The Urge to Say It All

Time is the only irreplaceable thing we have, while we have it.  It is like breath.   You cannot live without it and it goes on without you, time and the need to draw breath.  We take our time here for granted, turn over in bed and … those who knew you are suddenly speaking of you in the past tense.   One question that gnaws most of us — how to be productive in the time we are given?   The closest I come is trying to learn and understand the reasons for things and setting them out as clearly as I can, in the unknowable interval that remains.

I’ve been writing here for years now, one among countless millions who keep this kind of public journal.   Why put these thoughts out there?   Looking for company, monkey face?   Heh?  Is that it, you’re looking for company in your existential isolation in Death’s well-appointed anteroom?   Why don’t you take a class or something, stop wasting everyone’s time?   

I am driven forward by the need to dig toward some deeper truth, I suppose, to reach some fuller, more nuanced, understanding of the nature of this complicated arrangement.   I feel especially driven now, in an age when the value of all facts and every truth, such as we can grasp them, so often yields to short-term monetary/power calculations.  

It’s an old story.  The new pharaoh, would-be founder of an upstart dynasty, always sent his minions into the tombs of the former dynasty, to scrape their faces off the walls of history, erase them from the afterlife.  History written in the blood of the passive and powerless, the helpless dead, by the supremely ambitious, the aggressively ambitious, the insane:  fratricides, matricides, genocides, the movers and shakers.  Oy.

I suppose part of this writing I do is a mourning process.   The difficulty of accepting that certain cherished things of value, long friendships and loving relations, are actually already dead and need to be buried, their sad passing grieved.   Permanent estrangements, which can be meticulously detailed and flawlessly justified — on both sides.  “He feels like you don’t respect him,” says the wife of a man I finally find it impossible to respect.  Just because he has an uncontrollable reflex to kick you in the balls from time to time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t otherwise respect him!   Peace making conversations are futile, once the line is crossed, implacable certainty sets in like death itself, on both sides.   There is no convincing the other that he would hate being kicked in the nuts as much as you do — after all, by trying to explain this to him, in your superior fucking way,  you are kicking him in the same sensitive place.  Plus, you don’t respect him anyway, that much is clear to everybody.

This other fellow here cannot help but lie (I’m not talking about the president now).  His need to change reality to make it less shameful leads him to do things like maxing out all of his dead father’s credit cards, having the bills sent to a secret post office box, presenting the cash advances to his wife every week as commissions from his steady sales from the job he pretends to go to everyday.  His wife may get mad at him sometimes, as when she discovers the real reason he is declaring a crushing surprise bankruptcy, but he knows just what to do.  Threaten a bloody death to everyone.    His loyal wife will later get angry at anyone who brings any of this up.  Why wouldn’t she?   As for the man, he is right to hate anyone who makes his wife upset.    Fuck them!

People pretend for the sake of peace.  Peace is wonderful, but pretend peace doesn’t last long, unless everyone agrees to keep pretending no matter what.   The impossibility of being objective enough to know when you are in the right or when you’re being brutal and harsh —  in its way as troubling as the sudden end of all joy, pondering and trouble.   All we have is our good will toward others, until that good will is returned badly, for the unknowable stretch of time each of us has left.

A few facts on the two previous presidential impeachments

In 1868 Andrew Johnson faced an impeachment trial in the Senate of the 40th Congress that was 57-9 Republican, according to the Senate’s website.  At the time, immediately after the Civil War,  the Republican party was united in its advocacy of Civil Rights for the freed slaves and its commitment to federal enforcement of those rights.   Johnson, a fierce opponent of Reconstruction, and an intemperate racist given to insulting his critics, was impeached by Radical Republicans.   His removal from office failed 35-19, one vote short of the required two thirds majority, (and apparently, every one of the 54 senators, not 66 as the Senate website has it, voted yay or nay).    Below is the gist of the case against Johnson (outside of violating the later invalidated Tenure of Office Act when he fired his Secretary of War without Senate advice and consent).   [1] 

Impeachment Articles ten and eleven against Johnson have great resonance for today’s impeachment of Mr. Trump, though nothing like them is contained in the two articles the Democratic House recently passed:

Ten:  Making three speeches with intent to “attempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States”.

Eleven:  Bringing disgrace and ridicule to the presidency by his aforementioned words and actions.

