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Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley Not Ruling Out Hearings On Obama SCOTUS Pick

Notwithstanding previous statements and the position seemingly taken by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is now saying that he is not completely ruling out holding hearings for any potential success to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has not ruled out holding committee hearings on President Barack Obama’s pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Though the longtime Iowa Republican agrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the next president should select a new appointee to the nation’s highest court, he also told Iowa reporters that he has not made a final decision regarding committee consideration of a future justice and would take things a “step at a time.”

“I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions,” Grassley said, according to Radio Iowa. “This is a very serious position to fill and it should be filled and debated during the campaign and filled by either Hillary Clinton, Senator Sanders or whoever’s nominated by the Republicans.”

If Grassley were to take up Obama’s pick, it would transform the Senate into a circus during an election year. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a leading presidential contender, serves on Grassley’s committee and was among the first Republicans to suggest barring any new nominee from confirmation.

Supreme Court nominee hearings and committee votes are among the most scrutinized events in Washington. If a potential Obama nominee received a vote in the committee, Senate Republicans could easily reject it given their two-vote edge on the Judiciary Committee over Democrats.

To many people following this matter, Grassley’s remarks here may seem like he’s stepping back from his initial comments, but that may not really be the case. The long-time Iowa Senator first spoke about the next Supreme Court Justice in the hours after Scalia’s death on Saturday, and after Majority Leader McConnell had released his own statement saying that the choice of a new Justice should wait until the conclusion of the Presidential elections so that the American people, through, the new President and potentially a Senate made up of different membership, have the ability to be heard on the matter.In his case Grassley said that it was ‘standard practice’ not to confirm judicial nominees in the final year of a President’s time in office and that the President and Senate should defer to the American people in making such a far-reaching decision as approving a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court As I turns out, Grassley wasn’t entirely correct as there are several examples of nominations to the Supreme Court being made and approved within the final year of a President’s term, although only one of those, the nomination of Anthony Kennedy has occurred since ratification of the 22nd Amendment made the final year of a two-term President’s term essentially a “lame duck” term. It’s worth noting, though, that Grassley’s initial statement did not rule out holding hearings even though that is how it was interpreted by the time by many who read it, including yours truly. It also appears to be the interpretation that many hard line conservatives gave to Grassley’s comments, with many making “No Hearings, No Votes” something of a slogan during the hours and days after Scalia’s death.

With President Obama certain to make an appointment to replace Scalia at some point, most likely within the next several weeks after Justice Scalia’s funeral has taken place and a respectable period for mourning has passed for the Court and Scalia’s family, the position that Grassley seemed to be taking that there would not even be hearings on a nomination always seemed as though it would be one that Republicans would find it hard to defend during the inevitable political firestorm that this nomination is likely to face in any case. This would seem to be especially true if President Obama ends up selecting someone who could fairly be classified as “moderate” with impeccable academic and professional credentials. It would appear that Grassley’s comments today are anticipating that possibility as well as the potential blowback that the GOP could face in a scenario where it simply refused to act on the nomination at all. Indeed it could be that Grassley is anticipating a scenario similar to the one I laid out yesterday where the Senate ultimately considers an Obama pick, albeit at a much slower pace than in the past, only to see it rejected by the Senate a a whole at some point later in 2016 when it would be impractical or impossible for the President to submit another nomination that could be considered before the elections. Some have suggested that Republicans might end up forgoing such a scenario due to the possibility that a sufficiently “moderate” nominee could get enough Republican support to win a floor vote. In considering this possibility, though, it should be remembered that Democrats would need to get fourteen out of fifty-four Republicans to join them in invoking cloture in order to proceed to a floor vote. While it’s possible that a handful of Republicans might join in invoking cloture on a nomination, it’s unlikely that there would be as many a fourteen willing to do so under the overwhelming pressure from outside forces likely to be involved in the process at that hypothetical point.

To say the least, Grassley’s comments aren’t likely to sit well with the already restive Republican base.  As I noted above, many of these conservatives have already adopted the position that their should be neither hearings nor votes on any nomination submitted by President Obama. Any signs from Senate leadership that they may be backing away from the seemingly no compromise position that they took on this issue in the immediate aftermath of Justice Scalia’s death as a sign of betrayal by the “establishment,” and such maneuvers are likely to work in favor of Presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz who have made running against the establishment a central part of their campaigns. Additionally, Grassley is running for re-election this year and does face what appears to be a token primary challenge from a former conservative talk radio host named Robert Rees. It’s unclear, though, if there is still time for other candidates to challenge Grassley on the Republican ballot, something that could become a possibility if he ends up going ahead with hearings after all. Most of all, though, it appears that Grassley may realize the somewhat negative reaction that complete intransigence by the GOP could engender in voters nationwide and that he thinks that leaving the potential blowback the GOP could face in the coming weeks and months. Given that Grassley is Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and will ultimately determine largely on his own whether the committee takes up an Obama nomination and when it does so, this is something worth keeping an eye on.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Pearce says:

    Any signs from Senate leadership that they may be backing away from the seemingly no compromise position that they took on this issue in the immediate aftermath

    They’re going to need to put up a united front for months and there are already cracks forming? That was quick….

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  2. Surreal American says:

    RINO!!!!!

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  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    In other words “we’ll confirm a nominee that we like. We won’t confirm any nominees that you like”.

    They’re determined to get Scalia 2.0, which isn’t going to happen. Let the games begin.

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  4. C. Clavin says:

    This is a slight walk-back from what he said on Saturday:

    “it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.”

    The American people elected a President by a fairly wide margin. I suspect if that President wasn’t black these xenophobes wouldn’t have these issues. I’ve never been a fan of the race issue but, after 7 years of reflexive obstruction unprecedented in the history of our Republic, it’s really getting hard to attribute to anything else.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    The Rs seem to be acting like they have bargaining power. I fail to see how. As long as Hillary looks good for the general election, nothing bad happens to Obama or the Dems if they don’t get a confirmation. Sounds like another round of “Give up or we’ll shoot the ni-clang hostage” while they have the gun pointed at their own heads.

