Maine Writer

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Does anybody in the White House understand the word "truth"?

Does anybody in the White House understand how to tell the truth?
Donald Trump is claiming that telling the truth puts him into a "perjury trap"?  That's ridiculous of course, because telling the truth cannot lead anyone into committing perjury. Yet, nearly everything being spewed from the Trump White House is weird, including how the staff understands the meaning of the word "truth".
Now, even a Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh must practice telling the truth! This is totally unacceptable.
This letter to the editor of the Iowa newspaper Quad City Times is asking the same question, in this echo opinion: 
Letter writer Tom Hebbeln: It doesn't look good that Brett Kavanaugh is practicing for hours at the White House for his potential testimony, instead of calling for an FBI investigation to clear his name. Why does he need practice telling the truth, since he's saying it didn't happen? It looks bad because Dr. Ford, is willing to answer these questions under an FBI oath, not to mention she passed a polygraph. Also, right or wrong, you can understand why Dianne Feinstein waited until the last moment. In face, Dr Ford was desperately hoping not to do this, hoping that something else would derail Kavanaugh. When it was apparent that wasn't going to happen, just like Anita Hill, she was willing to come forward. 
Appointments to the Supreme Court are important enough to bring out events that otherwise would never see the light of day. It speaks terribly to the Republican party that all the Republican senators are willing to follow McConnell, like lemmings, jumping off a cliff.
From Tom Hebbeln, Davenport Iowa

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I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford - echo opinion by Leonard Pitts

Republicans worked hard to create the appearance of enlightened compassion for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Echo- Republished in the news PressofAtlanticCity in New Jersey

Scales of Justice - "You can’t find them both credible. You can’t believe them both. For the record, I believe her." ~ Leonard Pitts
Meaning, of course, Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing into accusations made by psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that, 36 years ago, when she was 15 and he 17, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh drunkenly tried to rape her. With the ghost of Anita Hill staring over their shoulders, GOP lawmakers were desperate to stage-manage the optics.

To avoid repeating the ugly spectacle of a group of men questioning a lone woman on matters of sexual misconduct, they had a woman specially imported for that purpose — Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell. Later in the day, when Kavanaugh testified in rebuttal, they elbowed Mitchell aside and took over the questioning themselves, competing with one another to offer ever more fulsome acknowledgments of his suffering. They were careful to extend equally effusive words to Ford.

Which made no sense. Both these people cannot be deserving of deference. One of them has, indeed, been wronged — but the other has lied his or her face off. Those are the only available options here — nutty theories about mistaken identity notwithstanding — and no amount of false equivalence can mitigate that.
You can’t find them both credible. You can’t believe them both. For the record, I believe her.

The Republicans did not. After all that show of false equivalence, the committee voted Friday to recommend confirmation. This was the opposite of surprising. Indeed, as Thursday wore on, it was ever more obvious that beneath the veneer of enlightened compassion lay a visceral and volcanic fury at the temerity of this challenge. That was particularly obvious in the nominee and in one of his chief defenders, Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The former issued an opening statement seething with resentment and testified with unseemly snappishness and contemptuous scorn for Democrats on the panel. The latter threw a hissy fit so epic you fully expected him to drop an accidental obscenity. A finger-pointing Graham scolded Democrats for supposedly politicizing the process of choosing a Supreme Court justice, calling it “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”

One could only marvel at the self-control of Democrats who did not scream Merrick Garland’s name as a retort to this hypocritical and amnesiac attack.

And so it goes.

Twenty-seven years after Sen. Howell Heflin, R-Alabama, asked Anita Hill if she were not in fact “a scorned woman” by the hunk of burning love that is Clarence Thomas, a credibly accused attempted rapist may soon join Thomas on the Supreme Court. In the era of #MeToo, in the week that convicted rapist Bill Cosby was hauled to prison in shackles, this is a jarringly discordant note, a pointed reminder of how much hasn’t changed.

Leonard Pitts Jr., is a columnist for the Miami Herald

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

Willie Nelson doesn't believe in building walls ~ echo tribute published in The Guardian

Interview echo published in the British newspaper The Guardian with Willie Nelson~ by Rebecca Bengal 

Willie Nelson is the poet laureate of the "guy in the parking lot....the girl too."
Willie Nelson, "Kinky Friedman said of him: 'Willie walks through the raw poetry of time'.” 

Willie Nelson, "Nelson is the poet laureate of the guy in the parking lot; the girl, too."

Willie Nelson, "'I call myself a VI', Nelson says. 'Very independent'.”

God Bless Him! Songwriter, singer and performer Willie Nelson is 85 years old.  Thankfully, he still spends half the year on the road and now is busy supporting Texan Democrat US Senate nominee Beto O’Rourke. And the giant of country music’s 2,500 song catalog just keeps growing.
Willie Nelson on line photo taken in 2013
In the Boston suburb of Mansfield, Massachusetts, I am summoned to Willie Nelson’s tour bus a couple of hours before he takes to the stage at the Outlaw music festival. 

Meanwhile, in Dallas, the progressive Democrat Beto O’Rourke is wrapping up his first debate with Ted Cruz, his Republican opponent in Texas’s too-close-to-call US Senate race. 

O’Rourke will later be seen celebrating his strong performance by air-drumming to the Who, in a Whataburger drive-thru.

Soon after Nelson signed on to headline a major O’Rourke rally on 29 September, some conservative fans reportedly planned to boycott his music in protest. 

A doctored photograph went viral of Nelson in a Beto for Texas shirt, flipping off at the camera like his friend Johnny Cash. But an actual boycott appeared to be bogus, or at least overblown; and anyway, as singer Wheeler Walker Jr tweeted: “You can argue politics all you want, but you cannot argue Willie.”

As I make my way backstage, a fan hollers while cheerfully stirring the coals of a barbecue: “Tell Willie hello from the guy in the parking lot!” Nelson is always saying hello back. 

He resolves to play what audiences have come to hear, whether it’s Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain or Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground, or On the Road Again, or Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings and Django Reinhardt covers. 

Renowned producer Jerry Wexler once said Nelson was the “incarnation of humanity”; it’s perplexing that anyone would be surprised by his sticking up for O’Rourke, whose campaign website defines success thus: “It means that we are all treated with dignity and respect.”

