In a speech to New Hampshire Democrats that some speculate is a first step toward a 2020 POTUS bid, actor and activist Alec Baldwin chose provocation over policy by declaring repeatedly that Democrats must “overthrow the government of Donald Trump.” Baldwin, who spoke for less than 20 minutes to an audience of 700 in a Manchester ballroom, was careful to state clearly that the method of “overthrow” was the ballot box.

There are no solutions to complex problems — except when the problem becomes so complex it must have a simple solution. That is the paradox thrown up by global warming and the shattering report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report cries out for dramatic, simple remediation of the amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere every day by industrial society.

If Republican Sen. Ben Sasse is right — he has not recently been wrong about anything important — the nation’s most-discussed political problem is entangled with the least-understood public health problem. The political problem is furious partisanship. The public health problem is loneliness. Sasse’s new book argues that Americans are richer, more informed and more “connected” than ever — and unhappier, more isolated and less fulfilled.

As Democrats seek to gain seats in the House and Senate, an old battle is being waged with new ferocity: To win elections, is it better to nominate full-throated leftists who will embrace Medicare-for-all, propose jobs guarantees and abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement — or more cautious moderates who can peel away center-right Republicans wary of President Donald Trump and his “populist” views?

Late fall lowers my spirits for a lot of reasons, but one of the saddest comes on that dreaded day when it’s time to winterize the motorcycle and put it away till spring. It’s almost a half-century since I bought my first bike, and now the season’s end comes with a little extra wistfulness, as I contemplate that my riding career is about over.

After Sen. Susan Collins announced on the Senate floor Friday that she would cast her deciding vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rose to liken her to another Republican from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith, “the first member of the United States Senate to take on Joseph McCarthy … this demagogue and the tactics that he employed.”

Texas is a prosperous state, but lawmakers are failing to adequately finance public education and communities and students are suffering the academic, physical and economic consequences. The upcoming legislative session provides a unique opportunity for our state’s elected leaders to right past wrongs, but a preliminary budget request from the Texas Education Agency projects a $3.5 billion decline in state funding over the next few years.

The temperament question came into the heated debate over confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The basic idea was that by raising his voice during the final part of his confirmation hearing, discourteously interrupting and confronting senators, and depicting the charges against him as politically motivated, the nominee showed himself to have a character not suitable for a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s frantic commentary in The Wall Street Journal insisting that he is a fair, impartial judge — and that we should disregard his partisan, unhinged diatribe and non-judicial demeanor during last week’s Senate testimony — serves as some recognition that the partisan wars in which he has taken up arms now threaten the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. Other than denying a seat to an overt partisan such as Kavanaugh, what can be done to recapture at least the illusion that the high court is something more than another blue-vs.-red battlefield?

At a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday, President Trump ridiculed Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “‘I had one beer,’” Trump said. “‘How did you get home?’ ‘I don’t remember.’ ‘How’d you get there?’ ‘I don’t remember.’ ‘Where is the place?’ ‘I don’t remember.’ ‘How many years ago was it?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ... ‘What neighborhood was it in?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Where’s the house?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Upstairs, downstairs — where was it?’ ‘I don’t know — but I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.’”

Washington Democrats and liberal media outlets have spent so much time on their “search and destroy” mission against Judge Brett Kavanaugh that they have barely been able to keep up with their love affair with Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas. O’Rourke’s race against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has become the latest heartthrob and cause of the fashionable new left.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake single-handedly paused Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s controversial Supreme Court nomination when he struck a last-minute deal Friday between Republicans who wanted to push it through, Democrats who wanted an FBI investigation into sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh and a handful of senators like Flake who weren’t sure what to do. Because of Flake, the FBI will investigate the allegations for a week, then the Senate will vote, likely with Flake’s approval, on confirming Kavanaugh.

For all its prominence in public health, there’s little real understanding of overeating, being overweight and how these things connect to each other and to illness. A widely circulated piece in the Huffington Post stated the obvious — “Smoking is a behavior, being fat is not” — which apparently needed to be pointed out because these factors so often appear together as the primary reasons to blame people for the high cost of health care.

The subject was supposed to be the selection of a new justice for the Supreme Court. Instead Thursday’s showdown on Capitol Hill was a raw, scorched-earth confrontation across the nation’s most emotionally wrenching divides. This was men against women, right against left, a cascade of recriminations, explosions of anger, hours of tears and sobs.

We didn’t learn much from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing Thursday. The evidence about whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Professor Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers in the early 1980s remains what it was beforehand. The hearings only reinforced some things we already knew.

Walking the streets of Budapest along the banks of the Danube, one is constantly reminded of the glories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The grand buildings hearken back to an unwieldy political entity that eventually disintegrated in the aftermath of the First World War. Today in Europe, we see another awkward federation — the European Union — under extreme centrifugal forces of its own, threatening to pull apart the dream of unifying the continent.

A Win or lose, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat, has serious cojones. He’s running against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, and running strongly, in a state where guns are regarded by many as a birthright — and he is advocating not just minor gun controls but a complete ban on the sale of semiautomatic assault rifles such as the AR-15. His sensible stance has been predictably attacked by Texas Republicans, who will use it to paint him as out of step with “Texas values.”

Allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct resurfaced days before Judge Brett Kavanaugh was all but set to sail through his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh categorically denied each claim of misconduct in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee and in an interview with Fox News on Monday, vowing to fight the accusations and defend himself.

