TX Gov Rick Perry: Turning Adversarial Lemons into Lemonade — for 2016?

by Phil on 08/20/2014

You may not be familiar with the currently-ongoing story of Texas Governor Rick Perry being indicted for vetoing State funds that were originally appropriated for a particular State agency, but catch up by clicking over to LegalInsurrection.com and RedState.com (see especially video over at RedState).

You see, when you get indicted and you turn yourself in (or are brought in), you have to have a mugshot.

Now, when you get a mugshot, it’s usually not all that flattering, and in the political world, it can follow you forever and essentially ends or seriously curtails any chances you have of pursuing a political career.

However, one tweeter — @UnsavoryAgents — put together an absolutely fantastic mock-up of the Governor’s mugshot that, in my opinion, absolutely must be used if he were to choose to enter the GOP 2016 presidential arena:

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Today’s Ferguson, MO Presser — Why Leadership is Important

by Phil on 08/16/2014

While the investigation is ongoing regarding the August 9th shooting of Ferguson, MO teenager Michael Brown, I wanted to comment on today’s presser that involved the State’s Governor, members of the State Patrol, a Congressman, and the clergyman of the church in which it was held.

At the same time, I’m not going to go into details about the shooting and its aftermath, as those details haven’t even been fully revealed to the public at this time.

Having said that, today’s presser was an example of exactly what not to do in a situation like this.

After watching folks in the crowd continuously speak for minutes on end about their particular issues, it was as if the people and not the officials were in charge of the presser.

Instead, here is how I would have handled it.

As Governor, I would have said that the declared state of emergency regarding a midnight-to-5am curfew would be upheld to the fullest extent of the law. Given that the teen shooting was still under investigation, what should not be and will not be tolerated is ongoing looting and overall disruption of the community by those who aren’t legitimately protesting but who are taking advantage of the situation.

As the State Trooper in charge of the logistics of handling community stabilization, I would said that the Governor’s stated curfew would be enforced by every available means necessary. We will not tolerate those who wish to come into or are a part of this community and who wish to be violently disruptive of law-abiding citizens. It is very likely that if you are out after curfew, and you become violent when you now know that there’s an imposed curfew, and we ask you to proceed indoors on account of the curfew, you will be warned as such that you will be taken into custody for disobeying the curfew.

In other words, it should be stressed that ongoing violence will not be tolerated in the community precisely because any further violence is completely separate from the shooting that actually occurred. Such perpetrators of community violence are disturbing the peace and will simply be taken into custody if they don’t submit to the curfew. In fact, if you’re committing violence at any time, you will be arrested as a perpetrator.

The Congressman actually did a pretty good job of explanation the general legal process for dealing with the actual shooting incident. I believe that was very proper.

Regarding fielding questions, those questions having to do with the teen’s shooting would have to be gracefully handled such that no further information is available at this time, but that the investigation with local precinct in conjunction with State and federal officials is currently ongoing.

If there were those concerned as to how the curfew would be enforced, I would simply repeat what was stated above and simply state that it is not in the best interests of the community to have continued violence of any sort in the street, and that such individuals would be taken into custody if they remained violent after repeated attempts to encourage obeying the curfew.

In the case that questioners would insist upon interrupting officials as the officials were to try answering questions, I would use the tactic of gracefully telling the questioner(s) that not only can questions be answered one at a time, but that we can’t be talking over each other and expect to have a productive dialog.

We citizens need to be patient with our justice system. It’s meant to be slow in order to protect all parties involved; there’s no point in declaring a party guilty and having all the cascading consequences of such a verdict if that party really isn’t guilty.

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The Proper Response to Depression

by Phil on 08/13/2014

With the passing of legendary comedian Robin Williams by suicide last Monday, I’d like to join the chorus — in whatever small way I can — of those who wish to promote ways of dealing with the kind of depression that can unfortunately lead to suicide.

For we Christians, and echoing what Atlanta radio talker Erick Erickson said yesterday, at the moment of highest intensity — especially for those dealing with loved ones who have just succumbed to suicide — the best answer is usually NOT “well, that’s just God’s will,” or, “we don’t always understand why things happen the way they do.”

Instead, just shut up — and be there for the individual. Being empathetic means grieving with someone who is suffering. This speaks far more for the pain than any amount of verbiage or sermonizing ever could.

