No one can burn the truth

The most telling point in yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was the sudden shift away from Rachel Mitchell, the experienced prosecutor of sex crimes whom the Republican all male majority had appointed to examine the accuser and the accused on their behalf. It was an unprecedented protocol.

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Professor Christine Blasey Ford

All morning, during the testimony of Professor Christine Blasey Ford, the members of the majority ceded their five-minutes to Ms. Mitchell. She, not they, did all the questioning. Then, early in the afternoon session with Kavanaugh, the protocol disappeared.

Ms. Mitchell’s impartial inquiry came to a sudden end when Sen. Lindsay Graham lit the match that shifted the focus from Ms. Mitchell’s methodical inquiry. The protocol for “getting at the truth” went up in flames. Ms. Mitchell never was called upon again. The men who had brought her from Arizona to Washington, D.C. brushed her aside without explanation or comment by anyone of the committee. She was no longer useful to the majority’s purposes.

256px-Lindsey_Graham,_Official_Portrait_2006

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R)

Experts in the field of sexual violence have eyes and ears — and a sixth sense — most of us don’t have. They know the typical behaviors of victims and perpetrators. Belligerence is one of the behaviors of perpetrators. Judge Kavanaugh’s less than judicial demeanor — his unrestrained anger and belligerent attack on Sen. Klobuchar’s legitimate, pertinent  questions about the use of alcohol — would have rung a familiar bell. Ms. Mitchell’s attempt to get at the truth had gotten too close.

The Judiciary Committee appears ready to recommend confirmation. Majority Leader McConnell has pledged to push it through the full Senate.

Hildegard_von_Bingen_Liber_Divinorum_Operum

The Universal Man, Liber Divinorum Operum of St. Hildegard of Bingen (1165)

Last night the American Bar Association, which endorsed Judge Kavanaugh as highly qualified, called for what the chair, majority members, and the nominee himself have steadfastly refused to do: suspend the process and call for the FBI to re-open its independent investigation of the facts.

It’s enough to make me hope that Mechtild von Magdeburg, the lesser known medieval mystic contemporary of Hildegard von Bingen was right:

“No one can burn the truth.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, September 28, 2018.

25 thoughts on “No one can burn the truth

  1. It’s not like Judge Kavanaugh is new. As much as one can nitpick his long long ago past, then you have to also a knowledgeable his life since then. Over 26 years in already high profile positions. Six already FBI background checks. First in his high school class. First in his class at Harvard. No none zero complaints or findings in his career, are you really going to cast this because he had beer in high school. This is the logic which blows me away. One woman’s accusation with so many holes in her story and no one coming forward on anyway. Did you know Dr Ford’s own family won’t sign an affidavit to support her either. I belive hence you put politics as side and look at this for what it is. Logic states there is something wrong with this story. Now the story is falling apart you want to try and say he is a drunk, but his professional career supports he is more than qualified for the Supreme Court. You cannot cherry-picked and ignore the obvious which I feel like you are doing. Ignore the drinking is disproved. What, his demeanor in 5 he hezring, if that is disproved. What then. When do you admit your truth is political and has nothing to do with truth but everything to do with politics. God Bless. Let’s pray we hold for truth because once truth is no longer the criteria for justice what will be instead?

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    • “Let’s pray we hold for truth because once truth is no longer the criteria for justice what will be instead?” Amen to that, Lee.

      In a court of law there is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and generally that’s a good rule to follow. We do it all the time with friends and relatives. We also know how frail we are. My tradition — specifically, the Gospel narratives of Passion Week –reminds me of what I prefer not to know: betrayal, denial, and abandonment of the truth are just a breath away for any of us.

      Unlike any of the rest of us, Judge Kavanaugh is a Senate vote away from being the ninth justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s as serious a decision as can be made under the U.S. Constitution. As such, it deserves special care and review of the nominee’s history and character.

      The freedom of the FBI to follow leads that would fulfill the criteria of a full report is in question. The White House has played it both ways — FBI has complete freedom one day, FBI is authorized to speak only with a small number of people (excluding high school, college and law school classmates who allege very heavy drinking and belligerent behavior). There should be no question about the limits, or lack thereof, of the White House’s authorization. Otherwise, it’s a less than full report.

