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.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Obama's Poverty Myths

                Barack Obama and members of his administration continue to speak myths about poverty.  Stephen Moore of The Heritage Foundation corrected some of these myths in his article entitled “Unraveling the Poverty Myths Obama Is Promoting.” 

                One of the myths promoted by Mr. Obama is a complaint that “folks on the left” are blamed for wanting to “pour more money into social programs, and don’t care anything about culture or parenting or family structures….”  Moore pointed out that the federal government has spent more than $22 trillion on the War on Poverty since 1964.

                Another myth promoted by Mr. Obama is that the Baltimore riots were caused by Republicans who refused to spend and borrow “even more money on his social programs.”

                Moore quoted Mr. Obama:  “It is a mistake for us to suggest that somehow every effort we make has failed and we are powerless to address poverty.  That’s just not true.  First of all, just in absolute terms, the poverty rate when you take into account tax and transfer programs, has been reduced about 40 percent since 1967.”

                Moore then explained, “There are two problems with this defense of the welfare state.  First, the official poverty was falling before 1965 and at a faster rate than after the Great Society got rolling in the mid-1960s.  This official poverty rate has remained virtually stagnant since the War on Poverty began.
                “Second, the decline in poverty that Obama is boasting about is only after taking into account tax credits and government handouts and welfare benefits.  When excluding these programs there has been little progress at all.
                “Redistribution may have raised the material living standards of some of the poor.  But it has not increased self-sufficiency.
                “The original purpose of the welfare state was to lift people into self-sufficiency, not to create a permanent underclass dependent on taxpayers.  Lyndon Johnson told us when he started these programs that `the days of the dole are numbered.’  We have passed day 18,000.
                “Obama also wants it both ways.  He says over and over, even in this speech, that the biggest problem with the economy is income inequality because the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.  So if the poor are getting poorer, how have his social programs worked to reduce poverty?”

                This is a very good question.  How do the social programs increase self-sufficiency -- and therefore wealth – if the gap between wealthy and poor continues to grow?  The answer is obvious.  The social programs do not help people; they only continue to keep people on the government plantation!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Benghazi Bombshell

                In spite of Hillary Clinton’s best efforts to evade responsibility in the Benghazi terrorist attacks, her emails are creating quite a stir.  The House Benghazi Committee obtained 300emails from the State Department, and the emails indicate Clinton was aware of security dangers months before the attacks took place.  In fact, there were “a number of emails” to Clinton in 2011 and 2012 with “warning signs.”

                Four Americans lost their lives because Hillary Clinton did not respond well to the warning signs.  Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, and Sean Smith were killed in the attacks in Benghazi.

                When Hillary Clinton testified before the House Foreign Affairs on Benghazi in January 2013, she sought to excuse herself by saying, “They are all addressed to me.  They do not all come to me.  They are reported through the bureaucracy.”

                It is becoming more and more obvious that Clinton holds responsibility for the death of the Americans.  Why did Clinton not see the emails?  Why was security decreased instead of increased as the Ambassador requested?  Why were rescue teams not sent?  Why so many lies?  Why?  Why?  Why?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Henry David Thoreau

                Henry David Thoreau (pronounced like the word thorough but THOR-oh) was born David Henry Thoreau on July 12, 1817, in the Wheeler-Minot farmhouse in Concord, Massachusetts.  His parents were John Thoreau (a pencil maker) and Cynthia Dunbar.  He was named for a recently deceased paternal uncle, David Thoreau, but became “Henry David” after college – without a legal name change.  He had three siblings:  Helen, John Jr., and Sophia.  His birthplace still exists on Virginia Road in Concord; it was recently restored by the Thoreau Farm Trust and is open to the public.  He apparently was quite homely with a large Roman nose. [I found no mention of wife or children but found reference to a proposal to Ellen Sewall (which she declined).]
                Thoreau attended Harvard College (1833-1837) and studied rhetoric, classics, philosophy, mathematics, and science.  He was a member of the Institute of 1770, now known as the Hasty Pudding Club.  He refused to pay $5 for a master’s degree with no academic merit.  “Harvard College offered it to graduates `who proved their physical worth by being alive three years after graduating, and their saving, earning, or inheriting quality or condition by have Five Dollars to give the college.”
                Henry David Thoreau “was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, and historian…. [He] is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Resistance to Civil Government (also known as Civil Disobedience), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state.
                “Thoreau’s books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes.  Among his lasting contributions are his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern-day environmentalism.  His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and `Yankee’ love of practical detail.  He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life’s true essential needs.
                “He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John Brown.  Thoreau’s philosophy of civil disobedience later influenced the political thoughts and actions of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.”

