Flight Status: C-A-V-U

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It’s been a somber but joyous day here in Washington, so rather than trying to weave our own tapestry about the funeral for George H.W. Bush, how about some nuggets instead?

- “As Vice President, Bush once visited a children’s Leukemia ward in Krakow. Thirty-five years before, he and Barbara had lost a daughter, Robin, to the disease. In Krakow, a small boy wanted to greet the American Vice President. Learning that the child was sick with the cancer that had taken Robin, Bush began to cry. To his diary later that day, the Vice President said this: ‘My eyes flooded with tears. And behind me was a bank of television cameras. And I thought, ‘I can’t turn around. I can't dissolve because of personal tragedy in the face of the nurses that give of themselves every day.’ So I stood there looking at this little guy, tears running down my cheek, hoping he wouldn't see. But if he did, hoping he’d feel that I loved him.’” – Presidential biographer Jon Meacham in his eulogy for George H.W. Bush.

George H.W. Bush was an enthusiastic if unorthodox golfer. He and his family were famous for playing a version of golf that was something akin to polo where at a near jog he would approach the ball, haul off and whack it and start hustling down the fairway (or rough) in hot pursuit. But he had many admirers among the greats in the game. On hand to pay their respects were Jack NicklausPhil Mickelson and famed golf broadcaster and Bush family friend Jim Nantz. Also spotted: football legend Peyton Manning and tennis great Chris Evert.   

- “And at that, George with tears in his eyes as I spoke said, ‘You know, Brian, you've got us pegged just right, and the roller coaster of emotions we've experienced since 1992. Come with me.’ He led me down the porch at Walker’s Point to the side of the house that fronts the ocean and pointed to a small, simple plaque that had been unobtrusively installed just some days earlier. It read C-A-V-U. George said, ‘Brian, this stands for ceiling and visibility unlimited. When I was a terrified 18 to 19-year-old pilot in the Pacific, those, those were the words we hoped to hear before takeoff. It meant perfect flying. And that's the way I feel about our life today, CAVU. Everything is perfect. Bar and I could not have asked for better lives. We are truly happy and truly at peace.’” – Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in his eulogy for George H.W. Bush.

If you watched the funeral you may have heard the anthem performed by the Armed Forces Chorus and the Marine Orchestra, “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” This is also known as the “Navy hymn,” fitting for naval aviator Bush. “Eternal Father, strong to save // Whose arm hath bound the restless wave // Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep // Its own appointed limits keep’ // Oh, here us when we cry to Thee, // For those in peril on the sea!” The hymn is by William Whiting, the choirmaster at Winchester College. The hymn was inspired by the fourth chapter of Mark's telling of the Gospel when Jesus calms the roiling sea and his disciples remark “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Whiting initially wrote the hymn to comfort a schoolboy who had confided in him an overwhelming fear about a long ocean voyage. 

- “Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington are not bothered by heavy traffic.” – Alan Simpson, the former senator from Wyoming, said in his eulogy honoring President George H. W. Bush.

- The unlikely but evidentially warm friendship between George W. Bush and Michelle Obama is something to treasure. At Sen. John McCain’s funeral in September Bush, whom the former first lady referred to as her “partner in crime,” was spotted slipping her a cough drop on the sly. As he greeted her at his father’s funeral today the former president honored their pact slipping her what appeared to be another cough drop with a wink and a smile. 

- “When the history books are written, they will say that George H.W. Bush was a great President of the United States – a diplomat of unmatched skill, a Commander in Chief of formidable accomplishment, and a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor. In his Inaugural Address, the 41st President of the United States said this: ‘We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood and town better than he found it. What do we want the men and women who work with us to say when we are no longer there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us? Or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better, and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?’ Well, Dad - we’re going remember you for exactly that and so much more.” – Former President George W. Bush in his eulogy for his father.

