The Ka­vanaugh de­ba­cle cost the Democrats a chance to win the Se­nate

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group Buf­falo Spe­cial­ists can help treat ad­dic­tions to va­p­ing, to­bacco East Au­rora Ton­awanda Or­chard Park Buf­falo

WASH­ING­TON – Brett Ka­vanaugh must have been smil­ing as the re­turns came in on Elec­tion Day, be­cause it is now clear that the Democrats’ cam­paign to de­stroy him will go down as a mas­sive blun­der. It failed to keep Ka­vanaugh off the court. It cost Democrats their chance to re­gain con­trol of the Se­nate. And it gave Repub­li­cans an ex­panded Se­nate ma­jor­ity that will al­low them to con­firm an even more con­ser­va­tive jus­tice next time around.

To­day, Ka­vanaugh sits on the Supreme Court hear­ing cases. Mean­while, Demo­cratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, N.D., Joe Don­nelly, Ind., and Claire McCaskill, Mo., are pack­ing up their Se­nate of­fices – thrown out by vot­ers fu­ri­ous over their party’s bru­tal cam­paign of char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion against Ka­vanaugh. Sen. Joe Manchin, W.Va., was the only Demo­crat who voted for Ka­vanaugh, and he sur­vived – but just barely. Two weeks be­fore Elec­tion Day, Manchin was lead­ing by dou­ble dig­its, but on Tues­day night he won by just over three points. Had he voted against Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion, he would likely have been toast as well.

The Democrats’ smear cam­paign also cost them the chance to pick up GOP seats. In Ten­nessee, Rep. Mar­sha Black­burn was trail­ing for­mer Demo­cratic gover­nor Phil Bre­desen by five points in a CNN poll be­fore the Ka­vanaugh hear­ings. She ended up win­ning by just un­der 11 points, as the Democrats’ mis­treat­ment of Ka­vanaugh united Ten­nessee Repub­li­cans be­hind her. The Ka­vanaugh smear no doubt also played a role in en­er­giz­ing GOP vot­ers in Ari­zona, where Repub­li­can Rep. Martha McSally ap­pears to have squeezed out a nar­row vic­tory, and in Texas, where Sen. Ted Cruz de­feated Rep. Beto O’Rourke by just 2.6 points in one of the red­dest states in the union.

None of that might have been pos­si­ble had it not been for the Democrats’ hor­rific treat­ment of Ka­vanaugh. As Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell put it, the failed ef­fort to stop Ka­vanaugh was “like an adren­a­line shot” for the GOP base. Repub­li­can vot­ers were out­raged to see a good man ac­cused, with­out a shred of cor­rob­o­ra­tion, of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a teenage girl, ex­pos­ing him­self to a col­lege class­mate and par­tic­i­pat­ing in gang rapes in high school. They were dis­gusted by Se­nate Democrats’ in­sis­tence that the bur­den was on Ka­vanaugh to prove he didn’t do it and by Democrats’ bla­tant dis­re­gard for the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence. They were en­er­gized by Ka­vanaugh’s will­ing­ness to fight back and de­clare his treat­ment by Democrats a “na­tional dis­grace.” And they pun­ished the per­pe­tra­tors of that dis­grace at the polls on Tues­day.

Now Repub­li­cans have not only an ex­panded Se­nate ma­jor­ity but also a pro-life ma­jor­ity. Re­ports in­di­cated that Trump was close to nom­i­nat­ing Judge Amy Coney Bar­rett, a de­vout Catholic and mother of seven, to re­place re­tir­ing Jus­tice An­thony Kennedy. Bar­rett be­came a folk hero among re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives af­ter Di­ane Fe­in­stein, Calif., rank­ing Demo­crat on the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, grilled her over her Catholic faith dur­ing her con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings as a judge on the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the 7th Cir­cuit last year. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Fe­in­stein told Bar­rett, sug­gest­ing that her faith dis­qual­i­fied her. That out­raged con­ser­va­tives, who rightly cas­ti­gated Fe­in­stein for ap­ply­ing an un­con­sti­tu­tional re­li­gious test on Trump’s nom­i­nee. As Har­vard Law School pro­fes­sor Noah Feld­man ex­plained, Fe­in­stein “in­sin­u­ated an anti-Catholic stereo­type that goes back at least 150 years in the U.S. – that Catholics are un­able to sep­a­rate church and state be­cause they place their re­li­gious al­le­giances be­fore their oath to the Constitution.”

