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It’s Friday, December 15th, 2017…and for those who’ve yet to focus on it, there’s only 9 shopping days left until Christmas…and for once, all of ours is done!

Now, here’s The Gouge!

First up, like so many of you, we’ve always found it more than passing strange the same MSM which positively delights in constantly characterizing any mistaken utterance by Trump or his team as a bald-faced lie never exhibited even the faintest urge to accord… 

…the previous President and his pack of practiced prevaricators equal treatment.  Which made the latest installment of Best of the Web all the more interesting:

“…After constantly updating a tabulation of “Trump’s lies,” the Times acknowledges that some readers have been asking why the paper didn’t apply similar coverage to Mr. Trump’s predecessors.

The Times now has a handy chart claiming that as President Mr. Trump has told more than a hundred “lies or falsehoods” compared to just 18 told by Mr. Obama. It’s refreshing to see, despite the headline, that Times writers do understand that not all falsehoods are deliberate efforts to deceive.

Still, readers may wonder about the value of a simple numerical comparison. Mr. Obama’s false claim that he would allow Americans to keep their doctors and their health plans counts as one lie or falsehood. And so does Mr. Trump’s claim that he had appeared on the cover of Time magazine “14 or 15 times” when the actual number was 11.

Of course it’s almost obscene to compare an inaccurate and inconsequential boast about press coverage to a deception about medical care that changed treatment options for millions of patients.

But even if one accepts this bizarre method of comparing presidents, the Times tally is wildly off the mark, based on a Politifact accounting of Obama statements. The left-leaning fact evaluator found more than 18 mostly or entirely false statements by Mr. Obama in his second term alone, never mind all the “half-truths” cited by Politifact.

It appears the Times chart is not entirely truthful. This doesn’t mean Timesfolk are lying, and perhaps they’ll reconsider their own use of that word.

Next, now that the Alabama special election is over, we couldn’t agree more with the sentiment expressed by Jim Geraghty at his Morning Jolt:

May Roy Moore Never Darken Your Morning Campaign News Again

 

As I noted late last night, the Republican party dodged a bullet yesterday. As frustrating as it is to lose a Senate seat in a ruby-red state, it would be worse to spend the next three years having every inane, offensive, and Constitutionally illiterate utterance from Roy Moore’s mouth hung around the necks of rest of the party. (This assumes that the GOP didn’t feel the moral and political need to expel him after a Senate Ethics Committee investigation.) Sometimes your primary voters completely mess up and nominate a walking liability. Better to take the short term pain for the longer-term gain.

Roy Moore got a bit more than 48 percent in a state where Republicans consistently win 65 percent or more statewide.

To the extent there is still a Republican mainstream, Roy Moore isn’t in it.  Nationally, this group doesn’t like the idea of thirtysomething men dating teenage girls in general and wasn’t so certain that Moore didn’t do something inappropriate with those four named girls. Whatever their concerns about Islam, they don’t think that Muslims should be barred from holding public office. They’re big fans of all the current constitutional Amendments, not just the first ten. They don’t think the era of slavery was great for family values. They don’t think that you could say America is the focus of evil in the modern world. Most Republicans know that you are not legally required to take the oath of office on a Bible; it’s not clear that Moore campaign spokesman Ted Crockett knew this.

Last night’s cable news debates focused a lot on how much this surprise Democrat win represented a loss for the president. President Trump lost mostly in the sense that he would have been better off not endorsing Moore at all. He jumped on the bandwagon just in time to ride it over the cliff.

A lot of the blame for last night’s defeat is being laid at the feet of Steve Bannon, with plenty of justification. Congressman Adam Kinzinger: “Bannon is a RINO. His morally inept strategies are unwelcome here.” Congressman Peter King: “After Alabama disaster GOP must do right thing and DUMP Steve Bannon. His act is tired, inane and morally vacuous. If we are to Make America Great Again for all Americans, Bannon must go! And go NOW!!”