And for those who are struggling with depression, such folks need help, usually in professional form.

And that’s OK.

We all get help for things like cardiovascular disease, for breast cancer, and many other non-psychological ailments, why not also get help for mental issues?

For starters, DesiringGod.com’s Jon Bloom presents an excellent starting point for those who don’t know where to turn.

Here’s the full link; excerpted:

But for some of us in the household of Jesus, Williams’s death hits hard for very personal reasons. For some, a profound, oppressive darkness is threatening to douse the little light and hope they see. They are fighting for dear life to remember and believe that life is worth living. And Robin Williams’s surrender is sucking the hope that they will be able to keep fighting.
If that’s you, I simply want to point you to hope by recommending a few things:

  1. Read the book of Ecclesiastes. That may sound strange because some find that book depressing. But I have appreciated this book most in my darkest times. Reading it will remind you that the Bible deals straight up with the bleakness of futility — finding hope in the world apart from God in this age. And it has clear pointers to hope.

  2. Then read the book of John. Here is the Hope. The Light of the world shines with unique brightness in this book and in his light we see light (Psalm 36:9). When despairing of life, we need to spend concentrated time listening to the Life (John 14:6).

  3. Look through our list of free resources for help dealing with depression anddespair.

  4. A while back I wrote about what I learned in one of my dark spiritual storms. It might be helpful to you.

Simply get help. It’s out there, you just have to make the move.

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12Stone Spotlight: Maintaining Leadership and Theology Inside of a Growing Church

by Phil on 08/9/2014

It is with great joy that my home church, 12Stone, has just announced today our expansion plans over the next few years.

With this kind of expansion, I think it’s wise to discuss what I believe is the right way for we laypeople (i.e.: the membership, volunteers or non-accredited ministers in a given church) to view such sprawling plans, as it is often with much trepidation that current generations of church-goers don’t always view “mega-churches” in the correct light.

I’ll also say that this isn’t about getting 100% agreement from any given church aficionado that they should belong to a large church; rather, that large churches are not just OK, but sometimes have the ministerial resources that smaller churches don’t have.

Let’s begin by defining what we’re actually talking about here. In the case of 12Stone church, it would generally be considered a multi-site church in which high-definition sermon content is live-streamed to four geographically dispersed (and online) campuses (having been on the church’s tech team for 4 years and now serving as a camera director at Central campus, I can attest to the dazzling array of both technology and volunteers we’ve been blessed to leverage).

For Bible studies, 12Stone invokes the cell group (i.e.: small group) concept. To date, we’ve successfully managed to see many such physical groups form and continue with a curriculum of instruction, as well as at least one virtual group begin to thrive.

When taking a look at 12Stone’s site, some might think that we are very “seeker-sensitive” in approach. In my opinion, however, 12Stone doesn’t exist to go out to the community and allow the community to determine the theological approach that the church will use (pastor/theologian John MacArthur presents what can be a very negative aspect of this approach when not including sound doctrine). Quite the contrary.

Many people may not realize that 12Stone is actually a member of the Wesleyan denomination (specifically, the South Coastal District). It is therefore an elder-governed, staff-led church that is highly dynamic in presentational approach yet quite conservative and evangelical in sermon messaging.

Therefore, how is 12Stone bucking a number of trends that essentially say that you can’t grow a big church without losing your head theologically? Our senior pastor, Kevin Myers (a.k.a.: “PK”), spelled out exactly where we are now going during the Wesleyan General Conference in 2012. This has culminated today in the Maxwell Leadership Center that is directly adjacent to 12Stone’s Sugarloaf Campus where resources are used for generating competent leaders and pastors of all willing denominations.

Perhaps the only remaining response over whether or not sizeable churches are “too big” is actually whether or not you’re comfortable with congregating with believers from over the centuries once Jesus returns. That should be one big party!

12Stone is an amazing example of what it means to be churched by leaders in the 21st century and, what’s more, demonstrating easily repeatable examples of how the entire membership can lead the community with a heart for Christ. And I’m personally very excited to see how the growth through to nine campuses — and beyond — will help to positively impact the community of northeastern Georgia.

