It’s Friday, December 19th, 2014…but before we begin, courtesy of Balls Cotton, a brief synopsis of the passing year; which is unfortunately not all that different from what we can expect in 2015:

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Now, here’s The Gouge!

First up, a great point from James Taranto on Sony’s decision to pull “The Interview” in response to some chains opting to pull it from their theaters:

Benghazi, the Sequel

Why is the State Department green-lighting films?

 

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“What a strange sequel to Benghazi. In that case, Obama and the State Department denounced an amateur anti-Islam video production, “Innocence of Muslims,” that had sparked protests and riots in Cairo and other Arab capitals.

We noted at the time that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was demanding that the U.S. government apologize for the film and prosecute the filmmaker and argued that Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should have responded with a vigorous defense of free expression. “Innocence of Muslims” was a product of an individual exercising that right; the best way to disavow it would have been to note that the U.S. government cannot control individual expression.

But now it seems the State Department green-lit a Hollywood movie at the request of a studio concerned about its political implications. Evidently the officials who did so misjudged those implications, but why in the world did they ever entertain the request in the first place? That they approved the scene means they could have disapproved it, so that they assumed the role of censor.

The incident also reinforces foreign expectations, like those of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012, that the U.S. government is accountable for individual expression. All of which is a lot more disturbing than the loss-averse theater owners’ chickening out…”

Since we’re on the subject of Administration moves that leave you scratching your head:

US, Cuba seek to normalize relations after Alan Gross released

 

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“…”It’s absurd and it’s part of a long record of coddling dictators and tyrants,” Rubio told Fox News, claiming the administration is “constantly giving away unilateral concessions … in exchange for nothing.” Rubio called Obama the “worst negotiator” the U.S. has had as president “since at least Jimmy Carter.” He also said Congress would not support lifting the embargo.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who like Rubio is a Cuban-American lawmaker, said this is a moment of “profound relief” for Gross and his family. But he voiced concerns that this constituted a “swap of convicted spies for an innocent American.” “President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government,” he said in a statement. “Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips.”…”

We’re not opposed to opening trade and travel relations with Cuba, and do believe the more contact ordinary Cubans have with the outside world the less attractive the Castro brothers will appear.  Then again, Venezuela has unfettered interaction with the world.  This is a rare case where we agree with Obama’s ultimate goal, but wholeheartedly disagree with his methodology to attain it.

Bob Menendez is right when he notes the circumstances and timing of Obama’s move won’t be lost on the world’s bad actors.  Weakness and ineptitude appear to be this guy’s only strengths.  

As Jim Geraghty notes:

“Ah, the Obama administration. A short while after insisting that their latest round of economic sanctions will put a halt to Vladimir Putin and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, they turn around and normalize relations with Cuba because the embargo “hasn’t worked.”

To get Bowe Bergdahl back, the United States took five of the worst captured killers in Guantanamo Bay and released them to Qatar. To get the release of Alan Gross, an American aid worker illegally detained in 2009, Obama normalized relations with Cuba. Do you notice that Obama’s “concessions” to get prisoners back always involve him doing something he wanted to do anyway?

I keep hearing the embargo “didn’t work.” What U.S. policy has generated exactly the result we wanted when we started? Has our absolute isolation of North Korea “worked” the way we wanted? How about our extensive trade with China? Or our increasing engagement with Vietnam? How about our outreach and endless negotiations with Iran? Is the lesson from Cuba that “embargos don’t work” or is it really that “it’s hard to change the behavior of brutal regimes that don’t care about the people they rule”?

It would be easier to support this move if there was a way to see how this would help the average Cuban, instead of further lining the pockets of the Castro brothers.”

As for the numerous distortions and outright falsehoods set forth in The Obamao’s pronouncement, we refer you to Breitbart.com‘s list of the…

Top Ten Lies in Obama’s Cuba Speech

 

As reader Bill Meisen noted, “So, within a week of denouncing his own country for torture, Barry opens full diplomatic relations with one of the most torturous regimes on the planet?”

Not to mention Castro’s Caribbean paradise is officially designated by none other than The Dear Misleader’s own government as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.  Can this guy do or sell anything without lying?!?