Bar­rett was con­firmed for the Cir­cuit Court. But when it came to the Supreme Court, Trump cal­cu­lated that with a ra­zor thin-GOP ma­jor­ity he needed what was sup­posed to be a safer pick and went with Ka­vanaugh in­stead. Now, with an ex­panded, pro-life Se­nate ma­jor­ity, Trump no longer has to worry about los­ing a few GOP votes next time around.

At ev­ery stage of re­cent Supreme Court fights, Democrats have mis­cal­cu­lated. Their mind­less de­ci­sion to fil­i­buster Neil Gor­such paved the way for Se­nate Repub­li­cans to get rid of the fil­i­buster for Supreme Court nom­i­nees -- which made it pos­si­ble to con­firm Ka­vanaugh by sim­ple ma­jor­ity. And if Bar­rett ever makes it onto the Supreme Court, Democrats can thank their hor­rific, defam­a­tory treat­ment Ka­vanaugh.

The les­son for Democrats should be clear: Char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion does not pay. Quite the op­po­site, it back­fired – big-time.

Marc Thiessen

The Nov. 3 An­other Voice by the Grand Is­land re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tor misses the mark badly. She blames the church cri­sis on ca­pit­u­la­tion (her word) to sec­u­lar in­flu­ences since the 1960s. The author posits that pro­gres­sive lib­er­al­ism and athe­ist-in­spired in­flu­ences are at fault.

She gives no thought that over gen­er­a­tions good peo­ple within the faith might seek en­light­en­ment, knowl­edge and greater in­sight and now feel em­pow­ered to think and rea­son for them­selves.

Like so many in West­ern New York I had nuns and priests in the ’50s and ’60s. There was no room for crit­i­cal think­ing or ques­tion­ing. It was all mem­o­riza­tion and fear of mor­tal and ve­nial sin (re­mem­ber those?).

From early cen­turies the Catholic Church man­dated the dogma of The Trin­ity, Orig­i­nal Sin, rit­u­als and pa­ter­nal­ism dat­ing back to the Coun­cil of Ni­caea 325 AD. The church hi­er­ar­chy ra­di­ated ar­ro­gance and a self-ap­pointed au­thor­ity. They got away with their fic­tion by fright­en­ing fol­low­ers such that il­lit­er­ate, sim­ple peo­ple in the Dark Ages be­lieved that heaven was an ac­tual place, up in the sky, and hell was a place, down be­low in the earth. Maybe you could still pos­tu­late such non­sense now with sec­ond-graders but that’s about all.

It was the cor­rupt, pow­er­ful Ro­man Church that ex­e­cuted Gior­dano Bruno and im­pris­oned Galileo in re­sponse to their amaz­ing sci­en­tific achieve­ments about the so­lar sys­tem that helped move hu­man­ity out of the Dark Ages. Th­ese were men of faith who sought knowl­edge. And the re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tor cites pa­pal en­cycli­cals and a re­turn to “Church au­thor­i­ta­tive teach­ing.” This re­flects the think­ing of peo­ple who des­per­ately de­sire to be sub­servient and want to be told how to be­have.

David Casassa

On Sept. 12 the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion de­clared teen va­p­ing an epi­demic shortly af­ter the start of a new school year. The use of the Elec­tronic Nico­tine De­liv­ery Sys­tems (ENDS) was in­tended to tar­get adults who are try­ing to quit us­ing com­bustible cig­a­rettes. In­stead, th­ese de­vices are now in the hands of 2 mil­lion mid­dle school, high school and col­lege stu­dents.

Reg­u­la­tions alone will not stop teens from va­p­ing. A teen’s pe­di­a­tri­cian should be on the front line ask­ing, ad­vis­ing and as­sist­ing teens with a plan to quit be­fore this nico­tine use turns into a life­long ad­dic­tion.

Doc­tors, nurses and health ed­u­ca­tors have a unique op­por­tu­nity to screen pa­tients, dis­cuss mis­con­cep­tions, coun­sel and fol­low up re­gard­ing e-cig­a­rettes. Teens should avoid any form of to­bacco, in­clud­ing ENDS, and providers talk­ing to youth about e-cig­a­rette us­age can sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the suc­cess of ces­sa­tion.

How­ever, in or­der for providers to coun­sel on e-cig­a­rettes, they too must be well in­formed about the dan­gers of th­ese prod­ucts.