A waxing harvest moon hovers over the latest incarnation of the Honeysuckle Rose, Nelson’s bus and home on the road. Annie D’Angelo Nelson, his fourth wife since 1991, greets me warmly. “Were you watching?” she asks, meaning the debate. “I thought Beto blew him away.” She is the dynamite to Willie’s calm when he ambles into the kitchen, his grey hair in two long braids. At 85, Nelson is still vigorously hale, as handsomely and admirably weathered as his battered guitar, Trigger. “Willie, you gotta look at her butt!” Annie says – my jeans are embroidered with a map of Texas. From the pocket I pull a “You Beto Vote For Beto!” sticker I picked up in Austin.

Settling into the dinette where he regularly hosts guests, Nelson is an intensely receptive listener, eyes twinkling when he lets out full-lung laughter, but never straying. You can see why he tends to win his legendary dominoes and poker games.

At Nelson’s annual Fourth of July picnic, O’Rourke, who played in punk bands growing up in El Paso, and who referenced the Clash in his Cruz debate, joined Willie onstage for It’s All Going to Pot and Will the Circle Be Unbroken. “We hit it off immediately ’cause he’s a musician too. He’s for the same things I’m for, in Texas, which is letting everybody do what they want to,” Nelson says. He levels his steady gaze. “Ev-er-y-body.”

Texas looms large in all his music; in concert, his songs sound as if they were scripted to fill its enormous skies. “I miss it all the time,” Nelson says. “I miss the hot weather, I miss the cold weather, I have some ponies down there I like to see.” 

Nelson used to average 200 days a year on the road, now around 150; it’s his preferred way of being. His sister, Bobbie, the longtime pianist in Nelson’s Family band, says Nelson takes after their mother, a wanderer who left her and Willie with their grandparents when they were very young. The road gives him a rare vantage point; he has seen more of the US, and more of its changes, than most. He takes this in his stride. “I’ve moved around a lot in 85 years,” he says. “And I went through a lot of political spaces in our country – four years of this, eight years of that.”

Collective memory recalls Nelson allegedly getting high on the White House roof during his friend Jimmy Carter’s administration, but tends to forget Nelson’s long history of political involvement. 

Over the years he has lent his support to friends such as the irrepressible Texas governor Ann Richards, the satirist Kinky Friedman, even the independent presidential candidate Ross Perot. He supported Barack Obama and both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. He has spoken out against LGBTQ discrimination and covered the Ned Sublette song Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other. “I call myself a VI,” Nelson says. “Very independent.”

Without deigning to mention Donald Trump by name, Nelson included the protest song Delete and Fast Forward, on God’s Problem Child in 2017, in apparent opposition to the president’s agenda of hate and divisiveness. Nelson was outraged by the (immigrant) detention centres and the forced separation of families: “I thought everything that happened there was unforgivable.” He opposes the proposed wall, too. “We have a statue that says: ‘Y’all come in,’” he says. “I don’t believe in closing the border. Open them suckers up!” When I ask how his 33-year-old charity Farm Aid supports immigrant farmworkers in the US, he is reflective. “We need those folks,” Nelson says. “I used to pick cotton and pull corn and bale hay and I’m lucky to play guitar now, but we have to have the people who want to work, and take care of them.”

He has written a new song that he will sing onstage at the rally, set to a hymn-like tune. “The biggest gun we’ve got is called the ballot box,” he sings to me across the table in a strong, clear voice. “If you don’t like who’s in there, vote ’em out.”

Nelson has always been a VI artist, too. In 1978, on the heels of the masterful narrative Red-Headed Stranger, the gospel album The Troublemaker, and the conceptual Phases and Stages, the studio worried it had been a while since his outlaw hit Shotgun Willie and insisted audiences wanted more “edgy cowboy songs”. 

But Nelson ignored them – “I listened to my heart,” he wrote– and recorded an album of forgotten standards, the Kurt Weill and George Gershwin numbers he and his sister Bobbie learned as kids in Abbott, Texas, songs that helped form their musical telepathy.

Stardust, with Nelson’s searing covers of All of Me and Blue Skies, went platinum and earned a Grammy for Georgia On My Mind

My Way, Nelson’s 68th studio album and his second this year, with covers of Sinatra standards, is the latest chapter in Nelson’s singular interpretation of the Great American Songbook and a tribute to his longtime favourite singer. “Sinatra’ll lay down behind the beat and he’ll speed up and get in front of the beat,” Nelson says, “and I thought that was cool. I tried mimicking it a little and I wound up doing that a lot in my songs.”

He and Sinatra cemented their mutual admiration with a duet of My Way in 1993. “We used to play shows together in Vegas and Palm Springs,” Nelson remembers. After one gig, Sinatra invited Nelson to his place in Palm Springs. “I was in a big hurry to go somewhere, so I said, ‘I’ll catch you next time,’ and I never did see him again,” Nelson says. Sinatra died of a heart attack in 1998. “I always regretted that.”

Nelson’s solo rendition of My Way is a spare and honest reckoning. He has frequently faced the “final curtain” in defiant and affirmative lyrics: “I woke up still not dead again today,” and “I didn’t come here and I ain’t leavin’.” In recent years, he has outlived good friends and collaborators Merle Haggard, Ray Price and his bandmate Bee Spears. There are fewer and fewer people to turn to these days, he says. “I’m kind of my own psychiatrist.”

I repeat something Kinky Friedman said of him: “Willie walks through the raw poetry of time.” 

Nelson has written some 2,500 songs, and numerous books, including two memoirs, but there is a part of him that remains unspoken and essentially mysterious, perhaps even to himself. Early on, he wrote three of his best songs – Crazy, Funny How Time Slips Away and Night Life – in the span of a week; even in anthems such as Whiskey River there is pure and stealthy lyricism, songs that understand their listeners better than they can articulate. Does Nelson even know, I wonder, where some of his deepest words come from?

Not really, he admits. “You know, every song I write that I’m proud of, I wonder how it got there. I think the same thing about Merle’s songs and Hank Williams. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry: what was Hank going through when he wrote that? He died when he was 29 – compared to him, I haven’t had a lot of rough times at all.”

But he has been through a mighty lot, I venture, thinking of the absence of his mother, of an often hard-lived life, of the loss of his son Billy to suicide in 1991. “I think there’s some things that can only come out in songs,” Nelson agrees. “You can write a beautiful book, but take verses out of it and put a melody to it and you’ve got another dimension.

“I wrote something the other day that said, ‘I don’t want to write another song, but tell that to my mind!’” he continues, laughing. “‘I just throw them out there and try to make them rhyme.’ I write everywhere, anywhere. I write a lot at home at night.”

“It’s like birthing babies!” Annie says from one of the bus’s built-in sofas. She doesn’t mind; in fact, she stays up listening.

