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On the roster: What’s the good news? – Biden: Warren would be ‘very angry’ about veep talk – House heads into closing impeachment arguments – DOJ watchdog Horowitz’s report to be released – Excuse me…?
WHAT’S THE GOOD NEWS?
You won’t find anything too surprising in Apple’s new “The Morning Show.” It starts out as basically a woke “Network” that in subsequent episodes turns into a standard-issue potboiler – Intrigue! Scandal! Office politics!
You can watch “The Mandalorian” or Jeff Goldblum’s new show (please do) or old episodes of “Magnum P.I.” (Would you be so lucky!) It’s not like we’re running out of things to distract ourselves.
We only bring up “The Morning Show” because it’s making some of its living off of how you do politics. Everyone has a right to make a living, and politics is no exception. In fact, we make our living off of how you do politics, too.
Our hope, though, is that we are additive. We assume you already know what you know and feel how you feel. We certainly didn’t come here to deal with any of that messy business. We wish you the best in your affections and antipathies. Our job is just to give you information in context as you look for the end of whatever ideological rainbow you’re chasing.
We also do not think that you are stupid. We understand that as a self-selected group of a third of a million people, our readers are not a representative sample. If we had a nation entirely of Halftime Report readers, we would have excellent government, political comity and a looming civil war over dressing recipes and Sturgill Simson albums.
But heckuva lot more than 300,000 people will watch Apple’s new show. And here’s what they think about American news consumers – you: You’re depressed, addicted, partisan morons.
As the neutral-chaotic, vulpine network boss is explaining to the producer of the eponymous show “how things really are” he offers a little soliloquy about news consumers:
“People get their horrible news delivered to the palm of their hand 24/7 and they get it the way they like it, colored the way they want it,” he, the Diana Christensen of the new century, intones, “The news is awful. But humanity is addicted to it. The whole world is depressed by it.”
Well that tore it for us, right there. That lazy, conventional cynicism passed off as realism is a mainstay of mainstream thinking. It’s been that way at least since Andy Griffith gave us Lonesome Rhodes in 1957.
Separate yourself for a second from your rooting interest in the ongoing political fight in America today.
How are things?
Our nation is basically at full employment, wages are up, year-over-year and we are as close to at peace with the world as we are ever likely to be. Crime is, in historical context, low. Technological innovation makes ordinary what would have seemed miraculous just a generation ago and, as of this writing, the Steelers are still on track for the playoffs.
We are not talking about what could go wrong. That is, as usual, almost everything. We are not talking about what has gone wrong before. That is a great deal. We are not talking about the opportunities to do good that have been missed. That is a list almost without end.
But the news is not awful. Humanity is not addicted to it. The world is not depressed by what’s going on.
Now, it’s certainly true that many people are making themselves too comfortable in their little partisan news silos. Snowflakeism is prevalent and not limited to any age or political philosophy. And cynics know that bad news – even apocalyptic-sounding news – works for people hunkered down in those cramped spaces.
And yes, sometimes the news is “awful.” There’s corruption, murder, abuse, disease and discord. But is that new? We’d gladly take the producers of the show to four or five times in the past hundred years where it was worse.
Humanity is not addicted to bad news. Humanity is addicted to hope. In the face of the most hideous abuses – far worse than crappy American politics in the second decade of this century — people remain hopeful and optimistic. It is that optimism in the face of sure-fire suffering and loss that makes us who we are. It is that indomitable spirit.
And the whole world is not depressed. The people of this planet are making their way as best as they can. They are loving the weak. They are providing for those who depend on them. They are trying to leave this place better than it found it. That’s not true for everybody in the world, but it’s true for a greater number of people than who “The Morning Show” says are depressed morons.
It’s cheap and easy to make a living off of the end of America or the end of the West or the end of anything. People on all sides do it. They don’t tell you the good news. They don’t tell you why you should be happy to be alive at this moment more than any other in history. They do not celebrate with you.
And that’s because they think of you as that fictional producer does: Addicted to pap, depressed about the country’s future and hopelessly biased.
Our plea to you: Defy them at every turn. In every way you can, stage a rebellion of informed, optimistic liberty. We have never thought any less than that of you and will be here for reinforcements whenever you need.
