- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2018

One critic continues to question much of the positive, often fawning press coverage of the North Korean presence at the U.S. Olympics. But he also wonders why this same news media does not give a similar courtesy to President Trump.

“That this fairness and objectivity can be extended to the leaders of a murder machine of a nation that threatens the entire world, but not to the president of the United States, is shocking. If major news outlets think that North Korean diplomatic efforts at the Olympics were a success, and that they ran circles around a hapless Trump administration, that’s fine. Put it on the front page. But don’t then turn around and say the Trump administration must not be normalized,” writes David Marcus, a correspondent for The Federalist, adding, “There is a real story here. North Korea clearly is engaged in a charm offensive.”

Mr. Marcus also notes that progressives have warned that “normalizing” Mr. Trump with positive press coverage is fraught with danger.

“It’s 2018. I can order my brother in rural Oregon a pizza with an app on my phone, there is a red convertible orbiting the earth, 14-year-olds can access an array of pornographic material that would make Caligula blush, and if I tell you my pronouns, you are compelled to use them. None of this is normal. We lost normal a long time ago, and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be back then,” Mr. Marcus continues. “It’s time to stop worrying about normalizing Trump. It’s time to stop giving the president less benefit of the doubt than we give to murderers. Just report what happened, and let us work out whether it’s normal or not.”

TRUMP BUMP: ANOTHER RECORD FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Main Street continues to flourish under the Trump administration. The National Federation of Independent Business reports that optimism is at a 45-year high among America’s small businesses. The “Small Business Optimism Index” — a monthly gauge of sentiment among the owners — broke the record for the measurement, established 45 years ago.

“Main Street is roaring,” said Juanita Duggan, president and CEO of the group, which represents 325,000 small business concerns in all 50 states. “Small business owners are not only reporting better profits, but they’re also ready to grow and expand. The record level of enthusiasm for expansion follows a year of record-breaking optimism.”

Among the findings: 41 percent of the members reported they expect the economy to improve, a third say it’s an ideal time to expand; one-third also report an increase in job openings; while 31 percent reported “higher worker compensation” for their employees.

“The historically high index readings over the last year tell us small business owners have never been more positive about the economy. This is in large response to the new management in Washington tackling the biggest concerns of small business owners — high taxes and regulations,” says Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist for the organization.

346 AND COUNTING

Businesses, large and small, continue to offer employees bonuses, raises, or 401(k) increases because of President Trump’s tax reform law. They now number 346 (over 3.5 million workers), according to the office of Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Americans for Tax Reform, which continue to track the trends — as well as the ongoing, reassuring narratives which accompany these gains.

Many businesses share their rationale for tending to their employees in public press releases or with local news media — and in many cases, they are revealing and heartfelt. One sheet music supplier in Madison, Wisconsin, offers some insight.

“We’re genuinely appreciative of our loyal and gifted team at Musicnotes,” says Tim Reiland, executive chairman of the company, which employs 55 people and reports it plans to increase hiring and new technology projects in the digital realm.

“We are thrilled to share the benefit of lower corporate taxes with them. It’s the right thing to do and it’s also smart business,” Mr. Reiland observes.

DOUGLASS AT 200

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond host a celebration at the Capitol on Wednesday to mark what would have been the 200th birthday of abolitionist, author and orator Frederick Douglass — born in Cordova, Maryland, in 1818. The exact date of his birth is unknown; Douglass himself late chose to celebrate his birthday on Feb. 14.

On hand for the significant gathering: Sens. Tim Scott and Chris Van Hollen, Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, Reps. Mia Love and Andy Harris, Delegate EleanorHolmes Norton and Ken Morris — great-great-great-grandson of Douglass and the great-great-grandson of educator Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University).

Members of the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission — appointed by the House, Senate and White House — also will be sworn in.

Among multiple commemorations elsewhere in the nation: The National Park Service will recognize Douglass in events through the end of the year; Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has already proclaimed 2018 as the “Year of Frederick Douglass” in his state; and Wednesday is also Frederick Douglass Day in Massachusetts.

ROMANCE RULES

The National Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, an increase of over $1 billion since last year, when the numbers was $18.2 billion. Another Trump Bump, perhaps?

Romantic folk will shell out the most cash for jewelry, followed by an evening out, flowers, clothing, candy and greeting cards. Yes, significant others, assorted family members and friends are on the shopping list. Americans, however, also will spend $751 million on Valentine’s Day treats for their pets.

POLL DU JOUR

52 percent of U.S. voters say they are “proud” to be an American; 75 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats agree.

62 percent of voters over 65, 59 percent of voters who shop at Walmart, 58 percent of men, 47 percent of women, and 27 percent of voters ages 18-24 also agree.

33 percent of voters overall are “ashamed” to be American; 16 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of independents and 48 percent of Democrats agree.

29 percent of voters over 65, 28 percent of voters who shop at Walmart, 31 percent of men, 35 percent of women, and 53 percent of voters ages 18-24 also agree.

Source: A Zogby Analytics Poll of 1,031 registered U.S. voters conducted Jan. 23-25 and released Monday.

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