30 June 2012


So, the Chief and the four Clinton and Obama appointees uphold the constitutionality of the so-called "Affordable Care Act."   What can we take away from this decision?


In his remarks after the decision was announced, the President said
Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act . . ..  In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance. 
That is nonsense and this former adjunct law professor knows that.  The Court made no such social findings, nor is it constitutionally able to do so.

The "principles" enunciated  by the President are hardly principles--they are merely doctrines of the left wing of the American political spectrum.  Rather than affirming a so-called "principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance,"  the Court merely said that the Congress, under its Constitutional power to tax, can force people to buy something that they do not want to buy.  And I can assure you that that theory will be the subject of continued litigation coming from both sides of the political spectrum.

For example, I can envision an attempt by the environmental lobby to get Congress to require people to buy "environmentally friendly" cars, and to penalize those who choose not to do so--by way of a similar "mandate," which we now joins"contribution" and "investment" in the lexicon of liberal descriptors  for "tax."

All the Court did was to interpret a statute and determine whether the Congress was acting within its constitutionally enumerated powers.


In the words of my 15 year old, "If everyone would just do what I want, things would be better."

For weeks, Lyin' Harry Reid and Whinin' Nancy Pelosi, and others of their ilk, have assured us that a 5-4 decision would mean that the Supreme Court was no longer the impartial arbiter of the law, and that, if it rendered a split decision, the majority opinion ought have no moral authority.  Now, they are praising the Court for its 5-4 decision and suggesting that the ACA is now a done deal.

The President said
The highest Court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight (sic) the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.

With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law.
 You can bet that if the decision had gone the other way, there would have been no talk of ending the "political battles."

At least the President admits that the law is not set in concrete.  There are many Americans who think that the best "improvement" to the ACA would be its total repeal, with discreet statutes enacted to accomplish those elements of the ACA that are popular with the electorate.


It is fairly clear to me that when the justices went into conference, there were four (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan) who wanted to find the law constitutional under the commerce clause.  Justice Ginsburg said so.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg heralded the court’s majority opinion that left the bulk of President Barack Obama’s health care law in place. . . [but] decried as a "stunning setback" the votes of five justices that the individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause.. . .  Ginsburg warned that the dismissal of the individual mandate as unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause “invites assaults on Congress” when it writes future laws.
It is also fairly clear that there were four (Kennedy, Thomas, Scalia,  and Alito) who took Congress at its word that it was not enacting a tax act and would--quite correctly-- find the ACA to be unconstitutional in its entirety.

And then there was the Chief.He walked into the conference facing one group that wanted to judicially re-write the Constitution and another that was unwilling to adhere to the settled principle that an act of Congress signed into law enjoys a presumption of constitutionality.  Thus, by correctly identifying the ACA as a tax--no matter to what political semantics the President and the Democrat leadership in Congress resort to save their hides in November--he was able to block the liberal four from doing what they and those of their ilk have been doing for well nigh onto a century, while holding firm to genuine principle.

Ginsberg, et al., were then faced with a real dilemna.  They could settle for a plurality opinion in which they found the ACA constitutional under the commerce clause and carry the day only if the Chief then concurred in part, dissented in part and concurred in the result, which would have politically gutted the ACA, or they could join with the Chief gaining a 5-4 majority, but giving him the right to write the majority opinion.  I'm also betting that they did not write separate opinions because it would dilute the force of the opinion and, perhaps, because they knew that to do so might push the Chief over the top.

At any rate, the Court worked the way it is supposed to.


I was surprised at how quickly, the Democrats rushed to say that the Supreme Court was wrong!  Pelosi, a career legislator, dismissed the Court's ruling that the ACA was constitutional only because the mandate was a tax by saying "“Call it what you will, it is a step forward for America’s families and you know what? Take yes for an answer,” Pelosi told reporters.  “Technical terms, that’s for us here,” Pelosi said. “What it means for the American people is what it does to (sic) them.”  Probably a slip of the tongue, but she has it right--it raises peoples taxes, despite what the President, Reid, and Pelosi said.   As Nancy also said,  "We have to pass it to see what was in it."  They have, and the highest Court in the land says it includes a huge tax.


Polls show that, even after nearly four years of "education" by the President and his surrogates, a majority of Americans do not like the ACA.  They like parts of it, but those stubborn Americans do not like the liberal elites telling them what they need to buy "for their own good."   And, as we celebrate next Wednesday, the elites ought remember that Americans like taxes even less than that!

24 June 2012


I have not had the opportunity to visit as many of the western battlefields of the Civil War as those in the east.  As I would be driving through Mississippi on my circuitous route home from General Assembly in Baton Rouge, I decided to take the opportunity to visit Vicksburg National Military Park.  It is well worth the trip.

Until one has seen the terrain at the time of year of the siege, the depth and modernity of Grant's plan can escape us.  He adopted maneuver warfare a century before it became popular.  The hills and ravines that make up the eastern side of the battlefield are amazing.  Fort Hill, which was never attacked, is stunning.

Finally, the excavated and partially restored USS Cairo, a gunboat sunk during the campaign and recovered in the 1960's, is alone worth the trip.

The park offers one of the largest collections of military monuments in America.  The Missouri Monument, remembering the Missouri regiments, (US) and (CS), that fought each other at Vicksburg is the story of a civil war writ large in granite.  During the "three hour truce", men from the blue and the grey Missouri regiments mingled to find friends and relatives--and then went back to killing one another.

If you haven't visited Vicksburg, you have missed a really moving experience.

22 June 2012


Note:  At the 32d General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) at First Presbyterian Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I have had the joyous opportunity of seeing many dear friends.  One of my heroes, Rev. Dr. James Quillin, whom I first met at the first convocation of the New Wineskins Association of Churches held in Edina, Minnesota in June 2005, asked me "When are you going to return to blogging?"   Well, here it is.  If you like it, thank Dr. Quillin.  If you throw up your hands and run screaming for the exits, blame me.

For most Presbyterians, the word "fun" and the words "General Assembly" do not usually appear in the same sentence.  Rather, GA is usually beset with controversy and bickering, leaving commissioners (at least ruling elder commissioners and not a few teaching elders) worn out spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  Consider the last 15 GA's of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

There have been battles over the authority of Scripture, the Trinity, ordination standards, and in a week or so, the definition of marriage. 

Battle is never fun, and PC(USA) general assemblies were battles--events to be dreaded.  Somehow, the joy of spreading biblically orthodox, Reformed faith was hijacked and moral relativism was substituted in its place.

As a result, beginning in 2007, our congregation, and approximately 180 others fought their way out of the PC(USA) and were welcomed into the EPC.  Suddenly, GA was something to look forward to, not to dread.

At the general assemblies of the EPC, we experienced a joy of worshiping with brothers and sisters, of seeing trust in God and in each other lived out, and being part of a church that saw as its first mission the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ.  Instead of parliamentary procedure as a contact sport, the EPC's GA spent more time praying and worshiping than it did on business.  Disagreements were expressed courteously and lovingly.

This year's GA is no different.  We have had unbelievably powerful preaching from Rev. Paul Mpindi, a native of Democratic Republic of Congo and an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church, Rev. Doug Klein the Moderator of the 31st General Assembly of the EPC, and Rev. Dr. Gerrit Dawson, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Baton Rouge.  We have looked toward the future when we pray that God will allow us to spread that Good News "in Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth"--and to the end of the block, too.

I will return to our session and congregation spiritually refreshed.  And that is fun...