Governor Scott Walker Brings A Smile

Though it was not on purpose WKOW-TV 27 in Madison probably brought many smiles at the top of the 6:00 P.M. newscast Friday evening.

With the top story being promoted about the potential expansion of city parks for dog owners to walk their leashed animals  the video clip showed a close up of a balding Governor Scott Walker.  One wonders if Tonette Walker ever wishes she could put Scott on a leash?




Coffee And The Civil War

How could this story not get linked on Caffeinated Politics?!

Just a few hours ago I told James we need to construct a new coffee maker that is designed for mugs as opposed to cups when measuring how much water and grounds are added.  Serious coffee drinkers know of what I am speaking.

Then I read this article and had to share the link.

The Union Army encouraged this love, issuing soldiers roughly 36 pounds of coffee each year. Men ground the beans themselves (some carbines even had built-in grinders) and brewed it in little pots called muckets. They spent much of their downtime discussing the quality of that morning’s brew. Reading their diaries, one can sense the delight (and addiction) as troops gushed about a “delicious cup of black,” or fumed about “wishy-washy coffee.” Escaped slaves who joined Union Army camps could always find work as cooks if they were good at “settling” the coffee – getting the grounds to sink to the bottom of the unfiltered muckets.

For much of the war, the massive Union Army of the Potomac made up the second-largest population center in the Confederacy, and each morning this sprawling city became a coffee factory. First, as another diarist noted, “little campfires, rapidly increasing to hundreds in number, would shoot up along the hills and plains.” Then the encampment buzzed with the sound of thousands of grinders simultaneously crushing beans. Soon tens of thousands of muckets gurgled with fresh brew.


President Nixon Tapes ‘Keep On Giving’


There is a treasure trove of politics and insight into the workings (and dysfunction) of the White House during President Nixon’s’ tenure to be found within the thousands of hours of recorded tapes that made for headlines and controversy during the Watergate era.   Many years ago C-SPAN had many of them posted online which proved to be fascinating for politicos and history buffs alike.  This is as close as we will likely ever get to hear and feel the mood and tone of the inner thoughts of a working White House.    I can not even begin to count the number of pots of coffee I have made and drank while listening to them and either enthralled with the historical drama–as in the case of the opening to China–or amused when Nixon chats with a senator about a birthday—or angry when Nixon opines on homosexuals.   But over and over I am so pleased that no one ever destroyed the tapes.

The tapes, as I have often mentioned, are a gift that keeps on giving.

In an adaptation from their forthcoming book, Vanity Fair contributing editor Douglas Brinkley and historian Luke A. Nichter draw on 3,700 hours of President Nixon’s White House tapes to convey the inner workings of Nixon’s action-packed first term. Over the last several years, the tapes-many of which were muffled and, at times, indecipherable-have been cleaned up, pored over, and painstakingly transcribed. The result … includes conversations with Nixon’s national-security adviser Henry Kissinger, Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, and chief domestic aide John Ehrlichman [and] is a verbatim narrative of a pivotal period in Nixon’s presidency that portrays him as a geopolitical strategist, a crisis manager, and a duplicitous paranoid.”

These tapes will be scrutinized and poured over for decades to come as we tap more and more into the mindset and purpose of the actions and polices undertaken by the Nixon Administration.

In a separate conversation—with Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s chief domestic aide—the president noted that Kissinger, by inserting himself too often into Middle East policy, might be prompting perceptions of an administration bias toward Israel because of his Jewish heritage.

Nixon: In regard to Henry . . . apparently Newsweek has an article this week that talks about his religious background. . . .

Haldeman: That’s what I was saying, Jewish.

Ehrlichman: Jewish.

