Patterico's Pontifications


Still More Lack of Corroboration for Christine Blasey Ford

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:43 am

It doesn’t mean she’s lying, but you can add it to the growing list of potential corroborating facts that aren’t panning out:

CNN has learned that the committee has reached out to a longtime friend of Ford named Leland Ingham Keyser.

“I understand that you have been identified as an individual who was in attendance at a party that occurred circa 1982 described in a recent Washington Post article,” a committee staffer wrote Keyser earlier this week.

On Saturday night, her lawyer, Howard Walsh, released a statement to CNN and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Simply put,” Walsh said, “Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.”

It’s still not clear to me where the suggestion originated that Ford claims Keyser was at the party. The CNN report attributes it to a staffer but I don’t know where the staffer got that information. (Keep in mind that, to my knowledge, Sen. Grassley and other Republican senators still don’t have an unredacted copy of Ford’s letter sent to Feinstein.)

Meanwhile, what to make of this? The Washington Post interviewed Ford and quoted her as claiming that she was worried when Trump was elected because Kavanaugh had been mentioned as a possible replacement for Scalia. Here’s the beginning of their piece:

When Donald Trump won his upset presidential victory in 2016, Christine Blasey Ford’s thoughts quickly turned to a name most Americans had never heard of but one that had unsettled her for years: Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh — a judge on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — was among those mentioned as a possible replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. When Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch, Ford was relieved but still uneasy.

Just one problem: as Alex Pappas notes, Kavanaugh was not on Trump’s list when he was elected. The original list of names released in September 2016 included only these 11 people: Keith Blackwell, Charles Canady, Steven Colloton, Allison Eid, Neil Gorsuch, Raymond Gruender, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge, Joan Larsen, Mike Lee, and Thomas Lee. Gorsuch was picked from the list and was confirmed in April 2017. In November 2017, more a year after the election, five more names were added: Amy Coney Barrett, Britt Grant, Brett Kavanaugh, Kevin Newsom, and Patrick Wyrick.

None of this means that it’s impossible that Kavanaugh was mentioned as a dark horse replacement option for Scalia somewhere. But if his name came up it was more likely to be as a discussion of why he wasn’t on the list. Take this Wall Street Journal article as an example:

That scrutiny may have doomed the chances of once-rising members of that conservative class, such as Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton and Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Circuit, both omitted from the initial Trump lists.

This is not a silver bullet in the heart of Ford’s story, but it is another thing that makes you go “hmmmm.”

UPDATE: Actually, the list of 11 was generated in May 2016 and expanded to 21 names in September 2016. Kavanaugh’s name was not among the 21. Beldar collected the details here. The point about Ford’s memory stands with this correction. If anything, the point is even stronger.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 166

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Wo gehest du hin?” (Where are you going?).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 9:30-37:

Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, which are a stark reminder of the eternal importance of Christ to those who, like the disciples on the road, are becoming preoccupied with worldly concerns and worldly greatness, which can all end in an instant:

I beseech You, Lord Jesus Christ,
keep me in Your thoughts
and do not let me ever, at any time,
waver from this purpose,
rather to adhere closely to this,
until my soul, out of its nest,
arrives in heaven.

Just as rainwater quickly runs off
and easily washes out many colors,
so also does joy in the world
of which so many people hold so many pieces;
for although one sometimes sees
his wished-for fortune blossom,
yet even in the best days,
completely unexpected, the last hour tolls.

Take care and be wary
when good fortune smiles.
For so easily on earth
things can change before evening,
which in the morning was never considered.

The title of the cantata (“Where are you going?”)* refers to a passage at the beginning of chapter 16 of the book of John:

I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, “Where are you going?”

But the words of the cantata ask this question of the followers of Christ:

1. Aria B
Where are you going?

2. Arie T
I will think about heaven
and not give my heart to the world.
For whether I go or stay,
this question remains in my mind:
humanity, ah humanity, where are you going?

At the end of the cantata there appear these words:

Who knows how near my end is?
Time runs out, death approaches,
Ah, how quickly and swiftly
can my death-struggle come upon me!
My God, I beseech through Christ’s blood,
make my end good!

