Sunday, December 23, 2007
On this day:

My favorite Christmas songs

I can't improve on last year' here they are again. Same songs, but updated links and/or artists.

O Holy Night

Sung by Marantha Music:

Sung by Placido Domingo:

Sung by Celine Dion:

O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fidelis)

Sung by Mario Lanza:

Sung by Twisted Sister (yes that Twisted Sister):

Ave Maria

Sung by Lucianno Pavarotti:

Sung by Pavarotti and Delores O'Riordan from the Cranberries (because you can never have enough Pavarotti):

Silent Night

Sung by Enya (in Irish, I think):

Little Drummer Boy

Sung by John Denver (at the Vatican):

Away in a Manger

Sung by Third Day:

Sung by Celtic Woman (different version):

The First Noel

Sung by Natalie Cole:

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Sung by Josh Groban:

The Christmas Song

Sung by Nat King Cole:

Blue Christmas

Sung by Elvis Presley:

White Christmas

Sung by Bing Crosby:

How Great Thou Art

Sung by Loretta Lynn:

Sung by Elvis Presley:

Friday, December 21, 2007
On this day:

John McCain's Christmas story

Here's Senator McCain's Christmas message:

“As a POW, my captors would tie my arms behind my back and then loop the rope around my neck and ankles so that my head was pulled down between my knees. I was often left like that throughout the night.

“One night a guard came into my cell. He put his finger to his lips signaling for me to be quiet, and then loosened my ropes to relieve my pain. The next morning, when his shift ended, the guard returned and retightened the ropes, never saying a word to me.

“A month or so later, on Christmas Day, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw that same guard approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me, not looking or smiling at me. After a few moments had passed, he rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp. After a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away.

“That guard was my Good Samaritan. I will never forget that man and I will never forget that moment. And I will never forget that, no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up and carry you.

“May you and your family have a blessed Christmas and Happy Holidays,

“John McCain”

Now that's powerful stuff.

(The video version is here.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007
On this day:

Scientists find secret to winning at Rock, Paper, Scissors

This is the most important story of the day by far.


I started painting the walls in my den and hallway last weekend. Or I guess I should say I got started starting to paint them. I haven't actually painted anything yet. I'm still doing the prep work...spackling and sanding, sanding and spacking, washing and rinsing...trying to hide all the little holes, dimples, cracks, and nail pops that I know will annoy me to death if I don't get rid of them. From the looks of it, I should be done sometime around Groundhog Day. What an ever-loving pain in the arse.

Anyway, that's why posting has been so light this week. I'm a little sad about that because there's actually a lot going on in the world right now. Mike Huckabee appears to be the new Republican front-runner (frown), Britney Spears's little sister (what is her name?) is pregnant, Vladimir Putin has been named Time Magazine's "Man of the Year," and Christmas is next week.

Speaking of which, I have yet to buy the first Christmas present. Been too busy spackling and thinking about painting to shop. Stores are open on Chrismas Eve, right?

Needless to say, you probably won't be hearing much from me over the next week, so in case I don't get back before then, here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007
On this day:

A tragic day in Huntsville

A Huntsville police officer - William Eric Freeman - died yesterday after being shot Friday night while he and another officer were trying to arrest a man for DUI. There's more from the Huntsville Times here and here.

Officer Freeman was 36 years old. He leaves behind a wife, five children, and a grateful city. May he rest in peace.

You can leave a personal message in memory of Officer Freeman at the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Thursday, December 13, 2007
On this day:

Obama to Hillary: "I'll teach you not to cackle"

If y'all haven't seen Obama's priceless smackdown of Hillary in today's Democratic debate, it would be well worth thirty seconds of your time to to watch it:

Better late than never

Joe Namath will graduate from the University of Alabama this Saturday.

Today's Republican debate

There was another Republican presidential debate today. It had the unfortunate distinction of having what must have been the worst format and most annoying moderator in the history of presidential debates.

The New York Times has the video transcript, and the Des Moines Register has the debate video and commentary.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
On this day:

National Review endorses Romney

Interesting endorsement.

