Reality Check # 6 — Cruise missiles are less destructive than a terrible Supreme Court Justice

Last week saw Trump’s floundering Presidency saved by the quick response of his national security team to the Syrian chemical weapons attack on a hospital near Aleppo. Generals McMaster, Mattis, and Dunford, with CIA head Pompeo, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and the U. S. Navy planned and executed the Tomahawk cruise missile attack on a secondary Syrian Air Force base, thereby bringing steel and thunder, and more importantly, resolve into the President’s otherwise weak and confused performance as Commander in Chief to date.

Will Trump’s image benefit from their speedy action? Sure. Will his instant popularity last? Doubtful, once the public comes to understand that little serious damage was done to the Syrian forces of Dictator Assad. But even when people realize the Tomahawk attack was more of a PR event than a military “victory”, the global political benefits of the forceful-seeming response will have some lasting impact:

  • The bombing shows our potential enemies along with our allies that, when guided by professionals, Trump can take decisive action
  • The bombing warns Assad and his Russian puppet masters that the US is not going to walk away from the tragic, cruel, seemingly hopeless Syrian civil war
  • The bombing buys Trump much-needed time to get his White House in working order.

But, with all its associated benefits, the impact and memory of the US bombing will fade in time. The same cannot be said of two other Trump administration “victories” this week, when, first, the Senate voted to kill the 60-vote requirement to confirm a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and then, triumphant in their march backward toward a repressive America, voted to seat Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

Your Truthteller predicts that Gorsuch will prove to be the most right-wing Justice in recent history — that is, until the next Trump appointment, should he get one. Thanks to the Senate rules changes, he can now nominate a flagrantly reactionary judge, knowing his choice only needs fifty-one votes to be appointed to the court.

If, as expected, the Republicans add several Senate seats to their current 52-seat total in 2018, then, even should a Democrat win the Presidency in 2020, it’s unlikely she or he will control the Senate. The result? A Democratic/Progressive successor to Trump will be unable to appoint a justice who is deemed “liberal” or left-leaning by the Republicans, who can block any nominee with just 51 votes. More broadly, from last week, a President who faces a Senate controlled by the other party will likely not be allowed to appoint any Supreme Court Justice.

We could well see the Court lose one or even two Justices to age after 2020, to find that those seats cannot be filled, thanks to Republican obstructionism. Merrick Garland will be joined by more Democratic-supported Nominees on the bench of the betrayed.

Worse, the business of SCOTUS will be proceeding apace, as the five or six right-wing Justices overturn one progressive precedent after another. We need to remember: a Court with just seven active Justices can accept cases from the lower courts if as few of four Justices agree. With Gorsuch, the right wingers will control five. The addition of another Conservative should Trump get the chance will give the reactionaries six of nine Justices.

When those of us warned voters in the months leading up to the November election that a victory by Trump would have disastrous consequences for American democracy, this is what we were talking about. Putting SCOTUS in the hands of the conservative faction of the Republican party means that for at least the next twenty to twenty-five years, the great Corporations, the religious right, the rabid America Firsters, and the anti-women, anti-minorities, anti-immigrant, anti-worker, anti-middle class, anti-gun control, and anti-civil and voting rights forces will have a cooperative Court to ensure that anti-progressive, corporate-friendly, one-percent enriching Republican legislation continues to become the law of the land.

Overturning Citizens United? Not gonna be possible. Climate change regulation and proactive environmental programs? Forget them. Long term economic growth? Forget it. Voting rights? Forget them. Women’s reproductive rights? The appointment of Gorsuch, coupled with the Ryan/Pence agenda, dooms them. The reining in of the Greed Class, who’ve used the law to secure their economic strangle-hold on our country? Not going to happen, not with a Republican-controlled Congress, a malleable, morally spineless President, and a pro-business Court to back them up.

This seemingly small change, the quiet takeover of the Supreme Court, will put approximate 20% of Americans in legal control of the other 80%.for the foreseeable future. Since the dominant 20% will march in lockstep to the drumbeat of the ruling one-tenth of one percent, this control will:

  • Match the economic domination of America already secured by the great corporations and those who own them
  • complete the crushing of individual and lower class rights, furthering the trend we’ve witnessed in most of the Red States for over a decade
  • become the club with which the few who rule American will beat down any group who challenges the ruling elite’s authority.

