News reports indicated that President Obama had opted to steer clear of the festivities surrounding the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address. But at the last moment, searching desperately for some positive publicity to stimulate his flagging poll numbers, the Commander-in-Chief changed his mind.
Quietly trying to stay out of the limelight, and pull off a public relations surprise, Obama and his contingent of senior staff and security boarded the high-speed train from the nation’s capital to the rolling farm country of southern Pennsylvania. In a moment of solitude he reviewed the address his speechwriters had drafted for him mere hours ago.
But something about the speech – full of boilerplate historical accounts of a conflict most American students don’t even learn about anymore – didn’t resonate. “I need to come up with something that brings people back to a happier time, not this boring tripe,” he thought. So in the silence of a midnight train ride to Gettysburg, he took out some scrap pieces of paper, his ball point pen, and started from scratch: (more…)
On Facebook for the past several days, I’ve been counting down my 50 favorite Christmas songs. Coming up with the top 50 songs wasn’t terribly difficult. I’ve identified roughly 375 different contenders, though I’m only familiar with a little more than 200 of them. A good number of the Christmas songs I know were easily disqualified because of the unpleasant visceral reaction they cause.
Ranking the top 50 on the other hand — beyond a few that consistently rise to the top — was a difficult task. Still, there’s a kind of double-edged fun to assembling a list like this one: 1) Comparing and debating the rankings with friends; and 2) The fluid nature of the list, in part because of new songs discovered that upset the balance. If I do this again, the 2013 edition might look somewhat different.
Some of the songs you see below contain video links, either because the song may be less familiar or because it’s a rendition I particularly like. So without further ado, here in descending order is the current list of my 50 favorite Christmas songs: (more…)
The New Year has arrived, and my long hiatus from serious blogging is over. For any blogger, a long hiatus can be a dangerous proposition — threatening the already tenuously small readership and helping people to forget about you. Look, many of you already were going to forget about me anyway over the Christmas / New Year holiday anyway. And having blogged here for nearly seven years (can you believe that?), I felt secure enough to take the time off.
But one major reason for the break was to gear up mentally and spiritually for the battles that lie ahead. Contributing to all the apparently positive gains in the 2010 elections, in Congress and elsewhere? That took some effort, to be sure. The real challenge lies ahead, however — among other things, in striving to keep our elected leaders in Denver and Washington, D.C., (as well as myself) honest in the fight to limit government power and “to promote the blessings of liberty.”
And while I’m at it, what could be more serious than putting to rest how we name this new year in our everyday conversation: Two thousand eleven or Twenty-eleven? Like this cause, I choose and stand firmly in the camp of the latter. Yes, I’m a year late to the game, but like a new convert I bring a zeal to the “Twenty-eleven” crusade. Watch out!
(H/T Schroeder) Yesterday was the 240th anniversary of the birth of the great and revolutionary musical genius Ludwig von Beethoven. Because it fits my mood for today, here’s the triumphant finale to the legendary Fifth Symphony:
Today marks the end of an era. The state employee who started the non-union group ColoradoLoses as an answer to Colorado WINS, the union coalition outgoing Governor Bill Ritter invited into Denver by executive order in 2007. Dave Ohmart posted the announcement on his website earlier today:
I am shutting ColoradoLoses down. Thaks so much for the support you showed me over the past two and a half years.
WINS will be shutting down too, I believe. They have lost support and are near bankruptcy.
I don’t have any independent information to confirm or challenge Dave’s assessment and prediction. But it’s important to note that Colorado WINS (a joint coalition of SEIU, AFSCME and AFT) did gain its semi-exalted bargaining position, after Ritter’s signed order, largely as a result of tremendous apathy among state employees. Speaking of apathy, Dave also noted in an email announcement sent this evening:
I wanted to force a petition to demand a new vote. I needed over 2,000 signatures and after 5 weeks only got 130. I have received none in over a week. That tells me that state employees are not interested in my efforts…so I’m closing shop. The website is empty except for the closing statement and it will be down soon.
