A Ravenclaw, not a Gryffindor (Updated)

For those conservatives tenaciously clinging to the idea that Chief Justice John Roberts is playing some masterful game of chess that will end only with the liberals on the Court, in Congress, and in the White House brought to their knees in humiliating defeat, well, I’m not even sure the Chief is up for a rousing game of checkers. According to Jan Crawford’s piece, Roberts’ change of heart was motivated in large part to concerns over media pressure. So, the Chief Justice of the United States, according to this report, was cowed into upholding Obamacare because he was afraid of how the Court – and especially he – would look.

It has been rightly pointed out that Crawford relied on two anonymous sources, and therefore this story should be taken with some fine grains of salt. It’s certainly a plausible story, but an unconfirmable one.

Fine. It is possible that the Chief Justice wasn’t cowed by media or executive pressure. But even if the Chief Justice was not particularly pressured to decide in favor of Obamacare, it’s not beyond reason to suggest that he was still concerned about the institutional prestige of the Court, as well as a respect for the other two branches of government. Thus he concocted a rather far-fetched legal argument in order to justify declaring as constitutional a statute he knew at heart was not constitutional. So the more charitable interpretation of Roberts’ behavior is not that he’s a coward, but rather an activist who decided to rewrite a statute from the bench in order to avoid embroiling the Court in a partisan political battle.

There is a third option: John Roberts legitimately believed in the argument he made about the statute’s constitutionality.

Which is the option in which the Chief Justice looks like a chess playing genius again?

The title of the post, by the way, comes from my wife’s suggestion that President Bush nominated a Ravenclaw when he should have nominated a Gryffindor. It’s certainly more logical than anything I heard the Chief Justice say last week.

Update: It occurs to me that there is a fourth avenue of “defense,” and that is Roberts made a brilliant political calculation by forcing Obama to defend the health care law as a tax. Put aside the question of whether or not that would be an astute political maneuver. If that were indeed Roberts’ intention, than that hardly speaks well as to his character as Chief Justice. If he decided to uphold the law only to enable its use as a partisan club against the president, then the Chief Justice would have engaged in behavior that would justify his removal from the bench. So his defenders might want to think twice about that line of attack, at least insofar as they posit that he willfully engaged in such politicking.

By the way, if you’re still unsure of what to think of John Roberts’ thought process, look who was helping him along and now has his back.

Kmiec, a rare conservative supporter of Obama in 2008 who served as his ambassador to Malta, said he thinks Roberts sought out Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vote but didn’t spend much time trying to sway Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Alito. Roberts, he said, probably didn’t worry about being punished by the conservatives.

“Roberts is a bigger man than that,” Kmiec said. “He might smile and recognize that was what they were doing, but he’d also just appreciate that was their way of making a statement. But he’d not chase the tail of the dog to try to turn it around.”

Kmiec, who served a resource to Roberts as he lined up his current two-week teaching trip to Malta, said he thinks Roberts would prefer that the story of the court’s internal deliberations get out “rather than keeping it so secret that it’d have caused some hard feelings among the chambers.”

“I think he knows in his heart that he’s reached a good decision for the well-being of the court and I don’t think he’s earned any long-term enmity of the conservatives,” Kmiec said. “If anything, this will give him more bargaining ability for years to come on both sides.”

Well if he’s got Doug Kmiec on his side, what more can a man ask for than that?

  1. There’s no sense in this checker game. What’s the payoff for Roberts by limiting the Commerce Clause when he knows that no future liberal Court will pay attention to the Constitution let alone judicial precedent? Roberts is not a befuddled justice without intellectual integrity. Is something more sinister afoot?

  2. I’ve read an incredible amount of hoo-ha and wishful thinking by conservatives in the past few days – Roberts is a super-genius playing chess while every else is playing checkers(some libs follow this line of thought as well); his epilepsy meds damaged his judgement; he is secretly gay and the Obama administration is blackmailing him; and, my personal fav, the Chicago mob threatened him and his family. (As if the Chief Justice of the United States is on the same level as some obscure Cook County judge. As if a Supreme Court Justice would be helpless in the face of physicial threats. As if nobody would be suspicious if a SC Justice or a member of his family disappeared and were found swimming with the fishes in the Potomac.)