THE RULEBOOK: KEEP THOSE MOTIVES IN CHECK
“Two motives preponderated in that opposition: one, a jealousy entertained of our future power; and the other, the interest of certain individuals of influence in the neighboring States, who had obtained grants of lands under the actual government of that district.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 7
TIME OUT: ‘HALF A LEAGUE ONWARD’
History: “On December 9 , The Examiner prints Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade,’ which commemorates the courage of 600 British soldiers charging a heavily defended position during the Battle of Balaklava, in the Crimea, just six weeks earlier. Tennyson had been named poet laureate in 1850 by Queen Victoria. … The sudden death of Tennyson’s dear friend Arthur Hallam in 1833 inspired several important works throughout Tennyson’s later life, including the masterful In Memoriam of 1842. Later that year, he published a volume called Poems, containing some of his best works. The book boosted Tennyson’s reputation, and in 1850 Queen Victoria named him poet laureate. … Tennyson’s massive frame and booming voice, together with his taste for solitude, made him an imposing character. … In 1859, he published the first four books of his epic Idylls of the King. Eight more volumes would follow. He continued writing and publishing poems until his death in 1892.”
Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.
DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING
Biden: 26 points (no change in points)
Warren: 19.4 points (no change in points)
Sanders: 17.2 points (no change in points)
Buttigieg: 10.2 points (no change in points)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, CNN, Monmouth University, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 43 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -9.8 percent
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 40% approve – 54% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve – 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 45% approve – 52% disapprove.]
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BIDEN: WARREN WOULD BE ‘VERY ANGRY’ ABOUT VEEP TALK
Axios: “Former Vice President Joe Biden said Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be on his list of potential VP nominees, although he claims she’d be ‘very angry at my having said that.’ Biden told ‘Axios on HBO’ that he would base his VP choice on lessons learned from his time serving as No. 2 to former President Barack Obama. ‘[Y]ou have to have somebody who knows that you and he or she are totally simpatico in terms of your ideology, where you want to take the country, your vision for the country, and you have to be able to turn over significant responsibility to them,’ Biden said. … Biden acknowledged it would be valuable for the Democrats to have a woman or person of color on the ticket, but said it’d be presumptuous for him to name a potential VP list without being the nominee. ‘I’d add Senator Warren to the list. … The question is would she add me made to her list. You know.’”
Warren likes all-female ticket – AP: “Elizabeth Warren said Sunday she believes Americans are ready for a presidential ticket with two women at the top, rejecting concerns from some Democrats that a woman can’t beat President Donald Trump. ‘Sure, why not?’ the Democratic presidential candidate told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of a town hall campaign event in Charleston. ‘I think (voters) would support a lot of different combinations.’ In the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat, some Democrats have expressed hesitation about nominating another woman to take on Trump in 2020. But Warren argued that women notched historic wins during the 2018 midterms, suggesting voters are worried less about gender than the message candidates are offering. … Warren has said she’d consider tapping Harris as a running mate. She also told the AP she would be ‘open’ to asking former Vice President Joe Biden to reprise his old job.”
Buttigieg releases summary of consultancy work – Fox News: “Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is calling on a consulting firm he used to work for to release a list of clients he was assigned, and to release him from his nondisclosure agreement — while releasing a summary of his work there, amid concerns about potential conflicts of interest if he were elected president. ‘I believe transparency is particularly important under the present circumstances in our country, which is one of the reasons why I have released all tax returns from my time in the private sector and since,’ the South Bend, Ind. mayor said in a statement. ‘I am today reiterating my request that McKinsey release me from this agreement, and I again make clear that I authorize them to release the full list of clients I was assigned to serve.’”
America’s rural hospital crisis becomes major 2020 campaign issue – Fox News: “Since 2010, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed, with another 430 at risk of shutting their doors, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. … As the crisis worsens, it has started to generate increased attention on the campaign trail. Presidential candidates are now talking about the rural hospital shortage on a regular basis, unlike past cycles, as they court voters in critical states like Iowa where the thinning medical infrastructure is an everyday reality. ‘Rural health just simply has not been a topic in presidential debates and campaigns in the past,’ said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). … ‘It’s surfacing the issue as a key presidential campaign topic as we move forward.’ Voters in rural Iowa say health care access is one of their top concerns and will play a role in deciding who to vote for in the Feb. 3 caucuses.”