                Thoreau passed away on May 6, 1862, in Concord, Massachusetts, at age 44.  He had been “periodically plagued” with tuberculosis since college and finally succumbed to it.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Repeal of Prohibition

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed…. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited….”  The provision of the Constitution gave States the right to regulate the manufacture and distribution of “intoxicating liquors.”  It also gave the states the right to avoid such coming across state lines.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “This amendment did not legalize intoxicating liquors.  It simply turned the problem back to the states.”  (See The Making of America The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 754.)

                David Wagner of The Heritage Foundation explained, “When the nation repealed Prohibition via the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933, it vested primary control over alcoholic beverages in the states.  The common understanding of the framers of the Twenty-first Amendment was that it grants each state the power to regulate alcoholic beverages within its borders without intrusion by federal law or regulation.  The question remains, however, as to how much and what kind of federal intrusion the amendment blocks.  The Twenty-first Amendment has three parts.  Section 1 explicitly repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and brought an end to Prohibition.  Accordingly, because many saw the Twenty-first Amendment as nothing but a repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, Congress passed the resolution without much substantive debate.  Most of the legislative debate centered on the issue of saloons and the ratification process codified in Section 3 of the amendment, which mandated the use of state conventions.  The amendment was passed by the Senate on February 26, 1933, and by the House four days later.  It became law on December 5, 1933.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 421.)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gift of the Holy Ghost

                The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead.  He does not have a body of flesh and bone but is a spirit in the form of a man.  He can be in only one place at a time, but his influence can be everyplace at the same time.  His mission is to bear testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as well as to bear witness of all truth.

                The Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost is not the same thing.  The gift of the Holy Ghost is a privilege given to a baptized member when he is confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This gift is given to baptized members to receive guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost.  Members of the Church must be worthy in order to receive revelation and to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

                Anyone may be temporarily guided by the Holy Ghost without receiving the Holy Ghost, but the person will not continue to receive this guidance if they do not receive baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This truth is illustrated in Acts 10 when the roman soldier Cornelius received inspiration from the Holy Ghost so that he knew the gospel of Jesus Christ was true.  Cornelius did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized.  If he had not received baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost would have left him.  Today, non-members of the Church learn, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ is true (see Moroni 10:4-5).  If they do not act upon that flash of testimony and receive baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, they will not receive the continuing assurance they might have received.

                The gift of the Holy Ghost is given through the laying on of hands by the elders of the Church after a person has been baptized and confirmed a member of the Church.  Every worthy elder of the Church may bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost to another person when properly authorized.  The person, however, does not receive a guarantee of inspiration and guidance simply because the elders have laid their hands on his head.  Each person must “receive the Holy Ghost.”  This means that the Holy Ghost will only come to those who are worthy and who desire help from this heavenly messenger.

                To be worthy to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, one must be striving to obey all of the commandments of God.  He must keep his thoughts and actions pure.  President David O. McKay taught “One chief purpose of life is to overcome evil tendencies, to govern our appetites, to control our passions – anger, hatred, jealousy, immorality.  We have to overcome them; we have to subject them, conquer them because God has said:  `… the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples –’ (Helaman 4:24), nor will it `… always strive with man’
(2 Nephi 26:11).”  (See “Emotional Maturity,” Instructor, Sept. 1959, p. 281, as quoted in Gospel Principles, p. 102.)

               The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of the greatest gifts of God.  Through this great gift we can know for ourselves that Heavenly Father lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that His Church has been restored to the earth.  Through this gift we can receive promptings from the Holy Ghost to tell us all the things we should do (see 2 Nephi 32:5).  Through this gift we can enjoy other gifts of the Spirit.  This gift can bring peace to our hearts and help us understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).