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  6. al-Ameda says:

    Jane Kelly is a name that has been put out there a lot in the past 3 days. She was supported by Senator Grassley and approved by the Senate on a 96-0 vote. She has served on the St. Louis, Missouri-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since April 2013.

    It would be interesting to see if – if Kelly was nominated and it came to a vote – Grassley let his fellow Republicans throw her under the bus while he voted “yes.”

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  7. SKI says:

    ratification of the 22nd Amendment made the final year of a two-term President’s term essentially a “lame duck” term.

    If not being able to run again is what makes a “lame duck”, why the final year? Why not the final four years?

    Lame Duck is has a very specific meaning. It means that your successor has ALREADY been elected. Please stop moving the goalposts.

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  8. Rafer Janders says:

    the final year of a two-term President’s term essentially a “lame duck” term.

    If you’re going to write a political blog, you should really learn some basic political terms, such as the definition of a “lame duck.” It means an officeholder whose successor has already been elected, not simply someone whose term is ending.

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  9. Argon says:

    Grassley has been a reliably double-talking, limp washcloth of a senator for a good while. He’s the Lucy van Pelt of political football.

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  10. Davebo says:

    I’d say Grassley and the rest realized that shouting “no f#cking way” hours after Scalia’s death looked pretty prickish primaries or no primaries.

    Still no way the leadership will give any nominee anything more than lip service IMO.

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  11. Tony W says:

    Grassley simply realizes the weak position the Republicans are in right now.

    Obama’s nominee – perhaps his 2nd or 3rd – will be seated

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  12. Firebringer says:

    @C. Clavin: I suspect if that President wasn’t black these xenophobes wouldn’t have these issues.

    Wow, a racism claim? It’s a shame this made it into the discourse.

    Maybe conservatives don’t like powerful, committed liberal presidents? I’m not an Obama fan, but I will not deny that he has made great strides in achieving his agenda. I can make a list of reason I don’t care for him as a president:

    – politicizes everything
    – failed economically
    – claimed to be a uniter during his candidacy, was anything but a uniter
    – dismisses anyone who doesn’t agree with him
    – weak on foreign policy
    – I hate the Chicago way (reward your friends and punish your enemies)

    I could go on and one. BTW, race doesn’t make the list EVER. And, for the record, I was no fan of GWB either — a few moderate successes with some monumental failures.

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  13. Firebringer says:

    @Rafer Janders: Lame Duck is has a very specific meaning. It means that your successor has ALREADY been elected. Please stop moving the goalposts.

    Well, that’s intellectually dishonest. Lame duck has a dictionary definition that includes “one whose position or term in office will soon end.” Even CNN routinely refers to Obama’s last year as (potentially) being a “lame duck” presidency.

    Presidential historian Robert Dallek notes, “”A lame duck president is someone who in our recent history is in his second term.” Though, in this instance, he was referring to a second term president after mid-term elections (2014 in Obama administration years).

    Obama can reasonably be called lame duck because he’s in the final two years of his administration and his mid-term elections resulted in a oppositional congress.

    Please stop behaving as though the definition is entirely inappropriate.

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  14. An Interested Party says:

    Please stop behaving as though the definition is entirely inappropriate.

    It is in terms of this discussion…the idea that the president shouldn’t try to get someone to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court because he is a “lame duck” is laughable…

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  15. DrDaveT says:

    @Firebringer:

    Maybe conservatives don’t like powerful, committed liberal presidents?

    Yeah, but JFK has been dead for 50 years.

    It seems to have completely escaped notice within the GOP bubble, but we haven’t had a liberal president since Carter. We haven’t had a powerful liberal president since Kennedy. By every objective measure, Barack Hussein Obama has been roughly as liberal as Richard Nixon.

    And yet, he is treated like the Antichrist. With herpes. Why might that be?

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  16. Surreal American says:

    @Firebringer:

    – I hate the Chicago way (reward your friends and punish your enemies)

    Let me clue you in on something. That method of politics predates the city of Chicago by millennia. And it’s not unique to any particular ideology either.

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  17. Firebringer says:

    @An Interested Party: It is in terms of this discussion…the idea that the president shouldn’t try to get someone to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court because he is a “lame duck” is laughable…

    I don’t disagree with your point, but what’s the point of several commenter’s dictionary definitions claiming Obama is not a lame duck as a vehicle to dismiss the argument? Again, intellectually dishonest.

    Personally, I tend to disagree with not even considering an Obama SCOTUS appointee because it seems a plain dereliction of duty. However, considering, discussing, voting, and ultimately rejecting any/all of them is within the boundaries of the system of checks and balances.

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  18. Firebringer says:

    @DrDaveT: And yet, he is treated like the Antichrist. With herpes. Why might that be?

    That seems like an appropriate description of my regard for Obama’s politics. I have also listed just a few of my many reasons for believing so above along with a single, absolute non-reason.

    If you’re bringing stubborn, unfounded innuendo to the discussion, then are you really interested in discourse? Do you choose to disregard any reason that doesn’t confirm your bias? Intellectually dishonest as well.

    Mind you, I’m also not so blind as to think there are some who might have issue with his race. But why would I paint all people who dislike/disagree with Obama with that same broad brush? Because I can’t comprehend their positions?

    Surely we’re all better than that.

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  19. Firebringer says:

    @Surreal American: Let me clue you in on something. That method of politics predates the city of Chicago by millennia. And it’s not unique to any particular ideology either.

    Clue accepted and appreciated.

    That said, it’s still called the Chicago way (I didn’t coin that term on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 21:25EST). And I agree that it is not particular to either ideology, but it is disturbing to see it manifest itself in a president who is supposed to represent all of America — including those who didn’t vote for him.

    I have no love for GWB, but I certainly don’t recall him ever disparaging 47% of the voters (another clue welcomed, if you have one, faithful reader). A president must be above that.

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  20. Scott F. says:

    I’m surprised that the left is getting too upset about the politics the Republicans are playing right now. If the GOP wants to hang itself, give it all the rope it will take.

