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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Benjamin Franklin

As I was pondering who should be my "very important person" for this week, my mind kept going back to Benjamin Franklin. As I studied about him, I realized more fully that this "ordinary" American accomplished many extra-ordinary things. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) "was a jack-of-all-trades and master of many. No other American, except possibly Thomas Jefferson, has done so many things so well. During his long and useful life, Franklin concerned himself with such different matters as statesmanship and soap-making, book-printing and cabbage-growing, and the rise of tides and the fall of empires. He also invented an efficient heating stove and proved that lightning is electricity. As a statesman, Franklin stood in the front rank of the people who built the United States. He was the only person who signed all four of these key documents in American history: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, and the Constitution of the United States. Franklin's services as a diplomat in France helped greatly in winning the Revolutionary War. Many historians consider him the ablest and most successful diplomat that America has ever sent abroad" (James H. Hutson, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 7, pp 486-487). Franklin was born January 17, 1706, in Boston, Massachusetts, the fifteenth child and last son in a family of seventeen children. His parents loved God and worked hard, but they could not afford to send Franklin to school for any longer than two years. Franklin was married, and the couple had three children, two boys and one girl. One son, William, became governor of New Jersey. Franklin educated himself by reading every book he could find. He also developed his own writing style as well as "taught himself the basic principles of algebra and geometry, navigation, grammar, logic, and the natural and physical sciences. He studied and partially mastered French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Latin…. Franklin made himself one of the best-educated persons of his time" (p 487). Franklin started working for his father making soap and candles at age 10 when he dropped out of school. At age 12 he worked as an apprentice for his brother's printing shop. At 17 he ran away from his brother's shop and went to Philadelphia where he worked for various printers. He was sent to London, England, to buy printing presses. At age 22 he was part owner of a print shop and was the sole owner two years later. His printing business prospered from the start. He was credited as being the first editor to publish a newspaper cartoon in America and illustrate a news story with a map. He was even more successful with his Poor Richard's Almanac than with his newspaper. Some of his sayings in the Almanac were: "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise;" "God helps those that help themselves," and "Little strokes fell great oaks." He never sought public office but was interested in public affairs. He was clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1736, postmaster in Philadelphia in 1737, and deputy post master general for all the colonies in 1753. Franklin was one of the first people in the world to study electricity. In 1752 he proved that lightning is electricity Philadelphia by flying a homemade kite in a thunderstorm in Philadelphia. Lightning struck a wire on the kite and traveled down the string to a key, where it caused a spark. He later tamed lightning by inventing the lightning rod. This invention benefited his family when lightning struck his own home without causing damage. Franklin also studied the movement of the gulf stream in the Atlantic Ocean, charting its course and recording its temperature, speed and depth. He favored daylight-saving time in summer and thought it silly for people to be sleeping in daylight and then using candlelight to do work. He invented the Franklin stove which gave off more warmth with less fuel than other stoves. He invented bifocal eyeglasses. He discovered that ventilated rooms caused less disease. He showed Americans how to add lime to their soil to decrease the acidity of it. He refused to patent any of his inventions or to use them for profit because he desired his work to be helpful to everyone. In 1754 during the war between the British and the French, Franklin thought that the colonies should unite against the French and Indians. He printed the famous "Join or Die" cartoon in his newspaper, showing a snake cut into pieces representing the colonies. His Plan of Union to bring the thirteen colonies under a single government was approved at the Albany Congress in New York but never ratified by the colonies. Some of the ideas from Franklin's plan were later included in the United States Constitution. Franklin continued to be active in public service. He went to London in 1757 to speak for Pennsylvania in a tax dispute and spent most of the next fifteen years in Great Britain as an unofficial ambassador and spokesman for the Americans. At the end of the French and Indian War, France agreed to give Great Britain either Canada or Guadeloupe Island in the West Indies. Franklin is credited with influencing the British decision to choose Canada by his comments about what could be accomplished Canada as compared to the West Indies. Franklin is also credited with helping to get the Stamp Act repealed by his knowledge of taxation problems. He offered to give his entire fortune to pay for the tea destroyed in the Boston Tea Party if the British government would agree to repeal its unfair tax. England ignored his proposal, and Franklin soon sailed back to America, with the understanding that there was no chance for the colonies to remain part of Great Britain. Franklin helped to write the Declaration of Independence and was one of the signers. According to tradition, John Hancock said during the signing ceremony, "We must be unanimous; … we must all hang together." Franklin agreed by saying, "Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." In 1776 at age 70 Franklin began the most important task of his life when he went to France to represent the United States in obtaining an alliance with France for assistance in the Revolutionary War. France eventually agreed to help the colonies and was instrumental in the victory, particularly the last battles. At 81 Franklin was the oldest delegate attending the Constitutional Convention. His age and illness kept him from taking an active part in the work, but his wisdom kept the convention from breaking up in failure. He helped to settle a big dispute between the large and small states by supporting the Great Compromise, which resulted in a two-house Congress. When the Constitution was completed, he appealed to the delegates for unanimous support of it. Franklin died at age 84 on April 17, 1790. About 20,000 people attended his funeral. "Franklin's name would almost certainly be on any list of the half-dozen greatest Americans. His face has appeared on postage stamps, and on the coins and paper money of the United States. Two Presidents of the United States proudly bore his name: Franklin Pierce and Franklin D. Roosevelt" (p 492). Franklin's name appears on many buildings, roads, companies, etc. This is especially true in Philadelphia where the city's most famous citizen is revered: Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Franklin Institute, Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, and the athletic field at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Establish Justice

The Founders designed the Constitution to "establish justice," meaning equal justice for all. This principle assumes the Right for every resident of the United States to be protected as to life, liberty, and property and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

"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…." This statement from the Declaration of Independence tells us that Thomas Jefferson and the other men who signed this document believed that God created all men equal and that governments were established to insure equal justice for everyone.

