GOP Sink To Low Level When Demeaning Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman

It has been most unsettling to hear and read the accounts from Fox News and angry Republicans concerning Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.  The smearing of a military man by the likes of Sean Duffy is more than enough reason to sneer over the idea that the GOP purports to care about the military men and women in this nation.

Republicans have proven they are more interested in upholding a desperate president, standing alongside extremist loud-mouths within their party, and repeating ad-nauseam the most scurrilous of lies and bombast.  The GOP’s partisan loyalty to Trump is disgraceful.  Meanwhile, members of the military have a higher calling.  Posted at West Point is this writing.


And more to the point of the attacks on Vindman is a perfectly toned editorial cartoon to demonstrate how low some conservatives have dropped.  They need reminding what service to country is when it comes to the military.



Reading Scores Decline Among Nation’s School Children–And What To Do About It


This is not news that will make it above the headlines of impeachment and military moves in Syria.  But the content of the story is of such gravity that we as a nation cannot dismiss it.

When considering the average eighth-graders reading scores, based on data made known today from the National Center for Education Statistics, more than half the states saw a decline among public school students.  These numbers are contained, in what newsrooms around the nation refer to, as the “nation’s report card.

Civics, history, and science are often topics pushed when talking about education on Caffeinated Politics.  So it is once again alarming when there is further evidence that a foundation to all of them, reading competency, is facing continued struggles in our public schools.  The seriousness of the problem means the nation really needs to come to terms with possible solutions.

The data points to a concern that has been registered often when this topic does make it the top of the national dialogue.   What to do so to have the most effect on students who had been struggling, as the report underscores that losses are most noticeable among this demographic.  Eighth graders at the bottom 10th percentile of reading achievement lost six points on the exam compared with similar students two years ago, while students at the 50th percentile lost 3 points and students at the 90th percentile — top achievers — lost only 1 point.

While I have long championed the need for more educational dollars I also know from personal experience the role parents, and even siblings, have on the reading process for youngsters.  My dad read to me so often that we could recite my favorite books from memory.  And he made reading fun by using different tones and ‘voices’ to the characters as the pages turned.  My older sister demonstrated to me how books were constant forms of entertainment.

My dad was always reading the daily newspaper, my sister a book.  In many homes today that is not the case as computer screens and electronic gadgets dominate with reading downsized to the length of a text.  In other words, are children being exposed to the joys of reading along with the fascinating exploration of topics galore from the printed word?

I read a most interesting article written by Republican Senator Sasse who made an attempt to touch on some issues that will create adults who read.  I strongly concur with the following.

Reading done well is not a passive activity like sitting in front of a screen. It requires attention, engagement and active questioning. Unfortunately, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American now reads only 19 minutes a day—and the younger you are, the less you read.

That our young people take so little interest in reading is sad, but not just for them. It also keeps them from growing into the sort of engaged, responsible citizens our republic needs. America’s founders understood literacy as a prerequisite for freedom and self-government, and we are paying the price today for failing to take that truth seriously.

The first step is to encourage them to become quantity readers. A friend introduced Melissa and me to a challenge called “The Century Club.” To be a member, you must read 100 books in a year. Quite a few people can read two solid books in a week, but knocking out almost two a week for an entire year is daunting.

With children, you have to start with light books to set them on the path to 100. But as they develop the habit of reading, you can add more challenging titles. Our children haven’t yet hit a hundred in a year, but it has become a healthy, behavior-shaping goal.

Quantity is important, but quality is the bigger, long-term goal. When our girls were not yet teens, we let them pick just over half of the books in their sequence. Now we have them propose a handful of books for us to select from, and if the books aren’t rigorous enough, we intervene more aggressively.

They’re pretty good about wanting to stretch themselves, but we’ve also steered them to especially important books that will help them not just to learn their place in the world but also to comprehend the riches of the traditions they’re inheriting.

Parenting and adult involvement is key to making sure that children have their noses in books.  With such involvement, children will want to turn the pages.  

Donald Trump Either Got It Wrong Or Should Have Never Said It

Fallout continues from the presentation by the man-child-in chief on Sunday following the death of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  I posted that the words of a president matter, and that the manner in which Trump spoke to the nation was just another example as to why Trump is not suited for the office he holds.  He is not able to conduct himself with any degree of character and maturity that the office requires.

In conversations with friends on Monday, there was a continuing theme from others that the lack of presidential gravitas and just plain common sense was demonstrated in his rambling dialogue.  Today the heavy hitters from the defense and intelligence community are adding their perspective. 

It is not going to be a good day for this White House.

A “beautiful” and “talented” dog got injured. A robot had been on standby to aid in the hunt for al-Baghdadi if needed. U.S. Special Operations Forces arrived in eight helicopters and were on the ground for about two hours. They entered al-Baghdadi’s compound within seconds by blowing holes in the side of the wall. They chased al-Baghdadi into a web of underground tunnels — many of them dead ends — that they already knew existed. Before the U.S. forces left for the 70-minute, “very low and very, very fast” helicopter ride back along the same route from which they arrived, they captured some of al-Baghdadi’s henchmen and seized “highly sensitive material and information” outlining the origin of ISIS and plans for future plots.