      Irrespective of the allegations during his school years long ago, there is the matter of judicial temperament — cool, calm, impartial, and collected. Judge Kavanaugh flunked that test many times in the Senate hearing room. On those grounds alone, he showed himself unqualified for the Supreme Court.

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  2. This event got considerable overage over in the UK. Christine Ford was measured and believable. Judge Kavanaugh came across as aggressive and belligerent. I understand that, if innocent, that is how he might feel – wronged. But it was the audible and visual snarl of his face that spoke to me of someone with a darker side. Maybe as a teenager he had a major alcohol problem and truly doesn’t remember anything of that night – I’m told it happens. If that is a possibility – and only the judge knows that – wouldn’t he get a better press by saying that he had gone through a phase of heavy drinking that he now bitterly regrets. A little humility can make a heck of a difference.

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    • Thank you for this thoughtful reflection, LensScaper. Yes to all of the above. If you’re on FaceBook, there is an insightful post on Dylan Hicks’ page that’s well worth the read. All the best to you at this strange moment on both sides of the Atlantic.

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    • It’s funny, you say He may not have remembered anything that night. LOL. Nobody in his class nor her or her friends have come forward to even validate that night even happened. Where do you go from her not having a place, time, witnesses to him not remembering the night from drinking. Do we just keep jumping over the evidence part, it does not matter. He’s guilty because of a few moments in time. If you are going to do that, why not also look at the points well: he was first in his High School Class, First in his Yale Class, had over 25 years as a judge in the highest courts and NEVER had a complaint. Does a little drinking and an feeble accusation by one person not even corroborate by her friends, mean he did it, he did not remember. This logic is not supportable when one looks at the facts.

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    • Really – you jump right to that. This is why this country is in trouble, we jump to these very extreme opinions without any evidence. My gosh. That’s why Kavanaugh is in this situation is because we claim something without evidence. Just because you claim it does not mean it’s true.

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      • To continue the discussion, ChristDisciple (I don’t have access to your real name), this country is in trouble because we have become and entertainment culture where greed and power are the golden rings on the merry-go-round. I don’t believe I jumped right to anything, friend. I have always worked to protect defendants from wrongful charges, both in the church and in the courts as executive director of a poverty criminal defense law office. Like you, I am a disciple of Christ. In my faith, Jesus was compassionate beyond all else, toward the guilty and the innocent. He had the wisdom of Solomon: he refused to cut the baby in half.

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  3. Belligerence? Unrestrained anger. The man and his family have had his life ruined buy a false accusation that anyone who has taken anything more than a casual look at this situation damn well knows is false. Yet people are taking issue with the fact that he was mad over being accused of attempting to rape Dr. Ford who has zero corroborating evidence?! What person in his situation wouldn’t be angry?! His anger was actually far from unrestrained, all things considered. You don’t want Kavanaugh confirmed so you call for an FBI Investigation which will delay the vote indefinitely and likely until the Democrats get their majority back and can kill the confirmation. The FBI has no jurisdiction and, even if they did it would result in nothing more than his previous extensive background checks. It’s sickening what has happened to Brett Kavanaugh and I hope people start coming out of the woodwork making sexual assault claims against Democrats running in the mid term elections. And they goddamn better not even think to disparage the victims by attempting to defend themselves against unsubstantiated claims.

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    • Good morning, SKANLYN. I don’t know your name and, to my knowledge, we’ve never met or communicated before now. First, thank you for your comment. You deserve a thoughtful reply.

      The previous FBI background checks did not go back to the period from which Professor Ford’s allegation comes. Re-opening the FBI background check would serve a number of purposes. 1) It would provide sworn testimony from the time period in which the Ford allegation is made; 2) It would provide additional evidence that would clear Judge Kavanaugh of wrongful claims or corroborate the allegations against his character and behavior; 3) The Judiciary Committee’s authorization to re-open the FBI background check would go a long way toward assuring the American people that the majority rushed through an appointment without proper vetting.

      I agree that Judge Kavanaugh and his family have suffered terribly. No one should go through what the Kavanaughs or the Ford family has been through.

      I had a previous commitment yesterday afternoon, so I recorded it for later viewing. At one point we paused the recording during Rachel Mitchell’s questioning of the judge. When you stop a recording, you see things you otherwise would miss. The television screen had focused on Rachel Mitchell’s face. She was looking at the nominee she’s been appointed to examine because of her expertise. Her eyes spoke loudly. They seemed to say, “I don’t believe you, sir.”