The thing is…go where? He’s not in the White House anymore. It’s not clear that any elected Republicans of significance turn to Bannon for guidance. (Does Trump still talk to him?) Bannon is basically running his own operation, attracting the desperate detritus of past cycles who are hoping for one last comeback shot.

Townhall.com’s Guy Benson gives you the gory details and statistics, as well as this parting thought regarding what, if anything, Moore’s demise means:

“In 2010, Republicans won a historic landslide against an unpopular president.  An early indicator of that deluge was a Republican shocking everyone and winning Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat in Massachusetts.  Well, a Democrat just shocked everyone and won Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat in Alabama.  One political observer noted that if the GOP is vulnerable in the deep south, they can be beaten anywhere.  My reply:

As Josh Holmes, a former aide to Mitch McConnell so aptly observed:

If I had the top five Republican minds in politics and we spent three months attempting to conceive of a way to lose an Alabama Senate race, I’m not sure that we could come up with it. You could literally take any name out of a phone book except Roy Moore’s and win by double digits. And we managed to get the only guy in Alabama that could lose to a Democrat.

What concerns us far more than Moore’s loss is what the success of the MSM’s strategy likely portends for future political contests:

Oh,…and Steve Bannon…

Moving on, James Freeman details just how deep the Deep State has penetrated the federal government:

Fusion DoJ

It’s getting hard to tell where the Clinton campaign ends and the federal law enforcement apparatus begins.

 

Is animus toward President Donald Trump a prerequisite for landing a job with special counsel Robert Mueller? Recent revelations in Washington also raise again the question of what former President Barack Obama knew about the decisions of his FBI Director James Comey to exonerate Hillary Clinton and investigate Mr. Trump in 2016.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

A top FBI agent and an FBI lawyer, who were involved in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email arrangement and the probe into Russian electoral meddling, exchanged texts disparaging then-candidate Donald Trump, including calling him an “idiot” and a “menace,” according to copies of the messages the Justice Department provided Congress.

Peter Strzok, 47 years old, was one of the highest-ranking agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was removed from his post with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling this past summer after a Justice Department watchdog launched an inquiry into the texts.

The messages between Mr. Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page include one in which Ms. Page tells him in August 2016: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”

The New York Times reports on another 2016 text:

On July 27, Ms. Page wrote, “She just has to win now. I’m not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about Trump.” That text message was sent after the Clinton investigation had been closed. Days later, the F.B.I. began investigating possible coordination between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

Recently the Journal’s Kim Strassel noted the stone wall against congressional oversight that has been constructed by Mr. Mueller, his Department of Justice colleagues, and Mr. Mueller’s deputies, many of whom have demonstrated their political opposition to the President.

Is there really no way to run a special counsel’s office or a federal law enforcement agency without appointing liberal political activists—or at least people with close ties to the President’s adversaries—to senior roles? Fox News reports:

A co-founder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS acknowledged in a new court document that his company hired the wife of a senior Justice Department official to help investigate then-candidate Donald Trump last year.

The confirmation from Glenn Simpson came in a signed declaration filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., and provided a fuller picture of the nature of Nellie Ohr’s work – after Fox News first reported on her connection to Fusion GPS.

Her husband, Bruce Ohr, was demoted at the DOJ last week for concealing his meetings with the same company, which commissioned the anti-Trump “dossier” containing salacious allegations about the now-president.

The question of whether a powerful federal agency was politicized is not limited to the Department of Justice. This week Politico published an interview with former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell in which he reconsiders his 2016 decision to break tradition among intelligence community alums and endorse Hillary Clinton. According to Politico:

Morell acknowledges that he and other spy-world critics of the president failed to fully “think through” the negative backlash generated by their going political. “There was a significant downside,” Morell said in the interview. (And to think a former Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency couldn’t have foreseen THAT!!!)

Mr. Trump does not have to be paranoid to believe that the indigenous creatures of the Beltway swamp are out to get him. A number of them have put it in writing. This column can only imagine what the two political lawyers Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok said about Mr. Trump when they weren’t creating electronic records of their conversations.

