The Morning Briefing: TGIF Edition

(Photo by Cheriss May) (Sipa via AP Images)

Good Friday Morning.

Here is what’s on the President’s agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will depart the White House en route to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters to receive a briefing on hurricane season.
  • In the afternoon, the President will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.
  • The President will then speak with President Emmanuel Macron of France by telephone.
  • Later in the afternoon, the President will depart the White House for Joint Base Andrews, en route to Morristown, New Jersey.
  • In the evening, the President will depart Morristown, New Jersey, en route to Trump National Golf Club—Bedminster.

Picture of the day:

Mexican Navy crew stand on the sails of the ARM Cuauhtemoc sailing ship as it prepares to dock in the South Harbor for a five-day goodwill visit Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Trump’s generals

Politico has a friendly piece about General John Kelly, the new chief of staff to the president.

Kelly forms a nexus of power with three other generals: Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine general; Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a Marine general; and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, still a uniformed lieutenant general in the Army — and a replacement for retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, who was fired after less than a month in the job.


Internally, they’ve been a strong counterweight to the nationalist/populist faction in the White House led by chief strategist Steve Bannon, which was behind controversial Trump policies like the initial immigration ban, the rejection of the Paris Climate Change Accords, and potential steel tariffs that could yet spark a global trade war.


They’ve already persuaded Trump to back away from some of his most controversial foreign policy positions, including labeling NATO “obsolete,” moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, rescinding the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, and reconsidering the venerable “One China” policy.


Aren’t those things that Trump campaigned on?

And here’s another puff piece on McMaster.

“He can be very intense,” a McMaster confidant who speaks with him regularly and is a major supporter, told POLITICO Thursday. “Some find that difficult.”

McMaster is fiercely at odds with Steve Bannon, the Trump strategist who was removed from the principals committee of the National Security Council in April after McMaster’s appointment. In mid-July, the two sparred openly, in a widely attended policy meeting about Afghanistan, with McMaster advocating greater U.S. involvement and Bannon arguing for a major pullback.

The dispute got so out of hand, according to a pair of senior White House officials, that Secretary of Defense James Mattis had to intervene to get the discussion back on track.


McMaster has prevailed in some fierce policy fights — part of a broader battle between Trump administration officials with a more establishment and internationalist worldview, like Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — to prevail over the more nationalist vision espoused by Bannon and Trump advisers Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka.

McMaster has achieved some big victories, like preventing Trump from using the controversial phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” that Flynn insisted upon and getting the president to explicitly endorse the NATO charter’s Article 5 — which commits the United States to the defend its European allies — after sending mixed signals about the U.S. commitment to the alliance.


The NYT and Communism

Robert Tracinski asks why the New York Times is writing strangely positive pieces on the “good old days” of communism.

Has anyone else observed a striking pattern in the New York Times recently? They’ve hosted a series of fond, nostalgic recollections about the good old days of twentieth-century Communism—the optimism, the idealism, the moral authority. Not to mention the gulags, the squalor, and the soul-crushing conformity.

Actually, they don’t usually mention those things. These articles are part of a series called “Red Century,” which is supposedly dedicated to “exploring the history and legacy of Communism, 100 years after the Russian Revolution.” But that history and legacy turn out to be very selectively explored. The editors of the Times could easily spend a year filling their newspaper with a hair-raising litany of Communism’s crimes across the globe, stuff that would keep their readers up at night for weeks. There’s certainly no shortage of material: the terror, the gulags, the Holodomor, the Cultural Revolution, and so on. Yet in this series, the crimes of Communism are mostly just hinted at.

Other morsels:

Krauthammer warns: ‘Some Republicans’ want Trump ‘taken out of office’ [VIDEO]

ABC, NBC ignore WV governor’s party switch

Baltimore residents propose 3-day cease-fire

Sean Spicer signs with top TV lawyer after meetings with networks


Schwarzenegger unveils initiative to tweak Trump on climate

More than 50 Indiana bikers escort bullied 6th-grade student to middle school

North Korea threatens US with more ‘unexpected gift packages’ after missile test

Senate unanimously agrees to block Trump from making recess appointments over break

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!


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