He thinks in lyrics first; the music comes after. “Usually it starts as a poem,” he says. “At some point I’ll get up and go get the guitar and see what kind of melody those words suggest.” A song, he reckons, is just a poem with a melody. I say I’ve always thought that words and melody just naturally found each other in his songs. “Good!” Nelson says. “Fooled ’em again!”

As the Family convenes onstage, dust shines up in the spotlights and a musky cloud wafts up from the front row to meet it. Under the lights, Trigger’s moonfaced complexion is visibly cratered where Nelson has dug into the wood. The crowd is a smoky sea of grizzled grandpas, grandmas in Dwight Yoakam shirts, teenagers whose uncles played them Nelson, people on dates, people in wheelchairs and people who look like they might have just come from the rodeo down the street. Like Nelson says: “There are no political debates in my audiences.” When he and the Family play Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, it is at once pro-weed anthem and as gospel as Hank’s I Saw the Light. Nelson is the poet laureate of the guy in the parking lot; the girl, too.

At last when the house lights go up, a roadie gathers a bunch of rose petals scattered on the stage and tosses them unceremoniously in the direction of a few stragglers. “I don’t want it to be over!” says a veterinarian near me, eyes shining. “Willie’s even better than he was 10 years ago.” Her friend confesses she missed that concert – the last performance she saw here was the Spice Girls, 20 years ago – but in the meantime she has converted to Willie too. “We’re farm girls from Mansfield,” she says, reluctantly following the crowd out of the amphitheatre. The vet glances back at the emptying stage, and as Nelson has just done for us in song, voices the thing we are all thinking inside. “He’s the last of them,” she says. “The last of the real ones.”

My Way by Willie Nelson is out now on Legacy Recordings

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Brett Kavanaugh and lack of judicial temperament - PBSNewsHour

Transcript from the Public Broadcasting PBSNewsHour with Judy Woodruff, an interview with Amna Nawaz and two expert women who helped to provide perspective about the September 27, 2018, Judge Brett Kavanaugh interview with the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), judicial temperament means that a judge exhibits "compassion, decisiveness, open-mindedness, sensitivity, courtesy, patience, freedom from bias and commitment to equal justice."

In key moments this week (Judiciary Committee interviews with Judge Brett Kavanaugh), it was the tone that mattered.

Amna Nawaz is National Correspondent and substitute anchor for PBS NewsHour since April 2018.
Aside from the specifics of the sexual assault allegations (described by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford), there were questions about Ford's composure when compared to Kavanaugh's anger and if the same rules applied to both witnesses.

The overt politics of the hearing were also a departure from precedent.

Here to help make sense of it all, Marcia Coyle of "The National Law Journal," and Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University.

Welcome to you both.

Marcia Coyle, I would like to start with you.

You have watched a lot of confirmation processes, tracked them over the years. A lot has been said about the demeanor of Judge Kavanaugh yesterday. Have you ever seen someone deliver speech, remarks, a response in a similar demeanor in past years?

Amna, I think the closest that I have seen come to Judge Kavanaugh was Justice Clarence Thomas, when he went before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991.

I was thinking last night as I was watching Judge Kavanaugh of the old cliche that the best offense — or the best defense is a good offense. And Justice Clarence Thomas in '91, he spoke first, before Anita Hill, and then he was given rebuttal time. And on his rebuttal time, he came out with the now — the phrase that has lingered in so many memories of that period, in which he called the confirmation process a national disgrace, but a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.

And at that moment, you could tell that the atmosphere in the room and on the committee had changed.

Last night, with Judge Kavanaugh, he didn't have race to use like Clarence Thomas did, but what he did have was partisanship. And he — his emotional, angry, often belligerent delivery focused on what he felt was a conspiracy on the left to search and destroy him. And he said that he saw this as revenge for the 2016 presidential election, his own ideology, and the work he did for the independent counsel who had investigated the Clinton White House. So this was being done on behalf of the Clintons.

It was such a stark partisan kind of attack. And it is something that I have never seen before, not from a judicial nominee.
Deborah Tannen, I would love to get your take on this.

Now, you study language and how people use it, how it is perceived. Belligerent, angry, these were a lot of the words that were used to describe the way in which Judge Kavanaugh defended himself.

How are you, as someone who studies this from an academic viewpoint, taking in what you saw yesterday?

I would add to that so many aspects of his self-presentation that were completely out of place in that context.

He was interrupting the senators. He was disrespectful to the senators, the Democratic senators. He turned the question back on them. I like beer. Do you like beer? What do you like to drink?

The interruptions, the overlap, supporting along with them when he was supposed to answer a question, he really never answered the questions. But he never said, I'm not — sorry, I can answer your question. He certainly didn't say sorry about anything, but simply took the floor and went on repeating the things that he had said with his opening statement.

And the contrast with Dr. Ford was really quite striking. She apologized when she had nothing to apologize for. And, by the way, I would point out that, for women, I don't think that really is an apology. It's just a way of being — taking into account the effect of what you're saying on the other person, so trying to be helpful.

So, it's pretty routinized, women saying, I'm sorry. But you — and we did once hear Judge Kavanaugh apologize, to Senator Klobuchar. But it was after a recess. And you kind of had the feeling that maybe somebody pointed out to him he had gone a bit too far.

Let me ask you about something you just mentioned, the difference between the two testimonies.

This is something we have heard a lot today. Was there a gender dynamic at play? Or were we just watching two different personalities make their cases?

Yes, of course.

It was almost like stereotypical representations of how women and men would be expected to present themselves and to behave. So, he was blustery. He was taking up as much talk space as possible. The anger is an emotion that is approved of in men and is often seen as positive in men.

She could not be angry. She had many — much reason to be, but she didn't show anger. And it would be very unacceptable for a woman to show anger.

So, everything about her self-presentation was self-effacing, deferential. What's interesting is that most people, men, as well as women, would be deferential to the senators in a setting like that.

He threw all that to the winds, and was actually not — not only fulfilling our expectations of men, but not fulfilling our expectations of a person who was presenting himself before a body that was going to judge him. He was acting more like he was the judge.

I would like to ask Marcia Coyle about the impact of that, because, as we know, this is part of an interview process, an assessment process, for a very big, important job.

I want to show a graphic now that talks a little bit and shows quite clearly sort of the partisan nature of this process over the years. This is starting with John Paul Stevens in 1975, showing the Senate confirmation votes. Started back then a 98-0 vote. You see those margins growing tighter and tighter each year, until Justice Neil Gorsuch's vote last year. That was 54-45.

