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Thursday, November 15, 2018

News journalism badly needs self-correction


As we consider the state of things in America today, we see important areas of American life that have weakened as the years have passed. Among them are the nuclear family, public education, higher education, and the general sense of what America is all about.

This devolution has also affected news journalism. Today, quite a few of those practitioners are persons who, rather than being committed to professional ethics, are instead folks who pay allegiance to their personal inclinations. And generally they seem to be in some of the most visible and influential news outlets in the country.

Following the dramatic dustup in the White House’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room last week that got all the news folk talking, Al Jazeera’s Jeffrey Ballou said President Donald Trump's remarks to CNN’s Jim Acosta and others "may be free speech, but beyond the pale of respecting the constitutionally enshrined role of journalists."

That statement brought this from a long-time news journalist, Wesley Pruden, editor emeritus of The Washington Times, and a man who worked his way up from beat reporter to editor: “That was a new one to me, though I have been in this business, man and boy, for a lot of years. I never knew I was someone so grand as to be "constitutionally enshrined."

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a free press, and that might be seen as enshrinement of journalism’s role, but the Amendment does not enshrine any person or set of individuals, not even reporters.

Watching the behavior of some of the media personalities in the Brady Briefing Room of late clearly demonstrates that some reporters believe they are personally enshrined. And this fit of egomania explains how someone can cast off the restraints of professional ethics in favor of one’s own political agenda when doing the hard and important work of reporting what is really happening in the country and its government.

News journalists defend an important element in America: They are to provide true, accurate, timely and important information to the people, so that they are properly informed and able to make intelligent decisions.

“The Journalists Creed” is a statement of “the principles, values and standards of journalists throughout the world,” as described by Fourth Estate, and is displayed in the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The Creed is the product of Walter Williams, the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism in 1914.

It reads, in part: “I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.”

The failures of news journalism have been termed “fake news” by the president. That includes which topics are presented or not, taking things out of context, exaggeration, and outright falsities.

The existence of “fake news” and the episode in the Brady Press Room last week are evidence of the waning of professionalism and the advancement of ego among the big names in news.

With television and now the Internet, the face of news journalism has changed. Network news personalities are sometimes viewed as stars, and some have egos to match their celebrity status.

Pruden weighs in on this aspect: “The real reporter is happy to answer to ‘reporter,’" he wrote, and “knows better than to try to make himself more important than he is by becoming part of the story.”

“Newspapermen never aspire to celebrity, even the cheesy celebrity accorded by television,” Pruden commented, “and are willing to abide rebuke and worse, even by a president, if that's what it takes to get the story.”

Tough questions are fair and expected from reporters in all areas of news media. What is not expected or acceptable is what happened that day.

CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta became not just part of the story, but its star, with his statement challenging Trump’s characterization of the alien caravan as an invasion. Making matters worse, he refused to cease and desist his flurry of questions as instructed by the president, who was trying to move on to other reporters.

As he kept shouting follow-ups after being dismissed by Trump, a White House intern, whose job is to get the microphone from one reporter and deliver it to the another reporter, found Acosta refusing to let her have it.

He, and others, as well, either forgot or have not learned that the White House person that is providing the information and answers to questions is in charge of the event, not the reporters. They are not above the rules of good conduct, even as they press for answers.

Freedom of the press is a critical element in our country and must not be infringed. That does not mean, however, that reporters and other news people can do anything they please without being called out for it and/or disciplined.

Continued breaches of the important duty of reporting news will bring about responses that journalists will not like. Therefore, some serious self-correction is advised, and the sooner, the better.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The economy’s strong performance has Trump enemies all flummoxed

Citing President Donald Trump’s “nativist fear” in the opening paragraph of an article in The New York Times titled “Republicans Have a Humming Economy to Tout, but Trump Rhetoric Muddies the Message,” writers Astead W. Herndon and Sydney Ember proceeded to analyze the economy of Trump’s second year.

The article does a passable job of showing the strength of the economy, and it fairly criticizes Trump’s penchant for careless or objectionable language and how it interferes with good news.

Here are some reminders of the economy’s strength:
* 250,000 jobs added in October: Hotels and restaurants added 42,000 jobs; health-care companies hired 36,000 workers; manufacturers filled 32,000 jobs; construction companies took on 32,000 workers
* Unemployment 3.7 percent
* Average Hourly Earnings have risen 3.1 percent over the last year
* Third quarter GDP +3.5 percent

However, Herndon’s and Ember’s comment, "President Trump’s blistering message of nativist fear has become the dominant theme of the campaign’s last days..." is an attention-getter.

“Nativist” clearly implies that Trump favors the interests of Americans, as if it is wrong for the leader of a country to favor that nation over others.

Adding the word “fear,” however, drives the article over the cliff. It charges Trump with being afraid of immigrants and for the country to allow people to immigrate here. That’s an interesting position for a man to hold who has an immigrant wife. It’s equally as foolish as the criticism that he is anti-Semitic, with a son-in-law who is Jewish and a daughter who married him who has adopted Judaism.

