Afghanistan is not Vietnam, but …

There have been many compelling comparisons of Afghanistan with Vietnam over these past couple heart-wrenching days as the world has watched the capitulation of the Afghani government to the Taliban.

First, let’s deal with the differences between Vietnam and Afghanistan. The origin of the conflicts and the histories and cultures of the countries offer many significant differences which make the conflicts, and even this precipitous ending difficult to compare. One was fought on the premise of stopping the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. The other to root out the terrorist Al-Qaeda training camps which were used to perpetrate 9-11. The latter’s mission then morphed into keeping the Taliban at bay while helping the fledgling government of Afghanistan to build it’s institutions: government, military, education, societal reforms, etc… No one anticipated the US staying in the country for twenty years, and the fact that it was necessary says a lot about the long-term problems of the country and very much calls into question whether outside intervention would ever have actually succeeded.

I don’t want to dismiss what was achieved though. Because these changes, even if now coming to an end, made a difference in many people’s lives. Google Afghani women’s orchestra if you want to see a little slice of joy which these ladies could never have experienced without American intervention. Who’s to say if the costs outweighed the benefits? I suppose it would depend on who you ask.

But as the Taliban have taken over Kabul, the comparisons of Vietnam have become vivid. The dramatic airplane lifts. The shot of the helicopter taking off from the embassy reminiscent of that dramatic lift-off from the Saigon embassy in April 1975. No matter how vivid these images are, I believe the biggest comparison between the two is related to the American-trained military that each time period left behind.

The Nixon administration in 1973 negotiated a peace deal with the communists from North Vietnam which would enable the Americans to pull out “with dignity” and allow the war between the two sides to cease. We know now that the north never intended to keep their word on this deal. They would simply wait out the Americans. In some ways, I suppose the Americans knew this, but did it matter? No. Because, they left behind over a million well-trained South Vietnamese troops and all the American equipment and fire power to defend the south if the north went back on the agreement. This was a massive army. Surely it would be able to handle the north.

Fast forward to a July 2021 press conference with President Joe Biden when he was asked about the likelihood that the Taliban would be able to take over the country with the Americans pulling out. He was emphatic in his answers. In what may become one of the most eye-blackening presidential press conference in history, he confirmed that the Afghani army has 300,000 well-trained soldiers, better equipped than most countries in the world. (Note: most other estimates say the 300,000 figure is incorrect stating that the Afghani troops numbered closer to 170,000) The Taliban had only 75,000. He assured everyone that the Taliban would not be able to re-take the country.

Unfortunately, Biden’s prediction failed miserably. What went wrong? And I think here is where the real comparison between Afghanistan and Vietnam comes to a head. In the spring of 1975, the North Vietnamese army started marching southward. Remember, the south had a million well-trained troops. What happened? The north just walked right over them. The south’s troops had no will to fight. They fled. They left their positions. In a manner of a very short time, all that equipment and all those men just evaporated and the North Vietnamese commander was sitting in the presidential palace in Saigon, which would soon after that be renamed Ho Chi Minh City. Likewise, where were those 300,000 Afghani troops? I can only assume that they had no will to fight. The motives behind the Taliban were resolute. Those behind the Afghani army were … what … unclear? But clearly, the will to win, the will to survive, the will to defend the ideals that the US was trying to establish was not important.

Massive armies. Well-trained. Best equipped armies in the world. Fell apart just like that.

Whatever lessons can be learned or blame can be offered must take a backseat to the human elements and suffering now being played out. Its people need help. I hope the world is up to the challenge.

Know Your History: Octavius Catto

I’ll admit. I was not familiar with the story of Octavius Catto – black activist after the Civil War – until I came across his story in an unexpected place: MLB historian John Thorn’s terrific book Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game.

Catto was very much a renaissance man. Catto was an educator of boys in Philadelphia. He was an abolitionist, who helped fight for the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, securing voting rights for blacks. (Note of remembrance: women still had not attained suffrage at this time.) But of all the things he loved, perhaps his “rose bud” moment as he died, he loved baseball. He was an accomplished ball player who ran the Pythian Base Ball Club of Philadelphia. They even had an undefeated season in 1867.

