Trump Congress Address: Sounding Like a President

For the first time in his presidency, Donald Trump acted the part.

“I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength,” he announced from the Speaker’s rostrum moments into his hour-long joint address to Congress on Tuesday night. For once, that message bucked his bombastic instincts and channeled the aspirational aims of conventional predecessors. It was perhaps the clearest sign yet that after 40 days in the West Wing, the President is beginning to come to grips with the public responsibilities of the office.

Trump opened with a perfunctory nod to Black History Month and an overdue condemnation of a rash of recent hate crimes. He spoke about reforming the nation’s immigration laws and ramping up space exploration. He cheered Democrats by calling for investments in infrastructure and paid family leave. At a moment when his legislative agenda is sputtering in a Congress controlled by his own party, he rallied wary allies by laying out a plan for economic revival.

Gone, for the most part, were the braggadocio and the bluster, the unscripted asides and off-message score-settling. The man who began his presidency picking fights over crowd size uttered lines like “the time for trivial fights is behind us.” Trump hewed closely to his prepared text, which he was spotted practicing in his armored limousine on the drive to the Capitol.

The speech was still unmistakably Trumpian. Even in an address stuffed with banal platitudes—”we just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts,” Trump said, “the bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls”—the President echoed the grim themes that have marked his major speeches.

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VIDEO FULL TEXT Trump’s First Joint Address: Historic, Spectacular – President’s Shining Hour: Trump Era is Born

By The Hill Staff – 02/28/17 09:21 PM ES:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and Citizens of America:

Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains. Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice –- in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.

That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am heretonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.

A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.

And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

In 9 years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our Independence.

It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.

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Robert Spencer: Champagne Time! It’s a “Bloodbath” at the State Department

“It’s a bloodbath at the State Department,” the New York Post hyperventilated last Friday: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is cleaning house at the State Department, according to a report.” In Donald Trump’s America, so much has happened so quickly to set the nation on a course decisively different from the one it was on during the regime of his disastrous socialist internationalist predecessor that this particular bit of good news was largely overlooked. But if a housecleaning at the State Department isn’t a cause for celebration, nothing is.

“Many of those let go were on the building’s seventh floor — top-floor bigs,” the Post tells us, and adds that this is “a symbolically important sign to the rest of the diplomatic corps that their new boss has different priorities than the last one.”

Pop the champagne!

And not only that, but “this week’s round of firings marks the second time State Department personnel have been cleared out since President Trump took office last month. Four top officials were cleared out of the building at the end of January.”

Break out the hats and hooters!

We can only hope that with the departure of these failed State Department officials, their failed policies will be swept out along with them. Chief among these is the almost universally held idea that poverty causes terrorism. The United States has wasted uncounted (literally, because a great deal of it was in untraceable bags full of cash) billions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries in the wrongheaded assumption that Muslims turn to jihad because they lack economic opportunities and education. American officials built schools and hospitals, thinking that they were winning over the hearts and minds of the locals.

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Does the Anti-Nepotism Statute Preclude Trump from Appointing Kushner?

The controversy over President-elect Trump’s expected appointment of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, raises serious constitutional issues regarding the separation of powers. Congress, which holds the purse strings, may have the power to withhold the salary of a relative who the president wants as an advisor. But it is doubtful whether Congress has the constitutional power to preclude the president — who heads the executive branch — from appointing whomever he chooses as a White House advisor. This is because the separation of powers limits the authority of any one branch to dictate to another branch how it shall conduct its government business. Accordingly, the Supreme Court of the United States does not feel bound by Congressional enactments regarding the recusal of judges for conflict of interest, or other rules of ethics enacted by Congress to constrain its judicial activities. The question of when one branch intrudes on another is often a matter of degree, but each branch guards its independence jealously.

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Justin Trudeau: Donald Trump Handshake Viral Photo

That’s Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, looking down contemplatively at the open right palm of President Trump during their Oval Office meeting on Monday. Trudeau appears unsure whether he wants to engage any further, specifically whether he wants to reach out in front of a horde of cameras and grab it while they go click, click, click.

It begs the question: Does Trudeau really want to shake Trump’s hand? (His fingers are intertwined like he’s thinking hard about it, like it was the biggest choice he’ll make on this trip. Had he seen Trump shake the hand of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and hesitated?) On Twitter, the answer appeared to be no.

“Justin Trudeau is all of us,” one tweet reads.

“Justin Trudeau is looking at Trump’s hand like he just read the Russian Dossier,” says another.

“And Reuters may have scored the still of the day,” reads a third.

Even I tweeted about it.

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What Obama Owes Putin—And Why Donald Trump is Left Holding the Bag

Is Donald Trump a Russian secret agent? Did he pay FSB hookers to pee on the bed the Obamas slept in at the Ritz in Moscow, overlooking the Kremlin? It’s silly season, so any drunk on a fat oppo-research expense account can write down any crazy foolishness they want and Buzzfeed will let you decide if it’s true because that, as Buzzfeed’s editor, Ben Smith, solemnly explained to The New York Times, is where American journalism is at in 2017. Duly noted, Buzzfeed. Enjoy the golden showers.

What’s being obscured by this grotesquerie is the origin and the actual substance of U.S. foreign policy toward Russia, which in turn affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people living in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Or, to put it another way: Is Donald Trump likely to continue the policies of his predecessor, which set the Middle East on fire and led to 500,000 deaths in Syria, and to Putin biting off large chunks of the sovereign nation of Ukraine? Or is he likely to reverse those policies? Or can he, even if he wanted to?

The single-mindedness with which the White House and the remnants of the Clinton campaign have pursued the idea that Donald Trump is a pawn of Vladimir Putin is not based on silly stories about peeing prostitutes or secret computer servers that connect the Trump organization to the Kremlin. Rather, it’s an attempt to manufacture more smoke to obscure the reality of Obama’s own determination to collaborate with a hostile Russian leader in Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Sure, Obama recently sent 35 Russian diplomats packing and shuttered Russian diplomatic facilities in Maryland and New York, but this was after seven years of looking the other way while Russia seized Crimea, then Donbass; waged cyberattacks on the Baltic countries; brought down a passenger jet over Ukraine; sheltered Edward Snowden; and bombed schools and hospitals in Syria. All of these actions threatened global stability and American interests, yet Obama only puffed his chest after the cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails—long after it mattered, and after the moving vans have already started to haul his stuff out of the White House.

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Column One: Netanyahu’s shameless opponents

Over the past week, Israel was subjected to the diplomatic equivalent of a lynch mob in Paris. It received unexpected assistance from Britain, which twice in two days departed from its traditional anti-Israel stance and blocked the Paris conference’s anti-Israel declaration from being adopted as the official position of the European Union.

Also over the past week, outgoing US President Barack Obama, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry and outgoing UN Ambassador Samantha Power used their final appearances in office to blast Israel.

On the other hand, President-elect Donald Trump and his team played a key role in bringing about Britain’s change of heart toward Israel.

While these events have been widely covered by the foreign media, they have barely been mentioned in the Hebrew broadcast media, from which the majority of Israelis receive their news.

Instead, led by Channel 2 with its monopoly ratings share, the local media spent the past week covering almost nothing but the criminal probes being carried out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is the subject of two probes. The first, which police investigators dubbed Affair 1000, involves allegations that Netanyahu improperly received gifts from his friends.

That probe seems to be withering on the vine. Consequently, over the past week, most of the media’s attention has been focused on what the police call Affair 2000.

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