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, July 26, 2015

Congress Decides

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “[In case of a dispute between the President and the Vice President about the President’s ability to assume the duties of the office of President] Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session.  If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter [Vice President’s] written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”

                This provision gives Congress the power and authority to decide whether or not the President is fit to resume the duties of his office.  It also sets a fairly high bar for the Vice President to jump over in order to keep the power and authority of the office.  Two-thirds vote of both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives is fairly hard to obtain.  If Congress were to vote against the President, it would probably have a good reason to do so.

                W. Cleon Skousen shared his concerns about this provision:  “The requirement of a two-thirds vote to keep the President form resuming his office was designed to overcome the possibility of the vote dividing along partisan lines.  There must be a strong feeling in both parties that the President is still disabled or he will be allowed to resume his office.
                “The glaring fallacy in all of this is that an ambitious Vice President, who may have initiated this unseating of the President in the first place, is still acting as President during the time the matter is being adjudicated.  An interval of this kind could be contrived by a Vice President and a dominant bloc in Congress to get through a critical bill which they know the elected President would veto.  Such contriving to manipulate the machinery of government is an established segment of federal political history and should not be overlooked.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 761.)

                If I had not lived through the previous seven years of the Obama Administration, I would think Mr. Skousen was paranoid when he wrote those words.  Now, I too am concerned a possible hostile takeover of the powers of the President of the United States!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Lord's Law of Health

                We lived in heaven a long time ago with our Heavenly Father and learned of our Father’s plan of happiness for His children.  Part of that plan was coming to earth to receive a physical body because we needed bodies in order to become like our Father.  Our physical bodies are great and important blessings, and the Lord calls them temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:17). 

                Our bodies are holy and important to the plan of God.  Our Father in Heaven commands us to take good care of our bodies in a pleasing manner before Him.  He knows that we will be happier and better people if we are healthy.  The Spirit of God can be with us if our bodies are clean.

                Our Father knows that we face many temptations with regard to our bodies; we are tempted to do things to our bodies and to take harmful substances into our bodies.  To help us keep our bodies healthy, He told us which things are good for our health and which things should be avoided.  Much of this information concerning good health is found in Doctrine and Covenants 89, which is known as the Word of Wisdom or the Lord’s law of health.    If we do not live the Word of Wisdom, we lose two great blessings – (1) The Lord’s Spirit cannot dwell with us and (2) we cannot enter the temple.

                In the Word of Wisdom the Lord commands us to avoid wine and strong drinks – meaning drinks that contain alcohol.  President Heber J. Grant taught that strong drink brings serious problems into the home; these problems include cruelty, poverty, disease, plague, dishonesty, loss of chastity, and loss of good judgment (see “Message of the First Presidency,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1942, p. 686, as quoted in Gospel Principles, pp. 138-139).  Expectant mothers are counseled strongly to avoid alcohol because physical and mental damage to their children.  Many car accidents are caused by people who drink alcohol and then drive.

                The Lord also commands us to avoid the use of tobacco because it is harmful to our bodies and spirits.  We should not smoke cigarettes or cigars or use chewing tobacco.  Scientists have proven that tobacco use causes cancer and other diseases.

                The Lord also commands us to avoid the use of “hot drinks.”  Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have said this means coffee and tea.  Coffee and tea contain harmful drugs and should be avoided.  We should also avoid all drinks that contain harmful drugs.

                Through modern prophets the Lord has commanded us to avoid all drugs except those necessary as medicine.  President Spencer W. Kimball warned that the drug habit is often more harmful than the use of alcohol.  He said that people who misuse drugs – including legal, prescribed drugs – should repent of this habit.

                In fact, we should avoid the use of anything that is harmful to our bodies or substances that are habit forming.  The Word of Wisdom does not tell us all things to avoid, but it gives us guidelines to follow.  The Word of Wisdom is both a valuable temporal law and a great spiritual law.  We can become stronger spiritually by obedience to the Word of Wisdom because our bodies are purified when the Spirit of the Lord dwells in us.