W. Cleon Skousen explained how government establishes and protects justice: "When a government protects the rights of its people and provides an adequate remedy for those whose rights have been violated, then that government is providing equal justice for all.
"Justice requires an opportunity and a place to complain of an injury as well as the machinery to provide a remedy. For the accused, justice requires the opportunity to hear and understand the charge, cross-examine those who are making the charge, have a fair and speedy trial, and have an opportunity to repair the wrong if found guilty" (The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p 239).

The Founders were aware of injustices heaped upon citizens by Rome, Athens, Carthage, Great Britain and other nations, and they desired to establish a republican form of government to control all the previously known evils. The Founders also believed that the moral sense of justice was a part of every human being born upon earth. Thomas Jefferson said, "Man was created for social intercourse, but social intercourse cannot be maintained without a sense of justice; then man must have been created with a sense of justice" (The Making of America, p 240).

I too believe that each child is born with a moral sense of justice. Even little children have been heard to say, "That's not fair!" As an evidence lesson for teaching this principle to your family, try an experiment that demonstrates injustice. A possible injustice would be putting one or more children in time out without doing anything to deserve it and then reward another child with a treat. I'm sure you will hear cries of "That's not fair!" or variations of it. Another suggestion for an evidence lesson would be to hold a mock court with members of the family serving as judge, jury, plaintiff and defendant. This idea came from a memory of when my own children were growing up. On different occasions, a young person would feel that my decision was unfair and would call for a trial in a family court. As I remember, the experience provided an opportunity for real discussion and learning for everyone involved.

Thomas Jefferson reminded us, "When one undertakes to administer justice, it must be with an even hand and by rule; what is done for one must be done for everyone in equal degree" (The Making of America, p 241). For judgment to be true justice, it must be fair. It must be administered equally and exactly to all.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Battle Preparation

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:11-13). Paul continued his letter by telling the Ephesians what they needed to do in order to stand tall in difficult times. Paul listed several individual body parts and how to protect them. I found the order of his list to be very interesting. The first body part named by Paul was the loins: "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth" (v 14). The loins represent virtue, chastity, and creative power. They are located in the lower back and are protected by a sash or belt, which represents truth. Truth is knowledge of things as they were, as they are now, and how they will be (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24). Truth is a standard by which we can measure our conduct. Truth can protect from unseen attackers. Truth can make your truly free. The second item of armor named by Paul is the breastplate: "… and having on the breastplate of righteousness" (v 14). The breastplate protects the heart, which is the source of feelings, attitudes, and conduct. Knowing truth gives one a measure to judge right and wrong. One's conduct will be measured by that which one knows. Paul then explains that the feet must be protected also: "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (v 15). The feet represent movement or direction one is headed - one's goals in life. The "gospel of peace" is the gospel taught by Jesus Christ. One's goals should be based on gospel principles. The last item of armor mentioned by Paul is the helmet: "And take the helmet of salvation…." (v 17). The helmet guards the head, representing the need to guard one's thoughts. A helmet of salvation will guide one's thinking throughout life. Keeping one's thoughts clean and pure is necessary to be truly saved. Paul's armored man carries a shield in one hand: "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (v 16). Paul also suggested that the armored man carried a sword in his other hand: "… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (v 17). There are no weapons more powerful than faith in God and a knowledge of His word as found in the scriptures. Everyone can prepare for battle with evil by obtaining and developing the proper armor and carrying powerful weapons: 1) Truth to safeguard virtue; 2) righteousness to keep conduct right; 3) gospel of peace to guide the course of life and to set proper standards, goals and aims; 4) a goal of salvation or returning to the presence of the Lord to guard our thoughts; 5) faith in God, the most important part; 6) knowledge of God as found in the scriptures and from living prophets. A modern day prophet, the late Gordon B. Hinckley, taught: "We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish" (Stand A Little Taller, p 15). I encourage all of us to become more involved in the political process by educating ourselves about the Constitution and what it means, by gaining information about politicians, by supporting only worthy politicians who will safeguard our freedoms, and by going to the polls to cast votes.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Financial Freedom

