Fox News Halftime Report -- The coming holy war over EPA

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FOX NEWS HALFTIME REPORT
Dec. 8, 2016
By Chris Stirewalt

On the roster: The coming holy war over EPA - Trump may keep stake in business - W.Va. Republicans tell Trump to skip Manchin - I'll Tell You What: Proof is in the pudding - That's how they roll in Kokomo

THE COMING HOLY WAR OVER EPA

Well, you don't have to wonder anymore about which Trump cabinet appointment will most infuriate Democrats.

President-elect Donald Trump, naming Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA would be like picking Martin Luther to be the pope.

To say Pruitt is interested in reforming the federal agency is an understatement. In his position as attorney general of the energy-rich Sooner State, Pruitt has led a charge of other red-state attorneys general headlong at the heart of President Obama's global warming regulations.

What you have to remember here is that environmental regulations, particularly related to the earth's climate, no longer function as economic issues in American politics.

When President Richard Nixon created the EPA, it was around the consensus that some environmental regulations were necessary and that they should be conducted in such a way as to not stifle economic growth. Republicans generally wanted less and Democrats generally wanted more, but they were fighting on the same spectrum.

Climate regulations now act as social issues, and have even taken on the language of faith. Those who disagree with the consensus about the consequences of human activity on the planet's temperature ate dubbed "deniers" or "dissenters."

All together now for a stanza of "a mighty fortress is our atmosphere."

Most of those deemed "deniers" by absolutists on global warming don't actually deny that human activity has an effect on the climate. Among policymakers, the fight is over how severe the effects are and what steps are appropriate, practical and effective in dealing with them.

Convincing someone who works on an oil patch in Oklahoma that his job should be sacrificed for the climate even as China, India and other developing nations pump evermore carbon into the atmosphere has always been somewhat of a hard sell.

On the other hand, if you believe that earth really is in the balance and our planetary home is just years away from becoming uninhabitable, trillions of dollars in economic disruption would be a small price to pay for the survival of the species.

Peering angrily at each other across the chasm, hardliners on the skeptic side and the absolutist side long ago stopped looking for common ground.

Trump did something interesting with his Pruitt pick. Right before selecting a swashbuckling anti-EPA, nominee to lead the agency, Trump met at length with two of the celebrity archbishops of the anti-global warming movement: Former Vice President Al Gore and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

It looks like Trump is doing a rope-a-dope on the mainstream mores on climate change. He's rubbing elbows with celebrity environmentalists and handing Pruitt a hatchet to go after their work.

This sets up a most interesting confirmation process for Pruitt.

Democrats would be rightly concerned about ardently opposing many of Trump's picks. His man for secretary of defense is the most acclaimed Marine general of a generation. The same goes for the other former Marine general Trump tapped for homeland security secretary.

Certainly, there will be party line opposition for some of Trump's picks, especially conservative ideologues tapped to run the departments of Education, Transportation, and now, perhaps, the businessman who Trump has chosen to lead the Labor department.

But Pruitt poses and interesting case in his bid to get 51 votes for confirmation. Not every Republican may feel comfortable voting for an EPA director who will, by the time of his arrival on the Hill, be depicted by Democrats and in the press as the anti-Earth nominee and a denier of accepted science.

Blue-state Republicans and those who cherish their status as global warming believers will feel a lot of pressure to oppose Pruitt.

This one is going to be a donnybrook.

THE RULEBOOK: COMMERCE A PRIMARY POLITICAL CARE
"The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by all enlightened statesmen to be the most useful as well as the most productive source of national wealth, and has accordingly become a primary object of their political cares." – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 12

TIME OUT: MINOR CHARACTERS OF LITERATURE FOR $25,000, ALEX
Torquay (England) Herald Express: "You've checked your new [five pound banknotes] for rare serial numbers, you've checked them for unusual images. But now there's a tiny engraving that could make your humble plastic fiver worth [$25,131]. Four of the new plastic £5 notes which have just been released into circulation carry a tiny engraving by world famous 'micro engraver' Graham Short, from Birmingham, who was commissioned to etch a microscopic image on to just four of the polymer notes. He painstakingly carved tiny portraits of Jane Austen on to the special notes, next to the images of Sir Winston Churchill and Big Ben. Classic quotes from Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park have also been engraved on to the Bank of England notes, which go into circulation this weekend."

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

TRUMP MAY KEEP STAKE IN BUSINESS
NYT: "President-elect Donald J. Trump is considering formally turning over the operational responsibility for his real estate company to his two adult sons, but he intends to keep a stake in the business and resist calls to divest, according to several people briefed on the discussions. Under a plan now being considered by the Trump family and its lawyers, Ivanka Trump, Mr. Trump's elder daughter, would also take a leave of absence from the Trump Organization, in the surest sign that she is exploring a potential move to Washington with her husband, Jared Kushner. Mr. Kushner is discussing an as-yet undetermined role advising his father-in-law, and Ms. Trump plans on being an advocate on issues in which she has a personal interest, like child care."

GOP DIVIDED ON TRUMP'S COMMENTS ON STATUS OF ILLEGAL CHILDREN
AP: "Donald Trump's promise to 'work something out' for immigrants brought here illegally as kids is dividing fellow Republicans, underscoring how difficult it will be for Congress to take any action on immigration, whether it's building a wall or dealing with immigrant youths. Complicating matters, the president-elect's advisers worked to walk back his comments almost as soon as they were published, with one transition aide demanding anonymity to deny that Trump intended to set any new policy."