Marcia, you mentioned this earlier, of course, the partisan nature of that vote. But Judge Kavanaugh himself delving into that partisan conversation, does that impact, do you think, how he does his job moving forward?

Oh, moving forward?

Well, I think only he can — if he is confirmed, he's the only one who will be able to tell if he brings — if he takes on to the court a bitterness, an anger towards any groups on the left, any parties on the left that would come before him.

I can't answer that for him. I think, in terms of the court itself, that I'm — I think most of the justices know Judge Kavanaugh, like him, respect him. They have hired many of his former clerks for their own chambers.

But I have to believe that there was a certain amount of cringing going on last night. I was thinking — she didn't say this in the context of the nomination hearings, but Judge Kagan recently said in a public conversation that the court — the court relies on — for its legitimacy that the American people believe that its decisions are made with a certain amount of integrity.

So, any time there is a partisan cast to any cases that come to the court, they worry about this. And they worry that they will be viewed as a partisan institution.

Now, I'm sure many people probably believe the court practices politics, not law. But, as she said, you have to look at the institution. And the American people do respect it because they still do believe that there is a certain amount of integrity in the decision-making.

I think probably Justice — Judge Kavanaugh's comments last night, as well as his appearance on FOX television, which is associated with a certain political view, probably is a little worrisome in terms of how some people will view him if he is confirmed.

And we will see if he is, indeed.

Marcia Coyle, Deborah Tannen, thank you very much for your time.


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Friday, September 28, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh is unqualified based on his angry temperament - a flawed candidate

An echo opinion written by the Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, published in the Mississippi newspaper, The Meridian Star

WASHINGTON – Brett M. Kavanaugh proved himself unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. His unflattering partisan temperament showed during Judiciary Committee hearings. His behavior was unbecoming of a Supreme Court Justice.
It has little to do with his treatment of women.

Kavanaugh's freshman-year roommate at Yale had told The New Yorker that the future Supreme Court nominee could become "aggressive "and "belligerent" when drunk. 

But, as millions have now seen with their own eyes, he is aggressive and belligerent when stone-cold sober.

His testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was a howl of partisan rage. He said the behavior of Democrats on the committee was "an embarrassment" and "a good old-fashioned attempt at Borking." He said they were "lying in wait" with "false, last-minute smears."

The proceedings were, he said, "a national disgrace," a "circus," a "grotesque and coordinated character assassination" and a "search and destroy" mission. He blamed Democrats for threats against his family, "to blow me up and take me down."

"This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election," he said, "... revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups."

Kavanaugh shouted and scowled, sniffed and wept, turned the pages of his text as if swatting insects and thumped the witness table. Gone was the nominee who two weeks ago preached judicial modesty. Gone was the man who on Monday spoke to Fox News about fairness and integrity and dignity and respect.

On Thursday afternoon, after his main accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, gave such compelling testimony that even Republican senators described her favorably, Kavanaugh ripped off the mask – or the robe, as it were – and revealed himself to be the man he was when, as a lieutenant to Kenneth Starr in the 1990s, he proposed to hit President Bill Clinton with a sexually vulgar line of questioning.

He mocked his Democratic questioners. Asked by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., about his drinking, Kavanaugh shot back: "I like beer. I don't know if you do. Do you like beer, senator, or not? What do you like to drink? Senator, what do you like to drink?"

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., mentioning her father's alcoholism, asked whether Kavanaugh had ever blacked out. "I don't know. Have you?" he responded. Pressed, he replied, "Yeah, and I'm curious if you have." He later apologized.

Kavanaugh had cast aside judicial restraint for fury and ridicule. Perhaps he figured his nomination was doomed, and his scorched-earth testimony was a parting shot. Or perhaps he calculated that he could only salvage his prospects by making the fight about partisan warfare rather than sexual assault.

Except that it isn't. If Kavanaugh isn't confirmed it will be because of Republican votes from the likes of Sens. Susan Collins of Maine or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have expressed concern about the allegations. Polling shows plunging support for Kavanaugh among Republican women. Republicans on the Judiciary Committee – all men – were concerned enough about appearances to hire a female prosecutor to question Ford; this produced frivolous lines of questioning about whether she's really afraid of flying and who paid for her polygraph.

Fighting Ford's sexual-assault allegation on the merits was difficult to sustain. Ford seemed credible, and Kavanaugh, like committee Republicans, was reluctant to have the FBI investigate her claims (he derided "phony" questioning on the topic). Kavanaugh was reluctant for the committee to hear from the alleged eyewitness, and he acknowledged that he sometimes drank "too many beers" (how many? "whatever the chart says") and hadn't blacked out but had "gone to sleep" and vomited from drinking.

Eventually, Republican senators jettisoned their distaff mercenary and joined with Kavanaugh in his attempt to cast the fight as partisan. "The most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics," shouted Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas called the proceedings the most "embarrassing scandal for the United States Senate since the McCarthy hearings."

But this required accepting Kavanaugh's word that the accusations are variously "a joke," "a farce," "crazy," "nonsense," "refuted" or with "no corroboration."

Maybe so. Maybe he doesn't remember. But this we know: Kavanaugh's response revealed him to be a political hack more than a jurist. "Your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and to destroy my family will not drive me out," he told the Democrats, threatening them that "what goes around comes around."

Partisanship and revenge fantasies: Exactly what we don't need on the Supreme Court.

Dana Milbank is a member of the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter @Milbank.

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Donald Trump missed opportunity with the Central Intelligence Agency

Opinion letter echo*:
Former US Intelligence Chief John Brennan was outraged about Donald Trump's acquiescence to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16, 2018, when he verbally deferred to Putin's denial of the 2016 election interference. 

When Trump said he couldn't see any reason why Russia "would" have been involved in the U.S. presidential election, what he said he meant to say was "wouldn't.

"I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't,'" Trump explained, speaking at the White House more than 24 hours after his news conference with Putin began drawing fire from allies and critics alike. "The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.'" (MaineWriter opinon ~ OMG! SIASD**)
A Time For Reckoning in The Washington Daily News
To the editor of the The Washington Daily News:
Trump sided with Vladimir Putin!~ (He's a failed US leader)

On July 16, 2018, the President of the United States Donald Trump said in clear terms that he believes our arch-enemy, Russia (in the dictatorial form of Vladimir Putin), more than he believes the intelligence community, of his own country.