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Dr. Ben Carson Edges Closer to Presidential Bid

by Phil on 08/3/2014

Dr. Ben Carson, a world-renowned neurosurgeon, is forming a political action committee and naming the gentleman who would run his campaign:

Emerging from two-days of meetings with supporters in Palm Beach, Fla., Dr. Carson told the [Washington] Times on Friday morning he has selected Houston businessman Terry Giles to be his 2016 campaign chairman should he run and approved the formation of a PAC called One Nation.

“Now is the time to start all of the appropriate exploration and investigation, and put down the structure that is necessary,” Dr. Carson said in a phone interview.

Asked about the likelihood he will run for president in 2016, Dr. Carson said: “I would say we are definitely a step or two closer than we were a year ago.”

He said the outcome of the 2014 elections in which Republicans are trying to seize control of the Senate would be a major factor, and that his new PAC would try to support candidates with similar viewpoints as his.

“Obviously we are very interested in what happens in November,” he said. “And if the people also continue to show strong desire for me to run, obviously that would be an important factor too.”

Performing a search for “Ben Carson” on YouTube.com will provide plenty of videos if you’re not familiar with this gentleman.

The doctor is definitely one, in my view, worth watching.

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New Jersey Assemblyman Files Convention of States Application

by Phil on 07/25/2014

Assemblyman Michael Carroll filed ACR171 earlier this month:

“Freedom is a bi-partisan matter,” said Victoria Jakelsky, the legislative liaison for the New Jersey Convention of States Project. “Liberty and justice are the American way. Though many Americans are weary and feel as if efforts to defend freedom are pointless, we have a duty to stand firm. We are taking this duty seriously here in New Jersey as Assemblyman Carroll, a fierce opponent of ‘judicial usurpation of the legislative function,’ leads the fight.”

In general, States call a Convention of States by passing a resolution (e.g.: an Application) and then submitting them to Congress. At the point that Congress receives 34 such Applications that deal with the same subject (based on the current number of States in the Union), it must name the time and place for such a Convention.

If New Jersey passes their Application, they would join Alaska, Florida and Georgia in having passed a Convention of States Application.

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Obamacare Update: DC Appeals Court: Only State Exchanges Can Grant Federal Obamacare Subsidies

by Phil on 07/22/2014

From CNBC:

In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a top federal appeals court Tuesday said that billions of dollars worth of government subsidies that helped nearly 5 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are illegal.

A judicial panel in a 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov.

The decision threatens to unleash a cascade of effects that could seriously compromise Obamacare’s goals of compelling people to get health insurance, and helping them afford it. …

If upheld, the ruling could lead many, if not most of those subsidized customers to abandon their health plans sold on HealthCare.gov because they no longer would find them affordable without the often-lucrative tax credits. And if that coverage then is not affordable for them as defined by the Obamacare law, those people will no longer be bound by the law’s mandate to have health insurance by this year or pay a fine next year.

If there were to be a large exodus of subsidized customers from the HealthCare.gov plans, it would in turn likely lead to much higher premium rates for non-subsidized people who would remain in those plans, who are apt as a group to be in worse health than all original enrollees.

The ruling also threatens, in the same 36 states, to gut the Obamacare rule starting next year that all employers with 50 or more full-time workers offer affordable insurance to them or face fines. That’s because the rule only kicks in if one of such an employers’ workers buy subsidized covered on HealthCare.gov.

LegalInsurrection.com posted technical details:

Section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or the Act), makes tax credits available as a form of subsidy to individuals who purchase health insurance through marketplaces—known as “American Health Benefit Exchanges,” or “Exchanges” for short—that are “established by the State under section 1311” of the Act. 26 U.S.C. § 36B(c)(2)(A)(i). On its face, this provision authorizes tax credits for insurance purchased on an Exchange established by one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia. See 42 U.S.C. § 18024(d). But the Internal Revenue Service has interpreted section 36B broadly to authorize the subsidy also for insurance purchased on an Exchange established by the federal government under section 1321 of the Act. See 26 C.F.R. § 1.36B-2(a)(1) (hereinafter “IRS Rule”).

Appellants are a group of individuals and employers residing in states that did not establish Exchanges. For reasons we explain more fully below, the IRS’s interpretation of section 36B makes them subject to certain penalties under the ACA that they would rather not face. Believing that the IRS’s interpretation is inconsistent with section 36B, appellants challenge the regulation under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), alleging that it is not “in accordance with law.” 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A).

