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On the roster: The opposite of worry - Markets rally as Trump begins transition - Team Biden has beef with Obama-era picks - Georgia sets in mail-in rules for runoff - Out-N-Out
THE OPPOSITE OF WORRY
If hope is the opposite of fear, then gratitude is the opposite of worry.
When we contemplate our fears, we dwell on those things that might go wrong. When we have hope, we consider the blessings of the past and present.
So there could be no better holiday for a nation born of and sustained by hope than America’s Thanksgiving. To give thanks, especially in hard times, is an audaciously optimistic act, and America is an audaciously optimistic nation.
Or at least that has usually been the case. Many Americans today question the future of this brave experiment. And it’s not to say that they do so without cause. A pandemic continues to rob us of our loved ones and crush our economy. A system of government designed by the greatest collection of practical political philosophers the world has ever known has been turned into a dog’s breakfast.
But the place to always begin when we try to find hope again is to first count our blessings.
History will no doubt rank this time among other painful periods in our past. Certainly Americans alive today who remember the anguish of the years between about 1963 and 1975 will recognize the comparisons. But we can also find similar moments in the mid 1930s, the early 1890s and other plot points along our national timeline.
Now, just as Americans did then, we’re given reason to wonder whether this exceptional nation, this “last, best hope of earth,” has run its course. That view can only survive, however, in a vacuum of historical knowledge.
When we think about not just the struggles that were like our own, but those that exceeded the pain of our current travails, we are given good evidence for hope. A nation that survived a painful birth in revolution and an awful coming of age in civil war is a nation that has reason to be grateful and, therefore, reason to be optimistic.
It is our practice each year here to share the Thanksgiving column by the great Adam Kelly, a West Virginia newsman who was known as “the country editor,” a nod to the Norman Rockwell painting of the same name.
Kelly’s practice, maintained by his successors after his death, was to publish each year a journalistic version of what would in an ecclesiastical setting be called a litany. He would count one of his blessings followed by the refrain, “I thank you, Lord.”
Every year when we look again at his words a different part stands out. Here’s what spoke to our heart this time: “For the courage of millions of ordinary men and women, who through more than 200 years with extraordinary bravery have defended my freedoms, who have been willing to give the last full measure of their devotion, their lives, in the defense of our great country, who have faced death without flinching so that we Americans might live out our days in peaceful freedom...”
Now what would you call that, other than a miracle?
We have lots of evidence at hand these days about cultural and political corrosion. We have all seen institutions and individuals in whom we placed our trust oxidized and become brittle, some broken permanently.
But gratitude is a kind of solvent, itself. If you pour gratitude on your resentments, anger and disquiet you will find that they start to break up and wash away. Like soaking your turkey roasting pan with sharp soap and scalding hot water, those gunky deposits will dissolve.
That works for every human heart, but it also works for the heart of a nation.
There are not too many times that we have celebrated Thanksgiving under conditions more troubled than these. And like in those times, that makes giving thanks all the more important.
[Ed. note: The Fox News Halftime Report is going to take a pause for the remainder of the week in observance of Thanksgiving. We will resume regular publication on Monday. We wish you peace, health and comfort as you celebrate, however you are able. We certainly count you, our loyal readers, among our greatest blessings.]
THE RULEBOOK: H8RS GON H8
“Ingratitude is a common topic of declamation against human nature; and it must be confessed that instances of it are but too frequent and flagrant, both in public and in private life. But the universal and extreme indignation which it inspires is itself a proof of the energy and prevalence of the contrary sentiment.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 57
TIME OUT: ‘LOOKING GOOD, BILLY RAY’
The Atlantic: “[Eddie] Murphy, who will turn 60 next year, was more than a star in the 1980s, the decade in which he emerged. He was a force, incandescent with live-wire energy from the moment he was given his first speaking part on SNL. … What made Murphy’s rise so remarkable, beyond his youth, is that it was almost entirely self-powered: He talked his way into an SNL audition with no agent and no credentials… he survived the purge that eliminated all but two of the cast members from SNL’s disastrous 1980–81 season, the first after the departure of its creator and producer, Lorne Michaels, and the original cast; and he elevated every movie that he was in during those early years. None of the roles in that classic trio of star-making films was expressly conceived for him… But it didn’t matter. In those days, Murphy’s charisma, ingratiating smile, and unerring comic instincts could bring any leaden, cliché-stuffed screenplay to life.”