HOUSE HEADS INTO CLOSING IMPEACHMENT ARGUMENTS
Bloomberg: “House investigators give their closing summations Monday in the Democrats’ case against President Donald Trump as they continue debating how far they want to go in drafting articles of impeachment later this week. Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Sunday his panel is on track to decide on what charges will be brought against the president, setting up an historic vote on impeachment in the full House before Congress leaves for a scheduled holiday break on Dec. 20. Likely articles of impeachment are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, he said. ‘There’s a sense of urgency, because he will do anything — judging from his past conduct — that he can to get interference and to rig the next election,’ Nadler said of Trump on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ program. Judiciary Committee Democrats worked through the weekend preparing for Monday’s hearing at which the staff counsels of both parties will outline opposing views of the evidence from months of work by multiple House committees.”
DOJ watchdog Horowitz’s report to be released today – Fox News: “The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is set to release a highly anticipated report Monday that is expected to document misconduct — including the deliberate falsification of at least one key document — during the investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign. At the same time, the report, as described by people familiar with its findings, is expected to conclude there was an adequate basis for opening one of the most politically sensitive investigations in FBI history. It began in secret during Trump’s 2016 presidential run before then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller ultimately took it over. … The release of Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz‘s review is unlikely to quell the partisan battles that have surrounded the Russia investigation for years. It’s also not the last word: A separate internal investigation continues, overseen by Attorney General Bill Barr and led by U.S. Attorney John Durham. That investigation is criminal in nature, and Republicans may look to it to uncover wrongdoing that the inspector general wasn’t examining.”
Cruz suggests Ukraine interfered in U.S. election – Axios: “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday that Ukraine ‘blatantly interfered’ in the 2016 election, repeating a conspiracy theory that experts warn has been promoted by Russian intelligence services. Cruz is one of several Republican senators who have refused to disavow the allegations that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, despite receiving a briefing from intelligence officials that this is an alternative narrative being propagated by Russian security services. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who said he did not attend the briefing, claimed on ‘Meet the Press’ last week that former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ‘actively worked’ for Hillary Clinton. The Ukrainian election conspiracy is one of the defenses that Trump’s allies have used to justify his decision to withhold military aid to the country.”
Pergram: House votes on impeachment articles would be monumental – Fox News: “There are important roll call votes on Capitol Hill — but votes on articles of impeachment against President Trump would be monumental. … The House Judiciary Committee is likely to entertain three to five articles of impeachment for Trump. … It’s then up to the Judiciary Committee to actually approve the articles and send them to the House floor. The House must then vote to adopt or reject those articles. Without question, these votes on articles of impeachment would be the most critical ballots cast in the 116th Congress. They could be the cardinal votes many lawmakers would make during their congressional tenures. That said, 55 House members who voted on the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton in 1998 have remained in the House.”
Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., announces retirement – Politico
House Dems, Trump trade man Robert Lighthizer close to deal on U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement
Ruth Bader Ginsburg temporarily blocks release of Trump’s financial records – Fox News
House, Senate announce bipartisan deal banning surprise medical bills, raising tobacco purchase age to 21 – Roll Call
SupCo leaves Kentucky ultrasound law in place – Fox News
AUDIBLE: *SLOW CLAPPING*
“People ask me questions about present situations in life, and I say, ‘I don’t know, I’m just an actor. I don’t have any opinions. Actors are pretty stupid. My opinion is not worth anything. There’s no controversy for me, so don’t engage me in it, because I’m not going to participate.’” – Actor Anthony Hopkins to Interview Magazine
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
SciTechDaily: “One of the first things new viewers of the cartoon ‘Rick and Morty’ might notice about Rick Sanchez is his penchant for punctuating his speech with burps. Linguistics can provide a new way to read into the dimension-hopping grandfather’s midsentence belching. Researcher Brooke Kidner has analyzed the frequency and acoustics of belching while speaking. By zeroing in on the specific pitches and sound qualities of a midspeech burp in ‘Rick and Morty,’ the work takes aim at finding what latent linguistic meaning might be found in the little-studied gastrointestinal grumbles. ‘There has not been any serious attempts to acoustically or phonetically describe the characteristics of belching in over 60 years,’ Kidner said. … Human speech contains a wide soundscape of nontraditional words, such groans and gasps, that still convey meaning and make up what is called a paralanguage. Belching during speech is a relatively less common paralinguistic item.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“My contention is that important as this debate [on the Holy War] is, it has become impoverished and embittered because it has been wrongly framed, because it has been so dominated by two warring tendencies—one sectarian, the other secular—both of which fundamentally misapprehend the historical role of religion in American public life.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the New Republic on April 9, 1984.
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.