Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Iran in the Red?
Iran's status as a Persian Gulf power fueled by oil revenue could collapse without any push from the U.S. or other nations. That according to a new study from the National Academy of Sciences which says restrictions on foreign investment, a focus on short-term profit and just plain mismanagement could eliminate Iran's oil exports by 2015 — costing the country an estimated $50 billion a year.
The report concludes that Iran's hard-line politics have driven away many potential investors and that the welfare state has siphoned off oil profits that should have been reinvested in production.
In the standoff over Iran's nuclear program — which it claims is for nuclear power not weapons — the analysis suggests Iran might be increasingly vulnerable to international pressure and have less money to devote to radical Islamic groups abroad.
Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, who last month become the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, says he still plans to take his oath of office on the Koran — despite the controversy it's aroused.
Ellison told a cheering crowd of Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan, "You can't back down. You can't chicken out... You've got to have faith in Allah and you've got to stand up and be a real Muslim."
Ellison said Muslims can help teach America about justice and equal protection, adding that the Koran controversy "has made people dust off their constitution and actually read it."
Pageant of Pelosi
Incoming House leader Nancy Pelosi will mark her swearing-in as the first female Speaker with four days of celebrations.
The festivities begin on January 2nd in her hometown of Baltimore, where she'll have a street named after her; in another ceremony at the Italian embassy, she'll get a serenade from singer Tony Bennett; then wrap up the festivities with a fundraising dinner featuring performances by Jimmy Buffett and members of the Grateful Dead. A spokesman says the program is meant to reflect Pelosi's heritage and personality.
But one Republican strategist argues — and certainly hopes — that the lavish parties will backfire with voters and remind them of what he called "the arrogant, party-driven Washington of the Clinton era."
Government Gets Involved
The South Korean government thinks corporate holiday parties in the country have gotten out of hand and is taking action to discourage some of the more unseemly celebrating. It is now offering movie tickets and cash incentives to men who sign a pledge not to visit prostitutes over the holidays.
A spokesman for the ministry of Gender Equality says the heavy drinking Korean corporate culture makes buying sex an acceptable form of male-bonding. But some Koreans are calling the plan a waste of taxpayer dollars and also complain it gives the impression that South Korean men can't stay away from brothels.
—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.