His sudden demise is a tragic one. On election day 1871, the first time that Catto would be able to exercise his right to vote, he got word of voter intimidation voters coming from the Democrats – especially amongst the Irishmen of the city. Wanting to protect himself, he left his school and went to Freedman Bank, withdrew $20, then continued on to a pawn shop, where he purchased a hand gun. As he was walking through the streets, gun in his pocket, an Irishman named Frank Kelly recognized him, brushed passed him, turned around and shot him in the back. Catto fell to the ground, but as he tried to get up and escape, Kelly approached and shot him dead in broad daylight, amongst many witnesses.

Kelly was put on trial and acquitted by an all-white jury.

I’m fascinated by this tragic tale for a variety of reasons. I have already written a play about the incident and I’m looking to do some more creative writing surrounding it as I think it has much to say to us today. It’s going to involve some fantasy. Maybe you didn’t see that twist coming! Stay-tuned for more about this remarkable ballplayer.

His courage and ballplaying skills were largely forgotten to history, except that a statue of Catto was erected in Philadelphia in 2017. A man who earned the right to vote but never got to exercise it. A man who loved the game of baseball, but never again suited up to play.

Who are the other lost heroes of the American past? I’m sure they are longing to have their stories told as well.

Public Domain

Presidential Politics in My Hometown

In 1960, my father attended a political stump speech from a Democratic presidential candidate named John F. Kennedy. You may of heard of him. It was in the middle of the intense campaign season as Kennedy vied for the White House against Republican Richard Nixon. The speech was in Butler, Pennsylvania, a small city of 20,000 thirty miles north of Pittsburgh. For me, Butler was the place where I went grocery shopping with my parents on Friday evenings as a kid. On good days, we’d stop in Woolworth’s on Main Street and us kids would talk to the famed parrot in the animal section before having to decide which of the myriad candies would be ours for the ride home. But all this glory would have been nearly fifteen years after the speech my dad heard in 1960.

The speech was given on a platform in front of the magnificent courthouse in Butler. I must show you a picture. This is the building I marveled at weekly as a child.

Butler County Court House

There’s a reason I remember the Kennedy speech in Butler even though I wasn’t alive yet, and that’s because my father filmed it. He took his 8mm and recorded the live speech in that glorious home-movie kind of way – you know the kind: grainy, slow-motion, nostalgic. One of the highlights of my childhood would be when my dad would pull out the movie projector – once a year, perhaps – and show the old films of his army days in Germany in the 1950s, the years of us kids growing up, and the Kennedy speech. It was just a very cool glimpse of the historical past that I was able to live through my dad’s experience.

Now today, sixty years later, President Donald Trump will be appearing in Butler as part of his final week battle-ground state blitz leading up to election day just a few days away. I spoke with my parents yesterday and they asked, “Did you hear the big news? Trump is speaking at the Butler Airport tomorrow.” I hadn’t heard, at that point.

The Butler County Regional Airport is in Penn Township just a few miles from the house where I grew up. “It’s down route 8” is what the locals would say. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the Penn Township baseball fields, one of the visiting fields my Senior League Rams team would play at when I was in 9th and 10th grade.

I can picture the excitement and buzz that such a campaign event will create in my hometown. It’s a rural area – especially when I was still growing up in the region. But the southern part of Butler County has experienced a lot of growth as the Pittsburgh metropolitan area spread northward. A lot of former fields have housing developments. Butler has long been a blue collar area: steel mills, Pullman Standard rail cars, and other various industries. Now it’s in the center of the fracking renaissance which has provided income and jobs to many other the region. There’s even a fracking site just right down the road from my parents house.

This is a vital region for Trump if he expects to win Pennsylvania again as he did in 2016. His popularity in Butler and the surrounding counties – Allegheny County to the south notwithstanding – is tremendous as evidenced from the huge quantity of signs and memorabilia I saw firsthand this summer when driving through the region. The on-the-ground feel of the state bodes well for Trump. We’ll soon find out.