    As Steven Taylor notes in his earlier post on the rules, the way the Dems would want this to play out is pretty clear:

    To wit, the following scenario is very real possibility: a newly elected President Clinton, with a more Democratic Senate, can assert that the people have spoken (a la Senator McConnell) and therefore feel rather unconstrained in her nomination of the next Associate Justice, which the Republicans will have a harder time blocking.

    Obama will make the smart play. He’ll nominate a reasonable choice, somewhat moderate but not too much so and likely a minority. Jane Kelly, Sri Srinivasan and Goodwin Liu would all work well. Grassley may allow hearings, but McConnell won’t allow a vote, so he can protect vulnerable blue state Senators like Kirk and Ayotte. Then, Obama bangs the “what might have been” drum all day, every day, until the election driving Democratic enthusiasm through the roof.

    Meanwhile, Clinton or Sanders just start collecting the video tape of the Republicans saying the presidential vote will indicate the will of the people. The new Democratic President brings Obama’s nominee back as Scalia’s replacement in a simple gesture of continuity, but then when Ruth Bader Ginsburg retires, POTUS nominates the most radical nominee that can be found and rams it down the Republicans’ throats, playing back those video tapes on an endless loop.

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  21. Scott F. says:

    @Firebringer:

    Your list of reasons to disapprove of President Obama is pretty weak tea for someone throwing around claims of intellectual dishonesty:

    – politicizes everything
    – failed economically
    – claimed to be a uniter during his candidacy, was anything but a uniter
    – dismisses anyone who doesn’t agree with him
    – weak on foreign policy
    – I hate the Chicago way (reward your friends and punish your enemies)

    You’ve got a lot of assertion there, but not a lot of data. It’s the go-to whine list of a partisan. (No, claiming to dislike GWB doesn’t obscure your leanings.)

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  22. David M says:

    @Firebringer:

    I can make a list of reason I don’t care for him as a president:

    – politicizes everything
    – failed economically
    – claimed to be a uniter during his candidacy, was anything but a uniter
    – dismisses anyone who doesn’t agree with him
    – weak on foreign policy
    – I hate the Chicago way (reward your friends and punish your enemies)

    That’s kind of the point. Most of those are either nonsense, meaningless or just plain wrong.

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  23. dazedandconfused says:

    After the house fell and the poor victim declared not just merely dead but really most sincerely dead, the Wicked Witch still had to handle the matter of the ruby slippers delicately. Grassley wouldn’t be Grassley if he didn’t know how to dodge a bucket of water every now and again.

    My advise go long on Flying Monkeys and short on Heart, Brains, and Courage.

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  24. Firebringer says:

    @Scott F.: You’ve got a lot of assertion there, but not a lot of data. It’s the go-to whine list of a partisan. (No, claiming to dislike GWB doesn’t obscure your leanings.)

    Nonsense. Just because you state it does not make it so. There’s limited room and I wasn’t planning on writing a dissertation, so you got the summary version.

    And I lean libertarian. It’s easy for me: smallest government that gets the job done. I’m more liberal on social issues and more conservative on other issues.

    Care to be wrong about anything else? At least state your own opinion rather than being so emphatically wrong about mine… [popping popcorn]

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  25. Firebringer says:

    @David M: That’s kind of the point. Most of those are either nonsense, meaningless or just plain wrong.

    So spake David, thus it was so.

    Debate the points, don’t dismiss them as “meaningless” or “plain wrong.” That’s the mark of a partisan progressive — avoid debate but still declare yourself the winner. Let’s make it easy, just start with one (little steps) — your pick.

    Remember, it’s an opinion. And I’m always open to changing (or evolving) my opinion. But you telling me it’s nonsense won’t get me there. Give me something to chew on, David.

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  26. David M says:

    @Firebringer:

    Your complaints were so generic as to be meaningless. There’s nothing to them. You appear to dislike politicians, but offer no reason why Obama has been an extra disappointment.

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  27. James Pearce says:

    @Firebringer:

    I have no love for GWB, but I certainly don’t recall him ever disparaging 47% of the voters (another clue welcomed, if you have one, faithful reader). A president must be above that.

    The only guy I remember disparaging “47%” of voters is Mitt Romney. And that dude ain’t never gonna be president.

    You say you lean libertarian, that you’re “liberal on social issues.” A couple of issues important to socially liberal libertarians have actually been advanced during Obama’s presidency. Does that count for nothing?

    I think most people who oppose Obama do so because he’s a liberal Democrat, and in their minds they have a certain idea of liberal Democrats –we’ll not call it a stereotype– that colors their thinking of Obama regardless of what he does or doesn’t do. But if you zoom out a bit, if you take in a wider context, and judge the man on who he is and what he’s accomplished, criticisms like “claimed to be a uniter during his candidacy, was anything but a uniter” just don’t hold up.

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  28. Firebringer says:

    @David M: Your complaints were so generic as to be meaningless.

    Got it. [note to self: Ignore anything else David says because he talks in circles.]

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  29. Firebringer says:

    @James Pearce: A couple of issues important to socially liberal libertarians have actually been advanced during Obama’s presidency. Does that count for nothing?

    Sure, it does. But the how matters too. I think there were several solutions available to address the growing issue of people without healthcare (which was somehow mutated into people without healthcare insurance). Obama and his congressional majority rammed a version down with no input from the other side (NOTE: this also applies to the “uniter” comment) and then used a gimmick to make the final changes when a group of traditionally blue voters elected a conservative whose sole platform was “I’ll stop Obamacare.” You’ll notice they ditched him first chance they got, so their intent should be clear to everyone.

    But if you zoom out a bit, if you take in a wider context, and judge the man on who he is and what he’s accomplished, criticisms like “claimed to be a uniter during his candidacy, was anything but a uniter” just don’t hold up.

    The “how” matters. It mattered with Bush, it matters with Obama.

    Candidate Obama talked about how we’d all need to come together (2nd debate, e.g.). The country is more divided than it has been in my adult lifetime and I can reasonably credit all that to Obama and his divisive brand of politics.

    I stand by my divider claim. If you’re constantly fighting with representatives of 47% of the voters, then you’re fighting with their collective ideology.

    Anything you’d care to discuss in detail?