I get the feeling that it would've been Fred if only he would have shown a little more oomph.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
On this day:

Watch the year's best meteor shower this week

From National Geographic News:
The Geminid meteor shower—considered by many to be the most active annual sky show—is going to be especially spectacular this year, astronomers predict. ...

Unlike last year, the Geminids will be falling against a dark, moonless night.

The last time the sky was this dark during the shower was in 1996, when observers saw up to 110 meteors an hour.

Experts say the rate will be at least that high this year, with peak viewing on December 13 and 14.

Surrounded by Frenchmen, Qaddafi pitches a tent


Monday, December 10, 2007
On this day:

No Country for Old Men

Anybody seen it yet?

Cradle to grave

"If we could start with them as babies, that'd be the way to go."

That's Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Ann Roy Moore, discussing state-supported pre-kindergarten education with Gov. Bob Riley.

Wow. And I thought Hillary "It Takes a Village" Clinton was bad.

Mitt's notes on religion

The American Spectator has the goods. Haha!

Christmas down in Africa

Getting in the Christmas spirit.

Is it just me or does one of the guys in the middle look kinda like Alabama AG Troy King?

The Episcopalian crack-up

For the first time ever, an entire Episcopalian diocese has voted to disassociate itself from the U.S. Episcopal Church and align with another province. They're not calling it a "schism," but rather a "realignment." The appropriate question now may not be whether others will follow, but how many. This is a big story that will only get bigger.

Friday, December 07, 2007
On this day:

In case you wondered

I'm still undecided as to who I will support in the Republican primary. Each of the leading contenders has his good qualities, so it's really a tough call. If I had to list 'em in order of personal preference right now, it would go something like this:

1. Fred Thompson
2. John McCain
3. Mitt Romney
4. Rudy Giuliani
5. Mike Huckabee
6. Ron Paul

I left off Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter for the simple reason that their campaigns are going nowhere. It's not that they aren't good guys - it's just time for them to hang it up.

Ron Paul makes the list only because I like him and I think that he contributes a great deal to the campaign. He keeps the other candidates on their toes and provides a unique perspective on issues that wouldn't get much attention were he to drop out of the race. His message of limited government, federalism, and economic liberty has also attracted the interest (and the dollars) of quite a few libertarian-leaning voters who might otherwise look towards a third party candidate - or even worse, a Democrat. These folks should naturally find themselves aligned with the Republican Party, at least in presidential elections. Why run them off?

As for the other guys - my top five - I'll talk more about them later.

The faith of our fathers

I found this old Corner post by NRO's Rick Brookhiser titled "The Founders and Religion."
1. George Washington—He mentioned Providence all the time, in public and in private. His Providence is no absentee watchmaker, but an active, superintending force. See the famous graf on religion and morality in the Farewell Address. No clergy at his death bed. More precise theological opinions shrouded in deep reticence.

2. Benjamin Franklin—Friend of George Whitefield, impressed with his preaching, but not converted. See his letter, a few months before his death, to Ezra Stiles, in which he says Jesus was the greatest moral teacher; whether or not he was the Son of God, Franklin is not sure, and won't bother to think about, since he expects to find out very soon. Anxious to be on good terms with all the churches in Philadelphia.

3. John Adams—Unitarian, tinged with philosophical skepticism in his old age. But one of his reasons for disdaining the French Revolution was his conviction that a nation of "atheists" could not pull it off.

4. James Madison—Had a nervous breakdown at Princeton, possibly related to loss of faith (his father was a bishop). I would be interested to hear from a Madisonian—is Alvin Felzenberg reading this?

5. Alexander Hamilton—pious in youth. See the Hurricane Letter, published age 15 in the local (Virgin Islands) newspaper. He got very caught up in his exciting life; then with the death in a duel of his eldest son Philip, age 19, he becomes devout once more. On his deathbed, after his duel, he seeks communion from the Episcopal Bishop of New York. It is refused, until he makes a clear condemnation of dueling, and expresses his forgiveness of Col. Burr.