The murder of those poor Syrian children and their relatives was an inexcusable criminal act. But, tragic as it was, it pales in your Truthteller’s eyes to the murder of American democracy. Someday, somehow, Assad and his Generals and Russian enablers will, I hope, be punished. But the murder of the dream that is America will not be prosecuted and judged in any court, for the Supreme Court, the place where ultimate justice has so many times been obtained by the weak, by minorities, by the outsiders, and by women, is now in the hands of the right wing authoritarians.

Reality Check #5 — It’s not going to get better

The latest surveys all testify to Trump’s growing unpopularity:

  • One third of Americans give his performance a grade of “F”
  • The most credible polls of favorability show him with a rate of from 36 to 40%, meaning nearly two-thirds of Americans have a neutral to negative assessment of him as Commander-in-Chief
  • Surveys show that his core supporters are increasingly dismayed by his ceaseless belligerence, willful ignorance, and continuing managerial incompetence.
Insider surveys suggest most knowledgeable pundits and political professionals expect his popularity to continue to sink, as additional negative revelations about the collusion of the Trump campaign with dark Russian interests are discovered. His endless Twitter war on just about everybody doesn’t bode well either. But long term, meaning in his case, the next three to six months, it’s Trump’s abandonment of his campaign promises that will cause more of his voters to abandon him.

All this negative news has fueled a fresh wave of gloating by Democrats and unceasing TV commentary with a strong flavor of “I told you so”, delivered by otherwise intelligent politicians and party pros who should know better. Sure, the mentally unfit buffoon in the White House is down, but he’s far from out.

Investigations like those underway always take many months to reach a conclusion. Watergate, the most famous of Congressional probes, required over a year to produce results, and only did so due to the more or less accidental discovery of Nixon’s secret audiotapes. In the present case, Trump’s allies control both houses of Congress, and could soon have a hammerlock again on the Supreme Court. The opportunities to hinder or outright block an investigation’s slow progress will be manifold for Trump and his cronies, as evidenced by the crude obstructions of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes over the past two weeks.

Get real, Democrats, liberals, idealistic Bernie backers, and all you millions of women now living in fear for your freedom and health care: do not expect any of the President’s troubles and mistakes to lead to his impeachment this year, even if Congressional (or an independent commission’s) investigators succeed in uncovering prosecutable crimes or high misdemeanors by Trump or his immediate staff.

The truth is we’re stuck with Trump for at least two years. This makes him an ongoing threat to the health and well being of our country. Even if his legislative agenda stalls due to the infighting among Republican factions, Trump can still do serious damage with his Executive Orders, and even more harm when his Cabinet Secretaries use their power to slow or halt the enforcement of established law.

And if the thought of the would-be dictator trampling more of our rights, and attacking the poor and working classes is depressing, never forget that his replacement by Vice President Pence, should that unlikely scenario play out, would be even more of a disaster for the country.

But don’t give up, fellow progressives. Your Truthteller’s bleak outlook isn’t necessarily all bad.

We have roughly eighteen months to prepare for the the 2018 Congressional election, our real chance to resist Trump and his pussy-hating Republican allies. It’s vital we turn out the left and moderate vote in enough districts to take back the House majority and send Ryan and his pals packing. Funding for Democratic candidates is strong. The continuing string of unforced and intentional policy and legislative errors of Trump/Ryan/McConnell will drive more and more voters away from the Republican ranks, or at least encourage them to stay home in November of next year.

So this is the silver lining in an otherwise gray sky for the next year and a half. Simply by doing the job of getting out our voters, we can stop the anti-progressive legislative and policy agenda in its tracks. Even if the right wingers take a few more Senate seats next year, we can still prevent any further erosion of our rights through our control of the House.

Reason enough to roll up our sleeves and do everything possible to encourage grass-roots progressive action in all the House districts where we have a chance to win. And don’t underestimate the odds of retaking control of the Senate, as the Trump “strategy” team makes one miscalculation after another, alienating senatorial voters in the states in play. Many, many Republicans are deeply offended by Trump’s looseness with the truth and his closeness to Russia. It needs to be our mission to make those Senators who condone his behavior and policies pay for their betrayal of the rest of us.