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Inside the Beltway: Media primed for Kavanaugh hearings

They’re likely ready with foregone conclusions and dire warnings. Big media appears poised to offer a volley of unfriendly coverage at Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. But wait. This practice has been going on since the evening of July 9, when President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh for Supreme Court justice, prompting multiple journalists to portray the federal judge as a pro-life partisan who could change the highest court in the land, and the nation itself.

“The spectacle will surely be ugly,” predicted Vanity Fair within hours of Mr. Trump’s announcement.

The Senate hearing itself begins with pleasant formalities. Judge Kavanaugh will be introduced by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican; and Lisa Blatt, a self-described liberal lawyer who has argued 35 cases before the Supreme Court and wrote an op-ed for Politico, calling the nominee a “superstar” and applauding his qualifications.

“Democrats should quit attacking Kavanaugh — full stop. It is unbecoming to block him simply because they want to, and they risk alienating intelligent people who see the obvious: He is the most qualified conservative for the job,” Ms. Blatt noted in early August.

The media, however, could be immune to such wisdom. The lead-up coverage to Judge Kavanaugh’s initial appearance is already percolating, and could grow louder as the hearings intensify. A few headlines of note from the last 24 hours:

“The Supreme Court confirmation charade” (The New York Times); “Five reasons Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is controversial” (USA Today); “High Court pick Kavanaugh and his carefully constructed life” (PBS); “What we know about the money behind Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight” (Huffington Post); “Brett Kavanaugh hearings are the start of something big” (CNN); “Welcome to the Brett Kavanaugh Show” (New York magazine); and “Kavanaugh scrutiny like basketball game’s last minutes” (Fox News).


“Lexington-area tourism group beefs up marketing in wake of Red Hen controversy,” The Roanoke Times reports — referencing the Virginia restaurant that refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family in June, resulting in a “slew of negative national media coverage,” the newspaper said.

The regional tourism group has been using $ 5,000 from their emergency funds each month since the incident to craft new positive marketing messages and conduct consumer surveys — this after receiving thousands of complaints.

“Typically the money is saved. But each locality agreed the region was in desperate need of positive coverage after The Red Hen incident,” The Roanoke Times said.


The 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks looms, and analysis of those events continues. On Tuesday, the Cato Institute will stage a policy forum titled “The NSA and the Road to 9/11: Lessons Learned and Unlearned” in the nation’s capital.

“Almost 17 years after al Qaeda’s attacks on America, many key questions remain unanswered. Chief among them: why did America’s National Security Agency (NSA) fail to detect and thwart the attacks? Has the NSA as an institution learned the right lessons from this national tragedy and changed accordingly? What has Congress done — or failed to do — since the attacks to improve intelligence collection while still protecting American’s constitutional rights?” the organizers ask.

They describe the participants as “former federal officials who were key players in the effort inside the NSA and on Capitol Hill to prevent the 9/11 disaster and to reform NSA’s approach to surveillance in the years after.”

They are: William Binney, a former NSA crypto-mathematician; Kirk Wiebe, former NSA senior analyst; Edward Loomis, former NSA computer systems analyst; Thomas Drake, former NSA Senior Executive Service member; and Diane Roark, former staff member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The event will be moderated by Patrick Eddington, homeland security and civil liberties policy analyst for the Cato Institute. The two-hour event will be covered by C-SPAN at 10 a.m. EDT, and streamed live at Cato.org/live.


Libertarians are likely to break a midterm election record with candidates for partisan office on ballots in every state says the national Libertarian Party, citing Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News.

“It is likely that the Libertarian Party will have at least one nominee for a federal or state office on the ballot in all 50 states in November 2018, for the first time in a midterm year,” Mr. Winger writes. “In 2014, there were no Libertarians on the ballot for any federal or state office in Alabama, Maine, or New Mexico. Ever since the U.S. has had 50 states, starting in 1959, there has never before been any third party that had a candidate for federal or state office in the ballot in all 50 states in a midterm year.”


“Market research shows 45 million Americans, about one in eight, wear contact lenses, meaning the United States alone consumes somewhere between five and 14 billion lenses annually. And now, new research shows all those contact lenses may end up as micro-plastic pollution in our soil, rivers, and oceans,” notes Jackie Flynn Mogensen, assistant editor at Mother Jones, referencing a new study from Arizona State University.

Some 20 percent of contact-lens wearers flush their lenses down the sink or toilet, rather than placing them in the trash as industry experts recommend. That amounts to 20 metric tons of plastic get flushed per year — about the weight of a small airplane,” Mr. Mogensen observes.

“Here’s the bottom line: Put those lenses, if you use them, into the solid waste stream, meaning in your garbage can, and encourage the manufacturers of contact lenses to provide recycling opportunities,” lead researcher Rolf Halden told the publication.


57 percent of Americans disapprove of how Congress is “handling its job”; 45 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

15 percent overall approve of the job Congress is doing; 20 percent of Republicans, 8 percent of independents and 9 percent of Democrats agree.

15 percent overall are “not sure” about of the job Congress is doing; 9 percent of Republicans, 23 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats agree.

14 percent overall “neither approve or disapprove” of the job Congress is doing; 15 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of independents and 12 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 26-28.

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