If you cannot accept that as fact, then please do not bother reading further. There is no question that Russia tried to manipulate the 2016 elections. Forget for a moment who they were trying to get elected but just ponder this fact — a foreign country tried to disrupt our elections. If that does not bother you then please not bother reading further. 

There are many thousands of individuals who have dedicated their lives to the critical task of keeping us safe from foreign invasion or interference. When #45 had a chance to honor those heroes on January 21, 2017, he chose to talk about his electoral college victory while standing in front of stars which represent CIA agents who gave their lives keeping us safe from foreign invasion or interference.

This clearly illustrates Trump’s disrespect for the CIA and his lack of understanding of its value or the personal effort of its agents on our behalf. So, whose assessments does he value, Russia’s or the USA’s? The United States Congress was faced with a decision whether to formally sanction Russia for its primary role in interfering with the 2016 election. In a rare show of bipartisan patriotism, the United States Senate voted on July 22, 2017, 98-2 for sanctions against Russia, and the House voted 419-3 for sanctions. This meant that Republican, Democrat, Independent and Libertarian legislators, believed the intelligence agencies and demanded that Russia be sanctioned. Trump responded by single-handedly dictating that no sanctions would be levied against Russia. If you do not believe these facts, then please do not bother reading further. In a rare political slip by Putin (a press conference on July 16, 2018) he was asked if during the USA presidential campaign he favored one candidate over the other. Putin replied that he wanted Trump to win. If you do not accept this as fact then please do not bother reading further. 

We have no idea why Trump is being manipulated by Putin (perhaps it is in Trump’s tax information which he will not disclose) but Russian manipulation of Trump happened and it will continue to happen unless the Republicans, Democrats and all other patriots of this country take a hard look at the facts and decide that this country is worth saving by removing Trump from office now. 

If you are not one of those patriots then please do not bother reading further. 

From Peter A. Farrell, Washington, Former Captain, United States Army

*Donald Trump certainly missed an opportunity to put the brave people at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at ease when he spoke in January 2017.  Instead, Trump was ignorant of being mindful of the moment he had at that time  Moreover, he put the proverbial "acid in the wounds" when he did not stand up to Vladimir Putin on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki.  

**SIASD~ "Stupid Is As Stupid Does"

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Interest rates respond to Trump tax cuts ~ Middle Class Alert!

Middle Class will be negatively impacted!

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates again! It’s said that President Trump isn’t all that happy about it. 

Well, that’s what an independent central bank does for you — it removes monetary policy from politics. There is a certain amusement here, though, which is that the Fed has raised rates not to annoy Trump, but because of Trump.

We have two sets of tools by which we can direct the economy in general, two types of macroeconomic policy. There is fiscal policy, which is taxes and spending, the balance between them. There's also monetary policy, interest rates and a number of more minor associated matters. Either or both can be used to direct that economy as whole. No, this isn’t the start to a beginner’s economics textbook, just take that as being true. It’s the basic outline of absolutely every model that any government, central bank or part of academia uses. It is true in this world even if it’s not in theory.

The thing is though, according to a theory currently best associated with the economist Scott Sumner, in a world with an independent central bank, we don’t actually have that fiscal policy that we can use. For the bank, as the Fed has done here, will simply alter monetary policy in order to take account of whatever is being done with fiscal policy. We might, for example, say we’re in a recession and slash taxes, or increase spending — those Keynesian sorts of things recommended back in the Great Recession — and this will boost the economy. 

But whatever interest rates would have been in the absence of that policy, or possibly the amount of QE and those associated minor matters, will be changed in order to reflect that new fiscal policy. Or maybe we think we’re in a boom and so we increase taxes to slow it down — again, Keynesian policy — but then the Fed will set interest rates lower than they would have done in the absence of the tax rises.

Fiscal policy doesn’t work in a world with an independent central bank, for that bank will always offset those macroeconomic effects of things like the budget deficit. The policy mixture will always end up being what the bank thinks it ought to be, for they’re the balancing item here.

Thus it isn’t that Jerome Powell is doing his job by ignoring Trump. Maybe Trump isn’t happy about that rate increase. Sure, it’s the third one this year. But Trump isn’t being ignored, the Fed is reacting to what Trump has done.

There was a package of tax cuts, which also hasn’t cut spending much, if at all. Thus, the deficit is blowing out. Our standard Keynesian model — recall, it doesn’t really matter if it’s right or not, given that all policy makers assume it is, that’s how they’re going to react — tells us that this will stimulate the economy. 

But then so also can monetary policy stimulate or slow down that economy. So, when fiscal policy is stimulating, monetary policy will be adjusted to be a bit more calming. The overall policy mix doesn’t, therefore, change.

My personal opinion is that Sumner is a tad over-reaching when he says that the two policies will always balance perfectly — I tend to not believe that any macroeconomic policy is that accurately calculated. But the underlying point is still true.

However much the Fed is annoying Trump by raising interest rates, they’re still doing it because of him. Trump’s tax policies have been a stimulus to the economy, therefore they’re raising interest rates faster than they would have done in the absence of that fiscal policy.

Tim Worstall (@worstall) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

If Trump lies long enough he'll discredit his own lies ~ echo Zirpoli

Tom Zirpoli echo opinion published in Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland

For a person who likes to label things “fake,” President Donald Trump is the king of fake. 

Here are some examples:

Fake pictures: Remember how upset Trump was about the size of his inauguration crowd compared to President Barack Obama’s? Independent pictures showed Obama’s crowd to be larger and this did not make Trump happy. He continued to insist that his crowd was “the biggest ever.” But pictures told a different story. Little did we know at the time the trouble Trump went to prove his point. According to a story in The Guardian, a government photographer admits that after talking to the president, he edited official pictures to make Trump’s crowd appear larger. The photographer said that he cropped the empty space where the crowd ended and gave the new pictures to Trump the next morning.
Fake supporters: In Billings, Montana, Tyler Linfesty* was asked to leave a Trump rally because of the facial expressions he made in response to the president’s speech

Linfesty, a 17-year-old high school senior, was placed behind the president on the stage. In the middle of the rally, Linfesty was asked to leave and was replaced with a woman, who sufficiently demonstrated her appreciation for the president. Two other people on the stage who were not sufficiently applauding the president were also replaced. This was all going on as Trump was speaking as if no one was watching.

Fake News: After an anonymous op-ed was published in The New York Times, reportedly by a senior staffer in the White House, Trump declared that the letter was fake. The next day, however, he ordered the Attorney General to investigate and locate the staffer who wrote the letter because it was, according to Trump, a national security issue. But if the letter was fake, how would Trump expect the Justice Department to find the writer? As one late-night comic stated, if you just wait long enough, Trump will discredit his own lies.

