- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2016

It’s travel time for both President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump this weekend, but for widely different reasons. Mr. Obama departed Friday for his Christmas vacation in Hawaii, the last while he is in office. Judicial Watch recently revealed that, to date, the first family’s personal travel expenses have totaled more than $85 million. Last year’s jaunt to Hawaii cost $4.8 million, according to the watchdog, which bases the estimates on information from Freedom of Information Act requests and factors such as the cost of aircraft fuel, among other things. Well. Let’s just say aloha here, ‘tis the season. Enjoy Hawaii. Mr. Obama returns to the nation’s capital Jan. 3.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump so far has met with 90 prospective Cabinet members in his New York City offices, this according to his transition team. But he has not forgotten his “USA thank you tour,” meant to recognize steadfast voters who never deserted him during a particularly grueling campaign. These jumbo rallies are still drawing a reported 14,000 fans.

On Friday, Mr. Trump was in Orlando, Florida, accompanied by Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Saturday finds Mr. Trump solo in Mobile, Alabama. It is evident that he relishes these jubilant voter visits — very local and authentically down home in nature. They also worked for him.

A few numbers to remember: Mr. Trump won 306 electoral votes, the most for a Republican since George H.W. Bush in 1988. He carried nine of 13 battleground states. He won more than 2,600 counties nationwide, the most since President Reagan in 1984. Additionally, he won 62 million votes in the popular vote, the highest all-time for a Republican nominee — this tally from incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

And speaking of Mr. Priebus, he has been re-examining the current culture of the White House press corps and may have an overhaul in mind. In an interview with talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, Mr. Priebus advised that such practices as reserved seating for select reporters in the press room may be on the way out.

“I think it’s time to revisit a lot of these things that have been done in the White House, and I can assure you that change is going to happen,” said Mr. Priebus.

CLASSIC KELLYANNE

A quick aside from President-elect Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway: During an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” she was asked about White House press secretary Josh Earnest’s suggestion that Mr. Trump had “called on Russia” to hack the emails of Hillary Clinton and her campaign.

“That is just remarkable, that is breathtaking. I guess he’s auditioning to be a political pundit after his job is over,” Ms. Conway told the network. “He essentially stated that the president-elect had knowledge of this, maybe even fanned the flames. It’s incredibly irresponsible and I wonder if his boss President Obama agrees.”

TAMING FAKE NEWS

Americans almost universally agree that “fake news” is counterproductive: 88 percent say the potentially dangerous phenomena is causing public confusion reports a new Pew Research Center survey.

“If the spread of fake news is a problem, who bears responsibility for addressing it? In the month since the presidential election, social networking sites and search engines have taken steps to address the issue. And there have been calls for the government and the public itself to take action as well,” the poll reports.

“Americans collectively assign a fairly high and roughly equal amount of responsibility to all three of these groups. Fully 45 percent say government, politicians and elected officials have a great deal of responsibility, roughly equal to the proportion who say a great deal of responsibility lies with members of the public (43 percent) and with social networking sites and search engines (42 percent).”

TRUMP HAS A FRIEND IN GREENLAND

Vittus Qujaukitsoq — Greenland’s minister of industry, labor, trade, energy and foreign affairs — has revealed that his government and his nation “welcomes the election of Donald Trump’s pro oil and gas administration.” The minister went public this week in a “blunt speech” during the Arctic Circle Forum, staged in Quebec City on Monday — this according to the Nunatsiaq News, which covers the eastern Arctic region of Canada.

Mr. Trump’s appointment of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state is also “good for Greenland,” Mr. Qujaukitsoq told his audience, noting that without revenue from “non-renewable resource extraction, including oil and gas,” Greenland cannot achieve political independence from Denmark.

“Greenland is an emerging nation. We are in the middle of nation building,” said Mr. Qujaukitsoq.

And a word on Greenland: At 836,109 square miles, it is the largest island in the world and has a population of 57,714. It mostly has been considered a territory of Denmark, which granted Greenland self-rule in 2009.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: The Restmore Estate, built in 1912 on six acres overlooking Long Island Sound, near Fairfield, Connecticut. The 6,900-square-foot “Cape Dutch style” mansion includes five bedrooms, five baths, formal living and dining rooms, game room, office, study, sun room. Six fireplaces, original woodworking and built-ins, heated porches; extensive renovations, “painstakingly preserved original grandeur.” Barn, greenhouse, playhouse, workshop, two-bay garage. Priced at $3.9 million through Weichertrp.com; find the home here.

POLL DU JOUR

62 percent of Americans think President-elect Donald Trump will bring about “real change in the way things are done in Washington”; 87 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of independents and 44 percent of Democrats agree.

50 percent overall expect Mr. Trump to make decisions to further the interests of the nation; 86 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents and 20 percent of Democrats agree.

44 percent overall expect Mr. Trump to make decisions to further his own business interests; 11 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 73 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent overall approve of the Cabinet selections Mr. Trump has made; 77 percent of Republicans, 39 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agree.

32 percent overall say he will not bring about real change; 11 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 49 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CBS News poll of 1,259 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 9-13.

Doggerel and caterwaul to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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