There’s a Man With a Gun Over There.

It was morning and the dog stared out the window, as dogs do, so I joined him. It’s hard to say what interests him. He’s a dog and likes dog things. We live in an older neighborhood with a pond and large natural area  in front of the house. Sometimes one or both of his nemeses, Big!White!Dog! or black Pointy Dog show up and annoy him. Besides other dogs, the area is home to wildlife–coyotes, waterfowl, foxes, rabbits, and so on. A juvenile bald eagle seems to have taken up residence, which is kind of cool. It’s private property but lots of people stroll through whether they live here or not.

A man bouncing along the path caught our attention. Short arms swinging, he was pudgy and round, fairly short, gray hair, Irish walking cap. He wore a white short-sleeved shirt and sky-blue Bermuda shorts pulled up too high, and socks. Think Midwestern tourist in San Francisco. Think the Monopoly Man on the beach but without a mustache. If you saw the little man in a shopping mall or stadium, you wouldn’t give him a second thought. He was so nondescript that I’m having a hard time describing him.

I didn’t give him a second thought either, until he rounded the walk and I noticed he had a pistol strapped to his belt. It wasn’t a big pistol, like a Navy Colt .45 or a 9 mm. Glock or something you’d see a police officer packing. His gun was compact and angled in its holster, maybe a .22 or .25. or .32 caliber. I waited, hoping to check him out further, but instead of turning and walking along the front of our house as most strollers do, he turned the other way and disappeared.

A few months ago, my wife and I rounded the aisle in a grocery store and ran into a guy with a large automatic pistol cinched to his waist. He was a big guy in a tank top and jeans, backwards baseball cap, normal guy, not a security guard or cop or anything. It was unsettling, so we turned and left.

You just think, Why? Why do they have to sport a pistol in public?

Everyone knows the gun arguments on both sides, so I won’t get into them here. What difference does it make? Everyone’s mind is made up and nothing will change anyway. 

But still. What goes through people’s minds when they get dressed? They think, “Well, I’ll wear this shirt and these pants” or whatever for whatever reason–it’s hot, they’re going out someplace, time to go to work, they’re heading for the gym, they’re visiting their in-laws–all the places people go to do whatever it is they’re going to do, and dress accordingly.

But with this little man and the guy in the grocery store, they had to have thought before heading out the door, “Oh, I have to strap on my gun.” Again, why? Obviously, they want people to see they’re packing heat. Why do they want others to know that? Do they want to get in an argument over gun rights? Do they want others to notice them and go, “Whoa?”

Again, why? Okay, maybe they’re undercover-law enforcement, but that’s not likely. Are they afraid of something? Did the little man on the path think he might have to shoot a coyote? Was he looking for terrorists behind the cottonwood trees? Did the guy in the grocery store think he was going to take down some bad actor? What would they say if you asked them why they were packing heat? Do they imagine scenarios where they can be heroes helping people, such as stopping an in-progress burglary, preventing a schoolyard shooter, saving a woman being raped?

I don’t know.

When we lived in Portland a few years ago, a man with a gun intervened in a car theft by trying to shoot out the tires of the fleeing car. One of the bullets bounced off the tire and hit a pedestrian. Who knows where the other bullets went? 

Recently, the Denver Post ran an item about a dispute between two men over a parking place resulting in one of them being shot and killed. Stories run several times a week about road rage incidents ending up in shots fired, injuries or fatalities resulting. In this story, a man killed a 13-year-old boy and shot the boy’s mother and little brother, along with a bystander, over a lane change.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my former dentist, whom I adored for her skill and humor. Her husband killed her. I’m still not over that one.

The thing about guns people seldom talk about is that they make their holders do something they otherwise wouldn’t have done. You get in an argument with someone. It turns into shouting. Then, maybe, name-calling, even shoving. If there’s no gun involved, it stops there. But if one or the other yanks out a gun, it’s a different situation.

