NORAD & The Santa Colonel

2009 December 24
by INC

T’was the Night Before Christmas…and NORAD is busy tracking Santa:

NORAD has been taking its Santa tracking project seriously for decades. But it actually began in 1955 with a wrong number.

One morning that December, U.S. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the director of operations at CONAD, the Continental Air Defense Command–NORAD’s predecessor–got a phone call at his Colorado Springs, Colo., office (see video below). This was no laughing matter. The call had come in on one of the top secret lines inside CONAD that only rang in the case of a crisis.

Grabbing the phone, Shoup must have expected the worst. Instead, a tiny voice asked, “Is this Santa Claus?”

“Dad’s pretty annoyed,” said Terri Van Keuren, Shoup’s daughter, recalling the legend of that day in 1955. “He barks into the phone,” demanding to know who’s calling.

“The little voice is now crying,” Van Keuren continued. “‘Is this one of Santa’s elves, then?'”

The Santa questions were only beginning. That day, the local newspaper had run a Sears Roebuck ad with a big picture of St. Nick and text that urged, “Hey, Kiddies! Call me direct…Call me on my private phone and I will talk to you personally any time day or night.”

But the phone number in the ad was off by a digit. Instead of connecting with Santa, callers were dialing in on the line that would ring if the Russians were attacking.

Before long, the phone was ringing off the hook, and softening up, Shoup grabbed a nearby airman and told him to answer the calls and, Van Keuren said, “‘just pretend you’re Santa.'”

Indeed, rather than having the newspaper pull the Sears ad, Shoup decided to offer the countless kids calling in something useful: information about Santa’s progress from the North Pole. To quote the official NORAD Santa site, “a tradition was born.”

From that point on, first CONAD and then, in 1958, when NORAD was formed, Shoup’s organization offered annual Santa tracking as a service to the global community. A phone number was publicized and anyone was invited to call up, especially on December 24, and find out where Santa was. Manning those phones over the years have been countless numbers of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps personnel and their families, and for many people, turning to NORAD to find out where Santa is became something to look forward to each year.

Colonel Shoup has the lasting legacy of being remembered as the “Santa Colonel.”

Meanwhile, Santa is keeping up with the times.  The Official NORAD Santa Tracker site is mapping him on the internet, you can keep up with him on video and he’s using Facebook and Twitter as well!

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, And to all a good-night.”


22 Responses leave one →
  1. 2009 December 24 12:40 pm
    INC permalink

    I’ll take that as a nice rousing chorus of “Bah, Humbug!”

  2. 2009 December 24 12:43 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Thrifty families accused of prolonging the recession –

    Anxious families are repaying debts instead of spending in the shops, amid concern over the uncertain economic outlook. The share of income saved in banks and building societies has risen to its highest level in more than a decade, heightening fears that faltering consumer demand could prolong the recession.

    Clear case of blaming the victim for the rape.
    Surprised a Democrat did not utter it.

  3. 2009 December 24 2:21 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    283.Here is another lie/myth being pushed by the left in order to get the opposition to its takeover bill to “calm down” and belive its “watered down”:

    “Some supporters of the health care “reform” bill being shoved through the Senate are dismissing concerns over the individual insurance mandate and the tax penalty imposed on those who don’t meet that requirement. They claim that because § 5000A of the bill waives criminal prosecution of taxpayers and says that no liens or levies can be filed on the taxpayer’s property, this is supposedly a “voluntary mandate” and the IRS can’t do anything against you if you refuse to pay the penalty.

    That claim is wrong for a number of reasons. First of all, if you refuse to pay the penalty or you refuse to provide any information on your health care status on your tax return, you will face the prospect of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, something that rightly scares all taxpayers, including those who are law abiding and have done everything they think they should to comply with the law. IRS tax audits are notoriously intrusive, intimidating, and expensive, and the IRS is known for its consistent inconsistency in applying its complex and Byzantine rules and regulations.”

    Unless you are a firm believer in the miracle of authoritarian central government of the elite to “solve” all your supposed “problems” then you had better fight this takeover NOW!

  4. 2009 December 24 2:28 pm
    JustMary permalink

    Oh I LOVE tracking Santa! That is a great site!

  5. 2009 December 24 2:30 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    9.Looks like Obama and the left are growing “weary” of dealing with all you pesky independet and free citizens – too much freedom and democracy is getting in the lefts way!