    Many people do not want to face the apparent fact that Roberts did what he did because he succumbed to the desire to be loved by the Right People (i.e., his neighbors in Chevy Chase, the NY Times editorial board, Georgetown hostesses). The opinions of such declasse individuals as the Tea Partiers and us little fly-over types – bah, who cares what such trash thinks? As if it is utterly unheard of, an incredibly rare thing to have a GOP appointment to the SC sell us out.

    I think people don’t want to think they were wrong about the man. I supported his appointment and was happy when he was confirmed because he would be a firm defender of our rights. I am willing to admit I was wrong.

    Klavan on the Culture nails it:
    http://pjmedia.com/andrewklavan/2012/07/02/happy-dependence-day/

    Do many Americans even understand what “independence” means these days? We are in a mad rush to copy ourselves after the Europeans – just as Europe fails.

  3. I don’t think we are headed toward totalitarianism. That costs money – we don’t have it! No, I think we are headed toward chaos- and, since I am a middle-aged single woman, that frightens me almost as deeply as totalitarianism!

    If we can be taxed for breathing, I predict a huge growth in black market activities and under-the-table payments. I worked “under the table” as a barmaid in the U.K. in 1980 because when I got over there I found my Jimmy Carter dollars were worth next to nothng. A London pub owner offered me a part-time job and since I was low on cash, I accpeted.I never felt I was taking a job away from anybody, since most of the young Brit guys I met were on the dole. You think that’s not going to happen here? Obama will send the IRS out in force and many Americans will do anything they can to avoid the IRS.

  4. Oh, and need I point out that the UK’s economy at that point was still dreadful? Thatcher’s reforms had not yet kicked in. I saw anti-Thatcher signs every where I looked.

    Paul, some commenter at Ace made the perfect analogy (and one I am sure you will appreciate since you are a fellow baseball fan). He said Roberts had described his job as being an ump, calling balls and strikes. In this case, a perfect strike went right over the plate and Roberts said, if the plate was over there, it would have been a ball. Therefore, I’m calling it a ball.

  5. “Kmiec, who served a resource to Roberts as he lined up his current two-week teaching trip to Malta, said he thinks Roberts would prefer that the story of the court’s internal deliberations get out “rather than keeping it so secret that it’d have caused some hard feelings among the chambers.”

    “I think he knows in his heart that he’s reached a good decision for the well-being of the court and I don’t think he’s earned any long-term enmity of the conservatives,” Kmiec said. “If anything, this will give him more bargaining ability for years to come on both sides.””

    I was wondering about a Kmiec-Roberts connection when I heard that Kmiec was going to Malta of all places to teach law during the summer. Roberts is now reaping Kmiec’s reward for his support of Obama in 2008: scorn. I wonder if Roberts understands yet the fire that his decision has lit among conservatives in this country? Perhaps he will not fully comprehend it until election day when he may begin to understand that he sought to appease powers that be that will no longer be powers in the future.

  6. That Kmiec asserts such knowledge about the inner-workings of the Court is troubling.

    There is great in silence. Opening the process to scrutiny opens the institution to exterior influences. The Court’s secrecy has been a shield. Secrecy allows the justices to fight honestly – a rare thing for lawyers. Without that candor, they cannot do their work.

    We see the same problem cropping up at the Vatican. There too, we have “leaks” that expose the messy world of making policy. We are not served by cardinals hiding their true views out of fear that they will be exposed.

    If, as Kmiec suggests, CJ Roberts is intentionally leaking the details of their work under some misguided attempt at transparency, that is a serious problem.

  7. What everyone (at least among conservatives) seems to be assuming is that Roberts’ decision was based on ulterior motives. Could it even be remotely possible that his ruling was in accord with what he thought was . . . right? The commerce clause was never considered to be a slam dunk argument, and the possibility that the individual mandate could be viewed as a tax, was always acknowledged. People were only surprised at the outcome because they allowed themselves to overestimate the strength of the one argument, and to underestimate the strength of the other, not because the outcome was intrinsically obvious.

    As a conservative, I don’t find the individual mandate to be remotely disturbing. I am tired of paying for other people’s healthcare – they need to behave responsibly, and banking on charitable write-offs from hospitals (trust me – you are paying for this) is not responsible behavior. At the same time, coverage for individual policies is out of reach for most – one of the key levers we have is to broaden the risk pool, drawing down premium prices. From an economic perspective, I’m also in favor of reducing structural impediments to workforce mobility. To the extent that people have a disincentive to take risks and start new businesses or pursue new job opportunities because they are “afraid to lose their benefits,” we are inhibiting growth and innovation. Untaxed healthcare benefits are part of the collusion between government and big business, and are used as a means of increasing individual dependence on big corporate benefits. Time to crack this baby open and kill off this vestige of WWII-era social engineering.