When I saw the little man with the gun and they guy in the grocery store with his gun along with other times of seeing people packing their firearms, gun rights never occurred to me. All that comes to mind is, “What’s that person going to do with that gun?”

Because you don’t know.

 

 

Pissed.

“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.”

Edgar Allen Poe’s Montresor used a cask of Amontillado to exact revenge. But I, devoid of anything so exotic, had to settle on unfriending a guy on Facebook. I’d never done that before. I just hide someone I find disagreeable, or even ignore them. Who cares?

But when it gets out of hand, it gets out of hand.

It started a few years ago with his emails of Far Right memes–Obama birtherism, Clintons and hidden crimes, Muslims secretly instituting Sharia law–that sort of thing. He found them (a) amusing, (b) profound, or (c) both. Then the pro-Donald Trump crap started coming, which fell into the same categories.

As a rule, I try not to give a shit. Sure, these memes were based on falsehoods or lies. Yeah, they were meant to inflame. On the whole, I just thought, Really? “Based on this bizarre meme replete with misspellings and poor grammar, I will totally change my mind,” said no one, ever. The email headings and openers were in two or more smarmy fonts in colors such as magenta or aqua blue and often in all caps, so they were easy to delete without reading them and getting upset.

I made sure he knew my convictions were far different than his and called him out a couple of times, politely, when I found something over the top. I probably should have cut him off, but I didn’t. What the hell. An old man with a hard-wired point of view, he’d never change anyway. Besides, unlikely as it was, you never know when you might learn something, right? And aren’t we supposed to transcend mere conviction and look for common ground?

At some point, Fate intervened and crashed his computer. He lost much of his contact information, including mine. Yay! A few weeks ago, though, he asked me for my email address–“I have some really interesting things I want to show you–” and I gave it to him. Okay, I knew what was coming, but why not tolerate the old SOB?

He is an old man, a World War II veteran. He can be really funny. And he’s smart, a holder of several patents, a long career in both engineering and marketing, and so on. In person, he is a pleasant and engaging fellow with interesting life experiences and observations.

Then came a series of anti-Muslim screeds, all containing rank falsehoods roundly debunked by Snopes, Politifact, and other such sites, which, of course, I pointed out. I asked him to stop, that I found these personally offensive, that I had Muslim friends and family in Istanbul. Some of the stuff he was sending, I told him, was as hurtful as his calling my nephews and niece, who have an African-American father, by a racial slur. No matter.

Then, this one came: “Im not a bible thumpin’ Christian, but I do believe in God, heaven, hell, the Golden Rule and the 10 Commandments. Were supposed to be a Nation that has complete freedom of religion…….we certainly condone Muslims even tho they preach death to non-belivers, lying to their enemy’s and treat women like pond scum………but taking away our right to pray in school is unconscionable! Remember this when you go to vote!” A bizarre “poem” entitled “The New Lord’s Prayer,” purportedly written by a 15-year-old high school student in Minnesota, accompanied the rant. A three-minute Google search proved the letter to be a fake.

But the part about Muslims preaching death to non-believers and treating women like pond scum really irritated me, and I let him know it, along with every other recipient in the chain. That said, I also took it as an opportunity to engage, to pass along some informative tracts on Islam, the context behind the medieval Koran writings, its similarity to the Old Testament in that regard, and so on.

One result was a back-and-forth with on of the recipients, who claimed to be a business person with years of experience in the Islamic world. Okay, so our politics were different, but it was a polite and the exchange useful. However, he ended one of his letters with, “When they try to force those beliefs on others, particularly me, I will exercise my 2nd amendment rights!”

So much for reasoned discourse.

Okay, screw it, I said to myself. This is going nowhere. I’m gone.

Then, this email:

With our somewhat stupid view of political correctness these days, some will probably find this offensive.  But I believe in laughing at everything………..it will keep you alive longer.  And I find this funny.  I also thought Amos and Andy, Step n’ fetchit’ and a host of others were funny…….but I guess that’s another life.  You can’t ignor (sic) something and it will go away! 