Fake Economics: Having inherited a growing economy from President Barack Obama, the economy continues to do well under Trump. So one might think that just stating the facts would be good enough. Instead, team Trump can’t help exaggerating about the economy. Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee, recently stated that Trump had created 700,000 jobs for African-Americans since he had been in office compared to only 195,000 during President Obama’s administration. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics corrected the statement stating that Obama had created 3 million jobs for African-Americans. To her credit, Huckabee apologized for the error.

Of course, Trump never apologizes. On Sept. 10, Trump tweeted “The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!” But, according to Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, “it has happened in 185 months since 1948 and most recently in 2006 when the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent and the GDP growth was 5.4 percent.”

Not only does Trump state falsehoods, but he also attributes false statements to others. On Sept. 10, Trump tweeted “’President Trump would need a magic wand to get to 4% GDP,’ stated President Obama. I guess I have a magic wand, 4.2%, and we will do MUCH better than this!” President Obama never made this statement about the GDP and, for the record, Obama exceeded 4.2 percent growth on three separate occasions. For Trump, however, 4.2 percent was “historic.”

Fake Outrage: Trump now says that the media “shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name.” Trump seems to forget the times he used anonymous sources to sell the falsehood that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. “An extremely credible source,” tweeted Trump in 2012, “has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” Another anonymous source told Trump in 2016 that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father had been with Lee Harvey Oswald before Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy. “I mean,” said Trump on Fox News, “what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.”

It seems that anonymous sources are good when Trump uses them, but “disgraceful” when they are used about him. “I think it’s disgraceful that The New York Times would do it,” Trump said in reference to the newspaper using an anonymous source.

Fake Numbers: Trump has called into question the official number of deaths reported in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (just under 3,000). Trump hates numbers that reflect poorly on him or his administration. His outrage, however, is merely a distraction from the facts.

*A woman who replaced a Tyler Linfesty at a Trump campaign rally in Montana was incorrectly identified in a previous version of this article. The woman's identity is unclear.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

South Carolina echo opinion ~ Donald Trump is unable to garner loyalty

Donald Trump is incapable of hiring a "band of rivals". Instead, he fires those who refuse to idolize his ego. Trump's failed leadership is made worse by his inability to hear differing points of view.

With Donald 
Trump, this is not the American way ~ echo opinion letter published in The Island Pocket - Hilton Head, South Carolina. Although Donald Trump demands loyalty from his staffs, the failed leadership he has exhibited has not inspired this level of blind minded support. 
Wake up, America! Pay attention!  Donald Trump is a paranoid, narcissistic, destructive bully who is daily damaging our country.
Consider Peter Strzok. He served our country working in the FBI, and he appears to have done so both skillfully and ethically. 

During a Congressional hearing earlier this year concerning Strzok’s private email expressing his distaste for Donald Trump, Strzok was the target of a lot of bombastic rhetoric, but there was no evidence of his having done anything wrong.

He didn't harm the country, misuse his authority, or interfere with the electoral process. Nonetheless, primarily because of the Donald Trump's intolerance for anyone who isn’t a Trump-loyalist, Strzok has been fired.

That’s right. Strzok lost his job because he expressed his dislike for Trump in a private email. Because he didn’t kneel and kiss the Donald’s ring, he lost his career and the country lost his expertise and service.

In the same vein, former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance has been revoked. Like Strzok, Brennan’s only error has been exercising his freedom of speech – having independent critical thoughts and expressing them.

Now Trump is anticipating additional baseless revocations that will likely make mid-career national security professionals feel threatened and have a chilling effect on honest, fact-driven dialogue. And besides offering another example of the president’s inappropriate use of his power, this will diminish our nation’s security.

Do you really want a mean-spirited, less American, less secure, personality-cult state?

I don’t.  From Bill Newby, Hilton Hill Island, South Carolina

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South Carolina echo opinion ~ Brett Kavanaugh is a flawed SCOTUS candidate

Kavanaugh should be replaced with less controversial Supreme Court nominee~ echo opinion letter published in the South Carolina newspaper The State
Brett Kavanaugh has been a controversial nominee for the Supreme Court from day one. 

Many of us believe he perjured himself in his recent Senate Judiciary hearings. And he is very unpopular with the general public for his extreme views, despite a promotional TV ad campaign funded by God knows who. 

Now, he has been accused of attempted rape by a very credible professional woman. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is a psychologist and university professor at PaloAlto. She has provided therapy notes from marriage counseling in 2012, where she shared her story of attempted rape with a marriage counselor. She has also passed a polygraph.

It is nonsensical that the president and Republicans in Congress would choose to pursue more Senate hearings on Kavanaugh when he could be easily replaced by a less controversial nominee. The hearings will be excruciating for both Kavanaugh and the alleged victim, and it’s really a no-win situation for Republicans. They will lose support and votes by fighting this fight.

It seems this fight is really President Trump’s fight. 

It’s only about Kavanaugh in the sense that Trump believes Kavanaugh would protect him from any legal accountability in the Mueller probe.  From Yvonne Crisp, Irmo South Carolina

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

America's deficit has increased by 33 percent over 11 months

Echo: A Newsday Editorial (Long Island, New York) republished in the Wisconsin Kenosha News
The economy of the United States might be (temporarily) booming (workforce shortages notwithstanding), but the finances are going bust. In the first 11 months of fiscal 2017, the nation’s budget deficit was $674 billion. For the first 11 months of fiscal 2018, it was $898 billion, an increase of 33 percent. President Donald Trump’s administration now says the annual shortfall will exceed $1 trillion in 2019 and remain above that level for at least three years.

The deficit has exceeded $1 trillion in only four years, from 2009 through 2012, when unemployment of 8 percent to 10 percent depressed income tax receipts, low corporate profits reduced tax revenue and federal spending spiked to provide for struggling Americans, stimulate the economy and help fund state and local governments.

Such colossal deficits now lack any such excuses. Unemployment is around 4 percent, a historic low (driving workforce shortages), and corporate profits are at all-time highs. Happy days should be here again when it comes to fiscal sanity, but corporate tax receipts have dropped 20 percent since Donald Trump’s tax cuts took effect in early 2018. Income tax payments are up just 1 percent. And government spending under Trump has skyrocketed.

The answer, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow told the Economic Club of New York, is being “tougher on spending” when it comes to the “larger entitlements.” (HELLO? Beneficiaries pay for our entitlements!)