As Herndon and Ember are reporters, neither having psychology or psychiatry credentials, their analysis of the president is immediately thrown open to suspicion of reportorial bias, which, of course, is unheard of at The Times (cough, cough).

To any thinking person, the idea that we should at long last secure our borders and tighten up immigration policy to prevent gang members, murderers, drug dealers, child traffickers and other undesirables from getting into the country is a no-brainer.

Not content to go quietly into that good night like his predecessors have sensibly done, Barack Obama, the blessedly formerpresident, is making the rounds criticizing his successor.

Since Election Day 2016 when Trump was declared the winner, the economy has been doing great, and as time has passed that performance has only gotten better. But Obama claims to have started it all  “Where do you think that started?” he asked an audience.

Obama took office in January 2009, as the recession was winding down, officially ending in June. Called “The Great Recession,” the period of contraction lasted 18 months, less than half that of The Great Depression.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta called the recovery “atypical and very weak compared to other post World War II recoveries.” Obama’s policies were responsible for this.

After a recession the economy will eventually produce a weak recovery pretty much on its own, but needs help to prosper. Like a car out of gas at the top of a hill, it can roll toward the filling station on its own until it hits flat land. Then it needs help. Under Obama’s watch, he used the brake on the downhill roll, and didn’t push after that. And that is his basis for taking credit for today’s good economy.

What has transpired since Trump won the 2016 election had nothing to do with anything Obama did, because the results we see today came from doing the opposite. Remember Obama saying, “When somebody says  … that he’s going to bring all these jobs back. Well how exactly are you going to do that?” … “What magic wand do you have?”

Trump’s response: “Here, hold my coffee!”

Obama now defends the thousands of people traveling through Mexico toward the U.S. border, with the idea of busting through our border as they did in Guatemala and Mexico.

"Now the latest, they're trying to convince everybody to be afraid of a bunch of impoverished, malnourished refugees," Obama said, imitating a contestant in a stand-up comedy tryout.  “They’re telling you the existential threat to America is a bunch of poor refugees 1,000 miles away,” Obama said. “They’re even taking our brave troops away from their families for a political stunt at the border. And the men and women of our military deserve better than that.”

As poet Browning said (sort of), “How do I deceive thee? Let me count the ways.”
* Impoverished and mal-nourished? It’s no picnic, but people provide food along the way and often transportation, thanks to their financial backers.
* A serious threat? Yes. Existential? No. Obama grossly exaggerated.
* A bunch of poor refugees? Some of the 5,000–7,000 no doubt are; some, perhaps many, surely are not.
* Taking troops away from their family? Troops deploy; they are sent places, as Obama surely remembers from sending them to the border, and to Eastern Europe.

The Democrats’ desperation is palpable. They’ve resorted to threats, intimidation, exaggeration and untruths trying to save their party in today’s election, and to save the country from the good things that have occurred since that great Election Night in 2016.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Political shenanigans and crimes dominate political landscape

When it comes to which political party has received the most serious bad treatment, last week’s mail bomb threat targeting Democrats definitely ranks high. Even though it appears the “bombs” were built so that they wouldn’t explode, the idea of someone mailing bombs to people for political purposes is quite unsettling.

Among the targets of the devices were former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and 11 others.

One of the many honest-to-goodness experts on bombs appearing on TV analyzed the situation this way: The person who did that was either not trying to hurt anyone, or was the world’s worst bomb-maker.

Another important factor is that most of the bombs actually never made it to their recipient. Bad addresses, discovery by postal employees and Secret Service agents before delivery prevented recipients from actually getting delivery, although one made it to the home of Democrat funder George Soros, and another made it to the mailroom of CNN’s New York offices. That one was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, though Brennan is a NBC News contributor and has no public ties to CNN. Some of CNN’s offices were evacuated s a result.

Had these “bombs” detonated, this would be the most serious on the list of political crimes and persecutions. But since they did not, far and away the most serious is the shooting at a House Republican baseball practice last June where a lone gunman, a Bernie Sanders devotee, opened fire on the team. Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise nearly died from gunshot wounds, and is still recovering from them. Three other people were wounded.

While several republicans were harassed while trying to merely have a meal in a restaurant, and Senate Republicans were harassed as they walked the Halls of Congress, these things happened to a Democrat only once that made the news.

Certain media outlets and politicians like to lay blame for this hostility and violent behavior at the feet of our overly frank Commander-In-Chief, President Donald Trump. His attitude and language much too frequently stir the ire of people, especially Democrats.

But we must not overlook the sterling performances in unacceptable comments coming from angry Democrats, as well. They include Hillary Clinton, California Rep. Maxine Waters, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and former Attorney General Eric Holder. All of them have issued statements that fire up the anti-Trumpers, and anger Republicans. Waters leads the pack with her encouragement to confront administration officials in restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and where ever they are seen.