Subject: FW: Breaking News 

Al Sharpton reported today that Walt Disney’s new film called “Jet Black,” the African-American version of “Snow White” has been canceled. All of the 7 dwarfs: Dealer, Stealer, Mugger, Forger, Drive By, Homeboy, and Shank have refused to sing “Hi Ho” because they say it offends black prostitutes. 
They also say they damn sure have no intention of singing, ‘It’s off to work we go
‘.” 

A real screamer, no?

Does tolerance and open-mindedness require you to bend when someone throws something at you that’s so offensive, so horrible that you can’t think of anything else the next few hours? Days later, I can’t get it out of my mind that someone could be so vile, so depraved as to send such trash out into the email-o-sphere and think it was funny, let alone just okay.

Constantly plagued with self-doubt, as I tend to be, I waited overnight before responding. Good thing, maybe, because I tempered the profanity-laced invective I’d readied for the guy and let him know how offended I was and that I wanted nothing further to do with him. Ever. I blocked him on social media and blocked his emails. Not as good as walling him up, ala the Poe story, but this is 2019, when Amontillado is rare and hidden niches in wine cellars rather hard to find.

He also has an email chain who probably thought the meme was ha-ha-ha hysterical-funny, and everyone in the chain has their own chain who has their own chain and so on.

I’m not over it.

This is the country we live in.

Conforte and Me.

I was 7 or 8 years old in the mid-1950s when I met Joe Conforte at the old Sewell’s grocery store on 5th and Virginia in Reno. He was just kind of standing there at the end of a grocery aisle. I was with my older brother, who said something about Conforte’s notoriety and my brother introduced himself. Conforte struck me as a pleasant man. I didn’t know what a hood or a pimp was, yet, but I was way more interested in the parakeets.

For a short time, parakeets were a fad, kind of like Hula Hoops and Paleo and Beanie Babies and bitcoin, and Sewell’s loaded up a section of the store with parakeets and cages. The store ran a promotion offering a grand prize if anyone could teach their parakeet to say, “Sewell’s.” I don’t think anyone ever won. We bought several and none ever said “Sewell’s.” The store also sold 45 rpm records to play for the parakeets that said, “Pretty bird” over and over so the parakeets would think, “Hmm, that’s pretty cool,” and decide to say “Pretty bird.”  My mother bought a record. My brother tried to teach them to say, “Goddammit.” The parakeets never said either one but all either died or escaped. I don’t think Conforte bought a parakeet, but if he had, it probably died or escaped.

***

In the early 1980s, I met Bobby Moore in Little River, California, where a bunch of friends used to go for fun, adventure, and abalone diving. We mostly drank beer and wine and ate a lot and hiked all over Mendocino. My wife bought a mushroom-colored, oversized thick-knit sweater because it was cold there, and Bobby called her “hippie girl.” She liked that. I was a horrible diver, but Bobby was pretty good at it along with several others, so we ate a lot of abalone, too. He was a modest, gentle, kind, and subtly humorous guy maybe in his early fifties, didn’t talk much, and never said a bad word about anyone. He was an attorney living in Verdi, retired, because he was an early investor in the Boomtown Casino, and Mendocino with your friends was way more fun anyway.

I discovered our paths had crossed years ago. Not our lives so much as our personal trajectories on a single incident, which I asked him about. His eyes widened as he set down his glass and leaned in. “Was that old son-of-a-bitch your uncle?” he said. It was the first time I’d heard him swear.

He referred to my uncle, Fred Crosby, founder of Crosby’s Landing at Sutcliffe, longtime denizen of Wadsworth, Sparks, Reno, and who knows where else. My mother, born in Lovelock in 1913, was a Crosby, and she spent much of her girlhood in Wadsworth. Uncle Fred did whatever he could to get by–a bit of ranching, fishing, brokering, whatever it took. At a family reunion once, he took me to a big storage cabinet loaded with candy and let me take my pick.

