- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Burying Lyndon

“Didn’t we once have a president named Lyndon Baines Johnson?” writes Bruce Hall of Annapolis, one of dozens of readers to spot our blooper yesterday when ranking best to worst the U.S. presidents of the 20th century.
What actually happened was that LBJ’s legacy was inadvertently dropped from the bottom of the list, directly below William Jefferson Clinton’s “double-talk and sexcapades.”
Mr. Johnson, who occupied the Oval Office from 1963-69, is described by education analyst Malcolm Lawrence as “a boorish unprincipled leader; created an out of control welfare state and engineered the crumbling of the American pursuit of victory in Vietnam.”

Christmas chants

During one debate last week, Vice President Al Gore reiterated in no uncertain terms that he fully supports the separation between church and state.
But given his Gore 2000 campaign rally on Sunday morning, we’re not so sure.
Mr. Gore’s staff had to know in advance of the rally outside NBC studios in Washington immediately after the vice president’s debate with Democratic presidential opponent Bill Bradley that repeated chants of “We Want Gore” would disrupt church services next door.
After all, Gore 2000 warned its activists, in writing, days before the rally: “PLEASE DO NOT PARK at the National Presbyterian Church next to NBC.”
Still, knowing Mr. Bradley would have his own gaggle of supporters on hand, the Gore camp said nothing about keeping noise levels down.
“Unfortunately, Gore and Bradley supporters didn’t stop to realize that they were disrupting Sunday school services,” one church member telephoned Inside the Beltway to complain.
“Here you’re trying to teach some kids about the Christmas story, and you hear all these people out there shouting,” he says. “They had no regard at all for the people worshipping on Sunday morning. I’ve been at the church a long time, and I never heard anything like it.”

Don’t fail us

“The future ain’t what it used to be,” U.S. Navy Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., commander in chief of NATO’s Supreme Allied Command, Atlantic, and the U.S. Joint Forces Command, told 2,200 winter graduates of Old Dominion University on Sunday, quoting baseball great Yogi Berra.
“In the next few years, when 77 million baby boomers start to retire, your generation must earn enough to support the colossal payroll taxes needed to pay our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
He added with a grin, “Don’t fail us.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala received an honorary doctorate of laws from the Norfolk college, urging graduates to follow their ambitions responsibly.
“In exchange for opportunities, we are obliged to demonstrate responsibility,” she said. “Do what you can to create peace and strong communities wherever you should land.”

Dogg and company

A year-end survey conducted by Silver Spring’s StarStock.com queried more than 1,000 people, who selected President Clinton as “the least trusted person to escort somebody’s wife on an overnight business trip.”
On the heels of Mr. Clinton were Robert Downey Jr. and Snoop Dogg.

Nailing Easter

“While Dionysius did miscalculate the year of the birth of Christ, he had nothing to do with any so-called mistake about a year zero,” writes John Sloan of Dionysius Exiguus, the monk who centuries ago, we wrote yesterday, overhauled the calendar. “Zero is a point, not a dimension. It isn’t Dionysius’ fault there is no year zero.
“Moreover, the first century AD included the years from 1 AD to 100 AD inclusive, and the Second Century AD began on the year 101 AD. And of course this is why the 20th Century didn’t begin until 1 Jan of 1901, and the third millennium won’t begin until the 1 Jan of the year 2001,” says Mr. Sloan, a retired military officer who taught Western civilization and Russian history at West Point, among other military institutions.
“I see you mentioned correctly that Dionysius lived in the 6th century and not the 5th even though the dates were in the 500s AD. Well the same principle applies to years as to centuries.
“Another interesting point is that Dionysius wasn’t directly interested in the date for Christ’s birth but for His conception, which was the more important event. Thus we read in Luke that the Jewish priest Zacharias was in the temple performing his duties with incense on the high holy days when the angel Gabriel appeared to announce the conception of John the Baptist.
“This was presumed then to be in the month we now call September … then Luke says it was 6 months later that Mary went to Elizabeth to tell her that Gabriel had just announced to her the conception of Jesus. This makes the date for the Annunciation March 25th.
“That used to be the very significant event and Holy day. With the Annunciation on March 25th, the birth day naturally followed on 25 December. But Luke doesn’t bother to try to pin down the birthday, he has already focused on the day of the Annunciation. Of course the principal use of the calendar was to find the right day for Easter.”

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