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  30. C. Clavin says:

    @Firebringer:
    Seriously? Failed economy? 70 straight months of private sector job growth? Record corporate profits? All while shrinking the public sector? If he was a white Republican (redundant) you’d already be carving his face on Rushmore.
    But thanks for proving my point.

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  31. Firebringer says:

    Sure.

    US Labor Force Participation rate at a 38 year low. Public sector compensation growth far exceeding private sector (not exclusive to Obama, but definitely worsened under his watch). Federal public sector job total roughly unchanged (not reasonable to give Obama credit for changes in state-level jobs). Greatly increased number and scope of federal regulations (I don’t believe anyone will argue a positive relationship between regulations and the economy).

    How about the number of people on welfare?

    Sorry, still didn’t prove your point, only your inability to see past color. Thanks for playing.

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  32. Argon says:

    @Firebringer:

    Obama and his congressional majority rammed a version down with no input from the other side …

    Speaking of Grassley, I remember when he pulled a Lucy van Pelt on the healthcare legislation.

    Firebrand, if a group chooses not to participate when invited then they are hardly in a position to complain about having no input.

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  33. Pch101 says:

    The Republicans don’t want to be united by a Democrat.

    The only thing that committed Republican voters will accept is a one-party GOP-led dynasty free of Democratic representation.

    Admittedly, it was incredibly naive for Obama to believe that he could have been a unifying force when the Republicans are so bitterly opposed to unity — the whole point of the Southern Strategy was to redefine the party by its opposition to the melting pot. It was great campaign rhetoric but Obama seemed to actually believe it, blissfully unaware that such a thing would be impossible unless the GOP was blown to bits and reinvented.

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  34. Pch101 says:

    @Firebringer:

    US Labor Force Participation rate at a 38 year low.

    I’m pretty sure that you have no idea what the labor force participation rate is.

    Here’s a hint: the BLS produces back up data. Go look at it and tell us who is included in the denominator and how many of those who aren’t participating actually want to have a job. (Most don’t.)

    Economic lesson: If you want to know more about who would like to work but isn’t (or who is underemployed), then you need to look at the various unemployment rates, not the labor force participation rate.

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  35. James Pearce says:

    @Firebringer:

    But the how matters too.

    Re: “The how” on Obamacare. It passed Congress, was signed into law by the president, and when challenged in court, was upheld. That’s not to say it’s perfect and needs no improvement, but if the complaint is “how Obamacare was implemented,” wait till you hear how every other law is implemented.

    The country is more divided than it has been in my adult lifetime and I can reasonably credit all that to Obama and his divisive brand of politics.

    Yeah, I don’t know if you can. “Reasonably credit all that to Obama,” that is

    Everything is “divided.” Everything is “divisive.” Not just in politics, but in sports, pop culture, the economy. Obama said people cling to guns and religion and those people grabbed their guns and their bibles and said, “Oh yeah? Well F you!” Sure, blame that on Obama.

    But this “divided” thing has been going on for a looooong time. It’s easy to blame the president for causing it when he’s little more than a reflection of it.

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  36. Firebringer says:

    @Argon: Firebrand, if a group chooses not to participate when invited then they are hardly in a position to complain about having no input.

    Citation needed.

    The first meeting on the stimulus bill of 2009 set the tone for the interactions between the parties. Republicans attempted to voice their concerns over the size of the stimulus and they were met with Obama shutting them down with the “I won” mantra. I recall progressives were pleased with his stance at the time. I’m curious where the invite came in. Remember that the Obamacare meetings were held without congressional Republican particiaption in spiote of their attempts to engage.

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  37. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: The Republicans don’t want to be united by a Democrat.

    You know, I actually agree with this statement. It’s a sad reflection on the bickering between the parties, but (IMHO) it is reasonably accurate.

    The only thing that committed Republican voters will accept is a one-party GOP-led dynasty free of Democratic representation.

    Of course then you undo all the good from above with this tripe. Can’t win ’em all…

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  38. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: I’m pretty sure that you have no idea what the labor force participation rate is.

    I’m pretty sure that I do. Of course there is a segment of the population that does not want to work. Some of them are retirees, but some of them are collecting welfare and/or unemployment benefits that exceed their private sector compensation ceilings, and some have just plain given up.

    Economic reality lesson: No single measurement accurately reflects the state of unemployment. The original poster chose to cherry pick. I hope I demonstrated the fallacy of cherry picking.

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  39. Firebringer says:

    @James Pearce: That’s not to say it’s perfect and needs no improvement, but if the complaint is “how Obamacare was implemented,” wait till you hear how every other law is implemented.

    The tricks used to pass such monumental legislation were an unusual at the least. Something that impacts 100% of the citizenry but denies representation to 45% of the voting population is just wrong.

    Yeah, I don’t know if you can. “Reasonably credit all that to Obama,” that is.

    I’l concede that point. It really does take multiple viewpoints to be divided.

    Obama sold himself as a uniter and proved to be something far less than that. He had an opportunity to begin uniting the country with the passing of the stimulus in 2009, but he had other plans that set the tone for political discourse throughout his administration.

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  40. Pch101 says:

    @Firebringer:

    You demonstrated that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    The problem for conservative ideologues such as yourself is that it’s really tough to claim that your economic predictions were a success when the U3 unemployment rate is 4.9% and when all of the Chicken Little forecasts about hyperinflation have proven to be a bust.

    Since your ilk failed miserably in their prognostications, we are left with the ignorance that is apparent when you attempt to use labor force participation as a proxy for the unemployment rate. And we know that you are using it because it’s the only figure that even remotely appears to prove your argument (although anyone who understands what it is knows that it doesn’t.)

    If you want to understand unemployment, then look at unemployment. And if you knew what you were talking about, then you would know that there are six unemployment rates (including U6, which includes those who have jobs but are underemployed), so there is no shortage of data. And I hate to disappoint you, but the U6 rate has fallen, too.

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  41. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: The problem for conservative ideologues such as yourself…

    I don’t have any conservative ideological problems. Primarily because I’m not a conservative.