Astute followers of this series will recall the words “Who knows how near my end is?” (in German: “Wer weiß, wie nahe mir mein Ende?”) from BWV 27, which we heard last month on the thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Take a few short moments to compare the different ways in which Bach sets that line to music in the two cantatas. The basic melody is the same, but the setting of the words is quite different. (The four musical examples which follow are only a few seconds each, so it’s well worth your time to play each.)

Here is the line from BWV 27, which we heard in August:

And here is the line from today’s cantata, BWV 166:

This second version is a bit faster and less elaborate, and the emotional effect is strikingly different. Although the rest of the passage is not completely identical in the two cantatas, the verses both end with these words: “My God, I beseech through Christ’s blood, make my end good!” (in German: “Mein Gott, ich bitt durch Christi Blut, Mach’s nur mit meinem Ende gut!”). Let’s hear the two different settings of these words, beginning with BWV 27 from August:

The slow pace, canon-like entry to the voices, and elaborations of the musical line in BWV 27 provide a very different effect from the simplicity of the end of today’s cantata, BWV 166, which sets the same words to the same melody, but in a simpler and more direct fashion:

I hope this little comparison has enriched your understanding of both cantatas and of Bach’s art, and provides a nice musical companion to today’s Gospel lesson.

Happy listening!

*Many sources translate “Wo gehest du hin?” as “Where are you heading?” but in this post I translate it throughout as “Where are you going” to match the language of this passage from John.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Christine Blasey Ford “Accepts” Offer to Testify with Late Response That Is Not Really an Acceptance

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:37 pm

If the game here were truly to delay and obstruct while painting Republican senators as white male bullies, how would this response be any different?

Let’s review the bidding. Grassley keeps setting deadlines and setting conditions. Ford’s lawyer ignores the deadlines, calls Grassley a bully, and makes absurd demands that make no sense (like demanding that Kavanaugh testify first, which gives him no chance to respond to Ford’s allegations). As Dana noted yesterday, Grassley demanded a response by last night, which was deemed more bullying and ignored. Now, today, we have the media falsely reporting that Ford has “accepted” the invitation without actually coming to a meeting of the minds on the critical details, like when and how this will occur.

Ford is trying to show she is in charge. But she isn’t. In the end, the Senate is in charge. I don’t oppose their showing flexibility as long as they are willing to be firm in the end. Doing it this way allows them to say: look, we tried. They kept ignoring our deadlines, over and over, and finally we had no choice but to set a hearing.

The media will act like they are rejecting her “acceptance” but the media often lies and distorts to the detriment of conservatives. In the end, Grassley will have to stand up and be a man, and take action that will be portrayed as jamming this nomination down Democrats’ throats.

The concern that a “cloud” will hang over Kavanaugh’s head as a result is overstated. A “cloud” has arguably hung over Clarence Thomas’s head his whole career. So what? He’s been a great justice — the best justice sitting on the Court right now — and he’s given us a lot of great votes and opinions. Kavanaugh will be great too. Stop worrying about a “cloud” and let’s get this done.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Blasey Ford Camp Outlines Conditions; GOP Working On Counter Offer (UPDATE: Blasey Ford Camp Responds To Committee Deadline)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:07 am

[guest post by Dana]

Yesterday, Christine Blasey Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, outlined the conditions that must be met in order for Blasey Ford to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Ford will not appear any sooner than next Thursday*;

No questions to be asked at hearing by any outside counsel — only by Senators;

Mark Judge must be subpoenaed;

Kavanaugh would testify first, then Ford would testify, and Kavanaugh would have no opportunity to respond or rebut;

The Friday deadline for her to provide written statement before the hearing would be waived;

Provide adequate security;

Only one pool camera in hearing room;

Ford and Kavanaugh allotted the same amount of time to talk.

* Regarding a written statement by Friday is a “non-starter,” and testimony on Monday is a “dealbreaker” according to Katz:

…because “[i]t is simply not possible for her to prepare such testimony while at the same time trying to take appropriate security precautions in the face of the avalanche of threats she has been receiving.”

