Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Enforced by Congress

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 2 of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:   “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” This provision gives Congress the responsibility of enforcing it and carrying out its principles.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “Under this amendment Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of March 1, 1875.  The part of this act which allowed the federal government to take action against `individuals’ who were guilty of discrimination against Negroes was held unconstitutional on the ground that the Thirteenth Amendment gives the federal government power to regulate only states and not individuals.  The court said that provisions of this kind came within the police power of the state.  However, beginning with a series of civil rights acts in 1963, the jurisdiction of the federal government was broadly expanded to enforce civil rights along practically every dimension of American life.  The new acts , with Supreme Court support, overturned the ruling of 1875 and allowed the federal courts to enforce their decrees against individuals, schools, labor unions, restaurants, hotels, major industries, and other enterprises, both public and private.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 721.)

                Herman Belz of The Heritage Foundation explained, “By conferring power on Congress to enforce the prohibition of slavery throughout the United States, the Thirteenth Amendment altered the relationship between the states and the federal government.  State power to recognize or establish slavery as a legal institution was withdrawn; to that extent, at least, state authority to regulate the personal liberty and civil rights of individuals within their jurisdiction was restricted beyond the limits imposed by the original Constitution.  Unlike most other parts of the Constitution, which are designed only to limit governmental action, enforcement of the Thirteenth amendment is not limited by the requirement that it apply only to actions by states or state officials.  The amendment establishes a rule of action for private individuals as well as for state governments.  In the language of constitutional law, enforcement of the amendment is not limited by the requirement that the amendment’s prohibitions apply only to state action.  The U.S. Constitution, for the most part, does not apply to individuals except when they act under color of law (e.g., the policeman who searches your house).  The Thirteenth Amendment is different because it applies to private individuals acting in their private capacities.  A person violates the Thirteenth Amendment if he keeps a slave.  Where the fundamental right of personal liberty is concerned, the distinction between public and private spheres, which otherwise serves as a limitation on government power in the United States, is not recognized under the Thirteenth Amendment.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 381.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

There Is A God

                Many people do not believe in God and even deny the possibility of His existence.  Such a person existed in ancient America.  His name was Korihor, and he ridiculed Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and the spirit of prophecy.  He went about teaching that there is no God, no Fall of Adam and Eve, no penalty for sin, and definitely no Christ.

                Korihor was taken before the chief judge of the land and a high priest of the church; there he continued to rile against God and accused the leaders of glutting themselves on the labors of the people.  When those leaders found they could not have a coherent discussion with Korihor, they delivered him before the governor over all the land and the prophet Alma.  Again, Korihor accused the leaders of making slaves of the people, which Alma denied.

                Korihor continued to deny the existence of God, and Alma bore testimony of the existence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  He asked Korihor what evidence he had to prove there is no God.  Of course, he had no evidence besides his words. 

                Alma then instructed Korihor:  “… I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them?  Believest thou that these things are true? …

                “And now Korihor said unto Alma:  If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words,

                “But Alma said unto him:  Thou hast had sings enough; will ye tempt your God?  Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets?  The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.”

                Korihor continued to demand a sign until a sign was given to him.  “… This will I give unto thee for a sign, that thou shalt be struck dumb, according to my words; and I say, that in the name of God, ye shall be struck dumb, that ye shall no more have utterance.
                “Now when Alma had said these words, Korihor was struck dumb, that he could not have utterance, according to the words of Alma.”  (See Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 30:37-50.)

                Korihor admitted that he was struck dumb and only the power of God could have done it.  He begged to have the curse lifted.  Alma left it in the hands of God, and the curse was not lifted.  Korihor was run over on the streets of his city and died.

                Alma testified to Korihor that “all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).

                It is the same today.  We too can look up into the night sky and see the millions of stars and planets, all in perfect order.  They did not come into being because of a big bang but were placed in their orbits by our Creator.  The work of God is visible in both the earth and in the heavens.  All things testify of God – the plants, animals, the mountains, the rivers, the clouds with their moisture, etc.

                God dwells in the heavens and is the ruler of the universe.  “Through his Son, Jesus Christ, he created heaven and earth and all things that are in them (see Pearl of Great Price, Moses 2:1).  He made the moon, the stars, and the sun.  He organized this world, gave it form, motion, and life.  He filled the air and the water with living things.  He covered the hills and plains with all kinds of animal life.  He gave us day and night, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest.  He made man in his own image to be a ruler over his other creations (see Genesis 1:26-27).  God is the one supreme and absolute being in whom we believe and whom we worship.  He is the Creator, Ruler, and Preserver of all things….” (See “Our Father in Heaven,” Gospel Principles, pp. 3-4.)

