As far as pilgrimages go, my annual trip to the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro Massachusetts was not an epic journey.  It involved a five minute walk then an hour long bus ride on a luxury motor coach.  On the way we stopped at Wright’s Chicken Farm, which I most highly recommend.  They serve all you can eat chicken and french fries.  Both are outrageously good.

If you’re planning on visiting, I would recommend taking a bus trip.  The shrine is hard to find and the traffic is very bad this time of year.   For those who want to drive there, arrive early and use a good GPS device.  The traffic into the parking lot usually starts to build around 3 pm so I would try to arrive before then.  By 5 pm the traffic is bumper to bumper for miles each time I visited, which was always the Saturday two weeks before Christmas.

There is plenty to do if you arrive early.  They have a nativity museum with over 2000 nativity sets from around the world. The grounds are very peaceful with Christmas music playing over church bells.  At 3 pm they usually have an Christmas concert in the church followed by a mass at 4 pm.

At about 10 minutes to 5 there is a candlelight procession to the large outside manger where a brief prayer service is held.   At exactly 5 pm the lights are turned on.  That is an amazing sight.  This year they have over a half million lights spread over a large area.  The pictures I’m posting only show a very small fraction of the entire display.  It is well worth the trip.

Merry Christmas everyone !!!

Happy Christmas weekend!

I want to write about the Obama administration alleged cover up for Hezbollah in Latin America story, since I’ve been blogging about Hezbollah‘s (Hizballah Hizbollah) inroads in our hemisphere for the last decade. It’s 8:30 in the morning and this post is due at noon, so I’m doing a bit of research while having breakfast, and will remain in pajamas until I’m finished with this post.

A story from the NY Post related to the Obama-Iran deal popped up in my Facebook feed, so I go to the NYPost, and find the op-ed by David Harsanyi, A deafening media silence on the Obama-Hezbollah scandal,

Even when outlets did decide to cover the story, they typically framed it as a he-said/she-said. “Politico Reporter Says Obama Administration ‘Derailed’ Hezbollah Investigation,” reads the NPR headline. Did Josh Meyer of Politico say something about Obama or did he publish a 14,000-word, diligently sourced, document-heavy investigative piece? If you get your news from NPR, you’d never know.

The investigative story Politico published has two on-the-record sources, and myriad well-sourced details.

I have been blogging on Hezbollah and Iran in Latin America for well over ten years. Before I did yesterday’s post at my blog, I printed out and carefully studied Mayer’s long article.

I could not find one thing that contradicted what information I have read on Hezbollah and Iranian presence in Latin America during the past decade. As far as I could see, his information on the drug trade is rock-solid.

More importantly, the revelation that the Obama administration not only threw obstructions in front of investigators but failed to prosecute major players in the enterprise is a Very Big Deal, a bigger deal than Iran-Contra, where

The Reagan administration was forced to admit that it had covertly continued to fund the [Nicaraguan] Contras by means of arms sales to Iran which were themselves illegal and in breach of a trade embargo against that country.

Indeed, with billions of drug trade money funding terrorists, and tens of thousands of lives ruined, The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook makes Iran-Contra look like pikers.

But, as Harsanyi puts it,

The preponderance of editors, journalists, pundits and bookers, on the other hand, still coddle Democrats. They may do it on purpose or unconsciously, but it’s destroying their credibility. Because as David Burge once noted, “Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.”

On the other hand,
I am elated that Meyer’s thoroughly researched piece came out. He deserves accolades for this.

Little bloggers like myself come across information – such as Hezbollah’s inroads in our hemisphere – that makes us wonder why none of the big fish ever write about. It really is a big deal when one does.

Will the story, having come out during the holiday season, continue to be ignored?
That remains to be seen. It may be up to alternative media to keep it in the limelight, but, no matter what, The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook warrants a most rigorous congressional investigation.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

The best way to descrive the effect of the tax cut bill that just passed will have on our already improving economy is to think of it as the difference between Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady.