    Dig a little deeper. Your surface understanding misses some key points:

    Unemployment increased from 2014 to 2015. Only decrease is when you exclude the “do not want a job now” workers. Additionally, the “Do not want a job” numbers can be considered misleading because it anyone not expressly asked the question was assumed to not want a job (go check the BLS stats, slugger). So, people are simply moving from “unemployed” to “do not want a job” and that makes all the numbers look great.

    including U6, which includes those who have jobs but are underemployed.

    U6 only categorizes underemployed as part-time looking for full time. What about the out-of-work chemist who is taking full-time work at Walmart? Yup. BLS considers him adequately employed.

    …all of the Chicken Little forecasts about hyperinflation have proven to be a bust.

    Hey, we agree on something!!! That’s progress.

    Please dig a little deeper.

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  42. Pch101 says:

    A guy who is abusing data that he doesn’t understand is telling me to “dig deeper”? You’ve gotta be kidding.

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  43. Moosebreath says:

    @DrDaveT:

    “but we haven’t had a liberal president since Carter. We haven’t had a powerful liberal president since Kennedy.”

    Carter was not a particularly liberal President, as he started the country in the deregulation direction that Reagan went further towards. And LBJ was more powerful than JFK as President.

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  44. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pch101:

    It should be pretty obvious by now that this firebringer is just a classic troll type, just stupid enough to think he’s smart, Gish Galloping through a farrago of lies, and poorly thought-out nonsense, and arguing only to get a rise out of people to get the attention he so desperately needs. Probably not worth the time directly addressing.

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  45. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: A guy who is abusing data that he doesn’t understand is telling me to “dig deeper”? You’ve gotta be kidding.

    Cool. You get the last word. I think that means you win. Congratulations. We were playing “ignore the other guy and declare him wrong,” correct?

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  46. Pch101 says:

    Right-wing logic in action:

    “Women should stay at home and raise their children!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    “WHY IS THE LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE FALLING NOW THAT MORE WOMEN ARE STAYING HOME TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN?!?!?!?! OHMIGAWD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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  47. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: “WHY IS THE LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE FALLING NOW THAT MORE WOMEN ARE STAYING HOME TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN?!?!?!?! OHMIGAWD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Awesome. Reengagement and hysterical (internet) shouting. I guess the game continues.

    First, I’ve never suggested that women should stay home and raise their children. Women should do whatever they think is appropriate for the raising of their children.

    41% (in 2014) of the stay-at-home moms were at home because they couldn’t find jobs or have illness or disability, not because they wanted to stay home. A great number of them are on welfare too.

    Please keep digging. And by digging, I mean the factual hole you’re working on. All you have to do is admit that the economy is not a rosy success (a small, but important admission) and we can have agreement.

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  48. Pch101 says:

    Lots of people don’t work because they choose not to or unable to. This isn’t that tough.

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  49. Pch101 says:

    Here are some ways to increase the labor force participation rate:

    -Boot kids out of high school and make them get jobs
    -Keep young adults out of college full-time and make them get jobs
    -Force single parents to stop being single parents and make them get jobs
    -Kill off retirees so that they stop screwing up our numbers.

    See. that’s nothing that a bit of Stalinism and Dickensian dystopia can’t fix.

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  50. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: Lots of people don’t work because they choose not to or unable to. This isn’t that tough.

    Apparently, it is. Let’s slow walk this:

    Economy is not great. I provide Labor participation as one (of many) bellwethers to support. You deny that it means anything, claim that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I provide detailed information on how to interpret the statistics properly. You repeat the mantra that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I cede to your stubbornness. You begin shouting about women at home raising children. You reply with the above non sequitur without addressing any of my points.

    Economy sucks. Face it. Is it better than 2009? Sure, but it had almost nowhere to go but up and the amount of “up” has been influenced by politics and misinterpretation (as you seem wont to do). But “sucks” still sucks. It’s a small step — try taking it.

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  51. Pch101 says:

    Economy is not great.

    It’s quite clear that you don’t have the intellectual horsepower to make that determination.

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  52. Firebringer says:

    @Rafer Janders: It should be pretty obvious by now that this firebringer is just a classic troll type just stupid enough to think he’s smart

    Another one of you? Was there a two-for-one sale on smug righteousness?

    I’ll put my IQ against yours any day, sailor. I’ll guarantee you come in last place. if you have fact (even the “facts” that are being presented by your supporters), then let’s see ’em.

    I’m just trying to get you to open your eyes to the other viewpoints outside your convenient little bubble. And I’m giving you opportunity to change my mind (I’m not so set in my ways to think that my thoughts are without flaws) but you’re running from the debate.

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  53. Pch101 says:

    Since basic facts aren’t good enough for some folks, here’s an example that will demonstrate the difference between “unemployment” and “labor force participation.”

    A friend of mine’s wife quit her job because she hated the job and she wanted to spend more time with the kids. The husband earns enough to support the family with a fine middle-class lifestyle, so she was able to bail out.

    Her departure from the workforce is an indication that things are going well in their household — hubby earns enough so that she can quit and stay out of the workforce.

    Now here’s the clincher: Her absence from the workforce is an indication of prosperity, not of bad times. If she becomes eager to rejoin the workforce, it will be due to economic misfortune, not because she wants to.

    In her case, the unemployment rate accurately reflects her unwillingness to work — she doesn’t show up in that number. In her case, a lack of labor force participation is a sign that she is happy and that her happiness is sustainable — she has job skills that she happily chooses not to use.

    An increase in labor force participation is not necessarily a positive (and in any case, the number is driven largely by demographics.) Of course, those who don’t understand statistics won’t grasp this, and conservatives tend to do badly with numbers.

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  54. Blue Galangal says:

    @Argon: I can’t believe this lie is still being spouted when it’s been well established that the Affordable Care Act included input – and amendments – from both sides of the aisle. It was only when it came to the vote that Republicans took their toys and went home. The Democrats’ mistake was believing the Republicans were negotiating good-faith changes to the legislation that would result in bipartisan agreement and passage. They weren’t. They were negotiating bad-faith election talking points that they would run on for the next 7+ years.

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  55. James Pearce says:

    @Firebringer:

    The tricks used to pass such monumental legislation were an unusual at the least.