Today is Freedom Friday. Are you wearing blue today to show support for our troops? In the New Testament we read, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). A modern-day prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, the late President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught: "We must be wise and frugal and careful and live within our means. Let us live within our means and get rid of debt. Some of it may be necessary. For education, for homes, yes. But for a fancy new car or a boat, no. The way to happiness is to be free, and one of the great freedoms is freedom from debt" (Stand A Little Taller, p 300). This is good counsel for individuals and families. I know that there is great freedom with no debt. I have experienced it and hope to be able to continue to experience it. I wish that our governmental leaders were following this counsel. On the front page of the Anchorage Daily News on Tuesday, November 24, 2009, there was an article by Edmund L. Andrews of the New York Times, entitled "US Government faces a daunting wave of debt payments." The article continued: "With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government's tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year…. In concrete terms, an additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan….. Americans now have to climb out of two deep holes: as debt-loaded consumers, whose personal wealth sank along with housing and stock prices; and as taxpayers, whose government debt has almost doubled in the last two years alone, just as costs tied to benefits for retiring baby boomers are set to explode…. The competing demands could deepen political battle over the size and role of government, the tradeoffs between taxes and spending, the choices between helping older generations and aiding younger ones [death panels?], and the bottom-line questions about who should ultimately shoulder the burden." Andrews quoted William H Gross, managing director of the Pimco Group, the grant bond-management firm: "What a good country or a good squirrel should be doing is stashing away nuts for the winter. The United States is not only not saving nuts, it's eating the ones left over from the last winter." The scriptures, a prophet, a financial manager and the New York Times are all telling us that it is wise to live within our means and to save for bad times. I suggest that we all start "tightening our belts" a little more and learning to live on less money. You may think that you don't have enough money to save any. Start where you can even if it is only a dime here and a quarter there. By saving whatever you can, you will at least have started a good habit. I again encourage you to be storing food and other necessities. I don't want you to panic, but I know from experience that a can of peaches here and a can of corn there can soon become quite a bit of food. Our nation is in big trouble and our leaders are taking us in the wrong direction. It is time that we - the people of the United States - stand a little taller and become leaders going in the correct direction. That direction is less debt and more financial responsibility.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Suppport Our Troops

I have been encouraging you to inform yourselves about what is happening in our country and how things should be happening. A recent Glenn Beck show on the Fox News channel passionately gave a lot of good information about why our leaders should support our troops on foreign soil or bring them home. I encourage you to watch the entire show.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

First Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Who among us has not heard the words, "over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go" (author unknown)? These words are among my earliest memories of Thanksgiving Day. It seems like I have always known them. Thanksgiving Day - sometimes irreverently called "Turkey Day" - is a special day set apart for expressing gratitude for blessings. It is usually a day of praying and feasting with family and friends. Thanksgiving Day in the United States and Canada probably descended from festivals held in England. The first Thanksgiving in America was exactly what the words describe. It was simply an expression of gratitude. It took place on the banks of the James River near where Charles City, Virginia, now stands and was held to commemorate the arrival of 38 English settlers on December 4, 1619. The day of arrival was to be observed yearly. The first Thanksgiving in New England took place in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, less than a year after the settlers landed in America. About half of the settlers died during the first winter at Plymouth. The summer of 1621 brought new hope for the settlers. Governor William Bradford organized a celebration to give thanks to God for the blessings received. The festival was held in early autumn and lasted for three days. The menu included ducks, geese, turkeys, clams, fish, plums, leeks, watercress, and corn bread. The cooking was done over outdoor fires, and large tables were set up for eating. About ninety Indians came to the celebration and brought deer to share. Similar celebrations were held in Plymouth annually, but no particular day was set. The custom of celebrating Thanksgiving Day spread to other New England colonies. There was no regular national Thanksgiving Day for many years even though numerous states had regular Thanksgiving holidays. Numerous presidents tried to promote Thanksgiving Day. George Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789, a day of national thanksgiving. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November 1863 as a "day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father." For seventy-five years the President proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. In 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt - good ole FDR - proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a week earlier. Congress finally passed a law that after 1941 the fourth Thursday in November would be observed as Thanksgiving Day and would be a legal federal holiday. Canada also observes Thanksgiving Day, but the Canadians celebrate on the second Monday in October. The first year that my husband and I drove through Canada we were surprised with all the "Thanksgiving Day" advertisements that we saw. We couldn't understand why there were advertisements almost two months before Thanksgiving. It was only later that I learned that Canada celebrated in a different month. Facts for this post came from an article by Joan R. Gundersen, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, 229-230.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Elections Have Consequences