A few of those colorful details were wrong. Many of the rest were either highly classified or tactically sensitive, and their disclosure by the president made intelligence and military officials cringe, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Why this matters is most obvious.  To most of us, I should add, it is most obvious.  The utterance of what might seem innocuous information to the layperson can, and often, has a far deeper meaning to the ones on the front lines.  Either our front lines in keeping the nation safe or from those on the front lines who seek to use terrorism to undermine the West.  That is why the following is almost breath-taking.

“We agonized over what we would put in his briefings,” one former senior White House official said, “because who knows if and when he’s going to say something about it.”

“He has no filter,” the official added. “But also if he knows something, and he thinks it’s going to be good to say or make him appear smarter or stronger, he’ll just blurt it out.”

When the nation needs to treat a president likes a child perhaps it is time to replace that person with an adult.

Taking (d)emocratic Steps Towards Impeachment

It was news that ‘process democrats’ in our nation needed to hear.

Later this week the House will take up a resolution, and most assuredly pass it, which will lay out the roadmap for the impeachment process.  While some within the GOP ranks have tried to politicize the lack of such a measure up to this point, there have been a number of those from the other side of the aisle who understand the necessity for the upcoming vote.

While nothing in the Constitution demands that such a vote regarding impeachment take place I would argue that it is good for our republic should it occur.  Not only does it remove a moot point from the Trump White House which they continue pressing, but it also puts on record the need of the citizenry to hold Trump accountable for his actions.  While some members of the more narrowly won congressional seats may find a need to locate their spine for this week’s vote let it not be forgotten that at some point as the impeachment process moves forward everyone will be required to cast a vote.  Ducking and hiding is not an option.  Nor should anyone desire such a hiding spot.  The stakes are too high.  The call from our Founding Fathers too loud.

Not only am I heartened by the news of the resolution, but also being mindful of the need, sooner than later, for the investigative proceedings to become public.  While knowing the deposition phase takes time and is a closed-door proceeding, it is also imperative that the public have access to the mix of information that is coming forward.  No one takes impeachment lightly, as it is the most severe avenue a congress can venture down with domestic politics.  As such,  making sure the electorate is informed and engaged with the developments that strike at the heart of our national government, only makes sense.

While the act of impeachment is handled in a public manner everything possible should be done to demonstrate it is not a partisan process.  The first and best way to achieve that end is by making it public.  Congress represents the public, hence as much as possible should be public.

And so it goes.

Donald Trump Still Unable To Master Being Presidential

There is no way not to talk about another odd and truly awful display from Donald Trump.  We know one of the points repeatedly made in opposition to Trump is that he fails to act presidential.  Fails to act in a fashion that does not embarrass our nation.  There was such scorn over his behavior that it forced him to address the problem.

Trump said that he can be one of the “most presidential” presidents to hold office at a campaign rally Tuesday.

Trump told a crowd at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, that “with the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office.”

That line roared back into my mind while watching a replay of Trump’s long remarks about the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State.  There is no doubt the news was fitting for one who had lived such a sordid life.  While Daesh will not fold up and cease to exist, as there are so many branches and leaders, there is no doubt a psychological blow was suffered by the organization.

But like everything that Trump does he makes the story either about him or uses his lower brainpower to mess up the larger points that really should be the headline.  In today’s case, the news of the death of a terrorist was on an equal par to the odd, and unpresidential manner in which Trump told it.

Mr. Trump nonetheless reveled in the moment, using boastful and provocative language unlike the more solemn tone typically adopted by presidents in such moments. He repeated the word “whimpering” six times and made a point of repeatedly portraying Mr. al-Baghdadi as “sick and depraved” and his followers as “losers” and “frightened puppies.”

“He died like a dog,” Mr. Trump said. “He died like a coward.”

Just a low-class way of explaining the news to the nation. 

The opposite way of conveying this type of news can be recalled when President Obama told the nation on a Sunday night Osama Bin Laden was dead.  Obama did not ramp up the rhetoric or need to sound tough.  He knew the power of the office he held and did not need to roll around like a pig in the mud.  Obama sat in the same communication center but did not need to compare it to ‘watching a movie’.  It was quite breath-taking to hear Trump talk today about the details and events that led to the death of children.  And most important to recall is the fact our forces at the time bin Laden was killed made a point of treating the body with respect, so as not to offend Muslims around the world.

But there was more to this odd performance from Trump this morning.

