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.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Reading and Family Bonding

                Parents can strengthen their children by reading to them as small children and encouraging them to learn to read well by themselves.  Parents hold a key position in insuring that their children know how to read by the third grade.  Parents should understand that illiteracy – the inability to read – could lead to high school dropouts and problems with the juvenile court system.  Parents can strengthen their communities and nation as well as their families by sharing the love of reading with their children.

                A Deseret News editorial suggested that traditional reading could “gradually disappear” as education and the workforce move into the digital era.  The editorial then quoted some data from a report published in the New York Times in 2014:  31 percent of children participating in the report read for pleasure on a daily basis, down 6 percent in just four years.  “The report found that children who read consistently until high school were often read to since childhood by their parents.”

                The report also stated some patterns among the “heavier readers”:  (1) The younger children (6-11)  “being read aloud to regularly” and restriction of screen time and (2) The older children(12-17) having “time to read on their own during the school day.”
                “`A lot of parents assume that once kids begin to read independently, that now that is the best thing for them to do,’ said Maggie McGuire, the vice president for a website for parents operated by Scholastic.
                “But reading aloud through elementary school seemed to be connected to a love of reading generally.  According to the report, 41 percent of frequent readers ages 6 to 10 were read aloud to at home, while only 13 percent of infrequent readers were being read to….
                “Of course, children who love to read are generally immersed in households with lots of books and parents who like to read.  So while parents who read to their children later in elementary school may encourage those children to become frequent readers on their own, such behavior can also result from `a whole constellation of other things that goes on in those families,’ said Timothy Shanahan, professor emeritus of urban education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a past president of the International Reading Association.
                “There is not yet strong research that connects reading aloud at older ages to improved reading comprehension.  But some literacy experts said that when parents or teachers read aloud to children even after they can read themselves, the children can hear more complex words or stories than they might tackle themselves.”

                The New York Times published an announcement from the American Academy of Pediatrics in June 2014:  “With the increased recognition that an important part of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life, and that reading to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills, the group, which represents 62,000 pediatricians across the country, is asking its members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud, every time a baby visits the doctor.
                “`It should be there each time we touch bases with children,’ said Dr. Pamela High, who wrote the new policy.  It recommends that doctors tell parents they should be `reading together as a daily fun family activity’ from infancy….
                “Reading, as well as talking and singing, is viewed as important in increasing the number of words that children hear in the earliest years of their lives.”

                The Deseret News editorial continued by explaining some of the benefits of reading:  (1) helps children develop mentally,
(2) Encourages creativity and comprehension, (3) gives children a better chance to remain on the straight and narrow (“Eighty-five percent of juveniles in the nation’s juvenile court system are functionally illiterate; over 60 percent of incarcerated individuals are functionally illiterate.”)
(4) Gives parents and children time together in a constructive activity.

                “Parents who make reading for pleasure an important part of home life ultimately give their children a better chance to succeed on multiple levels.  In education, reading at a proficient level by third grade is critical.  Literacy specialist Kathy Callister found that third grade was the pivotal moment in early education because it’s when the students move beyond fundamentals and start reading for meaning.
                “Lizzy Reano, initiative manager of KSL’s “Read Today” program, told the Deseret News that if children aren’t proficient in reading by third grade, they are four times more likely to drop out of high school in Utah.
                “Reading early on in the home is a big step in the right direction to help children reach proficiency by the third grade.  Alarmingly, 91 percent of parents who took a Scholastic survey reported reading less to their children as soon as the child reached age 9, which is about third grade.
                “The main reason parents stopped reading to these children is because the children could read independently by then.  But 40 percent of the children of that age group said they wanted their parents to continue reading to them.  And the children’s reasons?  Because reading with parents provided a special bonding time and reading together was a fun activity.  By contrast, the main goals of the parents in reading to young children at home were to improve their child’s vocabulary and language skills, followed closely by a strong desire for their children to enjoy books.
                “So whether parents read to their children at home to prepare them for school, to open doors for them down the road or simply to increase family bonding time, parents should make reading at home a regular pursuit.”

