A Few Words About "The Great Disappointment"


I am, by disposition, a glass-half-full kind of guy. I am predisposed by the Manufacturer to see silver linings, upsides and bright spots in dark situations. With that in mind, now that I’ve had a couple of days to process the recent Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, here are a few thoughts.

Certainly conservatives are almost universally dismayed (to put it mildly) that Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberals on the court in the decision that upheld Obamacare. I am among them.

Nevertheless there is a conservative rational for Roberts’ vote, opinion and calculus. Dr. Charles Krauthammer does a pretty good job of summarizing it here. Powerline’s John Hindraker has a slightly different but still sympathetic view here. I would explain the outcome this way.

There were two conservative principles in play in this case. On one hand, there is the principle of reigning in the runaway growth/power of the national government at the expense of state prerogatives and individual liberty.

On the other hand, we conservatives had long decried activist courts striking down laws legitimately passed by duly elected representatives just because an ideologically hostile court discovered some previously-unknown “penumbra” in the Constitution.

Not long ago the citizens of the State of California voted overwhelmingly to codify the definition of marriage as being between one-man and one-woman–thereby premptively shutting the door to the redefinition of marriage in ways that would include not only gay marriage but bigamy, polyamory, incest and other creative arrangements “between consenting adults who love each other.

And yet the U.S. Ninth Circuit recently struck down that law on contorted, absurdist, touchy-feely grounds. This is precisely the kind of “judicial activism” conservatives loathe and conservative judges like Roberts have vowed to eschew.

Thus the dilemma. The four right-leaning or libertarian-ish judges viewed the first principle–reigning in the reach of the national government– as being the more compelling of the two principles. Roberts, obviously, picked the other one.

We rightly despise liberal courts’ proclivity to “legislate from the bench.” This is precisely what Roberts’ opinion says he was trying to avoid:

“We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.”

If only the liberal justices with whom Roberts sided had the same philosophy. How much would you like to wager that the next time a big piece of conservative social legislation comes before the Court, those other four justices encompassed in Roberts’ “we” above will suddenly lose their commitment to judicial restrain and Constitutionality.

Liberals now mindlessly and reflexively tend to view the Supreme Court as a type of super-legislative body that should decide what policies “ought” to be (irrespective of what the Constitution says or doesn’t say) and then rule accordingly.

Hilariously Sadly, after the SCOTUS handed down the Obamacare decision, I saw numerous headlines at news site that actually said, “Court Passes Obamacare“–as if the judges were legislators voting on a bill. Of course, this is precisely how libs view the courts, but the rest of us generally know better.

Frankly, the far-better, healthier-for-the-republic, more-conservative approach for preventing the rolling economic and cultural catastrophe of Obamacare is to elect Romney to the White House and fill Congress with men and women pledged to repeal it. And then legislatively yank the thing out of the law books by the roots.

Indeed this is precisely what Chief Justice Roberts clearly hopes will happen. In his majority opinion he wrote:

It’s not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.

True enough. In strictly Constitutional terms, if the American people are dull-witted or greedy-for-other-people’s-money enough to put Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Dodd, Rangel & Co. in charge of the nation–as they did via the elections of ’06 and ’08–it’s not technically the role of the courts to reverse them–provided the legislation passes some generous minimum level of Constitutionality.

Robert’s opinion explicitly states that he found the Affordable Health Care Act cleared that minimum level–but it is hard to read it without concluding that Roberts had to squint, look-crosseyed, and directly repudiate everything Obama and the bill’s backers claimed about it in order to do so.

So that moves the battle for economic freedom to November. Some, though not all, knowledgable political observers think the Court’s decision enhances Romney’s chances. I pray they’re correct.

As I said, I’m an optimistic guy. But if, come November, Republicans don’t take the White House and healthy majorities in both houses of Congress facilitating an immediate reversal of Obamacare and Obama’s toxic blend of nanny-state socialism and Crony Capitalism, it’s going to be tough to keep alive any rational hope for a renewal of freedom and opportunity.

American decline will be baked into the cake. Irreversible. And it’s hard to see a silver lining in that.


The Lost Secret of My Geography Prowess

I’ve always been a geography nerd. And I’m obsessed with maps. So a few minutes ago I stumbled across a photograph that explains why . . .


If I was Charles Foster Kane, this would be my “Rosebud.” When I was four or five my Mom bought me the U.S. map puzzle depicted above. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the pic. What a flood of memories.

The pieces are made of wood. Man, I loved working that thing. To this day, I see that puzzle in my head when I need to visualize the relative positions of the states. It also explains why I’m always a little fuzzy about the the geography of New England. (All those tiny states were fused together into one piece.

When our girls were little, I looked in vain for anything like it.

About The Mormon Thing


This is a blog post I drafted in my mind back during the heat of the Republican primaries. It was more timely then than now. And it’s almost certain to offend more people than it pleases. So naturally, here I go . . .

There has been much speculation about how Evangelicals voters will respond to the nomination of Mitt Romney–a Mormon. Will the enthusiasm and support Republican nominees usually enjoy from Evangelicals be dampened with a Mormon at the top of the ticket? Will a critical percentage of them simply stay home on election day?

Four years ago when Mitt Romney was battling John McCain for the nomination, much was made of a survey which indicated that a majority of evangelical Christians would not vote for a Mormon candidate for president. Of course, that was before they  experienced three years of “Christian” Obama–the most pro-abortion, pro-union, anti-capitalist, arguably anti-American president in our nation’s history.

Perhaps that’s why recent surveys reveal evangelicals are warming up to the idea of voting for a Mormon–a man with whom they share a lot of common values if not a common faith. Nevertheless, some still consider the prospect alarming, as this new book by my old friend and co-author Stephen Mansfield testifies.

