Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / NoHier / Politics /
@ K. 1999 02 09

Nixon’s White House worked hard to encourage the public’s confusion between “impeach” and “convict” (as in: convict without trial, evidence, or deliberation). The media, long having worked well with Nixon, exercised its craft to the same end.
Now we’ve impeached Bill Clinton.

I ask why? I don’t doubt that he’s a liar: but isn’t that a prerequisite for high office? I don’t doubt that he mislead under oath: but isn’t that what the “greatest” “leaders” are supposed to do? Who and what in the world do we imagine that we are?
I say that impeaching Bill Clinton is like the patrolman for a 55 mph zone watching the trucks roar by at 80 mph and then ticketing some fruit for going 60.

Jefferson did the Louisiana Purchase behind Congress’ back. How’d he get away with that? The court thought slavery was constitutional. Lincoln note writes an Emancipation Proclamation. Where did he get that right?

Don’t get me wrong. I think a prohibition against slavery should be written into our genes! I don’t think slavers should go to jail; I think they should wither and die: within minutes of so much as thinking about it. But then why do I hear this blather about our being a country of laws? If Jefferson wrote that we were all created equal, and we expected King George to swallow it, where did the court get off thinking slavery was constitutional? If it was constitutional, how did a president get off with executive legislation? Seriously: if you can find legality in that action, please explain it to me.

The Confederate States wanted to secede. Good-bye. Good riddance. What right did Lincoln or the Fed have to stop them? I’m thinking of seceding myself.

Nixon’s crimes were treason against the Constitution (interfering with the electoral process); violation of international law (invading Laos, Cambodia …) … He’s not impeached. Clinton gets a little nooky. Come on. That’s personal.
OK, it was in his office. Sure, I guess that’s abuse of office. So what?

What about the trucks that went 90?

1999 02 13 OK, he got off. Surprise, surprise: we couldn’t face it. But now I realize I left out something important last time:
Why was he impeached? What was the government covering?

My modules on the NEWSoffers the perception that the news is determined less by what’s known that by what editors and their owners allow to be revealed.

I’ve said in several elsewheres how magicians screen the trick with a cover and (in several more elsewheres) how priests and politicians are sibling magicians orchestrating our illusions. Sometimes the priests and politicians are rival magicians trying to screw up the other’s illusion so their own will be the one that takes with us marks. Sometimes priests themselves are the rivals: Moses and the priests of the Pharaoh should be familiar to many. Ditto the politicians: capitalism versus communism is still an almost fresh example. Was Clinton’s sudden war in Iraq a White House attempt to screen the impeachment proceedings? It was openly discussed as a possibility at the time.
But what about the impeachment itself? What was it screening?
For one thing, the prominence of royalty is always a screen for the real problems of any society. If we’re gabbing about the Queen, Di, Ron, or Bill, then who’s to notice little things like the murder of Fred Hampton. (What did the Panthers do? Why, they proposed that children be fed! Blasphemy!)
Presidents lie.* If the marks don’t all know it, the press certainly does. Presidents fuck.* Etc. Why notice all of a sudden?
(* As do the rest of us: most for sure.)
I don’t know. I don’t know the specifics, that is. I don’t have to know them to know that what it “really” is is a battle between magicians over who gets prime suck at our blood.

Soul Wrenching
Physicists understand that it takes energy to change state. You want to win a bar bet? Ask somebody the temperature at which water begins to boil. Universal fast answer: 212 F (100 C). Ask if they wanna bet. Many will. They’ll mortgage the house. (They’ll smell a rat though before they actually put the cash in the chandelier. So make the bet manageable. Or go through all the elaborations of pure water, sea level, lab-grade testing equipment: they still won’t see where their error is unless they know some real physics; not the public school kind. Monitor the bubbles. Monitor the thermometer. The mercury rises: 210, 211, 212 … The water is still not boiling! When does it? There’s no telling precisely: we’re in chaos physics now. 212.5 … 213 … Once the water does boil, the temperature rapidly falls to 212 F. 212 F is the steady-state temperature of boiling water; it is not the threshold temperature: the temperature at which water changes state to boiling.

Similarly, take 1 gram of pure water. Switch to Celsius and lower the temperature to 0 degrees. Remove 1 calorie from it. Is it ice yet? No. You have to remove several more calories. You can’t locate the trigger any more precisely than within a few calories. Meantime, the thermometer is hovering around 0 C. Now think analogously of other ambiguities and uncertainties around changes of state: the tides for example. Incoming tide is clear: likewise outgoing. You can specify a time to the micro-second when flood tide should turn, but what is the water actually doing at those moments? The water is mixed: it’s in something analogous to indecision. Once it “makes up” its “mind,” there’s no ambiguity.

