Thursday was a big day for the U.S. Senate, which stayed in session later than usual to attend to a few significant items, such as the controversial National Defense Authorization Act, which passed, and two competing payroll tax cut bills, both of which failed. The payroll tax cut bills marked a role reversal for the two parties, as it was the Democrats pushing for the cuts and the Republicans who stood in opposition to them, demanding that the cuts be paid for without raising taxes. The votes on the tax cut bills were apparently symbolic ones so that politicians from both parties can laud their own efforts and lambaste their opponents in the upcoming 2012 election. The Democratic plan would have both extended and expanded the payroll tax cut, reducing the Social Security payroll tax to 3.1 percent, even further than the present tax cut that is due to expire, but Republicans opposed the plan because it required a new tax to be imposed on the "wealthy" in order to cover the $110 billion in lost revenues. The Democratic measure lost by a vote of 51 to 49. As observed by the Christian Science Monitor, “For the first time, a Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, voted to support the millionaires’ surcharge.”
It has been a holiday tradition for as long as anyone can remembers: Salvation Army bell-ringers standing at the entrances of stores and malls, their red kettles at the ready, beckoning for shoppers to drop in their spare change or a few dollars for those less fortunate. And, for the past few years, it has become a tradition for homosexuals activists to bang their drums of grievance in a call for friends, enablers, and fellow “gays” to boycott the compassionate Christian organization for what they argue is “anti-gay” discrimination. This year is no exception, as such news sources as USA Today and MSNBC have picked up on the efforts of Bil Browning, the leading voice in the Grinch-like campaign against Salvation Army. On his blog site, a clearinghouse of sorts for homosexual news, commentary, and camp, Browning challenges his readers to skip donating to the worthy charity in favor of one “that doesn’t actively discriminate against the LGBT community.” Browning charges that the Christian group — which has been helping the homeless and helpless around the world since General William Booth began ministering to the down-and outers in London’s east end back in 1865 — “has a history of active discrimination against gays and lesbians. While you might think you’re helping the hungry and homeless by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, not everyone can share in the donations. Many LGBT people are rejected by the evangelical church charity because they’re ‘sexually impure.’”
Christian quarterback for the Denver Broncos Tim Tebow has taken a lot of flak for his faith. Both players from other teams, as well as fans, have openly mocked and ridiculed Tebow’s Christian beliefs, and even media outlets have taken jabs at Tebow’s faith, albeit, in mostly subtle ways. Still, Tebow has remained steadfast and has attracted the attention of fellow Christian, Kurt Warner, a former quarterback for the New York Giants and St. Louis Rams, who has some advice for Tebow: Tone down the public displays of your faith. Tebow is not ashamed of his deeply entrenched faith. He began his postgame news conference Sunday by thanking his  "Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" and ended it with "God bless." He openly prays on the sidelines and even on the field when he has thrown a touchdown. Tebow is often seen taking a knee, either in prayers of gratitude or in anticipation of a play. In fact, he does it so often that newspapers and fans have taken to coining a term for it: “Tebowing.”  
The Ron Paul for President campaign has released a withering two-minute video entitled Newt Gingrich: Serial Hypocrisy. The video chronicles Newt Gingrich's hypocrisy on the issue of the housing bubble and lobbying, as well as his advocacy of an individual health care mandate and cutting a pro-global warming legislation television advertisement with Democrat Nancy Pelosi. CNBC Host Larry Kudlow noted on his show December 1 that the video "has gone completely viral. Completely viral. It's running everywhere." Indeed, the video received some 250,000 views on YouTube.com within the first full day of its release. More importantly, the video has received coverage on most of the national television networks and newspapers across the nation, bringing the real number of views into the millions. In addition, it has received the attention of television stations in early primary states such as New Hampshire.
When Newt Gingrich was asked in the November 9 CNBC presidential debate what he did to earn $300,000 from mortgage giant Freddie Mac, Gingrich claimed: "I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible." But the Wall Street Journal reported December 1 that Gingrich had not only praised the Freddie Mac model in a 2007 interview on the mortgage giant's website but said that "these are results I think conservatives should embrace and want to extend as widely as possible." The interview with Gingrich is no longer available on the Freddie Mac website, but it is available on several Internet archive websites that capture what websites used to post. The Wall Street Journal story noted that "The interview was published by Freddie Mac as part of a regular campaign to educate the public — and Washington — about its brand." And by "educate the public," the Wall Street Journal meant promote the continuance of its policy of accelerating the housing bubble. In the April 24, 2007 interview with Gingrich, the former House Speaker had the following praise for Freddie Mac and the whole GSE (Government-Sponsored Enterprise) concept:
Although the socialists took a beating in Spain’s election on November 20 — in which the conservative Popular Party won a majority of seats in Spain’s parliament — the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), with its lowest vote in 34 years, vowed to put real pressure on the new conservative government. The polls had predicted the victory of the conservative Popular Party, which prompted the leftist candidate, former Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, to promise that he would make the rich pay higher taxes. (Where have we heard that before?) He tried to scare voters by claiming that the conservatives had a secret program to cut the welfare state and attack unions and workers' rights. (Echoes of Madison, Wisconsin.) But only 40 percent of the people who had voted for the PSOE in 2008 said they would vote socialist again.  
