walked by me, had a security vest and everything,” witness James Herman told Channel 9. “I was walking down the sidewalk, right past the officer, and I heard her tell him to stop, or whatever, and he shot her. He shot her down. He took off running. It’s unreal.”

Herman said the man continued to shoot behind him as he was running from the scene.

As he was running, he was shooting back, he was shooting backwards,” Herman said. “I hit the ground on the side over here because I wasn’t sure where the shooting was coming from at first.”

Clayton was outside the Walmart when she was approached by a shopper, Herman said. 

The customer walked up to her and said that someone they were looking for, wanted, was in the store in the line to check out,” he said. “She went in there, I guess, to confront him. As she was going back to Walmart, he was coming out, and he shot her.”

May Master Sgt Debra Clayton rest in peace. My condolences to her many friends and family at this difficult time.

What this goes to show is how complex — and dangerous — law enforcement is. I have not been the greatest supporter of the police in the past, but reading about these recent cases has given me pause for thought. Perhaps others feel the same way.

It’s easy for us, so far away from the line of fire, to criticise people who put their lives on the line every day for our safety.

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