                God is a perfect, glorified man; He is a personage of flesh and bones.  He has a tangible body housing His eternal spirit.  “He is a God of love, mercy, charity, truth, power, faith, knowledge, and judgment.  He has all power.  He knows all things.  He is full of goodness.

                “All good things come from God.  Everything that he does is to help his children become like him – a god.  He has said `… Behold, this is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39).

                Our Savior taught the importance of knowing God, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

                The more I know God, the more I love Him.  I keep His commandments because I love Him.  I know that I can become more like God by keeping His commandments and following in the footsteps of the Savior.  You too can come to know and understand God.  Believe in Him, believe that He exists, and believe that He loves you and desires that you return to His presence to live with Him for all eternity.  By coming to know God, we can eventually obtain eternal life.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Defend Traditional Marriage

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we defend traditional marriage.  The Catholic Church invited religious leaders and scholars representing 14 faith traditions from 23 countries to assemble at the Vatican on November 17-19, 2014.  This historic gathering was called to discuss traditional marriage and how men and women complement each other in marriage.

                President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed the assembly on November 18.  “Most remarkable to me has been the fulfillment of the hope I felt the day I met my wife.  I have become a better person as I have loved and lived with her.  We have been complementary beyond anything I could have imagined.  Her capacity to nurture others grew in me as we became one.  My capacity to plan, direct, and lead in our family grew in her as we became united in marriage.  I realize now that we grew together into one – slowly lifting and shaping each other, year by year.  As we absorbed strength from each other, it did not diminish our personal gifts.

                “Our differences combined as if they were designed to create a better whole.  Rather than dividing us, our differences bound us together.  Above all, our unique abilities allowed us to become partners with God in creating human life.  The happiness that came from our becoming one built faith in our children and grandchildren that marriage could be a continuing source of satisfaction for them and their families.

                “You have seen enough unhappiness in marriages and families to ask why some marriages produce happiness while others create unhappiness.  Many factors make a difference, but one stands out to me.

                “Where there is selfishness, natural differences of men and women often divide.  Where there is unselfishness, differences become complementary and provide opportunities to help and build each other.  Spouses and family members can lift each other and ascend together if they care more about the interests of the other than their own interests.

                “If unselfishness is the key to complementary marriage between a man and a woman, we know what we must do to help create a renaissance of successful marriages and family life.

                “We must find ways to lead people to a faith that they can replace their natural self-interest with deep and lasting feelings of charity and benevolence.  With that change, and only then, will people be able to make the hourly unselfish sacrifices necessary for a happy marriage and family life – and to do it with a smile.

                “The change that is needed is in people’s hearts more than in their minds.  The most persuasive logic will not be enough unless it helps soften hearts.  For instance, it is important for men and women to be faithful to a spouse and a family.  But in the heat of temptation to betray their trust, only powerful feelings of love and loyalty will be enough.”

                President Eyring then proceeded to read and explain the proclamation made to the world in September 1995 by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  That proclamation is entitled “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World.”  

                Thousands, if not millions, of marriages and families have been strengthened through following the guidelines of this proclamation.  As marriages and families are strengthened, they tend to strengthen their communities and nations.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Freedom from Alzheimer's Disease

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday has nothing to do with politics or patriotism and yet it does.  Freedom from Alzheimer’s disease can help us maintain our ability to remember our love for our nation as well as our capability to help maintain our liberties.

                My husband’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for approximately ten years.  All of us were heartbroken to lose our relationship with her and the opportunity to enjoy her happy and joyful personality.  We cared for her body, but she was not really there.  Since my husband has relatives on both his paternal and maternal sides of the family who have suffered from this disease, he is very much aware that he could get it and is affected very much by this knowledge.  I would like him to be free of this concern.

                While caring for my mother-in-law, we spoke with many doctors.  We learned there is only one sure test for Alzheimer’s disease, and it takes place during an autopsy when the brain is examined.  Imagine my joy when I recently came upon a test, which measures one’s “brain age” compared to their chronological age.   This test helps doctors to assess the person’s risk for dementia and other memory loss disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.  You can take the test at this site.  