    What Obamacare doesn’t address is one of the root causes of healthcare inflation – individual responsibility. Premiums are as high as they are because people spend as much as other people will give them. When there is little to no individual sensitivity to cost, consumption will continue to rise, and prices will go unchecked. There are no normal consumer dynamics at work, here. We are wasting the highest % of GDP of any nation in the world on something that is one of the most economically unproductive sectors, rather than anything that will produce future returns.

    That is one of my biggest concerns about Obamacare – it promises what it can’t deliver, is a huge waste of taxpayer money, and entails financial commitments (e.g. expansion of Medicaid) that will never be covered by cost offsets. Small example – look at Archives of Internal Medicine, March ’12 issue. The Value Based Purchasing incentive payments/penalties to hospitals is based partly on patient satisfaction. But as it turns out, patient satisfaction is INVERSELY correlated to mortality and inpatient service utilization and cost. Patients are happy when they feel that more “stuff” is being done. WHOOPS! I expect we will see that many of the clinical process measures defined in each stage of the Obamacare rollout will have similar results – because they were never tied to science, just to wishful thinking. “Oh, you’re concerned about the cost to cover an additional 40mm people? Don’t worry – we’ve got that covered.” I don’t think so. The biggest concern, of course, is that it is being used as a no-limit hunting license by HHS to impose whatever rules they deem “in the interest of public health,” (e.g. contraceptive coverage) without any Congressional oversight. This is all part of the hubris of the Obama administration – to take matters OUT of the public square and to let matters be decided by “the experts.”

    As for the individual mandate – it was originally proposed by conservatives who were looking for a way to leverage the private sector to address the real damaging consequences to productivity that result from a large uncovered population. It’s a perfectly reasonable proposal, and I see no need to try to generate conspiracy theories to explain how Roberts could conceivably have interpreted it as within the powers of Congress granted by the Constitution.

  8. “Could it even be remotely possible that his ruling was in accord with what he thought was . . . right?”

    I truly hope not. His job wasn’t to determine whether ObamaCare wasn’t good public policy but whether it was constitutional. The very idea that ObamaCare could exist within the framework of the limited Federal government as set up by the Framers I find risible. The individual mandate was only one of many obviously unconstitutional features of this 2700 page monstrosity. Now that the Supreme Court has failed to do its job, it is time for the voters to do theirs on election day.

  9. Could it even be remotely possible that his ruling was in accord with what he thought was . . . right?

    If you mean constitutionally right, I did raise that possibility. As I said, if so, it doesn’t really speak well for his judgment either.

    As for the amount of leakage on the internal Court happenings, it is very unusual. If it’s coming from one of the four anti-Obamacare votes, then it is in indication of just how furious they are with the Chief Justice.

  10. “As a conservative, I don’t find the individual mandate to be remotely disturbing.”

    Let’s examine.

    A. “Premiums are as high as they are because people spend as much as other people will give them.” True, and this will not change under the proposed system. In fact, it will expand.

    B. “What Obamacare doesn’t address is one of the root causes of healthcare inflation – individual responsibility.” I’d have added “lack of” after the hyphen but essentially also true.

    Therefore, as a conservative, you find undisturbing a law or ruling that forces people into the current system, which directly contradicts the conservative principle of personal responsibility.

    Quo errat demonstrator.

  11. I find it undisturbing on the grounds that it doesn’t patently exceed the Constitutional boundaries of Congressional authority. Possibly, but not patently. Reasonable arguments could be advanced from both perspectives. We can’t argue that something violates clear and evident first principles simply on the basis that we feel passionately about them. This just leads to circular reasoning, in which the only possible conclusion is that the adversary is denying the obvious because of some sort of willfulness or moral turpitude. That’s a severe charge, and at other times and places would have called for pistols at high noon, although I would be surprised if Justice Roberts chose to resort to such measures. It would be fun to watch, but he might be handicapped by his judicial robes. It seems like everyone is rushing to draw some sort of conclusion like that in this case – some sort of conspiratorial calculus on the part of Justice Roberts. Or, the other possibility is just that it’s not an immediately evident conclusion, in which case it would be reasonable to defer to Congress, even if Roberts disagrees with the approach as a matter of policy. And so, my hair refuses to stand on end, and I think this is probably a matter for journalists to attempt to froth up public sentiment so they can write more articles about how outraged the public is. As a case of perversion of justice, it fails to outrage.