Nixon: Yeah. . . . He’s terribly upset. He feels now that he really ought to resign…. I said, “All right, look, I am just not going to talk about it now. We’ve got several very big things in the air. Laos, and the possibility of some deal with the Soviets, and SALT [a Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty]…. ”

What apparently set him all off on this: [the] State [Department] is in the process of preparing a paper on the Mideast [outside of his purview]. If only, God, if Henry could only get, even have that one issue, if he could have that not handled by himself! . . . Anybody who is Jewish cannot handle it. Even though Henry’s, I know, as fair as he can possibly be, he can’t help but be affected by it. You know, put yourself in his position. Good God! You know, his people were crucified over there. Jesus Christ! And five million of them, popped into bake ovens! What the hell does he feel about all this?

Haldeman: Well, what he ought to recognize is, even if he had no problems at all on it, it’s wrong for the country for American policy in the Middle East to be made by a Jew.

Nixon: That’s right.

Haldeman: And he ought to recognize that. Because then, if anything goes wrong—

Nixon: That’s right.

Haldeman: —they’re going to say it’s because a goddamn Jew did it rather than blame Americans.

Ehrlichman: We’ve just been through this on [government policies regarding] health.

Haldeman: Yeah. You, as a Christian Scientist, shouldn’t be making health decisions, either.

Ehrlichman: Well, that’s why I farmed it out.

At another juncture, Nixon and Kissinger, cautious about U.S. pronouncements that might upset their secret talks with the U.S.S.R., insisted on squelching official American criticism of Russia’s oppressive policies against Soviet Jews.

Kissinger: The State Department issued a terrific blast against the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union.

Nixon: Oh, why—didn’t we stop that? Goddamn, I thought we just had that little—

Kissinger: I had thought—I reaffirmed—I may ask you to sign—

Nixon: All right. I’ll sign a letter.

Kissinger: —that they—any statement concerning the Soviet Union for the next two months has to be cleared here no matter how trivial.

Nixon: I think you should get the memorandum to me . . . first thing in the morning, Henry. It’s so important. . . . I want no statement concerning the Soviet Union of any kind, public statements, to be made without clearance with me.

Haldeman: Unless somebody comes—

Kissinger: With all—you know, I’m Jewish myself, but who are we to complain about Soviet Jews? It’s none of our business. If they complain—if they made a public protest to us for the treatment of Negroes, we’d be—

Ehrlichman: Yeah.

Nixon: I know.

Kissinger: You know, it’s none of our business how they treat their people.

‘Manhattanhenge’ Takes Place Saturday

This struck my attention today as most amusing.


Manhattanhenge — the twice-a-year-event when the sun sets in perfect alignment with the Manhattan street grid so you can see it setting between the buildings when looking west — happens for the second time this year on Saturday, July 12. The first Manhattanhenge of 2014 was on May 29.

The term Manhattanhenge was coined by Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History and host of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” as a play on Stonehenge for when the sun lines up with the ancient circle of vertical rocks on the summer solstice.

This year, the sun will set on the grid with half the disk above the horizon and half below on Saturday, July 12, at 8:25 p.m. ET. You can see the full ball of the sun setting on the grid the day before, on Friday, July 11.

“For best effect, position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible,” the American Museum of Natural History suggests on its website. “But ensure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. The Empire State building and the Chrysler building render 34th street and 42nd streets especially striking vistas.”

It’s recommended that observers arrive 30 minutes before the sun sets on the grid.

Glad Milwaukee Being Considered Of Help For Children From Central America

This is news we should welcome.

This news underscores the humanitarian approach that needs to be provided for the children who have fled violence and poverty of Central America.   While there is no way to pretend that every child from some place else can or should be allowed to come to this country in the way that we have witnessed with these children over the past weeks it also goes without saying that we first offer a helping hand.  We can work out the policy in time.  But for now there needs to be warm beds, food, and security for the children.  And some love and attention.

These are kids.  Like those who sit around our dinner tables or gather at the local park or beach.  Lets move past the spite and rancor and consider how we might feel at their age in a different country and unsure of everything going on around us, including the language.  The meanness needs to end and some simple common sense needs to see us through this episode that we find ourselves dealing with this summer.