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GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
We’ve brought “From the Bleachers” to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.
MARKETS RALLY AS TRUMP BEGINS TRANSITION
CNBC: “The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied on Tuesday, breaking above 30,000 for the first time amid positive vaccine news, hope for a strong economic recovery in 2021 and easing of political uncertainty as the Trump administration approved the start of the presidential transition. The 30-stock Dow advanced 448 points, or 1.5%. At its high of the day, it traded at 30,116.51. Chevron rose more than 4% to lead the Dow higher. JPMorgan Chase and American Express each gained more than 3%. ‘This is yet another reminder of how far stocks and the economy have come since the depths of March,’ said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, about the Dow’s milestone. ‘Although 30,000 isn’t much different than 29,999, there is something special about those big milestone numbers.’ Meanwhile, the S&P 500 climbed 1.5%, putting it on pace for a record closing high, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 1%.The small-cap Russell 2000 also hit an all-time high.”
Pennsylvania, Nevada certify election results for Biden despite Trump legal challenges - Fox News: “Pennsylvania and Nevada certified the results of the presidential election in favor of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, amid President Trump and his campaign's legal challenges in the key states. ‘Today @PAStateDept certified the results of the November 3 election in Pennsylvania for president and vice president of the United States,’ Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted. ‘As required by federal law, I’ve signed the Certificate of Ascertainment for the slate of electors for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.’ ‘Again, I want to thank the election officials who have administered a fair and free election during an incredibly challenging time in our commonwealth and country’s history,’ he continued. … Meanwhile, the Nevada Supreme Court also certified Biden's win in that key battleground state.”
Trump concerned lawyers are ‘fools that are making him look bad’ - CNBC: “President Donald Trump is sweating over his campaign lawyers’ dismal and often outlandish efforts to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s projected electoral victory. Trump is worried that his campaign’s legal team, which is being led by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, is composed of ‘fools that are making him look bad,’ NBC News reported Monday. That group, which has unironically called itself an ‘elite strike force team,’ to date has failed to win any legal victories that would invalidate votes for Biden, the former Democratic vice president, even as they tout wildly broad claims of fraud for which they have offered no convincing evidence. … Trump has complained to White House aides and outside allies about how Giuliani and Powell conducted themselves at that event, NBC reported.”
TEAM BIDEN HAS BEEF WITH OBAMA-ERA PICKS
Politico: “In late 2008, during the transition from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, there was a mantra that took hold among Washington insiders: Obama won the election but Hillary won the transition. … It is still early in the Biden transition. There are thousands of jobs to fill. But a similar sense of dread is starting to bubble up from veterans of the Biden campaign, particularly those who were there with the president-elect from the Philadelphia announcement speech to the Wilmington victory speech. The target of their ire? The Obama establishment, which has eclipsed the Clinton name as shorthand for yesterday’s Democratic Party. ‘The Obama staffers are now cutting out the people who got Biden elected,’ said a senior Biden official channeling the feelings of the old guard of the Biden campaign, who requested anonymity for the obvious reason. ‘None of these people found the courage to help the VP when he was running and now they are elevating their friends over the Biden people. It’s f----- up.’”
Biden gets pushback on potential defense secretary pick - Foreign Policy: “U.S. President-elect Joe Biden named a slate of experienced hands for his national security team on Monday—but stopped short of selecting a defense secretary. Now, backers of Michèle Flournoy, his likely pick for defense secretary, are trying to head off a last-minute push by some left-leaning Democrats trying to derail her selection, with many progressives seeing her nomination as a continuation of what critics refer to as America’s ‘forever wars.’ In a letter obtained by Foreign Policy organized by No Exceptions, a mostly inactive nonprofit that previously advocated for opening more military service roles to women, expected to be signed by more than 100 former U.S. and military officials and national security experts, Flournoy is described as a consensus-builder able to heal the tensions and mistrust sown during the Trump administration.”