    In terms of outrage on the part of the other conservative justices, we are basing this on what, exactly? A report from CBS quoting “anonymous sources?” I’m surprised that conservatives are being taken in by this kind of journalistic titillation, especially from an organization like CBS. Please.

  12. Perhaps the term “Conservative” is the bump in the road. I know many liberals who believe just as adamantly that the mandate is well within the bounds of Congressional mandate.

    The ability to tax inactivity seems antithetical to a small-government, Constitutionally constructionist point of view, but I neglected to take into consideration the Social aspect.

    Seeing how most Conservatives believe that it’s perfectly fine for government to channel and shepherd behavior towards an acceptable (to them) moral standard, perhaps this is a welcome development if one resides on that segment of the spectrum.

    Mea Culpa.

  13. “Perhaps the term “Conservative” is the bump in the road. I know many liberals who believe just as adamantly that the mandate is well within the bounds of Congressional mandate.”
    If this is so, then the mandate needs to be put on the ballot to be fairly given informed consent, except that nobody knows what is in it and Obama is not about to tell. The mandate can change itself and morph into anything the unelected wants it to moroph into. A pig in a poke is a good simile, or a bridge in Brooklyn, or a pie in the sky, or the bottomless pit. Can anyone imagine falling into the bottomless pit FOREVER and forever. Why it is like homosexual behavior, doing that sin forever and forever. It has got to get boring, boring, boring. Somebody’s got to say: “Hey. that is boring.

  14. “I’m surprised that conservatives are being taken in by this kind of journalistic titillation, especially from an organization like CBS. Please.”

    Rubbish. The CBS reporter Jan Crawford authored an evenhanded history of the modern Court, Supreme Conflict, and is trusted by judicial conservatives as a result. I think it highly likely that her sources are two of the Conservative justices, or two clerks of the conservative justices. Trying to raise the CBS bogeyman as a shield for Roberts is a poor tactic in this case. The more I study his decision the worse it looks, and the more likely in my mind that the considerations guiding him had little to do with the law, especially since reports are suracing that he authored most of the dissent as a majority opinion prior to his flip:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2012/07/03/salon-roberts-wrote-most-of-the-conservative-dissent-in-the-obamacare-case-too/

    After this debacle few people, left or right, are going to trust Roberts, or any decisions that he authors, to be ever be anything other than an ongoing exercise in Roberts’ expediency.

  15. The fact of the matter is that Obamacare cannot be put on the ballot. It does not fulfill the requirements for the definition of a law. It does not inform the voter to gain consent. Obamacare relegates to unelected officials prerogatives that are the domain of the individual person, unauthorized use of prerogatives taken from the citizen as to their care and other unauthorized prerogatives not yet written out in the insurance contract. Therefore, Obamacare cannot be put on the ballot as a law, as Obamacare excludes informed consent and does not express the will of the people. Obamacare had to be railroaded through Congress by empty promises that can be changed after it is funded, and bullied through the Supreme Court as law. A penalty will acknowledge Obamacare as law. A tax will acknowledge Obamacare as law. Obamacare does not meet the criterion of a law. Abuse of the individual’s unalienable right to informed consent, denial of the citizen’s sovereign conscience, Obamacare cannot pass muster to be tried under the Commerce Clause, nor to be enacted as law, nor to be the basis for a tax or a penalty under the law that it is not.

  16. Donald: you have a habit of saying “rubbish” in your prolific responses, and I’m not sure to what end. A statement of your conviction in your own opinion is meaningless to the other party, and obviously meaningless as a means to reinforce your own self-opinion. But perhaps that’s the dialectic standard of a blogger. I’m not sure if the goal is ever to persuade the other, or just to attract the attention of like-minded individuals.

