Thursday morning, the Senate confirmed Wendy Vitter, wife of former Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter, as U.S. District Court judge for Eastern Louisiana. Speaking at a 2013 anti-abortion rally, Vitter said that the healthcare providers at Planned Parenthood "kill over 150,000 females a year." The day before Vitter’s confirmation, the Senate confirmed Kenneth Lee in a 52-45 vote to the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Lee has called claims of sexism "irrelevant pouting," multiculturalism a "malodorous sickness," and the fight for rights for LGBTQ people "yet another way to portray people as victims in need of preferential treatment."
Lee was confirmed over the objections of Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, just the fourth nominee ever to advance and be confirmed without the approval of his home-state senators. The other three were confirmed last week in Mitch McConnell's single-minded blitz to destroy both the Senate and the federal judiciary. He's doing it while expressly refusing to consider legislation from the House, gleefully declaring, "As long as I am majority leader of the Senate, I get to set the agenda. […] That's why I call myself the grim reaper."
He's doing it with the enthusiastic support of his conference. Such as Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who told The New York Times, "I agree with him […] that setting our court system in the right direction with good, solid nominations is an important thing to be doing." About doing the job of actually legislating, she sniffed, "Sometimes if you're not doing really big things, that can tend to be very, very divisive, you're still providing a level of certainty to the American public that you're not committed to just going down a philosophical highway on your own." Because larding up the judiciary with right-wing extremists isn't exactly that.
Meanwhile, the Times is having experts comment on the situation. "There's so much polarization that they don't even try to compromise anymore, a bizarre state of affairs for an institution that has been traditionally known for debate, deliberation and compromise": That's Joshua C. Huder, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute, who apparently had been in a coma for the entirety of McConnell's majority career. "If we don't see something happen in the next couple months, then you can probably expect this Congress not to do much policywise, other than a budget deal and a couple appropriations bills," he added. "And that won't get done on time.”
“It's just surprising that they're processing nominations and not doing other things," another expert, Anthony J. Madonna of the University of Georgia Congress Project, told the newspaper.
For fuck's sake, it's not surprising! McConnell is telling you very explicitly that he is not going to do anything policywise! It's not just some situation that's developed because both sides suck. It's McConnell claiming that he is shutting it all down! This is not because the Senate is "polarized"; it's because of McConnell, and only McConnell.
And nothing will be fixed until that is acknowledged by everyone: the experts, the traditional media, the rest of the Republican Party—everyone. There is absolutely nothing normal about where America is right now, and it's only partially Donald Trump's fault. Because Mitch McConnell built it.