Grapevine: Christmas tradition in CA park loses in court

And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine...

Raising the Bar

There is no room at the inn -- or rather, the park -- for the baby Jesus this year in Santa Monica, California.

A federal judge has ruled the city can bar unattended Nativity and other seasonal displays in public spaces while a related lawsuit goes forward.

The ruling likely ends a 60-year tradition for the Palisades Park Nativity scene.

An attorney for area churches says the outcome marks -- quote -- "the erosion of First Amendment liberty for religious speech."

Atheist groups are praising the ruling as an example of the separation of church and state. The Freedom from Religion Foundation said quote -- "Religion is innately divisive and just doesn't belong in public parks. There are tax-exempt churches on every other corner. Why isn't that good enough?"

Media Bias

Two weeks after the election, we are learning that MSNBC did not do a single negative story about President Obama or a single positive one about Governor Romney in the final week of the presidential campaign.

That's according to a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

With a Bang

Finally, a four-year billion-plus-dollar transportation project opened with a bang...not in a good way.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood lauded brand-new express lanes on the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia as a -- quote -- "model for American infrastructure."

Drivers have the option of paying a toll or carpooling to ride in faster-moving traffic. Tolls fluctuate depending on how busy the road is.

Over the weekend, there were several reports of several crashes involving multiple vehicles which police say were all caused by drivers swerving or making lane changes to avoid the toll lanes.

Monday -- in the first rush-hour test -- police were investigating a four-car collision at the start of the morning commute.

Transportation authorities are now scrambling to make clearer and more extended markings intended to minimize unsafe lane changes.