    Everyone is aware that Jan wrote the article, as well as her past work, but a credulity is being granted to this rather preliminary piece of gossip that would not normally have been the reaction to the work, considered on its own merits. I’m sure there was friction and frustration within the court, as I am sure most contentious rulings are passionately debated. But that’s as far as it probably goes – a big “so what?” In other words, it’s making a mountain out of a molehill from the passion of the moment, and probably the indiscrete grumblings of a couple of clerks. No conspiratorial calculus, no permanent rift in trust or collegiality between the members of the Court, and probably not even an effect for the remainder of this session. By next session, this won’t even be a story. What strikes me as far more evident, beyond the rather hyperbolic overreactions, is that people have embraced the image of Machiavellian contortions on the part of Roberts with the same fervor and certitude that they embraced the applicability of the commerce clause to the individual mandate for precisely the same reason – because it suited their purposes and preconceptions, not as either stand on their own merits. They have some merit, some potential, but reasonable and less dramatic alternatives hold just as much merit. The fact that they “explain appearances,” to steal a phrase from Ptolemy, in a way that accords with our own political dispositions adds nothing to their merit or strength, independently considered. In other words, they do not become more true because we want them to be so.

    I would rather that Conservatives expend their energy not on conspiratorial outrage from such meager scraps, but on developing a truly compelling vision and strategy that returns us to economic prosperity, creates opportunities for all in a new global economy, protects individual liberty and conscience, and protects the family and religion, the basis of character and virtue, from the intrusion of the state. This other stuff is just bringing a pea-shooter to the fight.

  17. “Donald: you have a habit of saying “rubbish” in your prolific responses, and I’m not sure to what end.”

    To accurately describe for my readers what is being conveyed by the other party.

    “Everyone is aware that Jan wrote the article”

    Rubbish. I doubt if you did until I pointed it out, and if you did you were being mendacious in attempting to raise the CBS bogeyman to discredit the story in the eyes of conservatives by a Pavlovian response.

    “In other words, it’s making a mountain out of a molehill from the passion of the moment, and probably the indiscrete grumblings of a couple of clerks.”

    No, an unsigned dissent is rare, and the passion and obvious anger with which Kennedy read the dissent is highly unusual. The firestorm being unleashed against Roberts is unprecedented in the contemporary history of the Court.

    “By next session, this won’t even be a story”

    That is delusional. This decision will haunt Roberts to his grave and beyond. Like Taney’s Dred Scott decision, this is the decision by which Roberts will go down in history.

    “What strikes me as far more evident, beyond the rather hyperbolic overreactions, is that people have embraced the image of Machiavellian contortions on the part of Roberts with the same fervor and certitude that they embraced the applicability of the commerce clause to the individual mandate for precisely the same reason – because it suited their purposes and preconceptions, not as either stand on their own merits.”

    Obviously wrong on both counts.

    “I would rather that Conservatives expend their energy not on conspiratorial outrage from such meager scraps, but on developing a truly compelling vision and strategy that returns us to economic prosperity, creates opportunities for all in a new global economy, protects individual liberty and conscience, and protects the family and religion, the basis of character and virtue, from the intrusion of the state.”

    Beating Obama in November is a start, and no longer appointing spineless cravens like Roberts to the Federal bench would be another. Conservatives this year need to concentrate on winning in November and not waste their time in defending a fraud like Roberts from the justified outrage that his self-serving betrayal of the Constitution has roused.

  18. Again, “rubbish.” You are become predictable, Donald.

    As a matter of fact, when CBS first came out with the story, I did notice who the author was, and I was aware of the seriousness of her previous work. I also felt that, even with those factors, this was pandering to our baser instincts, and was more about initial spastic reactions to a surprising verdict than anything else. You seem to think that you are the only one who does their homework, and are pretty quick to 1)assume your conclusions are the only reasonable ones, and 2)the other party in the debate is suffering from the effects of some sort of psychotropic drug. Rather than argue about hypotheticals, let’s just take a look at this time next session and see if your apocalyptic predictions come true. The answer will be evident soon enough. In the meantime, I would propose that beating Obama in November will probably require a different tack – something a little more . . . weighty.

  19. “Again, “rubbish.” You are become predictable, Donald.”

    And I will be utterly predictable in regard to your comments as long as you seek to push rubbish in the com boxes.

    “I did notice who the author was, and I was aware of the seriousness of her previous work. I also felt that, even with those factors, this was pandering to our baser instincts, and was more about initial spastic reactions to a surprising verdict than anything else.”