Democrat activists have hassled Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his wife, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and her spouse and children, Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Neilson and a friend, all while they were minding their business enjoying a meal at a restaurant. Not content to harass Neilson at dinner, the mob appeared at her home later, blasting loud noises from the street.

To date, the only Democrat in the news to have endured this treatment is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was harassed at a campaign event in Florida by what was described as a “mob” that called her a communist, among other things.

And then earlier this month we have the letters containing a “white powdery substance,” a couple of them identified as containing deadly ricin, targeting President Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, and Sen. Ted Cruz’s Houston campaign headquarters. Two Cruz staffers were hospitalized. 

Two weeks later, and following her wonderful comments as she announced her support for Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Maine Sen. Susan Collins received a suspicious letter at her home. Police were notified. In tweets, the letter writer claimed the letter was contaminated with ricin, but no harm was reported. Why so little news coverage of these events?

Naturally, those who support the victims of these acts blame the other side. Trump is the most common alleged perpetrator. However, as disturbing as all of these aggressive comments are, the blame needs to fall on those that actually carry out the harassment, mail letter bombs or ricin letters, or shoot up a baseball practice.

While the wild and crazy comments of the president and Congressional Democrats may affect their followers’ attitudes and thinking, their comments are just words. They are not orders that must be followed. And so long as they do not actually encourage violent acts are merely ill-advised speech.

Therefore, the responsibility for these acts is the sole responsibility of the person who committed the act. Bernie Sanders is not responsible for the near killing of Steve Scalise; the guy who decided to commit an illegal act is responsible. 

And Donald Trump is not responsible for a crazy ne’er-do-well sending phony bombs to Democrats; the ne’er-do-well is. And, Donald Trump is also not responsible for the nut-job who shot up the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburg killing 11 innocent people and wounding four others.

We must learn to assign responsibility where it belongs, not where it feels good.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The country’s election system needs dramatic overhaul and reform

We’ve all seen the political ads for the upcoming election, right? We’ve all likely found many of them to be smear pieces, using exaggeration, taking words out of context, and using unflattering photos or pieces of videos of opposing candidates to make them look bad, or stupid, or both.

It is not important to the producers of these ads that their content accurately represents the opposing candidate’s character, record, actual spoken words, or positions on issues. What is important is that they create a negative impression and a negative vote.

Nearly always, these ads are not directly the work of an opposing candidate’s campaign staff, but the work of an independent group — maybe a political action committee (PAC) — that supports another candidate and works to get him or her elected by trashing the opponent. The candidate favored by the ad has little, if anything, to do with the ad, and therefore cannot be held responsible for whatever untruths or other dirty tricks may be employed.

Many of these ads contain a statement to the effect that no candidate supports the ad. It is junk such as this that helps give politics its well-deserved reputation of being a sewer. These ads should be outlawed.

Another thing that stretches the bounds of decency is that much, or sometimes most of a candidate’s financial support comes from people or entities he or she does not represent. A candidate in South Carolina may get financial support from people and organizations in California, New York, Missouri, or any or all of the other states in the union.

Why should any candidate in a state or local race receive financial support from people and organizations in other states? Why is this allowed?

There are other problems with our political system, and many of them involve the system of elections. For example, some “Americans” think it is okay for people to vote who are not eligible to vote. And they openly advocate for that.

One such person is a candidate for governor of Georgia. Of the Democrats’ blue wave that they hope will sweep the nation she said, after listing some of the kinds of people who comprise the wave,  “It is made up of those who’ve been told that they are not worthy of being here. It is comprised of those who are documented and undocumented.”

This person is the Democrat candidate, Stacey Abrams. She is a lawyer and has served in the Georgia General Assembly, and ought to know better.

While many deny the reality, non-citizens do vote in our elections, as do some who have been dead for years or months, and some who vote under more than one name, and some who are registered in more than one state.

Here is just one example, as reported by the McClatchy Washington Bureau: Habersham County's Mud Creek precinct in northeastern Georgia had 276 registered voters ahead of the state's primary elections in May. But 670 ballots were cast, according to the Georgia secretary of state's office, indicating a 243 percent voter turnout.

Here is another: ABC News reports that the California Department of Motor Vehicles admitted last week that a mistake caused as many as 1,500 noncitizens being registered to vote in the state.

That there are ineligible voters in every election in the United States is not in question. What is in question is how many are there and how often do they affect one or more races.

Russians being blamed for a poor candidate’s loss in 2016 does an effective job of distracting the people from the actual problem of illegal voting that occurs in every election.

Our elections have lots of problems. The Trust the Vote Project cites voting machines as one of them, noting the potential for manipulation by cyber criminals. 

Other elements also can be problematic. Early voting, for example, is convenient, and it may be the easiest way for some people to vote in some circumstances. But voting is a critical duty of citizens, and convenience is not the primary concern when important duties are the topic of discussion. Things can happen after an early vote has been cast, but before Election Day, that could have influenced someone’s vote. But after the vote has been cast, it cannot be changed.