What will incoming Democratic governor John Hickenlooper do vis a vis Colorado WINS and the Ritter executive order? Probably nothing. Unlike his major opponents, he made no promises to repeal the order. But if Dave is correct, the point largely is moot. We’ll have to wait and see.
Nearly three years ago I blogged a tribute to my Grandpa DeGrow (1907-1998) on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Tonight I share a similar tribute to my Grandma Hutchings (1910-2001) on the 100th anniversary of her birth. As I wrote in November 2008, expressing thankfulness for the legacy of my grandparents:
Grandma Hutchings – my maternal grandmother – was a testament to patience and sweetness. She was hard-working, generous with what little she had, and nearly always teeming with quiet joys. And she endured no small share of hardships in her life.
Now nine years past, the pain of September 11, 2001, seems like such a distant memory. But as always, the anniversary ought to be honored and observed — in compassion for those most directly affected, in humble gratitude for noble sacrifices, in righteous resolve for peace through strength, in eternal vigilance for God’s great gift of liberty. Take a moment today to pause and remember.
WHEREAS, on June 2, 2010, at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga masterfully pitched a game against the Cleveland Indians in which he indisputably retired each of the first 26 batters he faced in succession with exactly 80 pitches thrown (62 strikes, 18 balls); and
WHEREAS, with two outs in the top of the 9th inning, the 27th batter, Cleveland Indians shortstop Jason Donald, grounded the ball to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who in turn flipped the ball to Galarraga, who clearly touched the bag with his foot before Donald did; and
WHEREAS, veteran first base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled the runner safe at first; and
WHEREAS, thousands of the paying customers at Comerica Park could see immediately that the umpire blew the call at first; and (more…)
One of our pastors shared this story from the pulpit yesterday morning about the late Medal of Honor winner Captain Ed Freeman, who put himself in harm’s way to rescue many young wounded American servicemen in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965. Dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who gave their lives in the military service to help preserve our freedoms:
Spend a moment today to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day, and find a way to show your appreciation to a military member, veteran, spouse or family member. And God bless America!
Tonight I am at a loss for words. The great Ernie Harwell — to all of us who grew up with his voice and grew up to love Detroit Tigers baseball, simply “Ernie” — passed away today at age 92, after a long bout with cancer. If you want to know why I’m choked up with tears, here’s a start:
While a certain Democratic ex-President has been trying to exploit the memory of today’s terrible 15th anniversary to take a political cheap shot at millions of Americans, I prefer to commemorate a different anniversary.
Two hundred thirty-five years ago today, American patriots at Lexington and Concord ignited the cause of liberty on American shores. What was nearly unthinkable on April 19, 1775 — a ragtag band of Patriot colonists winning the hearts and minds of many countrymen, the support of the French crown and securing independence from Britain — eventually came to pass.
But the heroism of the farmers and craftsmen in small Massachusetts towns who stood tall against General Thomas Gage’s Redcoats, including of the dozens who gave their lives, deserves its own spotlight today: (more…)
Today — April 9, 2010 — will go down as a memorable day. First, my native state of Michigan officially declared it Ernie Harwell Day in honor of what looks very much like the legendary Hall-of-Fame baseball broadcaster’s last Detroit home opener with us (and bless the Tigers, they beat Cleveland 5-2). Can’t say it enough: Thank YOU, Ernie Harwell.
I’ve also learned that lawmakers from my adopted home state of Colorado have declared today David Benke Day, in honor of the selfless, heroic teacher at Deer Creek Middle School who doubtless helped save student lives from a deranged gunman. I’m honored to have met both of these fine, humble men, and am glad to know they share the same commemorative day. They are both most deserving, each in his own way.
But there’s one other reason to make April 9, 2010 memorable: It’s the 145th anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s famed surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House — most beautifully and eloquently captured in the memoir of General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies — bringing the great hope of peace to an American nation ravaged by the Civil War. (This one is for you, Snags.)