In the meantime, I am encouraged to see my hometown once again an important stop for presidential politics. I kind of wish I was able to attend the rally today, so I could have a common experience, spanning sixty years, with my dad.

Know Your History: World’s First Commercial Oil Well

In 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania, Edwin Drake struck oil, captured it, and established the first commercial oil well in the world. Drake’s well. Here it is in August of 2020:

Western Pennsylvania became the oil capital of the world for the next decade. The oil rush was on. Scores of wells dotted the aptly named Oil Creek area between Titusville, Oil City (see a theme here), and the expanded region. Some folks struck it rich fast. Others were not so lucky. Kerosene had been discovered only a few years earlier in 1853. This made oil a suddenly valued commodity. Through the processing of oil, kerosene could be used to light the big cities of the nation, and that it did for the next forty plus years until electricity took over.

It wasn’t long, however, until substantial oil reserves were discovered in Texas and elsewhere which dwarfed the nascent Pennsylvania industry. Pennsylvania didn’t last as the world’s greatest producer, but it did have a lasting effect on the oil industry and the region. Many towns were forever affected by the industry. (Oil City, Petrolia, Petroleum Center) Didn’t you ever wonder why there were so many Pennsylvania-centric brands of oil: Pennzoil, Quaker State, Kendall, etc…

In an interesting twist of fate, Pennsylvania has once again become a major player in the fossil fuel industry through the prolific fracking done over the past ten years to extract natural gas from the massive Marcellus Shale. Yep, Titusville is right in the middle of it.

Here’s a modern-day railroad bridge over Oil Creek a few miles south of Titusville. (I snapped this one on my bike ride at the fantastic Oil Creek Bike Trail.)

Drake’s Well and Museum can be visited (in non-Covid years) through the spring-fall months as part of Pennsylvania’s Oil Creek State Park.

FUN FACT: Did you know that the by-product of making kerosene is this obscure little product called gasoline? Oh, you heard of it. In the past, gasoline was thrown away. It was deemed too combustible and dangerous to be used. However, once the internal combustion engine was invented, it was gasoline which became king and kerosene became more a second thought.

 

 

Bernie Tells a Whopper About China

Oh, I try to stay clear of politics these days. You know, yeah.

But sometimes, someone makes such an outrageous claim that I can’t help myself from chiming in. This post is courtesy of Bernie Sanders, who said the following in an interview recently on CNN:

“China is an authoritarian country … but can anyone deny, I mean the facts are clear, that they have taken more people out of poverty than any country in history. Why you criticize when I say that — that’s the truth. So that is the fact. End of discussion.”

First, the fact. Yes, China has taken more people out of poverty than any country in history.

Second, the non-fact. End of discussion. Nope. Not in a million years. Not until Bernie answers this one question: How did China relieve its destitution and poverty?

Answer: capitalism

So you see, Bernie has just disproved the over-arching thesis of everything he says about economics. He is crediting authoritarianism (and socialism??) for China’s growth. Major whooper alert.

Here are the other facts that Bernie has eschewed.

During the years that socialist command economics were under full-force in China, how many people were brought out of poverty? That’s the wrong question. How many people died because of their oppressive policies. Uncountable.

From Mao’s take-over in 1949 until the wakening years after his death thirty years later, China was severely impoverished. GDP per capita was among the lowest in the world. They were isolated from the world economy. The great famine of 1958-1961 killed millions. Their army was in tatters. When they attacked northern Vietnam in January of 1979 (hey, weren’t the Vietnamese their socialist comrades!), they were embarrassingly rebuffed by their southern neighbors who were actually poorer than they were!

So what happened? What changed? How is it that the impoverished China of the early 1980s has grown into an economic powerhouse?

I have to say it again: capitalism.

Economic reforms loosened the strings on individual achievements which were muzzled under the socialist command economy. And while the authoritative communist regime continued their hold onto power with a death grip (think Tienanmen Square 1989), the new economic freedoms allowed unprecedented growth and unprecedented foreign investment.  In other words, capitalism started doing its thing.