Obviously, the demand that Kavanaugh would testify first and have no opportunity for rebuttal is so problematic, it is unacceptable. As some have pointed out, yes, this isn’t a court of law, however:

Just this morning, CNN is reporting that the GOP is working on a response Blasey Ford’s demands:

Two sources say the Senate Judiciary Committee will likely send a proposal to Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer proposing a Wednesday hearing, with Ford testifying first and Brett Kavanaugh second.

The proposal would have outside counsel asks the questions.

As noted:

Offer not final and not sent, per numerous GOP sources. Discussed on Judiciary R call this morning

We need to hear from both of them. Given that both sides of the aisle agree that a very serious allegation has been made, both the accuser and the accused should be provided a secure forum in which to which to be heard and be available for questioning and examination. In spite of various factions already assuming Kavanaugh’s dishonesty and Blasey Ford’s honesty and/or Kavanaugh’s honesty and Blasey Ford’s dishonesty, if the primary concern is rooting out the truth, then wouldn’t both sides of the political aisle want them to testify? And wouldn’t the individuals themselves want that opportunity as well? Ultimately, the public needs to hear from both to see if their claims stand up under scrutiny. If that hasn’t yet happened in full, how on earth has anyone already made a definitive call about guilt or innocence? Unless, of course, the real priority here isn’t really about any allegation and denial. And that, sadly, is where we find ourselves: If the voracious and insatiable appetite of partisan politics demands the exploitation of an individual’s alleged assault and the subsequent destruction of another individual – whether innocent or guilty, then so be it.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


UPDATE: Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave Ford a 10 p.m. Friday deadline to make her decision as to whether Christine Blasey Ford would testify on Wednesday:

The committee, led by chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Ford could testify Wednesday — a day earlier than she demanded, but also two days later than the day the committee had originally announced, Monday. The committee is also proposing that Ford testify before Kavanaugh, as opposed to after, and that outside counsel handle the questioning. According to a GOP committee aide, the exact language in the counter offer asks Ford, “Please respond by 5 p.m.”

Katz responded to the letter, which she made a point to note that it had been sent at 4:00 p.m.:

“I advised you that Dr. Ford had traveled to meet with the FBI for several hours about the death threats she had been receiving, and we would need until tomorrow to confer with her and to be able to provide you with a well-considered response,” Katz said in the letter. “Rather than allowing her the time she needs to respond to the take-it-or-leave-it demand you conveyed, you sent us an email at 5:47 p.m. – which you again gave to the media first – insisting that we accept your “invitation” for a Wednesday hearing by 10:00 p.m. tonight.”

She further claimed:

The 10:00 p.m. deadline is arbitrary. Its sole purpose is to bully Dr. Ford and deprive her of the ability to make a considered decision that has life-altering implications for her and her family. She has already been forced out of her home and continues to face harassment, hate mail, and death threats. Our modest request is that she be given an additional day to make her decision.

You can read the response in its entirety here.

As a reminder, the next term of the Supreme Court begins Oct. 1.


The California Nanny State (Nearly) Dictates Statewide School Starting Times

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:47 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Earlier today, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that had been duly passed by the Democrat-dominated state legislature which would have prohibited middle schools and high schools in the state from commencing classes any earlier than 8:30 am. This legislation had passed the Assembly by a fairly close 41-34 margin (with five abstentions) and the Senate by a more healthy 23-14 margin (with three abstentions). The narrowness of the Assembly vote suggests there thankfully won’t be much appetite for trying to override Brown’s veto.

Heaven forbid that local school districts make decisions based upon the needs of their own families, rather than the legislature imposing a one-size-fits-all solution. This is what it’s like living in California in 2018. Now that the problems of homelessness, pensions, unaffordable housing, poverty, and crumbling infrastructure have been solved, the legislature can start micromanaging morning start times for sleepy teenagers.