                I totally agree with this editorial and appreciate the information in the reports noted in the various articles.  I know the importance of reading to young children. I remember the many times my children – and later grandchildren - gathered around me, some on my lap, some on either side and possibly some on the back of the couch.  Children of all ages – including college age – love to gather with family to read and/or discuss what they are reading individually.   Some families have reading clubs with their adult children where they read individually and share their thoughts by email.  Our family tried this idea but was not successful at it.  I would like to try again but would rather my children spend their time teaching and bonding with their own children.

                Family scripture time is one good idea for reading together.  Some families gather to read a chapter in a fiction or non-fiction book and then close their reading time with the scriptures and prayer.  Other families read together on trips in the car.  My sister shared how she read to her teenage and adult grandchildren (one of the grandchildren was driving the car) all the way from Oregon to Utah.  They all enjoyed the story and the bonding time.  The important thing for parents to do is to find a good time to read to their children as well as a good time for their children to read on their own.  We can all strengthen our families, communities, and nation by learning to read well and reading together as families.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Holy Scriptures

                From the beginning of time God has commanded His servants to keep records of His revelations and dealings with mankind.  These records are considered to be scripture.  In fact, any time the Lord’s servants speak or write under the influence of the Holy Ghost, their words are scripture.  God speaks to mankind today just as He has done for thousands of years.

                In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith in November 1831, the Lord said, “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:4).

                The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has four books of scriptures:  the Bible, the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  These four books are called the standard works of the Church and are studied privately and in Church classes.  In addition, Church members accept the words of the living prophets as scripture.

                Daily scripture study is a good way to stay in tune with God.  As members of the Church share the truths found in the scriptures, the rising generation also learns to love them and to use them in their lives.  Daily scripture study fills minds with truth and righteousness and thus keeps people from the evils of the world.

                God told an ancient American prophet named Nephi to keep records, and then He warned him that many people in the latter days would not accept Nephi’s record as scripture.  He said that many of the “Gentiles” would claim that they had a Bible and did not need any more scriptures.  God called those people “fools.”
                “Know ye not that there are more nations than one?  Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
                “Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?  Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another?  Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another.  And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
                “And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure.  And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
                “Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
                “For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 29:3-11.

                The Lord continued by telling Nephi that He would “speak unto the Jews and they shall write it”, He would “speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it”, He would “speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it” (2 Nephi 29:12).  He continued by saying that the Jews would have the records of the Nephites and the Nephites would have the words of the Jews; He also said that the Jews and the Nephites would have the words of the Lost Tribes of Israel and the Lost Tribes would have the words of the Jews and Nephites (2 Nephi 29:13).

                I personally have read the Bible numerous times.  I have the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ many, many times.  I have also read the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price too many times to count.  I know these books contain the word of God.  I make scripture study a daily part of my life and have done so for more than thirty years.  I love to study the scriptures and to feel the Spirit contained therein; I learn something new every time I study the scriptures.  I look forward to the time when I can also study the words written by the Ten Lost Tribes as well as other scriptures not yet given to us.  I encourage you to make scripture study a daily part of your life.  I know you will receive much comfort, knowledge and other blessings for doing so.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Music Lessons

                Parents can strengthen their children in numerous ways by insuring they receive musical instruction in their childhood and youth.  Scientists have proven a connection between music and mathematics.  Other studies connect music with IQ and other academic subjects.  Recent studies have connected music instruction with emotional and behavioral growth.

                The January 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry published a report about a study entitled “Cortical Thickness Maturation and Duration of Music Training:  Health-Promoting Activities Shape Brain Development.” The cortex is the outer layer of the brain, and the thickness of it changes as a child matures.

                The objective of the study was to assess the effect of musical training on the development of the thickness of the cortical.  There were 232 children and youth, ages 6-18 years of age, in the study.  Participants in the study made up to three separate visits to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at two-year intervals.  There they underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning and behavioral testing.  The thickness of a participant’s cortical, the number of years playing a musical instrument, age and gender were all considered in the study.

