Monday, February 20, 2017


This has been an unusually mild and short winter here in the South. Today was in the 70's and sunny as it has been for weeks now. My garden is lovely although it will probably never be as beautiful as it was before last year's "exceptional" drought. I lost dozens of shrubs and trees. I am still grieving over my row of grand wax myrtles, full grown at 20', now all gone. Nevertheless, early Spring is here (although the calendar still says winter), and just when I needed gardening therapy the most. I fully intend to make the most of it. As age and health creep up on me, I do not have the stamina I used to have, but that is alright because it makes me rest more and take in the soul-refreshing beauty all around me. I am better for that.  

 Forsythia "Lynwood." The glory of late winter, it is covered with tiny bright yellow flowers before the green leaves appear. A "must have" shrub in the South. The never-failing brilliant herald of spring.

 Camellia japonica, "Professor Sargent." Every self-respecting southern yard and garden has camellia, "the winter rose." Prof. Sargent is a favorite. To me camellia is the "king" of the garden. Southern gardens typically also have lots of azaleas but they are often frail and fussy. All of my expired last year.

Spiraea thunbergii ("Baby's Breath spiraea"). Covered with tiny white blossoms in late winter. 

Many other plants are also blooming in my garden: loropetalum, winter honeysuckle, winter jasmine, and of course the bulbs, as daffodils.

We are having another strange season of a sort in our national government, and it is not a good one. Donald Trump has been president for one month. It has been chaos. We have 47 months to go. Actually, some bookies are giving odds he will not last the four years, either removed by impeachment or voluntarily quit. Personally, I find both of these far-fetched. The Republicans have control of Congress. They would be in no rush to remove a president of their own party. Impeachment would require a really shocking crime, such as being an agent of Putin. As far as voluntarily quitting, can anyone see Trump ever doing that? Certainly not with his ego.

There is so much wrong, one hardly knows where to start. I have been bothered by his war against the intelligence community. This is a mystery to me. I cannot figure why he is doing this unless he knows they have incriminating information on him and he is trying to intimidate them. I am concerned too with his bizarre foreign "policy." And what about his frightening attacks on the independent judiciary? I am most bothered by his war against the free press. He called it the enemy of the people. He could not be more wrong and dangerous. 

Trump has not settled into a presidential mode. He is still campaigning and playing to his base, the angry white working-class man. He is an ego-maniac who filters everything through the lens of self-image. He has the maturity of a second grade bully in the school yard. He has not changed. Why should we think he will? He is the founding fathers' worst nightmare. They knew that a democratic republic has an achilles heel. The majority can elect anyone, even a dangerous demagogue who could reverse democratic rights and principles. This is how Trump seems to me. However, the saving grace is that he is a minority president. The majority of voters did not choose him and still do not support him. His "unfavorability" ratings are over 50%. Most American do not want him to be president.

We have a constitutional crisis in this country. It is still too soon to tell how it is going to play out, but there is a rising consensus among the majority of Americans that this cannot go on as is for four years. What to do? If he will not quit on his own or if Congress will not remove him from office, we are stuck with him. He does not understand, let alone respect our constitutional system of government. Fortunately, there are other centers of power: Congress, the courts, the military, the bureaucracy, and the media. Even within his own administration there are views in conflict with the President's. It may be that a consensus will emerge that the government must go on by disregarding his antics. By common agreement among the other power centers, he could become irrelevant, that is, marginalized and ignored. Maybe, but there are several problems with this. Congress needs the president to sign their bills into law. The media also "need" him because his wild rants drive up ratings. We are fascinated by watching this "train wreck." The problem is we are all on the train. 

Still, I think it is a possible that the rest of the government could push Trump aside and go on although it will not be easy. I get the sense that they are beginning to coalesce around an understanding that Trump is "unhinged, unmoored and unglued," as the conservative columnist David Brooks said a couple of days ago (NY Times, Feb. 17, 2017: "What a Failed Trump Administration Looks Like." Find it here .) Other conservative spokespersons and outlets are joining in the chorus, perhaps most importantly that bastion of right-wing Republicanism, the Wall Street Journal. Democrats already consider Trump a dangerous lunatic. If the conservative Republicans continue on with this, a consensus will develop that he is too unstable to govern and must be disregarded for the sake of the nation. If so, the rest of the government must take over and run the country leaving our "Mad King George" out of the picture.