- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2016

President Obama has already urged Democrats to gird for battle, issuing a strident public outreach to those “ready to fight back” against President-elect Donald Trump’s victory. Dutiful Democrats are now rattling their swords and amping up the language.  But many observers are convinced that the nimble, media-savvy Mr. Trump — who embarks Thursday on a heartland “thank you” tour — will simply outmaneuver them. Take Mr. Trump’s suggestion that those who burn American flags should face serious consequences. Some say his comment held deliberate, hidden purpose that bordered on political psyops. Indeed, left-leaning folk were instantly provoked.

“He was tweaking them the way I tweak the media,” said radio host Rush Limbaugh in the immediate aftermath.

Sure enough, a group doused two U.S. flags with lighter fluid and set them aflame outside of Trump Tower in New York City, prompting more commentary.

“Just a friendly heads up: Burning flags won’t make Trump look bad. It makes YOU look bad. He’s plaaaayyyiiinnggg you,” advised CNN contributor and conservative columnist Amanda Carpenter in a tweet to the group, which posted a video of their act and created the Twitter hashtag #flagburningchallenge.

But defeated Democrats may not care about the greater implications at this juncture. They appear ready to rumble.



“Watching Trump pick his transition team and administration over the last couple of weeks has made one thing extremely clear: we’re going to have one hell of a fight on our hands for the next four years,” says Eric Walker, deputy communications director for the Democratic National Committee, in his own message to the party, now blue in more ways than one.

“From white nationalist Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, billionaire anti-public education crusader Betsy DeVos as his Secretary of Education, birther and staunch Obamacare opponent Tom Price at Health and Human Services, and bona fide racist and voting rights opponent Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General pick, Donald Trump didn’t ‘drain the swamp’ — he brought the worst monsters from the swamp onto his team,” continues Mr. Walker. “We’re not waiting for January 20th to start fighting back against Trump and the GOP. We’re getting started right now.”

MCCARTHY TAKES THE LEAD

Multiple polls previously revealed that the American public was vexed by a Congress that appeared to be accomplishing little. That impression should change, and soon. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is pushing back with practical tactics.

He has increased the average number of days the House will be in session by the equivalent of more than three legislative weeks — particularly during the first part of the year — all to ensure that the House has “ample time to enact a conservative agenda,” the California Republican says.

“We have no time to waste to get the people’s work done. To use the House’s time as effectively as possible after such a historic election, I have scheduled the House to be in session for more days and for longer weeks, especially during President-elect Trump’s first 100 days in office,” says Mr. McCarthy. “We will hit the ground running, and we won’t stop until the people start seeing the results they’ve been asking for.”

YEAH, ABOUT THAT RECOUNT

Former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein garnered considerable press coverage after she demanded a recount of the final election results in some states. It proved a convenient vehicle for Hillary Clinton’s campaign as well; they too joined the fray — deemed a “delusional melodrama” by Edward Morrissey, a columnist for The Week. Indeed, it could be all for naught.

“The Wisconsin and other possible recounts are very unlikely to change the results,” says David A. Caputo, a political science professor at Pace University. “The number of votes which change in a recount are usually far less than the margin of victory here for Donald Trump. There is no credible evidence of fraud in Wisconsin or elsewhere. I would expect the Wisconsin recount and any others to have no impact on the final results unless the Green Party knows something that others do not. I doubt if that is the case.”

KEEP ‘EM FLYING

“The Air Force has too few fighter squadrons to meet commanders’ needs,” writes Carla Babb, Pentagon correspondent for the Voice of America. She managed to get some exclusive numbers from Maj. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, and the man in charge of “fixing the fighter pilot crisis.”

He revealed that the Air Force is currently authorized to have 3,500 fighter pilots, but is now 725 fighter pilots short. The number of fighter pilot squadrons has dropped from 134 squadrons in 1986 to 55 in 2016. Yes, you read that right.

“As a greater percentage of the force has needed to be deployed over the past 10 years, readiness — the ability to accomplish missions at home and abroad — has dropped 20 percent,” Ms. Babb says.

FOXIFIED

Fox News continues to be the cable news kingpin, marking 179 months as the No. 1 such network. That’s almost 15 years in first place. Fox News has also been the top-rated network across all cable networks for the last 14 weeks, besting ESPN and other heavyweights. During November Fox also claimed 14 of the top 15 cable news programs, drawing an average prime-time audience of 3.3 million, according to Nielsen — that’s up 71 percent compared to this time last year. CNN drew 1.5 million, MSNBC 1.3 million.

And a round of applause for “The O’Reilly Factor,” rated the No. 1 cable news show for 192 months — or 16 years. “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which premiered Nov. 14, is averaging 2.9 million nightly viewers — up 40 percent compared to the same time slot a year ago. The Fox Business Network, meanwhile, enjoyed its highest-rated month ever, averaging 240,000 daily viewers, up by 150 percent since last year.

POLL DU JOUR

64 percent of married U.S. adults say “shared interests” are very important to a successful marriage.

61 percent cite a “satisfying sexual relationship”; 56 percent say “sharing household chores” is very important.

47 percent cite “shared religious beliefs,” 43 percent “having children.”

42 percent say an adequate income is key, 16 percent say “agreement on politics.”

Source: A Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Survey and Analysis of 4,000 married U.S. adults conducted from March 17 to May 15, 2015, and released Wednesday.

• Casual chitchat, ultimate truths to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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