GEORGIA SETS IN MAIL-IN RULES FOR RUNOFF
Fox News: “Georgia election officials are extending the use of secure ballot drop boxes for use in the state’s twin Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, where the Republican majority in the Senate is at stake. The five-member Georgia State Election Board, chaired by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, voted on Monday to extend the use of the 24/7 monitored drop boxes for use through the runoffs. Use of the boxes was originally set to expire in late December. … Officials said that as of Monday morning 762,000 requests for absentee ballots had been submitted. A second rule adopted allows counties to continue to begin processing absentee ballots two weeks before Election Day – but now also mandates them to start processing them no later than a week and one day ahead of the election. But as per Georgia law, none of the ballots would be tabulated and counted until the polls close on Jan. 5.”
FEINSTEIN TO STEP DOWN FROM SENATE JUDICIARY PANEL
Politico: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein plans to step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, after facing blowback from progressives for her handling of Amy Coney Barrett's contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Three people familiar with the matter told POLITICO, which Feinstein soon confirmed. ‘After serving as the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for four years, I will not seek the chairmanship or ranking member position in the next Congress,’ the California Democrat said in a statement. ‘I look forward to continuing to serve as a senior Democrat on the Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations and Rules committees as we work with the Biden administration.’ Feinstein added that she planned to focus her attention on combating climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. Members of her own party had expressed concern before Barrett's hearing that the 87-year-old wouldn't be aggressive enough.”
Former NYC Mayor David Dinkins dead at 93 - NY Post
President Trump to pardon an Iowa turkey, Corn or Cob, on Tuesday - Ames [Iowa] Tribune
AUDIBLE: SO HE’S GOT THAT GOING FOR HIM, WHICH IS NICE
“Trump loves O’Brien, and every other conversation where O’Brien comes up, he’ll say, ‘This guy is fantastic and is right out of central casting; he’s beautiful, his wife’s beautiful.’” – Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, talking to Politico about a possible presidential run for President Trump’s National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Would it be possible for you to share again the Thanksgiving dressing recipe that you printed in your column a year ago? I had saved it but somehow I deleted it. It is exactly how I remember my Mom making hers but we have no written recipe. Perhaps other readers would enjoy as well.” – Nancy Hartley, New Ross, Ind.
[Ed. note: The best part about Thanksgiving dinner is the dressing and the best dressing is simple. Sausage, oysters, mushrooms, nuts and berries can only distract from what is a perfectly elegant American bread dish. So here’s how you do it. Cut a loaf of really good white bread into ½ inch cubes. Bake it in a 225-degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until dry and crunchy. Place it in a large mixing bowl. Add ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, two tablespoons of finely chopped sage and a tablespoon of finely (are you sensing a trend?) chopped thyme. Melt 10 tablespoons of the fattiest butter in a big skillet and then sauté until lightly browned 2 cups of small-diced sweet onion and 1½ cups of small-diced celery. Drizzle this deliciousness over your bread and herbs. Toss it well, adding two teaspoons of kosher salt and a teaspoon of finely ground pepper as you go. Then gradually add 1½ cups of broth, again tossing lightly. (I prefer to use turkey stock made from gizzards and giblets, but any good poultry stock will do.) Adjust the seasoning. In a small bowl, whisk together two large eggs and another cup of cool or room-temperature stock. Fold that gently but thoroughly into your bread bowl. Place the mixture into a well-buttered 13’x9’ dish, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for ~40 minutes and save the sausage for breakfast.]