As one would expect, there was evidence of chicanery on both sides of the Senate vote that narrowly acquitted the nonetheless disgraced Mr. Johnson. [2]

The 1998 Senate impeachment trial of Bill Clinton took place in the 105th Congress, the composition of which (according to the official, yet unreliable, U.S. Senate website) was 55 Republicans and 45 Democrats.  On Article One, Clinton’s perjury during a deposition about receiving oral sex from a White House intern, ten Republicans, and all Democrats, voted to acquit.   On Article Two, obstruction of justice, Clinton seeking the intern’s help in keeping their sexual relationship secret in an unrelated sexual harassment civil suit against the president, five Republicans voted with the Democrats to acquit.

I think is it interesting, and worthing noting,  that neither time, even with an overwhelming party majority, was either presidential malefactor removed from office.   It’s hard to get one of these creatures out by impeachment.   To paraphrase one of the legal masterminds who got OJ off the hook for double murder (the Juice is still out their looking for the real killer):  If the shit don’t fit, you must acquit.   

 

 

[1] Wikipeida:

Though a Democrat from Tennessee, Johnson had been a fierce critic of the Southern secession. Then after several states left the Union, including his own, he chose to stay in Washington (rather than resign his U.S. Senate seat), and later, when Union troops occupied Tennessee, Johnson was appointed military governor. While in that position he had exercised his powers with vigor, frequently stating that “treason must be made odious and traitors punished”.[5] Johnson, however, embraced Lincoln’s more lenient policies, thus rejecting the Radicals, and setting the stage for a showdown between the president and Congress.[6] During the first months of his presidency, Johnson issued proclamations of general amnesty for most former Confederates, both government and military officers, and oversaw creation of new governments in the hitherto rebellious states – governments dominated by ex-Confederate officials.[7] In February 1866, Johnson vetoed legislation extending the Freedmen’s Bureau and expanding its powers; Congress was unable to override the veto. Afterward, Johnson denounced Radical Republicans Representative Thaddeus Stevens and SenatorCharles Sumner, along with abolitionist Wendell Phillips, as traitors.[8] Later, Johnson vetoed a Civil Rights Actand a second Freedmen’s Bureau bill; the Senate and the House each mustered the two-thirds majorities necessary to override both vetoes,[8] setting the stage for a showdown between Congress and the president.

[2] Wikipedia:

After the trial, Butler conducted hearings on the widespread reports that Republican senators had been bribed to vote for Johnson’s acquittal. In Butler’s hearings, and in subsequent inquiries, there was increasing evidence that some acquittal votes were acquired by promises of patronage jobs and cash cards. Political deals were struck as well. Grimes received assurances that acquittal would not be followed by presidential reprisals; Johnson agreed to enforce the Reconstruction Acts, and to appoint General John Schofield to succeed Stanton. Nonetheless, the investigations never resulted in charges, much less convictions, against anyone.[37]

Moreover, there is evidence that the prosecution attempted to bribe the senators voting for acquittal to switch their votes to conviction. Maine Senator Fessenden was offered the Ministership to Great Britain. Prosecutor Butler said, “Tell [Kansas Senator Ross] that if he wants money there is a bushel of it here to be had.”[38]Butler’s investigation also boomeranged when it was discovered that Kansas Senator Pomeroy, who voted for conviction, had written a letter to Johnson’s Postmaster General seeking a $40,000 bribe for Pomeroy’s acquittal vote along with three or four others in his caucus.[39] Butler was himself told by Wade that Wade would appoint Butler as Secretary of State when Wade assumed the Presidency after a Johnson conviction.[40]

Democracy in Action

Mitch McConnell:  “Everything I do during this I’m coordinating with White House counsel, there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to  handle this.  There’s no chance the president will be removed from office.”   The “Grim Reaper” on FOX News.

On (Lying) Face the Nation, Lindsey Graham was asked “Should Republicans in the Senate really be taking their marching orders from the person being investigated?”

Graham:  “You know, I understand the president’s frustration, but I think what’s best for the country is to get this thing over with, I have clearly made up my mind.    I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations and the process.”

Way to answer a question, Lindsey!

These staunch Trump supporting men know “it’s a witch hunt, it’s a scam, it’s a hoax… illegal, unconstitutional, it’s a very bad thing for our country … it trivializes impeachment.”    Their leader told them so, over and over, on television.   And, as we all know, furhrerworte haben Gesetzkraft — the leader’s word has the force of law.

USA!  USA!!!