- With the passing of the 41st president, there are now four living ex-presidents. That’s a pretty normal number, historically speaking, especially as our former presidents live longer lives. For the past two years, there were five living former presidents, matching the largest number in history. But did you know that there have been five times where there were no living former presidents since George Washington left office, most recently after the death of Lyndon Johnson on Jan. 22, 1973 until Richard Nixon’s resignation on Aug. 9, 1974.

- “When death comes, as it does to us all, life is changed, not ended. The way we live our lives, the decisions we make, the service we render matter. They matter to our fellow human beings, to this world that God has given us and they matter to God. Few people had understood this as well or lived their lives as accordingly as President George Herbert Walker Bush. Now hear what I said: lived it. Not earned it or strived to achieve it. It was as natural to him as breathing is to each of us.” – Rev. Russell Levenson, rector at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church of Houston and pastor to the late president, in his sermon at Bush’s state funeral.

“Independent of all other reasonings upon the subject, it is a full answer to those who require a more peremptory provision against military establishments in time of peace, to say that the whole power of the proposed government is to be in the hands of the representatives of the people.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 28

Time: “If you’re planning to raise a glass to the 85th anniversary of the end of Prohibition, set your clock now: it was at 5:32 p.m. ET on Dec. 5, 1933, that Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment. That decision gave the new addition enough support to be added to the Constitution, where — as the only Constitutional Amendment to repeal an earlier one — it repealed the 18th Amendment. Thus, after roughly 13 years of Prohibition, it wiped away the U.S. ban on ‘the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.’ ‘Last week the U. S. liquor industry was nerved for its deadline of Dec. 5, for a stampede into the virgin territory of a billion-dollar business. When Utah, Pennsylvania or Ohio sounded the bugle of Repeal, 20 states with one-half the U. S. population would automatically be open for liquor sales,’ TIME declared in its Dec. 4, 1933, cover story on this momentous occasion.”

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Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 40.6 percent
Average disapproval: 53.4 percent
Net Score: -12.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.6 points 
[Average includes: IBD: 39% approve - 55% disapprove; Grinnell/Selzer: 44% approve - 47% disapprove; Gallup: 40% approve - 56% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; CBS News: 39% approve - 55% disapprove.]

With Dana Perino doing double duty for the Bush observances this week, Chris Stirewalt welcomes special guest host, author, historian and biographer Richard Brookhiser to the podcast. The two discuss the passing of former President George H.W. Bush and Richard's new book “John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court.” Plus, Chris and Richard test each other on trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

WaPo: “The Democratic National Committee is close to finalizing a 2020 primary debate plan that would give lesser-known candidates a chance to share the same stage as the party’s front-runners, avoiding the two-tier ‘kiddie table’ approach that divided the Republican field in the last presidential campaign. Chairman Tom Perez and his team have been meeting for months with 2016 campaign advisers and other stakeholders to find a way to improve the debate process, while accommodating the unusually large class of credible potential candidates, which could number more than 20 by spring. Perez has made clear to his staff that he would like the field to be presented in a way that initially mixes top-tier candidates with lesser-known ones. The party’s proposed solution, which will be presented to Perez for approval later this month, also would allow for other factors beyond national polling, possibly including staffing, fundraising and number of office locations, to be considered in making a cutoff for debate participation.”

Bloomberg makes early moves in Iowa - Fox News: “Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg zigzagged across [Iowa] in one day this week to talk about renewable energy and climate change. He premiered his new film, ‘Paris to Pittsburgh’ to a local audience here. A few months earlier, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker came here to tout his roots and fire up the crowds. California Sen. Kamala Harris spoke there and paid a visit to Bryce Smith, the Democratic chairman of one of Iowa’s most populous counties. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden also visited Iowa recently. … Bloomberg, who has not officially declared his candidacy, has been aggressive in trying to woo Iowa Democrats. He penned a guest column in The Des Moines Register, the state’s largest newspaper, before his trip to Iowa, referencing the 2020 race. The recently re-registered Democrat has toyed with a bid for the White House for the past two election cycles, but after his $250,000 donation to the Iowa Democratic Party this year and his PAC’s $100 million investment into helping Democrats regain control of the House in the midterm elections, speculation has grown over the 76-year-old businessman’s intentions.”

