Fox News Halftime Report -- Whew!

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FOX NEWS HALFTIME REPORT
Dec. 23, 2016
By Chris Stirewalt


On the roster: Whew! - Power Play: Six lessons from 2016 - Trump, Putin jockey on arms race - I'll Tell You What: 'Zat you, Santy Claus? - Nutcracker, indeed

WHEW!
Well, that was quite a year…

We thank you so much for spending some of it with us.

Your support, insights, thoughtful disagreements and good humor have been tremendous blessings. We thank you for all of it.

Fox News Halftime is declaring an early end for 2016. We will return on Jan. 3 as we make ready for an inauguration, a new beginning and what promises to be an action-packed 2017.

We send you every good wish and prayer for Christmas, Hanukah, New Year or whatever you celebrate this season, as well as our continuing gratitude.

Looking back on the year, our very favorite part has been our ongoing correspondence with you, dear readers.

Normally, "From the Bleachers" comes last, but today we're putting it first, just as you are in our book.

We'll talk soon.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
"This election it certainly has not gone unnoticed in my household that our President-elect has been all over a number of issues, big and small, and the traditional Christmas greeting of old -- quite refreshingly, I should add -- is one of them. My spouse and I have noticed whenever Mr Trump or one of his appointees has stepped before a Trump Tower podium for an administration announcement a very clear message is emblazoned across said podium: Merry Christmas USA" – Bristol Mercheson, Philadelphia

[Ed. note: Those who object to the slide into "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas" lament the end of one of the most pronounced expressions of America's Christian identity. And while the shift has been in large part because of the growing number of non-Christians – mostly non-believers – in the country, there's another wrinkle Christians should consider here, too. One of the reasons for the commonality of the Christmas greeting in prior decades was the degree to which the holiday was drained of its spiritual significance, especially in the second half of the 20th century. But with the revival of evangelical American Christianity, starting in the 1970s, Christmas started to take on a meaning beyond Rudolph and making merry and bright. Jesus, the billboards tell us, is the reason for the season. In the seasonal battle between Santa and Christ, Immanuel, the fat man has lost lots of ground in the past 30 years. A holiday that celebrates the birth of God in human form to a teenage Jewish peasant girl two millennia ago – of God who came to die to ransom from sin and death the people He loves – is some heavy-duty stuff. So while it's true that a multi-cultural America has less room for Christmas, Christmas these days has less room for multi-culturalism, too. I certainly wish you and yours a very merry Christmas. Thanks for reading and taking the time to write!]

"I don't think Charlie Daniels or Willie Nelson would turn [Donald Trump] down." – Lanny Blanchard, Woodland Park, CO

[Ed note: Republicans have long struggled to match Democrats for famous friends in the entertainment industry and that tends to come through loud and clear at inaugural season. Though George W. Bush scored in 2001 with then-popular acts including Ricky Martin, Jessica Simpson and 98 Degrees, history has not been kind to the party and popular music. Oddly, though, Republicans have tended to not take advantage of their natural constituency among county musicians. No doubt that Charlie Daniels would show up for Trump and get that fiddle going hotter than a $2 pistol. But be careful about Willie. Remember what happened the first time he showed up at the White House…"]

"Chris, as a Scottish-born American citizen (by choice), it did my heart good to see you quote Robert Burn's ineffable wisdom from 'To a mouse'. Although the plans '…o' mice and men' going awry suit the topical realities, the punch line portends,  '…and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy'. Burns also had some excellent admonition in 'To a louse': '...O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us/ To see oursels as ithers see us!/ It wad frae mony a blunder free us,/ An' foolish notion'.  Of course, it seems the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history! I look forward to your erudite halftime report communication every day in my inbox. Merry Christmas and 'a guid New Year tae aen and a' '.' – Jim Black, Brentwood CA

[Ed. note: Tremendous, Mr. Black! Thank you for bringing your insights and your peoples' poetry to America. We'll expect you back with some other best selections of Burns Day next month. Until them 'And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!/ and gie's a hand o' thine!/And we'll tak' a right gude-willie waught,/ for auld lang syne.'"]