Glenn Reynolds is wondering what if any role the two may have had in turning the surveillance powers of the federal government against the campaign of the man they loathed. Mr. Reynolds is particularly interested in requests made to the federal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He writes on his Instapundit website:

SO I JUST HAD AN INTERESTING EMAIL EXCHANGE WITH THE SPECIAL COUNSEL’S PRESS OFFICE:

Me: I’m hearing from a source that Lisa Page was involved in approving Peter Strzok’s warrant requests to the FISC and possibly elsewhere. Can you confirm or deny if this was the case? And please tell me what her job title and function are in your office. Thanks.

Them (via spokesman Joshua Stueve): Lisa Page, who was an attorney on detail to the Special Counsel’s office, returned to the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel in mid-July.

Me again: Thank you but that doesn’t answer my question. What role did Lisa Page have in the handling of warrant applications, and in particular those involving Peter Strzok?

Them again: I’ll decline to comment further.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers want a new special counsel to investigate the investigators. The better path is the constitutional one. The existing special counsel should resign, given numerous documented conflicts of interest, and let the President direct federal law enforcement as the law demands. If voters don’t like his execution of the laws, they can fire him and hire a replacement in 2020.

In the meantime, law enforcement working for the duly-elected leadership of the country should examine how our government came to direct the surveillance powers of the United States against the party out of power.

As the WSJ notes:

“…This should trouble anyone who cares about the integrity of the Justice Department. Ms. Yates had every right to resign at the time if she felt she couldn’t implement Mr. Trump’s order. But she had no authority as an executive branch official to defy a legitimate presidential order. Mr. Weissmann’s support for her insubordination was a declaration that he is part of the “resistance.” This should be unacceptable in a ranking FBI official, much less someone charged with conducting a fair-minded investigation.

Public confidence isn’t helped by the continuing Justice and FBI refusal to cooperate with Congress. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who supervises Mr. Mueller, toed the Mueller-FBI line on Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee. He repeated FBI Director Christopher Wray’s preposterous excuse that he can’t answer questions because of an Inspector General probe. And he wouldn’t elaborate on the news that Nellie Ohr, the wife of senior Justice official Bruce Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, which hired Mr. Steele to gin up his dossier.

The man who should be most disturbed by all this is Mr. Mueller, who wants his evidence and conclusions to be credible with the public. Evidence is building instead that some officials at the FBI—who have worked for himmay have interfered in an American presidential election. Congress needs to insist on its rights as a co-equal branch of government to discover the truth.

Meanwhile, FOX News is reporting…

Comey edits revealed: Remarks on Clinton probe were watered down, documents show

 

Newly released documents obtained by Fox News reveal that then-FBI Director James Comey’s draft statement on the Hillary Clinton email probe was edited numerous times before his public announcement, in ways that seemed to water down the bureau’s findings considerably.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to the FBI on Thursday that shows the multiple edits to Comey’s highly scrutinized statement.

In an early draft, Comey said it was “reasonably likely” that “hostile actors” gained access to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account. That was changed later to say the scenario was merely “possible.” Another edit showed language was changed to describe the actions of Clinton and her colleagues as “extremely careless” as opposed to “grossly negligent.” This is a key legal distinction.

Johnson, writing about his concerns in a letter Thursday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, said the originalcould be read as a finding of criminality in Secretary Clinton’s handling of classified material.” He added, “The edited statement deleted the reference to gross negligence – a legal threshold for mishandling classified materialand instead replaced it with an exculpatory sentence.”…”

At the same time Kim Strassel reveals…

Secrets the FBI Shouldn’t Keep

Sen. Ron Johnson demands answers about the bureau’s political biases.

 

Only if The Donald has something to hide.

“Congress persists in its effort to pry the real story of the 2016 election out of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an agency notoriously reluctant to share secrets. The trick is telling the difference between legitimate secrets and self-serving ones.

The FBI—and the Department of Justice—would rather blur that distinction. In recent congressional appearances, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tossed around the word “classified” like confetti. Neither man answered a single substantive question, citing their obligation to protect the “integrity” of investigations, safeguard “sensitive” information, and show deference to an “independent” and “internal” inspector general reviewing the FBI’s handling of the 2016 election.