    Okay, sure, but the tricks used to try and fight it have also been unusual, not to mention unsuccessful. Were you okay with Republicans shutting down the government to force concessions they couldn’t get with a vote?

    Obama sold himself as a uniter and proved to be something far less than that.

    “Nah” to both parts of that. Perhaps what makes it seem like “Obama sold himself as a uniter” is that during his campaign he emphasized what unites us, not what divides us. This may have given you the impression that Obama was personally going to unite us, but if so….whose mistake is that?

    (Just saying….if in 8 years time, my biggest beef with President Trump is that he said he’d “make America great again” and he didn’t….I’d feel pretty stupid. I’d feel like 8 years of history just passed and I wasn’t paying attention. But that’s just me.)

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  56. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: It’s quite clear that you don’t have the intellectual horsepower to make that determination.

    I’ll put my objective measurements against yours any day. Easy to just declare me “stupid” but difficult to refute what I provide.

    Hell, my MENSA card is still valid. Or do you even know what that is? What MENSA means to intelligence is certainly up for debate, but (if you follow pattern) you’ll probably declare that it is an organization for idiots…

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  57. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: Since basic facts aren’t good enough for some folks, here’s an example that will demonstrate the difference between “unemployment” and “labor force participation.”

    Yup. Your invented anecdotal evidence certainly trumps my statistics from the BLS that you found so authoritative only a few comments ago. 75% of women stayed at home to raise families on purpose — oh, but that was 1970. Now it’s 41% staying at home to raise families because they can’t find work and that number has been steadily rising. That’s math. Punch it in your calculator — it’ll make a frowny face.

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  58. Tony W says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    It should be pretty obvious by now that this firebringer is just a classic troll type, just stupid enough to think he’s smart,

    I just assumed it was Jenos’ latest identity. They write with the same style so it’s hard for him/her to hide that easily.

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  59. Pch101 says:

    You just demonstrated that you don’t understand what labor force participation is and isn’t after you chose to bang on about it at length, and now you want to pretend that you’re intelligent?

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  60. Firebringer says:

    @James Pearce: Were you okay with Republicans shutting down the government to force concessions they couldn’t get with a vote?

    Actually, I was. There is a specific purpose in giving the house the purse strings. They were supposed to be the closest to the people, the most accountable to the people, and the ones with the most to lose if they did not represent their constituency. The shutdown happened in 2013 and the people punished the shutdown by electing more conservatives?

    This may have given you the impression that Obama was personally going to unite us, but if so….whose mistake is that?

    Good point. I actually like this banter with you because you make me think. Maybe part of my dissatisfaction with Obama is that he failed to do what I thought he would do? But given that the statement was my opinion in the first place, isn’t this a distinction without an actual difference?

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  61. David M says:

    Labor force participation rate is a non-issue. Combine a recession with misguided austerity driven cuts to public employment and the demographics of the boomers retiring, and it’s not worth worrying about.

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  62. Tony W says:

    @Firebringer: I know you don’t believe it but Pch101’s example is precisely the situation in my home. Further, thanks to the ACA I will be able to retire much earlier with confidence that I can purchase healthcare.

    You are right though, my early retirement will lower the labor participation rate – instead of working all day I’ll be on a beach in the Bahamas drinking Mai Tais while you are still handing stickers to kids at the entrance to Wal-Mart.

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  63. Firebringer says:

    @Tony W: I just assumed it was Jenos’ latest identity. They write with the same style so it’s hard for him/her to hide that easily.

    Don’t know Jeno, but I’ll have to research, Maybe he’d be so kind as to chime in here? I’m a new poster with my very own identity. Choose to believe it or choose not to.

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  64. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: You just demonstrated that you don’t understand what labor force participation is and isn’t after you chose to bang on about it at length, and now you want to pretend that you’re intelligent?

    Still at it? Amateur.

    No pretend. I’ve given you real credentials. Now, if you say MENSA is a bunch of nincompoops, then that’s a separate discussion but my membership among them is fact.

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  65. Pch101 says:

    More right-wing logic in action:

    “Social Security is going to implode because the population is aging and the ratio of workers to retirees is falling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “…..Whaddya mean that the labor force participation rate is falling because it includes retirees who aren’t working?!?!?!?!?!?!?”

    It would seem that not everyone grew up with those connect-the-dots coloring books.

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  66. Firebringer says:

    @Tony W: I know you don’t believe it but Pch101’s example is precisely the situation in my home. Further, thanks to the ACA I will be able to retire much earlier with confidence that I can purchase healthcare.

    You are right though, my early retirement will lower the labor participation rate – instead of working all day I’ll be on a beach in the Bahamas drinking Mai Tais while you are still handing stickers to kids at the entrance to Wal-Mart.

    Way to declare yourself superior there, Tony-boy!!

    You’re one of the ACA’s winners! But believe me, there are losers too. I just don’t look kindly on our elected government choosing winners and losers — I’d much rather have a (reasonably) free market make that choice.

    I just started my third tech company (and before you assume, the first two were very successful). I hope to sell it and retire on the proceeds, but the market will make that choice if I create a good enough company.

    I guess I should congratulate you that you could rely on a government mandate to position you for retirement. No wonder you’re an Obama supporter — he made you a winner by government fiat. Hell, if I wanted my government to give me stuff like you do, then I guess I’d share your enthusiasm.

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  67. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: It would seem that not everyone grew up with those connect-the-dots coloring books.

    Strawman much? If you’re going to start attributing to me comments made by others in a vain attempt to ignore my valid argument and perspective, then I guess I’ll just have to stop wasting time “debating” with you.

    If you want further interaction from me, post some perspective and some evidence to support that perspective. If you just want attention, call your mom, faithful reader.

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  68. mantis says:

    @Firebringer:

    Hell, my MENSA card is still valid.

    /r/iamverysmart

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  69. David M says:

    @Firebringer:

    The ACA is a moderate free market solution for providing access to health insurance, especially when the alternative proposal from the GOP is nothing.

