Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Senate has gone nuclear, and it hasn't changed (this week)

Yes, McConnell pressed the button and used the nuclear option.  He declared that cloture requires 51 votes for Supreme Court nominees.  Changing the rules to reduce cloture from 60 votes to 51 votes would have taken 67 votes, and he didn't have 67, so he just got a bare majority to declare that black is white, up is down, Han shot second and the rules say whatever they want them to say.  He used the same maneuver Reid used a few years back because it was the only way to complete the process he started when he announced that he would block Obama from filling the vacancy on the court.

And the Senate is the same as it was a week ago.

Remember what I was saying months ago:  the filibuster was functionally gone for SCOTUS nominations anyway.  McConnell was quite clear that the Democrats were never going to be allowed to filibuster any Republican nominee, so whether the rule was left on the books as some illusory thing or not was irrelevant.  A tool you can't use might as well be thrown out.  The fact that it has now been thrown out just means people can't pretend that an unusable tool is available.  I have no patience for pretense.

Comity?  That was gone long ago.  These people already hated each other.  The relationship between the escalation of partisan warfare and personal animosity is tricky.  It is hard not to hate someone who is using every trick in the book (and then throwing out the rule book with the nuclear option) to do something you think is morally wrong.  It is also much easier to throw out the rules when engaged in conflict with someone you hate.  Regardless of the direction of causation, though, the Senate, once the more bipartisan chamber, was as rancorous as the House last week.  This week's use of the nuclear option changes nothing.

Isn't this just one more step in the escalating partisan conflict, though?  Yes, but McConnell took that step long ago, when he made clear in February that he intended to use the nuclear option if Democrats filibustered, which, given Merrick Garland, they kind of had to do.

Yes, the Senate went nuclear this week.  Nothing changed.

With everything going on in Syria and Russia getting pissed off, let's hope that's all the nuclear action we see.  I did have some warnings about the risks of that...


  1. Han DID shoot second! Just watch the pristine record left for us by Lucas: Han very clearly hits some kind of break in the space-time continuum, his head shifts (anatomically awkwardly, and so hard and fast that he would DEFINITELY have whiplash) to dodge the first laser beam--because lasers only move at 3x10^8 m/s, so they're dodgeable, and that's slower than the speed of sound (Han clearly heard Greedo pull the trigger)--and then Han shoots Greedo under the table (you know, at an angle that's possible to do without hitting the fucking table, as Greedo's shot would have, if it wasn't a magic fucking laser).

    Who you going to believe? Your lying memory or the plain truth in front of your eyes?

    1. Man, you have REALLY stepped up your trolling game. You know, if you ever give up on academia, I hear Putin pays good money for this kind of work.

    2. I think it is abundantly clear that I have given up on academia, just not the paycheck.

    3. I'd tell you not to state that publicly if this blog had a large enough readership for it to matter, but, well...