                The Word of Wisdom also tells us that certain things are good for our bodies.  It lists fruits, vegetables, and wholesome herbs as being good for us as we use them with wisdom and thanksgiving.  The flesh of birds and animals is also provided for us to eat “sparingly” (see Doctrine and Covenants 89:12 and 49:18) and fish is good for man.  Grains are good for us, particularly wheat, and can be used to make mild drinks.

                The Word of Wisdom does not contain all the counsel of the Lord that helps us to be healthy.  Other scriptures tell us to “cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; … cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and minds may be invigorated” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:124).  We are also told “Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:9) and to not labor more than we have strength (see Doctrine and Covenants 10:4).

                President Joseph F. Smith told us that we “should learn to keep their bodies healthy by right living…, by inhaling pure air, taking plenty of exercise, and bathing … often in fresh water” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 241, as quoted in Gospel Principles, p. 140).

                God gave us laws concerning our physical health to teach us how to take good care of our bodies.  His scriptures tell us, “No temporal commandment gave I … for my commandments are spiritual” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:35).  This means that all scriptures concerning our physical bodies are for our spiritual good.

                The Lord blesses us physically and spiritually when we keep His law of health and obey all His commandments.  He promises us good physical health and the ability to “run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18, 20).  This is truly a great blessing, but spiritual blessings are even greater.

                The Lord promises us that we “shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:19) and taught important truths by the Holy Ghost through revelation.  Another blessing of obeying the Word of Wisdom is the promise that the destroying angel shall pass us by.  President Spencer W. Kimball taught that this means that we will be saved from spiritual death:  “For observing the Word of Wisdom the reward is life, not only prolonged mortal life but life eternal” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 211, as quoted in Gospel Principles, p. 141).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Do Hard Things

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we teach the help the rising generation to do hard things.  No one should expect everything in life to be fun and exciting; no one should think that everything in life is funny.  We must teach the rising generation that they can do hard things.

                To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, July 24th is Pioneer Day.  This is a very important holiday when we remembered the people who crossed the plains in order to follow their beliefs and live their religion.  I was reared on stories of the Mormon Pioneers and their trek across the United States from Illinois to the Great Salt Lake Valley.  I learned many of the stories of my own ancestors – grandparents and great-grandparents – who made that trek under very difficult situations.  I learned that children and teens can do hard things.  

                My father’s paternal grandfather’s parents were drive out of their home in Nauvoo, Illinois, soon after they were married.  John crossed the plains with his parents when he was one year old and arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley after being caught in a snow storm.      

                My father’s paternal grandmother was only five years old when she learned to milk cows.  She helped with the work on the farm – raking and piling the hay with hand forks, drying applies and peaches for food to eat during the winter.  As a child she knelt with her family around the bed of her ill mother and asked the Lord to let her mother live.  When mother heard the prayers and witnessed the faith of her children, she gained the strength to live. 

                My father’s maternal grandfather was only 7 years old when he began herding the neighbor’s cows for a piece of bread or a biscuit.  If he received nothing for his work, he dug Sego Lily bulbs to eat and then took some home to his family to eat for supper.  He also trapped wild animals to provide food.

                My father’s maternal grandmother was expected to work to help the family.  One of her chores was to go to the neighbor’s home in morning to borrow a live coal to start their fire if it had gone out during the night.  She helped to drive grasshoppers into piles of straw to be burned in order to save their crops.  She gleaned wheat from the fields, flailed the grain out and saved it to buy her shoes for winter.  She also spent a lot of time caring for babies and young children.

                My mother’s paternal grandfather working in the mines in Scotland as a young child and was still working in there as an adult when he immigrated to the United States.  My mother’s paternal grandmother left her home and family to come to America.

                My mother’s maternal grandfather left England with his parents to travel to Australia when he was about ten years old.  Before he was eighteen, his family left Australia for California and then on to Utah.  We do not know very much about the childhood of my mother’s maternal grandmother, but we know she was brave and protected her children from the Indians while her husband was hauling freight.  She even saw Geronimo after he was captured.