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  70. David M says:

    For any interested, here’s a good summary of why the labor force participation rate is a non-issue.

    http://ritholtz.com/2015/11/labor-force-participation-rate-is-a-non-issue/

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  71. mantis says:

    @Firebringer:

    Something that impacts 100% of the citizenry but denies representation to 45% of the voting population is just wrong.

    Representation comes from legislators, not legislation. For such a super smaht guy, you sure don’t seem to understand representative democracy.

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  72. al-Ameda says:

    @Firebringer:

    No pretend. I’ve given you real credentials. Now, if you say MENSA is a bunch of nincompoops, then that’s a separate discussion but my membership among them is fact.

    On the Internet, everyone can be all that they can be.

    By the way, I just wired a $2,500 deposit to the Nigerian Consulate – they said that they could confirm your MENSA membership.

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  73. Firebringer says:

    @mantis: /r/iamverysmart

    Well, I am. But I’m not claiming to be infallible.

    Someone help me understand where I’m wrong! James Pearce is at least giving me things to think about. The boneheads are just saying how stupid I am. Well, I am far from stupid. Far from unsuccessful.

    But my opinion is different from yours and my perspective and evidence are ignored in lieu of silly ad hominem ad nausem.

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  74. Firebringer says:

    @David M: For any interested, here’s a good summary of why the labor force participation rate is a non-issue.

    http://ritholtz.com/2015/11/labor-force-participation-rate-is-a-non-issue/

    Hey, David. I thought I ignored you in another thread, but this is a good posting. That said, it appears to be mainly just confirmation bias.

    You’ll note that the entire premise of the article is that LFPR doesn’t matter because it’s driven by seniors who have chosen to retire — i.e. do not want a job. Two problems with that — 1) per NCOA, 25MM American seniors are financially insecure. I don’t know of many financially insecure people who choose not to work unless the marginal cost of working exceeds the benefits and entitlements they might already receive. 2) As I noted above, the “do not want to work” metric is skewed to favor a positive trend by automatically including non-respondents and people that weren’t even asked the question as “do not want to work.”

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  75. David M says:

    @Firebringer:

    That doesn’t change the fact the the drop in labor force participation rate is being driven by demographics.

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  76. Firebringer says:

    @David M: The ACA is a moderate free market solution for providing access to health insurance, especially when the alternative proposal from the GOP is nothing.

    Simply not true. Government involvement is the exact, diametric opposite to a free market.

    And there were many ideas offered, but none accepted. Remember allowing interstate insurance purchases (a better purpose for invoking the interstate commerce clause)? Tort reform? Improving the clinical trial process? All things that could have both improved health care insurance costs along with health care costs themselves.

    Instead we got health care insurance “reform” that has driven up prices, eliminated necessary and desirable insurance products from the market, and (BTW) comes at the expense of taxpayers.

    Care to rethink that gem??

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  77. gVOR08 says:

    @Firebringer: Yeah. My MENSA membership is paid up too. But it’s not a credential. I’m not about to provide enough personal info for anyone to verify it.

    We have an unusually good group of commenters here. I suspect many are qualified to join MENSA, if not members. You might find the conversation here interesting if you’d let yourself.

    George Lakoff makes a good point, which we see demonstrated every day, that it’s not that conservatives (and libertarians) don’t have the ability to think things through logically, it’s just not the way they look at the world. There are valid discussions and arguments to be had around the labor participation rate. But you make yourself sound like just another standard issue ditto head going, ‘Labor participation low, Obama evil.’ Why don’t you write something to show us how smart you are?

    (I know. I fed the troll. I regret it already.)

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  78. Firebringer says:

    @mantis: Representation comes from legislators, not legislation. For such a super smaht guy, you sure don’t seem to understand representative democracy.

    You’re such a funny guy. To exclude the duly elected representatives that agree with 47% of the voters is an easy concept. Come on, man. This might actually start getting hard then you’ve got no chance of keeping up.

    Remedial representative republic class for you!!!

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  79. Firebringer says:

    @al-Ameda: On the Internet, everyone can be all that they can be.

    By the way, I just wired a $2,500 deposit to the Nigerian Consulate – they said that they could confirm your MENSA membership.

    Maybe, but I am a MENSA member. That’s plain fact. If it intimidates you so much that you have to wish it away, then that’s your cross to bear…

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  80. David M says:

    @Firebringer:

    Not at all. Tort reform and interstate insurance sales aren’t serious proposals.

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  81. Firebringer says:

    @gVOR08: We have an unusually good group of commenters here. I suspect many are qualified to join MENSA, if not members. You might find the conversation here interesting if you’d let yourself.

    That has not been my experience. But I’m admittedly new here. It was offered only to the standard dismissal of “he must be stupid.” If the commenters believe that stupid people are qualified to join MENSA, then I’m not about to touch that.

    But you make yourself sound like just another standard issue ditto head going, ‘Labor participation low, Obama evil.’ Why don’t you write something to show us how smart you are?

    If that’s all you got out of the lines and lines of discourse, them I’m not sure how much more I can guide you. Take note of what James Pearce and even (to a lesser extend) David W have brought to the conversation. Even if I don’t agree with them, they’re part of the discussion. The others are well, just trolls. But I don’t mind feeding the hungry little buggers.

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  82. Pch101 says:

    Gee, my officially administered Stanford-Binet results only put me in the top .01% and my GMAT was in the 99th percentile. I do hope that doesn’t preclude me from posting here — I am going to contact the OTB membership office and plead my case.

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  83. Firebringer says:

    @David M: Not at all. Tort reform and interstate insurance sales aren’t serious proposals.

    So Obama has the capacity to determine what is a serious proposal? Or is that you talking?

    Of course they’re serious. But dunderheads dismiss them without consideration and contribute to the partisan gridlock. The free market has done more good for the world than any government body…

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  84. mantis says:

    @Firebringer:

    To exclude the duly elected representatives that agree with 47% of the voters is an easy concept.

    I must have missed it when those representatives were denied a vote on legislation. What day did that happen?

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  85. Firebringer says:

    @Pch101: Gee, my officially administered Stanford-Binet results only put me in the top .01% and my GMAT was in the 99th percentile.

    Then you should be intelligent enough to discuss. Not sure what happened there. Your postings paint you as anything but intelligent. Maybe you’re an academic?