***

He really looked like this.

Uncle Fred came to own a small ranch near Wadsworth where the Washoe, Storey, and Lyon county lines came together. It was called the Triangle River Ranch. Maybe the ranching business wasn’t so good–I don’t know, but Uncle Fred wasn’t one to  miss an opportunity. In 1955, he leased the ranch to Joe Conforte, and the Triangle River Ranch, housed in a trailer, became one of the more well-known whorehouses in the area. They could have had parakeets. Who knows?And I know you’re supposed to say “brothel” instead of “whorehouse,” but I’m a Nevadan.

And at the time–this would be 1957 or 1958–Bobby Moore was the Storey County District Attorney. Parenthetically, no one in my family talked about these events in real time, so I’m piecing together what I overheard in subsequent years.

The Triangle River Ranch attracted trouble. You can look it up. At the time, prostitution was illegal in all three counties. Disreputable people hung out there, Conforte paid off local officials, and it was an ongoing target of law enforcement. All three counties attempted to raid the place, but–according to legend–when Conforte got wind of county law enforcement coming from Lyon County, he’d haul the trailer across the county line to Storey County. Or to Washoe county. Wherever he couldn’t be touched. I do not know if parakeets sounded the alarm, but they could have.

Bill Raggio, the new Washoe County District Attorney, declared the whorehouse and its owner a public nuisance and threat to safety. When Conforte came to Reno, Raggio would arrest him for vagrancy (an old law on the books declared pimps were vagrants). Conforte finally had enough, and set Raggio up in an extortion sex trap with girl purporting to be 18, but who was actually 14. Unfortunately for Conforte, Raggio had wired the room, and the resulting charges took Conforte down, sending him to prison for two years.

And it was the end of the Triangle River Ranch. Bobby got the court order, Raggio got the torch, and the Triangle River Ranch was burned to the ground. I asked Bobby what my uncle Fred did to deserve his contempt, but, true to his character, Bob refused to say anything.  Coincidentally, Bill Raggio pretty much refused to talk about Joe Conforte for the rest of his life. The silence of parakeets, I guess.

***

I haven’t seen Bobby Moore in twenty-five years or more, nor Bill Raggio for that matter, my having departed the land of the setting sun a couple of decades ago. Bill passed away, and I presume Bobby is fine. My father used to say if he’d known he was going to live so long, he’d have taken better care of himself, and Bob pretty much did that.

Joe Conforte, as best as I can determine, is alive and well in Brazil. So it goes.

 

Update: This screed isn’t an attempt to lionize Joe Conforte. People have differing views on him, ranging from seeing him as a benign scofflaw and supporter of charities to a petty hood, corrupter of public officials, and sex trafficker. My own views tend to the latter, and I’d even add Accessory to murder (Google Oscar Bonavena).  But bad people do some good things, and good people do some bad things. As my father put it, “There’s so much bad in the best of us/And so much good in the worst of us,”It ill behooves any of us/To talk about the rest of us.”

Whatever else Conforte is (or isn’t), he’s a part of Northern Nevada’s history.

 

 

 

She Was Here, Until She Wasn’t

Whoever expects the dentist will be funny? You’re on your back in that clovey-smelling room, fingers clenched, tense, on edge, bright light in your face awaiting the moment when that chrome toothpick starts going rih-rih-rih in the most vulnerable crevasses of your teeth, and the dentist says something like, “Hey, isn’t today the best day of your life to this point?” and then starts laughing at her own corny joke, not just a laugh, but a deep hyuk-hyuk-hyuk, and you laugh, and the hygienist laughs, not so much at the joke itself but at the dentist’s uncontrolled and infectious laughter.