By any standard Ben Roethlisberger is a great quarterback. His stats are impressive. He has thrown for over 4000 yards five times, has thrown 25 or more touchdowns a season seven times, had seasons with a QB rating over 100 three times, thrown less than 10 interceptions a season 4 times. Counting this season He has led the Steelers to ten playoff appearances, seven division titles and two Super Bowls both wins.

Any competent list of elite NFL quarterbacks over the last decade includes him and in different era a credible case could be made for listing him as said era’s top Quarterback.

But unfortunately for Big Ben this isn’t another era. It’s the Tom Brady era and as excellent as Roethlisberger’s stats are they pale before Brady’s. Tom has thrown for 4000 or more yards 9 times (over 5000 in 2011) He has thrown 25 or more touchdowns 13 times (including 50 in 2007) , ha seasons with a QB rating over 100 6 times (three seasons over 110), thrown less than 10 interceptions a season 7 times (only 2 last year)

And of course counting this season Tom Brady has led the Patriots to the Division every single year (15 seasons years) but one (2002) and has taken his team to the Superbowl seven times winning five.

Or to put it another way. While Ben Roethlisberger is a great quarterback, a Hall of Fame Quarterback, a quarterback any team would be proud to have, he is not even in the same league as Tom Brady who is the greatest and most successful Quarterback to ever play the game.

What does that have to do with the Trump Tax plan? Just this.

The Obama Economy was, put simply a disaster:

The latest numbers mean that Obama’s economic forecasters missed their growth targets every year that he was in office. And, once again, economists who had been promising that strong growth was just around the corner — most recently because of a relatively strong third quarter — had to eat crow.

It also means that GDP growth has not exceeded 3% for 11 straight years. . . .

And despite th predictions of naysayers and experts galore:

Jason Furman, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, told reporters earlier this year that the chances of reaching 3 percent growth over a decade were about 1 in 25 — which is what many political experts said was Trump’s chance of winning the election. Another Obama economist, Alan Krueger, called the 3 percent growth forecast “extremely rosy.”

Larry Summers, a top economic adviser to Obama, questioned the “standards of integrity” of the Trump economic team’s forecast for 3 percent (or more) growth. “I do not see how any examination of U.S. history could possibly support the Trump forecast as a reasonable expectation,” he wrote in The Washington Post.

It took Donald Trump less than one year to change this achieving the 3% economic growth that others have said was not possible

President Donald Trump’s goal of 3 percent growth has been realized in two of the three quarters since he took office, and economists say the trend can keep going for at least another quarter and possibly longer.

Third-quarter GDP grew by 3 percent, well above the 2.5 percent expected by economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters and below the 2.8 percent in the CNBC/Moody’s Rapid Update. The third-quarter number comes on top of 3.1 percent growth in the second quarter, making for the best back-to-back quarters since 2014 and ending a long streak of sluggish 2 percent growth.

To put it one way. Trump’s first year Economic numbers are something to be proud of, particularly compared to Obama’s. Clearly above average and heading in the right direction. They are the Ben Roethlisberger of economic stats.

Now take that above average economy and add to it a tax plan that cuts corporate tax rates from 35% to 21% while cutting taxes on a resurgent middle class a package that produced this reactions from Germans:

“The tax competition will have a new dimension,” said Christoph Spengel, chairman of the corporate tax department at the University of Mannheim. Mr. Spengel, who is also a research associate at the Center for European Economic Research, and a group of tax experts at the university have done a detailed comparison of the two countries’ tax systems and published a report under the heading, “Germany loses out in US tax reform.”

Clemens Fuest, who heads the Ifo economic think tank, also said he believed German business would suffer. “Investments and jobs will migrate to the US,” he said.

Once the full effect of this tax bill hits we will go from a Roethlisberger economy to a Brady economy and leave that solid 3% growth in the dust.

Get ready folks, golden days are ahead.