Going the distance
Driving an all-too-familiar 551 miles — the exact same number as our old pre-dial home phone number more than half a century ago — is both literally and figuratively a pain in the backside.
But it also provides a welcome opportunity for reflection, especially when traveling with a feline companion who views an Algonquin roundtable as something to jump up and sleep upon, not as a location for stimulating conversation.
Streaming media or satellite radio being a necessity on such trips, it typically takes only a few moments to determine Big Media’s Topic of the Day for all but the channels that drone on with forgotten music of our youth.
Monday, the topic wasn’t Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as might have been expected.
Rather, on sports channels it was the supposedly devastating body language of future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers after his team had a horrible first half in the NFC championship game.
Everywhere else, it was — you guessed it — non-stop Trump-o-rama.
Normally, this newspaper is Trump-free, kind of like the increasing number of gluten-free items in grocery aisles. We’ll break that pattern this week only because doing so relates to local issues Big Media doesn’t talk to death.
All presidents — even overly polarizing ones, whose behavior we might not always appreciate even if we identify with his or her party — deserve respect. So we won’t detail all the Big Media discussion aside from reporting that there were hours of questions about whether senators can be expected to sit quietly for 12 hours to hear arguments in an impeachment trial.
Yes, bladder issues did receive attention, even as we were stopping to relieve ours.
Discussion also focused on how all of this will affect this year’s presidential election. But that begged a question no one in Big Media seemed willing to ask.
As obvious as it is that the trial has zero chance of actually removing President Trump from office, it ought to be equally obvious that we already have an opportunity to remove or return him to office this November.
Of all the things our government could be spending millions of dollars and thousands of hours on, is a needless exercise in futility really what we want or need?
Just because President Trump is a somewhat loose cannon — not unlike a local county commissioner — doesn’t mean we need to be sore losers and go though special ouster procedures when we already have that opportunity in upcoming elections.
We’re turning into a nation of sore losers. It’s pretty much like the ongoing court case against a local wind farm. Whatever happened to gracefully losing and gearing up for the next battle instead of constantly trying to replay a battle already lost?
With only an occasional “meow” to the contrary, we were able to identify during our solitary 551-mile drive numerous battles we lost in the past.
We feel free to mention them, just as Aaron Rodgers is free to mention that his team actually beat its opponent in the second half — as if that should mean anything when the rules of the game were as clear going in as were the rules of the Electoral College when Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.
What’s different is that we won’t march across the street to the courthouse, or up and down Pennsylvania Ave. — to challenge them.
We wonder, for example, why Marion County road crews, unlike city and state crews, don’t treat roads to prevent icing.
We wonder why the county needs a multimillion-dollar temporary home for its garbage when some of those paying for it live in homes as much in need of repair as our garbage’s current transfer station.
We wonder why no one managed to object when two county commissioners voted to carve up the county in gerrymandered fashion to diminish the power of cities and preserve their own seats on the commission.
We wonder why city residents continue to accept the most regressive of all taxes — electric rate surcharges — to avoid property taxes, which are paid more by the wealthy than the poor.
We wonder why downtown Marion street remodeling extended only from Walnut to 5th St. when businesses like Wagon Wheel Express and our own, just a stone’s throw away, could have used new parking lot approaches and accessible entryways that weren’t provided so we could instead have sidewalk “bulbs” that trucks and snowplows continually hit.
We wonder why much-delayed grants to repair the Elm St. bank collapse along Luta Creek in Marion exclude any money to repair the cause — broken curbing.
The list goes on. But the place to deal with questions like this is not at a trial but at a ballot box next time responsible officials are up for election.
Costly, futile legal challenges are no better or worse whether they deal with President Trump or wind farms. Banging on the back door is not the way to win an argument lost at the front door.
Being that we’re reverting for the next few months into teaching mode, we invite any readers wanting a Trump-free experience that’s still relevant to what’s currently going on to check out a copy of John F. Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage.”
Read Chapter 6 about a forgotten Kansas hero, Edmund Ross, the deciding vote in the nation’s first impeachment trial.
Vice President Mike Pence got into a bit of a dustup last week mentioning Kennedy’s inclusion of Ross in his book. If you’re a caring citizen, forget Pence’s spin and the spin of Kennedy heirs. Go straight to the source and check it out. Then think afterward what true leadership, like Ross’s, might mean if employed in Marion County not just the Senate.
— ERIC MEYER