An Open Letter to Senator Collins on Brett Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh brandishes a worn “pocket” copy of the U.S. Constitution.  Are you reassured?

W.J. Astore

Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court is a done deal.  Critical to his elevation was the support given to him by Senator Susan Collins of Maine.  My wife and I watched her speech yesterday, during which she praised Judge Kavanaugh for his demeanor and judicial record, affirming that he will uphold Roe v. Wade since it is “settled” law.  Collins also affirmed that Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, experienced some form of sexual assault, but not at the hands of Kavanaugh, as there was no corroborating evidence.  In short, even though Ford affirmed under oath that she was 100% certain that a 17-year-old Kavanaugh attacked her 36 years ago, Collins chose not to credit her account as truthful or accurate.

In response to Senator Collins’s speech in praise of Kavanaugh, I wrote the following short letter to her.  Let me say this: for the good of our country, I hope I’m wrong and Senator Collins is right.

Letter to Senator Collins

Dear Senator Collins: My wife and I respectfully ask you how a 15-year-old girl misidentifies her attacker when he’s on top of her and putting his hand over her mouth so she can’t scream.

As near as we can tell, Christine Blasey Ford had no reason to lie.  Her life has been turned upside down.  Judge Kavanaugh, however, had reasons to lie.  He has a lifetime job at the highest level of his profession that hinges on denying Dr. Ford’s allegations.

We also ask you whether you approve of Judge Kavanaugh’s belligerence, his lies before the Senate committee, and his hyper-partisan attacks on the Democrats — your colleagues, even if they are on the other side.

We think you will regret the “yes” vote for Judge Kavanaugh.  He is not the man you think he is.  And we almost guarantee he will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

13 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Senator Collins on Brett Kavanaugh

  1. All of those that could not bring themselves to vote for Hillary after Bernie lost, this is all on you


  2. I too have sent a letter, to senator Flake. Not well informed about individual senators (except Bernie) I had bought his willingness to have an FBI inquiry as being sincere and had sent a message, which just said ‘thank you’. Yesterday, I sent another one.
    In addition to the usual introduction etc, it read:

    “I see I misjudged your integrity.
    Your approval of an inquiry was just tactics, to clear your image or even simply avoid further ‘harassment’ by violated women.

    Once again, expedience has Trumped simple human decency.
    Blinkered political loyalty has Trumped objectivity and professional integrity, for this is not about whether Dr Ford is right, but about Mr Kavanaugh’s integrity and suitability for such a crucial post.
    And suitable he evidently is not : political prejudice, lack of self-control, use of emotional blackmail, evident lies (he is so convinced of his entitlement that he does not even care about the fact that those lies will be debunked in no time), appalling manners, and I could go on like this.

    You will be co-responsible for having saddled up all of your compatriots with such a pityful judge and allowing him to take decisions which impact all of them.

    I misjudged you, like the Nobel Peace Price committee misjudged president Obama.
    This year’s Nobel choice is excellent, but I doubt there will be any cheering about this in your Senate, as it will just have sanctioned sexual assault and excessive drinking by teenagers and students. Congratulations!
    Having watched Mr Kavanaugh’s testimony, I certainly would never want any young woman to work with that man, as he is not even capable of controlling his biased agression and reacts with pathetic whining when a new toy he was promised risks being taken away.

    I have no interest in US party politics, but I do care about their outcome because they unfortunately also affect the lives of countless non-Americans around the world. So in this appalling case I do hope that in November those who supported this man, will pay for their hubris and outrageous choice.”

    We try to get rid of our excess frustration whatever non-violent way we can …
    More about senator Collins’ ‘presumption of innocence’ in this piece from Intercept:


  3. A comment from Jefferey St. Clair in Counterpunch: Kavanaugh’s last line of defense was “plausible drunkability.”

    An old article by Howard Zinn from 2005 is still relevant:
    It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.

    The Constitution gave no rights to working people: no right to work less than twelve hours a day, no right to a living wage, no right to safe working conditions. Workers had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, the courts, the police, create a great movement which won the eight-hour day, and caused such commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, and Social Security, and unemployment insurance.

    When the Constitution gets in the way of a war, it is ignored. When the Supreme Court was faced, during Vietnam, with a suit by soldiers refusing to go, claiming that there had been no declaration of war by Congress, as the Constitution required, the soldiers could not get four Supreme Court justices to agree to even hear the case.

    The courts have never been on the side of justice, only moving a few degrees one way or the other, unless pushed by the people. Those words engraved in the marble of the Supreme Court, “Equal Justice Before the Law,” have always been a sham.
    Zinn’s article lays out how often the “Rule of Law” is bent.