Another is that any person can claim to be an eligible, registered voter, but without a photo ID requirement, their identity is less easily verified, allowing voter fraud to occur.

The two most important aspects of voting are, first, that everyone who is eligible to vote be registered to vote, and study the candidates and the issues, make informed and thoughtful decisions about them, and then express their preferences at the polls.

The second is that election officials make an honest and determined effort to be sure that no ineligible person votes in any election, and further that anyone who breaks voting laws is prosecuted and justly punished.

The US has a long way to go to strengthen and secure the election process. We do our nation and ourselves a great disservice by not focusing on improving and securing the election procSess.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hurricanes and the IPCC report crank up climate catastrophe talk

The devastation resulting from this year’s hurricane season has once again spurred the climate change faction into action. Combined with a new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), these horrible storms regenerated the predictions of doom and gloom from that group of scientists who get paid lots of money, green money, and work overtime to convince us to ignore the substantial contrary scientific data that the end is going to come, and now it is even closer than the last time they cranked up the Scare Machine.

The IPCC report suggests that a 2-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures over the next 22 years would be catastrophic. The New York Timestook this to mean that we face “a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.”

Weighing in on this renewed crisis, political commentator Ben Shapiro addressed it in his column “No, Global Warming Isn’t The End Of The World. Here’s Why,” last week.

“The report urges a 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2010 levels by 2030 in order to prevent that imminent doom,” he wrote. “The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require ‘rapid and far-reaching’ transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.” 

Shapiro added that the consequences of this approach would be devastating. “Some of those changes could include an attempt to direct 5-10 percent of global capital revenues toward investment in public works projects, plus a $27,000 tax on each ton of carbon by 2100 – equivalent to roughly $250 per gallon tax on gasoline.”

All of which made Eric Holthaus and other confused socialists break out the champagne. Holthaus, of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, cheered the dismantling of capitalism that will follow this really foolish idea: “If you are wondering what you can do about climate change: The world's top scientists just gave rigorous backing to systematically dismantle capitalism as a key requirement to maintaining civilization and a habitable planet. I mean, if you are looking for something to do.”

Imagine that: a creature of academia that wants to do away with capitalism! 

Some interesting data addressing emissions is the “BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2018” chart showing the ten countries with the largest reductions of CO2 emissions and the ten countries with largest increases in CO2 emissions.

Leading the world in reductions in CO2 emissions in 2017 is – wait for it – the United States with more than 40 tons of reductions. The next three are the Ukraine, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. At the other end the four with as much or more in increases as the U.S. had in reductions are:
* the European Union - 40+ million tons
* Turkey – 40+ million tons
* India – 90+ million tons
* China – nearly 120 million tons

America leads the world in CO2 reductions, but four contributors each negate America’s efforts. One contributor produces twice as much as we reduced, and another produces four times what we reduced. And yet, America must do more, they say. 

The Earth has been heating and cooling for thousands, probably millions, of years; warming and cooling periods are not unusual. The terms “global warming” and “climate change” do not adequately illustrate how the Earth’s global temperature behaves. 

To provide some understanding, a chart produced by climatologist Cliff Harris and meteorologist Randy Mann covering temperatures from 2500 B.C. up to the present and looking ahead to 2038 A.D. shows the warming and cooling cycles, and should assist in understanding what is happening. 

In this 4500-year period, there have been at least 75 major temperature swings, the chart explains. The warmest temperature occurred in 1100 B.C., and the coolest temperature, by far, occurred in The Little Ice Age sometime near 1600 A.D. The warmest “recent” temperature occurred in about 1300 A.D. For most of the 4500 years, no numbers are used to indicate temperatures.

The normal temperature is 57°F. The warmest temperature using actual numbers was 58.3°F in 1998, and the coldest was estimated at 54.3°F in The Little Ice Age in 1600 A.D. The recent temperature span indicated by these two data points was approximately 4°F.

On the chart, the projected high temperature in 2038 is approximately the same as the high temperature in 1100 B.C., but is not represented by a number.

“Why shouldn’t we be quite as worried,” Shapiro asks, “as the Left would argue about global warming? Because people are good at adapting. The changes that we’re talking about don’t happen overnight – they happen over the course of decades. And that means that the impact is spread out over the course of decades, too, and against a backdrop of global growth.”

Certainly, this information must be willingly received and considered. But given the strong scientific data challenging the catastrophic predictions, the past manipulation of data and the “green money” influence enjoyed by the climate change scientific community, and America’s world-leading record of CO2 emission reductions, any sacrifice needed to combat climate change must come from other nations.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Leftists take protected rights to their illogical extreme


Gertrude Himmelfarb, a brilliant observer of society and culture, had this to say about the state of American society many years ago: “The litigious temper of the times is a consequence of the decline of civility and the concomitant proliferation of ‘rights’ — legal rights in place of the manners and morals that once arbitrated disagreements and disputes. In this sense the law has become not so much the aid and abettor of manners and morals as a substitute for them.”