Last fall Alaskans cast their votes in a very important election to elect a new senator. Democrat Mark Begich was elected to replace Senator Ted Stevens, who had become the senior Republican in the Senate. Senator Stevens lost the election because he was indicted and convicted on charges that were later dropped. I believe that the whole deal was trumped up by Democrats to get Stevens out of the Senate. I am sure that many Alaskans voted for Begich because they thought it would "look bad" if Alaska elected a felon. I didn't like the idea of voting for a felon either, but I voted for Stevens in order to keep the seat Republican. I believe that it is important to keep a balance in our government and was concerned about the Senate having a super majority of Democrats - like we now have. I also assumed that we could force Stevens out of office after the election if need be. The results of that election in Alaska had an effect in the Senate on Saturday night. The Senate voted 60-39 along party lines to bring the health care bill to the floor for debate. The Democrats needed 60 votes, and Begich provided one vote. The Democrats don't seem to care that only 38% of voters favor the health plan. Only 21% of voters strongly favor the plan while 43% of voters strongly oppose the plan. Other figures from the Rasmussen Reports tell us that 16% of Americans believe the bill will lower health care costs while 54% of Americans believe it will raise health care costs. The Democrats in Congress must be trying to please the members of their party because 73% of Democrats favor the bill while 83% of Republicans and 70% of independents oppose the plan. Democrats understand that bringing the bill to the floor for debate puts them in a position to push the bill through until it becomes law. Even though there are still hurdles to jump over to accomplish the Democratic goal, I believe that this bill will be forced upon unwilling Americans and will destroy more of the liberties granted to us by the Constitution. Begich voted for this bill. He talks a good talk about doing what's right for Alaskans - but he votes with his party. If our nation gets stuck with an out-of-control health care bill that enslaves America even more, we can "thank" Begich for the problem. I sent an email to Begich asking him to vote NO. He sent back a long "form letter" email spouting the Democrat lines. I have no hope of his opposing any health bill that comes to a vote. The election in the fall of 2010 will be a very important election. I encourage all of you to inform yourselves about the candidates and their platforms. I hope that you will really listen to their words. [Please remember that Obama's promise of "hope and change" has become "we hope we still have a nation when he gets through changing it."] I encourage you to be registered voters and to go to the polls to cast your vote. America needs an educated and informed electorate. America needs you to be a responsible voter!

Monday, November 23, 2009

William Bradford

William Bradford (1590-1657) was born in England. As a youth he joined the Separatists, a group that left the Church of England. He fled from England with a group of Separatists in search of religious freedom. He later sailed from Holland on the Mayflower to America with other Separatists. This group became known as the Pilgrims. Bradford probably helped to write the Mayflower Compact, which established the governing rules for the Pilgrims. He served as the second governor of Plymouth Colony for more than thirty years. While he was governor, the colony survived droughts, crop failures, and debt. He organized the first Thanksgiving Day in New England. He wrote a book entitled Of Plymouth Plantation, which is the main record of the Pilgrims. After 200 years in manuscript form, it was published in 1856 as History of Plymouth Plantation. The Pilgrims lived for a few years under a program that required them to share the ownership of land, food, and tools. Under a Bradford plan, the land and cattle were divided among individual families in 1623. Personal ownership encouraged the Pilgrims to work harder and to improve their property. (I found this fact to be very interesting because it reinforces my personal belief that people work harder when they have a personal stake in something.) Bradford was also instrumental in paying off the massive debt owed to the English merchants who paid for the Pilgrims' passage to America. Bradford generally kept peace with the local Indians. Facts are from article by James Axtell, World Book Encyclopedia , Vol. 2, pp 255-256.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A More Perfect Union

The second principle in the Preamble of the United States Constitution names the first goal of sound government: Form a more perfect union, meaning to bind the states more strongly together. This principle states that the people of the United States had the Right to live in a nation with unity among the states. I remind you that the Constitutional Convention was held to fix the Articles of Confederation because the leaders of the new nation understood the need for the states to be unified. Historians tell us that there were numerous attempts to bring unity to the Thirteen Colonies over a period of more than one hundred years, but all of the attempts failed until the Constitution was written and ratified. The Constitution was a major achievement for the Founders. Alexander Hamilton stated: "The principle purposes to be answered by union are these - the common defense of the members; the preservation of the public peace, as well against internal convulsions as external attacks; the regulation of commerce with other nations and between the states; the superintendence of our intercourse, political and commercial, with foreign countries" (as quoted by W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America, p 236). The Founders understood that there was great danger if America were divided into thirteen individual governments or several small confederacies. There was also danger if the Thirteen Colonies were united under a loose-knit confederation such as the Articles of Confederation. Individual states or those loosely woven together would be easier to attack and destroy. One reason for this would be the difficulty of raising and supporting armies and navies as was evidenced during the Revolutionary War. Another reason is that different factions might choose to support different foreign nations. For example, the southern states might choose to support France, the middle states choose support Spain, and the northern states choose to support England - and all end up fighting each other. A strong united America would present a more forbidding presence than a weak or disunited America. The Thirteen Colonies could be compared to a family. When the individuals go their separate ways and do their own things, they can be picked off and destroyed one by one. When the family is unified and stands together against all opposition, they are much harder to destroy. As a visual aid for this home evening lesson, gather thirteen items. I suggest pop cycle sticks but pieces of yarn would also work. If you use pop cycle sticks. I suggest that you write the name of one of the Thirteen Colonies on each stick. You could demonstrate how easy it is to break one stick or string compared to how much harder it is to break a bundle of sticks or a rope of string. Thirteen items bound tightly together are much harder to break. To form a more perfect Union was a major goal for the Constitution. The Founders knew that America must show the world that man is capable of self-government. If their great experiment of self-government were to succeed, the states must be unified.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The Apostle Paul wrote, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This message was repeated by the Prophet Joseph Smith when he wrote, "In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all thing" (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21). The late Gordon B. Hinckley, while President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote, "The habit of saying thank you is the mark of an educated man or woman. Express appreciation to everyone who does you a favor or assists you in any way. Thank the Lord for His goodness to you. Thank the Almighty for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who has done for you what none other in all this world could do. Thank Him for His great example, for His tremendous teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help. Thank Him for His marvelous atonement. Confess His hand in all things" (Stand A Little Taller, p 338). An attitude of gratitude can make a great difference in our lives. We can choose to focus on the abundance of blessings that are ours - love, health, family, friends, freedom, the ability to work, the beauties of nature - rather than what is missing in our lives. What we focus on will determine whether we find joy in living or disillusionment. Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught, "Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings" (Ensign, Nov. 2009, p 87). As part of your Thanksgiving celebration this year, please take the time to write down as many of your blessings as you can remember.. I think that you will be surprised by the abundance in your life. I suggest that you also try to offer at least one prayer this week simply expressing gratitude to Heavenly Father for all that He gives to you. I remember a time when my youngest daughter wanted me to buy something for her. I don't remember how old she was or even what the item was, but I remember that she kept coming back time after time over a period of several days to tell me "thank you." There was no doubt in my mind that she really appreciated what I had given to her. I am positive that Heavenly Father also appreciates hearing "thank you" for the many blessings that He bestows on us, especially when we sincerely return to thank him again. We are told that the lack of gratitude is one of the worst sins of mankind. Surely, showing gratitude to God and to those around us is very important.