                I took the test and was very conservative in my answers.  I marked a question about exercise false because I do not exercise the amount of time required even though I do some exercise.  Other questions I marked false were about diet because my life does not quite fit the answer even though I am very close.  There were several questions where I could change my answers very easily and have a younger brain age; however, as I answered the questions I learned that my “real brain age” is the same as my chronological age.  This means that I have a mild risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  This does not mean that I will always have this “diagnosis” because I still have time to make some changes in my life that will help lower my brain age.  I just have to do some more work in the four main areas that affect our brain age:  diet, exercise, mental stimulation, and rest/relaxation.

                The D.E.A.R Program explains these four steps in detail and gives this overview of the program:  “While modern medicine is well regarded for developing new drugs to prevent and reverse chronic health problems, it has become quite clear in recent years that change in diet and lifestyle habits might provide more effective, much safer, and less expensive methods.  Comprehensive studies in the field of neurology have determined that unhealthy diet and lifestyle habits can significantly increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases.  Conversely, eating a healthy diet, eliminating unnecessary stress and accentuating your brain’s reserve can delay and possibly stop Alzheimer’s and many other health problems.

                “While the American Academy of Neurology warns that prevention of dementia should begin before age 65, I strongly advocate starting this process much earlier, as young as age 30, to prevent this horrific disease from wreaking havoc on your brain.  The benefits are numerous.  You could add years to your life, improve the quality of your life, and general physical and mental health.  The longer you can be independent and self-sufficient, the better quality life you will have….”

                I suggest that all of us could benefit from living healthier lives.  I certainly would feel better if I received adequate sleep every night, and I certainly would enjoy more opportunities to relax.  These are both areas where I need to improve.  I encourage you to take the test to learn your “real brain age” and then look at the four step program to see where you could do something differently and improve your chances of staying healthy in your older years.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Another Government Shutdown

                In case you have not been paying attention to the news lately, there is another federal government shutdown on the horizon.  The U.S. Senate has still not made a budget; therefore, the government will need more funds next month to run the government. This shutdown will be about the power of purse just as most of them are. 

                The Washington Post reported that there have been “seventeen separate government shutdowns (or `spending gaps’ in Hill jargon)” since 1976 when the “modern congressional budgeting process” went into effect.  I lived through every single one of those government shutdowns and survived!  I can tell you that nothing bad happened other than the closure of a federal offices for a few days or weeks while the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch of the government got their acts together.  Republican (including Mitch McConnell) and Democrat naysayers are telling all kinds of lies about what will happen if the government shuts down again, such as claiming that the United States will not be able to pay its debts, etc.  Do not believe their lies!

                Support is growing among Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to attach a rider to the upcoming Continuing Resolution to fund the government until the end of the fiscal year.  The rider would defund all agencies involved with implementing the executive orders on immigration that Mr. Obama has promised.  The Democrats will not like the amendment, leading Mr. Obama and the Democrats being forced to choose either passing the amendment or shutting down the government on December 13, 2014.

                An article at the Washington Post took a look at the last seventeen shutdowns, “the political circumstances around them and what happened as a consequence.”  They went to their print archives for the specifics for most of them.

                A large number of the shutdowns occurred during the Reagan Administration when Tip O’Neil (Democrat) was Speaker of the House.  Another large number occurred during the Jimmy Carter Administration when Democrats held the White House, the Senate, and the House; some happened during the Clinton Administration.  There was one during the President George H. W. Bush, and none during the administration of President George W. Bush.  Neither Bush administrations did much about controlling spending.

                Mark Levin reads and discusses the Washington Post article here.  I found his remarks very interesting and encourage you to listen to him even though he does raise his voice a number of times. 

                Our Founding Fathers gave the “power of the purse” to the U.S. House of Representatives.  The House has the right and the responsibility to withhold tax payer funds for any government program if there is a belief the money is spent for the wrong reasons.  There is a real battle in our government between conservatives and progresses (both Democrat and Republican); conservatives are attempting to keep our nation from going off the “cliff” while progressives keep trying to speed up the destruction.  I encourage you to read the Washington Post article and then listen to Mark Levin.  I believe that you will come away from the experience with a better understanding about government shutdowns.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Back to Court?

                It looks like same-sex marriage could be heading back to the Supreme Court in the near future.  Why?  Two federal judges planted their flag and made their stand for the Constitution.  On November 6, 2014, in a 2-1 ruling the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overruled the decisions of lower courts that struck down state laws favoring traditional marriage.

                Four states passed constitutional amendments by popular vote defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  The 6th Circuit Court ruled that the amendments do not violate the U.S. Constitution.  Residents of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee can still define marriage as they have traditionally done.