Economist and TV personality Larry Kudlow explained that the decision on Wednesday by many of the world’s central banks made it easier for European banks to borrow dollars from the Federal Reserve. He made it clear that “nothing has been solved in Europe. The Europeans are not yet helping themselves. Why should the ECB (the European Central Bank) write a trillion-dollar check to near-bankrupt governments?” The real problem isn’t liquidity. There’s plenty of money sloshing around in the banks of the world. The instant problem is the type of money. The banks want to hold dollars, not euros, and the costs of holding dollars was rising to levels not seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. And the reason dollars were getting increasingly expensive? One main reason was that American money market funds were pulling their dollars out of European banks: Between May and October those funds reduced their holdings in European banks by 42 percent, while their holdings in French banks were cut by two-thirds. When demands were made on those banks for dollars, the banks had to sell euros to get them. As Capital Economics explained:
As the economic crisis in the European Union grows day by day, there is a proportionate degree of speculation around the world about the final extent of the damage that will be done by the looming collapse of the euro. According to Daniel Mitchell, a contributor to Forbes.com, many individuals among the wealthy elite in Europe are already planning to flee their respective countries for safe havens in nations such as Costa Rica or Australia. Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office is making plans to evacuate Britons from the Continent in the event of widespread rioting.  
Here’s a story that’ll tickle your McRibs. On December 1 a law seemingly banning McDonald’s Happy Meals went into effect in San Francisco. The “Healthy Meal Incentives Ordinance” prohibits restaurants from giving away toys with meals that do not meet with the city’s approval — namely, meals with too many calories, too much salt or fat, or insufficient fruits and vegetables. Just a few days before the ordinance took effect, SF Weekly reports, McDonald’s announced it had found a simple way around the statute: Charge customers extra for the toys. Now in order to obtain a Happy Meal toy, parents will first have to buy the meal and then pay an additional 10 cents, which will be considered a donation to Ronald McDonald House charities. With Burger King’s announcement that it will implement a similar policy, the Happy Meal ban has thus effectively been neutralized. However, for the nanny-state types who thought they were protecting children from dangerous fast food, there is even worse news. Prior to December 1, McDonald’s stores in San Francisco actually allowed patrons to purchase a Happy Meal toy by itself for $2.18 rather than having to buy the meal to obtain the toy. Now that the Golden Arches are going to charge extra for the toys, they are discontinuing the toy-only policy. Henceforth, any parent wishing to purchase a Happy Meal toy for a child will be forced to buy the meal, too. This, the Independent Institute’s Anthony Gregory points out, is “another unintended consequence of a bad law, since now, on the margin, customers will sometimes opt to buy the greasy food targeted by the law just so they can get the toy, when before they would have not bought the food.”
As central banks around the world unleashed a coordinated deluge of new money to deal with the economic crisis swamping Europe, critics expressed outrage that the Federal Reserve System — and all holders of U.S. dollars by extension — would be bailing out profligate European governments and the troubled euro currency. And furious American lawmakers are again demanding congressional oversight of the Fed and a restoration of sound money. On November 30, the Fed announced in a press release that it was cutting the cost of temporary dollar liquidity swaps almost in half. The rate was slashed from about one percent to slightly over 0.5 percent, making it much cheaper for foreign central banks and the financial institutions they fund to borrow a practically unlimited supply of newly created U.S. dollars. The news was met with outrage by Congressman Ron Paul, whose subcommittee deals with monetary policy and the central bank. Paul is once again calling for, among other measures, an audit of the Fed and the eventual restoration of honest money. “The Fed's latest actions in cooperating with foreign central banks to undertake liquidity swaps of dollars for foreign currencies is another reason why Congress needs enhanced power to oversee and audit the Fed,” said Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the Chairman of the House Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee. “Under current law Congress cannot examine these types of agreements.”
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