True, the FBI has plenty of things it needs to keep secret regarding national security and law enforcement. Let’s even acknowledge the bureau may be rightly concerned about turning some information over to today’s leak-prone Congress. Even so, in the specific case of its 2016 election behavior, the FBI is misusing its secrecy powers to withhold information whose disclosure is in the public interest…”

Is anyone else detecting the distinct odor of…

Like a whorehouse at low tide, friends…like a whorehouse at low tide.

…a pattern here?!?

Only those with an ounce of sense or scintilla of integrity…which evidently leaves out a number of Senate Republicans like Chuck Grassley, who recently stated:

I’ve got confidence in Mueller, as far as what he’s doing in the Trump-Russia investigation, and I don’t have any reason to believe otherwise.

Hey, Chuck…

Since we’re on the subject of ignorance, it’s time for today’s Muslim Minute, in which NRO‘s Kevin Williamson suggests America take the Palestinians at their word: 

Next Year in Jerusalem?

It is time to cut off financial support to Abbas

 

“Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas says he will no longer accept a role for the United States in the ongoing Arab–Israeli peace negotiations, which have produced little in the way of negotiation and nothing in the way of meaningful peace.

If President Abbas desires to end diplomatic relations with the United States, the United States should think seriously about obliging him.

President Trump promises to unveil an Arab–Israeli peace plan sometime in the coming year. It is being worked up by his son-in-law, a real-estate developer whose political acumen is such that he was unable to figure out how to cast an absentee ballot in the most recent New York City mayoral election. (As the New York Daily News reported in its hilarious account, Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and the Third Lady all managed to botch their ballots to the point of nullifying them; the president himself may have invalidated his ballot, too, by getting his own birthday wrong on the paperwork. “Not since Jefferson dined alone,” and all that.)

We’ll see how that goes.

Abbas boasts that the Palestinian state and the Palestinian National Authority no longer receive U.S. aid, but that isn’t quite true. The United States is a very large contributor to UNRWA, the relief agency for Palestinian “refugees.” (There aren’t any Palestinian refugees, really, but, unlike the rest of the world’s peoples, Palestinians inherit refugee status.) The United States is also a large contributor to other U.N. programs and international organizations that provide aid to the Palestinians, who, thanks to their incompetent and malevolent leadership, have no real economy to speak of. In 2016, the United States gave more in aid to the Palestinians than any other country did.

It is time to rethink that.

UNRWA is a troubled and troubling organization on its best day, an encourager and enabler of Palestinian radicalism. The prospects for peace probably would improve if it were dissolved. But, short of that, the United States should consider accommodating President Abbas’s demand and stepping away from the situation for a while, taking our aid money with us. If President Abbas must have his obstinacy and his cheap theatrics, then let him pay the full price for them. Let’s see how much loose change Erdogan can scramble up from the cushions of his ottoman. The haul is likely to be disappointing.

The United States has global interests, and one of those is seeing to the interests of our allies, including Israel. President Abbas thinks the United States has no role in future peace negotiations in the Middle East. One could not blame Americans for thinking much the same thing about him…”

Think of it as Cool Hand Luke diplomacy:

Which brings us to The Lighter Side:

Then there’s these exceptional bits of animal-inspired humor forwarded by TLJ:

Unfortunately, with every passing year, we gain a better appreciation for Tiger’s predicament!

Finally, we’ll call it a week with the Sports Section, and, courtesy of Richard Colt, yet another reason we’ll never watch another NFL game:

Bodycam Shows Entitled NFL Punk Malik McDowell Adding to League’s Already Huge PR Problems

 

Gee,…”bitch”…”nigger”; and here we thought Donald Trump was supposed to be a misogynistic racist!  If McDowell ever sniffs another NFL stadium it will be too soon.  But with Roger Goodell running the show, we wouldn’t be surprised if Malik gets off with sensitivity training and a $50,000 contribution from the league to Black Lives Matter.

Magoo