On being final…

It will come as a surprise to no one who really knows me that I stayed as far away from math and science as possible during my four years as an undergrad. I could muddle through the work and scrape through with C’s, but I had no aptitude for it, no talent. Turn me loose in Dunkle Hall for History of Whatever or Guild for political science and I was in my element.

Increasingly it feels like many of the old maximums of political science I learned 20+ years ago don’t really apply to the study of politics in 21st century America. Despite the formal education and a few decades of reading I find myself feeling like a stranger in a strange land more and more often.

Still, though, some of the old truisms were true for a reason. While lecturing on the role of the Judiciary, Dr. Simpson was fond of reminding us that “the Supreme Court isn’t final because they’re right – They’re right because they’re final.” It’s one of those deeper truths wrapped in a easy to understand package. For good or bad, short of amending the Constitution, there’s simply no mechanism to allow for appeal beyond the Supreme Court.

Listning to the talking heads today, many of them seem to forget that the same is true when the Senate sits as a court of impeachment. That body has sweeping latitude to set the terms of the trial and the outcome belongs to them alone to decide. What the House thinks, or the president thinks, or what the latest polls show is a bit of interesting, but not particularly relevant detail.

In cases of impeachment, the Senate is right simply by virtue of being final. If you don’t like the results, if you don’t like how you’re being represented in this republic of ours, then the onus is on you to secure different representation at the ballot box… but running around whimpering that “the Senate got it wrong” makes you sound like a schmuck.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Nextdoor. My neighborhood is one of many that have elected to use the Nextdoor website and app to take nosy-neighborness to the next level. The current conversation that seem to be monopolizing everyone’s time is focused on barking dogs, the causes, and what can be done about it. Participants are divided into two broad camps by this discussion. Without spending time recounting the dozens of posts, I fall pretty firmly into the camp that says that even though the lots here are large, we do, in fact, live in a neighborhood. That means we all have to endure a certain amount of fuckery we find personally obnoxious from neighbors (and their dogs). Yes, I’ve heard the occasional barking dog – and from time to time, mine have contributed to the cacophony. In the grand scheme of obnoxious shit neighbors do, the dogs aren’t even close to the top.

2. The House of Representatives. A few weeks ago, at least according to leaders in the House, the President of the United States represented a clear and present danger to the republic. Hearings had to be conducted and a vote held with all possible haste. Since then, though, the leaders of the House have spent weeks sitting with their collective thumbs up their own asses while refusing to deliver the charging documents to the Senate. Since they seem to be in no rush to get the trial underway, I can only assume House leaders no longer think President Trump is a pressing threat to the country. If he were, surely they would have pressed for a trial to go forward as quickly as possible… unless, of course, these fearless leaders of the House are more interested in political theater than actually standing upon their dire warnings for the future… and dealing with the fallout from their actions.

3. Doing for others. I’m generally open to lending a hand, or taking on a project, or generally at least attempting to make myself helpful. What I have consistently resented the hell out of over the course of my career are the things that land on my desk that could have been done by someone else faster or with less explanation required than pushing it over to me with a laundry list of instructions. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the details of everyone’s workload, but I’m willing to bet that if I walked the halls I’d be hard pressed to find someone with more ash and trash cluttering their inbox than I’ve had this week. The fact that so much of it is stuck there by “trusted professionals” who could handle it themselves isn’t surprising, but it is annoying as hell.

Obsession…

We Americans have a problem with obsessions. I’m not talking about the good kind of obsessions like washing your hands three times an hour or making sure you have on clean underwear before leaving the house. I’m talking mostly about the kind of “news” and current events that we obsess over. Since one of the major news channels is almost constantly running as background noise at the Rental Casa de Jeff, I feel that I’m completely justified in wondering WTF our national obsession is with the currently unfolding trial of George Zimmerman.

It’s not like homicide is particularly unusual in our society. I don’t want to imply that homicide is common, but with major cities regularly racking up triple digit body counts every year I’m having a bit of a problem figuring out why we decided to single out just once of them for the magnifying glass treatment. The incident involving Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin wasn’t the most deadly, it certainly wasn’t the most unique, or even the most dramatic or high profile. All I’m saying is George is no OJ.

Still, to see the minute by minute coverage on ever news channel seemingly all the time leaves me wondering why anyone other than those immediately impacted by the case really care? Why don’t we collectively show that same level of concern or outrage about every homicide? Why aren’t we more concerned about the ones that took place within 20 miles of our own homes that we’ll probably never hear about? It’s obviously selling advertising for the networks, so maybe I’m the one that just doesn’t get the “so what” of Zimmerman’s trial.

With Egypt imploding, NSA listening in on your calls and reading your email, a national debt continuing to pile higher and deeper, and the regular ephemera of everyday life, I have enough to obsess over without including a trial taking place 921 miles away that impacts my life in no actual way.

P.S. If there’s anyone out there reading this who happens to thinks a jury verdict is a reason to hold a riot in the streets, stop reading this blog now. Seriously. Go away. There is no room for you here.