How Do We Know If/When It’s Time to Worry?

Some people are worriers. I think they enjoy it. I’m one of them but I don’t enjoy it. I’ve been known to say I worry about the corn in Iowa when there’s a draught. I don’t, but you get the idea.

In school, I had some issues with “take cover drills.” But nothing to really worry about… One day a tanker blew up in the Brooklyn Navy Yard producing an exact replica of an atomic mushroom cloud. I was outside, off the block I live on. It scared the heebeejeebees out of me. Another opportunity for real worry came in college when I sat on my fraternity house steps with a friend during the Cuban missile crisis. We were literally 2 1/2 blocks from the room in which were hunkered down the president with his merry men deciding if I amongst others were going to get blown to bits.

We pretty much know what our worry buttons are. “Here comes another month that is longer than we have money for.” “That noise in the car, what’s that gonna cost?” ” Can I really afford that dress for the party?” Or…my cousin just died of breast cancer. Everyone in my family gets it. When does my number come up?” Thus there are major and minor worries, and so to the point.

I’ve never worried about the United States of America, but I’m beginning to. I hear so many people yelling at each other without much listening being done. One popular refrain is, “Isn’t that illegal? How does he get to do that?!?” Very interesting point.

Let’s take the security clearance issue. Clearly, the President has the power to do what he did. The question becomes does he have the power to do it the way he did it? It appears, according to many lawyers that the power is not absolute. It has to be used administratively (the person stole, lied, did something to ethically taint the organization) but not politically. “He doesn’t agree with me? Then, as the Red Queen would have said, “Off with his head!” Or security clearance.

That’s a no-no.

Now to the “getting away with it” part. We have in this nation a critical piece of philosophy. It’s called the rule of law. That brings the courts into play. Someone is innocent until proven guilty. In order to prove that one has to take the offender to court. The court goes through a process called a trial, guided by the judge, and decided by the jury. That part itself when one is dealing with the president is a quagmire to be decided by the Supreme Court; you can bet on that. Let’s, however, say the process is a long one–which it will be. So, one asks, “Can’t he just lift all the clearances while the process is on-going?” Yes, but… The judge, knowing the president has the power could none-the-less issue a cease and desist order ruling that until the end of the trial and verdict process all removals of clearances had to strictly adhere to the administrative procedures and not be tainted by personality and politics.

Then it gets interesting. The jury verdict is rendered. In a lower court and in a criminal trial there are cops there who take the convicted person’s tie, belt, watch and so-so, snap on the cuffs and “away we go” as Jackie Gleason would say. With the president, you’ve got a whole bunch of cops–court bailiffs, Secret Service, and the United States Marshall Service who is one of the collection of criminals arms of federal law enforcement.

The Bailiffs protect the judge, jury, and lawyers. The Secret Service protects the president. The Marshalls do the tie (probably need two agents just for the presidential tie), belt, etc and remove the prisoner from court. We could have a real donnybrook. Would the Secret Service refuse to give up the president? What measures would the Marshals use to take their man into custody? What do the bailiffs do while this Mexican stand-off is taking place? We’ve all heard the phrase, “Constitutional Crisis” bandied around. Believe you me, this would be one of them. All of this is a worry. All of this could be the end of democracy as we know it until Congress’ rigid partisanship at some point become flexible bi-partisanship. Meanwhile, the government is doing next to nothing legislatively and but little more by executive order. I can hear Stan Laurel saying to Oliver Hardy saying, “This is a fine mess you’ve gotten us into Ollie!” Or we could go with William Bendix on the “Life of Reilly” moaning, “Whatta revoltin’ development this is!”

So if I had to answer my own question I would say, “Right about now would be good.”

There’s an old line about what happens to an Ostrich when it hides from trouble by putting its head in the ground. It gets itself shot in the ass. Don’t be an Ostrich.


Bill Gralnick the worry-wort can be found on this page every Sunday (even though he is acutely aware that this is Monday… It’s a long story). If you wish to know more about him, wish to follow his more than 100 postings, or connect with his two books, “Mirth, Wind and Ire:Political and Social Essays–With a Little Humor Thrown In.” and “More, Wind, Mirth, and Ire….” check out his website, “http//

His third book is finished and at the editors. A memoir, it’s called “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Notes From Brooklyn.”

And as Bill says, “Read! It’s good for both of us.”





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