Happy Holidays From Caffeinated Politics

With the snow falling in such a soft and graceful way this evening, and as the holiday season ramps up and we slow down to take it all in, comes the annual blogging break.  Christmas cookies need to be made, and more importantly tested to see if they are worthy of packing for others.  Music shows must be attended,  boxes mailed, cards and letters sent.  I love this time of year when what we feel is so gosh-darn important slides to allow for what is truly important to take control.   That is how it should be.

With that I will be back to blogging at the start of the New Year.  (Should be a slow newsmaker of a year….)

In the meantime have a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!


Letter From Home “Radio Of The Mind” 12/9/16

Radio has always been very special to me.  From the days as a boy, while not understanding the world, there were still the strong authoritative radio voices that announced the news and made stern warnings about severe weather approaching.  I have always been drawn to the tone and delivery style of radio broadcasters as they need to have a range of inflections and emotion that is not required in any other medium.  At age 54 I still have the same warm thoughts about those signals that bounce about and come out of my radio as I did when they came forth from the unit situated on the buffet at my childhood home.

Tonight as I sat in a theater on the campus of UW-Madison to experience a live radio production of  A Wonderful Life I was swept back to the days when I was a boy.  It was an awesome joy to sit with James and  hear the live sound effects and music hearkening back to classic radio shows.  While not old enough to recall first-hand the way radio once created shows like Gunsmoke or The Bickersons I was reminded (again) of the intimacy of radio and how the medium allows our imagination to work.

This beloved American holiday classic came to captivating life as a live 1940’s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble that brought a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. This production was also aided with the assistance of WPR which aired a live simulcast broadcast Saturday December 3rd, and you can listen to the whole show.

For me the production was actually more emotional set in the nostalgic element as a radio show than the movie, which I have seen, like most people, countless times.  It was hard to tell at times if they were acting as radio personalities doing a show, or as actors and actresses doing a radio show.    That is the geeky stuff I think about.


Photo by Beau Meyer

As the show unfolded my mind crisscrossed the various parts of my life that intersected with radio.

I still recall  an awesome snowstorm that hit Chicago, but one that missed central Wisconsin.  As a boy I wanted the snow in my backyard, but instead turned to Eddie Schwartz on WGN as he broadcast hour after hour about how Chicago was crippled by the snow and wind.  I recall being in my bedroom and feeling like I was there in the midst of a wild storm.  As he talked with snowplow operators, police, and folks trying to get off the expressways I understood the power and intimacy of radio.  I suspect that there are few young people today who can comprehend what I am talking about.

My mind also traveled back to my years at WDOR in Sturgeon Bay when the station aired a Christmas parade in early December from Kewaunee County.  General Manager Eddy Allen Sr. always loved to talk about WGN radio –where he had once worked–and I was only too happy to hear his stories about that famed station.  Ed was the only person I ever heard on radio who could broadcast a parade.  Think about that for a moment.     

There he sat outside of a store who was a sponsor of the broadcast on what I recall was a cold night with lazy snowflakes fluttering about and with the use of descriptive words he allowed for the theater of the mind–the real role of radio–to come alive.  He knew the power of radio and used the foundations of it to entertain and inform listeners.   He described the floats and atmospherics and allowed anyone who was tuned in to live the moment.

In the era of social media and computer graphics with nothing needed to be left for imagination all that I have written may not mean a great deal.  There is no going back.  But for those who still recall the magic of radio–the radio of the mind–oh, what found memories we shall always have.



In Memory Of John Glenn


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Snails Stop Donald Trump

Hat Tip To Solly.

Snails accomplished what 16 Republican primary opponents and Hillary Clinton could not: defeat Donald Trump. The US president-elect just withdrew plans to build a massive seawall that would protect his Irish golf resort from rising sea levels caused by the climate change that he previously said is a Chinese hoax. Environmental activists opposed the development that would have extended 1.7 miles (2.8 kilometers) on Doughmore Beach in the Atlantic Coast village of Doonbeg, claiming that construction of the 15-foot limestone wall would have destroyed the EU-protected Carrowmore Dunes sand dune habitat that is home to the rare prehistoric snail, vertigo anguistor.


High-Priced Lobbying Is Way To Work Donald Trump

So much for ‘draining that swamp’.

Donald Trump played white men in the election like a cheap call girl would and it is amusing to watch the results play out.