….Because we conclude that the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges “established by the State,” we
reverse the district court and vacate the IRS’s regulation.

Court order (PDF).

Obama’s old Harvard Law professor, Laurence Tribe, said in response: “…I wouldn’t bet the family farm on this coming out in a way that preserves Obamacare.”

Further:

The law’s latest legal problem is that, as written, people who enroll in Obamacare through the federal exchange aren’t eligible for subsidies. The text of the law only provides subsidies for people enrolled through “an Exchange established by the State,” according to the text of the Affordable Care Act. Only 16 states decided to establish the exchanges.

The IRS issued a regulation expanding the pool of enrollees who qualify for the subsidies. Opponents of the law, such as the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon and Jonathan Adler, argue that the IRS does not have the authority to make that change. (Halbig v. Burwell, one of the lawsuits making this argument, is currently pending before the D.C. Circuit Court; the loser will likely appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.) …

Finally, the IRS could fill in ambiguous gaps in a law. The problem for the IRS, though, is that the subsidies language is not ambiguous. Even Tribe acknowledged that the language is clear, according to the Fiscal Times.

“Yet in drafting the law, Tribe said the administration ‘assumed that state exchanges would be the norm and federal exchanges would be a marginal, fallback position’ — though it didn’t work out that way for a plethora of legal, administrative and political reasons,” the Fiscal Times writes.

Believe it or not, this may have all come down to a wording glitch:

As written, the law states that subsidies should be paid to those who purchase insurance through an “exchange established by the state.”

That would seem to leave out the 36 states in which the exchanges are operated by the federal government.

Lawyers and congressional staffers who worked on the 2010 law have described the problem as a classic wording glitch in a long and complicated piece of legislation.

One part of the law says that states, which normally regulate insurance, could create exchanges that would help consumers and small businesses shop for coverage. The law also said that if a state failed to establish an exchange, the federal government could step in and run one in its place.

A second part of the law described the subsidies that could be offered to low- and middle-income people to cover the cost of the insurance. This part of the law said these subsidies — or tax credits — would be offered for insurance bought on an exchange “established by the state.”

Apparently no one noticed the problem until the law was passed. Then, because of fierce political opposition and the 2010 Republican takeover of the House, supporters of the law could not fix the wording through an amendment. Moreover, the administration did not anticipate that most Republican-led states would refuse to create an insurance exchange for their residents.

At the end of the day, everything is not over:

The administration is expected to appeal the panel’s decision to the full 11-member appeals court. In the last year, Obama has added four judges to the D.C. Circuit court, giving Democratic appointees a majority for the first time since the mid-1980s.

If that effort should fail, the administration could appeal to the Supreme Court.

Also, at the present time, this decision does not have the full effect of law (according to more details from the above links), and will likely require escalation to the Supreme Court (if they were to grant Certiorari for the case) in order to be ultimately settled.

 

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At the Movies: Didn’t like Aronofsky’s Noah? Try a Different Biblically-Based Pre-Flood Saga

by Phil on 07/21/2014

While I’ve written my share of commentary (and commentary in response to commentary on the same forum!) regarding Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (due out next Tuesday), I had also come across an arguably better creative re-telling of antediluvian history.

If you are interested in learning more about events (both factual and mythological) that lead up to the Flood (and beyond), I’d highly recommend a series of books by screenwriter and author Brian Godawa, entitled Chronicles of the Nephilim, beginning with Book 1: Noah Primeval.

As his site and prefaces to his books takes great pains to make clear, Brian has taken the time and effort to thoroughly research both biblical and ANE (Ancient, Near-East) history and mythology to come up with an exceptionally creative, fictional novel written from a biblical perspective. He definitely isn’t writing anything on the level of scripture, nor is he saying the events he describes are absolutely true. However, using this genre, he takes the reader on a fantastic journey through a plausible story of what it might have been like to live during such a pivotal time during earth’s history.

In addition to his novel form of writing, he has included plenty of appendixes that present the research he used behind the stories, demonstrating the virtually realistic perspective he gives to humans — and creatures — alike. Whether or not you watched Noah (or even want to do so), I believe that the Chronicles of the Nephilim deliver — from a biblical perspective — what the movie didn’t.