                My parents also did hard things and taught their children to do hard things.  I grew up on a farm and learned to do many of the farm chores.  None of the work was easy, but it was satisfying.  I learned to work hard and to do hard things as a child and carry that capacity with me to this day.  I am not afraid to work hard or to do hard things.  I know that life is not easy or even fun most of the time, but I also know that it can be rewarding.  I also know that we can strengthen our families, communities and nations by learning to do hard things.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Freedom to Live Your Life

                For more than 200 years Americans have enjoyed the freedom to live their own lives.  We have had the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because the Constitution of the United States has protected those freedoms.  Our freedoms have been slowly but surely eliminated.  That elimination seems to have accelerated in recent years.

                America needs a new champion of liberty, and numerous people are vying for the right to be that champion.  I have made no secret of the fact that I think Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker could be that champion.  He has shown over the past years that he talks the talk and walks the walk of conservatism.  He has proven that he can govern on conservative principles and is willing to stand up to liberal interests.  Governor Walker recently announced that he is running for the office of President of the United States.

                Governor Walker spoke about his plans for helping Americans reach the American dream.  I liked his speech and found his words very comforting.  I particularly liked this statement:  “Our goal should be peace, but there will be times when America must fight.  If we must, America must fight to win.”  I encourage you to listen to Governor Walker to learn more about him and his plans for America.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cycles of the Sun

                I am very interested in the latest news about the cycle of the sun. Professor Valentina Zharkova recently presented results of the studies done by their team at the National Astronomy Meeting in Lladudno.  The new study claims to know more about predicting solar cycles .and predicts a cooling period – a ‘mini ice age’ – taking place between 2020 and 2030.  The last such event hit between 1645 and 1715 – and caused the River Thames in London to freeze over.

                The scientists have a “new model of the Sun’s solar cycle” that is “producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat.  It draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone.  Predictions from the model suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the `mini ice age’ that began in 1645….”

                The reason I am so interested in this news is the fact that I believe it could be signaling the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  I look forward to this event, and yet I am a little fearful of the circumstances between now and then.  You may ask how I connect this report from scientists with the coming of the Lord.  I have heard and later read numerous prophecies such as the following scriptures.

                The Lord revealed the following to the Prophet Joseph Smith in March 1831:  “And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.
                “And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke.
                “And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:40-42).

                In December 1832 the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith:  “For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig-tree” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:87).

                After quoting the above scriptures President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of some of the signs of the Second Coming of the Savior:  “I realize this is an unpleasant topic on which to dwell.  I take no delight in its portrayal, nor do I look forward to the day when calamities shall come upon mankind.  But these words are not my own; the Lord has spoken them.  Knowing what we know as His servants, can we hesitate to raise a warning voice to all who will listen that they may be prepared for the days ahead?  Silence in the face of such calamity is sin!
                “But to an otherwise gloomy picture there is a bright side – the coming of our Lord in all His glory.  His coming will be both glorious and terrible, depending on the spiritual condition of those who remain.”

                President Benson spoke of several appearances of the Lord before adding counsel:  “You will live in the midst of economic, political and spiritual instability.  When you see these signs – unmistakable evidences that His coming is nigh – be not troubled, but, `stand… in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come’ (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8).  Holy men stand in holy places and these holy places include our temples, our chapels, our homes, and the stakes of Zion, which are, as the Lord declares, `for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth’ (Doctrine and Covenants 115:6).
                “Heed the Lord’s counsel to the Saints of this dispensation:  `Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord’ (Doctrine and Covenants 133:10).

                “This preparation must consist of more than just casual membership in the Church.  You must learn to be guided by personal revelation and the counsel of the living prophet so you will not be deceived.  Our Lord has indicated who, among Church members, will stand when He appears:
                “`And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.
                “For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived – verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day” (“Prepare Yourself for the Great Day ofthe Lord”)

                According to President Benson, I can be ready for the coming of the great day of the Lord by standing in holy places and taking the Holy Spirit for my guide.  This sounds very simple, and it is – but it could be difficult in the worsening conditions in the world.  For now, I will continue to watch for the prophesied signs and try to be prepared by following the Prophet’s counsel.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Think Again

                Silly me!  I thought the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage was a done deal.  Maybe not.  Herbert W. Titus and William J. Olson seem to believe other action could be taken. 

