Ivo Skoric on Wed, 16 Dec 1998 19:12:18 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Impeachment and Prestige

There is a movie, I forgot the name, in which a freed Greek slave, after
the death of a great emperor Marcus Aurelius, reminds the Roman Senate of
what exactly made Romans the leaders of what was then the world of rule by

Being recently granted asylum in this country I find myself in a similar
position. Immigrants in the U.S. all but replaced slaves when the slavery
was abolished not that long ago. The wait for the "papers" is
excruciatingly and discouragingly, perhaps intentionally, long (even
worse, sometimes a prospective asylum-seeker might be detained for a long
time - http://balkansnet.org/dritan.html). Without papers the immigrant
cannot legally work or leave and re-enter the U.S. Without legal
protection he or she must take what the free market offers, and that's
often little better than slave labor. So, once the papers are granted,
that seems to be the equivalent of giving freedom to a slave in the
ancient Rome. 

What the freed slave said to the Senate was that the power of Rome did not
reside in the vast legions and unparalleled brute force, but in the
concept of order, law and reason. The fact was that independent free
peasants produced more food at cheaper price than slaves at the large
farms, and he argued that certain captured "barbarians" from the province
of Britannia should be given freedom and land to work. 

A lot of time passed since then: Britannia not only freed itself from
Rome, but became what Rome once was, only to loose its most precious
possession - 13 colonies in North America that today hold the seat of
Rome's power. 

The U.S. gained its immense prestige primarily through selling the
alluring concept of personal freedom. There is no doubt that fearsome
military might or having the largest economy in the world helps, but the
primary influence of America over the world is in a conceptual sphere of
culture: music, language, motion picture, ideas, designs - the fact that
younger generations around the globe now, maybe with exception of
extremely isolated places like North Korea, use the word "cool" to
describe things they approve off, and they are most often U.S. products;
the fact that both visitors to the NATO air maneuvers over Albania and
visitors to the Serbian air maneuvers this summer drank Coca-Cola: that's
how America won over the world. 

It's a shame that this victory of a superior concept abroad is plagued by
the defeat of the same concept at home, where it is buried under the
layers of severe hypocrisy. The way of life America sold to the world, is
mostly banned to its own citizens by a series of petty laws that are
enforced as religiously as all penises are circumcised routinely after
birth. What would be the reason for that now, when everybody has an access
to a daily shower? Some times ago it was noted that teenagers with uncut
dicks have a higher propensity towards masturbation. Masturbation, one may
argue, definitely leads to pleasure and pleasure is an important element
in overall happiness. Therefore the circumcision procedure should be
deemed unconstitutional since it severely hampers the essential right of
every citizen - pursuit of happiness. But never mind. 

The recent impeachment hearings in Congress are just the tip of the ice-
berg of the bright shining lie in which we live. Unlike some European
democracies (Britain, for example) where the executive branch of
government reports to the legislature, in the U.S. they are separated and
they both report to those who elected them: the people of the U.S.
Impeachment vote, although many falsely see it as a judicial process
(Republicans are repeating the 'trial before the jury' mantra), is
primarily a political process: an equivalent of a no-confidence vote in
European parliaments. However, since the President of the U.S. is not
responsible for his actions to the Congress but to the people who voted
both for him and for the Congress, Congress should use the impeachment
procedure only in the extreme cases where the foundations of the
democratic process in the country are endangered (as it was the case with
Richard Nixon who resigned before the vote). Otherwise, the only
no-confidence vote that should oust the sitting President is the vote of
the people - Clinton, however, was voted in the office twice and recent
polls show that his approval rating is over 50%, meaning that if Congress
decides to go on with the impeachment procedure it will do so AGAINST the
will of the people. Such a precedent may change the politics in the US
forever, and would be condemned by history with disgust. 

Besides, this Congress is at the end of its term and even if it votes for
impeachment, the case will not go on trial before the Senate, unless the
successor Congress repeats the vote. President receiving and then lying
about receiving a blow-job by a female intern to the grand jury is
generally irrelevant to the Presidency. Many important issues to the
Presidency got side railed by the partisan Congress on account of that
blow-job, though. The achievements in stabilizing economy, calming the
wars in Bosnia and Kosova and introducing human rights issues as
guidelines to foreign policy are all under a long shadow of his dick. Did
he lie to the American people about having sexual relation with Monica?
Yes, he did, but American people are mature enough not to give a damn
about it. Congress, on the other hand, is not. 

So, we have to witness the full-blown hypocrisy of the land of the free,
home of the brave: it is painful enough to have to listen to somebody who
controls nuclear weapons telling how he didn't know that a blow job
constitutes a sexual relationship. As it is painful to see all the other
sanctimonious discrepancies: everybody smokes pot and yet it is illegal,
and people caught in possession are the largest portion of the
ever-growing prison population (yes, the U.S. today has more 'gulags' than
Russia); every car is designed to go over 55 mph, every road is designed
to allow going over 55 mph, every driver drives over 55 mph, every single
movie made by Hollywood that uses cars - marketed the hot-rods as the
quintessential part of the American way of life, yet the speed limit in
all states except Montana is 55 (or 65) mph; all media promote perfect
bodies, yet 60% of population is obese; the U.S. is both home of the
largest tobacco industry in the world and the largest number of "No
Smoking" signs in the public places (I dare you to smoke in any New York
restaurant - it is verboten); during the alcohol prohibition, everybody
was drunk; the law bans alcohol to kids under 21 and cigarettes to kids
under 18 - yesterday I met a teenager who told me that he quit smoking
when he was 18...; every advertisement feeds on the obsession with sexual,
yet it is considered improper for a male to show off his thighs even at
the beach (hence the goofy looking Bermuda swim trunks that we remember
Americans by); after selling first the idea, then the product of blue
jeans and T-shirts to the rest of the world, corporate America largely
banned them to its own citizens, reducing it to the casual-casual
dress-code in which an adult may perhaps go fishing but not much else.
Basically, we live in a land of the lie and home of the bore, but
hush-hush, please, don't tell anybody. So, what's the big deal to have a
president who is a liar? He is just a product of this society. He does not
lie - he might have mislead and deceived, but not lied. How can a lie be
determined in a land where lying is so common that the line between the
truth and the lie becomes blurred and often ignored? If Pat Robertson
believes that if Clinton is impeached, like Jesus was crucified, for being
a product of his society, the society as a whole will be redeemed from the
sin, he should take a better look at the history of Christian society of
which both him and Clinton are parts: it doesn't work. 

America should stop living in the lie. Americans should start saying what
they really want. The legislature should dispose of petty laws that curb
the freedom, which mostly exist to uphold the living in the lie as the way
of life. President should be left to do the job he was doing all right
before they started to prosecute him for adultery. Pardon, perjury. But
perjury should not be considered a crime in the society where lie is so
ubiquitous, should it? 

Those behind this monster process will be remembered by history together
with the Stalin's henchmen. 

You should look at the following sites and give your vote and/or contact
your congressperson: http://www.moveon.org/actions.htm
http://thomas.loc.gov http://www.pfaw.org/moveon/ or call toll-free:
1-877-TO-MOVEON (1-877-866-6836)


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