Friday, November 20, 2009


There are numerous places in the scriptures that tell us about the importance of being happy. Here are just a couple of examples: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones" (Proverbs 17:22). "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance (Proverbs 15:13). A latter-day prophet also taught the importance of looking on the bright side of things. Gordon B. Hinckley, the late President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints counseled, "In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured" (Stand A Little Taller, p 263). He also stated, "We need a little humor in our lives. We better take seriously that which should be taken seriously, but at the same time we can bring in a touch of humor now and again. If the time ever comes when we don't smile at ourselves, it will be a sad time" (p 342). I was reminded a few days ago that a good laugh helps to keep our emotions on a more healthy level. I was in no way feeling bad or sad or even glad - just about average - when I found some really funny videos that boosted my emotions up a few levels. Check this one out. I really enjoyed watching them because they were so funny. Then I found this one. By the time I finished watching it I was laughing so hard that I was almost in tears; however I noticed a new spring in my step for the remainder of the day and evening. I hope that you enjoy the two videos that I have included. Sometimes we have to laugh at problems in order to keep from crying about them. Children especially have a talent for making messes that put great strains on their parents' emotions. Following the birth of my oldest son - my third child in three years - my two older daughters sort of went on a rampage. They took the diaper crèam and "painted" the dresser with it. They "helped" me by pulling all of my newly sprouted carrots. They pulled all the leaves off my house plant. I don't remember my reaction at the "paint" job or the carrots, but I do remember crying at the leaves. My tears put a stop to the rampage, but now I realize that some humor might have stopped it earlier. I have heard about and watched some of the escapades of my grandchildren. One of my daughters called several times to report that her little toddler had "painted" the bathroom while trying to change her own messy diaper. One of the funniest things I've seen was my oldest son's face when his own daughter flung her messy diaper in his lap. If we can laugh at such times instead of crying or being angry, it will strengthen relationships instead of damaging them. I encourage all of us to develop the ability to use laughter to defuse difficult circumstances. We can all make life more enjoyable by adding a touch of humor!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


This is Freedom Friday. Are you wearing blue today? I've been thinking a lot lately about entitlement and have come to the following conclusion: entitlement mentality encourages dependence on others and thus diminishes freedom and initiative. To be truly free, one must stand independent and have the full opportunity to exercise agency.

I believe that our personal freedom is defined by the degree to which we are dependent of others. I also believe that government entitlement programs are enslaving Americans. When one relies on someone else to provide one's wants and needs, one loses the ability and willingness to do for one's self.

I read an interesting book a couple of years ago that was very interesting to me. One chapter in the book still haunts me and definitely affects many of my decisions. The book is entitled The Millionaire Next Door. It was written by Thomas J. Stanley, PhD and William D. Danko, PhD. The chapter that I remember best was about the ways that well-meaning parents use "entitlement programs" with their children. The authors used many different examples to demonstrate their theory that parents can cause their children to become less productive. I don't have the book so I can't use any of their actual examples, but I will try to provide one from memory.

A couple had two daughters. One of the daughters did well in school and carved out for herself a well-paying career. She became a very successful businesswoman. The other daughter married and had several children. The husband was unable to provide the level of living that this couple desired or that her parents thought they should have. Her parents "felt sorry" for them and decided to "help" them by giving them money to meet their "needs." The other sister didn't "need" any help so they didn't give any to her. In spite of help from the parents, the gap between the two sisters continued to grow. The "have" sister continued to build her wealth while the "have not" sister grew more and more needy and dependent on the parents.

The authors also gave many examples of how parents who distributed money evenly among their children also enslaved their children. For example, the parents decided to "spend down their wealth" by giving each of their children $10,000 every year. After a year or more of receiving this extra money, the children began to add this amount to their budgets and to plan on receiving the money. This raised their standard of living beyond what they could actually afford. This dependence on money from the parents enslaved the children.

Another problem arose from the parents distributing their wealth: Some parents thought they should have some control over the financial decisions made by their children simply because they were providing money to them.

Through reading this book, I discovered that there is a very fine line between giving children assistance so they can become stronger and more capable and enslaving their children. I am still working on the answer to this question: How can responsible parents help their children without also hurting them?