      Chris Wallace observed that the accuser struck him as highly credible. So did members of the Judiciary Committee from both sides of the aisle. Christine Ford testified that she was 100 percent certain that boy who groped her, put his hand over her mouth, and laughed with his buddy during and after their time behind the bedroom’s locked door was Brett Kavanaugh.

      The committee effectively stopped a very professional inquiry by the woman prosecutor they had assigned to examine the witnesses on their behalf.

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      • What is your position? Do you think he’s guilty because you read in face of the prosecutor as Kavanaugh is guilty.

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      • ChristDisciple, My position is two-fold. 1) I have no way to know. I would hope that the FBI will offer the Judiciary Committee evidence it does not have, and that they will act wisely. 2) Judge Cavanaugh’s behavior shifted 180 degrees — from a judicial temperament to an emotional one; from thoughtful and restrained to reactionary and unrestrained; from judicial decorum to partisan attack; from being respectful of the senators’ and Ms. Mitchell’s questions to being evasive and insulting, as in the most poignant exchange with Sen. Klobuchar. The American Bar Association raised questions years ago about his temperament. The Supreme Court deserves a candidate beyond these descriptions.

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    • Really? “a false accusation that anyone who has taken anything more than a casual look at this situation damn well knows is false.” Really? A woman is going to sacrifice her reputation, her life, her family, her career to tell a made-up story? I suspect that anyone who pays more than a casual and biased look at the situation would find it very difficult NOT to believe her.

      But then, that’s what it’s all about. Maybe you would agree with the man who once told me “If a woman is raped, she should just submit and enjoy it.”

      I congratulate Gordon for his gentlemanly reply, and a real conversation with you could be instructive. But it can’t begin with the insulting “… anyone who has taken anything more than a casual look at this situation damn well knows is false.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • We don’t know the truth. Maybe we will, I am waiting for someone just to come forward and substantiate the party even happened. Like maybe the person who gave her a ride to the party, took her home or even saw her at the party. So far, no one can EVER in any situation put Kavanaugh and her in the same place.

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      • I agree, it seems as though something may have happened. We need to do an equal investigation of Ms Fords background to see if there are any other issues, such as mental illness, financial or other reports of false accusations. I know I tensed you up when I said false, I mean accusations without evidence. I can believe her all I want, but when everyone she named was there has not supported her story, even her life long friend. So, regardless of I believe her or not, nobody else has come forward even to the point the part even took place. It’s like this event took place at a ghost event, at a ghost time, with ghost people and you say Lock up Kavanaugh because you believe her. How many more holes in her story has to happen, how much more evidence does Kavanaugh have to show in order for you to start, at least somewhat, question Ms. Ford’s story?

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      • ChristDisciple, Glad you agree “it seems as though something may have happened.” As a pastor whose home has served as a “safe house” for abused women, and who has managed a restorative justice approach to court cases of domestic assault, Dr. Ford’s testimony struck me the way it did every senator. She was believable. Where her memory was flawed, no one said “it seemed as though” or “something may have happened. Some DID happen. The questions of who, what, when and where are being pursued by the FBI.

        Several of Judge Kavanaugh’s former classmates have sworn under penalty of felony that his testimony before the committee was not truthful, that he frequently drank to excess, and that his behavior was belligerent in more than one setting. Ms. Ford is not the nominee. Mr. Kavanaugh is. No one has a right to a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court without thorough vetting. The Senate confirmed Judge Gorsuch; there were no such allegations in his case. This is much more than a partisan matter, as Senator Flake’s call for a pause and further FBI background checking attests. The previous FBI checks did not include the time period of Ms. Ford’s allegations.

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    • Interesting, Skanlyn. I agree with you that corroborating evidence is essential to justice. My question: what is the corroborating evidence for your statement: “a false accusation that anyone who has taken anything more than a casual look at this situation damn well knows is false?”

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      • It’s corrorated by the preponderence of evidence supporting judge Kavanaugh’s innocence (as opposed to the very substantial lack of any evidence supporting his accuser).If you are worried about Roe v Wade being overturned, I understand (even if I believe it’s contrary to states’ rights under the Constitution) but what falsely accusing someone so you can get your way politically is evil, just plain evil. How dare you ruin a man’s life without any convincing evidence.

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