    There is an old saying, “Whose Bread I Eat, His Song I Sing”. When you think about it, Judges are politically connected lawyers, who are approved by elected politicians who represent with few exceptions the 1% elite.

    It is very evident when you look at the Supreme Court the elite is represented. You do not need a slide rule or a complex statistical computer analysis to determine that in a clash between we Proles and the Elite, who will win.


    1. Thanks, ML. My dad taught me the saying, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” A good variant of, “Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.” Kavanaugh will be singing a very conservative song with words provided by those who put him on the bench.


  4. Ugh, and with a 5v4 partisan split, now there’s a clear path to judiciary re-installment of Trump as Prez if the 2020 election turns out to be as much of a mess as I’m expecting.

    The one consolation I take from this is that Murkowski was willing to vote for sanity (unlike Collins, and Manchin – supposedly a Democrat). Further evidence, in my view, that conservatives here on the Pacific are generally different animals than the ones back east.

    Ugh, give me a united Pacific Coast that takes the Constitution as-is and goes our own way. As I’ve written on my own website (apologies for the poor graphics, I need to find time to update/improve) :


    We’d have ~60 million citizens, the world’s 4th largest GDP, and would quite naturally align with Japan, S. Korea, Australia (you know, all the allies the current administration is screwing over) et al., to build a Pacific NATO designed to make sure China doesn’t get any funny ideas.


    1. Something I caught in passing at the Moon of Alabama blog:

      “The anti-Kavanaugh strategy by the Democratic Party leadership was an utter failure. They could have emphasized his role in the Patriot Act, the Bush torture regime and his earlier lies to Congress to disqualify him. Instead they used the fake grievance culture against him which allowed Trump to do what he does best – wield victimhood (vid, recommended).”

      So the hearings degenerated into duelling mobs of “victims” — the virtue-signalers (hers) vs the culture-warriors (his) proving once more the timeless wisdom of justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ famous aphorism: “Controversy equalizes wise men and fools alike — and the fools know it.”

      The Republicans always had (1) the votes to confirm and (2) the ruthless discipline necessary to successfully implement their political project. They wanted to go into the mid-term elections with a win to celebrate. The Democrats wound up desperately trying to delay the proceedings in the hope that they might somehow win control of the Senate in something called a “blue wave” in a month or so. Now it looks like they might, at best, pick up a seat or two in Congress in a “lavender ripple.” Too little and too late, which probably would make a fitting epitaph for the Democratic party as presently constituted.


      1. I thought I might follow up on the Moon of Alabama observation above with something Peter Van Buren concluded recently apropos of this subject, Before the Vote, What I Saw at the Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings, (October 2, 2018):

        “The final question goes beyond what happens to Kavanaugh. Will the same strategy the Democrats ran and lost on in 2016 — Trump and his people are pigs, vote for someone else — serve them any better in November than it did this week?”

        I found this an interesting question but — unfortunately — a fundamentally misleading one in that it uncritically accepts the notion that when the corporate-tool Democrats say “someone else” they mean “Democrats.” What a ludicrous conception. As the late Gore Vidal once said: “America has only one political party, the Property Party, and it has two right wings.” He also said that “America can’t have a third party because that would require two other ones first.” So demanding that people vote for Democrats as some sort of “alternative” to the Republicans ought not to pass the flatulence test at a skunk convention. It didn’t work in 2016 and I don’t see why it should work now or hereafter.

        Thomas Frank has an excellent brief analysis of this Republican right-wing populism phenomena (i.e., “culture war”) in his most recent, and last column, for the Guardian, “Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class?” (July 27, 2018). Well worth a read, but I’ll save commenting on that until a later date when I have more time.


      2. Mike: I agree with this: “The anti-Kavanaugh strategy by the Democratic Party leadership was an utter failure. They could have emphasized his role in the Patriot Act, the Bush torture regime and his earlier lies to Congress to disqualify him. Instead they used the fake grievance culture against him which allowed Trump to do what he does best – wield victimhood (vid, recommended).”

        As you know, the problem is the Dems are complicit in the torture regime as well as the Patriot Act. They are also afraid of real criticism when it touches on alleged matters of national defense. (Trump would call them “weak” — the horror!)

        This is what happens when you have two Republican parties: the moderate Republicans (Dems) and the radical ones that bow to Trump (the GOP, as in grumpy old party).

        One caveat: I wouldn’t call women’s concerns and anger about sexual assault “fake grievance culture.” But their deployment in politics is dicey, and it draws a predictable backlash from the GOP, which now claims white boys and men are in great danger from girls and women. Right …


        1. Totally agree on the Dems’ lack of strategy. The leadership thinks itself to be smarter than the average, well, anyone else, and that the crazier the GOP gets, the more they’ll win by default. And they’re so tightly bound to the media, which has turned politics into a strange sort of genre, with the same characters and arguments showing up over and over again, like a TV series long past its prime that just…won’t…die.