This is an increasingly rare case of Governor Brown being Good Jerry, the pragmatic sole adult in the room (or, more pointedly, in the Democrat caucus room). Once in a while he has managed to rise above his manifest weirdness and shoot down some of the more puzzling flights of fancy upon which his legislative allies regularly embark. But Moonbeam is leaving us in January, and I for one have zero faith that a Democrat successor like Gavin Newsom won’t gladly indulge the Sacramento nutcases and sign these ridiculous bills into law. As crazy as it sounds, we will soon come to miss Jerry Brown here in the Golden State.

Sic transit gloria Californiae.



Kavanaugh Classmate: I Did Not Attend the Party Christine Ford Says I Attended

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:25 am

The story seems to be falling apart:

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, another former classmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s denies attending a party like the one described in the allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her three decades ago when they were teenagers.

. . . .

“I understand that I have been identified by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as the person she remembers as ‘PJ’ who supposedly was present at the party she described in her statements to the Washington Post,” Smyth says in his statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I am issuing this statement today to make it clear to all involved that I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.”


[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Noah Rothman on What’s At Stake with the Kavanaugh Nomination

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:21 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Over at Commentary, Noah Rothman has an excellent post about why it is important to fight for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and not throw in the towel or, worse, tuck in our tail and hide. Here is how he sees it:

According to Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat Chris Coons, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was a minor, did not want to come forward. In an eerie echo of Anita Hill’s public ordeal, her accusations were “leaked to the media.” With her confidentiality violated, Ford had no choice but to go public. Coons could not say where that leak came from, but he did confess that “people on committee staff” had access to the letter in which Ford made her allegations. Draw your own conclusions.

In a more sane world, the professional feminists would be aghast at the fact that a Democrat (and let’s be real: it’s almost certainly a Democrat) staffer leaked the contents of the letter to the media, thus ensuring that Ms. Ford would inevitably be unmasked and forced to go public. Yet one doesn’t have to be a cynic to reckon that any discomfort or even anguish that Ms. Ford will be forced to endure pales in comparison to the opportunity to torpedo the nomination of a conservative justice. More from Rothman:

[. . . ] For some, this has become a proxy battle in the broader cultural reckoning that began with the #MeToo moment. Quite unlike the many abusive men who were outed by this movement, though, the evidentiary standard being applied to Kavanaugh’s case is remarkably low. His innocence has not been presumed, and a preponderance of evidence has not been marshaled against him. It is not even clear as of this writing that Kavanaugh will be allowed to confront his accuser. At a certain point, honest observers must concede that getting to the truth has not been a defining feature of this process.

[. . .]

The experiences that Dr. Ford described are appalling. Even for those who are inclined to believe her account and think that she is due some restitution, no true justice can be meted out that doesn’t infringe on the rights of the accused. Those in the commentary class who would use Kavanaugh as a stand-in for every abuser who got away, every preppy white boy who benefited from unearned privilege, every hypocritical conservative moralizer to exact some karmic vengeance are not interested in justice. They want a political victory, even at the expense of the integrity of the American ideal. If there is a fight worth having, it’s the fight against that.

That’s the part that I like best. Deep down inside many on the left probably have doubts that Kavanaugh behaved in the manner alleged. Democrats have been said to have serious regrets about forcing out Al Franken on unsubstantiated groping allegations (though Franken was of course undone by the picture of his boorish behavior), but after years of putting up with this sort of behavior from the Ted Kennedys, Chris Dodds, and Bill Clintons of the world they had no choice but to cut him loose. It should therefore come as no surprise that they are seeking the proverbial pound of flesh from the GOP side in return. But just as Democrats lived to regret tampering with judicial filibusters, so too should they be careful about the furies they unleash with this latest stunt.

Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.



Brett Kavanaugh’s Accuser Goes On The Record

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:26 am

[guest post by Dana]

Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford has gone on the record:

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

There was no police report filed, and she did not tell her parents about the incident, nor anyone else, until 2012 when it came up during couples therapy:

The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.

Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

Ford’s husband backed up his wife’s claims:

In an interview, her husband, Russell Ford, said that in the 2012 sessions, she recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming. He said he recalled that his wife used Kavanaugh’s last name and voiced concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court.