    I’ve seen smart people fall victim to their own perceptions of infallibility based on their high IQs. Tends to happen more to academics in my experience.

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  86. Firebringer says:

    @mantis: I must have missed it when those representatives were denied a vote on legislation. What day did that happen?

    Likely not the only thing you’ve missed. Once more, with feeling.

    The republicans were shut out of the discussion on what amounts to the largest piece of legislation (at least economically) in the last century. never said they were shut out of the vote. But them darn Dems did do a budget reconciliation trick to thwart the will of the people who sent a red senator from a traditionally blue state to stop the madness.

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  87. Pch101 says:

    Anyone who would boast of having a Mensa membership is an insecure blowhard. That’s true irrespective of whether one actually has the membership or is lying about it.

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  88. Firebringer says:

    Gotta run guys. I should be back on later tonight.

    Take some time, brush up on your facts. Mantis, brush up on life. We’ll continue when time permits…

    James and David (to a lesser extent), appreciate the discourse. Everyone else, don’t play in traffic…

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  89. David M says:

    @Firebringer:

    To exclude the duly elected representatives that agree with 47% of the voters is an easy concept.

    This is both wrong and nonsensical. The Democrats were looking for GOP buy-in to health care reform for months, and it wasn’t long enough ago that we’ve all forgotten. Remember Baucus and the “Gang of Six“?

    Anyway, the GOP had all the input they wanted. They chose to not participate in the process and then voted against the bill. If they wanted to be involved, all they had to do was join the process. Instead they chose total obstruction.

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  90. mantis says:

    @Firebringer:

    The republicans were shut out of the discussion on what amounts to the largest piece of legislation

    161 amendments authored by Republicans were included in the bill. The Senate Finance Committee held 31 meetings to craft the bill, all of which included Republican participation. Official debate in Congress lasted months and was vigorously argued by Republicans. Any other nonsense you want to peddle?

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  91. mantis says:

    @Firebringer:

    brush up on your facts.

    Well, that’s rich.

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  92. James Pearce says:

    @Firebringer:

    Actually, I was.

    Lazy partisanship bores me. “Tricks for me, but not for thee” is not a very principled approach.

    The shutdown occurred because the opposition didn’t have the votes. Not having the votes, they decided to try to get their way anyway,

    If they wanted to use the “power of the purse” they should have gotten the votes to do so. Like when the ACA was initially passed.

    The shutdown happened in 2013 and the people punished the shutdown by electing more conservatives?

    Don’t mistake a lack of punishment for an endorsement. The shutdown gambit was extremely unpopular and it did not succeed.

    If more conservatives won election after that debacle, thank gerrymandering and a preference for divided government, not their failed political strategy.

    I actually like this banter with you because you make me think.

    Glad to engage.

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  93. Mikey says:

    WHY ALEXANDER HAMILTON WOULD HATE THE GOP REFUSAL TO CONSIDER A SCALIA SUCCESSOR

    Twenty-five percent of a presidential term is off the table when it comes to filling a spot on the high court, under the grand jurisprudential concept known as “’cause we said so.” But why stop there? There are two elections in every presidential term, including the midterms when control of the Senate is up for grabs. Shouldn’t the public—using the absurd “electoral year” argument of the Republicans—have a voice in deciding who can and cannot be confirmed by letting elections happen first?

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  94. Tillman says:

    After reading this thread, I’m left with the question of why any Mensa member who founded a bunch of tech companies would bother commenting here specifically under the alias “Firebringer,” which is obnoxiously allusive. Could’ve gone with a more esoteric handle, maybe been more humble by not bothering to list “credentials” on the Internet. Or perhaps this just illustrates what happens when you eschew an education in the humanities; intelligent enough, but no appreciation for allegory or proper argumentation.

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  95. Pch101 says:

    It’s a textbook logical fallacy to argue that everything said by an intelligent person is true. Ironically, smart people should be smart enough to avoid such claims.

    Of course, we don’t have that problem on this thread, as the self-proclaimed smart guy has failed to demonstrate his intelligence.

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  96. David M says:

    @Firebringer:

    @David M: Not at all. Tort reform and interstate insurance sales aren’t serious proposals.

    So Obama has the capacity to determine what is a serious proposal? Or is that you talking?

    It’s basic knowledge that people who are informed about health care policy acquire. Companies can already sell insurance to customers in other states, but the barriers to entry aren’t government regulations. Georgia passed a law in 2010 specifically to allow and encourage this, but it had no effect.

    And tort reform remains a joke.

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  97. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Firebringer:

    And I lean libertarian. It’s easy for me: smallest government that gets the job done.

    So I take it that you don’t have any actual proposals for how to accomplish that “smallest government that gets the job done” thing either?

    Everybody and his pet dog wants to want small government–except that there’s never a cop around when you need one.

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  98. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Firebringer: The health care market is not a free market, but government has little to do with why it isn’t. The primary reason that heath care is not a free market is because of the disconnect between the users of the service (patients) who are not actually stakeholders in the system and the perverse incentives that exist specifically because the users take no great role in controlling the market–they don’t shop for better deals, they don’t negotiate with providers, they don’t even select the insurance plans that they use, which are usually selected by employers (in the past, unions also played a key role but don’t any more). The disconnect is exacerbated by the problem of the actual stakeholders–employers, insurers, hospital operators, providers, and so on–having little ability (or in some cases even incentive) to control costs or even assist in evaluating effectiveness of the services offered.

    As you say, thank you for playing. And by the way, I retract my previous question about your ideas to reduce the size of government.

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  99. al-Ameda says:

    @Firebringer:

    Maybe, but I am a MENSA member. That’s plain fact. If it intimidates you so much that you have to wish it away, then that’s your cross to bear

    Your MENSA membership intimidates me in the same way that Sarah Palin’s reading list intimidates me. Yes, it causes me great anxiety but by listening to Kenny G, John Tesh, Yanni, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity I’ve learned that it could be a lot worse.

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  100. Mikey says:

    @Firebringer:

    @mantis: /r/iamverysmart

    Well, I am.

    Holy shit, that’s priceless.

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