Living on New York Time


New York Second:
The shortest possible measurement of time. Vis: Standardised as the time between the traffic light turning green and the taxi behind you beeping his horn.
i.e.: He only lasted a new york second in bed.
– Urban Dictionary

Relax. I am going to attempt to stumble through this morning without any cheap shots at any of the personalities on the graphic above. In fact, what it all reinforces for me is a demonstration of the truism attributed to JFK in his time in Camelot- that “Washington is a town that combines the charm of New York City with the efficiency of Savannah, Georgia.” We were never much for the efficiency part down here by the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, but I am getting positively dizzy with the way the news cycle raises us a Mike Flynn or Susan Rice, quick fries them under the Kleiglights for a day and then the hunt is on to something else salacious.

I am here to tell you that the events that went along with the endless bombastic campaign that Savannah time done lost here, and we are now in the grip of the second hand of the New York clock. Frankly, the changing time is causing cognitive dissonance on the part of many prominent residents of our Swamp.

It feels like we are being dragged through a vortex. The nation was intended to operate much more slowly- the whole checks and balances thing where important matters of state being studied with due diligence. Health care might be the poster child for change. The ACA has some fundamental flaws, many inadvertent but some intentional. The replacement- which will be completely re-written in the Senate- had about the same level of rational debate, all within one party. We are talking bout 20% of the American economy, so you would think it might be worth chatting about. But these days there is a startling inversion of the way the parties have interacted over the course of the previous two administrations.

I should drop the word “startled” from my vocabulary altogether. I think the element of surprise has been knocked clean out of me. I am only mildly disconcerted at the daily cycle of antics and pranks being played out in the rarified arena on the East side of the Potomac.

As an independent voter not beholden to either of them, my high-level consolidated opinion is that I want to be left alone by the IRS, the FBI, the Russians, the Chinese and the dizzying number of non-state and terrorist actors.

I had a late dental appointment that I had calculated would enable me to get to The Front Page in time for Happy Hour at vodka-thirty. The apex of the bar- “The Bevel” filled up nicely and we were yacking about how the day had gone and the latest madness de jour. Liz-with-an-S glanced up at the CNN banner that floated across the bottom and the screen and grabbed my arm.

“Look at that!” she exclaimed as the yellow script tracked across the bottom of the screen. “They fired Director Comey!”

Considering the number of news cycles that Director Comey has dominated over the last few years, it is clear that sometimes he was the hero and sometimes the goat- considered as such by exactly the same people, depending on whose ox he was goring. I am confident that the Director was convinced he was saving the Republic, just as surely as others may say he was usurping it. That is sort of the “we had to destroy the village to save it” I recall from my younger years.

When I got home and checked the news, I saw that Dick Nixon was the last President to sack an FBI Director. Judge Webster had some interesting ethical challenges, and of course it was possible that he could have brought about the downfall of the Administration, which he did not have to do. Things were still on Wasington time then, which is to say glacial. So there were convenient reasons to get rid of him.

But the FBI as we know it has not been around much longer than the most iconic of the Directors: J. Edgar Hoover. Ask anyone of our generation what they thought about the man, and we would probably all agree, and not in a good way.

If you use Mr. Hoover as the benchmark for how to do things that should get you fired (but didn’t), the contrast between slower time and the news cycle today is clear. As such, the President did to Comey what no president had the courage to do to J. Edgar Hoover. No less than five Chief Executives wanted to fire Hoover, who made a point of letting the incoming Administration know what he had on them that they might not want to see in the Post or the afternoon Star. No less a light than Harry Truman accused him of “running a police state” and that Hoover routinely used of blackmail and extortion in accomplishing his mission, which was full lifetime employment for the Director and his pals.

Everyone in this town was justly afraid of Hoover, so he died in office. I stop by to see him when I am close to Congressional Cemetery. Hoover is buried there not far from his long-time associate Clyde Tolson, which is kind of touching, I suppose.

A group of former Special Agents got together and purchased a nice bench near the grave on which the weary might rest.

I always try to sit there quietly, and meditate on the nature of time. I mean, Mr. Hoover has been gone a while. I normally don’t need my cane all the time, but when I walk the uneven ground I find it useful to have with me. Plus, as I sit and watch, I am totally alert just in case he tries to come up again. Given the times, New York or other, it is only prudent.


Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra

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