Let me leave you with an example from Vietnam, who following China’s lead, also implemented market reforms in the 1980s that began to raise the Vietnamese out of poverty as well.

In 1984, there was famine in parts of Vietnam. Their lush farm lands couldn’t even feed their own people. They had to import low-quality grains from places like Bulgaria. I’ve had many Vietnamese families tell me about those years living under a socialist command economy. The common Vietnamese word they use is “kho” – meaning miserable. And then the market reforms hit. The government began allowing farmers to exceed their government quotas of rice in order to sell the excess or plant other cash crops. What happened when farmers began to have incentive to grow more knowing that they would actually benefit from it? Production soared. Within a few short years of allowing people to pursue their own personal interests, Vietnam went from not being able to feed their own people to being one of the largest rice exporters in the world.

The transformation was remarkable. And yes, it all happened under an authoritarian communist regime.

But it’s not the regime that gets the credit, it’s the individuals (and also government entities) who took a risk to invest money, to solicit investment, to plant extra, to think big, to dream for a better life for their families. There was profit to be had by the people. And they did it. They used the mighty tool called capitalism, even within a tightly controlled economy, to better their lives.

So let’s make this very clear: socialism didn’t build China’s wealth. Not by a long shot.  Socialism doesn’t pull anyone out of poverty. It just holds back growth potential. Imagine where China would be today if Mao allowed entrepreneurship back as early as 1949?

So, Bernie, your China example is just disproving your point about capitalism.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. China has been experiencing their own brand of this for the past thirty years, no thanks to socialism.

Thank George Washington for Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t the pilgrims that gave us our modern understanding of Thanksgiving. Nor was it Lincoln’s Thanksgiving declaration during the Civil War. It was our first president, George Washington, who proclaimed, from New York City on October 3, 1789 our first Thanksgiving – a day set aside to thank God for the blessings of the young nation. Below I have culled the entire address from the primary sources of Mount Vernon. If you’ve never read it, it’s worth a read. It’s a shame that our school kids don’t read this proclamation each year.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Thirty Years from Tienanmen Square

June 4, 2019 marks the thirty year anniversary of a dark day in Chinese history – what is known in the west as The Tienanmen Square Massacre.

I remember this day very well. I had just graduated from college a month before. I had just gotten married a week after college graduation. We were in Chicago for a friend’s wedding, and I remember waking up on Saturday morning and watching the broadcast of the Chinese military, under orders from Premier Deng Xiaoping, starting a methodical and violent clearing of the pro-democracy protests which had been going on in the square for some time.

Tienanmen Square is one of the largest city squares in the world. On one end is the Forbidden City, the former home of the emperor, now adorned with the iconic picture of communist leader Mao Zedong. Mao’s massive portrait looks out over the square and keeps a close watch on his own mausoleum on the opposite side of the square where the preserved body of Mao continues to be proudly displayed in a rather grim and solemn granite structure.

Chinese university students had been occupying the square, demanding a fifth modernization to go with Deng Xiaoping’s emphasis on science & technology, agriculture, industry, and defense.  Deng’s leadership had brought China out of the darkness of the cultural revolution which had decimated the Chinese economy and had proven how backward the Chinese regime had become. The cultural revolution ended with Mao’s death in 1976, but its lingering effects had worn down a weary culture. Deng’s modernizations were a welcome shift, but with modernization came new attitudes and desires for more than just economic relief. The students in the square were seeking that fifth modernization: political freedom. They even erected their own version of Lady Liberty to stand in stark contrast to the staunch communist eyes in Mao’s portrait.

The Chinese government could only take so much political embarrassment and bad international press, and on June 4, they moved in to squash the demonstrations. It was brutal. Hundreds died. Perhaps more. No one really knows. Many were arrested and the air of freedom which hung in the optimistic spring of 1989 was violently halted. I watched it all on TV as I readied myself to go the wedding. Little did I know that I’d be standing in the middle of that square just three years from that day.