W.VA. REPUBLICANS TELL TRUMP TO SKIP MANCHIN
One of the presumed advantages of President-elect Donald Trump choosing West Virginia Democratic Sen Joe Manchin for a cabinet post is depriving Manchin's party of the chance to run a strong incumbent in the bright-red state in 2018. But, somewhat surprisingly the chairman of the state Republican Party says the GOP wants Manchin to remain in his Senate seat too: "While Republicans in West Virginia appreciate President-Elect Donald Trump's desire for a diverse cabinet and his understanding of the need for bipartisanship," said State Party Chairman Conrad Lucas in a statement. "We in the strongest possible terms encourage him to choose a true conservative who has never sold out our energy industries and working families to the Obama-Clinton Team."

Spending bill expected to pass House today, faces trouble in the Senate - The Hill: "Both the White House and top congressional Democrats signaled Wednesday that they would not block a government funding bill that includes language to ease the confirmation process for [retired Gen. James Mattis], Trump's pick for Defense secretary. That means the stopgap spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown should easily clear the House on Thursday afternoon. It's expected to pass the Senate before a Friday night deadline, despite some last-minute kinks to work out in the upper chamber. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has threatened to hold up the must-pass spending legislation unless Congress fixes problems with healthcare benefits and the pension system for retired coal miners."

Power Play: Repeal and replace or delay? - Republicans vow to repeal ObamaCare but are split on the timing of replacing it. Sen John Barrasso, R-W.Y., a surgeon by trade, offers insight on the "repeal and delay" strategy being pushed by GOP leadership. WATCH HERE.

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT: PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
Dana
Perino and Chris Stirewalt break down the latest Trump transition team picks, including tackling the difficult question of what the president-elect will do on his signature campaign issue: immigration. Plus, your favorite duo discuss the secrets to the perfect Christmas gift as the holiday quickly approaches. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE.

SUBSTITUTIONS
-- Andrew Puzder, CEO of the company that owns Hardee's and Carl's Jr. restaurants, is Trump's pick to be Labor secretary.

--Trump's transition team announced that the president-elect intends to meet today with former Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally. A top source in the Trump transition team tells Fox News that the two will discuss the secretary of state spot.

-- Professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon has been chosen as head of the Small Business Administration.

--Trump met today with retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, a former supreme allied commander of NATO. Stavridis was vetted as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton over the summer.

--Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, will also meet with Trump. Labrador is a member of the Freedom Caucus who campaigned for Trump, but recently promised to be a "check" on his presidency.

AUDIBLE: NO OFFENSE
"I believe that the media should be very clear, very transparent, and not fall prey — without offence, please — to the sickness of coprophilia, which is always wanting to communicate scandal, to communicate ugly things, even though they may be true." – Pope Francis in an interview with the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio

THE JUDGE'S RULING: ARE SANCTUARY CITIES LEGAL?
The courts ruled that President Obama exceeded his authority on immigration. President-Elect Trump wants to enforce federal law. What are Trump's options if sanctuary cites say no? Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano concludes: "He cannot use a stick to bend the governments of sanctuary cities to his will, but he can use a carrot. He can ask Congress for legislative grants of funds to cities conditioned upon their compliance with certain federal immigration laws." More here.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump targeting continues with union leader in Indiana who criticized Carrier deal - AP

Boeing CEO calls Trump after Air Force One criticism - Fox Business

Palmieri says Trump team needs to own up to how he won - WaPo

Ellison says he'll resign from Congress if he's elected as DNC chairman - Fox News

House GOP PAC quadrupled fundraising from previous high - USA Today

Voices from the Democratic counties Trump won big - Time

Federal judge kills recount effort in Mich. - The Hill

FROM THE BLEACHERS
"Delighted to have a podcast for a pre-dawn drive to Jackson. Somewhere in the gloaming, mention was made of "riding on the back of an octopus." Wonderful analogy, but who knew octopi had backs???" – Mary Carol Miller, Greenwood, Miss.

[Ed. note: Well, Ms. Miller. I hope your trip to Jackson turned out better than Johnny Cash's. Though getting married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout doesn't sound all that bad…Thank you for your kind words about the podcast. Getting the chance to hang out for 40 minutes for my friend Dana, even remotely, is great fun. I'm glad it comes through for listeners. As to the backs of octopi, the secret is just make sure you're on the opposite side of the beak. Safe travels.]

"The Electoral College ingeniously achieves this relative balance in the Executive branch by diluting overall population majority by choosing each representative by a majority in its area…If the Electoral College were eliminated the major population areas in the North East and California would dominate the majority of states. Thus this would lead to disenfranchisement of the larger part of the country and dissolution of the Union. We are already a house divided. This is not the time to make fundamental changes that alter the stability of our Democratic Republic." – Ken Trawick, Albertville, Ala.

[Ed. note: You're probably right, Mr. Trawick. But in the universe of unintended consequences also consider the fact that popular election of presidents would be an encouragement to demagogues of any region or group. By siloing electoral votes by state, candidates are forced to make varying arguments and build coalitions that transcend regional boundaries. Picture a popular vote with multiple candidates. The incentive for demagogues to stoke the passions of a plurality would be intense. Our system of primaries and electoral votes is a safeguard against this conduct. And that was an ambition, no doubt, of the Framers.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

THAT'S HOW THEY ROLL IN KOKOMO
Indy Star: "At their height, the pings and bells of pinball machines could be heard in arcades and pizza parlors across Kokomo [Ind.], offering an afternoon escape for teenagers and a consistently profitable investment for store owners. Unbeknownst to the two groups, their actions were illegal. A recent city ordinance, passed on first reading last week by the Common Council, looks to reverse an arcane, unenforced law that prohibits pinball machines in Kokomo. In fact, it was deemed 'unlawful for any person to operate, permit to be operated, or permit to be offered or available for operation, any pinball machine,' as written in city records. It's now the council's intention to repeal the 'outdated' ban, likely by Monday, Dec. 12."

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in you inbox every day? Sign up here.

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