Tiger Woods is a PGA Tour champion again. What many said would never happen after a fourth spinal fusion surgery, rehab and DUI arrest is perhaps one of the greatest comebacks in recent sports history. NBC’s Dan Hicks called it an “improbable feat” after Tiger tapped in for his par on the final hole. Even Woods was surprised, saying, “It’s just hard to believe I won the Tour Championship.”

The American public is, shall we say, less than perfectly informed about matters of politics and policy. For instance, people believe that foreign aid makes up a huge portion of the federal budget, when in truth it accounts for less than 1 percent of federal spending. Indeed, if voters were all well-informed, you’d barely need campaigns at all, since people who actually pay lots of attention to politics and understand issues are almost impervious to the persuasive efforts of 30-second ads and inflammatory mailers.

Kudos to the Waco Tribune-Herald for its persistent coverage over several years of the need to regulate and eliminate the incidence of lead-paint poisoning in McLennan County. Praise should also be extended to the Waco Human Environment Exposure to Lead program (WHEEL) and to Baylor University for their work and leadership in this area. After years of the experts ringing alarm bells, it’s way past time for the Waco City Council and McLennan County Commissioners to act with haste to eliminate lead-poisoning possibilities.

I served as director of President Barack Obama’s presidential personnel office and oversaw hundreds of appointments across the U.S. government. So I know firsthand that Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley’s claim this week that “it is not the FBI’s role to investigate” the allegations that Judge Brett Kavanaugh assaulted a woman when they were in high school is downright false.

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape while they were both in high school — a charge he unequivocally denies. She can’t remember the date the alleged attack took place. She isn’t even certain about the year (though she reportedly thinks it may have been the summer around the end of her sophomore year when she was 15). She can’t remember whose house she was in. She can’t remember how she got there. She says she didn’t tell anyone about it at the time, not even her closest friends — so there are no contemporaneous witnesses to back her claims.

If you’re looking for a way forward on border issues, international trade, immigration flows and even cultural identity, you may want to start with El Paso del Norte. This community of 2.3 million people includes the nearly 700,000 residents of El Paso, Texas, the 1.5 million residents of Ciudad Juarez across the Rio Grande in Chihuahua, Mexico, and more than 100,000 residents of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The region, one of the world’s largest binational metropolitan areas, points to the challenges and potential benefits of the two nations’ close relationship.

I believe something happened to Christine Blasey Ford more than three decades ago. Six years before Brett Kavanaugh was a nominee for the Supreme Court, Ford related the story of an encounter with him to her therapist, which would have required an implausible prescience if her sexual-assault allegation is, as I’ve seen some conservatives argue, all part of an elaborate scheme.

Having read as many of 10-year lookbacks on the financial crisis as I could handle, I’ve found two consistent themes. First, they ask: “Could it happen again?” Second, they connect the crisis and its aftermath, especially the bailout of the financial sector, with the rise of anti-elitism that brought us Trump, Brexit and the anti-establishment politics sweeping across Europe.

We are constantly bombarded with bad news. There are disasters, dangers, challenges and woes. On the political scene, we find perpetual discord peppered with lurid denunciations and shrill condemnations. Media reports are alternately dismaying, disappointing, distressing, disgusting or depressing. But despair not, friends: All is not lost!

If Republican Sen. Ben Sasse is right — he has not recently been wrong about anything important — the nation’s most-discussed political problem is entangled with the least-understood public health problem. The political problem is furious partisanship. The public health problem is loneliness. Sasse’s new book argues that Americans are richer, more informed and more “connected” than ever — and unhappier, more isolated and less fulfilled.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

As anticipated, President Donald Trump recently used his executive authority to reverse measures implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act that mandate coverage of contraception in most insurance plans, broadening the ability of entities to claim exemption from the requirements based on the religious beliefs of employers providing coverage. After a long history of public debate about women’s access to contraception, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll conducted just last year found the right to use contraception essentially a settled issue. Now the Trump administration’s high-profile action in the name of religious liberty has introduced conflict into an area where before there had been consensus.

Team Trump is quite familiar with lobbing stones from their glass house. Two of the president’s children complained about the “viciousness” of politics, defending a father who redefined viciousness as a candidate. President Trump himself accused San Juan’s mayor of politicizing tragedy, despite his own tendency to do the same — repeatedly. The White House said ESPN’s Jemele Hill should be fired for calling Trump a “white supremacist,” even as Trump earlier called then-President Obama a racist. It has also said attacking Trump is “unpatriotic,” despite Trump questioning Obama’s very legitimacy as president. And on and on.

Where to put a new landfill is possibly the most controversial issue the Waco City Council has faced in decades. The old landfill has somewhere between seven and nine years left and, given the time it takes to develop a new site, we’ve got to make a decision soon or buy some time. Unfortunately, the only decision placed before the City Council has come down to this: Put the “new” landfill at U.S. Highway 84 and Old Lorena Road or… well, no other options have been made public yet.

With eyes wide open, Mike Pence eagerly auditioned for the role as Donald Trump’s poodle. Now comfortably leashed, he deserves the degradations that he seems too sycophantic to recognize as such. He did Trump’s adolescent bidding with last Sunday’s pre-planned virtue pageant of scripted indignation — his flight from the predictable sight of players kneeling during the national anthem at a football game.