Take skiing. Memorial Day, Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mt. Washington. It’s 75 degrees F. People are skiing in bathing suits. Girls in wet tee shirts everywhere. How come the snow is still so great? It takes the drain of a lot of energy for the mountain to freeze. Once frozen, it takes a lot of energy input to thaw it out. I’ve skied glaciers in August. (If it’s steep enough you don’t need skis. Or poles. Just balance.)

How aware are psychologists of a similar phenomenon in attitudes? I remember JFK’s first presidential campaign. There were people talking him up. There were people taking shots. But once he was declared president, everything turned vanilla.

Of course I didn’t live in the normal US of A. The Whitehorse Tavern, so far west in Greenwich Village it’s but a short block from the piers, in the early ’60s was still a longshoreman’s bar as well as a hangout for literary types, not to mention tourists. I guess there were a few painters and sculptors around: drinking held in common to all. One of that bar’s pleasures was that there was no juke box. Neither was anything piped. There was no music that didn’t come out of your mouth. Or that of regulars like Tom Clancey and brothers. Another privilege was that you’d hear the jokes the night before they’d appear on The Late Show. The writers would try their efforts out deadpan. Yelled from one side of the bar:

Hey, Joe: How’s that baby of yours? Has he learned to talk yet?
Yelled back from the other:
Well, he knows half a word.
What’s that?


Hey, Fred: how’s yer wife?
I tell you, I wouldn’t trade my marriage for all the happiness in the world.

1959 or so I’m driving with my girl friend on Long Island. Traffic is stopped dead. So what else is new? But this time it doesn’t clear for hours. “Oh, I bet I know what it is,” says Naomi. “John Fitzgerald Kennedy is campaigning.” (Literal etymology: going into the countryside.) “Who?” “He’s a senator or something.” My hatred for politicians had just acquired an unwelcome new name. So then he was president. I’d have walked out of any bar but the Whitehorse when his name came up. But there it came up special. “Who did Jack and Jackie swap fucks with this week?” “So-and-So and So-and-So and So-and-So.” Was any of it true? I don’t know. But I did hear lots of things in the White Horse that came precisely true. Exactly when and how Oswald would be killed. Exactly what would happen to Ruby. Precisely what Johnson’s next move in Vietnam would be.
So the first specifics I ever heard about Kennedy were what a whore-master he was. But never outside the White Horse. ’59 and ’60 there had been a girl at Barnard that made me have to hold onto the railing at the IRT as she twitched her butt up the last step and onto the sidewalk or I’d have plunged headlong down the stairs. Wonder of wonders, there she was in grad school, sitting next to me, coming over to my place, taking in a movie. (Never take a girl to a Kurosawa movie even if she’s valedictorian someplace.) “JFK is the smartest man I’ve ever seen.” Wilt. (I swear: it wasn’t just that she was saying it while she was with me.)
But now? Whore-master is all you hear. (Why did we talk about him then? Why are we talking about him now?) Enough chitchat: my point concerns the amount of energy involved in a change of state. JFK’s fall to reality was slow, but once he fell, he stays fallen. How much “evidence” against Clinton had to mount before the government or the public noticed there was any? Now anyone can accuse him of anything at all.
It just so happens I’m in the midst of reading a master novel which happens to include an incisive passage illustrating this very point. Check out Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full. Charlie Croker is a very big cheese developer in Atlanta, so big the banks were tripping over themselves to give him stupid loans. They called lending him $170 million a “sale.” Now he’s way overdue in payments. They call a meeting. He brings his hangers-on, his private jet stews, as well as a platoon of staff. Hell, to now, every meeting at the bank has been a party with him the star.
But the bank has prepared what it calls a “workout” session. The room is specially staged with neglected and dying plants. This is a completely different team of bank officers. Their job is to alchemically transmute (psychologically deflate, for their own sakes as well as his) their prima donna into your standard deadbeat “shit-head.” It takes enormous planning and execution. A half hour into it, Charlie Croker still doesn’t get it. Once he does, his defense is to continue to pirouette. Wolfe’s aptness and density of detail is Thackerian.
Lincoln: Emancipation Proclamation
I recently read a delicious story about Lincoln’s finessing of the Emancipation Proclamation. He ran it by his cabinet. The cabinet votes. The Secretary of State stands and utters his “Nay” unmistakably. The Secretary of the Interior follows suit. Treasury and so forth: all against. Lincoln hears them each in turn. “The ‘ayes’ have it,” he declares.

keywords impeach, impeachment, Clinton


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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