The growth in spending on social programs is a real problem. Social Security outlays are up 8 percent this year, reflecting an increase in recipients, and Medicare spending is up 9 percent. But interest on the national debt has increased 13 percent this year. And military spending is up almost 10 percent, to $700 billion.

The average monthly Social Security check is $1,404. Cutting such benefits or making people work much past the current full retirement age of 67 before they can claim that benefit would not be humane, sensible or popular. Neither would cutting the Medicare benefits that provide health care to seniors or the Medicaid benefits that pay the costs of 62 percent of nursing home residents and the health care costs of 30 million children.

Trump is trying to nickel-and-dime the people who least deserve such treatment. He recently canceled next year’s scheduled 2.1 percent pay increase for federal employees, writing that he can do so because of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare” of the United States. 

And he is fighting for a farm bill that would take food stamps from several million recipients. (This is wrong minded and cruel farm policy.  It makes no economic sense whatsoever. Eventually, this Donald Trump policy will drive up the cost of food for everybody by causing farmers to plant less crops.)

Trump and his advisers are crowing about a booming economy and crying poverty when it comes to caring for the nation. They have cut taxes, benefiting mostly the very wealthy, at a cost of $1.5 trillion over 10 years, and now say they must cut the social safety net, which mostly benefits the nation’s children and elderly, to pay for it.

Republicans may not implement their plans to slash social programs, but the increasing costs of those programs are real, as are the spiraling deficits generated by Trump’s tax cuts and huge hikes in military spending. If denying Americans needed benefits (to beneficiaries who earned their entitlements) is the GOP plan to restore fiscal sanity, that’s disturbing. And if that awful scheme isn’t the GOP’s way to restore fiscal sanity, then it has no plan at all.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Kenosha Wisconsin echo opinion - Americans pay for Trump's tariffs

Donald Trump announced that he’s slapping a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, on top of similar tariffs imposed earlier this year on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports. 

Once the new tariffs are in place, Trump’s levies will apply to almost half the value of the products we buy from China.

Too bad the president doesn’t seem to understand who will pay these tariffs.

At an event earlier Monday, Trump talked about the trade negotiations with Mexico and Canada, then said, “China is now paying us billions of dollars in tariffs, and hopefully we’ll be able to work something out.”

That’s exactly backward. The tariffs Trump imposed on Chinese goods are paid by the businesses and consumers in this country that buy them.

In other words, the tariffs are a tax on our people, not theirs.

The pain ultimately is borne by U.S. consumers, as businesses pass along the tariffs they pay on the Chinese components and metals they buy.

Alternatively, when businesses shift to higher-priced U.S.-made components and metals to avoid the tariffs, their costs go up, and their prices follow.

The New York Times offered a few examples: “Steel prices are up more than 10 percent since February, the month before Mr. Trump announced his long-awaited tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, from a wide swath of trading partners. Prices on washing machines jumped 20 percent in the months following Mr. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on imported washers.”

The cost of goods in general is increasing slowly, but tariffs probably aren’t a factor because they apply to a very small slice of the economy.

That could change, though, if Trump follows through on the two threats he added to the announcement of the $200 billion in new tariffs.

First, the tariffs will go up from 10 percent to 25 percent on Jan. 1 — a clear effort to force China to the negotiating table. And second, Trump said he’ll hit the rest of China’s exports to the United States — about $267 billion worth of goods — “if China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries.”

Trump sees this as a contest he can’t lose, given how much more Americans import from China than the Chinese import from us.

To many economists, this trade imbalance is a sign of the United States’ low savings rate, the confidence and capability of U.S. buyers, and other factors that aren’t necessarily negative. To Trump, it’s a sign that China is defeating us in the race for manufacturing jobs.

Referring to last year’s $375-billion trade deficit with China, Trump said, “(W)e’re not going to lose that. We can’t do that. We can’t do that anymore. It should have been done many years ago. It should have been done by other Presidents. And actually, it’s a disgrace that it wasn’t done.” (Hello? MaineWriter: There's a reason why other presidents knew enough not to challenge free trade!)

The president is counting on China to cave in the face of the ever-ratcheting penalties on Chinese exports.

That hasn’t happened yet; instead, China has been content to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports, hurting sales and raising anxiety levels across many industries. (In fact, groups representing thousands of businesses banded together this month to lobby harder against the levies.)

So, get ready for higher prices, consumers! Just in time for the holiday season.


Doppelganger - "It was the other guy!": Judge Kavanaugh plot thickens

The Kavanaugh doppelganger theory shows how far the right has descended into madness.

When Christine Blasey Ford went public with her charge of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, I wrote that the confirmation hearings had turned into a melodrama ripped from the pages of an Allen Drury novel.

Then, we moved into the realm of horror movies or science fiction - or perhaps just a cheesy daytime soap opera. Those are all genres where doppelgangers are common plot devices: X wasn't the killer - it was his evil look-alike!

That Kavanaugh is the victim of mistaken identity was the implausible theory put forward by Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.

On Thursday night he posted (and now has deleted) a long series of tweets, complete with links to Zillow and Google Maps, arguing that Ford had indeed been assaulted - but by a friend of Kavanaugh's who looked a lot like him. And then he proceeded to name the friend and post his picture.

In the long annals of American politics, a lot of people have done a lot of irresponsible things, but for sheer callousness and craziness it's hard to top an accusation of sexual assault against a specific individual based on, essentially, nothing.

This is McCarthyism redux - and if Kavanaugh is revealed to have any connection to the propagation of this loathsome falsehood, he should be voted down overwhelmingly by the Senate.

It tells you how far the right has descended into madness that this vile accusation did not come from an anonymous blogger on some online bulletin board or from professional conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

It came from someone with sterling establishment credentials: Whelan is a Harvard Law School graduate who has served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a Senate Judiciary Committee staffer, and a deputy assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration.

He is also friends with Kavanaugh and with Federalist Society executive vice president Leonard Leo, and has been involved in efforts to confirm Kavanaugh.

That someone so seemingly respectable was spreading this cuckoo conspiracy theory gave it instant validity: "Fox and Friends" aired it to a national audience Friday morning.

Amplified by Russian bots, this theory went viral on social media, because it fit so neatly with what so many conservatives were already saying. As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review, "[T]he unverifiable sexual-assault allegation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh bore 'all the hallmarks of a set-up.'"