                Even though “playing a musical instrument was associated with more rapid cortical thickness maturation within areas implicated in motor planning and coordination, visuospatial ability, and emotion and impulse regulation,” researchers found “no association between thickness and years playing a musical instrument.”

                The study shows that parents can expect greater blessings from enduring the early periods of musical training than simply beautiful music.  Musical training helps children develop fine motor skills and aids in their emotional and behavioral maturation.  Musical training also aids in academic work.

                I have a dear friend who has wonderful music abilities – both instrumental and voice – as well as mathematical skills good enough to teach on the university level.  She told me many years ago that her mathematical skills help her musical skills and vice versa.  Maybe my lack of musical training as a child led to my difficulty in understanding mathematics!   

                Even though my husband does not play a musical instrument, he has great appreciation for music; he is an engineer with great capacity to understand and remember numbers.  My children all received piano lessons in their childhood and took AP math classes in high school.  None of them became engineers or scientists, but they know algebra, physics, trigonometry, etc.  I believe there is a definite connection between music and mathematics, and history and science seems to support my belief.

                “Music theorists sometimes use mathematics to understand music, and although music has no axiomatic foundation in modern mathematics, mathematics is `the basis of sound’ and sound itself `in its musical aspects… exhibits a remarkable array of number properties’, simply because nature itself `is amazingly mathematical’.  Though ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Mesopotamians are known to have studied the mathematical principles of sound, the Pythagoreans (in particular Philolaus and Archytas) of ancient Greece were the first researchers known to have investigated the expression of musical scales in terms of numerical ratios, particularly the ratios of small integers.  Their central doctrine was that `all nature consists of harmony arising out of numbers’.
                “From the time of Plato, harmony was considered a fundamental branch of physics, now known as musical acoustics.  Early Indian and Chinese theorists show similar approaches:  all sought to show that the mathematical laws of harmonics and rhythms were fundamental not only to our understanding of the world but to human well-being.  Confucius, like Pythagoras, regarded the small numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 as the source of all perfection.
                “The attempt to structure and communicate new ways of composing and hearing music has led to musical applications of set theory, abstract algebra and number theory….”

                Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 and died in 1827.  He was a German composer and pianist who “reinvented the symphony and redefined piano sonatas.”  He is possibly one of the greatest composers of all time and wrote most of his songs while going deaf.  How did he do it?  Natalya St. Clair uses Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” to show how he “was able to convey emotion and creativity using the certainty of mathematics.

                I had no musical training in my childhood and youth.  I loved to sing the songs I heard on the radio, in movies, or at church, but I did not actually know music, how to read it, or carry a tune.  I graduated from high school with little appreciation for music and no appreciation at all for instrumental music without words.  Over the years and with my husband’s help, I learned more about music and gained greater appreciation for it.  I am now able to pick out the sounds of the piano and violin from the sounds of the bass instruments and consider this to be a great achievement.  My growing appreciation for music helps me to encourage others to learn more about music when they are young.  I urge all parents to provide musical lessons for their children in their childhood and youth if at all possible.  I know music strengthens individuals in many ways, and strong individuals strengthen families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Highest Form of Liberty

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that the highest form of liberty is freedom of the soul.  Agency, sometime called free agency or moral agency, is an eternal principle and will endure for all eternity.  God gave us our agency in our pre-earth life and sent it with us when we came to earth.  We can use our agency to remain free or we can misuse our agency to sell our souls to the devil.  It all depends on the choices we make. 

                In an address given in October 1981, President Marion G. Romney, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about the “Perfect Law of Liberty.”  “… The sweets of liberty about which we usually speak may be classified as (1) political independence, (2) economic freedom, and (3) free agency.”

                President Romney invited the attention of his listeners “to a few illustrations in support of the thesis that, while political independence, economic freedom, and free agency may contribute to liberty of the soul, they do not guarantee it.  He first spoke about “political independence and power” and used the examples of Alexander the Great and Cardinal Wolsey to prove his point. 