Those who want to focus on “rights” as if they are sacrosanct and exist in a vacuum will instantly jump upon this insightful piece of reality. Do they truly believe that the mere fact that a person has the right to do something absolves that person of the repercussions of exercising that right, particularly when they push the limits beyond reason?

The answer is “yes.” That is precisely what they believe, because nothing is as important to these folks as their own desires. It’s okay, they say, to have a “society” as long as what’s good for the many does not interfere with what’s good for “me.”

Such a philosophy makes it impossible to maintain a society that, by definition, requires individuals to sacrifice a “few” of their abundant rights for the good of the many, or for a few, or even for one. For example, maybe Dan doesn’t have to remind his friend Julie at her mother’s funeral that her mother had too much to drink over the last three decades, even though he has the right to do so.

Personal selfishness and the assertion of individual rights to the exclusion of what is good for the whole of society, or parts of it, is a recipe for societal collapse, and we see substantial movement toward that frightening possibility every day.

And there is likely no better example of this than the atmosphere surrounding the nomination and confirmation hearing of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Such behavior has been on the increase in recent years, and peaked – hopefully – in this disgusting display of individual rights being taken to their ridiculous extreme.

I’m not arguing here about the nomination itself, or whether the judge should have been confirmed or not, but about the crazed behavior of those poor, misguided souls who not only oppose the confirmation, but who do so from a position of ignorance of civics and fairness, and the idea that they can do as they please.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees us “the freedom of speech … and the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

None of which guarantees anyone the right to say anything they want at any time or at any place, or do anything they want in the name of free speech, and it specifically limits assembly to being peaceable.

It does not, for example, encourage people to attend a formal proceeding of the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives, or a function of a committee thereof, and scream and interfere with the conducting of a formal process.

It also does not protect a group that confronts a peaceable assembly and attempts to intimidate the group, or worse to commit violence against its members, such as what the fascist Antifa gangs do, particularly when private property is destroyed. Prosecution is needed.

Many of these folks are factually challenged, having insufficient knowledge of our system and how it works.

The #MeToo movement is prime territory for serious errors. In response to inexcusable sexual assaults against females, society has largely accepted an accusation as truth. Many times – perhaps most times – such an allegation is true and accurate, but not always.

Let’s travel to Zelienople, Pennsylvania, where five female schoolmates accused a high school boy of sexual assault on two separate occasions in a 27-page complaint filed against him. One instance was said to have occurred at the Zelienople Community Pool where he worked, and the other at a private home.

The boy was fired from his job at the pool, endured multiple court appearances, was placed in a juvenile detention facility and also in home detention, was subjected to months of bullying from kids at school, had his reputation forever damaged, and faced the possibility of criminal penalties.

After some time had passed, some of the girls admitted that they had conspired to mount false accusations against the boy.

In this instance, some of the worst that could happen did happen. Fortunately, the boy’s parents have taken action to deliver justice to the parties who slandered their son, and to hopefully restore his reputation.

They have filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh against the Seneca Valley School District in Butler County (which did nothing after learning that the charges were false), District Attorney Richard Goldinger, and the parents of the five teenage girls who falsely accused the boy of sexual assault.

Perhaps some criminal statutes were also breached.

Let us hope for this unfairly damaged family that all of these scoundrels are severely punished. Perhaps the news of severe and just punishment against false accusers will serve to dampen future false accusations.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Fraud and circuses: the political trashing of Brett Kavanaugh

Perhaps the only thing Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, can agree on concerning the ongoing saga of Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court is that it has not closed the divide between the sides, but has driven them further apart.

Picking up where they left off after Borking a nominee in 1987, and conducting a high-tech lynching of another four years later, the Democrats on the Committee have a new theme: Obfuscate, assassinate, dance to the music. So far, they are 1 for 2 in this disgraceful game.

On the claim of one woman about a tragic event she said was perpetrated on her by the nominee 36 years ago, but who was unable to identify the exact time or place of the event, and had zero supporting evidence, Committee Democrats undertook to use this allegation to oppose the nomination. 

Kavanaugh is a man who has served in some high profile positions in our government, including 12 years on the bench of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, all of which required him passing an FBI background check – six, to be exact – none of which turned up even the faint odor of bad behavior, which agrees with the scores of people who attested to his high character.

This horribly flawed process obviously had horrible effects on the nominee and his beautiful family, but also did great harm to the star witness, who apparently originally sought anonymity, but whose identity Democrats revealed.

This most recent ploy in this Delayocrat circus illustrates dramatically the high level of desperation over the possible seating of Kavanaugh on the High Court. He is an originalist, and he will tilt the Court toward actually following the Constitution and laws as they were written and intended.

The Left understands all too well that their plan to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” cannot be achieved, or will certainly be much more difficult and take much longer, if the judiciary follows the intent of the governing document of the nation and its laws.