This makes no sense: Why would Ford "set up" Kavanaugh when the cost of doing so is to have her name dragged through the mud (??? Exactly!and forced to flee her own home to avoid death threats? If she is setting up Kavanaugh, why would she take (and pass) a polygraph test and insist on an FBI investigation, knowing that lying to the FBI is a federal crime? If she was setting up Kavanaugh, why would she place his friend Mark Judge in the room, knowing that his testimony could contradict hers?

And, why if this is a set-up, did she relay the sexual assault allegation to her marital therapist in 2012? Did she intuit years in advance that Kavanaugh would be nominated to the Supreme Court - but fail to foresee that, like every other woman who has made such allegations against a powerful man, she would be subject to character assassination?

The (incredulous!) claim that Ford had simply mistaken Kavanaugh for his evil twin was marginally less offensive but even more crazy. Ford immediately shot it down: She said that she knew both Kavanaugh and his doppelganger and "there is zero chance that I would confuse them."

By 8:38 a.m. on Friday, Whelan had recanted. "I made an appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment in posting the tweet thread in a way that identified Kavanaugh's Georgetown Prep classmate," he tweeted. "I take full responsibility for that mistake, and I deeply apologize for it. I realize that does not undo the mistake."

Give Whelan credit for at least being more honest than the man who appointed Kavanaugh: President Trump has never apologized for all of the deranged conspiracy theories he has spread, from claiming that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States to claiming just last week that the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria was concocted by Democrats to embarrass him. But Whelan is right: His apology, however welcome, does not undo the mistake.

There are a lot of (stupid!) people who will believe his conspiracy theory, despite the recantation, because they are predisposed to believe it. Much of the right has taken leave of its senses. They are willing, even eager, to believe in "alternative facts," to quote Kellyanne Conway's infamous phrase, if by doing so it will advance their agenda. 

Any sin, no matter how grave - even maligning an innocent man on sexual-assault charges - is justified in the name of political expediency. And there is no higher imperative for the right than the confirmation of conservative judges.

Conservatives need to ask themselves a version of Jesus' question (Mark 8-36): What shall it profit them if they gain the Supreme Court and suffer the loss of their souls?

Max Boot, is a Washington Post columnist. This opinion was published in the Pennsylvania news PennLive. 

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Fear ~ more than a book title describes Donald Trump

Two echo opinion letters published in the New York (Long Island) newspaper Newsday.

Bob Woodward's investigation into the Donald Trump administration is rightly titled Fear.  These two letters echo the book's central theme - being, Donald Trump believes creating fear will build his credibility. OMG!

Letter #1: From Robert Mays, Freeport New York

Donald Trump characterized Bob Woodward’s new book, the latest in a series of documented critical writings about Trump’s administration, as a joke [“Trump: New book a ‘Joke’,” News, Sept. 11].

Unlike Trump, Woodward has a sterling reputation for honesty and for meticulous detail in his writing and reporting. He has a history of criticizing both Republican and Democratic administrations when deserved and has won prestigious awards for doing so. Trump and his administration are different from past administrations, and not in a good way. Recent polls indicate that more and more American voters are paying attention to Trump’s unique dysfunction.

If those polls are accurate and special counsel Robert Mueller completes his work, the joke will be on Trump, and the country can be a leader in the world once again.

Letter #2 Edward B. (Woody) Ryder IV, Greenlawn, New York

White House staff do the nation a disservice by enabling the man in the Trumpian bubble. 

Instead, they should help Donald Trump by orchestrating an intervention and invoking the 25th Amendment as they apparently discussed shortly after Jan. 20, 2017, according to Bob Woodward’s new book.

If news reports are accurate that the only people Trump trusts are his children, it is up to those who feed off the paternal entrails to orchestrate this intervention.

The New York Times op-ed about Trump’s White House that claimed there is a “resistance” within the Trump administration was written anonymously, for good reason. Anonymity was required for the writer for the same reason, albeit with a substantially much less violent proposed end result, that neither Claus von Stauffenberg nor his Valkyrie allies revealed their identities in their ultimately futile attempt to remove from office the lunatic (Hitler) of their era.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Senator Susan Collins - Listen to constituents about Judge Kavanaugh

Senator Collins must reject Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination

Christine Blasey Ford, accuser of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, agrees to Senate testimony about sexual assault claim
  • Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor at the center of a sexual assault accusation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, has agreed to testify to representatives of the Senate Judiciary Committee sometime next week.
  • Multiple outlets reported that both Kavanaugh and Ford tentatively agreed to testify Thursday September 27, 2018, although several details remained unclear.

Maine’s senior senator, Susan Collins, is expected to be a key vote in determining whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

As a senior citizen, I urge Sen. Collins, in the strongest possible terms, to reject his nomination, because Judge Kavanaugh is a threat to the health and retirement security of the 267,000 Maine residents over the age of 65.

As a judge, Brett Kavanaugh has repeatedly favored wealthy corporate interests over working Americans. He has also argued against protections for people with pre-existing health conditions contained in the Affordable Care Act. In fact, when testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee recently, he declined to say whether he would vote to uphold protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, announced in the hearing that Kavanaugh refused to address the issue in a private meeting as well.

Eighty-four percent of people between the ages of 55 to 64 have at least one pre-existing health condition, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Without the ACA’s protections, it would be nearly impossible for those people to obtain affordable insurance in the individual market if the ACA’s protections were rolled back. Rolling protections back would also subject 55- to 64-year-olds to the “age tax,” allowing insurers to charge older Americans five times more than they charge a younger person.

Maine has been the state with the oldest average age for the past several censuses and, as the chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Sen. Collins should be fully aware of Judge Kavanaugh’s disastrous record on issues relating to aging, disability, retirement, and health care.

Judge Kavanaugh has a poor record on issues facing people with disabilities. He ruled against disabled patients’ ability to make decisions about their own lives, taking away the right of self-determination and allowing the government to make medical decisions for them without first learning their wishes. He sided with employers over workers in numerous disability discrimination and retaliation cases. As an attorney Kavanaugh argued that age discrimination protections in place for older workers should not apply in some situations.

Brett Kavanaugh’s record shows that he will not protect retirees’ interests. Confirming him to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court would be a catastrophe for older Americans who rely on the court system to look out for their health care and economic rights.

I urge Sen. Collins to keep older people in mind as she examines his record and make the right decision for the people of Maine: reject his nomination.
Donald Bilodeau is the author, a member of the Maine Alliance for Retired Americans — an organization that advocates for the rights and well-being of more than 20,000 retirees and their families. He lives in Leeds Maine.

Collins must vote no on the Kavanaugh nomination