The phone call between Mr. Trump and Ms. Tsai was a striking break from nearly four decades of diplomatic practice and threatened to precipitate a major rift with China, which admonished Mr. Trump in a front-page editorial in the overseas edition of People’s Daily.

The disclosure documents were submitted before the call took place and made no mention of it. But Mr. Dole, 93, a former Senate majority leader from Kansas, said he had worked with transition officials to facilitate the conversation.

The Republican Infighting Begins—Pull Up A Chair!

As many in the GOP noted in the past election cycle Donald Trump is not a real Republican and certainly has not endorsed conservative economic policies.  The fact that Trump is just not interested in policy and as evidenced by the campaign not moored in facts means that he can be out-maneuvered in the halls of congress–where party Republicans wield power.  This story is but one that sets the stage.

Mr. Trump’s economic positions clashed with traditional conservatives during the campaign, but now these differences — on trade, government spending on infrastructure, and tax policies — have set the incoming president on a perilous course with the lawmakers whose support he needs to keep his agenda on track.

“There will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35 percent for these companies wanting to sell their product, cars, A.C. units etc., back across the border,” Mr. Trump said in a series of Twitter messages over the weekend.

The response from Republican leaders underscored the limits of legislating 140 characters at a time on Twitter, and gave Democrats cause to believe they can work with Mr. Trump to outmaneuver congressional Republicans next year.

Mr. Trump first startled Republicans during the campaign when he attacked trade deals, putting himself more in line with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont than Mr. Ryan.

He repeatedly insisted that trade deals had displaced American workers and harmed the economy, upending two centuries of American economic policies that held trade up as a good thing, a position that Republicans have pushed in recent decades.

His positions helped imperil President Obama’s trade pact with Asian nations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and abruptly stop further trade negotiations, which many experts in both parties believe limits the United States in its economic position against China, especially when paired with tariff threats.

“I respect President-elect Trump for fulfilling his campaign promise to withdraw from T.P.P.,” Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas and chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, said shortly after the election. “We can’t abandon these markets to China and other competitors, because American businesses and customers will lose out,” he added.

F-35 Jet Fighters Might Be Coming To Madison As Truax Named Finalist

Color me excited.

I am the one who looks skyward when the rushing roar of the F-16s are heard as they zip on take-off from Truax and then arc over the city on their landings.  I am not the biggest fan of the defense department but readily admit I love these jets.  Some in this area get all bent over the noise or the dollars spent and I get some of that but the raw power and also the fine professionals who maneuver these jets greatly impress me.  Yesterday at a stoplight on the East Side I lowered my window and stuck my head out as F-16s took off while the lights changed.   What a rush!

Now it might get even better.

The Air National Guard’s Truax Field was named a finalist Wednesday for deployment of new fighter jets that would make their home base less vulnerable when the Pentagon looks for military installations to close during cost-cutting exercises.

The Air Force announced in June that Truax was one of 18 Air National Guard locations being considered as one of two bases for the growing fleet of F-35 jets.

The announcement Wednesday narrowed the list to five, and sparked the unveiling of a local campaign to win the high-tech aircraft as a way of securing the economic benefits the area receives from the base on Madison’s North Side.


Donald Trump Is All About Retribution

Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to keep the existing Air Force One fleet flying into next decade unless Boeing reduces costs on replacement jets, and denied his broadside came after reading critical comments from the company’s CEO.

Trump set off a firestorm Tuesday morning when he — seemingly out of nowhere — tweeted that the cost of the replacement program would hit $4 billion. The social media post ended with two ominous words for Boeing: “Cancel order!”

He later made a rare appearance in the lobby of Trump Tower to tell reporters that “the plane is totally out of control,” adding that he thinks “Boeing is doing a little bit of a number — we want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”

Just over 24 hours later, Trump was asked about his criticism on NBC’s “Today Show.” The president-elect denied seeing a Chicago Tribune article posted Tuesday morning that contained comments from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg about the importance of free trade to his company’s overall business — he also noted that Boeing sells one of every three 737 airliners to China.

The Tribune article was posted at online at 7:30 a.m. Trump’s tweet went out at 8:52 A.M., as CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed.

On Wednesday, the president-elect denied, when pressed by “Today” co-host Matt Lauer, that his attack on the Air Force One replacement program was retaliation for Muilenburg’s pro-trade and friendly-with-China stances  But he did escalate his growing war with the Chicago-based defense and aerospace giant when he threatened again to cancel the new program and merely keep the 25-year-old existing Air Force jets in service unless Boeing reduces costs.