This is a horrible situation with a very serious accusation being made. So serious that it will leave Ford and Kavanaugh, and their respective families damaged as a result. None of this can be undone. Ever. Even if the accusation is proven to be false, the damage to Kavanaugh is already set. Instead of “An honorable man was falsely accused of sexual misconduct,” the story will be misleadingly limited to “A wealthy, powerful judge faced serious questions about attempted rape.” It will be inescapable for all of the Kavanaughs. And if the accusation pans out and Ford’s story stands up to serious scrutiny, then Ford, who would have already suffered for decades, will be reliving the incident all over again, and this time on a public stage.

On top of this, there is a whole lot of stink to go around. Feinstein cynically decided to use an alleged sexual assault as a political weapon. Here is her latest statement, which doesn’t ring true to me because her actions don’t back up her claims of how very seriously she takes accusations of sexual assault, when one recalls that she sat on the information for two months, and that she never questioned Kavanaugh about the accusation, whether privately or while he was under oath. Also, if she really believed the matter should be treated with an extreme level of seriousness, would she have redacted the accuser’s name so that even the FBI didn’t know who she was?

“It has always been Mrs. Ford’s decision whether to come forward publicly. For any woman, sharing an experience involving sexual assault—particularly when it involves a politically connected man with influence, authority and power—is extraordinarily difficult.

“From the outset, I have believed these allegations were extremely serious and bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh’s character. However, as we have seen over the past few days, they also come at a price for the victim. I hope the attacks and shaming of her will stop and this will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

“I support Mrs. Ford’s decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation. This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee.”

(Note: according to this report, given that the “FBI doesn’t plan to investigate the allegation as a criminal matter, […] Feinstein wants the bureau to review it as part of Kavanaugh’s background check.”) Amusingly, and without an ounce of self-awareness, , Feinstein also said that “the FBI should have the time it needs to investigate this new material.” And again, how does Feinstein say this with a straight face, given that she held onto the “new material” for two months? Wouldn’t that have provided the FBI with the time they needed to investigate? While the Democrats are clamoring for a delay in the vote because time is needed for an investigation, it was Feinstein herself who delayed any timely investigation from taking place.

There is also a lot of stink concerning Harris, Booker, and the professional Left, all of whom made concerted efforts to smear Kavanaugh during the hearings and lie about him. And even when shown to be lies, they were repeatedly pushed.

So now an accuser who has come forward to tell her story. It does not sound fantastical nor absurd. It sounds possible. But it is an accusation without any corroboration or eyewitnesses. Until then, it remains just an accusation which involves three individuals, with two of them denying it happened. We need to hear more in order to make a clear and accurate assessment of what happened, and to test her story to see if it holds water. With that, the political aspect for a long term impact going forward should not be ignored: “At this point, the GOP has to go to the wall for Kavanaugh or the Dems will have fully weaponized mere allegations as a method to destroy credible nominees. The precedent would be set and be too dangerous to future nominees. And we know the Dems would defend their own.”

As for the GOP, there is no indication that the vote will be delayed.

Brett Kavanaugh released a statement this morning:

This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes – to her or to anyone.

Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.

I am wiling to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.

With regard to Ford, her attorney said this:

“Her recollection of these events is crystal clear,” Ford’s attorney Lisa Banks told Morning Edition. “She will agree to participate in any proceedings that she’s asked to participate in.”

I’ll end the post with this sharp bit of observation regarding where we are at now and how to test the veracity of the claim made against Kavanaugh. Read the whole thing:

Yet unless all parties start telling the same story, there is no way to know for certain if this event occurred. We don’t need certainty, however, to make a decision on whether a man should sit on the Supreme Court. I have the same standard for Brett Kavanaugh as I did for Roy Moore, for Donald Trump, for Bill Clinton — or for any other politician who’s accused of misconduct. Is it more likely than not that the allegation is true?