California’s early primary changes the game for Dems - The Hill: “The changing Democratic primary calendar is prompting Democrats to ask whether early caucus and primary states will have the same cache in 2020. Traditionally, candidates have hunkered down in Des Moines and Manchester, hoping that a victory in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary would jumpstart their campaigns. But in 2020, voters in California and Texas along with seven other states will head to the polls on March 3 — exactly one month after the Iowa caucuses and just a few days after the South Carolina primary. The shift could lead some candidates, particularly those focused on winning over African-American or Hispanic voters, to put their focus on California instead of the smaller, whiter and more conservative states.”

O’Rourke meets with Obama - WaPo: “Beto O’Rourke, weighing whether to mount a 2020 presidential bid, met recently with ­Barack Obama at his post-presidency offices in Washington. The meeting, which was held Nov. 16 at the former president’s offices in Foggy Bottom, came as former Obama aides have encouraged the Democratic House member to run, seeing him as capable of the same kind of inspirational campaign that caught fire in the 2008 presidential election. The meeting was the first sign of Obama getting personally involved in conversations with O’Rourke, who, despite his November loss in a U.S. Senate race in Texas, has triggered more recent discussion and speculation than any other candidate in the burgeoning 2020 field.”

Deval Patrick announces there will be no 2020 run - Politico: “Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is calling close allies and informing them he is not running for president in 2020, sources close to the governor tell POLITICO. Patrick informed staff and advisers of his decision Tuesday, the sources say, with an announcement to come as soon as this week. A close ally of former President Barack Obama, the Democrat rejoined the private sector at Bain Capital after serving two terms as Massachusetts' governor. But he ramped up his political activity this fall in advance of a possible presidential bid, traveling to a handful of races across the country.”

NYT: “Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser, helped substantially with the special counsel’s investigation and should receive little to no prison time for lying to federal investigators, prosecutors said on Tuesday. Mr. Flynn was a key cooperator who helped the Justice Department with several investigations, prosecutors for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said. He sat for 19 interviews with Mr. Mueller’s office and other prosecutors and handed over documents and communications, they said. ‘His early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight’ into the subject of Mr. Mueller’s investigation — Russia’s election interference and whether any Trump associates conspired, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing recommendation memorandum and an addendum that was heavily blacked out. In particular, they wrote, he might have prompted others to cooperate with the inquiry. ‘The defendant’s decision to plead guilty and cooperate likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming,’ prosecutors said.”

New White House counsel will begin MondayPolitico: “Pat Cipollone will start his new job as White House counsel on Monday, following a nearly two-month delay since his appointment, with dwindling time to prepare for a coming onslaught of House Democratic oversight demands. President Donald Trump tapped Cipollone in early October to be the White House’s top lawyer, replacing Don McGahn, who stepped down Oct. 17 after a turbulent tenure during which he clashed with the president. Cipollone’s start date was confirmed by two sources familiar with the timing. Even before assuming his official duties, Cipollone has reached out to several lawyers to staff an office responsible for everything from judicial nominations to federal litigation to presidential pardons. Cipollone’s team will also contend with what are expected to be several investigations launched by House Democrats who will assume committee chairmanships in January.”

Stone won’t testify - Politico: “President Donald Trump's longtime political ally Roger Stone invoked the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination as he declined to share documents and testimony with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to a letter posted Tuesday by the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. ‘Mr. Stone's invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege must be understood by all to be the assertion of a Constitutional right by an innocent citizen who denounces secrecy,’ Stone's attorney, Grant Smith, said in the letter, dated Dec. 3. … Stone told POLITICO on Monday that he doesn't have a pact with Trump's legal team to share defense strategies, unlike former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is in jail after being convicted of tax and bank fraud. But Stone has largely aligned his public messaging on Mueller with the president's, frequently bashing the special counsel's tactics.”

