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Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, frets that the Obama administration is willing to negotiate the release of spies or terrorists. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Obama's Cuba relations decision the latest fury-maker

- The Washington Times

It's like clockwork. The White House does something monumental without much notice or protocol, the press goes crazy and the critics bristle with rage. Here we go again, courtesy of President Obama's sudden decision to put the U.S. and Cuba on speaking terms — negotiating a prisoner release and normalizing relations that have been broken for five decades. This sort of thing seems to be happening every week in the era of the mighty presidential pen and phone.

Reactions to Jeb Bush's interest in a presidential run were many, including this online petition declaring "independence" from candidates named Bush or Clinton. (Roots Action)

Not quite ready for Jeb Bush - not ready for Clinton Vs Bush either

- The Washington Times

News that Jeb Bush is "actively exploring" a 2016 presidential run titillated the press — some red meat for journalists already weary with the strategic indecisions of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mitt Romney. But not everyone is thrilled about Mr. Bush's intent. "Another Bush versus another Clinton? Vomit," declared Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell in his own counter tweet.

Donald Trump. (Associated Press)

2014 deemed the 'Year of the Lie '... and Mr. Trump goes to Washington to talk politics

- The Washington Times

Alas, the past 12 months have been a truth-optional time period, some say. 2014 was, in fact "the year of the lie." That pronouncement comes from New York Post culture critic Kyle Smith, who reveals his rationale: "Bowe Bergdahl. The IRS's missing e-mails. Lena Dunham. 'Hands up, don't shoot.' Jonathan Gruber. GM and that faulty ignition switch. Andrew Cuomo and that anti-corruption commission," the journalist says. "2014 was the year when truth was optional. 2014 was the year when convenient fabrication was the weapon of choice for celebrities, activists, big business and politicians."

Members of the media raise their hands during CIA Director John Brennan's news conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Brennan defending his agency from accusations in a Senate report that it used inhumane interrogation techniques against terrorist suspect with no security benefits to the nation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

'Put aside this debate and move forward' - Here's what else CIA Director Brennan has to say

- The Washington Times

"Our partnership with Congress is crucial. In my view, there is no more important oversight relationship than the CIA relationship with its intelligence committees, particularly because we do so much of our work in secret that Congress serves as a critical check on our activities, closely monitoring the agency's reporting and programs when the public cannot," CIA Director John O. Brennan told reporters in the lead up to a press conference addressing the Senate Intelligence Committee Report.

American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks on Thursday moderates a discussion about conservatism in the 114th Congress. (American Enterprise Institute)

Advice on that $1 trillion spending bill: 'If you fund it, you own it'

- The Washington Times

The giant $1.8 trillion omnibus spending bill now stretched out like a walrus in the halls of Congress has spawned mixed reviews. Some observers say the 1,603-page legislation is a marvelous creature — ample evidence that Republicans and Democrats can play nice and do something good together. Others see the bill as a dangerous beast making threatening noises and waving its 100 or so policy riders at onlookers — like that potential funding for President Obama's amnesty plans, for instance.

Rep. Darrell Issa will hear Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber explain away his "stupid voters" comment. (Associated Press)

Seven-out-of-10 Republicans still trust the police: Gallup poll

- The Washington Times

A complex Gallup poll finds that a hefty majority of Republicans have "a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in police": 69 percent of white Republicans and 67 percent of "nonwhite" Republicans back law enforcement — compared to 57 percent of Americans overall, 61 percent of all whites and 46 percent of all nonwhites.

In discussing President Obama's recent comments on police brutality, radio talk show host Michael Savage said Mr. Obama should "ask himself how he could create trust and transparency" in the White House. (Associated Press)

Post-Ferguson: Michael Savage seeks out the White House 'transparency'

- The Washington Times

One observer of the ongoing debate over police brutality remains quizzical about the evolving public narrative, particularly the White House role. "If only President Obama would look in a mirror. He's calling for an investigation into Ferguson and similar incidents, but he should ask himself how he could create trust and transparency when it comes to his own behavior in the White House. Of course, he never asks himself such questions," declares talk radio host Michael Savage.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia may be a "Democratic Deerslayer," an outside-the-beltway Democrat with a family tradition of hunting. (Associated Press)

Libertarians insist government shutdown a 'phony'

- The Washington Times

Despite all the nervous rustling and aggressive banter on Capitol Hill, there is no pending "government shutdown," declares Libertarian National Committee chairman Nicholas Sarwark, who has considerable contempt for the term so beloved by the news media and politicians themselves.

Rep. Trey Gowdy

75 percent of Republicans still skeptical about Benghazi

- The Washington Times

"Despite the congressional report that found no wrongdoing over Benghazi, many still believe that the Obama administration acted improperly," says Kathy Frankovic, an analyst with YouGov who is armed with the online pollster's latest survey numbers. "The report has not convinced many. There is still a lot of skepticism, especially among Republicans."

Some of the several hundred demonstrators marching down M Street in Georgetown Saturday afternoon towards the key bridge. The protest focused on Michael Brown's death and the recent grand jury decision in Ferguson. during a Ferguson Protest in Georgetown, DC, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Erin Schaff)

Ferguson protesters lead Time magazine's 'Person of the Year' poll

- The Washington Times

End-of-year lists are upon us. President Obama has already been named to the world's "least influential" list by GQ magazine, and is a contender for Time magazine's 88th annual "Person of the Year" award, where he currently stands at No. 11, behind Pope Francis, Russian President Vladimir Putin and "Ebola doctors and nurses." Most popular at the moment? The "Ferguson protesters" are in first place in the competition with 10.7 percent of the vote.

Eager shoppers walk around Christmas decorations at a shopping mall. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Retail fatigue as Black Friday drags on - and on and on

- The Washington Times

Shopping spawns peculiar culture. One-out-of-10 Americans actually shop while they're drunk, for one thing - or they're sleepless not in Seattle but in the mall. A new survey from RetailMeNot, an online discount coupon distributor, found the 12 percent of Americans are buying while bombed. Yes, they've had a few before wandering the aisles. Another 36 percent report they are sleep-deprived - while other have retail fatigue.

Recent polls show that a majority of Democrats are ready for a Hillary Rodham Clinton 2016 presidential bid, but is Mrs. Clinton ready for the White House? (Associated Press)

Is Hillary actually ready for 'Hillary'?

- The Washington Times

It is a lot of work to be a larger-than-life public figure, particularly one who has become a symbol for an entire political party. Such is the case, perhaps, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been first lady, U.S. senator, Secretary of State and now global-minded motivational speaker with an infatuated grass-roots following and some tall orders to live up to.

Do Americans still agree with "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses," as engraved on the Statue of Liberty? (National park Service)

Chuck Schumer's advice to Democrats: Embrace that big government

- The Washington Times

The Democratic Party has been fairly jaunty in the aftermath of the midterm elections, looking towards 2016 and either blaming Republicans for something, or pining for the end of the GOP's honeymoon with voters. Sen. Chuck Schumer has offered the first critique of his party, however.