IN­SIDE THE BELT­WAY

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY JENNIFER HARPER

DEMOCRATS READY FOR ‘ONE HELL OF A FIGHT’

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

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Trou­bled Democrats watch re­sults dur­ing pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton’s elec­tion night rally in the Ja­cob Jav­its Cen­ter in New York.

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