As of this posting, I’m just now getting halfway through Noah Primeval, and it really is inspiring on a number of levels. For those theological purists, it most definitely gives glory to God. For those creative types (including exegetes), the novel helps to connect the proverbial dots about humans, angels, and the time periods in question.

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House POTUS Lawsuit: Backgrounder On the Lawsuit Against Obama’s Failure to Execute Law

by Phil on 07/18/2014

On Wednesday, there was a Google Hangout that featured constitutional expert and litigator David Rivkin as well as S.T.O.P. Resolution (Stop This Overreaching Presidency) sponsor Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), where they went into the background of why and how they think House-initiated litigation could bring the presidency back in line with the Constitution.

The Radio Patriot provided transcript details of the Hangout; below is a main excerpt:

[David Rivkin speaking]

…The House has standing to bring the suit forward. The people who say this is the biggest hurdle either were urged — shall we say — to say so by the administration or they don’t know the law. The House of Representatives has repeatedly gained standing in a footprint of the DC Circuit and in four legislative subpoenas spanning a period of decades.

The same court has said clearly that a subpoena is a subset of a legislative power so let me explain it a little bit more. A single committee of the House issues a legislative subpoena. The House goes to the District of Columbia court, and then the DC Circuit court can enforce it. The committee is doing it without an explicit institutional authorization because under the rules of the House, it can do so.

In this case, there will be an explicit institutional authorization by the full House. That is absolutely clearly recognized.

Now the only argument I’ve heard made by people who….and by the way…subpeona is a gateway into the legislative process…

There have been roughly 45 lawsuits since 1938 seeking legislative standing involving state legislatures and other groups.

If the House cannot get the president to enforce the law as written and the president writes his own law, that’s not a sufficient institutional injury? This argument is absurd.

The biggest issue that separates this from other various lawsuits is that you had a group of legislators who didn’t like the outcome of the legislative process, bringing the lawsuit to try to impose their will on the legislature.

This is vastly different. This is the House as an Institution. The majority of the members of the House will presumably vote, and this House –as an Institution — will bring this lawsuit to enforce its prerogative that was granted to it under the Constitution that was written by the founding fathers. That’s vastly different than disgruntled legislators who you get in their way.

This would be a challenge the president’s failure to execute — not challenge the decision by the majority of Congress to do something.

The critics like to mention a Supreme Court case titled ? v Burke where, in fact… a line item veto and challenged by six members was precisely that.

I’m very optimistic that this lawsuit will succeed both from the standing of the merits — it’s a matter of driving it with as much expedition as possible. With respect to the DOJ trying to be as dilatory as possible, I certainly expect there’ll be a propaganda offensive. Its already started. But I don’t see any fundamental legal problems with regard to the standing or the merits.

Expected timeline of events:

Authorization followed by a full House vote in the last week of July
Lawsuit to be filed late August
1st set of decisions denying the government its motions to dismiss by November
Summary judgement granted by end of December.

Previous coverage of the Speaker’s lawsuit can be found here.

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“Six Californias” Plan Garners Enough Signatures to Be on the 2016 Ballot

by Phil on 07/17/2014

USAToday.com:

SAN FRANCISCO — A plan backed by venture capitalist Tim Draper to split California into six states has gained enough signatures to make the November 2016 ballot, the plan’s backers say.

A Twitter account belonging to the nonprofit Six Californias tweeted on Monday that “#SixCalifornias will be submitting signatures in Sacramento tomorrow for placement on the November 2016 ballot. Stay tuned for coverage!”

On Tuesday, Draper told USA Today the campaign had garnered 1.3 million signatures, well over the approximately 808,000 needed.

The proposal would make present-day California look like the following:

  • Jefferson: The northern part of the state, including Humboldt and Mendocino counties.
  • North California: The wine country counties of Sonoma and Napa, as well as the Sierra Nevada region.
  • Silicon Valley: Including San Francisco, San Jose and most of what’s considered the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Central California: The vast central valley farm region, including Tulare and Fresno counties.
  • West California: Including Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
  • South California: Including what’s called the Inland Empire of San Bernadino and Riverside, plus San Diego.

Full details of the plan can be found at SixCalifornias.com.

HotAir.com has further analysis.

In theory, this would result in an additional 10 US Senators (5 x 2, where California currently has two), but the same number of Representatives would be re-apportioned based on new congressional district lines.

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