    “In a yet-to-air interview with PBS President Obama suggests that conservative resistance to his policies harm democracy.”

    No nothing to be concerned with here….

    Why just let the law pass that will establish the principle that the Federal government can do damm near anything they please to you if they deem its “good for you” or “for the collective good”

    Lets wake up and call this what it is: tyranny!

    Lets fight with the deperation needed!

  6. 2009 December 24 3:06 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    They wont put it off very long nor will it fail unless we pullout all the stops and raise the public outcry to nothing that has ever been seen before….

    Certainly, the EXACT wrong thing to do is to by the DNCs “watered down” bullcrap or the “repeal” fantansy!

    And going back to the ole CW politicals that somehow “self interest” will cause this to fail….buy that BS and playing “by the rules” is waht got us to this point of near-failure!

    Finally, there will be no formal conferene – Obama, Reid, and Pelosi arent that stupid – they have worked this out all behind closed doors and will continue to do that to iron out whatever small kinks in the final cramdown/takeover….

    So dont kid yourself on that fantasy either that “we will challenge the joint conference” – there aint gonna be any to challenge – the bill will be ping ponged then presented for a vote only when the kinks are worked out and they have all the votes lined up….

    The ONLY thing we can do is to have public outcry beyond all belief…

  7. 2009 December 24 3:45 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    Forcing people to involuntarily buy an unwanted or unneed product/service upon threat of government violence is neither moral nor practical:

    “Liberals’ support for an individual mandate rests on their view that the ultimate end — universal coverage — justifies the means. If forced to admit the collateral damage on individual people, they might well reply with Lenin’s adage: If you want to make an omelet, you have to be willing to break a few eggs.”

  8. 2009 December 24 3:48 pm
    mpthompson permalink

    Thanks for passing along the Santa tracking link — my kids are asking me every 10 minutes where Santa is at the moment.

    BTW, should I be worried that my 10 year old daughter still fervently believes in Santa? It has me worried she might grow up to be a Democrat.

  9. 2009 December 24 3:52 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    “Now Is the Time to Fight [Jeffrey H. Anderson]

    Harry Reid had the Senate meet for 25 consecutive days for the first time since the United States was deciding whether to enter World War I, and he held the Senate’s first vote on Christmas Eve since the 19th Century. Such is the zealotry of those who champion the cause of government-run health care. Gaining control over what will soon be one-fifth of our economy is apparently so important that it requires a Christmas Eve vote — for a bill that would essentially start about four Christmases from now.

    However, from the start of Christmas week, the important and interesting question was not whether the Senate would pass its bill (that was a foregone conclusion once Ben Nelson yielded to party pressure and waived his abortion objections in exchange for a nice helping of pork). It was whether those of us who believe in the longstanding American ideals of individual liberty, personal freedom, and private control, would continue to match the Democrats’ determination to impose the opposite. For while passage of the Senate bill was a foregone conclusion, follow-on passage of a compromise bill in both chambers is not — not remotely.

    The Democrats passed a highly unpopular bill with two votes to spare in the House and none to spare in the Senate.”

  10. 2009 December 24 4:32 pm
    INC permalink

    Glad you like it, mpt! & don’t worry about your daughter.

    Merry Christmas!

  11. 2009 December 24 4:43 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    33.Anyone still beleiving this “watered down” line anymore? This is nothing but a huge power grab and a transition to single payer – its designed to kill off the best health care system in the world in the most dishonest and undemocratic manner possible!:

    “Washington’s Pet Insurance Industry [Paul Howard]

    University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein has an excellent article in the Journal today explaining how the complex insurance provisions of the Reid bill will either strangle the insurance industry or turn it into a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Government, Inc. Professor Epstein concludes that:

    The inexorable squeeze between the constricted revenue sources allowable that insurers get under the Reid bill and the extensive and uncertain new legal obligations it imposes is likely to result in a massive cash-flow crunch that will drive the firms in the individual and small-group health insurance markets into speedy bankruptcy. The Supreme Court should apply the constitutional brakes to this foolhardy scheme if Congress doesn’t come to its senses first.

    The odds of Congress coming to its senses are slim to none. One can only hope that SCOTUS takes up the issue in short order. Professor Epstein’s full analysis is available from the Manhattan Institute here.”