Nunberg to meet with Senate Intel in January - WaPo: “Sam Nunberg, a former Trump political aide who has met with investigators for the special counsel and was long close to Trump loyalist Roger Stone, will meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee in January as part of its continuing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Nunberg confirmed his pending meeting in an interview Tuesday with The Washington Post, saying, ‘I’m happy to cooperate and appear’ for what is likely to be a closed session with committee staffers. A person familiar with the committee who was not authorized to speak publicly said that Nunberg has agreed to meet with the committee in January and that the committee has asked him to refrain from speaking to reporters. Spokesmen for both the Republican and Democratic staffs on the committee declined to comment.”

The Charlotte Observer Editorial Board: ‘Hold a new election in NC’s tainted 9th District’ Charlotte Observer

Maine ballot recount for the 2nd District starts Thursday - [Portland] Press Herald

Mattis says troops will remain at border through January USA Today

House Ethics report shows Rep. Garrett misused staff - Politico

“Lord have mercy. You really want me divorced?” – Democrat Andrew Gillum said to the HuffPost when asked if he’d consider joining a 2020 ticket. Gillum said his focus is to remain married to his wife. 

“Interesting that you would spend so much time relating the issue of alleged malfeasance at the polls regarding Mr. Harris' campaign, yet, not a word about the ‘ballot harvesting’ that allegedly occurred in several California House races. Are we only interested in taking a hard look at races where a Republican won and ignoring those that miraculously fell to the Democrats with an onslaught of absentee ballots?” – Darell Reichel, Port Lavaca, Texas

[Ed. note: It is not “alleged,” Mr. Reichel. “Ballot harvesting” is exactly what happened, or at least that is the term that critics of the practice have used for the legal act of campaign staffers collecting completed absentee ballots. The practice is very common in California and other states. Campaign workers visit a senior center, housing project or other community and collect the completed absentee ballots of voters there. This practice, however, is ripe for fraud, especially where the elderly or infirm are involved. Collecting or even helping complete ballots can turn into coercion or simply theft. But while California Republicans have indeed complained bitterly about the practice, they have not been able to produce any evidence of fraudulent activity. In North Carolina, it’s very much the opposite. We have heard from North Carolina voters who say they did not order absentee ballots at all but had completed absentee ballots cast in their name. We have others who say that campaign operatives requested ballots for them but instructed the voters to leave the House race and other portions blank. These are real allegations of voter fraud, a serious matter. Further, the absentee results in California were consistent with overall results. The Bladen County, N.C. results are wildly out of line. If California Republicans believe the House seats were stolen by fraud, they should say so and find examples. Innuendo and arched eyebrows won’t suffice.] 

“Chris, how will the DNC/media handle primary debates with 30 or more Blue candidates?” – Bill McKeeman, Hollis, N.H.

[Ed. note: Very carefully!]

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Gainesville Times: “Ginny Dietrick fought the law Monday. But this time, she won. The Louisiana resident was celebrating her 91st birthday by enjoying a lunch of Longstreet Cafe’s finest fried chicken Monday when Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper told Dietrick to put down her fork and listen up — she was under arrest. Hooper informed Dietrick that it’s against city ordinance to eat fried chicken, ‘a culinary delicacy sacred to this municipality, this county, this state, the Southland and this republic,’ with anything other than your fingers. The 1961 ordinance was put on city books as a sort of public relations stunt to promote Gainesville as the poultry capital of the world, Hooper said. Dietrick had Gainesville resident and friend A.C. Marshall to thank for the practical joke. Dietrick can also thank Marshall for setting up her pardon.”

“I would much have preferred that after the long twilight struggle America enjoy the respite from toil and danger to which it is richly entitled. Alas, there is no end to toil, and it is not just naïve but dangerous to pretend otherwise. Even after the defeat of the Soviet threat, we face a highly dangerous new world from which there is no escape. Our best hope for safety in such times, as in difficult times past, is in American strength and will: the strength to recognize the unipolar world and the will to lead it.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in The New Republic, July 29, 1991.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.