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Memo to everyone: HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS.

You're gonna need something to puke in by October.

Oh, boy, is this Supreme Court thing gonna be ugly. It's gonna be fugly. It's gonna be STUGLY*. And I'm not even thinking about the outcome, the political and social implications of letting the Pretzeljockey In Chief get to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. I can't even look that far ahead. The Supremes have been a shaky bulwark against the theocracy as it is, and I can't imagine Dubya is going to take this opportunity to wedge a chair under the doorknob. But I can't think about that, because I'm dreading the mere PROCESS more than I've dreaded, well, anything since I started this column. Stug-ly.

This is gonna be the Super Bowl of partisanship. It's going to be the culmination of everything that politics has become to date - media manipulation, spin, demonizing, dirty tricks, bad journalism, and the Us Vs. Them mentality that has sunk into every facet of government. It does differ from the Super Bowl in two important ways, though. First, the ads are going to be a lot duller, and second, the outcome actually matters.

I need to talk for a second about "partisanship", because it's something I've espoused, and occasionally glorified, in these very pages. And I stand by that, because of the nature of the current climate and the actions of the majority. In such an environment, attempting bi-partisanship is surrender and suicide. But just because I'm aware of the only practical response to the current state of affairs doesn't mean I actually LIKE the current state of affairs.

Because partisanship is the Prisoner's Dilemma, writ large upon our societal landscape. If you don't know the Prisoner's Dilemma, here's the Cliff Notes. Two people are given a choice - rat out the other, or stay silent. If they both stay silent, they get six months in prison. If one betrays the other, and the other stays silent, the betrayer goes free and the other prisoner gets ten years. But if both prisoners betray each other, they both go to jail for two years.

That's partisanship. If the Democrats act in a bi-partisan manner, and the Republicans act like partisan bastards, the Democrats end up fucked. If both sides would actually work together, maybe we'd all be better off, but they won't do that, because they cannot be trusted not to turn the other side in for their own personal gain. So the only thing to do is be a bastard too, and so while everyone may get hosed, at least they're all getting hosed equally. But it's a long, long way from ideal, isn't it?

Let me give you an idea of how bad things are right now. This very instant, less than four days after O'Connor announced her resignation, and another three or four days before any potential replacement is named.

First of all, Alberto "I HEART TORTURE" Gonzalez, the man whose sole job for over a decade has been to tell George W. Bush that whatever George W. Bush wants to do, George W. Bush is legally able to do, is a potential Supreme Court nominee. That's not the bad part. I mean, it's BAD, but we always knew he might get the nod. No, the bad part is this. Alberto "I HEART TORTURE" Gonzalez is TOO LIBERAL for the American Taliban. If Alberto Gonzalez doesn't have enough Kool-Aid running through his veins for the people that think they have Dubya's balls in a vise, it ain't gonna be pretty.

Oh, and remember that wonderful compromise? The filibuster compromise? The Gang of 14? The one I mentioned, idly, in passing, was merely the obligatory dinner before the inevitable fucking, and the Democrats even picked up the tab? Here's how Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the filibuster nominees, is trying to define the previously undefined and deliberately vague "extraordinary circumstances" that might allow a filibuster of the nominee. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Ideological attacks are not an extraordinary circumstance. To me, it'd have to be a character problem, an ethics problem, some allegation about the qualifications of the person, not an ideological bent." - In other words, all the shit that should kill a nomination stone fucking dead - an off-the-books nanny, being incompetent, or huge corporate conflicts of interest - anything that should utterly disqualify the nominee in a sane world, well, then it's OK for the Democrats to try and delay their appointment for a little while. But if the judge merely has extremist beliefs - say, that life begins at erection, or that pharmacists get to follow you back to your house and picket you if you ask for birth control - that's not extraordinary enough, according to one of the so-called moderates who so-called incurred the so-called wrath of the partisans by making this so-called "compromise". Told ya.

And these are the PRELIMINARIES. The first, tentative punches feeling out the opponents. The most half-hearted fo attempts to frame the debate for the months to come. I guarantee you, by the end of August, you're all going to be wishing for another dead Pope to take your mind off it all.

*Strom Thurmond Ugly.