    Than you were being mendacious in attempting to raise the CBS bogeyman when you knew there were good reasons why conservatives should grant her story credibility.

    “You seem to think that you are the only one who does their homework”

    I judge by the content of the comment.

    “is suffering from the effects of some sort of psychotropic drug.”

    No, slip shod thinking is more frequently the culprit.

    “let’s just take a look at this time next session and see if your apocalyptic predictions come true.”
    Nothing apocalyptic at all in my prediction. I merely contend that Roberts has shredded his credibility and that no one is ever going to forget that.

    “I would propose that beating Obama in November will probably require a different tack ”

    Actually it has been my position prior to the decision being released, that the final nail in the coffin of the Obama re-election bid would be if the Court upheld ObamaCare. A fatal victory for Obama.

  20. Well, the great thing about your position, Donald, is we can test it over the next year. Either public outrage builds and builds, and Obama and the Democrats are swept out of office with that (Obamacare) as a prevailing theme in the polls, or it all dies down and people move on to some other issue. Either the tension in the Supreme Court continues to build, or they move on. Either way, I hope the GOP wins in November, but I think any sustained momentum will require a different focus. Temper tantrums and intrigue are good for a month, and then people come back to the basic question . . . “how does this affect me?” The people who are affected by the individual mandate are primarily 1)young voters with low current (expected) healthcare expenditures, and 2)low-income individuals who cannot afford insurance through their employers (the unemployed are largely on Medicaid). Care to guess which party those two demographic groups tend to support? I can’t seem them rushing into our arms, saying “thank you so much for your advocacy on my behalf! How could I have been so blind?”

    So, outrage at a principle, in my estimation, will not trump people voting their (perceived) interests. The GOP base, and independents who can swing to support the GOP, are not primarily the ones who will be forced to buy insurance. And those who are forced to buy insurance as a result of the individual mandate are probably not going to move in any significant way on the argument that their Constitutional rights have been violated. They have too much of a vested interest in tax-and-spend policies for that to be a meaningful argument. It’s clear you want this to be a major issue, and are more than happy to endorse people who support that position. Whether it is a major issue will probably not be decided by our wanting it to be so, but we’ll find out soon enough. Let’s revisit this in November. Whether this decision “haunts Roberts to his grave and beyond,” well, I guess that will probably take a little longer than November to test.

    And Foxfier – I doubt Donald will whither under my brutal ad hominem attack. He seems rather resilient. See, he said “rubbish” again, undaunted and undeterred.

  21. “with that (Obamacare) as a prevailing theme in the polls,”

    The lousy economy is the primary factor. The importance of Obamacare is that it invigorates conservatives for the election, especially adherents of the Tea Party. It also ensures that Romney will fight this election on at least equal terms with Obama when it comes to donations.

    “how does this affect me?”
    As the HHS Mandate indicates, broad portions of the American people are impacted by ObamaCare. Reportedly the Feds have been busy writing 13000 plus pages of regs to implement this monstrosity. You underestimate the depth of feeling among opponents to ObamaCare.

    “The GOP base, and independents who can swing to support the GOP, are not primarily the ones who will be forced to buy insurance.”

    The mandates in regard to insurance coverage are rapidly increasing their insurance rates. More and more private employers are being forced to abandon the provision of insurance due to these increasing rates. It is the rare person in this country who is not being directly impacted by Obamacare.

    “Whether this decision “haunts Roberts to his grave and beyond,” well, I guess that will probably take a little longer than November to test.”

    Indeed. I cannnot imagine anything that Roberts does in the future where I will not mention his Obamacare decision on this blog, and there will be many, many like me in tens of thousands of blogs.

  22. And Foxfier – I doubt Donald will whither under my brutal ad hominem attack. He seems rather resilient. See, he said “rubbish” again, undaunted and undeterred.

    And that has what to do with the predictability of the your response?

  23. Chief Justice Roberts approves RomneyCare as a tax, but all we get is middle-age white boys whining-whining-whining-whining-whining….

    Ain’t they got no self respect ???

  24. He interpreted ObamaCare as a tax. Foxfier is neither middle-aged nor a boy. Donna, Ginny and Mary are not boys. Paul, the author of the post, is white and young. I am beyond middle age, unless I am going to live to 110. I guess I am white if Cherokee ancestors do not eliminate me from that category. Of course I was not whining but analyzing the ruling.