They hoped to delay confirmation until the mid-term election is over, after which they may take control of the Senate and will sack the nominee and not confirm anyone except additional activist justices. 

Or better yet, trash his character to the point he may withdraw as the nominee, President Donald Trump may withdraw the nomination, or the Senate will reject him.

People who have been assaulted should be heard, of course. If their story is credible, it should be investigated. 

Credibility, however, involves not only presenting one’s self in a strong, sincere manner, but also having some supporting material.

In this case, Cristine Blasey Ford’s statement, while compelling, was weak on facts: she didn’t know when or where the assault occurred; didn’t know how she got there or got home after; it lacked corroboration; no actual evidence, let alone proof, was offered; there were no witnesses provided; people cited to support her story denied having been there or knowing anything about it.

Furthermore, there are inconsistencies, such as this world traveler claims she is afraid to fly. 

People believe Ford because she was compelling, convincing. Have you ever gone to a movie, a play. Those folks are compelling, too. A compelling story isn’t proof; it is just a compelling story. Whether someone did or did not do something must be based on facts, not emotion.

All of which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but the claim is not supported, and certainly does not justify denying Kavanaugh this seat on the Supreme Court, or trashing his reputation and his family. 

The Committee Democrats know this – the whole world knows this – but they will not be dissuaded by reality. Politics is more important to them.

In America, people are not punished for unsubstantiated accusations against them. This is the stuff of third world hellholes.

In America, we believe in the presumption of innocence. Some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee actually stated that this applies in court activities, but not in this hearing. Which is, of course, absurd and stupid.

Any Senator who actually believes this, or who pretends to believe it for political purposes is not fit for the office and should be removed.

It ought to scare the daylights out of every real American to realize that people serving on the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate do not understand or believe in this fundamental principle.

Are these the people we want in important positions in our government?

The Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats have totally redefined the idea of “rock bottom.” Their desperation is palpable. Kavanaugh must be stopped. Integrity be damned. The ends justify the means; anything goes, even character assassination and unproved accusations.

In the meantime the third in this series of gutter behavior has forever damaged the nomination process. Who, facing a similar slanderous and defamatory spectacle that makes the Salem Witch Trials look like a kindergarten exercise, will be willing to endure having their life turned upside down for a judicial position?

Brett Kavanaugh’s excellent credentials mean that he should be unanimously confirmed to the United States Supreme Court. Immediately. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The negative stigma of addiction is hampering effective treatment

Our country faces some serious problems today, as it has throughout its history. One of the most serious, one that claims the lives of thousands of Americans each year, is death from opioid overdoses.

This comes as no surprise to most of us, but perhaps the scale of the problem and the difficulties faced in addressing it might surprise many of us.

Facts about opioid abuse:
** In 2016 opioid overdoses killed 13 of every 100,000 people across the nation.
** America makes up about 4 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 27 percent of the world’s drug overdose deaths.
** On average, 175 Americans die every day from overdoses.
** Someone dies every 8 minutes from an opioid addiction.
** Overdoses kill more people than gun violence or car crashes.
** In 2017, more people died of an unintended drug overdose than in the entire 20-year Vietnam War conflict.
** Opioid prescriptions dispensed in 2006 were about 213 million, but rose to a peak of more than 250 million in 2012, before returning to 2006 levels four years later.

Where do people get these dangerous drugs?  Most get them from friends or relatives, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that those at highest risk of overdose are as likely to get them from a prescription issued by a physician.

Illegal drugs sales are also an important element, and synthetic drugs like fentanyl and other super-potent opioids pour into the U.S. through international mail and private carriers, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports.

Obviously, better control of legally dispensed drugs is needed, and stronger enforcement of drug laws is a must. But the other side of this coin is the way drug addicts are treated medically, and much work needs to be done there, too.

Treatment of addictions is difficult, and made more so by obstacles to using treatments effectively. Not the least of these is that our healthcare system regards addiction as a mental health problem, not a physical health problem, and the two are treated differently. Mental health problems have a lower priority than physical health problems, and therefore are underfunded, under-treated and less actively researched.

Given the lower priority, it is not surprising that the treatment protocols are antiquated. While the recent frightening increase in addiction and addiction-related deaths has brought long-needed attention to the problem, there is much to do in using available methods and effective drugs to maximize effective treatment. Surprisingly, abstinence programs and programs similar to Alcoholics Anonymous do not work well with opioid addiction.

The reality is that most people with addictions are not receiving any medical treatment, and many or most of those who are being treated are not receiving the most effective care.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only about one in ten people with a substance use disorder receive any type of treatment.

In his most recent book, Trump’s America,Newt Gingrich, in a chapter titled “Let’s Trump Addiction,” explains that there is a better way to treat the drug addicted. “The research is unequivocal that behavioral therapy combined with recovery medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and Suboxone, is the most effective way to treat opioid addiction.” This type of treatment, studies show, can reduce the mortality rate of drug-addicted patients by half or more.

