Tuesday, February 07, 2017

February 7, 2017--Glimmers?

My close friend, Dr. Gary Schwartzberg, the best audiologist on the east coast, has been in existential angst since Donald Trump was elected. It is hard to blame him.

But I have taken it as my mission to find things for him to consider that might ease his anguish. Perhaps some have been more stretches of my imagination than verifiably true, more wish than reality. However, struggling to offer him things to feel optimistic about, all right, to not make him crazy, I have come up with a few things these past few days that appear to have helped ease his political pain. Or at least to offer some brief solace.

Here's something I wrote to him over the past weekend, and what he said back to me--
Because of med-induced reduced energy this, which could be lengthy, will be brief. I am beginning to see some glimmers of hope. All in the realm of our cherished checks and balances-- Asserting that the U.S. government is not made up just of a powerful executive branch, the federal courts have begun to assert themselves. In at least two instances already there have been judicial rulings that suspended Trump's egregious Muslim-ban executive order. And Trump and his administration are obeying these rulings, albeit appealing them. This is most important. It suggest some acknowledgement on their part of the courts' authority and evidence of restraint on Trump's potential imperial aspirations. 
If this gets to the Supremes with the current 4-4 split the other court's rulings will stand. Of course, who knows what will be if the 9th seat gets filled. (it will). But about these kinds of fundamental constitutional matters even conservative justices (sometimes especially conservative justices) are very protective of the Constitution's separation of powers. Though, on the other hand, they have been over-tolerant of protecting presidential authority, which has grown exponentially since the Depression, World War II, and Cold War. Then, there is clearly a blood-struggle for primacy within the White House among some of the senior staff and Cabinet heads. There was a good WaPo piece a few days ago and a Time magazine cover story about the emerging feud between Bannon-Miller, who hatched the exec order without consulting with the Secretaries of Defense, State, or Homeland Security. All three entities headed by mature, powerful, and self-assured men who, if they will continue to act independently (and I feel will  considering who they are and with history watching), will at some point tell Trump it's either them or Bannon.  
And my guess is that Jared Kusher will soon try to pull the plug on Bannon as he did to get rid of Chris Christie. There may not be room enough in the West Wing for those two. Even Ivanka's brand is being hammered by the excesses of Bannon and Miller. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are no longer carrying her line.  I see these to be glimmers of some hope. Of course, as the criticism mounts, Trump may dig in and begin to act out more. Which could be dangerous. But I'm betting on Mattis, Tillerson, and Kelly. And especially Jared and Ivanka. Trump is essentially a small-time mom-and-pop operator on steroids and if his kids do an intervention, it could get interesting and things could get a lot better.  And then thankfully there's the Super Bowl . . .   
Dr. S responded--
I do see the glimmers and believe that they are real.  Reasonable conservative and liberal federal court judges are beginning to step up to the plate; I am hopeful that more will be energized to do the same.  I read (maybe Times OpEd) that the “so-called judge” tweek was the one of the most dangerous of all--delegitimizing the fed court system.  I also agree, the more extreme and irrational the inhabitants of the White House are, the more likely things will implode sooner than later.   We spent the weekend with my daughter and her boyfriend.  I am encouraged at the intellect and progressive mindedness of some of our youth.   Enjoy the game and help us stay positive my friend.  
Then I wrote--
The Patriots are down by 25 points and I have the TV on mute. Most boring Super Bowl ever! So I have some time to send you one more note before turning it off altogether and hitting the hay. 
Did I read, or am I making it up, that the Trump adminsidtartion has decided not to use off-shore black-op interrogation sites where they torture captives? If true it's another glimmer and likely the result of General "Mad Dog" Mattis asserting himself. 
And in regard to checks and balances we shouldn't forget the American Street.  
Remember the Arab Street during the ill-fated Arab Spring? For the most part things got worse, but it did show the power of an aroused population, even in totalitarian situations. Here, now organized through social media, if the people remain motivated and turn out, that can make a big difference. Remember how street demonstrations helped bring down two presidents--Johnson and Nixon? 
Then again, I can't stop thinking that it may come down to Trump the father and father-in-law versus Steve Bannon, his surrogate whatever. I'm betting on the kids. 
And then from GS--
Speaking of betting, turn on your TV. The Pats are now trailing by only 16 points. Never count them out. 
Finally, I wrote--
Forget it. There are only a few minutes left and they need two touchdowns, each with two extra points. Can't happen. I'm going to sleep. 

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