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.