          Huh, now that I type it, I like that metaphor. The DNC is NCIS! (And Joe Biden is Gibbs?)

          Anyway, the DNC sees itself as winning even when it loses. Its leaders don’t personally suffer when they lose, they just shrug and move on to the next election. Note that Clinton is still around, half making me think she’s considering another primary run. Biden, who was originally labeled a gaffe-prone sidekick for Obama, forgets that he’s just a reboot of John Kerry mixed with a bit of Al Gore.

          The metaphor that keeps sticking with me, and seems apt to describe the Dems as they’ve been most of my lifetime, is that of a player continually one step behind the ball. They stare at the ball, worry about the ball, chase it around. And then forget that to actually GET the thing, they have to be out in front of it.

          It also doesn’t help that their ‘big-tent’ thing makes it difficult to coordinate between different groups within the coalition. The GOP has it easy, by comparison, they’ve got full tribal loyalty and a narrative about their base’s impending demise (they’re by-and-large old white Boomers, who won’t be voting ten years hence, because, well… everyone dies) to keep people motivated by fear.

          One of my biggest frustrations the past couple years is how few people appear to grasp the magnitude of what is happening, or realize that if America is to survive the next decade, it needs real leadership. That being someone actually willing to take personal risks, adopt unpopular but ethical stances, and call out the entire decayed system for what it is, while providing Americans a new narrative about who we are and what we can collectively accomplish.

          But the DNC equates leadership with seniority and having played the game well enough, long enough. They’re stuck in a loop of rhetoric and wishful thinking, unwilling to do anything that might cause them to be labelled as radical, which ultimately just serves the neoliberals who have colonized the party.

          That’s why I’m almost sad that they’ll most likely re-take the House. They’ll spend the next two years being blamed by the Trumpists for everything that goes wrong, with no power to do anything but obstruct the White House – which, as in 2006-2008 under Pelosi, won’t accomplish much. They didn’t end the war in Iraq, didn’t investigate the Bush administration, didn’t fulfil any of their promises. Had Obama not won the primaries in 2008, I suspect we’d have ended up with McCain-Palin.

          Joe Manchin represents the true spirit of the modern DNC. Accommodation and appeasement are in their blood, so long as their powers-that-be keep sucking up lobbyist money in DC. And they’re the ‘Resistance’…


        2. Candidates matter as well. Hillary was, well, crooked, which is why the nickname stuck. She and Bill busily hoovered up all the money they could after their eight years in the White House. Not content with that, Hillary wanted the presidency as well. But as a politician she had no charisma, and her message was basically “It’s my turn.” Obama knew to promise hope and change. Hillary, everyone knew, was more of the same. And enough people didn’t want that.

          Democrats need candidates with convictions. Spine and sand. Like Bernie Sanders — he’s got sand in his name. 🙂 Seriously, the Dems are often too wishy-washy or mealymouthed. They lack a sense of outrage (again, Bernie Sanders excepted).

          2020 is coming soon. I hope the Dems can do better than the usual suspects (Biden, Kerry, and their clones). They need a fresh face, a younger one as well, I think. And they need to run on real issues, just as Bernie did: better health care, a higher minimum wage, improved infrastructure, college education that doesn’t bankrupt people, etc.


          1. Yup, yup, and yup!

            Another funny thing about the DNC is how they’ll ignore critical information, like all the polls showing that Clinton and Trump, even in the primaries, had higher disapproval than approval ratings. That was, to my knowledge, unprecedented in recent Presidential elections. Should have been a red flag.

            And I wonder exactly how many far more effective female candidates Clinton stomped on with the whole ‘I’m next in line’ stance.

            I’m still of the opinion that the Dems win by being all-out anti-Trump, not playing at winning over ‘moderates’ who don’t reliably vote, or doing their usual ‘we’re the adults in the room’ schtick. They need to see a party that is absolutely all-in, and telling them a clear, coherent, simple story about how they’ll save America. Obama did that, even if his actions never matched his rhetoric (DC dysfunction for you there, at least in part)

            My instinct is that Kamala Harris is probably the best fit, though being West Coast will mean she’d need a VP pick from the upper Midwest (Klobuchar’s name comes to mind, but I know zilch about her), and ideally a veteran.

            Something interesting, at least in looking at the 2016 results in military-heavy precincts in San Diego and Seattle, is that where they used to be reliably red, in 2016 they went hard blue. Veterans don’t get much play in the media unless they fit a particular role, but I bet they’re by and large quietly appalled at Trump. Klan and militant Christian groups exist within the military, but the chain of command generally dislikes them and most of the enlisted personnel aren’t too fond either.

