Friday, November 22, 2019

Impeachment hearings: Do you respect law or power?

The Mona Lisa is continually mobbed. But if you go to visit this treasure of the Louvre, you can have it all to yourself. Even though it's the most significant artifact in the entire museum. Any idea what it is? 

      A few years ago, my brother went for an afternoon pick-me-up at the Protein Bar near City Hall. As he was ordering, Rahm Emanuel came in and stood behind him. My brother finished his order and stepped aside. The mayor asked for the exact same protein drink. A moment passed, Rahm talking on the phone glued to the side of his head. The clerk handed Rahm a beverage.
     ”Hey,” my brother objected as Rahm vanished. “That was my drink. I was here first.”
     The clerk shrugged,
     ”He’s the mayor,” he said.

     That is power in a nutshell. You could study every Protein Bar employee manual and not find one word suggesting a policy to nudge bullyboy local officials to the front of the line. They don’t have to spell it out. It’s understood.
     I offer this story because it meshes with the impeachment hearings going on now in Washington. They could seem a bewildering spectacle unless you understand them as a tug-of-war between two utterly opposite views of our society.
     Do we live by rules-based egalitarianism? A nation of laws, customs and procedures? “Hey, I was here first.”
     Or by the exercise of raw power by those who hold it, aided by their eager enablers? “He’s the mayor.”
     The answer is: both, in conflict. Ideally in balance, though power always has the advantage, because it’s usually in your immediate self-interest to bow. Those who play along get a bigger slice of pie. The resisters often get nothing. So if you need to drop the values you’ve clung to your entire life in order to jam your hands in the goodie bag some bigwig is shaking in your direction, well, so be it. Goodbye values!
     Let’s look at the impeachment charges laid out in detail by a string of reliable witnesses:
     In July, President Donald Trump held up $392 million in military aid to Ukraine trying to blackmail its president into announcing publicly that he is investigating Joe Biden and his son. This contradicted the strategic interest of the United States, but was in Trump’s personal interest: to win re-election in 2020.
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8 comments:

  1. What worries me is that all this sound and fury will signify nothing. Nothing will happen and nothing will change. People are more interested in whether or not there will be a riot when the Browns visit Pissburgh than whether or not Congress is on a long and winding road tour of In-a-Peach-a-Pa-Looza that goes nowhere, mostly because the House will vote to indict and the Senate will make sure he's acquitted.

    Meanwhile, a gazillion words will have been written and tweeted and spoken--and the final outcome will be "Nothing matters.” Enough people will feel that the Never-Trumpers unfairly targeted him and that it's all a Socialist Witch Hunt, and when the Democrats nominate Hillary Lite she will have her ass handed to her on a pink platter. And we will be handed four more years of darkness.

    Or maybe it's just that it's late November and the light fades at five o'clock and the prison door is slamming shut until April. Will it finally slam shut on Rudy and the fat man in the orange jump suit that he would wear so well? I'm praying the only slice of pie T-rump gets his hands on is a nice big piece of impeach pie, but I'm not yet betting the house payment on that. It's all moving along so damn S-L-O-W-L-Y. Will the turtle win the race?

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  2. I have a late Aunt and Uncle who were gullible for many get rich quick schemes. Had they been younger, I could definitely have seen them sign up for Trump University. It completely astounds me their only child and his wife (along with my sister and brother and their spouses) still voted for this charlatan that would have defrauded my late Aunt and Uncle of their very last cent.

    Everyone knew he defrauded those people. It was inescapable.

    That's why I no longer respect them.

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  3. I don't agree, Grizz. Even if he isn't impeached, the hearings are exposing a lot. It might help some former Trumpers jump ship in the 2020 election.

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  4. Is that the Rosetta Stone? I thought it was bigger.

    As to the prerogatives of power: Neil's protein parable perfectly sums up the eternal dichotomy of justice versus privilege. Rahm no doubt did not even notice, just as those who are allotted favorable positions in life's race find it easy to ignore the poor chumps at the rear, lugging centuries of shame and abuse, while they scoot ahead to effortless comfort, wealth and prestige. I'm absolutely certain that Donald Trump is sincere in his shrieks of complaint that he is being treated unfairly, i.e. not consistent with his status as billionaire statesman. In contrast is John F. Kennedy, at least equally privileged, but able to distance himself from himself and regard his status with self-deprecating humor.

    john

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  5. Hey, I'm just impressed Emanuel got his own drink, instead of dispatching some $85,000-a-year coat-holder to fetch it.

    As for the Republicans, they will turn on Trump if and when the same thing happens to him that happened to Joe McCarthy: The overwhelming majority sees through him and gets disgusted by his act. If that hasn't happened yet, I doubt it will.

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  6. Re: your brother: Did he walk out? or just stand there meekly waiting?
    Perhaps he should have confronted the mayor? not the clerk?
    'That is my drink, mr mayor'. Did mr mayor even know he broke in line?

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  7. Hammurabi's code. It was the first item to catch my attention. The rest of the visit was a bit of a let down.

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