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.

Day 281 of the Apocalypse

My father used to tell the story of the guy who rounded the cliff too fast in his new car and tumbled over the edge. He was lucky enough to grab a branch as he fell down the mountain, but after hanging onto the branch for a few hours, he became quite tired. “Can anyone hear me?” he shouted. No response.  “God? Hello, God? Can you hear me?” he yelled.

A voice boomed down from the heavens. “I can hear you,” the voice said.

“Can you help me?” the man said.

“Do you believe in God?” the voice replied.

“Oh, yes! Yes!” the man said.

“If you believe in God, let go of the branch,” said the voice.

The man thought about it for several seconds. “Can anyone else hear me?” he said.

Each of us has experienced those moments in which we feel ignored by an impersonal, even unjust universe. We shout our frustrations to someone who may or may not be in charge, because it’s the best we’ve got and it’s all we can do.  But nothing happens. Nothing changes.

Today is the 281st of the Apocalypse known as the election of one Donald Trump, whereby the hordes from Trumpistan rode in shouting their racist, sexist, nationalistic cant and stole the reins of our country. The outraged among us have marched, attended town halls, contacted our elected representatives, and otherwise done whatever we could think of to resist, only to be answered with silence as the outrages continue unabated.

On Friday, August 12, a white Nazi sympathizer plowed into a crowd of anti-white nationalist protesters. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed. A handful of elected leaders offered statements of outrage, though most politicians were either silent or uttered a few hackneyed, anodyne syllables of CYA.

Of note, though, was pharmaceutical giant Merck’s CEO, Kenneth Frazier, who resigned from Trump’s Manufacturing Advisory Council as a matter of conscience. Trump, if you’ll recall refused to call out white supremacists or white nationalists.

More noteworthy, though, are the other members of the council who said nothing. Ms. Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup, issued an Orwellian newspeak response, saying, “…Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is unwavering, and we will remain active champions for these efforts. We believe it is important for Campbell to have a voice and provide input on matters that will affect our industry, our company and our employees in support of growth.  Therefore, Ms. Morrison will remain on the President’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.”

Below is a list of the others on the council with hyperlinks to contact them. It was the best I could pull together, but let them know what you think in a respectful way.

UPDATE: Under Armour’s Kevin Plank has stepped down and made a forceful statement!

UPDATE: Brian Krzanich Intel CEO, has exited the council and made a statement!

UPDATE: Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing has resigned, citing conscience.

UPDATE (8/16/17): Inge Thulin, CEO of IBM, has resigned from the council. So did Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup. A few minutes ago, Trump tweeted that he was disbanding the council.

Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company,  anliveris@dow.com

Michael Dell, Dell Technologiesmichael@dell.com

Bill Brown, Harris Corporationhttps://www.harris.com/about/contact-us

John Ferriola, Nucor Corporation info@nucor.com

Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Corporation  https://www.whirlpool.com/services/contact-us.html

Jim Hackett, Ford Motor Company, media@ford.com

Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson  https://www.ccc-consumercarecenter.com/UCUConfiguration?id=a0758000004NIaL

Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp.  makethingsbetter@utc.com

Marilynn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corporation  http://m.lockheedmartin.com/m/us/contact.html

Jeff Immelt, General Electric  https://www.ge.com/contact/general

Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc. , jeff.cole@dana.com

Klaus Kleinfeld, Arconicmediainquiries@arconic.com.

Brian Krzanich, Intel Corporation  https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/forms/corporate-responsibility-contact-us.html

Rich Kyle, The Timken Company  http://www.timken.com/contact-general/

Thea Lee, AFL-CIO  pressclips@aflcio.org

Mario Longhi, U.S. Steel  https://www.ussteel.com/newsroom

Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company, https://www.campbellsoupcompany.com/connect-with-campbell/email/

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing  http://www.boeing.com/contact-us.page. Scroll down a bit.

Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar. New CEO is Dave Calhoun.  http://www.caterpillar.com/en/contact.html

Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing  http://www.americanmanufacturing.org/pages/contact

Kevin Plank, Under Armour  mediarelations@underarmour.com

Michael Polk, Newell Brands  Corporate Communications

Mark Sutton, International Paper  http://www.internationalpaper.com/contact-us

Inge Thulin, 3M, https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/company-us/help-center/

Richard Tumka, AFL-CIO  pressclips@aflcio.org

Wendell Weeks, Corning  https://www.corning.com/worldwide/en/contact-us.html

The Reality Distortion Zone of Trump I

It’s Day 34 of the Apocalypse wrought by the Trumpistan invasion, with Dour Don trump_12321dissing the CIA’s report of Russia tilting the election in his favor. These kinds of things run counter to the Make America Great Again narrative, after all, which is now hitting full stride:

  • The proposed head of the Environmental Protection Agency is suing the EPA and taking names of staffers working on carbon mitigation.
  • The Department of Labor nominee opposes minimum wage hikes but supports robots and immigrant workers.
  • A billionaire hedge funder known as the King of Bankruptcy and who once had The Darnold as a client gets the nod for the Commerce Department.trump-taj-mahal-closing
  • A vowel-impaired Treasury Department candidate, a favorite among the bankers and globalists, is among those Roaring’ Don said rigged the system.
  • Another billionaire is tapped to head the Department of Education, because she had one. Presumably.  But she was a major donor to Trump’s campaign, and heck, juice should count for something.

That was then. This is now. “The business of the American people is business,” said Cal Coolidge in 1924 when things was roarin’ and failed banks and market collapses hadn’t occurred in recent memory (or for 17 years–one of those), and a world war to end all wars was a long, long way from Tipperary.  Doubletalk Don will return to those halcyon days when men were men and do his all to make America grope again.