Strangely, despite the strong support for this type of treatment, fewer than 3 percent of treatment programs offer all three of the effective medications available to fight opioid addiction.

Gingrich comments, “This is a problem because each of the three recovery medications in the market has its own benefits and drawbacks. There is not a one-size-fits-all opioid addiction medication.”

He cites examples of the “simple bias” against mental health issues being applied to physical health problems, noting that these barriers would be “absurd, illegal and unethical” if applied to physical health problems. But they are somehow acceptable when applied to addiction and other mental health problems.

Both insurers and Medicaid have not yet realized that their current approach to treating addiction actually prevents the most effective treatments for these problems because they interfere with the use of the three medications. Or, if they have realized it, they have not yet removed those barriers.

Doing so would save thousands of lives – which is the most important outcome – but they would also save millions of dollars that are now spent on the drug addiction problem.

Citing the Surgeon General’s Report, Gingrich explained that every dollar we invest saves money, listing these findings:
** $1 for brief primary care addiction intervention saves $27 across the system;
** $1 for addiction intervening at a hospital saves over $36 or $9 in the emergency room;
** $1 for treating substance abuse saves $4 in overall health care costs, and $7 in criminal justice costs by preventing the cycle of recidivism that often accompanies addiction.

Many people view addiction as something other than a disease, but Gingrich summarizes this chapter by saying, “Addiction is not a moral failing or a lack of strong will. It is not a choice, it is a disease.” That negative stigma plays a significant role in hampering effective treatment.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Left’s behavior of late is unworthy of elected officials

Many Democrats and liberals are driving themselves, and everyone else, crazy over Donald Trump, not because he’s so bad, but because they simply don’t like him, and as president good things have been accomplished.

Sure, he’s far out of the mainstream of recent presidents, although there is history on his side of presidents behaving ungentlemanly. And he is objectionably crass, at times, in his public comments on Twitter. His thin-skinned responses are often brattish.

This behavior greatly aggravates what seems the likely basis for the Left’s historic hysterics: Trump, whose candidacy was laughed at and roundly ridiculed, won the election, beating 16 Republican hopefuls as well as the person whose turn it was to be POTUS and the first of her gender to hold that office. They haven’t been able to muster the character needed to accept the decision of the American people.

This reaction to Trump has resulted in at least one dramatic turnaround: Once a major source of fun and comedy – with folks like Johnny Carson, Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, Robin Williams and others – TV, particularly late night TV, has become dismal “one-trick pony” dreck, and humor these days comes instead from a former president who thinks he was the greatest.

The worst thing on this Earth, for the Left, is for Trump to succeed by doing almost the exact opposite of what they want for the country. The economy is good, jobs are being created, worker satisfaction is up, unemployment is down, and people like those “crummy” tax cuts, to name a few things.

And then there is the Neil Gorsuch confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court and now the Brett Kavanaugh nomination.

The horror of merely imagining what might happen with two new justices who understand and follow the language and meaning of the U.S. Constitution and our laws is great, indeed, for the Left. This judicial philosophy is a substantial barrier to their desire to transform America into a virtual opposite of its original design, the greatness and originality of which are unmatched in history.

And so, the Left designed methods to disrupt the hearing and delay the process of confirmation.

They scripted disruptive questions by committee members in the first minute of the formal hearing, and then screaming protests from employed protesters, as well as demands for even more than the huge number of documents on Kavanaugh’s past judicial performance already provided to satisfy the Democrat Committee members who, before he had even been chosen, pledged to vote against the nominee. They asked foolish questions and falsely bragged of an “I am Spartacus” moment.

The number of documents “demanded” compared to other nominees: 2.5 times the number for any other nominee had been provided as of Sept. 4. But, of course, if Democrats can’t see everything related to him, he’s not qualified. Conceivably, they would like to see Kavanaugh’s elementary school notes passed to classmates.

Committee Democrats and the hired hands did themselves proud, were perfect clowns in the confirmation hearing, sans the floppy shoes and bulbous noses, behaving like fifth graders (with apologies to actual fifth graders).

But even with the self-satisfaction they experienced, the best was yet to come. There was another trick up their sleeve – the September Surprise – which was needed since their previous plan failed to convince the Republican majority to ditch the nomination, or to delay the process while new obstructions were developed.

Committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, delivered the prize. She had a letter accusing Kavanaugh of some sort of improper relationship with a girl in high school more than three decades back. Initially, the accuser insisted on remaining anonymous, and details were not provided. The letter had been in Feinstein’s possession for about three months. Then suddenly, at almost the last possible moment, the accuser agrees to go public.

Feinstein turned it over to the FBI for investigation, and the Committee Democrats, having been given a heart transplant to prolong the life of their desperate attempt, want delays or, better yet, a withdrawal from the nominee.

