- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 2010

VITAL SIGNS

Have a Merry Christmas, but don’t forget the most basic origins of the day, say several thousand billboards that show the glow of a fetal ultrasound, a halo above the infant. Funded and organized by private donors, faith-based organizations and local right-to-life groups, the billboards depict “Mary’s blessed ultrasound” and are emblazoned with the motto, “He’s on His way: Christmas starts with Christ.”

The billboards have appeared in Ohio and Wisconsin in the U.S. so far - and throughout Britain, the brainchild of ChurchAds.net, a coalition of Christian churches, including the Church of England, Baptist Union, United Reformed Church, Anglican and Methodist churches.

“This simple illustration emphasizes that Jesus Christ came to the world both human and divine, and in so doing, sanctified the birth process for every person. Christmas is the message of Christ’s love for all, no matter our age, race, ability, poverty or wealth, or place of residence,” the coalition says.

COME ‘N’ GO

There’s much adoring ado in the press that President Obama is the proverbial “comeback kid,” just like former President Bill Clinton. Well, that’s OK. It’s the season of good will, and Mr. Obama deserves time off from post-“shellacking,” post-lame-duck Washington. But wait. Some are already predicting a short honeymoon for the president, whose legislative victories are already going bad in the back of the Republican Party refrigerator.

“It could well be a wake-up call for the Tea Party, whose operatives are likely to hold a lot of feet to the fire once the candidates they backed arrive in Washington. A lot of Republicans will be looking over their shoulder at primary challenges in 2012. Of the DADT defectors, only ScottBrown and [Olympia J. Snowe] are up for re-election in 2012, both in liberal states,” observes Toby Harnden, U.S. editor for the Daily Telegraph of London.

“Throw into the mix the start in earnest of the 2012 election campaign, and you don’t need to be a dyed-in-the-wool cynic to predict that bipartisanship in Washington will be short-lived and Obama’s ‘comeback’ is unlikely to extend into February.”

MISSILE TOE

“Based on historical data and more than 50 years of NORAD tracking information, we believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of children throughout the world,” says the very matter-of-fact U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the 24/7 aerospace and maritime defense of the U.S. and Canada.

“Historians claim that the history of Santa starts with the tradition of Saint Nicholas, a 4th century Christian priest who lived in the Middle East in an area of present-day Turkey who became famous for his kindness. He was known for giving gifts to the less fortunate, sprinkling gifts of gold down people’s chimneys or hiding surprises in their stockings,” continues the NORAD explanation of why, every Christmas Eve, military and civilian volunteers track the progress of Mr. Claus and his famous flight.

“While the tradition of tracking Santa began purely by accident, NORAD continues to track Santa. We’re the only organization that has the technology, the qualifications, and the people to do it. And we love it,” the organization states. Three cheers. See it all - particularly the “FAQ” section here: www.noradsanta.org.

CHAMPAGNE POLICE

Just in time for a fancy holiday dining, French scientists report that pouring champagne at an angle down the side of the glass is the best way to preserve its taste and fizz. Their study - which involved heat-sensitive thermography, diffusion coefficients and champagne viscosity - reports the “first scientific evidence” confirming the importance of chilling champagne - this according to the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Chief research chemist Gerard Liger-Belair and his colleagues - under undoubtedly strict scientific circumstances - found that pouring champagne down the side preserved twice as much of the delicate gas than pouring with a flourish in the middle of the glass. Oh, and break out the ice bucket. They also showed that cooler champagne - ideally, 39 degrees Fahrenheit - help reduce carbon dioxide loss.

THAT IS THE QUESTION

Republicans know more than Democrats in terms of public affairs, at least according to a handy dandy Pew Research Center political news “IQ quiz” that gauges the knowledge of the nation on economics, inflation, the midterm elections and foreign affairs, among other things. Almost two thirds of Republicans correctly estimated the unemployment rate, compared with 48 percent of Democrats. “A wide partisan gap” is also seen in awareness of the U.S. trade deficit: 72 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Democrats say that the U.S. buys more goods from abroad that it sells.

Take the quiz yourself; only 1 percent of the nation got all 12 questions right, by the way. Find it here: http://pewresearch.org/ politicalquiz

POLL DU JOUR

- 41 percent of likely U.S. voters say the “tea party” will be stronger in 2012 political campaigns than it was in the 2010 campaigns.

- 30 percent say it will have the same influence; 21 percent say it will play a smaller role.

- 34 percent say tea party candidates elected in November “will stay true to their beliefs when in office.”

- 21 percent consider themselves to be part of the tea party movement; 11 percent have close friends or family involved.

- 80 percent of tea party members consider themselves politically conservative.

- 64 percent are Republicans; 28 percent are not affiliated with any party; 8 percent are Democrats.

Source: A Rasmussen reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Dec. 15 and 16.

- Merry, merry, merry Christmas from Inside the Beltway, and thank you for reading this year. Tipline always open at jharper@ washingtontimes.com.

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