                Alexander the Great used his courage, energy and imagination to become “master of the then-known world.  But he was far from enjoying liberty, for of himself he was not master.”  He died at age 32 “a total stranger to freedom of the soul.”

                Cardinal Wolsey learned the hard way “how little political independence and even political power can contribute to true liberty…. [H]e gave a long life in the service of two English sovereigns, enjoying all the while great freedom and political power” but was “shorn of all his greatness by an impatient king.”

                There are many “financial wizards” who achieve economic freedom.  Too many of them lose their fortunes and die broke.  The disgrace is so awful that some of them commit suicide to escape.  Others spend time in prison for breaking the law.  “All of the men had obtained temporarily at least, economic freedom, but to none of them did their economic abundance bring freedom of the soul.”

                Even free agency can be misused.  This “God-given right to choose one’s course of action is an indispensable prerequisite” to “perfect liberty.”  “Without it we can scarcely enjoy any type of liberty – political, economic, or personal.  It is one of our greatest heritages.  For it we are deeply indebted to our Father in Heaven, to the Founding Fathers, and to the pioneers….

                “Free agency, however, precious as it is, is not of itself the perfect liberty we seek, nor does it necessarily lead thereto.  As a matter of fact, through the exercise of their agency more people have come to political, economic, and personal bondage than to liberty.”

                President Romney gave numerous examples from scripture and history of people – Egyptians, Israelites, Nephites, etc. - making wrong choices and losing liberty. “We ourselves have gone a long way down this road during the last century.  My counsel is that we beware of the doctrine which encourages us to seek government-supported security rather than to put faith in our own industry….
                “With respect to the loss of personal liberty through the misuse of free agency, our daily lives are filled with tragic evidence.  We see the alcoholic with his craving for drink, the dope fiend in his frenzy, and worse, the pervert with his irretrievable loss of manhood.  Who will say that such persons enjoy liberty?”

                Political, economic, and personal liberty are lost through the misuse of agency, but “free agency will always endure because it is an eternal principle.  However, the free agency possessed by any one person is increased or diminished by the use to which he puts it.  Every wrong decision one makes restricts the area in which he can thereafter exercise his agency.  The further one goes in the making of wrong decisions in the exercise of free agency, the more difficult it is for him to recover the lost ground.  One can, by persisting long enough, reach the point of no return.  He then becomes an abject slave.  By the exercise of his free agency, he has decreased the area in which he can act, almost to the vanishing point….

                “Just as following wrong alternatives restricts free agency and leads to slavery, so pursuing correct alternatives widens the scope of one’s agency and leads to perfect liberty.  As a matter of fact, one may, by this process, obtain freedom of the soul while at the same time being denied political, economic, and personal liberty….

                “Freedom thus obtained – that is, by obedience to the law of Christ – is freedom of the soul, the highest form of liberty.  And the most glorious thing about it is that it is within the reach of every one of us, regardless of what people about us, or even nations, do.  All we have to do is learn the law of Christ and obey it.  To learn it and obey it is the primary purpose of every soul’s mortal life.”

                I love the message given in a hymn of our Church entitled “Know This, That Every Soul Is Free” (Hymns, 240).  The author of the text is unknown, but it was apparently written about 1805 in Boston.  It was included in the first LDS hymnbook in 1835.  The music was written by Roger L. Miller.  The first two verses are as follow.

                Know this, that every soul is free To choose his life and what he’ll be;
                For this eternal truth is giv’n:  That God will force no man to heav’n.

                He’ll call, persuade, direct aright, And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
                In nameless ways be good and kind, But never force the human mind.

                With our God-given agency, we can choose to attain the highest form of liberty.  It is up to us as individuals because it is us who decide what we really desire.  If we desire true liberty, we must learn the law of Jesus Christ and then remain obedient to it.  There is no other way to be truly free.  Freedom of the soul IS the highest form of liberty!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Roe v. Wade

                Tomorrow marks forty-two years since abortion became legal in the United States of America.  Roe v. Wade was first argued December 13, 1971; it was reargued October 11, 1972; it was decided on January 22, 1973.  In the forty-two years since that decision, Americans have murdered nearly 50 million unborn and nearly born babies.  How could we fall so far from morality?