Given the totality of the evidence, I believe it is more likely than not that Bill Clinton committed rape and sexual harassment. I believe it is more likely than not that Donald Trump has committed sexual assault. I believe it is more likely than not that Roy Moore engaged in sexual misconduct with underage girls. But the evidence against Kavanaugh falls far short of the evidence arrayed against each of these men. So far at least it falls far short of the evidence against virtually any other politician or celebrity who has faced consequences during this #MeToo moment.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 159

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem” (Behold, let us go up to Jerusalem).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 8:27-38:

Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus Predicts His Death

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The Way of the Cross

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Your Cross is already prepared for You,
where You will bleed to death;
here scourges are sought, there reeds are bound,
Your bonds await You;
Ah, don’t go there Yourself!

. . . .

I follow after You
I will stay here with You,
through spitting and shame,
do not scorn me!
I will still embrace You on the Cross,
I will not leave You,
even as Your heart breaks.
I will not release You from my breast,
When Your head grows pale
at the last stroke of death,
And if You must depart at last,
Then I will hold You fast
You shall find Your grave in me.
In my arm and bosom.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at least The Jury Talks Back.]


NYT: Mattis on His Way Out?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:03 pm

I’m almost done with the Bob Woodward book, and one thing it makes clear is that Jim Mattis is a calming influence in the Trump administration. When Trump wanted to do something stupid — like pull troops out of South Korea or Afghanistan, or kill a critical trade deal with South Korea — Mattis would step in and talk Trump off the ledge, calmly and respectfully.

Which makes this report extra distressing:

Back when their relationship was fresh and new, and President Trump still called his defense secretary “Mad Dog” — a nickname Jim Mattis detests — the wiry retired Marine general often took a dinner break to eat burgers with his boss in the White House residence.

Mr. Mattis brought briefing folders with him, aides said, to help explain the military’s shared “ready to fight tonight” strategy with South Korea, and why the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has long been viewed as central to protecting the United States. Using his folksy manner, Mr. Mattis talked the president out of ordering torture against terrorism detainees and persuaded him to send thousands more American troops to Afghanistan — all without igniting the public Twitter castigations that have plagued other national security officials.

But the burger dinners have stopped. Interviews with more than a dozen White House, congressional and current and former Defense Department officials over the past six weeks paint a portrait of a president who has soured on his defense secretary, weary of unfavorable comparisons to Mr. Mattis as the adult in the room, and increasingly concerned that he is a Democrat at heart.

Mattis is often the voice of reason in the room. Woodward describes how Trump repeatedly questioned the need for Special Access Programs that would allow the U.S. to detect a North Korean nuclear launch in seven seconds from South Korea, rather detecting it 15 minutes after launch from Alaska. People would explain it, again and again, but Trump never seemed to understand. Trump asked this and many other stupid questions in one meeting, causing Mattis to explain: “We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III.” The gathered officials in that meeting were frustrated, as Woodward describes:

Among the principals there was exasperation with these questions. Why are we having to do this constantly? When is he going to learn? They couldn’t believe they were having these conversations and had to justify their reasoning. Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — “a fifth or sixth grader.”

Mattis is the adult in the room, and Trump is indeed the fifth- or sixth-grader that Mattis says he is, according to Woodward’s book. And we can’t afford to lose another adult. Back to the NYT:

The fate of Mr. Mattis is important because he is widely viewed — by foreign allies and adversaries but also by the traditional national security establishment in the United States — as the cabinet official standing between a mercurial president and global tumult.

“Secretary Mattis is probably one of the most qualified individuals to hold that job,” Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview. His departure from the Pentagon, Mr. Reed said, “would, first of all, create a disruption in an area where there has been competence and continuity.”

Bad, bad news. I hope we make it through this guy’s administration without him blundering us into a major war.

UPDATE: In the interest of completeness, I should note that Mattis claims: “The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence.” John Kelly has said something similar about the things attributed to him. (The book also quotes Rex Tillerson as calling Trump a “fucking moron” as widely reported by others. Tillerson has never denied that.)

I don’t believe Mattis or Kelly. I think they have decided that keeping their positions is more important than telling the full truth about everything they have said about Trump. But I should note their denials.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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