Consent of the Defeated

Today is a good day to discuss something we seem to be losing not only in the United States, but in the world.  It’s long been held that for government to work, it needs the consent of the governed.  For democracy to work, we need the consent of the defeated. 

Today, there will be a vote in the US Senate to decide whether to call witnesses in the trial of President Donald Trump.  Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who was considered a possible swing vote, has declared that he will vote against calling witnesses.  I may be proved wrong later today, but right now it appears that no witnesses will  be called and the move to remove President Trump from office will fail.  Senator Alexander has said he thinks the things President Trump was impeached over were inappropriate, but don’t rise to the level of being removed from office by impeachment.  He believes this year’s election is the appropriate place to evaluate President Trump.

One of the things President Trump was impeached over is using foreign aid to coerce the government of the Ukraine to investigate the family of former Vice President Biden, a possible opponent in this year’s election.  Wrong?  I think so.  On the other hand, more than one of Trump’s potential November opponents get to vote on whether to remove the President from office. 

From the start, voting on the removal process in the House and the Senate has been along political lines.  Since the Senate must convict to remove any President from office, it seemed likely from the start, and still seems likely that President Trump won’t be removed from office.  The next chance to do that will come on November 3rd, election day.

The point about President Trump’s impeachment is a significant number of people were agitating for it even before he took office.  A disturbing number of Americans were running around the Internet using hashtags such as #NotMyPresident.  This whole process has been largely political.  All impeachments of US presidents, from the first, President Andrew Johnson in 1868, have been largely political, and President Johnson stayed in office because the Senate failed to vote two-thirds to remove him, by only one vote.  President Clinton didn’t come that close and I don’t think President Trump will either.  A lot of people think President Nixon was impeached, but he wasn’t.  He resigned from office to avoid the disgrace of impeachment and removal.  In his case, removal did seem likely.

Worldwide, this is not the only instance of people who lost continuing to fight the result long after the election.  Tonight at 6 PM eastern time, The United Kingdom will leave the European Union, a process commonly referred to as Brexit.  The referendum that decided this took place in June, 2016.  The results were close and people in Britain have been arguing about it, heatedly, since.  One of the points of argument was that the vote was so close there should be a second referendum.  This issue crossed party lines in the UK.  If I remember correctly, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.  As a result, Parliament couldn’t come to an agreement on necessary legislation, through two national elections.  Finally, in December, 2019, British voters gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson the votes he needed in Parliament to get it done.

There are long-accepted things the defeated can do after an election.  They can continue to put forward their agenda and speak out against policies when they object.  What’s different now is too many people are trying to circumvent the electoral process instead of working on making their case to the public and targeting the next election.  I suggest that’s not healthy for democracy.

Things I Want (or Need) to Know

I was at a warehouse recently.  Like most warehouses, it had forklifts and 18-wheel trucks.  Observing them in operation made me wonder why when your toilet backs up it doesn’t go “beep beep beep.”

Headline from the NY Post website late last month,  “Ghost Boat With Decapitated Heads, Corpses Washes Up in Japan”  Wouldn’t “decapitated heads be heads from which the heads had  been removed?

If your dentist installs a new crown in your mouth, is that a coronation?

Instead of comments on my blog, I get tons of spam purporting to be comments.  I can’t help wondering how much more spam I’d get if I published all of it as comments.

Why do people eat oyster crackers with clam chowder, and why aren’t there any clam crackers?

I know I’m a little late with this, but I was tied up with other stuff.  What did Santa bring you for Christmas?  I got a cool WKRP first-annual turkey drop t-shirt.

I hate Liberty Mutual TV commercials.  Here’s one more reason.  Plymouth Dusters and Dodge Demons looked very similar from 1970 to 1976 and they don’t show it very long.  But can someone explain why the Emu and his partner, Doug, in the Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials are driving around in a company car that’s almost 50 years old?  Also, what’s with the blue light on the roof?  In most states only police can use a light like that.  In New York, volunteer fire fighters use them too.

Things I Know

The United States, as a country, has had three attempts to impeach the president in less than 50 years.  That should tell you that every impeachment is at least in some way about politics.  Before the attempt to impeach President Nixon, the only other instance was President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War.  Of the four, the effort to remove Nixon was the least political.  Most people don’t realize President Nixon wasn’t impeached.  He resigned to avoid it.

Whatever you think about the trial about to begin in the US Senate on whether to remove President Trump from office, Senator McConnell’s saying that there may be no need to call witnesses seems bogus to me.  A House vote to impeach has been likened to a grand jury indictment.  If a grand jury hands up an indictment, after having called witnesses, when the trial starts, there are witnesses in the trial too.

 I don’t know how much money is in the coin jar on your bureau, but mine held $151.33 when I emptied it this week.

The theory behind bail reform in New York was a good one.  In practice, not so much.  Lots of poor people charged with crimes spent months in jail because they couldn’t make bail, only to be acquitted or have charged dropped in the end.  It makes sense to release a lot of people without bail.  What is happening now, however, is too many people charged with a crime are being released without bail only to be rearrested a few hours or days later for committing another of the same type of crime.  Clearly, some fine tuning is needed.