                Today I remembered what I was doing during the period of 1971-1973.   I spent more than half of 1971 trying desperately to get pregnant.  I made many visits to doctor’s offices and endured numerous tests in an effort to discover my problem.  How could any woman kill her baby when I was having such a difficult time getting one?  In September of that year my problem was diagnosed, and I became pregnant in October 1971.  I was so very happy because I was finally going to have a baby of my own! 

                I felt good all during the pregnancy and secretly hoped I would have twins.  I remember thinking I was fat enough for two babies, but my doctor assured me that I was actually quite tiny and there was only one baby due in June 1972.  In late April my little girl decided she had waited long enough and came five weeks early; she weighed only 4.5 pounds and was immediately put in an incubator.  I remember other mothers in the hospital asking me if it was hard to care for such a tiny baby, and I replied that I did not know anything different.  My baby girl was strong and determined; she was beautiful with dark hair and big blue eyes, and she was mine!  She soon proved that she could breathe on her own and was strong enough to be taken home at five days of age.  My husband and I were overjoyed to take our baby home and had a delightful time getting to know her.  She was so tiny that she could have slept herself to death; therefore, I woke her every two to three hours to eat.  She was not real interested in food but ate enough to stay alive and grow.  Gradually, she grew big enough that my fears for her life vanished, and I could begin to think of other things.

                A few months after the birth of my first child I became pregnant once again.  This pregnancy was a little more difficult than my first one but was still fairly easy.  I no longer hoped for twins because I realized my babies would be very close in age.  My second daughter was born in the middle of July 1973 when her sister was 14.5 months old; she was full term and weighed 7.1 pounds.  She too was beautiful with dark hair and big brown eyes; she was easier to care for and adored her big sister.  My two little girls grew up together and became great friends.  They were about the same size for a long time, and I treated them as twins.  When I changed one diaper, I changed the other one.  When I fed one, I fed the other.  I dressed them in similar but different clothing and had a wonderful time being their mother and watching them grow and develop.

                While millions of other women were arranging for the deaths of their babies, I have been enjoying my children and grandchildren.  I truly enjoyed being a mother to my two little girls and their four younger siblings.  I am grateful to know that my children are good friends and enjoy being together.  They travel long distances and make many sacrifices in order to spend time together and allow their children to know their cousins.  There is such closeness among my children that I sometimes feel like an outsider at our family gatherings!  I am very grateful and know I am very blessed to be a mother and grandmother.  I am grateful to have wonderful children and fifteen adorable grandchildren with another one due next summer.

                I am grateful for scientific and medical advances that prove unborn babies are human beings and not just tissue.  I support right to life for all unborn, nearly born, and newborn babies.  I was pleased to hear the U.S. House of Representatives had scheduled a vote on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, an age that a fetus feels pain.  I was disappointed today when the House dropped the bill because of inter-party disputes in the GOP.  The House will instead vote on a bill to ban the use of federal tax dollars for abortions.  This same bill passed the House nearly a year ago but died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.  Hopefully, the bill will become law now that we have a Republican-controlled Senate as well as House.  This vote will take place on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and is a good step forward.  I hope and pray that our elected leaders in Washington will soon put a stop to most abortions and allow more babies to be born.  No one need kill their baby; any mother unable to care for her child can bring joy to another woman who cannot have children of her own.  Babies are human and deserve the blessing of life!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

State of the Union Address

                Did you watch or listen to the State of the Union address tonight?  I did not because I cannot stand to watch Barack Obama’s arrogance and I refuse to spend my time listening to a liar.  I do not respect the man who sits in the Oval Office at the present time.  Even though Mr. Obama “won” the last two presidential elections – as he so often reminds Americans – he lost the confidence of the majority of us long ago.

