Psalm 109: Prayer for Vindication and Vengeance

Do not be silent, O God of my praise.
For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
    speaking against me with lying tongues.
They beset me with words of hate,
    and attack me without cause.
In return for my love they accuse me,
    even while I make prayer for them.[a]
So they reward me evil for good,
    and hatred for my love.

They say,[b] “Appoint a wicked man against him;
    let an accuser stand on his right.
When he is tried, let him be found guilty;
    let his prayer be counted as sin.
May his days be few;
    may another seize his position.
May his children be orphans,
    and his wife a widow.
10 May his children wander about and beg;
    may they be driven out of[c] the ruins they inhabit.
11 May the creditor seize all that he has;
    may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil.
12 May there be no one to do him a kindness,
    nor anyone to pity his orphaned children.
13 May his posterity be cut off;
    may his name be blotted out in the second generation.

14 May the iniquity of his father[d] be remembered before the Lord,
    and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out.
15 Let them be before the Lord continually,
    and may his[e] memory be cut off from the earth.
16 For he did not remember to show kindness,
    but pursued the poor and needy
    and the brokenhearted to their death.
17 He loved to curse; let curses come on him.
    He did not like blessing; may it be far from him.
18 He clothed himself with cursing as his coat,
    may it soak into his body like water,
    like oil into his bones.
19 May it be like a garment that he wraps around himself,
    like a belt that he wears every day.”

20 May that be the reward of my accusers from the Lord,
    of those who speak evil against my life.
21 But you, O Lord my Lord,
    act on my behalf for your name’s sake;
    because your steadfast love is good, deliver me.
22 For I am poor and needy,
    and my heart is pierced within me.
23 I am gone like a shadow at evening;
    I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak through fasting;
    my body has become gaunt.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
    when they see me, they shake their heads.

26 Help me, O Lord my God!
Save me according to your steadfast love.
27 Let them know that this is your hand;
you, O Lord, have done it.
28 Let them curse, but you will bless.
Let my assailants be put to shame;[f] may your servant be glad.
29 May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle.
30 With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save them from those who would condemn them to death.

Related:

David Perdue’s Prayer for President Obama

Republicans left no doubt what they think of women

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) barked at female sex-crime victims, “Grow up!” He called Christine Blasey Ford a “pleasing” witness. He shooed women away with a flick of his wrist. Hatch also posted “an uncorroborated account from a Utah man questioning the legitimacy and sexual preferences” of Julie Swetnick, one of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s accusers. The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board raked him over the coals:

The despicable attack launched by Sen. Orrin Hatch and the Senate Judiciary Committee — more precisely, the Republicans on that committee — on one of the women who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault is a textbook example of why more victims do not come forward.

Worse, it betrays a positively medieval attitude toward all women as sex objects who cannot be believed or taken seriously.

Not a single Republican spoke up to criticize him. One would think someone would point out that he brought dishonor on himself, his party and the Senate. But clearly Republicans take no umbrage at such conduct.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) attempted to excuse the lack of a single Republican woman — ever — on the Judiciary Committee. “It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it.”

Kavanaugh snapped and sneered at female senators on the Judiciary Committee. Republicans didn’t bat an eye or hold it against him. He was just mad, you see.

President Trump repeated the calumny that if the attack was “as bad” as Ford said she’d have gone to the police. He declared it was a “scary time” for young men. He openly mocked Ford at a rally to gin up his base’s anger. Republican apologists said he was just explaining the facts. He actually misrepresented her testimony, falsely claiming she couldn’t recall many facts — the neighborhood of the house where she was attacked.

 William Saletan called out Trump and his defenders: “It’s true that Ford can’t recall important details about place and time. It’s true that she can’t recall how she got to the house or how she left. It’s true that every accused person is entitled to a presumption of innocence. But Trump’s portrayal of Ford’s testimony wasn’t true. It was a pack of lies. And people who defend it, like Lindsey Graham, are liars too.”

Has Trump finally gone too far?

Up until now, Trumpism has been a largely victimless crime. Or, to be exact, one whose victims were largely speculative and unnamed.

President Trump has been doing great damage to the fabric of our democracy with his venomous attacks on the free press (“Our Country’s biggest enemy”), the FBI (a “den of thieves and lowlifes”), people of color (who hail from “shithole countries” and “maybe shouldn’t be in the country” if they don’t stand for the national anthem), the political opposition (traitors who don’t “seem to love our country very much”) and other favorite targets. He has been doing just as much damage to America’s international standing by attacking our allies (e.g., calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest & weak”) and praising our enemies (e.g., calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “tough,” “smart,” “talented,” “funny”) while launching trade wars and tearing up international agreements.

.. his barbarous policy of separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents, Trump has finally provided vivid, camera-ready examples of how his policies are destroying the lives of ordinary people.

.. The suffering of adults — and adult men at that — doesn’t pique popular sympathy the way that the mistreatment of children does.

..Why would Trump do something so evil? Because he is desperate.

.. for all of Trump’s “fire and fury,” he has not managed to secure the border. Failing at his top task, he is lashing out at defenseless mothers and children in the hope that his inhumanity will scare other immigrants from coming.

.. not a single Republican has signed on. Even Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the most liberal member of the Senate GOP caucus, is willing to criticize the family-separations policy but won’t support the effort to repeal it.

.. Republicans, seeing the fate of Trump critics such as Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) — who was just defeated in his primary after the president tweeted an endorsement of his opponent — are so petrified of crossing the vengeful strongman in the White House that they are voluntarily separating themselves from their sense of right and wrong.

.. His GOP enablers are so craven, so soulless, so abject in their dishonor that they will allow any amount of human suffering rather than risk suffering the wrath of Trump.

.. he won’t be forced to act by Congress.