In a related item, FOX News reports on the naive hope of at least one law enforcement official:

Obama’s US-Cuba thaw could lead fugitive cop killer, others to justice

 

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“Joanne Cheismard, a Black Liberation Army militant who killed a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 and later fled to Cuba — along with dozens of other fugitives granted asylum by the island nation — could be brought to justice with the help of a thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes hopes…”

Not to rain on Colonel Fuentes parade, but this woman stands a far better chance of being welcomed by the current occupant of the White House for an award than extradited to serve the rest of her sentence.

Though as Seth Mandel recounts in Commentary Magazine, “that imprisoned island” isn’t the only place harboring criminals seeking to escape justice in their native land:

How a Fugitive Family Bought the Obama White House, Hillary, and Menendez

 

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“President Obama and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez may be on opposing sides of the issue getting the most media attention today–the president’s moves toward normalizing relations with the brutal Castro regime–but they’d surely rather be fighting about Cuba than locked in a co-defense against the other big story of the day. The New York Times reports on a blatant case of political corruption and influence-buying conducted by Obama, Menendez, and Hillary Clinton that is unfortunately being buried by other news. But it is a case study in the greasy, repellent politics Obama promised to do away with…”

Such a story, which might well have brought down a Republican Administration, being buried by the MSM certainly isn’t a shock; the fact The Times featured it most definitely is.  And though The Old Grey Nag refused to tie B. Hussein directly to the pay-off, they weren’t as circumspect with his heir apparent.  Could it be The Times is slipping its nose under the tent of…

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…Lie-awatha? 

Speaking of the greasy, repellant brand of politics The Obamao promised to eschew, is there anyone or anything anywhere in which…

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…this poor, deprived pair cannot find racism?

Barack & Michelle Obama: We’re Victims of America’s Racism

 

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If Moochie’s racist revision to her previous recounting of her Target trip is any indication, the answer is a resounding “HELL no!”  As for the Victim-in-Chief, he sees racism under every rock, behind every tree and even in everyday occurrences each and every member of our family has experienced any number of times:

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Sooo…the women and men who’ve mistaken us for employees on multiple occasions while we were shopping were…?!?  Obviously racist.  And the valet parking attendants who brought others their cars despite us being ahead of them in line were…?!?  Obviously racist.  And the cab drivers who failed to pick us up, even though they weren’t ferrying fares were…?!?  Obviously racist.  Not to mention the obviously racist maitre d’s who seated others before us, even though we’d been waiting longer for a table!

To borrow a phrase from our favorite treasure hunter…

Put another way, IT’S LIFE, you pampered pussies!

Turning now from fraud to waste and abuse, the Washington Examiner‘s Sarah Westwood reports…hold on to your hats…how a…

Federal department’s CFO says accurate spending reports won’t help taxpayers

 

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“The costs of ensuring 100 percent accuracy … would far outweigh the benefit to the public.” That’s how a top federal official explained opposition to a government watchdog’s call on her department to do a better job of accounting for spending on conferences. The comment by Ellen Murray, the department’s assistant secretary for financial services and chief financial officer, came in response to an investigation by the inspector general of how government workers spent $1.4 million on conferences in 2012 that was never reported.

The IG recommended that HHS officials report actual conference costs instead of estimates after finding discrepancies in the actual costs for four of the events held that year. The four events included an international AIDS conference, an awards ceremony and two medical preparedness meetings. In 2012, HHS sponsored 140 conferences that cost more than $100,000 each, according to the report. The agency spent more than $56 million on conferences that year.

In her response to the IG, Murray added that “striving for perfection would put the department at risk of not fulfilling the statutory requirement for a timely report,” citing the availability of data as a factor in its ability to produce accurate reports.

Seriously?  No, SERIOUSLY?!?  Yet again, conduct which would place any private sector senior executive not in the unemployment line, but the pokey, is tolerated at the highest levels of government.

And for those who believe the HHS’ view of fiscal responsibility is an aberration, the Examiner‘s Luke Rosiak conclusively demonstrates you’ve got another think coming:

VA praised disgraced contract official who went on to top Treasury job

 

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In 2012, the VA Office of Inspector General received multiple tips that Iris Cooper, a career Civil Service procurement executive, had awarded a contract to Ohio contractor Tridec Technologies LLC without proper bidding and that the spending was unnecessary.