Re­fer­ring to a to­bacco treat­ment spe­cial­ist or an ad­dic­tion coun­selor is an added in­ter­ven­tion pe­di­a­tri­cians can take to ad­dress this epi­demic. Alexan­dria Trim­ble Health ed­u­ca­tion spe­cial­ist Ni­a­gara Falls bank­rupt af­ter los­ing money from the casi­nos? Why doesn’t the state help with the ren­o­va­tion of the city to make it a tourist at­trac­tion as demon­strated by the Cana­dian side of the falls? Most tourists pre­fer the On­tario at­trac­tions and ac­com­mo­da­tions be­cause their gov­ern­ment has in­vested in the in­fra­struc­ture of the city.

On the other side of the state, New York City is de­bat­ing over who should pay for the an­ti­quated MTA sys­tem. Why is a city that has tourism as a sig­nif­i­cant an­nual in­come and a pop­u­la­tion of 8.6 mil­lion un­able to fund this nec­es­sary up­grade? Why is the state not tak­ing on th­ese is­sues to in­crease the de­sir­abil­ity and qual­ity of life for the cit­i­zens of this state?

Why are we the high­est taxed state in the na­tion and yet have so many de­fi­cien­cies? Where’s the money?

Amy Erick­son

Sup­ply-side eco­nom­ics led to our stark na­tional di­vide

Four decades ago the idea of a gov­ern­ment pol­icy which ad­vo­cates shift­ing our wealth, man­u­fac­tur­ing and tech­nol­ogy to coun­tries with philo­soph­i­cally op­po­site dis­po­si­tions would have been the sub­ject for the House Un-Amer­i­can Ac­tiv­i­ties. The in­au­gu­ra­tion of th­ese in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized sup­ply-side, sub­ver­sive poli­cies dur­ing the Rea­gan years has led to a stark na­tional di­vide be­tween bil­lion­aires and the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of work­ing poor.

The win­ners who own and con­trol al­most all the me­dia and most of both ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties are do­ing ev­ery­thing in their power to main­tain this pro­gram that of­fers un­reg­u­lated ad­van­tages to for­eign man­u­fac­tur­ers against our na­tional in­ter­ests.

Dur­ing this time of ex­treme po­lar­ity blame is in­vari­ably trussed upon the op­po­site po­lit­i­cal num­ber. The in­equity is sys­tem­atic and not the ex­press prop­erty of any re­cent ma­jor po­lit­i­cal play­ers. How­ever there has been a fail­ure on the part of all sub­se­quent ad­min­is­tra­tions to rec­og­nize th­ese prob­lems and take cor­rec­tive ac­tion.

Re­cent nat­u­ral dis­as­ters high­light our mu­tual de­pen­dence on each other. Those vic­tims who would de­pend ex­clu­sively on “global” in­ter­ests for sal­va­tion, would die in place, as would be in the case in in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary con­flict. What bet­ter method for uni­ver­sal in­struc­tion, shared re­spon­si­bil­ity and equa­nim­ity than re­in­sti­tut­ing the draft?

Be­ing in­spired by bonafide and tested pa­tri­ots like Tru­man, Eisen­hower and Kennedy is one thing, but the days of de­cid­ing elec­tions ex­clu­sively on the ba­sis of me­dia acu­men and af­fa­bil­ity should be gone for­ever. Such is the ar­se­nal of ac­tors and char­la­tans, who have the proven abil­ity to fool us.

Louis L. Boehm

Idling of our car en­gines is costly to us and the planet

It’s good to see more peo­ple pulling their cars over to the curb while us­ing their de­vices, in­stead of driv­ing while tex­ting or while talk­ing on their cell­phone.

Even bet­ter would be to shut off the en­gine, too. Idling causes wear on the en­gine, and in­creases fuel con­sump­tion and pol­lu­tion, which is bad for hu­man and plan­e­tary health. Idling for only 10 sec­onds uses more fuel than shut­ting off the en­gine and restart­ing the car.

Re­mote car starters pose the same prob­lems, plus the car will warm up faster from driv­ing than idling. There’s noth­ing good about idling a car, and avoid­ing it is a sim­ple way to help your car, your bud­get, your health, and the en­vi­ron­ment.

This may seem a small thing, but enough of us do­ing it will make a dif­fer­ence.

Tim De­ne­sha

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