I like taking pictures of collectable cars.  As a result, I’ve been to several Barrett-Jackson auctions and enjoyed them.  Last week was the first time I went to a Mecum auction, the one that’s held in Kissimmee Florida each January.  If you like to look at collectable cars, I endorse attending either company’s auctions.  I had a great time.

I haven’t taken a red-eye flight in decades and I won’t do it again.  On Saturday, I was scheduled to leave Orlando around 9:00 PM, but the flight was delayed so I didn’t get to Islip MacArthur Airport until 1:15 AM or home until 2:45.  Because flights can be delayed, I don’t think I’ll be booking a flight as late as 9:00 PM anymore either.

One thing about my trip to Florida was exceptional.  I got the kind of rental car I reserved.  That’s never happened to me before.  I asked for a Mustang convertible, or similar.  Instead of the “or similar” I usually get, I got the Mustang. 

I frequently listen to the British talk-radio station LBC, and I still don’t understand what the fuss is about Harry and Meghan wanting to abandon their active positions in the Royal family.   

Things I Know

Getting a flu shot is a good idea, and it’s not too late.  I did it.  Bumping into a wall or door frame soon after you’ve gotten a flu shot is not a good idea.  I did that the morning after I got my flu shot, and thought I’d warn you.

On the tourism front, I’m in Florida to take in the Mecum auto auction in Kissimmee.  It’s the biggest one I know of, and since I like to photograph old cars, it seems logical that I’d be here eventually.  Saint Karen isn’t interested, but she said it was fine for me to come here, so I did.  Just one more example of why I say she must be a saint to put up with me.

Spoiler alert:  The Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in the movie “Bullitt” sold for $3.4 million.  The title Plymouth from the movie garnered a high bid of $275 thousand and the owner didn’t sell it at that price.

As for the travel, there’s a Snapple vending machine in Islip MacArthur Airport that is full of drinks, but no Snapple.  A disappointment.  The worst bagel I’ve ever had I got at Islip too.  It was edible, but truly a roll with a hole.  None of the chewy texture bagels are famous for.

First flight on Frontier Airlines.  As soon as I sat down, I pulled their app up on my phone and booked a premium flight for the return trip.  Premium seats have a little more legroom.  At least the ones that are really jammed together don’t recline.  BTW, I found their customer support via their Facebook page to be excellent. 

I rented a car from Alamo.  I reserved a Mustang convertible, and they gave me a Mustang convertible, instead of an “or similar.”  I think it was the first time in my life I got the car I asked for from a rental agency.

Note to Ford and Android Car Play app.  It’s a rental car. I want it to play music from my phone.  I don’t want my phone to tell the car all my deepest secrets and the name and contact information of everyone I have ever known.   If you want to spill your guts to Ford and Google, fine, but since a lot of people use their phones in rental cars, if I tell the car and the app to stop trying to sync, they ought to take my word for it and knock it off.

Have you ever wondered why the three-letter code for Orlando’s airport is MCO?  It’s because before it was a commercial airport, it was an Air Force base—McCoy Air Force Base.

Saint Karen and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a little trip to New York’s Finger Lakes region.  In case you’ve never been, the lakes are fed by streams that have, over thousands of years, created beautiful gorges and lots of waterfalls.  How scenic is it?  Taughannock Falls is on the scenic calendar my auto mechanic gives out to customers.  Taughannock Falls State Park and Watkins Glen State Park are two of the area’s prime beauties.  The Taughannock waterfall doesn’t spill the same volume of water, but it is thirty or forty feet taller than Niagara. 

Watkins Glen has more waterfalls, but it’s also more strenuous.  We made the mistake of starting at the visitors’ center.  I say mistake because from there the hike is all uphill.  The smarter thing to do is start at the other end and walk downhill.  In the summer, there’s a shuttle between the two parking lots, but there isn’t one the rest of the year.  I suppose you could call a taxi.

If you’re a photographer, set up your gear before you head out.  My photo backpack weighs 25 pounds and there aren’t a lot of dry places to put something like that down so you can select lenses and set up your tripod.

2020

Happy New Year.

The Sisyphus Project is copyrighted 2020 as well as all the previous years.

January 1 is the time a lot of newly elected local officials take office.  Our town’s supervisor was on TV this morning saying he had saved the taxpayers a million dollars, by cutting positions from the budget in the supervisor’s office.  Then he went on to say he’ll spend that money on other things that need doing.

I have two comments on this.  First, if he’s spending the money elsewhere, he isn’t saving it, is he?  Second, I am someone who has crafted multi-million-dollar government budgets, and everyone who works in the supervisor’s office might be paid out of the supervisor’s budget.  I don’t know in this specific case.  However, it’s kind of normal for a municipal executive to have at least some people working in his/her office who are paid from the budget in other departments.

Something else that takes place at the beginning of every year is the cable tv channel HGTV’s dream home.  I always watch and like the show they do about building or extensively remodeling a dream home.  But the prize in the contest is the house with all its furnishings, a new Honda Passport, and $250,000 from Quicken Mortgage, for a total of over two-million dollars.  That’s great, but don’t you have to be rich in order to pay the taxes so you can keep the prize once you’ve won?  My family is comfortable, but certainly not rich, and I know I couldn’t afford to keep that prize unless I won Powerball or Mega Millions first.

By the way, if I do win Powerball or Mega Millions this year, my plans for that haven’t changed.  I still intend to jump on the bed.