This brings us back to government entitlement programs. How can the government help their truly needy citizens without enslaving millions of people? How many millions of people failed to save for retirement simply because they thought the government was saving for them through the Social Security program? How many people live from paycheck to paycheck instead of developing an emergency fund because they plan to use unemployment insurance to meet financial needs in case they lose their jobs? How many millions of people want the government to provide health insurance for them so they don't have to spend their own money buying insurance?

I remember being shocked at a news item that came out in the media during the Katrina disaster. Many of the residents of New Orleans stayed in the city because they were waiting for their government checks to arrive in the mail in order to have enough money to leave town. They could have lost their lives because they were so dependent on someone else!  An "entitlement mentality" leads to dependence on others and enslavement. This condition makes it easier to just go along with the program rather than to fight the establishment.

We might be helped by remembering the following statement that is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: "That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved." Government handouts kill the initiative to work in order to provide for one's needs; dependence on others also kills the desire to be independent.

Socialist programs turn productive citizens into lazy slobs: The people who are willing to work aren't motivated to work just to give their money to other people, and the people who won't work realize that they aren't required to work in order to have their needs met. This fact alone means that everyone becomes poor simply because no one is working.

Those who expect the government to take care of them should understand that the government doesn't have any money except what it collects from its citizens in taxes. If no one is working, there are no taxes being collected. Thus the government doesn't have any money to give away. Our nation will be in really big trouble when the government doesn't have any money to pay the $12 trillion national debt.

We can do our part to help the nation by being independent and having our own financial freedom. That should be the personal goal of every American. Independence means learning to work hard, living conservatively, and being self-reliant. This means living within one's means, avoiding debt, and establishing our own emergency fund. On this Freedom Friday, I encourage all of you to discover if you have an "entitlement mentality." If you do, you must understand that this type of thinking will drag you down rather than raise you up. Please, please, please - choose to be independent!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Who are the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the Separatists and how are they connected? The Pilgrims were the people who came from England to settle in New England. The first Pilgrims settled in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. There were many Separatists among the early Pilgrims. The Separatists were once part of the English Protestants known as Puritans. The Puritans were a group within the Church of England who tried to continue the changes in the church which started with the Protestant reformation. They were called Puritans by those who opposed them because they were trying to "purify" the church. There were many famous names among the Puritans, including John Wycliffe, John Calvin, William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, and Oliver Cromwell. In the late 1500s some Puritans decided that they could not reform the church from within. They left - or separated from - the Church of England and set up their own congregations. They were called Separatists. A group of Separatists left England to settle in Holland. After living in Holland for several years, some Separatists feared that their children were becoming more Dutch than English. In addition to this fear, there were additional problems. They could not own land in Holland because they were foreigners. War was starting in Europe, and America looked good to them. They offered to start an English colony in America and found some merchants willing to finance their plans. They sailed to America in September 1620 on the Mayflower. The group on the ship included 41 separatists and 61 other English people. They arrived in America on November 21, 1620, and chose Plymouth as the place for their colony. "The term Pilgrim may have come from William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth Colony. Bradford wrote that `they knew they were pilgrims' when they left Holland.'" (Joan R. Gundersen, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, pp 463-464). Other Puritans gave up on the idea of reforming the Church of England and left for America in the 1600's. Their settlements were in Virginia and along the New England coast, particularly in Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay Colony. We can understand from this brief history that some Puritans became Separatists and some Separatists later became the Pilgrims and that they were all Puritan at heart. The Puritans' beliefs in the Bible continued to guide their lives in America. These ideals shaped religion, social life, and government in America. Their strong belief in education led to the founding of Harvard and Yale. Their strong belief in hard work may have led to the rise of the free enterprise system (John F. Wilson, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, pp.902-911). Religious denominations that developed from Puritan beliefs include Congregationalism, Unitarianism, Methodism, and Calvinism. Puritans of the 1500's and 1600's had a great effect on the development of our nation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blue Fridays

I am always watching for actions that I - as an average citizen - can take to help the United States become stronger and better. I attend the public meetings of the Anchorage Assembly, especially those concerning the 2010 budget. I write letters to the editor of the Anchorage Daily News. I telephone, e-mail and send snail-mail letters to the members of Congress that are supposed to be representing Alaska. I spend time everyday on this blog. I am a member of that group of citizens in the United States that was once called the "silent majority." This group is no longer silent as evidenced by the crowds at the town halls. We are making our voices heard. We are voicing our love for America, Family and God in ever increasing numbers and ways. Some members of the formerly silent majority are attempting to start a movement of dignity and respect that shows support for the men and women who defend America. They ask that those who support our troops wear blue on each and every Friday, beginning this week. We can make sure that every airman, marine, sailor and soldier know that the vast majority of Americans love and support them and pray for their safety and success. We can do this by "painting" the United States blue every Friday. I think that it is very fitting to establish Freedom Friday as a day to honor our Defenders because they are ones who protect our freedoms. I will be wearing blue on Fridays. Will you join me?