I traveled to China for the first time in the summer of 1992. I was to teach at an English camp for Chinese English teachers in Dalian. On our way through Beijing, we got to see all the sites including the Great Wall and, of course, the square that was still very much in my memory. Before we arrived in China, we were instructed very clearly not to mention anything about what happened in 1989. Don’t bring it up. Don’t have an opinion. Pretend it didn’t happen.

On the particular day I visited the square, it was a far cry from the images on the TV. There were some vendors and some tourists. Modest lines waited to visit the body of Mao and others queued up in front of Mao’s portrait to tour the Forbidden City. I spent an entire summer in China and heard nothing whatsoever about this historical event. But it wasn’t hard to imagine what many were feeling underneath their skin.

Authority may destroy the movement of freedom, for a time, but it can’t change the thoughts we have within. And who doesn’t want freedom? Who doesn’t want to be able to focus on “the pursuit of happiness?”  Even the great Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh understood this. If you visit his mausoleum in Hanoi, you’ll see etched across the granite facade one sentence: “Khong co gi qui hon, dap lap, tu do” – There’s nothing as precious as independence and freedom.

China is a generation removed from the incident of Tienanmen Square, but I can’t help but think the underlying desire of true political freedom hasn’t change one bit.

beijing-china-4655_1280

I Agree with Cuomo !?!

As a New York state resident, I don’t often utter the words “I agree with Governor Cuomo.” But I do this weekend.

Cuomo blasted New York city politicians, including the socialist troubadour and media-darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (I still believe THIS should be real) for causing Amazon to pull out of the intended construction of a new Amazon headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. Amazon was concerned about having a hostile relationship with local politicians who didn’t want them to come. So Amazon left, before they ever arrived. Who can blame them?

What is so offensive with Amazon which would cause certain politicians to spurn them?

It’s very simple: success. Amazon is an online behemoth, the envy of every of other online retailer. It has made Amazon founder Jeff Bezos the wealthiest man in the world. He’s the symbol of everything wrong about capitalism, according to some politicians. He’s wildly successful and has brought up many people along the way, not to mention giving us the easiest shopping experience in the world. (And this independent author is very thankful for Amazon!)

But no, who would want that in your backyard? And the 25,000 good paying jobs. Why would Queens want that?

Wait, I thought those democratic socialists pound the drum for the workers – $15 wages! -!!!! So when the good jobs come knocking on the door like a massive Christmas gift for thousands of workers, naturally you should kick them aside because … because … it makes no logical sense. That’s why.  These politicians see only ideology and don’t really care about what actually helps their constituents.

The politicians were complaining about the 2+ billion tax credits the state was awarding them yet conveniently forgetting about the 25+ billion in tax revenue that Amazon would have created in New York over the next couple of decades.

Beware of short-sighted politicos! Especially short-sighted socialists. The dustbin of history is littered with them.

Please remember this, voters, when you’re looking for a job when AOC is up for election.  I hope she too, in two more years, will be looking for a job.

Thank you, Governor, for calling them out.

There are many people in Arlington, Virginia happy today. Good for them. Bad for us.

My Musings about the Mid-Term Election on LoneUmbrella.com

One of my former students runs a terrific site called Lone Umbrella, where he does top-notch, fact-based political analysis. I sure wish I could take credit for his brilliance! But alas, he’s just that good. 

He asked me to be a guest contributor on his site and I had the privilege of writing up my analysis of the upcoming midterm election. Here’s an excerpt:

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Mid-term elections are volatile. Almost always. They historically display the cantankerousness of the American electorate with pristine clarity. Mid-term elections are like the shiny new Christmas toy that finds itself dunked in an April mud puddle simply because you’ve become bored with it. That’s what happens. Two years after a presidential election is just enough time for the euphoria of “change” and “hope” and “greatness” and all other election slogans to wear thin to such a degree that the populace brutally penalizes the president’s party to let the other jokers have their turn messing things up. It’s a cynical cycle without question. The numbers back this up very clearly. Let’s take a look at the data before conjecturing their meaning for 2018.

In post-World War II America—which covers a span of eighteen mid-term elections—the president’s party on average loses 24 seats in the House of Representatives. Currently, there are 235 Republican representatives, 193 Democratic reps with seven vacancies.