.. If only we could keep the hard-working Latin American newcomers and deport the contemptible Republican cowards — that would truly enhance America’s greatness.

A Higher Sanctimony

Comey’s memoir shows he is more like Trump than he cares to admit.

But Mr. Trump told an interviewer that he had fired Mr. Comey because the FBI chief wouldn’t say publicly that the FBI wasn’t investigating Mr. Trump. The President also threatened Mr. Comey with a false claim about Oval Office “tapes.” Mr. Comey responded by leaking documents that caused Mr. Rosenstein to name a special counsel, which has put Mr. Trump’s Presidency in mortal peril.

.. The main lesson from Mr. Comey’s book is that Mr. Trump’s abuse of political norms has driven his enemies to violate norms themselves.

.. The most notable fact in the book is how little we learn that is new about Mr. Trump.

.. Mr. Trump is preoccupied with his critics and the validation of his presidential victory. He is clueless that his bullying and flattery would repel Mr. Comey

.. The book mainly adds Mr. Comey’s moral and aesthetic contempt for Mr. Trump.

.. Mr. Comey’s comparison of Mr. Trump to a “mafia” boss is hilariously overstated. Don’t they call it “organized” crime? And what about that code of silence known as omerta? The Trump White House can’t keep anything secret.

.. Mr. Comey reveals in his excessive self-regard that he is more like Mr. Trump than he cares to admit. Mr. Trump’s narcissism is crude and focused on his personal “winning.” Mr. Comey’s is about vindicating his own higher morality and righteous belief.

.. He accuses Mr. Rosenstein of acting “dishonorably” by writing the memo describing how Mr. Comey mishandled the Clinton probe. Yet he barely engages Mr. Rosenstein’s arguments, which quoted from former Justice officials of both parties. Mr. Rosenstein wrote that Mr. Comey was “wrong to usurp” the authority of Attorney General Loretta Lynch and wrong to “hold press conferences to release derogatory information” about Mrs. Clinton.

That mistake made Mr. Comey feel obliged to intervene again in late October—this time to announce the reopening of the probe in a way that helped Mr. Trump. Had Mr. Comey followed Justice protocol in July, he would not have had to make himself the issue in October, damaging the reputation of the FBI and Justice in the bargain.

.. This has been the habit across Mr. Comey’s career, though you’ll find no mention in his memoir of Steven Hatfill, the government scientist he wrongly pursued for years as the anthrax terrorist; or Frank Quattrone, the Wall Street financier he prosecuted twice for obstruction of justice only to be rebuked by an appeals court; or Judith Miller’s recantation of her testimony against Scooter Libby.

Mr. Comey has also had little to say so far about the controversy over the Steele dossier and his handling of the Russian investigation of Mr. Trump. Did he know that the dossier was commissioned by Democrats for the Clinton campaign? He also has nothing to say about the dismissal of his former FBI deputy, Andrew McCabe, for “lack of candor.”

Mr. Comey is getting his moment of revenge as much of the press revels in the attacks on Mr. Trump. Yet his career, reinforced by his memoir, is a case study in the perils of the righteous prosecutor. It also shows why Mr. Comey’s view of the FBI as “independent” of supervisory authority is wrong and dangerous. A presidential bully who abuses power needs to be checked, but so does an FBI director who turns righteousness into zealotry.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is wrong about John Kelly

Of all the repellent statements issued by President Trump or his aides, the one that came out of the mouth of Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week was maybe the most chilling. There she stood, asking a White House reporter who the hell he thought he was to question the veracity of John F. Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, who had just smeared a congresswoman. “If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you,” she cautioned. “If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

.. Did Kelly lie or did he misremember? I prefer the second choice, but either way, the stars he once wore on his shoulder do not immunize him. The rank I referred to above — mere citizen — is the one you and I hold. It is the one George Washington chose when he resigned his commission before becoming president of the United States.

.. But there is something else at work here: the slavish veneration now accorded the military. You can see it every time someone in uniform testifies before Congress. “Thank you for your service,” comes the chorus of those who treat four-stars as if they were physicians who risk their lives to work with Ebola sufferers.

.. Military men and women have become exotics — less than 1 percent of Americans are currently serving.

.. only 18 percent of Congress has ever served. Back in 1971, the figure was 72 percent of the House and 78 percent of the Senate. Those members knew from experience that a star can be just a piece of metal. It is certainly not a halo.

.. Sanders was relying on the current veneration of the military to deflect criticism of Kelly. It was tawdry of her to do so, if only because it was Kelly and no one else who managed to call into question his vaunted competence. He brought dishonor to his office

Dear Men: It’s You, Too

he denounced the “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.”

..McCain and Bannon are the antipodes of the Republican Party.

  • The institutionalist versus the insurgent.
  • The internationalist versus the America Firster.
  • The maverick versus the ideologue.
  • Above all, the hedgehog versus the honey badger.

The hedgehog, said the Greek poet Archilochus, knows one big thing.

.. On Monday McCain called America “the land of the immigrant’s dream,” and said: “We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil.”

To a large and growing segment of the G.O.P., which thinks magnanimity is for losers, these statements amount to a form of treason.

.. The honey badger, by contrast, will do anything to get what it wants. It is wily, nasty and has as much use for honor as a pornographer has for dress.

.. For the honey badger, it’s whatever works: anti-Semite one day; Israel’s make-believe champion the next. Bannon is the most revolting operator in American political life since Roy Cohn.

.. The goal isn’t to win elections but to purge the party and remake it in Bannon’s image. He wasn’t kidding when he told historian Ronald Radosh in 2013 that he’s a “Leninist.”

.. serve as a rallying point for a Republican Party that can save itself from dishonor, win its share of elections, and stand up to the honey badgers who mean to pillage it.