Channeling Silent Cal once more, the Merry Trumpster floated the name of ExxonMobil’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, to become Secretary Of State. Rex’s diplomatic bonafides are that he’s pals with Bad Vlad the Hacker and makes great deals, at least for Exxon. Or, at least they were great deals until the U.S. and Europe levied sanctions on Russia instead of rewards for altering the map of Europe through military force. Exxonasaurus Rex didn’t like that. After all, there’s no oil in Crimea or anywhere else in Ukraine, so who cares about them?

Making America great again is looking like a Brave New World.

 

Can Trump Trump Trump? Yes or No–One of Those.

were-still-hereIt’s day 30 of the Apocalypse, and the good news is that civilians still control the military so far. Or the military controls the civilians. One of those. Both are true, unless they’re not, in the Trumpladyte chaos, aka The Transition, aka The Revolution.

Or, with today’s naming of yet another general to the cabinet, the Junta.

Like that new Air Force One plane Boeing is designing for the U.S. President. It will cost $4 billion, tweets the Sun King–egads, waste and fraud–unless it will cost the $170 million Boeing says is the contract price.  It’s one of those.

After all, doesn’t a word mean what you choose it to mean–neither more nor less? And isn’t the question whether or not you can make words mean so many different things? Or, is the question, which is to be master? Or, did the Sun King have a great fall from the wall Mexico’s gonna pay for, unless it won’t? One of those.

In Trumpistan, truth is fungible.

 

 

 

 

Pogo: We Have Met the Enemy

trump_annoyingorange

It’s day 24 of the Apocalypse wrought by the invasion from Trumpistan, led by the red-capped orangutan and the salon-coiffed vicar of Indiana intent on making America straight again. The only thing sober about the ongoing reality show known as The Transition is the cocktail-free dinner with toady-in-chief Reince Priebus, and Mitt Romney, who’s quest to have Trumpsky close escrow on Mitten’s integrity continued unabated. The vital question on America’s anxious mind: Who picked up the $600 check?

Meanwhile, The Apprentice decided to channel Andrew Jackson by using the spoils system to  make America great again. Or was it Tammany Hall? One of those.  Steven Mnuchin, a billionaire more in need of an extra vowel than a job, gets Treasury, while billionaire Wilbur Ross (oh wow, look at him now, Zuckerman’s famous pig) snags Commerce.  Next is billionaire donor Betsy Devos, whose only experience with matters education has been ensuring no white child is left behind and gets, well, the Department of Education.

The Angry Carrot once said we could never fix a rigged system by counting on those who rigged it in the first place. Goldman Sachs owned Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, he raged. Maybe they only rented Mnuchin.

The rest of the Legion of Doom Trump brought on to drain the Washington D.C. swamp turned out to be swamp foxes all, less hell bent on draining the place than making it a Muslim-free Mar-a-Lago north. It’s a gold-plated geyser erupting tweets to the adoring laity about lying media, illegal votes, soon-to-re-open coal mines and steel mills, and otherwise telling it like it isn’t in 140 characters, the non-coastal swath of The Faithful confusing being rich with being smart.

You can’t cheat an honest person, any con man will tell you, which says more about the throng of rubes from sea to shining sea than it does the jack-o-lantern face smiling down from his Boeing 757.

 

 

Trump

The gilded python known as Donald J. Trump slithered into the  Washington. D.C. swamp he promised to drain but instead held court with the assorted nutria, copperheads, and alligators who’d gathered to kiss his ring. Or his whatever. The punditry, meanwhile, helped make America great again by normalizing sexual predation, bigotry, xenophobia, and fraud. What’s not to like about a trending keyword, after all? They only last a day and a half or so and the bills have to be paid.

Abraham Lincoln said you can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. That Abe could turn a phrase, no? But so could the con man who said there’s a sucker born every minute.  An awful lot of minutes means an awful lot of suckers out there dancing in lockstep to the Pied Trumpster’s refrains amply suffixed with -isms and -phobics.  Kind of catchy, that tune.

For Trumpolytes, the Duke of Orange is the cat’s meow when it comes to making America great again.  For them, it doesn’t matter what you say so much as how you say it, whatever “it” is.  Facts are fungible, and never mind that since 2011, Politifact has checked Trump’s statements 300 times and found his assertions to be False, Mostly False, or Pants on Fire lies 70 percent of the time.  So what? It’s just a George Soros plot meant to further the cause of libtards everywhere.

And one more verse in Trump’s requiem ballad followed by the chorus of pundits and politicians making outrage the new normal.

Democrats, of course, were dismayed to learn their Anointed One didn’t get anointed after all, thanks to those pesky Rust Belters, suburbanites, and ruralites who weren’t With Her. College-educated white women weren’t With Her either. Nor  was a swathe of the faithful who didn’t vote. Not just dismayed, but stunned, those crafty old Dem’s, which is surprising given their’ stunning loss of the House, Senate, state houses and governorships since 2008. Things were bad before tapering off, but the data missed it. Or someone missed the data. One of those. It’s got to be the FBI’s fault that the paint-by-numbers-and-got-the-best-grades candidate lost.

But joy looms large in Trumpistan, where denizens who thought jobs resulted from some deus ex machina are convinced those jobs will come back because the holy white-eyed Annoying Orange said so. Those three-day work weeks churning out crap at the Ford factory in return for a full week’s pay and defined benefits forever are right around the corner. Well, maybe in Mexico, actually, but when we send 11 million Mexicans back, they’ll be happy to return those factories to pay for the wall we’re gonna build along the border.

“Critics say building the wall may be problematic,” goes the chorus as the punditry sings, as the absurd become just another option. Mr. Beckett and Mr. Ionesco, are you listening? Oh, wait.

Welcome to Day Seven of the Apocalypse. More to follow. Please watch this space.

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