I hooked up with Dr. Kate Brokaw about six years ago, quite by chance. You knew she was walking down the hall because you could hear people laughing as she went by, so that by the time she got to your cubicle, all she had to do was talk and you’d laugh.

And she was a pretty good dentist to boot. In her mid-thirties, she found a couple of things our prior dentist had missed. She recommended a root canal one time, declining to do it herself even though she felt capable, sending me to an endodontist instead so the procedure would be done as well as it could. “She sure keeps this place loose,” I said to the receptionist, who replied she didn’t know what they’d do without her.

Then there was the time Dr. Brokaw asked if I was doing anything fun over the weekend while poking through my molars and bicuspids. No, I said, did she? “My boyfriend and I are going to the Garth Brooks concert,” she said, “and I better get a ring out of it.”

She did, becoming Kate McDowell. She left the office and bought her own practice in Boulder, and I was happy for her.

A few days ago, she was killed, the victim of a murder-suicide by her husband. She was just forty, and as I read the news clip, I kept hoping it was someone else, a different Kate McDowell, that it was all a big mistake. It wasn’t.

Anyone who’s lost someone close, especially a young person, knows the feeling of stunned shock and cosmic betrayal. Dr. Brokaw (I never got used to McDowell) was about the same age as my own kids, and when I read of her murder, I had much the same feelings I experienced years ago, when my nephew, another bright star and about her age, was killed by a drunk driver. You go through all the Kuebler-Ross stages, but the one you can’t get past–and never, ever will–is the feeling of measureless injustice. There is no answer, and never will be, to “why.”

Looking for answers leads to the what-if’s. Authorities cited domestic violence but haven’t revealed the cause of death, though I’m assuming a gun was involved. One thing about gun ownership is that someone with a gun is more likely to do something he (or she) wouldn’t otherwise do when conflict erupts. Moreover, domestic violence events are seldom one-offs, and more than half the women killed in 2017 died at the hands of a partner or family member. What if Colorado had a Red Flag Law? Would her death have been prevented?

And then, the explosive anger. What kind of anger erupted for a guy to end her life and think it was some kind of answer? In my lifetime, it has seemed that many men are put off by certain women. Smart, well-educated women. Funny women. Financially-successful women. Dr. Brokaw was all of these and more, but was the guy so threatened and vulnerable in his own mind that he crossed the line from merely put off to obscene rage? Was a flight to anger for him a thing?

Might a friend or relative noticed something wasn’t all copacetic and somehow intervened? Again, a what-if. Looking for answers where there may not be any.

Maybe there’s a larger question of a rise in anger throughout society. Indignant rage proliferates on cable news, for example, and every day, the newspaper has a series of stories on someone getting pissed off outside a bar or whatever and shooting someone else. About eight months ago, some guy in Westminster got pissed off in a road rage incident and shot a mother and her 11-year-old son in a shopping center parking lot, killing the boy. I could go on and on with similar stories, but it seems as though anger has become the strongest cultural force in our society.

Maybe no firearm was involved in this tragedy, but that doesn’t undo the fact that someone tried to solve a problem by killing someone. Rage, rage, the dying of the light, wrote Dylan Thomas.

So anyway, where am I going with this? I don’t know. I wish I did.

I Opposed Brett Kavanaugh and Support Susan Collins

Look. The presumed approval of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is enormously disappointing. I believed Christine Blasey Ford when she accused him of assault, and in the brouhaha that followed, I found his flight to anger consistent with someone who’s been privileged all his life finally getting busted–a de facto admission of guilt.

I thought his angry eruption accusing “the Democrats” of a plot ought to have precluded him from serving on the highest court in the U.S. 

In general, I find so-called textualist legal interpretations–corporations are people, the Constitution doesn’t confer privacy rights (i.e., Roe v. Wade is bad), the Second Amendment confers an individual right to firearm ownership, and so on–to be disturbing, and Kavanaugh is a textualist. Not that it matters, but Kavanaugh’s vetting felt incompetently handled, and that incompetence resulted in a stinking match. Get in a stinking match with a skunk, and you come out smelling just like he does, and all parties to this circus emerged with a new stink–including the Supreme Court.