  12. 2009 December 24 5:01 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    “This paper focuses on the constitutional question in the ratemaking context, by comparison to analogous regulations in the context of public-utility regulation. One telling sign of the relevance of this analysis comes from the Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”). In a recent release, it has treated the proposal as if it nationalizes much of the private health insurance industry, most specifically because it may well require that rebates to customers kick in whenever, in its words, “medical loss ratios are less than 90 percent.”[2] In plain English, the Reid Bill assumes that health-care administration, which is always costly, can be done cheaply even in the new legal environment, so cheaply in fact that these health-insurance rebates kick in whenever insurers’ administrative expenses exceed 10 percent of their premium dollar.

    As the CBO has concluded, “this further expansion of the federal government’s role in the health insurance market would make such insurance an essentially governmental program …”

  13. 2009 December 24 5:04 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    “In effect, the onerous obligations under the Reid Bill would convert private health insurance companies into virtual public utilities. This action is not only a source of real anxiety but also a decision of constitutional proportions, for it systematically strips the regulated health-insurance issuers of their constitutional entitlement to earn a reasonable rate of return on the massive amounts of capital that they have already invested in building out their businesses.”

  14. 2009 December 24 5:16 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    “At this point, there is a near mathematical certainty that the scheme of health-insurance market regulation contemplated by the Reid bill will reduce the risk-adjusted rate of return below the level needed to keep these firms in the individual and small-group health-insurance markets. I am not aware of a single provision in the Reid Bill that looks to ensuring a minimum rate of return. And there are countless provisions in the bill that impose new obligations to cover services while eliminating the revenue sources to deal with them. It is just this combination of regulatory programs that leads the CBO to treat private health insurance issuers as part of a federal program—as though they have been subject to de facto nationalization.”

  15. 2009 December 24 5:45 pm
    mpthompson permalink

    Merry Christmas everyone!!!

  16. 2009 December 24 6:11 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    45.Here is what happens in the real world for 99% percent of us who have insurance:

    “And finally by way of credentials I suffered a heart attack on 7/4/09 necessitating an emergency angioplasty and stent and am now a veteran of actually using the system at a high level. To the tune of $90,000. I am the 48 year old father of six who has kept very fit for 30 years, races vintage motocross (1978 Suzuki RM400, a monster!), eaten right, don’t drink and drug and who has otherwise been a total square for 25 years. It was the first serious health issue in our family, thank God, and also the first time I ever had to see if my “parachute” (my simplified sales lingo for insurance) would work. Being self-employed, I carry a high-deductible individual (fully underwritten private plan) HSA plan and it worked precisely as advertised and as I’ve pitched it for years. We agents aren’t so different from the layman and though I have many clients who have had smooth claims, until we have to pull our own ripcord we too never truly know if it will open. And it did, beautifully.”

    Again, we utter destroy the worlds best HC system and hurt/kill millions of people on the alter of a disproven radical academic theory that bogusly promises “utopia” one earth yet has killed hundreds of millions!

    Here is why the Alans of the world are fools and useful idiots – you become powerless over your own life once the “beneovelt” tecnnocrats turn your medical decsions into a matter of “collective” politics:

    “My opposition to nationalized “healthcare” is based far more on philosophical grounds in tune with your’s. You are right, having the government become the sole provider of healthcare renders us all wards of the state and subject to their final approval for any care and, ultimately, oversight of our private lives. It never ceases to amaze me how people who’ve lived anything beyond the age of 25 haven’t learned the age old adage that “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. I personally don’t want the government anywhere near my private life or that of my family’s. And too, if I die someday from some arguable want of care denied me by a third party or by my own decisions, so what, I want to die free. I must die in the end and I don’t want to do it clinging to and begging an indifferent government.”

  17. 2009 December 24 6:24 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    47.Memo to Republican party and politcal insiders out there – how about we adopt something like this line of “messaging” so all those wonkish #s we endlessly cite (blah blah blah)about taxes and distribution of our tax/borrowed money mean something to the average HUMAN so they get off the couch and fight this:

