Gorsuch Heads to the Hill

When Neil Gorsuch heads up to the Senate this week it’ll be interesting to see if his only enemies will be Democrats. Chuck Schumer has promised that he will force the Republicans to go nuclear.  What he is saying is that he will not release the Democratic senators in red states to vote against a filibuster.  The filibuster would prevent the nomination from being brought to the full senate for a simple majority vote.  This is a tricky situation.  There are seven Democrats up for re-election in 2018 who are in states that voted for Trump.  If all of those voted against the filibuster and the vice president threw in his vote that would be sixty.  But realistically it doesn’t seem likely that all seven would cave.  So if the Democrats can let a few of the most vulnerable vote for cloture it still allows few of the more secure senators to vote against.

This leads to the nuclear option. The Dems under Harry Reed eliminated the filibuster for every confirmation approval type but the Supreme Court justices.  This occurred because the republicans effectively blocked Obama’s other court selections.  Schumer at the time was hesitant about the decision.  Now he is shown prescient.  Trump has the potential of appointing another two (and possibly more) SCOTUS picks during his tenure.  And eliminating the filibuster would make the appointments under the current congressional make-up almost routine.

Great! What’s not to love?  Well, not so fast.  If I were to guess, John McCain and Lindsey Graham would be the usual suspects in any revolt in the ranks.  I can just imagine high flowery prose defending the sanctity of the filibuster as a sacred check and balance against the tyranny of the majority.  Blah, blah, blah.

Okay, how does it end up? My guess, Trump tells McConnell to promise McCain and Graham either some senate perks or some pork for their states and they find a way to vote for the change.  Then the same kabuki theater gets repeated during the actual approval when some other senators discover they have perks or pork that need to be addressed.  Long story short, Vice President Pence comes over to the Senate and Gorsuch gets approved 51 – 47.

You can say that eliminating the filibuster is a dangerous play. In four years President Warren will be nominating Justice Obama for the bench and we’ll be powerless to block that appointment.  To that I say, whatever.

You only get to worry about the bullet you dodge today. If you die today, writing on your tombstone that your bullet proof vest is on order would sound pretty pathetic. So the play is sound.  Get Gorsuch in.  Get Kennedy to resign and replace him with Tomás de Torquemada as soon as is humanly possible. And add another conservative jurist as soon as superhumanly possible.  So much damage has already been done that it will take eight years of a Trump administration just to get us back to the baseline of where we were under John Kennedy.

So gentlemen of the Senate, get off your asses and get it done. I was promised a (sort of) conservative Supreme Court by Easter.  But I’m getting impatient.  Let’s shoot for Palm Sunday.

An Early Spring

For a man of whose forebears inhabited the summery Mediterranean for millennia, living in New England is akin to imprisonment on Pluto.  Even when you aren’t personally thrust into the jaws of hyperborean cold, you still are surrounded by vistas that at best include the endless blank-white of snow and ice and at worst are restricted to stygian blackness.

There have been recent winters where it snowed relentlessly from New Year’s Day to April Fool’s Day.  The ordeal of clearing snow and going back and forth to work basically took up every waking hour.  And because of the short winter day it seemed like your whole existence took place in snowy twilight or inky darkness.  After living here for the last thirty years I’ve come to completely sympathize with Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining and see the wisdom of cutting his losses.  Although, to be fair, my wife is nowhere’s near as annoying as Shelley Duvall was.

But this year is quite different.  We’ve probably had only about thirty inches of snow all winter and we’ve had so much balmy weather and rain that my entire roof is free of snow.  There’s been so little snow removal that my back is in excellent shape.  And today I saw a small shoot poking out of the exposed dirt.  My wife said it was a Shasta Daisy plant that she planted a few years ago.  And even the chipmunks have awakened from their winter stupor and begun racing around looking for trouble.  Without a doubt, Spring has sprung.

They say in Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.  Well, young I ain’t.  So, to thoughts of what will my fancy lightly turn to?  Why, Supreme Court appointments of course!

Yes, there is no poetry left in my soul.  The progressives have rotted it all away.  In its place is spite, a desire for revenge.  And what better vehicle for this petty malice than the Trumpian blitzkrieg!  Trump’s current nominee is slated to begin hearings next month and be approved by Easter (April 16th).  This will allow his executive orders on immigration to be upheld in SCOTUS and begin the work of challenging some of the other federal court outrages that have cropped up since Scalia’s death last year.

But I must confess I have a fonder and more nefarious hope than Gorsuch’s succession to Scalia’s spot.  What I really want (and actually hope for) is a replacement for Kennedy.  There have been rumors that such an occasion is coming up this year.  Kennedy will be eighty and he has said he wanted to allow a republican to pick his successor.  There are some circumstantial events that have encouraged these thoughts and even though Kennedy has denied any present intention it is not unlikely that he is planning a retirement soon.

This I look forward to with great enthusiasm.  I envision a reversing of all the recent social over-reach that Kennedy allowed and returning these decisions to the states where they can be decided to the satisfaction of the people, the outraged, frustrated, spiteful, vindictive people.  I think that would be true social justice.  So, here’s to an early spring.  In the words of the poet George Costanza, “life, renewal, all that crap!”