Arthur Christmas adds a whole new spin to the classic tale of Santa’s busy Christmas Eve as the deliverer of presents and joy to every child in the world. In this version, Santa Claus is simply a figurehead, and the true genius behind the success of Christmas Eve is Santa's eldest son, Steve, and the millions of elves found in Santa’s highly technological workshop. So how does Santa’s youngest son, Arthur Christmas, fit into this scenario? Therein lies the ingenious, touching, and captivating plot of this wonderful Christmas film. It’s Christmas Eve and Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) has just traveled around the entire world in his high-tech spaceship, which has replaced the antique sleigh formerly pulled by eight reindeer. At the helm of this impressive new vehicle, however, is not our beloved Santa Claus, but Santa’s son Steve (Hugh Laurie). It becomes clear early in the movie that Steve has pushed his father to the back burner and replaced him in virtually every aspect of the entire Christmas operation. Santa's role has been diminished to a few quick cameos in the homes of several children just to show he was there. Meanwhile, Santa’s younger son Arthur (James McAvoy) plays an extremely vital role in Santa’s workshop. He reads every single letter sent to the North Pole from the anxious children across the world, and sees to it that each child receives the very present requested from good old Saint Nick. This role seems to serve Arthur just fine, as his whimsical spirit and loving, optimistic nature allows him to see the beauty and Christmas spirit of every letter sent to Santa. At the same time, it is a safe job for someone such as Arthur, who is both clumsy and fearful of virtually everything.
Rick Santorum is widely heralded as a real “conservative.” Rush Limbaugh has praised him on the air on multiple occasions, and another nationally syndicated radio talk-show host, Bill Bennett, has had Santorum guest host for him regularly. To hear the Limbaughs and Bennetts of our generation tell it, a real “conservative” is one who favors “limited” or “constitutional government” and “individualism.” Thus, presumably, Santorum must be an enemy of just the sort of Big Government ideology to which Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are beholden. But is this correct? A look at Santorum’s positions on the issues of the day readily reveals that his rhetoric aside — and the rhetoric of the party of which he has been a fixture for decades — Santorum is no less a champion of Big Government than President Obama himself.
An interim Prime Minister with a socialist background was selected on November 27 after U.S.-backed Yemeni “President” Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down last week. But after months of chaos and turmoil by competing factions rocked the Arabian nation, violence has still not subsided. Hundreds of thousands of anti-regime protesters — socialists, Islamists, students, democracy advocates, and more — poured into the streets again in recent days, too. The demonstrators have refused to back down despite Saleh’s apparent departure from power. At the top of the list of grievances: They want the tyrant and his minions to be prosecuted for corruption and the deadly crackdowns on protesters. At present, Saleh is supposed to leave power in peace — along with his assets plundered from the nation. Many of the people still demonstrating also believe the emerging "new" regime is too similar to the old U.S.-backed dictatorship. Deadly fighting intensified over the weekend, just days after dictator Saleh signed a United Nations-backed deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreeing to completely hand over power in the coming weeks. The deal allows Saleh to officially resign once his “vice-president,” who has apparently taken charge, swears in a new government and passes legislation granting the despot and his cohorts immunity.
When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced last Tuesday the imposition of new price controls on a long list of consumer items, he expressed optimism that they would help curb inflation. This is a law to protect the people from capitalism. We have a tough battle ahead [because] inflation is one of the biggest problems we have. I’m at the front of this operation, and we’re going to occupy factories and companies. We’re going to nationalize what needs to be nationalized. The bourgeoisie hoard milk, sugar and cooking oil and then [they] blame me. But it’s their fault, the hoarders. The citizens were smarter than Chavez. Having lived under a regime enforcing price controls on cooking oil and sugar with its natural and predictable resulting shortages, they looked at the list of household items about to be “fixed” and went shopping before the items disappeared. Evangelina Guerra, standing in line to get into the Dulcinea market in Caracas, said, “This is more regulation on top of regulation, and what we have is sky-high inflation and a lack of products.” In fact, cars were parked two rows deep and even onto the sidewalk in front of the store. Shelves normally full of toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper were being cleaned out faster than stockers could replenish them.