                According to Ryan T. Anderson of The Heritage Foundation  the “decision helpfully explained why these laws are constitutional, why it is reasonable for citizens to support such laws, and why arguments for court-imposed redefinition of marriage do not succeed.  It also sets the stage for marriage to return to the U.S. Supreme Court…..

                “As the 6th Circuit decision helpfully notes, at issue in these cases is `whether to allow the democratic processes begun in the States to continue in the four States of the Sixth Circuit or to end them now by requiring all States in the Circuit’ to redefine marriage.  The court ruled that the democratic process should continue:

                “`Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us – just two of us in truth – to make such a vital policy call for the 32 million citizens who live within the four states of the Sixth Circuit.’”

                The two judges of the 6th Circuit join a federal judge in Puerto Rico in their constitutional stand.  On October 21, 2014, United States District Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez found Puerto Rico’s law defining marriage does not require marriage to be redefined.  Judge Perez-Gimenez is the first judge appointed by a Democrat president to uphold marriage law since the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision on the Defense of Marriage. 

                Judge Perez-Gimenez used the Windsor decision to conclude that states have the constitutional right to define marriage.  “The Windsor opinion did not create a fundamental right to same gender marriage nor did it establish that state opposite-gender marriage regulations are amendable to federal constitutional challenges.  If anything, Windsor stands for the opposite proposition:  it reaffirms the States’ authority over marriage, buttressing Baker’s conclusion that marriage is simply not a federal question.”

                I will be interested to see how the Supreme Court handles the situation now.  Will they accept the issue this time?  If so, how will they rule?  Will the Supreme Court uphold the right of American citizens to define marriage or will they force all Americans to change their definition of marriage for the benefit of a very small percentage of the people?  Only time will tell!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Unsinkable Molly Brown

                Margaret Tobin was born on July 18, 1867, in Hannibal, Missouri, to John Tobin (1820-1899) and Johanna Collins (1825-1905).  Both of her parents were Irish Roman Catholic immigrants.  She had three siblings:  Daniel (born 1863), William (born 1869), and Helen (born 1871).  Both of her parents had been previously married and widowed young; each brought one child into their marriage:  Catherine Bridget Tobin and Mary Ann Collins.

                When she was 18 years old, Margaret and her brother Daniel moved to Leadville, Colorado.  She found work in a department store there.  She met and married James Joseph Brown (1854-1922) on September 1, 1886, in the Annunciation Church in Leadville.  Her new husband was “an enterprising, self-educated man” who went by the nickname of “J.J.”  His parents had also emigrated from Ireland.  The couple became parents of two children:  Lawrence “Larry” Palmer Brown (born August 30, 1886, in Hannibal, Missouri; died April 2, 1949) and Catherine Ellen Brown (known as Helen) (born on July 22, 1889, in Leadville, Colorado; died in 1969).

                Through his mining engineering efforts, J.J. was instrumental in the production of a substantial ore seam at the Little Jonny Mine of his employers, Ibex Mining Company, and he was awarded 12,500 shares of stock and a seat on the board, which gave him great wealth.  The Brown family moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1894, and Margaret was a “charter member of the Denver Woman’s Club, whose mission was the improvement of women’s lives by continuing education and philanthropy.”  Margaret adjusted well to being a “society lady” and became “well-immersed in the arts and fluent in French, German, and Italian.”

                In 1909 after 23 years of marriage, Margaret and J.J. separated and never reconciled.  J.J. provided enough funding that she could continue her travels and social work.  J.J. died without a will, causing a problem between Margaret and her children; they later reconciled.  She made a second attempt in 1914 for a seat in the U.S. Senate but cut her campaign short to “return to France to work with the American Committee for Devastated France during WWI.”

                Margaret was a first-class passenger on the RMS Titanic when it struck an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912, and about 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912.  “Margaret helped others board the lifeboats, but was finally convinced to leave the ship in Lifeboat No. 6.  Brown was later called “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” by authors because she helped in the ship’s evacuation, taking an oar herself in her lifeboat and urging that the lifeboat to go back and save more people….”

                Margaret was a socialite, philanthropist, and activist; she became famous because she survived the sinking of the Titanic.  During her life, her friends called her “Maggie,” but she became known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” after her death.  “A 1960 Broadway musical based on her life was produced, along with a 1964 film adaptation of the musical.  Both were titled The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

                Margaret died during the Great Depression on October 26, 1932, and her children sold her estate for $6,000 (equal to approximately $109,000 in today’s money).  She is buried in the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury, New York.