It is possible there is truth behind this accusation. But this last-minute development raises several questions. If Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior actually happened, why wasn’t it important enough to report it 36 years ago? If it was actually a valid complaint, why provide the letter but not allow its use during the hearing when the Committee was looking for the good and bad things about Kavanaugh? After six FBI background checks on Kavanaugh for federal positions, why did this never come up?

At best, this event looks bad It’s a case of she said, he said, and there seems to be no actual evidence. It supports the idea that the Democrats are in desperation mode. Even Feinstein’s home-state newspaper, theSan Francisco Chronicle, criticized her. 

Before this accusation came along, two of Kavanaugh’s former law clerks enthusiastically supported the way he treated them. And since the accusation sixty-five women from his past have signed a letter of support for his treatment of females.

Whether Kavanaugh is confirmed or not, let us hope that this is the last episode of this circus-like behavior that Americans are subjected to.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Corporate deep pockets attract attention in legal actions

Millions of Americans hate big corporations, suspect them of acting in their own best interest, to the detriment of the rest of us, and delight in corporations being put in their place. Sometimes they have good reasons for this; sometimes not. But let’s face it: legal actions against these corporate giants are sometimes justified, and give people harmed by a product or action of a corporation deserved monetary compensation.

With that in mind, this item from farmfutures.com tells about “Lee Johnson, a former school groundskeeper whose doctors didn’t think he’d live long enough learn the verdict, prevailed Friday in San Francisco state court after jurors deliberated for three days” on his damage suit.

The story went on to say that the “trial was an important test of the evidence against Monsanto and will serve as a template for litigating thousands of other claims” over Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

Johnson got less than he was asking; being awarded only $39 million of the $412 million he sought in damages. An additional $250 million was added to punish Monsanto after finding it liable for a design defect and failing to warn consumers of Roundup’s risks. Monsanto has said it will appeal the award in this the first trial over claims that the Roundup weed killer causes cancer.

Roundup is the world’s most popular and widely used herbicide, and its main ingredient – glyphosate – was approved for use way back in 1974. Monsanto defends the ingredient as perfectly safe, however, a cadre of opponents of glyphosate that includes environmentalists, regulators, researchers, and lawyers, hotly challenge that claim.

The Wall Street Journaladded some important information to this story. An editorial described the plaintiff’s attorneys’ approach to persuading the jury of Monsanto’s responsibility in Johnson’s cancer, as “junk science.”

The Journalwent on to explain that “the problem … is that there’s overwhelming scientific evidence that glyphosate does not cause cancer,” and quoted the Journal of National Cancer Institute study of 45,000 licensed pesticide applicators exposed to glyphosate which found “no evidence of an association between glyphosate use and risk of any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies including non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”

The editorial further cited the Environmental Protection Agency as concluding that glyphosate is safe. “In December 2017, the US Environmental Protection Agency released the draft human health risk assessment for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup,” according to North Carolina State University’s Patrick Maxwell, M.S. and Travis Gannon, Ph.D. “The human health assessment concluded that ‘glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans’ and found ‘no other meaningful risks to human health’ when used in accordance with label instructions,” they wrote.

This seems to be a classic case of “he said, he said.” Both sides have advocates with solid credentials who advocate each position.

Sometimes, however, emotions trump factual evidence. And who isn’t sympathetic to Lee Johnson, whose cancer may end his life early. And there is also the factor of which legal team did its job best.

But then there’s the very real factor that big companies have deep pockets, and therefore are prime targets. A good example of this is the current rampant overuse of drugs, and the blame often being laid at the feet of Big Pharma.

Pharmaceutical companies’ business is identifying serious medical problems affecting lots of people, and working to develop drugs to help them, not to hurt them, and our government has implemented a long, slow process to require drugs to meet strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards before they are approved for use.

Even the government, however, cannot prevent the misuse of items for sale, and virtually everything can be dangerous under the right circumstances. Step ladders, baseballs, automobiles are all sometimes dangerous.

It also cannot guarantee that drugs might not end up in the hands of someone who is allergic to one or more of them. People are allergic to milk, vitamin C and sunshine, and nearly everything else.

A single drug getting to market on average results from100 or more formulas developed for testing. Promising formulas must get through a process that takes on average 12 to 15 years, and costs one-to-two billion dollars. And they only get patent protection for a maximum of 20 years from the time it is applied for, which frequently occurs early in the testing process.

This leaves a relatively short time to recoup the sky-high research costs, so that the company has money to invest in finding the next needed drug.

Why would companies send out millions of doses of an expensive product, as they are accused of, without someone ordering and paying for it? Yet, state attorneys general and other attorneys are suing drug companies, blaming them for the drug epidemic.

It seems more reasonable to look at prescribing physicians, drug distributors, and outright criminal conduct for how and why these drugs are available to people to use them improperly, resulting in much suffering and needless death.

All of which is not to say that large companies don’t sometimes do things wrong. And when that happens, they should be punished.

But they should not be an automatic target of lawsuits, as they often are.