Monday, November 16, 2009

President James K. Polk

           James K. Polk, the eleventh President of the United States, was born on a farm near Pineville, North Carolina, on November 2, 1795, the first of ten children. The Polk family emigrated to America from Ireland. The family name was originally Pollock or Polock. For awhile it was pronounced Poll'k and was eventually shortened to Polk.

           When Polk was about eleven years old, the family moved to the Duck River Valley in the central part of Tennessee where his father became wealthy by combining farming and surveying with land speculation. Because Polk was small and sickly, he was spared from doing many of the farm chores. He helped his father survey, manage the large farms, and clerked in a general store.

           In 1818 Polk graduated at the top of his class at the University of North Carolina. He returned to Tennessee to practice law. There he met Andrew Jackson and became interested in local politics. While still practicing law in 1821, he became chief clerk of the Tennessee Senate. A couple of years later he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives. There he worked to reduce taxes and improve the school system. Polk supported Andrew Jackson's ("Old Hickory") presidential ambitions. Jackson and Polk became so close that Polk became known as "Young Hickory."

           Polk met and courted Sarah Childress, the daughter of a well-to-do country merchant. She looked Spanish because of her black hair, dark eyes, and dark complexion. They were married on New Year's Day in 1824 in a large country wedding. They had no children.

          Polk served seven consecutive terms in the United States of Representatives. He was bitterly opposed to the policies of John Quincy Adams who had defeated Andrew Jackson in 1824. During Jackson's presidency, Polk became Speaker of the House in 1835 and served for three years. He worked hard and was absent only once in fourteen years. No other Speaker ever became President. Under the persuasion of Jackson, Polk ran for the governor of Tennessee and won the election in 1839. He served only one term as governor, being defeated in both 1841 and 1843.

         Polk became the Democratic candidate for President as a compromise when delegates could not agree on either former President Martin Van Buren or his rival Lewis Cass. When he accepted the nomination for President in 1844, he declared that he would not run for reelection, being the first President to not seek a second term. Polk was not well known nationally, but he was strong about the annexation of Texas. He won the election against Henry Clay by 40,000 votes.

         Polk had four primary goals for his administration: 1) reduce the tariff, 2) reestablish an independent treasury, 3) settle the Oregon boundary dispute with Great Britain, and 4) acquire California. He achieved all these objectives. He carried out every item of his political agenda. Of all the United States Presidents, only George Washington had such a record of success.

         During the administration of Polk, the United States achieved its greatest growth in territory. While Polk was President, the United States flag was raised over most of the area now forming nine Western states, and Iowa, Wisconsin, and Texas entered the Union. Most of this territory was won as a result of winning the Mexican War.

         While in the White House, Mrs. Polk became the first wife of a President to serve as secretary to her husband. She read over and approved his writings and clipped news articles that she thought he should see. The Polks did not attend the theater or horse races because of Mrs. Polk's strict Moravian beliefs. Dancing, card playing, and alcoholic drinks were banned from the White House as were visitors who came on the Sabbath. The Polks were regulars at the First Presbyterian Church even though he did not join until just before he died.

          Polk apparently was not a friendly guy, being described as "cold, silent, narrow, and ungenerous." Apparently few people regretted that he didn't seek a second term. The "Polk Doctrine" was described as "our settled policy, that no further European colony or dominion shall with our consent, be planted or established on any part of the North American continent." He extended the doctrine to cover European interference in the relationships between the American countries.

          Polk died of cholera on June 15, 1849, just a few months after leaving office.

         The World of President Polk . Edgar Allen Poe published his volume of poetry, The Raven and Other Poems, in 1845. . American composer Stephen Foster wrote many songs such as "Oh! Susanna" and "Swanee River" that became popular in the mid-1840's. . Brigham Young led the Mormon Pioneers to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847 where they founded the State of Deseret (now Utah). . The nation's first gold rush was triggered when gold was discovered in California in 1848. . Clipper ships were first launched during the mid-1840's. . A million people immigrated to the United States in the mid-1840's due to a potato famine in Ireland. . the first Woman's Rights Convention was held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, where women's rights in divorce, property control, and voting were discussed. . The Communist Manifesto was issued in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Facts for this post came from an article by Henry Steele Commager in World Book EncyclopediaP, Vol. 15, pp 640-644.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

We the People

The first principle contained in the Preamble to the United States Constitution is that the Constitution is ordained and established by "We the People." This principle tells us that the people of the United States have the Right to govern themselves. The Founders of this nation were inspired to know that the people hold the power. They understood that the new Constitution would only work in a nation that was good and moral. They knew that the people must be taught virtuous principles and then live them. Abraham Lincoln closed his great address at Gettysburg with the words "that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, was once asked how he governed so many people. He answered that he taught them correct principles and then the people governed themselves The phrase "We the People" caused one of the disagreements that existed between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists and that threatened ratification of the Constitution. The Anti-Federalists thought it should be "we the states" because they thought the states should have the power. We are fortunate indeed that the Federalists won this argument. An ancient and inspired king once told his people that rulers do not always have the good of the people in mind and that it is very difficult to get rid of a bad ruler. He suggested that judges be elected by the voice of the people in order that the people could be judged by the law. This wise king said, "Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore, this shall ye observe and make it your law - to do your business by the voice of the people" (Mosiah 29:26). Government should be controlled by the people because the people, when taught correctly about their rights, will instinctively want to preserve those rights and freedoms. It is my hope and my prayer that We the People of these United States will understand that we have the responsibility to control the government and thus our freedoms. For visuals in presenting this principle in your family home evening, go to this site or this one or this one or this one.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Virtue and Morality