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

POWER PLAY: SIX LESSONS FROM 2016
What can we learn from an election year that upended political norms? Josh Kraushaar, Political Editor at National Journal, and Daniel Halper, Washington bureau chief for the New York Post, share their top lessons learned in 2016. WATCH HERE.

THE RULEBOOK: DEFENSE OF THE NATION
"[U]nless it can be shown that the circumstances which may affect the public safety are reducible within certain determinate limits; unless the contrary of this position can be fairly and rationally disputed, it must be admitted, as a necessary consequence, that there can be no limitation of that authority which is to provide for the defense and protection of the community, in any matter essential to its efficacy that is, in any matter essential to the formationdirection, or support of the national forces." – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 23

TIME OUT: DELICIOUS READS
Longreads offers up a selection of great articles on the culinary side of Christmas: "For many of us who celebrate Christmas, foods are as closely bound to the experience as gift-giving. And making fun of fruitcake has become a time-honored tradition — though thanks to the success of this dedicated fruitcake besmirchment campaign, I suspect many of us have never actually tasted, let alone received or re-gifted, a traditional fruitcake. This reading list celebrates oft-maligned holiday foods like fruitcake and mincemeat pie, along with unlikely new candidates like White Castle and KFC."

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

TRUMP, PUTIN JOCKEY ON ARMS RACE
AP: "President-elect Donald Trump has re-opened the debate over nuclear proliferation, calling for the United States to 'greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability' until the rest of the world 'comes to its senses' regarding nuclear weapons. His comments Thursday on Twitter came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin said strengthening his country's nuclear capabilities should be a chief military objective in the coming year. The president-elect's statement also followed his meetings a day earlier with top Pentagon officials and defense contractors … MSNBC reported Friday that Trump said: 'Let it be an arms race, because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.'"

All good, bro… - The Hill: "President-elect Donald Trump on Friday praised Vladimir Putin and shared a Christmas letter the Russian president sent him. 'A very nice letter from Vladimir Putin; his thoughts are so correct,' Trump said in a statement. 'I hope both sides are able to live up to these thoughts, and we do not have to travel an alternate path.' In the attached letter, Putin emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two countries. 'I hope that after you assume the position of the President of the United States of America we will be able – by acting in a constructive and pragmatic manner - to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation in different areas as well as bring our level of collaboration on the international scene to a qualitatively new level," the Russian leader wrote.'"

AUDIBLE: UNREASONABLE 
"I don't think she ever really figured it out. And by the way, I think it was really hard for her to decide to run." – Vice President Joe Biden in an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Hillary Clinton not understanding the reason she was running for president.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
EPA steamrolls auto industry to rush out new regsWashEx

Top Trump Nat Security Adviser partnered in firm run by man with alleged KGB ties - Bloomberg

Matt Continetti deep dives on Trump's street corner conservatismWashFreeBeacon

Obama plans Chitown farewell speechPolitico

Ker Plunk! Illinois Gov drops $50 into 2018 re-election bidPolitico

Trump HHS pick traded health stocks as congressman The Hill

Incoming Trump press secretary says his boss is 'champion' of First Amendment The Hill

Trump transition team questions on gender equity programs rattle State Dept. - NYT

Putin to Dems: You lost, get over it - WaPo

Israelis called Trump to weigh in before U.N. vote - CNN

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT: 'ZAT YOU, SANTY CLAUS?
In the final ITYW podcast of 2016, hosts Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt let it all hang out. What's a press secretary's real job? How will Democrats end their civil war? How far should parents go to perpetuate Santa Claus with their kids? All of that and, of course, food. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

NUTCRACKER, INDEED
The [Singapore] Straits Times: "A hand grenade was used to crack walnuts for 25 years by a villager in China who had no idea what he was using until he saw a photo of a grenade on a leaflet handed out by local police. The man from Ankang, in China's Shaanxi province, saw that his walnut cracker looked similar to a grenade pictured on a leaflet warning about forbidden explosives, according to Huanqiu.com. According to villagers, the man used the grenade specifically to crack open the nuts. According to reports…It had been given to him by a friend…People have been commenting on social media site Weibo about the man's lucky escape. One user wrote: 'Why would a friend gift him a bomb?' Another said: 'It's more stable than a Samsung phone.'"

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Mike Maltas contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

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©2016 Fox News Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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