Susan Collins delivered a cogent and forceful speech on why she decided to support Kavanaugh. Most of her reasons had to do with her confidence in his future rulings, and I can’t dispute that. But she also said, “The allegations (against Ford) failed to meet the ‘more likely than not’ standard.” I most viscerally disagree with that statement.

But here’s the thing. She came to the Senate to do a lot of things. She has been pretty good for both Maine and the nation, I’d wager, and I’m sure she has an agenda going forward. If you were her, would you allow one yea or nay vote to derail what you hope to accomplish down the road? It’s an assessment every politician has to make, and while I don’t agree with her vote, I honor her right and responsibility to do her work as she sees fit.

While Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, among others, have expressed discomfort with Trumpism, I don’t expect them to suddenly turn into Democrats. The whole drama, in my view demonstrates the only tried-and-true way to pick Supreme Court nominees to one’s liking: Win elections.

The Decency Project: Apples

Maybe it’s the golden light at dawn and sundown, or maybe the coppery glow  from the daytime slants angling through the trees. Maybe it’s the breeze and the earthy scent and the patches of yellow or red or orange seeping through the leaf-green foliage on the trees. Baseball is winding down, and football is winding up. Whatever. The tropes of early fall are reassuring, reminding us of the constancy of seasons even as they continue to astonish. I suspect each of us has a favorite.

My favorite might very well be apples. I love apples, and the scent of mounds and mounds of apples in the farmers markets and in stores is pure heaven. The crunch of a McIntosh, the tough, green skin, the near sourness. The richness of my favorite, the Honeycrisp, as its tart sweetness permeates your senses with the weight of hot fudge. Hold an apple before you. It’s nearly heart-shaped, as though it knows it’s meant to share the love.

 

Not to be overlooked are the otherwise forgettable Red and Gold Delicious apples. Halved and crowded into a round enameled pan, they carmelize  butter and sugar with their juice into a thick, golden syrup. Sprinkle it with cinnamon and lay sweet pastry dough across the top, and it bakes into a soothing Tarte Tatin, the warm smell permeating the house. It’s pure heaven.

And it all recalls a recent Facebook post, which goes, “I wish everyone could get rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of so they would know that’s not the answer.” Actor Jim Carey said that. As a rule, I don’t much like these inspirational quotations, finding them banal exhortations for salespeople to motivate themselves to sell more stuff, or some other vicarious identification to a higher order. Nonetheless, I find myself enjoying posts from Thinking Art and Thinking Humanity.

Really, I don’t think the sappy posts I like are any better than the sappy posts other people like, but anything that reminds me that what you are, and not what you have, is the important thing.

It’s a concept foreign to politics. It’s something Donald Trump will never, ever understand, since this kind of decency is a greater thing than the sugar high of his perception of victory.

Sad. Because apples. Because fall.

The Decency Project

This is a guest post. Pretty much, anyway.  A good friend, Nate Manning, wrote the following on his Facebook timeline, and I shamelessly ripped it of, posting it here without edit.

It’s kindness and decency in action.

“Rant alert: On the way to work I saw a woman with her baby standing on the side of a busy intersection next to her broken down Explorer in the left lane. When I pulled over and asked if anyone was coming to help her, she said her husband was coming up from the Tech Center (about an hour away with rush hour traffic) and no one had even asked her if she needed help. So another woman and I got out to help. The issue was we were on a busy street during rush hour right before a large intersection in the left lane, and we had to get her over into the right lane to get the car out of the way. I got in the middle of the right lane to get traffic to stop, but people just kept going around me. Finally, I got right in front of a car and yelled at her to stop, and was rewarded with a dirty look. The mother got her baby in the Explorer, put the car in neutral and the other woman and I pushed it a couple hundred yards to a parking lot where she would be safe and out of the way until her husband arrived.