“We substantiated the allegations that Ms. Cooper … steered the contract … to Tridec and that Ms. Cooper had a personal relationship with individuals associated with Tridec,” the IG wrote in a final report published this month. “Further, we found that as the Competition Advocate, Ms. Cooper allowed the requirement, which thus far was valued at more than $15 million, to be broken down into units under $5 million to ensure the requirement could be awarded sole-source to Tridec. In addition … Ms. Cooper … engaged in a lack of candor during [her] interviews with OIG.” (Gee…

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Every single Dimocrat-appointed government official who’s testified under oath for the last twenty years.

…what a surprise!)

In February 2014, the Federal Times reported that Cooper had left the agency to become a “senior procurement executive” at the Treasury Department. She is now also a member of the governmentwide Chief Acquisition Officers Council in the Executive Office of the President.

Wendy McCutcheon, then associate executive director of the VA’s Office of Acquisition Operations, also was implicated in the scandal. She retired with benefits, and the VA praised both women.

VA did not respond to questions about why it did not fire Cooper or inform Treasury of the problems during customary reference checks to ensure taxpayer funds were not placed at risk at other agencies…”

Wow!  Here’s the transparency The Obamao promised America: transparently obvious corruption and lack of accountability.

Meanwhile, Townhall.com‘s Kevin Glass updates us on the latest from the only state stupid enough to believe the Socialist idyll of universal healthcare is fiscally feasible:

Vermont Abandons Single Payer Healthcare Because It’s Too Expensive

 

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“Legislators in the state of Vermont have been making moves toward establishing a single-payer health program that would make all health care available to all residents at taxpayer expense. The state had intended to apply for a waiver to free the state from Obamacare mandates for the purpose of setting up an in-state single-payer system. Unfortunately, the liberal dream has been mugged by reality: Democratic Gov. Shumlin announced that they’re going to abandon the plan because it’s too expensive.

As the Associated Press reported:

Going forward with a project four years in the making would require tax increases too big for the state to absorb, Shumlin said. The measure had been the centerpiece of the Democratic governor’s agenda and was watched and rooted for by single-payer health care supporters around the country.

The legislation called for the administration to produce a plan for financing the Green Mountain Care system by 2013 but it wasn’t completed until the last several days. Shumlin said it showed the plan would require an 11.5 percent payroll tax on businesses and an income tax separate from the one the state already has of up to 9.5 percent.

Shumlin said small business owners would be hit with both, and he repeatedly expressed concern about whether those businesses, many of which now don’t offer health insurance or offer much less costly insurance, could cover the new expense.

Those are astonishingly high tax increases. The politically-feasible solution would be to exempt “small business owners” from those tax increases, but the problem then becomes that it’s impossible to get the revenue elsewhere. The entire state would have become a disaster zone, without enough economic activity to provide the tax revenue necessary to support such a scheme…”

Unfortunately, absent meaningful reform, disaster is exactly where America’s existing entitlements already have the country headed, even without the crushing burden of single-payer healthcare.

Which brings us, appropriately enough, to today’s edition of Idiots on Parade, courtesy of our resident natural gas expert Jeff Foutch, who informs us…

New York will move to prohibit fracking

 

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“…Mr. Cuomo’s health and environment commissioners said Wednesday that, after an exhaustive review, the risks of allowing fracking outweighed the economic benefits.

I cannot support high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” acting health commissioner Howard Zucker said, adding that he wouldn’t allow his own children to live near a fracking site. He said the “cumulative concerns” about fracking “give me reason to pause.”…”

Get it?  There MIGHT be problems.  Not “are” problems, not even a hint of evidence showing the faintest cause for concern; like everything else driving Liberal policies, it’s just a FEELING!

Here’s the juice: with over 1 million fracking wells in place…over 1,000,000 mind you…not once has any government study, including those conducted by the notoriously unbiased EPA, ever  presented evidence fracking contaminates ground or well water.  As Jeff explained to us, ground water, which for those accustomed to municipal water systems feeds wells, generally lies between 100′ and 500′ below the earth’s surface.  Fracking operations at their shallowest are conducted at least 5,000′ below ground level, and thus completely isolated from the groundwater Progressives claim they “might possibly” be able to pollute.

More importantly, the Marcellus Shale formation lie in Upstate New York…which historically votes Republican…and incidentally has the highest unemployment rate in the state.  Any questions?!?

