Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to come earlier each year. Though the dates remain the same, the promotions from advertisers don't. Christmas decorations are appearing before Halloween. Merchants can't wait for Thanksgiving to end so they can promote “Black Friday,” itself beginning days and even weeks before the day after Thanksgiving.



According to a report by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the teaching of U.S. history to American students lags behind all other subject matters. The latest NAEP survey finds that proficiency levels for fourth-, eighth- and 12th-grade students are in the 20, 18 and 12th percentile, respectively. Part of this, I suspect, is the way the subject is taught. History is boring to many students. It was boring to me in high school and college. 



As far as I can tell from a reading of history, while some presidents were friends of clergy, who sometimes advised them, to my knowledge, none hired them as staff members. Until the presidency of Richard Nixon. It was during Nixon's administration that Charles Colson began mobilizing the evangelical community to support the president's policies and programs, seeing evangelicals as just another special interest group, like organized labor has been for Democrats.



Only extreme partisans intent on denying President Trump any credit for any success would be critical of the operation he ordered that resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. These extreme partisans include Speaker Nancy Pelosi who, while praising the “heroism” of the special unit that conducted the raid on al-Baghdadi's location in Northern Syria, could not bring herself to say anything nice about the president. Instead, she said the House should have been notified in advance.



A new wrestling league is being promoted during TV coverage of Major League Baseball's post-season. The ad promises more action, more spectacle and includes women as well as men grappling with each other. I have two candidates for their consideration: Hillary Clinton and presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). Last week Clinton accused Gabbard of being a “Russian asset” as she offered new excuses beyond the real ones for why she lost the 2016 election.



Since America's colonial days the press has been a target of those who believe journalists have a point of view that shapes their reporting. There have been numerous articles and studies revealing a journalistic predisposition to opinions and subjects that reinforce liberal points of view. Now comes an excellent critique from World Magazine editor Marvin Olasky. His latest book, “Reforming Journalism,” is a philosophical and even theological deconstruction of historic and contemporary media.



The debate about political power and authority among those who profess the Christian faith has raged since the 1st century. In modern America, the debate raged throughout Jimmy Carter's presidency and more recently through the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The debate now looms large for Donald Trump. Newsweek magazine labeled 1976 “The Year of the Evangelical” because of Carter's openness about his faith.



Back when reruns were a staple of summer programming, television networks aired repeats of their programs, giving viewers another opportunity to see what they had already seen. Democratic politicians are now conducting their own version of reruns. The same bunch who brought us the failed Russian “collusion” story, the sliming of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and charges that President Trump is a racist (which also failed, given the spectacular increase in minority employment), are now rerunning the same show with different characters.



How much credibility should we give to a 16-year-old when considering her qualifications to lecture adults about science and an end-of-the-world scenario? Greta Thunberg has been dubbed by the media as a “climate change activist” and a teen “eco-warrior.” She was at the United Nations in New York on Monday to appear before diplomats and others at a “climate action summit.” Only the UN has less credibility than a teenager.



They are all gone now; the men (and one woman) who were major influences in my early journalism career. The last two died within weeks of each other. They were Jack Perkins and Sander Vanocur, both veterans of NBC News where I started as a copyboy. My list of mentors is long. They were famous then, but most likely unknown to younger people today. Their signed pictures hang on my office wall, reminders of what real journalism looked like.



DUBLIN — “When would you like to schedule your knee replacement surgery?” asked my American doctor before I left for Ireland. I gave him a date that works for me (I'm calling it the result of an old basketball injury, not advancing age). His office scheduled it for that date. Contrast this with a headline in the Irish Independent newspaper: “Surgery delays are ‘cheating elderly out of precious time.’”



PARIS — President Trump was right to cancel a “secret” meeting with leaders of the Taliban and the Afghan government following two bomb attacks by the terrorist group that killed 10 civilians, an American soldier and a Romanian service member in heavily fortified Kabul. The president is eager to fulfill a desire to withdraw remaining American forces in what has been one of America's longest wars. Who isn't?