                Tonight Mr. Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address.  He spent much of his speech calling on Americans to show more civility in politics; then he taunted Republicans because he won his last two elections.  He gave two separate veto threats in his speech with one of them “covering everything from immigration to tweaking Obamacare to revamping the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms.”  He stated that the economy is improving and unemployment is falling.  He said it was time to “turn the page” on years of war and economic weakness and turn to investments.  He did not mention the radical Islamic terrorism that is sweeping the earth or his illegal amnesty program.  His talk was much the same as previous ones that called for higher taxes on the rich, more unfunded programs, and more debt.  He may not have said it in these words, but Mr. Obama basically said that he does not care about the message sent by voters in November and that he intends to continue doing exactly what he wants to do.

                Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), one of our brand new senators, gave the GOP response to the State of the Union.  She reminded Americans of the “failed policies” of Mr. Obama and said that the new Republican-controlled Congress “will focus on people’s concerns about jobs and health care.”  She called for bipartisan cooperation and for Mr. Obama to “cooperate with Republicans to simplify the tax code by lowering rates and eliminating unspecified loopholes….”

                Other Republicans gave responses to Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address.  I found some very interesting responses here. I listened carefully to the responses given by Representative Curt Clawson (R-Florida), Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Representative Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), and Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).  From the various speeches I heard wonderful ideas:  (1) We should restore our nation to greatness by returning to personal liberty, free enterprise, and the opportunity to live the American dream.  (2) We need a strong America in order to strengthen the nations of the world.  (3) We should return to the rule of law.  (4) We should base our policies on economic liberty and equal opportunity for all, not equal outcomes.  (5) We should respect and listen to each other even when we do not agree with the other’s ideas.  (6) We need to become a team and work together by respecting, trusting, relying on, and caring for each other.  We are the same!  (7) We need to secure the borders before any amnesty program will work.  (8) We should change our tax to a flat tax where everyone pays a certain percentage:  those who make a lot of money would pay a lot of taxes and those who make little money would pay little taxes.  (9) We should stop the policies that reward the rich and hurt the poor.  (10) We should have term limits for Senators and Representatives just as we do for Presidents because we need new people going to Washington with new ideas and new ways of doing business.  (11) We need government to get out of the way and let Americans grow and develop.  (12) We need to stop the governmental gifts to Americans and destroy poverty instead of growing it.  (13) We need to amend the Constitution to have a Balanced Budget Amendment.  (14) We need to have the stronger military in the world – a lean, mean fighting machine.  (15) We need to audit the Pentagon to make sure the money is going to the military and not being wasted.  (16) We need to allow Americans to exercise compassion without forcing it.  (17) We need to return to our Founding Principles.

                Katrina Trinko of The Heritage Foundation put together a great political commentary by various Heritage experts on “What Obama Got Right and Wrong in the State of the Union.” The experts zeroed in on the following topics:  economy, energy, education, legal, health care, life and marriage, and foreign policy and national security.  She stated what he got right and then explained what he got wrong on each of them.  Her article includes charts, numbers and other facts.  The collection of statements with the following paragraphs by Helle Dale.

                “President Obama tonight displayed an almost touching faith in the power of quiet diplomacy to solve problems in a dangerous, complex world.  If only it were so well.  The president’s speech contained several references to diplomacy.  He described America as leading `with consistent and strong resolve.’  For most observers of Obama’s U.S. foreign policy, that description is almost unrecognizable.
                “Obama talked about smarter U.S. leadership and strong diplomacy, about not talking rash decisions, about war as the choice of last resort.  Rejecting the idea of sending troops into war zones like Iraq and Syria, he said he intends to `stand on that wisdom’ of not putting boots on the ground.  The president also said he considered climate change to be the greatest challenge and national security threat for future generations.  For those who follow the news from the Middle East and the unraveling of terrorist cells in Europe, climate change is an almost quaint choice.  The speech spent all of two paragraphs on terrorism and did not mention al-Qaeda.
                “If you believed Obama, ISIS is being pushed back, Russia is reeling, and Iran is being disarmed – all because of American leadership, coalition building and diplomacy.  Unfortunately, reality is almost the exact opposite.  The Obama administration insists on running U.S. foreign policy from the White House.  As a consequence, politics take primacy, rather than statecraft and national interest.  That was the case again in the president’s speech tonight.”

