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Archive for June 3rd, 2020

James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

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This is highly unusual. Jeffrey Goldberg writes in the Atlantic:

James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 to protest Donald Trump’s Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump’s performance as president. But he has now broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”

In his j’accuse, Mattis excoriates the president for setting Americans against one another. . .

Mattis’s dissatisfaction with Trump was no secret inside the Pentagon. But after his resignation, he argued publicly—and to great criticism—that it would be inappropriate and counterproductive for a former general, and a former Cabinet official, to criticize a sitting president. Doing so, he said, would threaten the apolitical nature of the military. When I interviewed him last year on this subject, he said, “When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country. They still have the responsibility of protecting this great big experiment of ours.” He did add, however: “There is a period in which I owe my silence. It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever.”

That period is now definitively over. Mattis reached the conclusion this past weekend that the American experiment is directly threatened by the actions of the president he once served. In his statement, Mattis makes it clear that the president’s response to the police killing of George Floyd, and the ensuing protests, triggered this public condemnation. . .

Here is the text of the complete statement.


I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

See also: From the June 2020 issue: We are living in a failed state

And: From the July/August 2020 issue: History will judge the complicit

Written by LeisureGuy

3 June 2020 at 4:54 pm

“I’m a priest. The police forced me off church grounds for Trump’s photo op.”

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Gina Gerbasi, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Georgetown, writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

When I arrived in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square on Monday, bringing granola bars and cases of water, the mood was upbeat. I couldn’t have imagined the grotesque scene that would unfold hours later — that the police would shove us out of the way with riot shields, pepper balls and smoke canisters, to clear a path for President Donald Trump.

It was 4 p.m. by the time I got to the church. People were milling about the St. John’s patio: 20 to 30 protesters, who sat on the steps, or drank some water, watching the action across the street, and 20 clergy and parishioners from churches around the city. Our plan was to be there until 6:30 p.m., offering peaceful, prayerful support. A team from Black Lives Matter had set up a first aid area, with boxes of bandages and first aid supplies and bottles of eyewash.

Demonstrators packed H street, Lafayette Square and the end of 16th street. Heading north up 16th, they were scattered in clumps and pairs, carrying signs and chanting: “Say his name: George Floyd!” It wasn’t quiet — you could hear cheers from the protests — but it was peaceful. My colleagues and I passed out water and snacks. People exchanged prayers and elbow bumps. Things were so calm that, by 6 p.m., most of my colleagues had left. I decided to stay until I could no longer be useful; so did my church’s seminarian, Julia, who is also a trauma nurse. The BLM medical folks taught me how to do an eye wash and gave me medical gloves. We waited, hopeful our services wouldn’t be needed.

The curfew wasn’t due to take effect until 7 p.m. But around 6:15 p.m., everything shifted. The crowd grew tense as police started to move out of the park. Trails of smoke come from Lafayette Square, followed by clouds of acrid smoke billowing through the crowds. People began to run north on 16th street and onto the St. John’s patio, some coming for eyewash, wet paper towels or water. The first flash grenade rang out, sounding like gunfire, and some people dropped to the ground, thinking that the police were shooting.

People ran toward us, and there was yelling and panic. We called out, “Water! Eyewash!” Julia and I were washing out protesters’ eyes and feeling it ourselves. I was coughing; Julia’s eyes were red, swollen and tearing. There was a shout that someone was hurt, and Julia ran to help. When she came back, she told me that she had seen police on horseback approaching. The seminary team decided it was time to leave.

Minutes later, the intensity of the flash grenades and gas clouds increased, as the police began pushing protesters out of the park and onto H Street. More people ran in our direction, crying from the smoke, and from fear. Someone yelled “rubber bullets,” and I looked up from washing someone’s eyes to see a man holding his stomach, bent over. He moved his arms, and I saw marks on his shirt. When I looked over his shoulder, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A wall of police, in full riot gear, was physically pushing people off the St. John’s patio, maybe 15 feet away from me.

The BLM team, far more experienced than I, said, we’ve got to go. They picked up what they could of the medical supplies and quickly dropped back, around 30 feet to the north. I was so stunned, all I grabbed was a few water bottles. I was still clutching my bottle of eyewash, and I rushed to join the medical volunteers. What was happening? It’s not even 7 p.m., I thought. Why were they doing this?

I walked through the crowds — “Water? Eyewash?” — and bent over folks, washing eyes or pouring solution on paper towels or handkerchiefs. We got pushed back again. We had not intended to be on the front lines, but the police had literally pushed the front line across the park, then H street, then the patio of St. John’s. More flashes, more smoke, more panic. I ran out of water and found the BLM medical staff at K street, which was now the “back of the line.” I gave them the rest of my eyewash bottle. I was scared. I had had enough. They were so brave.

As I walked to where I’d parked, I could still hear occasional bangs. I peeled off the two layers of blue medical gloves and put them in my pocket to throw away later. My phone started to ping. In their messages, colleagues, friends and family asked where I was, and whether the president was really going to speak in front of St. John’s. No way, I replied. It’s crazy out here. I can still hear it. I got to the car. My sister texted, Gini, they’re showing him on the news right now, walking across the park!

I drove home. Then Julia texted me: Did we really just get gassed for a PHOTO OP? My revulsion was immediate and strong, the reality of what happened sinking in: The president had used military-grade force against peaceful protesters, so he could pose with a Bible in front of the church. I sat in my driveway and wept.

Before taking my current position as the rector of St. John’s in Georgetown, I had served as assistant rector at Lafayette Square. I understood the symbolism of its location, steps away from the White House. It’s known as . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 June 2020 at 11:43 am

Some good news about Covid-19

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There’s not much, so I wanted to point out this. It’s a post by Kevin Drum. He notes:

As you probably know, a small number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 later test positive for the virus. The latest example of this was some sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Today, however, we got some good news on that front:

Scientists from the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 285 Covid-19 survivors who had tested positive for the coronavirus after their illness had apparently resolved, as indicated by a previous negative test result. The so-called re-positive patients weren’t found to have spread any lingering infection, and virus samples collected from them couldn’t be grown in culture, indicating the patients were shedding non-infectious or dead virus particles.

So once you recover, it’s safe to go out in public. What’s more, there’s little danger of relapse once your immune system has produced the antibodies necessary to kill the virus. Good news indeed.

UPDATE: The Eldest, who works in public health and just attended a webinar on this topic, says it’s not nearly so clear-cut. The upshot is “it depends…” and immunity seems to wane, a second infection is possible, and transmissibility by a recovered individual depends on a number of factors.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 June 2020 at 10:56 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical

Rushing the tempo a bit with Phoenix Artisan’s Solstice…

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I’ll clearly be revisiting this soap later this month (if not before), but I was hankering for the desert fragrance. Today’s Emperor brush is the big brother of yesterday’s, and it did a great job. Phoenix Artisan’s Ascension, the DOC razor shown, is a very nice instrument indeed, and I like the ball-end handle and the light weight, mine being the aluminum model. In three passes it cleared the stubble completely, and the splash of Solstice aftershave was totally pleasing.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 June 2020 at 9:56 am

Posted in Shaving

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