Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Gulliver in Lilliput
I had to do a spit-take yesterday as Himself's Twitter-poutrage in the morning contradicted his afternoon effusions over the budget deal worked out by congress. Of course this is par for the course, "normalized" Trump behavior. He'll contradict himself in the same sentence, and hardly anyone bats an eye any more. It's just him being him, yanno?
It's become very clear to me as an observer, however, that his powers and authority are very tightly constrained, more so every day. He can babble all he wants in interviews and on the Twitter Machine, but what he can actually do is more and more limited by the rest of the government apparatus either ignoring his demands or actively thwarting them.
The courts, of course, took the lead in the matter of reining in the God-Emperor (I recently discovered that term has actually been utilized by parts of the White Right -- and Ann Coulter(!) -- in reference to Himself) and I doubt at this point that even the SCOTUS with the New Boy will overturn the lower courts, at least on the matter of what the president can do by diktat.
From my vantage point very far outside the halls of power, what appears to have happened is that the military and the security state have taken the lead in doing their own thing as they see fit and necessary while the rest of the government is in a leaderless anarchic state that could turn chaotic but so far hasn't. Inertia can sometimes be a good thing, no?
I observed a somewhat similar effect during the first few months of the Obama administration. He set out to do this, that or the other thing, and he was thwarted and constrained in his actions by the will of the other branches of government -- and he didn't resist. Not even a little bit. This was disappointing to some of his loyalists who saw it as betrayal, but most saw it as simply accepting "reality".
Trump seems to see Himself as a Boy-God-Emperor in a sandbox who can do anything he wants, because he is a God and that is that. Only he can't. And isn't. As he is thwarted, he yields, though his rhetoric may become ever more shrill and his next move may be even more outrageous and radical.
Will we soon be seeing him drop his pants and pee in the Rose Garden? Wouldn't surprise me in the least.
Something similar to Trump's reining in happened with Reagan, Schwarzenegger and Ventura, among other celebrities elected to high office. They set out to be huge change agents, and really Reagan was the only one who succeeded -- and that by the skin of his teeth. I think he managed to cause as much change as he did because he brought with him 1) a coherent plan (created by his sponsors) and 2) sufficient personnel familiar with the workings of the government apparat to do what his sponsors wanted. That and his personal charm (he could be quite a charming fellow. I met him a few times) were enough to enable many of the changes he wanted.
Trump lacks the charm of Reagan, but he also operates by alienation. Rather than developing allies, and building coalitions, he reverses the process by driving would-be allies away, insulting and dismissing them, and by shattering -- or trying to shatter -- coalitions that might support him so as to work on individuals instead.
This habit became untenable very early in his regime, and one after another, potentially supportive power centers turned their backs or shut him off.
As other observers have pointed out, you may be able to get away with this sort of behavior in business -- whatever Trump's business really is -- but not in government. Not in the US government anyway. So he's thwarted and the major aspects of government carry on as if he weren't there.
That brings up the question of whether they are operating on a contingency plan: "What happens if the presidency is 'vacant?'" Could be. I don't know.
He's stated directly that he has authorized "his" military to do what they think best -- apparently without consulting him -- in the various wars under way. That kind of carte blanche is dangerous, of course, but it could be less dangerous than letting him direct military operations.
There is one sector of the Security State that appears to be operating on his direction (though maybe not), and that would be the border, customs and immigration forces who have been causing immense disruption and panic in immigrant communities. "Sticking it" to immigrants and their descendants, particularly ones from South of the Border, seems to be something our dauntless border agents have longed for, despite the rather extraordinary deportation statistics prior to the advent of Trump in the White House. WTH?
I look at this targeting of brown immigrants or suspected illegales as potentially extremely dangerous over the long term. The Obama regime exercised considerable discretion in their targeting for deportation. It appears that the Trump regime is consciously dispensing with discretion and is sweeping up anyone and everyone they want and throwing them out with no compassion or conscience at all.
The question then becomes "where does it end?" And you know it won't. Not unless something is done to stop it. Anyone can be targeted. Anyone can wind up in the camps (privately run of course.)
That so many have risen in opposition to the regime is important. Millions upon millions have taken to the streets to show solidarity with one another -- despite many political disagreements -- and their unity in opposition to the regime and its figurehead leader. The streets have filled with protest over and over again, and it has been sobering to The Powers That Be. Elected officials have been confronted over and over again by citizens demanding accountability for their too often gross, cruel and corrupt actions. That, too, has been sobering.
What I see right now is that the governing situation is anarchic but not yet chaotic. Chaos can easily be induced however. Whether we'll get to that point, I can't say. I can't even be sure I'd recognize it if it came because we've been whipsawed so often already.
This is perhaps tangential, but I'd like to encourage people to watch Adam Curtis's "HyperNormalization" embedded below. It doesn't explain everything, and the visuals sometimes seem to be part of some other documentaries, but it offers plenty of clues to how we got to this point and what may have to be done about it. Our rulers always have the option to do the right thing. As a rule, they do just the opposite. Correcting course is difficult and fraughtful, but sometimes there is no alternative.