                Mr. Titus taught Constitutional Law for 26 years, and concluded his academic career as the Founding Dean of Regent Law School.  Mr. Olson served in three positions in the Reagan Administration.  “Together they have filed over 80 briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court, and dozens more in lower courts, addressing important public policy issues.  They now practice law together at William J. Olson, P.C.  They can be reached here or”

                Mr. Titus and Mr. Olson authored an interesting article entitled “States Have Constitutional Duty to Seek Rehearing of Same-Sex Marriage Decision.”  The article is about action the four states involved in the decision could take and urged the states to do so before July 21, 2015.  They had two reasons for why at least one of the four stakes must file a Petition for Rehearing.  Their summary of the situation is as follows:  “Since the Supreme Court’s decision, it has been assumed that the `rule of law’ requires not just your four states, but every State, to recognize the `fundamental right’ of same sex couples to marry.  However, this assumption overlooks two critical factors:  (i) whether some of the Justices who participated in issuing that decision did so unlawfully; and (ii) the nature of the express limitations set out by Justice Kennedy in that decision.  Because of these two critical factors, we urge all of you as Attorneys General, or at least one of you, file a Petition for Rehearing of this decision.  Additionally, we urge all elected officials in those four states to impress on you the need to file a Petition for Rehearing.  Although the Court’s decision purports to apply to all states – including the states that did not have an opportunity to present their arguments to the Court – only your four states can seek rehearing.”

                Read the article and decide for yourself whether or not one or more of the four states should file a Petition for Rehearing.  For myself, I can tell you that I think they should do it – and do it yesterday.  As I write this, I have not heard if a Petition for Rehearing was filed.  I certainly hope so.!


Monday, July 20, 2015

James Gordon Bennett, Sr.

                James Gordon Bennett, Sr. was born on September 1, 1795, to a prosperous Catholic family living in Newmill, Banffshire, Scotland.  He was cross eyed for most of his life.  When he was 15 years old, he began his four year journey through the Catholic seminary in Aberdeen.  He left the seminary and began reading “voraciously on his own;” he also traveled throughout Scotland.  

                In 1819 Bennett and a friend sailed to North America, landing in Halifax, Nova Scotia after a four week trip.  Bennett worked briefly teaching school until he earned enough money to sail to Portland, Maine.  He taught school in the village of Addison but moved to Boston prior to New Year’s Day in 1820.  He found work there “as a proofreader and bookseller before the Charleston Courier hired him to translate Spanish news reports.”  In 1823 Bennett moved to New York City and took a job as a freelance paper writer; later he became assistant editor of the New York Courier and Enquirer.

                Bennett began the Herald in May 1835, after years of trying to start a paper.  “In April 1836, [the Herald] shocked readers with front-age coverage of the murder of prostitute Helen Jewett; Bennett conducted the first-ever newspaper interview for it.  The Herald initiated a cash-in-advance policy for advertisers, which became the industry standard.  Bennett was also at the forefront of using the latest technology to gather and report the news, and added illustrations produced from woodcuts.  In 1839, Bennett was granted the first ever exclusive interview to a United States President, Martin Van Buren.”  James Gordon Bennett, Sr. was a major figure in the history of American newspapers."

                While claiming to be officially independent in its politics, the Herald endorsed William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, and John C. Fremont.  “… Although he opposed Abraham Lincoln, Bennett backed the Union, then took the lead to turn the president into a martyr after his assassination.  He favored most of Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction proposals.”

                Bennett married Henrietta Agnes Crean on June 6, 1840, in New York.  The couple became parents of three children; two of the children were James Gordon Bennett, Jr. and Jeanette Gordon Bennett (married Isaac Bell, Jr.).

                In 1866 Bennett turned control of the Herald  over to his son James Gordon Bennett, Jr.  At that time the paper had the highest circulation in America; however, the paper declined under the stewardship of young Bennett and merged with the New York Tribune after the death of Bennett, Sr. 

                James Gordon Bennett, Sr. passed away on June 1, 1872, in New York.  He is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.