Two sorrier faces you never saw than those of Senators Schumer and McConnell as they face a battle that is likely to compete with the most bruising contests ever fought in the chambers of the US Senate. Here are the just reported facts courtesy of AP in the New York Times.

The Garland insult

There was a judge named Garland nominated by a president named Obama. In an unprecedented insult to Obama, the GOP senate refused even to consider the nomination. They waited for Donald. Donald nominated a right-wing judge named Neil Gorsuch. Today Senator Schumer announced he would oppose this judge and filibuster the nomination.

Now we can go to the Nuclear Option.

60 votes or a straight majority?

Ordinary voting on a matter of such gravity as choosing the deciding vote on a divided Supreme Court would require sixty yes votes to confirm. But the opposition to Gorsuch is so strong among democrats that sixty votes will never be attained. Enter the nuclear option which the Majority Leader, Mr. McConnell, must evoke if he wants to go to a simple up and down vote. There the GOP has the edge if none of their number balks.

Is there anything more?

You might think this is open and shut. Let the vote be a simple majority.

But the ramifications of going nuclear on a supreme court confirmation goes farther than ever and opens up the possibility that the filibuster itself would be eliminated. That would mean any party with a majority could roll over the other at will.

What will McConnell do?

Schumer has already made his position clear. McConnell is said to be an institutionalist who would be reluctant to lower the boom on a senate tradition as precious as the right of the minority party to apply a brake for reasons of conscience as well as political advantage.

The change of going nuclear could be immense and there might be no going back. It is the ultimate binary at a time when a middle or third way seems vital. Whether today's declaration by Schumer closes the door to some resolution remains to be seen. From the look of things, we are caught on the horns of a dilemma in which everyone loses.