12/18/2014 05:49 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Good Fences Make Good Neighbors; Tall Fences Keep Out The Crazies

You know expectations for lame duck presidents are low when all reporters want to know is whether the president watched a movie. Nebraska and Oklahoma want to take Colorado's weed, but they'll never find it because Colorado hid it in the bottom of a container that looks like box of Pringles. And after an exhaustive study of its security protocols, the Secret Service made one significant recommendation: complete the danged fence. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, December 18th, 2014:

RAND PAUL: THING OBAMA DID NOT TERRIBLE - Ken Thomas: "Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday the lengthy U.S. economic embargo against Cuba "just hasn't worked" and voiced support for opening trade with Cuba in the aftermath of the Obama administration's policy shift regarding the communist island. Paul became the first potential Republican presidential candidate to offer some support for President Barack Obama's decision to attempt to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba…. 'The 50-year embargo just hasn't worked,' Paul said. "If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn't seem to be working, and probably, it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship. 'In the end, I think opening up Cuba is probably a good idea,' he said." [HuffPost]

DOJ MOVES TO PROTECT TRANSGENDERED AMERICANS - Ryan Reilly: “The Justice Department will now interpret the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as protecting transgender government employees from discrimination, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday. In a memo, Holder wrote that the 'best reading of Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.' Holder said that while Congress 'may not have had such claims in mind when it enacted Title VII, the Supreme Court has made clear that Title VII must be interpreted according to its plain text.' In a statement, Holder called the move an 'important shift' that 'will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status.' The Employment Litigation Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act against state and local governments. DOJ does not file suit against private employers for discrimination claims.” [HuffPost]

Spotted, by a paranoid and self-loathing GOP lobbyist source: Dan Pfeiffer and EJ Dionne eating at BLT Steak. Says the source, “Cheapest thing on the menu is Hen of the Woods Mushrooms for $12. Limousine liberals....Water costs 9 bucks....” Thanks, paranoid and self-loathing GOP lobbyist source!

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - This local newspaper ran a "FACT CHECK" column debunking a fake news website's claim that President Obama signed a bill allowing poor people to use food stamps for beer and cigarettes. "Although [Rep. Hakeem] Jeffries and Obama are real people, Snopes.com points out, that is the only thing that is factual about the story." Did you really need Snopes.com for this, local newspaper? SMDH. [Jacksonville.com]

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BUILD THE DANG FENCE: SECRET SERVICE - Plus it’ll keep out all of the terrorist anchor babies. Sam Stein: “An independent panel tasked with investigating the shortcomings of the United States Secret Service has recommended the White House undergo a bit of a face-lift in order to stop potential intruders. The panel, which was convened by the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson this October, called for the fence around the White House to be made four to five feet higher and for its horizontal bars to be eliminated. Currently, the White House fence is 7 feet 6 inches tall...Raising the height of the protective fence is the most prominent of the recommendations in the report, of which only the executive summary was released. More broadly, the authors faulted the Secret Service for having an outdated leadership structure that too often left its members under-trained, under-resourced and unclear about their operational functions. The report noted that special agents received only 42 hours of training on average during the fiscal year of 2013. That same year, Service data showed that members of the Uniformed Division had received 576 hours of training -- an amount described as paltry considering the size of the force, at 1,300 officers.” [HuffPost]

PEOPLE WATCHED MOVIE: REPORT - Let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go the lobby and have ourselves an international incident! Jen Bendery: “White House press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged Thursday that Obama administration officials screened the film ‘The Interview’ months ago at the request of Sony executives. ‘Administration officials were consulted about the film prior to its release, at the request of the company that was producing it,’ Earnest said during his daily briefing. 'Input was shared.' Earnest said Sony reached out to the administration to ask them to review the film, a comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogan that depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. One leaked scene shows Kim Jong Un's head exploding, though it is not clear what version made it into the final version of the movie. The FBI and Justice Department are currently investigating a major cyber attack on Sony Pictures that is likely the work of North Korea, after the country said the film's portrayal of their leader was an ‘act of war.’ The hackers leaked Sony documents and unreleased films on the Internet as part of their attack. Sony ultimately cancelled next week's planned release of the film, amid threats of attacks on the theaters that show it.” [HuffPost]

SCOTT WALKER READY TO PUNCH HIPPIES, CRACK SKULLS - Amanda Terkel: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said he is fully ready to bring in the National Guard to deal with protesters if there is unrest after prosecutors decide whether to charge a white Milwaukee police officer in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton, a 31-year-old unarmed African-American man. ‘We proactively worked to make sure the National Guard was reaching out,’ Walker told reporters Wednesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. ‘They've been having meetings with law enforcement here within the region just to make sure.’ ‘The last thing I want is for them to get a call and then have to scurry about what they need to do,’ he added...On April 30, Christopher Manney, 38, shot Hamilton 14 times. The confrontation started when workers at a Milwaukee Starbucks complained to police that Hamilton was sleeping in a nearby park. Manney -- unaware that two other officers had already checked on Hamilton and concluded he was not doing anything wrong -- responded to the call. Hamilton resisted when Manney tried to pat him down, leading to a physical altercation. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, "Manney tried to use his baton to subdue Hamilton, but Hamilton got control of it and swung it at Manney, hitting him on the side of the neck, according to the [autopsy] summary." [HuffPost]

BUZZKILL STATES WON’T LET OTHER STATES JUST CHILL, HAVE A GOOD TIME - Matt Ferner: “The states of Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday, claiming that Colorado's legalization of recreational marijuana is unconstitutional under federal law. ‘Federal law undisputedly prohibits the production and sale of marijuana,’ Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said Thursday in a statement. ‘Colorado has undermined the United States Constitution, and I hope the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold our constitutional principles.’ But Colorado Attorney General John Suthers isn't backing down. In a statement, he said he intends to defend the state's marijuana laws... Bruning, along with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, argue that under the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause, Colorado's legalization of recreational marijuana is unconstitutional because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The clause states that in general, federal law takes precedence over state law.” [HuffPost]

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@JaredRizzi: WH calling @Sethrogen and @JamesFrancoTV artists now in the permanent records

@EvanMcSan: i can still be a patriot if i lie and say i saw The Interview once it’s eventually leaked right? Don’t actually have to watch it do i?

@danamira: The United States should retaliate by hacking North Korea's computer

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