Milwaukee could potentially become a destination for some of the thousands of children now flooding the U. S. border from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. 

Father David Bergner, the director of Catholic Charities here, said that its parent organization, Catholic Charities USA, has been asked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to look for sites that might be able to handle the influx of unaccompanied children immigrants. 

“We were asked to find potential sites that could accommodate from 100 to 300 children,” he said. “Three hundred won’t happen, but we can consider 100.”

Three potential sites have been identified as possibilities, he said, although he would not give specifics.

The centers would need to be staffed and the children’s day-to-day needs cared for.  Assistance would probably come from the office of refugee resettlement.

Bergner said his staff has bilingual workers, including two from Central America.

“Right now we’re pre-positioning to assist if we’re called,” he said.

Bergner said he believes Milwaukee is under consideration because of its proximity to Chicago, which has an immigration court. Catholic Charities here also has a legal services program for  immigrants.  

President Nixon: 40 Years Later


Caffeinated Politics will be posting on a number of factors and components in the coming weeks as this nation observes the 40th anniversary of the  resignation of President Richard Nixon.  As readers might know I have had a life-long interest in the life and times of Nixon.   While I have long stated President Lincoln was our most important leader to occupy the White House I have long felt Nixon was our most intriguing.  Nixon’s life was a Shakespeare play acted out for the whole nation to watch.

No one can or should want to spin away the Watergate affairs which covers everything from a bungled burglary to the plumbers, ITT, the firing of a special prosecutor and so much more.  Frankly, it is hard to imagine all that happened actually playing out day after day, week after week, month after month.  Yet it all happened and many of us have memories of those days and now these decades later we will revisit some of them.

But there is also reason to look at Nixon with some nuance and reserve the bitterness for the partisans while readers of history stake out a higher ground and assemble the facts to allow for a more enlightened perspective.

I hope that as we move towards the date of the resignation we all will have time to reflect and ponder all that took place and ask ourselves if our politics really did survive that event or was it instead a demarcation line where faith was lost in a way with our political institutions that has never again been mended.   Between the Vietnam War and Watergate the nation lost more of itself than perhaps any period since the Civil War.

Whatever one feels about Nixon one thing is clear, and that is much will be written and recorded about the 40th anniversary of the resignation.  CP will be a part of that dialogue, and I hope my readers will join in on the discussion.



Conservatives Have No Place To Stand Against Gay Marriage

Hat Tip to James

When Colorado became one of the latest states to find constitutional problems with not allowing for marriage between loving couples there also came a written ruling that proved most delightful to read.

Colorado is the latest state where a judge has overturned a ban on same-sex marriage. Though most of the decisions over the past year have been made by federal judges, Wednesday’s Colorado decision comes from a state court. Adams County District Judge C. Scott Crabtree, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Bill Owens in 2001, ruled that Colorado’s constitutional and statutory bans violate the U.S. Constitution.

Crabtree’s immediately stayed his ruling, meaning that the status quo for marriage has not yet changed in the state. Though he did not employ any color commentary as some judges have, here are five highlights from how Crabtree laid out the case for marriage equality:

One of the arguments against same-sex marriage is that the word “marriage” has inherent gender limitations in its definition. Referencing the recent Utah case, Crabtree dismissed the idea that the right to marry does not include the right to choose who to marry: “The Court heartily endorses the recent holding by the Tenth Circuit in Kitchen v. Herbert that the marital right at issue was never framed as the “right to interracial marriage in Loving or the “prisoner’s right to marriage” in Turner or the “dead-beat dad’s” right to marriage in Zablocki.

“Instead, the Supreme Court has repeatedly utilized the term ‘fundamental right to marry’ without any limitations. The Court rejects the State’s attempt to too narrowly describe the marital right at issue to the right to marry a person of the same sex.”