The American national debt hangs over the nation’s head like the sword of Damocles, ready to drop and severely damage the American economy. The present debt has now reached the astronomical sum of $15 trillion, and continues to grow. The federal budget submitted to Congress by President Obama on February 14, 2011 was $3.729 trillion. But revenues come to only $2.627 trillion, meaning that there would be a deficit of $1.101 trillion. In other words, the federal government would have to borrow over a trillion dollars just to meet its present expenditures. Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than it takes in, and each year the Treasury Department has had to borrow money to meet Congress’ appropriations, which always increase. Indeed, the Treasury Department has the third largest expenditure in the federal budget. Only Defense and the income redistribution programs of the Departments of Health and Human Services, HUD, and Agriculture (food stamps) are higher.
Last Sunday morning dawned bright and early for me in New Hampshire and — Wait a minute! What am I saying? Don't all mornings 'dawn” early? And isn't every dawn comparatively “bright,” considering what has gone before? Do you remember the theme of the Reagan reelection campaign? It was “Morning in America.” It followed four years of Carter's crises. Compared to the solemn Carter, Reagan was southern California sunshine. It took us years and decades to realize that we can't afford all that sunny optimism. Yes, during the Reagan years the rate of growth in federal spending did slow down. But spending did continue to climb compared to previous years — and the deficits exploded.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops spent nearly $30 million lobbying in Washington through 2008-09, according to a new report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That may not be good news for conservative-minded Catholics, however, given a significant fact about the USCCB. Except on matters of sex and abortion, the USCCB generally hews to the liberal line on public policy matters. Numerous commentators point to the bishops' pastoral letter and other teachings on the economy, and their support for universal healthcare, for instance, as proof the USCCB is virtually the religious arm of the radical left of the Democratic Party. That is true particularly on immigration. But other prominent evangelical organizations, generally regarded as more conservative than the bishops, are among the top nine names in Pew's list.
Despite billions in taxpayer subsidies pumped into the so-called “green-energy” industry, almost 15,000 windmills — maybe more — have been left to rot across America. And while the turbines have been abandoned over a period of decades, the growing amount of “green junk” littering the American landscape is back in the headlines again this week. Across the country, subsidized wind farms are meeting increasing resistance — and not just from taxpayers and electricity consumers forced to foot the bill. "If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place?” wondered Heritage Foundation policy analyst Ben Lieberman, who deals with energy and environmental issues. “It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end." It turns out that wind power is expensive and inefficient even in the best wind-farm locations in the world. And regular power plants always need to be on standby in case there is no wind, not enough wind, or even too much of it — a fairly regular occurrence. That is why, when the tax subsidies run out, the towering metallic structures are often simply abandoned. In their wake: a scarred landscape and dead wildlife — the very same ills offered as justifications by administration officials for preventing oil exploration.
United Nations “experts” released a preliminary report during the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) climate-change summit in Durban, South Africa, claiming the Earth was still heating up and rapid government action would be needed to stave off global warming. But in the wake of the growing “Climategate 2.0” scandal, analysts said the newest wave of UN scare mongering appeared increasingly desperate and ridiculous. Earlier this month the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was ridiculed for alarmist warnings of more extreme weather in the coming decades. However, the statements were far more cautious than usual in tentatively linking the predictions to human emissions. On the sidelines of the UN climate conference in Durban, the World Meteorological Organization’s released another report warning of disaster. It alleged that 2011 was on track to be the 10th warmest year since humans began monitoring the Earth’s temperature. "The science is solid and proves unequivocally that the world is warming," claimed UN WMO deputy boss R.D.J. Lengoasa at the COP17, adding that he thought humanity was a significant contributor. "Climate change is real, and we are already observing its manifestations in weather and climate patterns around the world."
Even as atheists in the Army are lobbying for chaplains for unbelievers, pagans and Wiccans at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, have a place to cast their spells. And their new open-air “Stonehenge-like” ring of stones was provided at a cost of nearly $80,000 to the American taxpayers. There was a time when exorbitant military expenditures were symbolized by the $640 toilet seat. But the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle certainly surpasses such examples on account of its absurdity. While the Air Force is attempting to justify the creation of a hilltop worship sight for pagan recruits on the basis of religious pluralism, in fact, the pagans who are supposed to be served by the availability of such a "circle" are almost nonexistent — at least at this point. As Jenny Deam wrote in a Los Angeles Times article (“Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches, and Wiccan”), even the academy admits pagans make up what must be the smallest religious minority at their institution: Their ranks are slim. According to the academy's enrollment records, only three of 4,300 cadets identified themselves as pagans, followers of an ancient religion that generally does not worship a single god and considers all things in nature interconnected.