“Chris, in [Monday’s] ‘What if...’ scenarios, you compared the feelings of the ‘74 million’ to the ‘80 million’ - and even the polled 70% who ‘disapprove’ of Trump's present conduct. You seemed to miss another ‘What if?’ What if indeed there emerges authentically ‘Biblical’ & ‘Kraken’ evidence? And in that for months now, you have yourself hammered home ample evidence of the rank blindness of today's partisanship, what emerges for me are too queries: If Jesus and the mythical dragon (or octopus?) both appeared in the flesh, would it not be likely that millions would engage in partisan denial? And secondly, if such unprecedented evidence were to be revealed, would you yourself even be willing to ease up a bit on your near-mockery of most of the Trump team's play? e.g. ‘far-fetched,’ ‘de-legitimizing ... Joe Biden,’ ‘maintaining the fiction,’ ‘Trump's effort is hard to take seriously’ as the ‘best thing for Republican's’ ... And that's just from today's put-downs!?” – John Entermann, Anacortes, Wash.
[Ed. note: We do not wish to hurt your feelings, Mr. Entermann, or anybody else’s. But I would find it a little rich for those who are accusing their fellow Americans of massive criminal conduct -- stealing millions of votes -- to be so sensitive. I don’t know where you fall on the question yourself, but if you do believe Democrats stole the election, “near mockery” would seem to be a rather dainty counterclaim. There is overwhelming daily evidence that the effort by Rudy Giuliani is unserious. And there’s no question that such claims needlessly undermine voters’ confidence in the system and the new president it produced. Yet, three weeks on, and there’s no proof to even suggest that the election was stolen. As Democrats learned with the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and Michael Avenatti, major accusations require major evidence before you make them, not after. We could not have just ignored the biggest story in politics of at least the past four years -- a president trying to overturn the results of an election -- for fear that it would be unpleasant for the accusers. My hope is that as time goes by, these folks will quit waiting expectantly for ancient Scandinavian sea monsters and savoring their hurt feelings. It is hard to lose, harder still when you were led to believe that an election loss was more or less the end of America. But the great work of our nation remains ahead of us. We’d better get on with it.]
“It has been a week with no reply so I am going to try again. Why have the NY districts not been called? I understand the CA districts as they are within a point but not the NY.” – Robert Zack, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
[Ed. note: I’m sorry we couldn’t get to you the first time, but better late than never. Let’s start with two basic premises, Mr. Zack: 1) Narrowness of an election is not as important as the percentage of the vote to yet be counted 2) New York is terrible at elections. They did not even start counting absentee ballots in the 1st Congressional District until last week. The district, which covers the eastern end of Long Island, is currently represented by Republican Lee Zeldin. Zeldin leads by what appears to be an insurmountable margin of 22 points, but there are still nearly 70,000 votes to be counted. Those votes, like mail-in votes across the country, are expected to be very heavily Democratic. I think Zeldin is very likely to hold on, but New York just doesn’t do elections well -- and has not for a long time. The story is similar in the other four districts, but another few days won’t kill anybody. We do know the House will remain in Democratic hands. Of the eight seats yet to be decided, five are Republican held. That means the Republicans’ net gains could go as high as 11 or as low as three.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
Fox News: “In-N-Out Burger failed to live up to its name Friday as a 14-hour-long line formed at its first Colorado locations, prompting a brawl between waiting customers. The popular California-based fast-food chain opened two locations in the state, one in Colorado Springs and one in Aurora. The latter of the two locations saw wait times up to 14 hours. For context, one could drive from Aurora, Colo., to the In-N-Out in Orem, Utah, in only 8 hours. A roundtrip would only slightly be longer than waiting in the drive-thru line at the newest location. At one point, the Aurora Police Department tweeted out a warning about the drive-thru wait times, which had hit 12 hours by about 4:30 p.m. on opening day. Police were ready for any issues that may arise among the thousands of fans eager to lock down the chain’s signature Double Double and animal-style fries.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The sun rises regularly, too, but so often that we can't help being dulled to the wonder of its rhythm. And what rhythms, beyond that of the familiar year, really touch us?” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing about Halley’s comet in the Washington Post on Dec. 13, 1985.
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.