You know, if you read my book, there was a book just before the World Trade Center came down. And I don’t get any credit for this but that’s OK. I never do. But here we are. I wrote a book, a really very successful book and in that book about a year before the World Trade Center was blown up, I said there is somebody named Osama bin Laden, you better kill him or take him out, something to that effect, he’s big trouble. Now, I wasn’t in government. I was building buildings and doing what I did but I always found it fascinating. But I saw this man, tall, handsome, very charismatic making horrible statements about wanting to destroy our country. And I’m writing a book. I think I wrote 12 books. All did very well. And I’m writing a book, World Trade Center had not come down. I think it was about, if you check it was a year before the World Trade Center came down. And nobody heard of al-Baghdadi. And no one heard of Osama bin Laden until really the World Trade Center. But about a year, a year and a half before the World Trade Center, before the book came out, I was talking about Osama bin Laden, you have to kill him, you have to take him out. Nobody listened to me. And to this day I get people coming up to me and they said you know what, one of the most amazing things I’ve seen about you is that you predicted that Osama bin Laden had to be killed before he knocked down the World Trade Center. It’s true. Most of the press doesn’t want to write that but it is true. If you go back and look at my book, I think it’s ‘The America We Deserve.’ I made a prediction — let’s put it this way, if they would have listened to me, a lot of things would have been different.

Of note, Trump made just one passing reference to bin Laden in that book, published in January 2000.  His claim that he delivered a prescient warning about Bin Laden is hyperbolic. His book, The America We Deserve which was published in January 2000.  Within its 304 pages, this is the part which deals with bin Laden.

One day we’re all assured that Iraq is under control, the U.N. inspectors have done their work, everything’s fine, not to worry. The next day the bombing begins. One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jet fighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.

Dealing with many different countries at once may require many different strategies. But there isn’t any excuse for the haphazard nature of our foreign policy. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every new conflict.

One more day with glaring examples as to why Trump is not suited for the office he holds.  He is not able to conduct himself with any degree of character and maturity that the office requires.

And today the world was watching.

And so it goes.

What Message We Are Sending To The World…

…as shown by the covers of two prominent international publications.





Impeachment Inquiry Is Legal, GOP Needs To Grab Hold Of Reality

The House is legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a federal judge ruled today, which would seem to be only news to conservatives who have moved to attack the process given they can not argue the facts.  The ruling is a massive victory for House Democrats as they dive into the muck of the Donald Trump White House.

As such the ruling now allows for the House Judiciary Committee to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel Robert Mueller.  There can be no withholding of material from lawmakers.

Under ordinary circumstances, Congress has no right to view secret evidence gathered by a grand jury.  But when President Nixon was brought to accountability the courts permitted the committee weighing whether to impeach him to have access to such materials.  With today’s ruling that same allowance will be made so to find the truth about Trump.  The federal judge wrote that the law in question regarding a need to keep the information secret from Congress was “minimal” and easily outweighed by lawmakers’ need for it when it came to cases of presidential impeachment.

What today’s troubled conservatives have to come to terms with is that they simply got into the wrong bed in 2016 and are now needing to face the political penicillin. Opening an impeachment action against Nixon was legal.  And most needed.  With Clinton, it was truly mystifying as it boiled down to not telling the truth about consensual sex.

But with Trump the impeachment process is about foreign powers influencing our elections.  It makes sex with an intern look like a day at the beach.  Even on a chilly autumn day.

As for the Trump supporters I am confounded as to why they are so nervous.  Since Trump has told everyone there was nothing wrong being done means he should have nothing to hide.


Madison Never Even Knew F-35 Jets Flew Into Truax Field

The sun still comes up in Madison, high school sports still are being played, and folks are starting their early planning for the upcoming holiday season.  All that is just proof that the sky did not fall, pigs did not fly, and the earth did not spin backwards due to F-35 jets making arrivals and departures at Truax Field. 

According to a spokesperson with the Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, there has already been an F-35 fighter jet presence in Madison.

Erik Greenfield said Thursday afternoon that the aircraft made at least three unscheduled arrivals and departures to and from Truax Field this summer, between late July and mid-August.

The dates and times were as follows:

  • July 28, 2019: 1 F-35 departed at 4:58 p.m.
  • August 13, 2019: 2 F-35s arrived at 6:08 p.m.
  • August 13, 2019: 1 F-35 arrived at 8:30 p.m.
  • August 14, 2019: 1 F-35 departed at 10:13 a.m.
  • August 14, 2019: 2 F-35s departed at 12:20 p.m.

So much for the request to have the jets fly in and out of Truax so to ascertain if they will create an “an all-body experience”, as one critic phrased it in the news story.  The jets have been here, but the vast majority of the public needed to be told of their trips in and out of Truax.  If the F-35 jets were as loud and rude as vocal opponents claimed would not their acute sensitivities have noticed them?  Instead, the opponents were likely walking with earbuds in and listening to loud music, mowing grass with a loud engine, or racing their car engine on the beltline.

The critics to the F-35 jets are far more wishing to make a statement about the Defense Department and national military than anything to do with noise.  Now we have more proof that is so with the news F-35 jets have already been to Truax and no one recognized it at the time.

And so it goes.