Quantum cosmologists - folks like Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Steven Hawking and Alan Lightman - study and theorize the origins of the universe. Amazingly, the field is not a new one by any stretch of the imagination; as early as the 5th century B.C.E., the philosopher Democritus proposed that all matter was made of tiny and indivisible atoms, which came in various sizes and textures—some hard and some soft, some smooth and some thorny. To be certain, there are significant disagreements between cosmologists about such things as the age of the universe, precisely when the "Big Bang" (BB) occurred, etc. But then again, what could you expect when the two words making up the very name of the field (quantum and cosmology) are bipolar opposites? (quantum is the theory of the utterly small, while cosmology is the study of the unimaginably gigantic.)
One thing on which most every cosmologist agrees is the Big Bang theory, which posits that 14 billion years ago the entire observable universe was, in the words of MIT professor Alan Lightman “roughly a million billion billion times smaller than a single atom” and has been expanding ever since, to its current size of something like 100 billion galaxies. When I first read that statement in Lightman's wonderful 2014 work The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew, I spent the better part of a week pondering the bit about the pre-BB universe being "roughly a million billion billion times smaller than a single atom." The thing that truly revved my mental engine was contemplating what was outside that universe. Intellectually, of course, the answer is simply "nothing" . . . for there cannot be anything outside the universe. But from a "grand-scheme-of-things perspective," the query produces a profound mind cramp. Nonetheless, I will pretend that I follow what these brilliant ladies and gentlemen are positing, and agree that the universe has been expanding ever since the Big Bang. (Yes, there certainly are female quantum cosmologists; one of the greatest by far is Sandra Faber of the University of California, Santa Cruz, co-inventor of the "theory of cold dark matter.")
Moving on from the mind-numbing realm of Quantum Cosmology to maddening world of big-time politics, we ask "What's outside a political universe when it starts shrinking? And here, we are referring specifically to the current POTUS. For over the past several weeks, his universe has been devolving at an alarming rate. Consider that during a rather brief span - which for most new presidents would be a "period of good feelings," he has:
- Sacked his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after a mere 2 weeks and 2 days on the job;
- Canned James Comey, Director of the FBI;
- Shown his Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, the door;
- Axed his Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci after a mere 10 days on the job;
- Fired his Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and Preibus' deputy, Katie Walsh;
- Disbanded both the American Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum after members began resigning in droves;
- Saw every member (minus 1) of the Presidential Committee on the Arts and Culture submit their resignations in a stinging rebuke which ended with the words "Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too." (BTW, the committee member who did not sign the letter was the committee chair, First Lady, Melania Trump);
- Accepted the resignation (?) of chief political strategist Stephen Bannon, who has already met with Breitbart News' chief financial backer, multi-billionaire Bob Mercer, and is ready to go to war with "globalists," who apparently include '45, his former boss and protégé;
- Begun to be on the receiving end of some serious rebukes questioning his sanity, stability and moral integrity from leading Republicans including Senators Corker, Flake, Rubio and Hatch as well as a gaggle of former party leaders and professional media conservatives;
- Been utterly trashed by his Art of the Deal ghost writer Tony Schwartz, who predicted that '45 is getting ready to "call it quits" - and that the resignation will happen soon;
- And lastly (at least for purposes of this essay) has seen charity after charity, and cause after cause, cancel mammoth black-tie galas at Mar-a-Lago, thus putting a significant crimp in his income.
Indeed, things are not going well for the POTUS; his "base" is beginning to thin even while his world is imploding. His universe is shrinking, leaving him more isolated than ever. And what's worse, in the days following the neo-Nazi/white supremacist tragedy in Charlottesville, he has shown himself to be a moral albino; a man without a conscience or scintilla of shame. And owing to his peculiar "mental makeup" (to be both kind and diplomatic) he has become increasingly untethered. I for one fear he is fully capable of launching a preemptive strike against North Korea as a means of expanding his deflated universe.
(n.b. The most recent issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists unequivocally states that the bellicose rhetoric of both North Korea's Kim and America's '45 has obscured a critical fact: to wit, that North Korea's Hwasong 14 ICBM is not nearly as powerful nor lethal as either side advertises, and as of now, is incapable of reaching the continental USA. Much of what we are hearing and fearing is political hot air. Unquestionably, the misinformation serves both sides' political needs.)
One small sign of just how far his universe has imploded was Friday's announcement that he and the First Lady will skip this year's Kennedy Center honors "in order to allow the honorees to celebrate without political distraction." Reading between the lines, what he's really saying is "I don't want to be booed by so many cultural icons on national television; my ego couldn't take it." '45's decision to stay away from the star-studded gala means it will be just the fourth time in the program’s 40-year history that a president will not be in attendance. In 1994, President Bill Clinton skipped the event while on his way to Budapest for a conference. In 1989, President George Bush was preoccupied with a summit meeting in Malta with Mikhail S. Gorbachev. In 1979, Jimmy Carter did not attend because of the Iran hostage crisis.
In the seven months '45 has been POTUS, the moral authority of both Office of President and the country that the vast majority of the planet looks to for leadership has been both critically damaged and severely diminished. How long it will take to put the brakes on this precipitous slide is anyone's guess. Clearly though, there already exists enough evidence to impeach '45 on the grounds of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
There is already enough evidence of mental impairment to invoke the 25th amendment. Just the other day, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) did just that; she introduced a resolution asking Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to consider removing President Trump from office under terms of that Amendment.
Simply stated, the man must be removed from office.
To those who shake their head and say "But if we somehow manage to do the impossible and get him out of our hair, that means Mike Pence will become President," I respond in the words of former Labor Secretary Robert Reich: " . . . a principled right-winger is better for America and the world than an unhinged sociopath."
We conclude with a return to the world of science:
Some quantum cosmologists belong to a school of thought called the "two-headed theory" of the universe. This school sees the Big Bang as sort of a pothole in the long road of time, with the future pointing away from that moment in two opposing directions. In this theory, time moved in a way we would consider backward for billions of years — with the universe contracting all the while — until it shrank to subatomic size. Then the big bang occurred and time began to progress, and the universe expanded, in the way we see now.
So perhaps what we are going through these past 7 months is precisely that - albeit in miniature; a shrinking, chronologically retrogressive period in which our reality becomes too impossible to imagine, let alone wrap our heads around. But remember, there is that second "head" . . . the Big Bang which causes the universe to progress, to grow, to - in terms of this essay - get us back on the path of political sanity and moral clarity.
It doesn't take an academy of quantum cosmologists or brainy theoretical astrophysicists to accomplish this task. What it does - and will - take are elected officials with guts and principles and a citizenry that awakens to the realization that one need not be systemically predisposed to speaking out . . . just genetically incapable of remaining silent.
Donald Trump must go!
211 days down, 1,246 (?) to go.
Copyright©2017 Kurt F. Stone