Friday, May 22, 2015

Facts of Life

                Families are strengthened when parents teach their children the facts of life.  We must teach the rising generation the most important of these facts, including the fact that life is not fair and no one has the power to make it fair.  Life is not fair; it is what we make of it.

                Life is not fair.  Some of us are born into families with wealth and began life in easier circumstances.  Some of us are born with the ability to be athletes, musicians, or artists, but none of us are both with all of the talents.  Some of us are born into loving families while others are born into abusive families.  Some have great intelligence while others struggle.  Some are born organizers while other never put order into their lives.  No, live is not fair!

                Texas native Matthew McConaughey,an Academy Award-winning actor, recently spoke to the graduates of the University of Houston.  A summary of his message would be a warning to stay out of the “entitlement trap.”  “Life’s not fair, it never was, it isn’t now, and it won’t ever be.  Do not fall into the trap, the entitlement trap, of feeling like you’re a victim.  You are not.”

                One of the most important truths that parents must teach their children is that life is not fair but what we make of it.  If we convince the rising generation that they are victims and can never rise out of their problems, they will sit back and wait to be rescued.  When they understand that success or failure is up to them, they will accept their responsibility and work for success.  We can strengthen the rising generation, families, communities, and nations by understanding and teaching this simple fact:  life is not fair.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

As A Man Thinketh

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that we are the result of our thoughts.  Whatever one is today, it is the result of thoughts yesterday, last week, or last year.  No one is able to say or do something without first thinking it.

                The writer of Proverbs 23:7 wrote:  “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  James Allen took this thought and wrote a literary essay entitled “As a Man Thinketh” and published it in 1903.  The essay is now in the public domain in most countries of the world.  It is available in book form at this site.  The book is a true classic and has been widely read; it has stood the test of time for it carries a profound message.  As a Man Thinketh begins:

                Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
           And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
           The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
           Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: --
           He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
           Environment is but his looking-glass.

                        Matt Walsh published an interesting essay about this subject entitled “Christians, Now Is Probably a Good Time to Stop Watching `Game of Thrones’” that thoroughly explains the current topic.

                After admitting that he makes bad choices at times, Walsh explained, “… I recognize, even in those moments, that entertainment is not a neutral exercise.  In every instance, it’s going to be a net positive or a net negative for my mental and spiritual welfare.  I am inviting these messages, images, and ideas into my mind.  I am doing something that is active and purposeful, and it will either help me or hurt me in the end.
                “Music, movies, TV, games – we spend so much of our lives wrapped up in all this stuff because it affects us.  There’s a reason why, in this economy, Americans still commit an inordinate amount of their income to cable bills, Netflix accounts, movie tickets, and video games.  It’s important to us.  Too important, clearly.  But even in proper proportion, this is art, and art is a powerful thing.  Art says something to us and about us.  It drives us.  Art moves the heart and the mind in a particular direction.  It can pull us closer to Him or push us further away, but whatever it does, it does something.
                “So anytime we sit in front of the tube, we should ask:  Am I progressing or regressing?  Is this drawing me to God or away from Him?  What am I getting out of this?"

                Walsh ends his essay by saying that we need to get a higher standard for our entertainment.  This is true whether our entertainment is oral, visual, written, etc.  The mode of the entertainment is not important, but the content is.  Our minds are like a computer, and they record every thought, word, and action we have.  They are put in some “file” in our brains and kept for ready access when we want it.  If our thoughts are good and pure, they will lead us on the upward path.  If our thoughts are otherwise, they will take us on the downward road.  We become what we allow ourselves to think.  We can cast out bad thoughts and replace them with good ones, but we must constantly be on guard to keep the bad thoughts at bay.  It is much better to stop viewing entertainment that brings bad thoughts than it is to try to control them once they are there.

                When we stand before the judgement seat of God, we will be judged on our thoughts, words and deeds (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 4:30).  We will not be able to hide any of them because they will determine the person we become.  We are the results of our thoughts – good or evil.  As a man thinketh in his heart so is he!