Piqued your interest? READ the ENTIRE ARTICLE ON LONE UMBRELLA

 

Supreme Court Confirmations – By the Numbers!

In a topsy-turvy two weeks of high political drama, the US Senate is on the brink of voting on the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the high court. If he does survive the FBI background check currently underway, and he is confirmed, it will be by the slimmest of margins. Perhaps even one vote. If he isn’t confirmed, he will be the first judge not confirmed by a floor vote since Robert Bork in the 1980s.

How does Kavanaugh’s possible confirmation stake up against those currently sitting on the bench. Let’s take a look at the intriguing numbers.

Of the previous nine Supreme Court justices confirmed by the Senate spanning three decades and five presidents, five have been nominated by Republican presidents and four by Democratic presidents. Two additional nominations during that time span were never voted upon. Harriet Miers, a George W. Bush nominee, withdrew from the process. Merrick Garland appointed by President Obama in 2016 never had hearings or a vote. With these two out of the picture, there are some voting patterns which are interesting to look at.

Let’s start with the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents: Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan.  Their combined confirmation vote tallies are 314 ‘yes’ votes and 80 ‘no’ votes for an overall approval rate of 80%. This clearly shows some broad non-partisan support from the Republic party towards Democratic nominees.

What about Republican nominees? The five appointed by Republican presidents were: Souter, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, & Gorsuch. Their combined confirmation vote tallies are 332 ‘yes’ votes and 166 ‘no’ votes for an overall approval rate of only 67%. However, if Souter, the only one of our list no longer on the Supreme Court, is dropped off this list, the numbers change to 242 ‘yes’ votes and ‘157’ which is only a 60% affirmative rate. Souter also is a bit of an anomaly because, though appointed by a Republican, he was widely viewed as a staunch liberal justice.

So, of the current Supreme Court members, Democratic appointed candidates fly through confirmation at an average of 80% affirmative votes but Republican candidates squeak by at only 60%, and this number will assuredly go down later this week when the Senate votes on Kavanaugh. Even if confirmed, it will likely be by a mere 1 or 2 votes. As a side note, a Democratic appointee hasn’t been rejected since the Grover Cleveland presidency. Yeah, it’s been a while.

What’s the reason for such a voting discrepancy?

Let’s pose a few ideas.

Option 1: Do conservatives have a more literal view of the constitution? As such, their role as “advice and consent” hinges more on whether a candidate is worthy of such a nomination regardless of whether they agree with his or her political persuasion? Ginsburg might be a good study here. She was clearly a judge with a very liberal voting record. She was even a member of the board of directors of the ACLU. Clearly liberal. Yet, qualified—even Republicans agreed by joining the Democrats in approving her appointment with an astonishing 96-3 vote. While something like that won’t happen today, you’ll still notice that Kagan and Sotomayor’s confirmations were much easier than all Republican-appointed justices since Roberts.

Option 2: Are liberals more aggressive in seeking their progressive agenda through the court systems? As such, they purposefully seek to confirm justices who they deem to be progressive and are more contentious with those candidates whom they deem will be a hinderance to progressivism? I think this is doubly true with the Kavanaugh nomination because of its significance related to Roe v. Wade.

Option 3. It’s all random?

Option 4: You make the call!

Here is a list of the last nine justices confirmed to the Supreme Court. What will be Kavanaugh’s numbers – if he makes it?

Gorsuch 54-45 (Trump)

Kagan 63-37 (Obama)

Sotomayor 68-31 (Obama)

Alito 58-42 (G. W. Bush)

John Roberts 78-22 (G. W. Bush)

Ginsburg 96-3 (Clinton)

Steven Breyer 87-9 (Clinton)

Thomas 52-48 (G. H. W. Bush)

David Souter 90-9 (G. H. W. Bush)

Whatever these numbers ultimately mean, Trump is going to have to fight and scrape for any of his nominations to get through, and if he did have to appoint a successor to Ginsburg, don’t hold your breath for 96 voting to confirm. Those days are long gone.