6. Thomas Jefferson—unchurched Deist, much private scoffing at his clerical enemies. As a young man, he copies out Bolingbroke's opinion that the morality of the Greeks was superior to that of Jesus. As President, is convinced that Jesus was superior to the Greeks. Jesus' reax not known, presuambly forgiving.
But why stop with these six? Samuel Adams? Patrick Henry? (In the last election of Henry's life, a Baptist preacher, trying to bring him down a peg, cried out, "Mr. Henry is not a God." Henry: "No, no indeed my friend. I am a poor worm of the dust, as fleeting and insubstantial as the shadow of the cloud that passes over yonder field and is seen no more." Not bad, for off the cuff.) Thomas Paine, of course, became an infamous mocker of the Bible. Yet his great Revolutionary polemics quote it.
I have followed religion through a number of lives now, and a greater number of biographies, and I can testify that posthumous kidnapping is performed as much by atheizing academics as by holy rollers.
Food for thought.

Mitt Romney speaks on religious liberty

Have you heard? Mitt Romney is a Mormon. That, and the fact that Mr. Romney apparently really believes what the LDS Church teaches, has led to a great deal of speculation about whether Republican primary voters - particularly the evangelical Christians who make up a large part of the GOP base - will even consider nominating a man whose religion is viewed by many of them as a heretical sect or even a cult.

Mr. Romney sought to address those concerns in a speech he delivered at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library today.

Here's the video, and here is the text.

There are always nits to be picked whenever anyone discusses faith and politics, but all-in-all, I thought Gov. Romney's speech was excellent - both in terms of substance and delivery. Near the end, Romney his exactly the right note when he said:
Recall the early days of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, during the fall of 1774. With Boston occupied by British troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they pray. But there were objections. “They were too divided in religious sentiments,” what with Episcopalians and Quakers, Anabaptists and Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Catholics.

Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot.

And so together they prayed, and together they fought, and together, by the grace of God ... they founded this great nation.
Earlier, Romney briefly addressed the theological topic that divides him from the majority of Christians:
There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.
"My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths." What does that mean? And why does it matter?

The answer to the last question seems pretty clear: 1) a considerable number of Christian voters - who are by no means limited to members of the "religious right" - are at least a tad bit uneasy about electing someone as President who they believe to be a non-Christian; and 2) a considerable number of nominally-religious or "secular" voters are uneasy about electing someone whose religious practices they believe to be even more strange than what is practiced by most devout Christians.

I think that both of these groups deserve a word of caution. I happen to identify more with the first group, so what follows is probably directed more towards them.

I'm not very literate in Mormon theology, but it seems beyond dispute that Mormons do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity as it is expressed in the two great creeds of Christianity - the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed. Some would say that means that Mormons are not Christians.

Now, here's where the word of caution comes in.

If we contend that Mr. Romney's unorthodox views about Christ and the Trinity make him a "non-Christian," then the same could be said of several other men who have not only run for President, but who have actually served.

At least four Presidents - John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Howard Taft - were Unitarians, members of a sect that literally made its name by rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity. Thomas Jefferson was even more of a heretic. He almost certainly rejected the divinity of Christ, as attested both in his writings and in his "Jefferson Bible," and while he likely believed in a God, that God seems to have been more like the distant, unknown God of the philosophers than the personal, loving God of Christianity.

Did those men's unorthodox views make them unqualified to be President? If not, is there some foul, perverse doctrine peculiar to Mormonism that should disqualify Mitt Romney or any other Mormon from being President? The only think I can think of is that their abstinence from caffeine might deprive them of the some of the energy that the job requires. Everything else I know about Mormons is that they tend to be decent, humble people who love their families and take care of their communities. While those traits may seem foul and perverse to a world that worships at the altar of materialism, they're pretty admirable in my book.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007
On this day:

Ron Paul on abortion

Rep. Paul talks sense to the ladies of The View.

Saturday, December 01, 2007
On this day:

The Republican debate

If you are like me and skipped out on Wednesday's debate, here it is.