Moving on, an absolute must-read commentary by Neal Boortz forwarded by Balls Cotton from Townhall.com which offers the results of a study you won’t find cited anywhere in the MSM, let alone the halls of government:

Racist Elephants

 

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“…The elephants in question are living in close proximity to two different African tribes; the Maasai and the Kamba. The men from these tribes differ in dress, language, and, more importantly, how they treat the elephants. Maasai men sometimes kill the elephants. It seems the Maasai don’t particularly appreciate the elephants attacking Maasai tribesmen and their cows. The Kamba men, on the other hand, are gentle farmers who live among, but do not threaten, the elephants. Perhaps they don’t own cows.

Please understand that the Maasai men do not attack the elephants every time they encounter one, and some Maasai men, perhaps the majority, will never find cause to try to kill an elephant. The elephants know, however, that a greater threat exists from Maasai than from Kamba.

So, how does this affect elephant behavior? Maasai men like to wear red robes. Kamba men do not. So when the elephants see men in red robes approaching they react defensively. Usually they flee, or they will form defensive perimeters around their young. When the Kamba approach the elephants seem to be completely unconcerned and just go about their business.

The elephants don’t just notice the difference in dress. They’re also tuned into to differences in human dialect. The Maasai and Kamba have distinctive vocal and dialect differences … at least distinctive enough that these elephants can recognize them. The researchers played a recordings of Maasai and Kamba men saying “Look, look over there. A group of elephants is coming.” When the elephants heard the recordings of the Kamba men they took notice but exhibited no untoward fear or anxiety. When they heard the voices of the Maasai men the reaction was different. The elephants fled and once again moved to protect their young.

Karen McComb, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Sussex in England explained the elephant behavior upon hearing the recordings of the Maasai and Kamba. “Cognitively, they know what they’re doing, she said, “and they adjust their reaction to exactly what they’re hearing.”

OK … what’s going on here? We have elephants altering their behavior when encountering different African tribesmen. Sometimes the elephants go into a defensive mode based upon a visual clue, the red robes, or speech patterns. Other visual and aural clues cause them no distress whatsoever.

Has it struck you yet? Come on, folks. This really isn’t that difficult. These elephants are PROFILING! They’re basing their reaction to encountering different groups of men based on past experience. Members of one group are more likely to be dangerous to the elephants than members of the other, and the elephants react accordingly.

I’m afraid that to get through to the irrational mind of a liberal, I have to state the obvious here. There is no real difference in the elephant’s negative and defensive reaction to the red robes of the Maasai than a person’s reaction to someone wearing a hoodie or gang apparel on the street. There is no real difference between an elephant’s heightened sense of alert upon hearing a particular speech pattern over our reaction to hearing dialects identifiable as coming from inner city gangster culture. Skin color? Not a factor. In case you don’t already know this; the Maasai and the Kamba are both black. (Can’t really call them African Americans for obvious reasons. Well … maybe not so obvious to liberals.)

Experience instructs. People — and elephants — learnWhen elephants exhibit this behavior in the wild it’s an occasion for marveling at their intelligence. When humans exhibit this behavior in high crime areas, it’s called racism…”

Racism hell; it’s called common sense.  Even the Reverend Jesse once observed, in a truly rare moment of candor,“There is nothing more painful to me…than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”  And forget high crime areas; we see gangstas at our local mall and we go to general quarters.

Then there’s this from Keith Koffler writing at White House Dossier on an appointment made possible by the sophomoric antics of Ted Cruz:

Obama’s Surgeon General Should Try Practicing Medicine

 

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“Actually, guns only become a health care issue after they go off and the guy on the wrong end of the barrel enters the emergency room. Not that Murthy, given his lack of experience, would necessarily know what to do at that point either.”

“There’s an old story that just before John F. Kennedy announced he would be making his 35-year old brother Robert attorney general – because his dad made him – he quipped something to the effect of, “I don’t see what’s wrong with giving Bobby a little experience before he begins practicing law.”

President Obama’s new Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is in fact a political animal with relatively little experience working as an actual doctor. That should be no problem for Obama, who when he became president in 2008 was a political animal with little experience working at anything. Murthy, who is 37, only graduated from medical school – Yale, from which he also received an MBA – in 2003. He completed his residency just eight years ago. I’m not sure I’d trust him with my gall bladder yet, let alone make him surgeon general...”

Finally, on the Lighter Side…

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Remember guys, only 5 shopping days left until Christmas!

Magoo