            The Dems win not by making college educated white people (like myself) feel like we’ve got a ‘safe’ candidate, but by mobilizing voters tired of the status quo in D.C. I think they best do that by embracing narratives and rhetoric that emphasize honor, duty, fairness, reliability – all that Trump is not.


  5. Back in the year 2000, Thomas Frank wrote:

    “What beat the Left in America wasn’t inflation and uppity workers, it was the culture war. Starting with the Nixon campaign in 1968 and continuing up through the Gingrich years, the American right paid the bills by handing out favors to business, but it won elections by provoking, organizing, and riding a massive populist backlash against the social and cultural changes of the 1960s.” — One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy

    Eighteen years later, in his last column for The Guardian he wrote:

    “What came to fascinate me [about right-wing populism] was the paradox of the thing. Republicans had successfully inverted their historical brand-image as the party of the highborn, remaking themselves as plain-talking pals of the forgotten people who had so spurned them during the Great Depression. Republicanism’s payload, however, was the same as it had been in 1932. And just look at what conservatism proceeded to do to those average people once they welcomed it into their lives.

    But understanding the perversity of rightwing populism only brought me to another mystery: the continuing failure of liberals to defeat this thing, even as its freakishness and destructiveness became apparent to everyone. My brain twirls to think that rightwing populism is still running strong in 2018 – that it’s even worse now than it was in 1988 – that the invective and the journalism and the TV shows and all the mournful books about the decline of the middle class have amounted, basically, to nothing.” — Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class? (July 27, 2018)

    The Republicans have this culture war program down to a science. It enables them to shamelessly shill for the billionaire 1% while pretending to give a shit about unborn zygotes and “salt-of-the-earth family values” of the steadily declining middle-and-working classes. The Democrats have countered by pretending to give a shit about relatively well-off but frustrated feminists with several college degrees, a nice car (leased) and a decent house in an up-scale suburb, but not much else in the way of real wealth and power. You know: that now rather pathetic (after 2016) “glass ceiling” thing. The recent judicial confirmation hearings of judge Brett Kavanaugh brought out these two complimentary — for they hardly conflict in any meaningful way — ruses designed to distract the target demographics from their truly powerless, and increasingly impoverished, predicament.

    I mention the above in an attempt to provide some necessary context within which to analyze the complimentary strategems in play during the recently concluded Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Again, I say “complimentary,” because the Republican right wing got what they wanted and the Democratic right wing, as usual, helped assure that they would get it. As the late Professor Sheldon S. Wolin wrote in Democracy Incorporated – Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (2009):

    While the Republican Party is ever vigilant about the care and feeding of its zealots, the Democratic Party is equally concerned to discourage its democrats” [emphasis added]

    In other words, in the favored slogan of the Ruling Corporate Oligarchy:

    Buy some Republicans, they’ll shout “Gawd Bless!”
    Rent a few Democrats, they’ll lose for less.

    Professor Wolin goes on to add:

    “The timidity of a Democratic Party mesmerized by centrist precepts points to the crucial fact that, for the poor, minorities, the working class, anticorporatists, pro-environmentalists, and anti-imperialists, there is no opposition party working actively on their behalf. And this despite the fact that these elements are recognized as the loyal base of the party. By ignoring dissent and by assuming that the dissenters have no alternative the party serves as an important, if ironical, stabilizing function and in effect marginalizes any possible threat to the corporate allies of the Republicans” [emphasis added]

    The Democrats do not “oppose” or “resist” the Republicans. They complement them.

    To wrap up, I caught a brief segment on CNN International last night where the talking heads made a big deal of President Trump’s shameless hypocrisy in saying how “credible” he found Kavanaugh’s accuser during the nakedly partisan Senate Circus but what a hoax he found the whole thing afterwards. The panel pundits managed to acknowledge that Trump never believed in the accusations to begin with but had to play nice in order not to appear “mean” or “insensitive” to a “poor defenseless” Suzy Snowflake with a rather vacant memory concerning actual evidence of any wrongdoing thirty-six years ago. But once Trump had his “win” safely in the bag, he felt free to flog the Democratic “mob” for their unfair treatment of (now Supreme Court) Justice Kavanaugh. And the Democrats played their scripted part by serving up probably the weakest case of “sexual assault” imaginable, assuring that they would galvanize their frustrated post-graduate feminist constituency only to depress and deflate them by losing yet again. Precisely what the billionaire corporate donor class pays the Democrats to do. It escapes me how anyone can take this sorry excuse for a “resistance” at all seriously. But hey, the “Russians” must have …


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