    “But sometimes convincing others requires converging the philosophical with the practical concerns. And this brings me to your remark of yesterday which does it exceedingly well, “And people write to me whenever I say this, oh, no, this insurance plan won’t allow you this, and Medicare won’t allow you that. In the end, if you stand there and you get out your checkbook, you can have the procedure. And if you need to mortgage your home or sell your car
    to do that, you can have that procedure, too.” Your words are almost precisely how I’ve been illustrating the difference between a government and free system for years but with a little twist. I tell people, “there is a huge difference between arguing with your insurance company about who is going to pay for something and begging permission for it from a government bureaucrat. If one of my kids needs a $300,000 brain surgery to save his life I’ll move heaven and earth to make it happen but there is no question we can get it done but in a government system if they say no then the answer is no. It is the difference between freedom and servitude”. When I say that word, “permission”, you can see the light go on it the hearer’s mind. I’ve had staunch liberals with their jaws set completely change their demeanor at the word. The idea of asking the same kind of folks down at the DMV, Post Office or just about any type of gov’t agency for permission to get your kid that lifesaving surgery galls an American like nothing else on the topic. It boils the whole debate down to the central idea, liberty or servitude, sovereignty or wardship. Free men exercise free will, wards of the state beg permission.

    This is the watchword of the healthcare debate we need to deploy in every conversation, Mark, permission. It cuts through all the fog and arcana. People understand the subservience of asking for permission and no self-respecting grown-up, especially American grown-ups, likes doing it.”

    See people might GET this!


    Then we need to explain this to them: who do you want to decide? You and your family or some nameless/faceless technocrat you have to crawl to?

    I attended several town halls, and trust me people trapped by the government were crawling to the policians if they were lords and dukes!

  18. 2009 December 24 6:56 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    52.“‘Intellectual Whiplash’ [Robert Costa]

    A sharp column, as always, from George Will:

    At least the president got a health care bill through the Senate. But what problem does it “solve” (Obama’s word)? Not that of the uninsured, 23 million of whom will remain in 2019. Not that of rising health care spending. This will rise faster over the next decade.

    The legislation does solve the Democrats’ “problem” of figuring out how to worsen the dependency culture and the entitlement mentality that grows with it. By 2016, families with annual incomes of $96,000 will get subsidized health insurance premiums.”

  19. 2009 December 24 7:05 pm
    judyt2009 permalink

    Wylie — I had to skip over most of your posts… but as to Obama tired of dealing with the GIOP and needing the 60 votes… did you read the comments.

    well gee — Zero’s approval ratings are dropping like as stone … so it isn’t just 40 Senators who are not pleased with him .. but the American people … maybe we don’t want to be a socialist country after all Zero and most are waking up to your lying sack of …. oh never mind it is CHRISTmas.

  20. 2009 December 24 7:17 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    #53 Now is the time to get our act together, get a message and a plan together to beat this thing…

    It would help if we our national leadership would get a clue and go all out on this….

    With Congress going to be gone until around 18 JAN….how about trying to get that 41st vote for the Senate WHILE WE HAVE A CHANCE!!!!

    “the NRSC isn’t supporting Brown. I saw an item on Hot Air by Bill Kristol about the race, I emailed him with local links and asked him to look at Brown.

    The MA League of Women Voters had to cancel a scheduled debate because Coakley wouldn’t agree to it on time. Coakley will only debate Brown with the independent candidate Joseph Kenendy.

    Bill Kristol is reading the links I sent him, I belive Brown has a chance. We are all angry at the dems and MA is no exception.

    We need this race to be a national one, it’s the first race of 2010. It would send a message to the dems if a republican took “the Kennedy seat”. Brown is not 100% conservative but he’s the best of the three candidates and he would vote against Obamacare.

    If you can, please donate to him. He’s not supported by unions like Coakley is and the national party is ignoring thsi race which is a stupid mistake.”


  21. 2009 December 24 7:31 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    Most uninsured people don’t end up in an emergency room. As for those who do, research shows that the uninsured as a group more than pay their own way. Many simply pay their bills without imposing costs on anyone. And because they typically pay premium prices for medical care — far more than is ordinarily reimbursed by public or private insurance — they more than offset the cost of uncompensated care to the uninsured overall, according to MIT economist Jonathan Gruber and others.

    Even if we ignore that evidence, uncompensated care to the uninsured accounts for about 2.2 percent of national health expenditures. The left-leaning Urban Institute writes, “Private insurance premiums are at most 1.7 percent higher because of the shifting of the costs of the uninsured to private insurers in the form of higher charges.” That’s hardly a crisis.

  22. 2009 December 24 11:41 pm

    Wylie E. Coyote,

    My friend take today off, you’ve more than earned a day of rest, try and put this insanity out of your head for a few hours, I know it’s hard but it’s also important.

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