Some Food for Thought for My Brethren with Mormon Qualms

I hear some of my fellow evangelicals declare that they can’t vote for a Mormon because Mormons believe weird stuff . . . stuff that’s not in the Bible . . . stuff we evangelicals view as heretical. I’ve heard more than one crack about “holy underwear” in the White House.

But hold on . . . Here’s the thought that frequently occurred to me during the heat of the Republican primary.

Romney’s two principle challengers were Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich–both Roman Catholics. From a strictly evangelical perspective, don’t Roman Catholics believe a lot of weird stuff? Stuff that’s not in the standard evangelical Bible? Stuff that we Protestants at one time viewed as so heretical that rivers of blood were shed for the freedom to dissent.

We could play a game. Name a bizarro Mormon doctrine and I’ll name an equally bizarre Catholic one. I’ll see your magic underwear and raise you a transubstantiation. I’ll see your Golden Tablets and raise you a papal infallibility or a perpetual virginity of Mary.

Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. I’m not calling for evangelical avoidance of Catholic candidates. On the contrary, I think the support many evangelicals gave Rick Santorum was appropriate and reasonable.

I’m saying I’m puzzled by evangelicals who can think nothing of voting for Rick Santorum but recoil at the thought of voting for Mitt Romney.

I personally am less interested in a candidate’s personal faith than I am his political philosophy and the policies he or she will pursue if elected.

Frankly, some of the worst and most disastrous presidents we’ve had over the last five decades were church-going Protestant Christians:

  • LBJ (Disciples of Christ)
  • Richard Nixon (Quaker)
  • Jimmy Carter (Southern Baptist)
  • Bill Clinton (Southern Baptist)
  • Barack Obama (United Church of Christ)

Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, was initially viewed with a lot of wariness by evangelicals because he “never went to church.” I don’t think the country can survive many more church-going presidents like Carter or Obama.

Follow your own conscience. But as for me and my house, we’ll vote for the most conservative electable candidate irrespective of what he believes about God or underwear.

Not a Nickel’s Worth of Difference?

Of course there are those who contend it doesn’t matter which party’s candidate get’s elected in November. That there’s “not a nickel’s worth of difference between them.” I usually hear this assertion from my friends who have classified all candidates for president into two groups:

  1. Candidates who are named Ron Paul
  2. Candidates not named Ron Paul and who are therefore statist, globalist, insufficiently libertarian and evil.

From these friends I hear that the Candidate-Not-Named-Ron-Paul will still allow the country to drift in a statist direction–if admittedly less severely than Obama will shove it. (And trust me, if Obama is reelected, his second term will make his first look like his right-wing phase.)

I’m sorry, but the argument that if Car A will take you toward a cliff at 80 miles per hour and Car B will take you toward the same cliff at 35 miles per hour, it doesn’t really matter which car you climb into strikes me as a ridiculous one.

So, come November, I’ll be casting my vote for Romney. And I’ll feel great about it.

Doofus Dads Revisited


About a year ago I wrote a couple of ranty blog posts about the way husbands and fathers are portrayed in television commercials.  These:

Madison Avenue’s Go-To Guy – The Clueless Husband/Father

More on Doofus Dad/Hapless Husband

As Providence would have it, these posts came to the attention of Joshua Levs, a writer for CNN, working on a piece for CNN.com centered on that very topic. He shot me an email asking if he could interview me for the piece. I agreed. And a few days ago it published:

No more dumb old dad: Changing the bumbling father stereotype

I was a little nervous about the angle the piece would take (it being CNN and all) but I thought Levs produced a very good, very fair piece of journalism.

Sadly, the advertising industry’s lazy habit of defaulting to the Doofus Dad/Hapless Husband schtick shows no signs of diminishing. The most recent example that has my wife and I rolling our eyes is the Valspar paint spot in which the standard “all-knowing, all-wise, ever-patient” wife asks the standard “bewildered” husband to grab a magenta paint chip from rack at the home improvement store.

It didn’t make it into the CNN article but one question I was asked by the author was, “What’s the harm?” In other words, why should we be alarmed or dismayed about this trend?

My response was, “The issue isn’t whether this trend of pandering to women by disparaging men creates a specific harm. The interesting question is what the trend reveals about us as a culture.” I contend that a culture that happily holds fatherhood, husband-hood up for consistent ridicule and mockery is a culture in trouble.

News from All Around

Finishing the most recent book project meant I could finally take a weekend to run up to the hills of southeastern Oklahoma and check in on my mom.

It’s been more than a year-and-a-half since dad passed away so she usually has a healthy “honey do” list for me on those too-rare occasions I can visit. This was no exception. In fact, two nights before I arrived a thunderstorm knocked down a large tree behind the house.

A chainsaw was borrowed and the fallen tree was dispatched.


My Life Offers Me Far Too Few Opportunities to Wield a Chainsaw

The demise of the tree above is good news for the tree it was crowding–a peach tree that was so laden with fruit this last weekend that several of the branches were bowing nearly to ground level.



Went to church with mom on Sunday morning. It’s the same small sanctuary I attended between the ages of 5 and 18. The aisle I walked at the age of eight looks the same. The same pews are in place. Only the upholstery color has changed.

My best friend from high school is now the Music Minister/Associate Pastor there. He has succeeded in introducing a few touches of modern worship to the place. They still sing the old hymns but now instead of turning to Hymn #245 in the Baptist Hymnal, the words are projected onto a screen. And a few classic praise choruses have been gingerly inserted into the song service. Nothing too radical or current. But progress is progress in this corner of Oklahoma.