                Once again Barack Obama addressed the citizens of the United States of America.  He lied and withheld critical information – and generally said nothing of importance.  We have two more years of this fraud!  I hope America is still around when he leaves office!

Monday, January 19, 2015

W. E. B. Du Bois

                William EdwardBurghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois (pronounced /du:’boiz/doo-boyz) was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to Alfred and Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois.  His mother descended from Dutch, African, and English ancestors, and her family belonged to the very small free black population of Great Barrington and owned land in Massachusetts.  William’s maternal grandfather was Othello Burghardt, his maternal great-grandfather was Jack Burghardt, and his maternal great-great-grandfather was Tom Burghardt who was born in West Africa about 1730 and owned as a slave by Dutch colonist Conraed Burghardt.  He may have gained his freedom by serving in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. 

                James Du Bois, an ethnic French-American from Poughkeepsie, New York, was William’s paternal great-grandfather.  James fathered several children with slave mistresses, and one of his mixed-race sons was Alexander.  Alexander went to Haiti where he fathered a son named Alfred before leaving his mistress and son to return to Connecticut.  Alfred moved to the United States prior to 1860; he married Mary Silvina Burghardt on February 5, 1867, in Housatoic, Massachusetts.  Two years after the birth of William, Alfred left his family in 1870.  Mary worked to provide for her family with some assistance from her brother and neighbors.  She had a stroke in the early 1880s and died in 1885.

                William was treated generally well by the people in Great Barrington who were mostly European American.  He went to school and played with white schoolmates, and his teachers encouraged him academically.  The members of the First Congregational Church of Great Barrington, his childhood church, donated money for his tuition when he decided to attend college.  Because of his good experiences, he believed he could use his knowledge to help African Americans but as an adult would write about racism.

                William graduated from Harvard and became the first African American to earn a doctorate there.  He became a professor of history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University.  He was a sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, editor, and one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.

                “Du Bois was organized and disciplined:  His lifelong regimen was to rise at 7:15, work until 5, eat dinner and read a newspaper until 7, then read or socialize until he was in bed, invariably before 10.  He was a meticulous planner, and frequently mapped out his schedules and goals on large pieces of graph paper.  Many acquaintances found him to be distant and aloof, and he insisted on being addressed as `Dr. Du Bois’.  Although he was not gregarious, he formed several close friendships ….  Du Bois was something of a dandy – he dressed formally, carried a walking stick, and walked with an air of confidence and dignity.  He was relatively short 5 feet 5.5 inches and always maintained a well-groomed mustache and goatee.  He was a good singer and enjoyed playing tennis.
                “Du Bois was married twice, first to Nina Gomer (m. 1896, d. 1950), with whom he had two children, a son Burghardt (who died as an infant) and a daughter Yolande, who married Countee Cullen.  As a widower, he married Shirley Graham (m. 1951, d. 1977), an author, playwright, composer and activist.  She brought her son David Graham to the marriage.  David grew close to Du Bois and took his stepfather’s name; he also worked for African-American causes.”  Du Bois may have had several extramarital relationships.

                Du Bois became nationally known because he was the leader of the Niagara Movement, a group of African-Americans who wanted equal rights for blacks.  He and his group opposed the Atlanta Compromise that was crafted by Booker T. Washington.  Du Bois insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation.  He called the African-American intellectual elites  the “talented tenth” because he thought they could bring equality for blacks by their leadership.  He worked for civil rights for his entire life but did not live long enough to see the Civil Rights Act passed the year after his death. 

                Du Bois did much good throughout his life and received many honors, but he became a bitter old man.  He became a Communist and blamed capitalism for the woes of people of color.  He passed away at age 95 on August 27, 1963, in Accra, Ghana.