“I’m not posting this for props. I just wish it’s what most people would do, but I’m not so sure anymore. In the Colorado I grew up in there would have been 10 people stopping to help as soon as her car broke down. Now I feel like the Colorado I know has changed and people don’t help people, much less even smile or say hello. I guess the people who care about complete strangers must have moved down to Houston. If total strangers can wade through chest high contaminated flood water to help someone stuck in their car and save their lives (and this same scenario has played our countless times over the last couple of days all over Southeastern Texas), helping a stranger with a broken down car on the side of the road is nothing. What the hell is wrong with people who couldn’t be bothered to help, much less stop their cars to let those who were helping through?

“So, take some time today to do something nice for a stranger. I don’t care if it’s smiling at them, letting someone in during traffic or buying the person behind you a cup of coffee in the Starbucks drive through. Do it in honor of all the bravery being shown in Houston and those surrounding communities. Do it to help us bring this divided country together. Do it because it’s the freaking decent human thing to do.”

Trump  would not get this, which, once again, recalls the pathos of his existence for which we should all have compassion. He won’t get it, but most of the rest of us do.

Tomorrow,  let’s each of us perform a random act of kindness. It’s the decent thing to do.

The Decency Project

We do not fight Trumpian outrages with logical arguments or WTF outrages of our own, because they don’t seem to be working. Instead, we counter with decency, love, and kindness, and hence The Decency Project. Among the many mundane joys one will never find in T-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s household are dogs.

The shelter dog above expressed several changes when she learned the White House was thinking of adopting her. As you can tell from the final frame, she’s asking to please just stay in the shelter. I totally made that up, of course, but hey. It could be true.

And who can tell us more about love, kindness, and decency than the furry fellows below? But again, they also speak to the pathos accompanying decency: Trump will likely never experience the unbounded, simple joy a dog brings home, and yes, that’s sad.

Here are a few Trumpistanian remarks reflecting an intrinsic ignorance of the dogness that so many of us know and love.

“@GlennBeck got fired like a dog by #Fox.”

“I hear that sleepy eyes @chucktodd will be fired like a dog from the ratings starved Meet The Press?”

These go on. Just change the name of the individual being “like a dog.” Who can forget the time he recalled watching Sen Marco Rubio “sweat like a dog?” Mitt Romney “choked like a dog.” Brent Bozell came to Trump’s office” begging for money like a dog.” Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson “like a dog.”

To refute the above: Dogs don’t sweat, they pant, so Rubio’s off the hook. Dogs choke now and then, but they’re far more likely to puke, which Romney only did in private while watching the Republican primaries. And a dog would never beg for money. Cat poop, okay, but not money. And if a dog were going to cheat, in a carnal way, it wouldn’t be with just one other dog.

The message, then, is this: If Trump is annoying you today, pet your dog.

The Decency Project

It’s one of those times when the mundane becomes the sublime, which is why this photo is part of the Decency Project.

My past few days have been blessed by pictures neighborhood parents posted of their children starting their first day of school.  Admittedly, it’s a retrograde passage of my life, since I recall the first day of school for each of my children as though it just happened.  It’s one of those seminal moments in a parent’s life that lasts forever, and like hashmarks on the door jamb showing the rate of your child’s growth, these instances mark the growth of your personal history and lend it worth. An objective correlative, it you will.

An unfortunate fact of the Decency Project is the inherent pathos invoked when juxtaposed alongside on Donald Trump. Can you imagine a picture of him as a grinning little boy off to his first day of school? Did his parents even want one of him?

Can you imagine him having one of his own children? Or, for that matter, his children of their children?

For me, the answer is no, and it’s pretty sad, really. The rest of us, the 99.9999 percent of Americans, enjoy lives packed full of these cherished moments, and the likelihood that Trump does not and will not invokes a certain compassion for him, at least for me.