In order for a nation to survive under a system of self-government, commonly called republicanism, the citizens must be virtuous and morally strong. The Founders of this nation understood that this is a true principle and that the Constitution could not be maintained without virtue and morality. Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters" (Smyth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin, 9:569). George Washington praised the American Constitution but explained that it would only last "so long as there shall remain any virtue in the body of the people" (Saul K. Padover, ed., The Washington Papers, Harper & Brothers, NY, 1955, p 244). James Madison said, "Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical [imaginary, fantastic, unreal, absurd] idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men; so that we do not depend upon their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them" (Quoted in Jonathan Elliott, ed., The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, 5 vols., JB Lippincott Company). Samuel Adams wrote the following in a letter to Richard Henry Lee: "I thank God that I have lived to see my country independent and free. She may long enjoy her independence and freedom if she will. It depends on her virtue" (Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, 3:175). John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other" (Quoted in John R. Howe, Jr., The Changing Political Thought of John Adams, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1966, p 189). A prophet also spoke about the importance of virtue and morality in nations. Gordon B. Hinckley, late President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote: "The violation of moral virtues in this age, as in any age, brings only regret, sorrow, loss of self-respect, and in many cases, tragedy" and will "destroy not only individuals but also the nations" where virtues are missing. "The challenge to recognize evil and oppose it is one that every moral, virtuous person must accept" (Standing for Something, pp 32-33, 39). So, what is virtue and morality? Virtue has been defined as "general moral excellence; right action and thinking; goodness or morality; chastity" (New World Dictionary of the American Language, 2d College Ed., p 1587). Morality has been defined as "moral quality or character; rightness or wrongness, as of an action; right conduct; virtue in sexual conduct" (New World Dictionary, p 925). It is the responsibility of each individual to live a virtuous and moral life. We must become more moral in our hearts, minds and lives. The teaching of virtue and morality begins in the home with parents teaching their children by word and example. A good parental example encourages children to learn the same. President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that "most people will not commit desperate acts if they have been taught that dignity, honesty and integrity are more important than revenge or rage; if they understand that respect and kindness ultimately give one a better chance at success" ("Family Values in a Violet Society," Deseret News, Jan. 16, 1994, A12, as quoted in "Finding Peace," Ensign, Mar. 2004, 4). As we teach virtue and moral principles to our children, our family will become stronger. As more and more families become virtuous and morally strong, our communities and nation will grow stronger and our Constitution will become more secure. The idea for this post as well as the quotes from Founders are from The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Scousen, pp 41-46.

Friday, November 13, 2009


A basic welfare principle is that each individual is responsible to become self-reliant (see my post of October 6, 2009). One way to become self-reliant is to practice preparedness. Preparedness means the condition of being prepared. About two weeks ago I wrote a post entitled "Just In Case" about 72-hour kits. Since then I have been updating my own 72-hour kit and hope that you are also updating yours. Today I would like to direct your attention to a blog called Scribbit and the blog post entitled "Are You Prepared for An Emergency" on Monday, November 2, 2009. This post was full of details on being prepared. The author and her family have survived a couple of economic crises by practicing preparedness. She lists in detail many of the items that are important in being prepared. I encourage you to go to this blog for help in becoming better prepared. Remember, the prepared individual and families bring strength to communities and nations.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remember Our Veterans

As I was pondering what I could write for Freedom Friday this week, I read again some opinion articles printed in the Anchorage Daily News on Veterans Day, 11 November 2009. I was excited to see more than an entire page devoted to remembering our veterans. I was especially touched by the articles written by actual veterans and/or current military members. These articles enabled me to understand better a few more of the sacrifices made by those who serve in our military. One of our local writers, Tim Benintendi, a Vietnam veteran, explained that "when military personnel are sworn in, their constitutional rights are suspended and they submit to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Among other things, the UCMJ restricts one's freedom of movement, right to a civilian jury trial, freedom of speech and other constitutional guarantees…. Ironically, those charged with defending our Constitution are essentially removed from its protections." He explained that the military rules are in place to "instill and maintain discipline." Lt. Col. Rob Waldman, a former fighter pilot and veteran with 65 combat missions in Iraq and Serbia, wrote, "… there is no greater advocate for peace than a soldier. And while we may not agree 100 percent with the decisions our country makes, our commitment and our responsibility to our country should always take precedence over our personal opinions and feelings. "When we take an oath to `support and defend the Constitution of the United States,' we should honor it. It's about commitment, integrity, courage and sacrifice and I am a firm believer that it takes character and discipline to uphold these patriotic values." Leo Thorsness (Col., USAF, Ret.), a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, described his experience as a POW: "… we were shot down by a MiG, and became POWs for six years. "Years of torture, loneliness, malnourishment and bad medicine were to follow. We'd spend the days tapping messages to one another between prison walls - sometimes a poem or a prayer - and longing for family and country back home." Each of these three veterans made suggestions of ways to remember, honor, and reverence those who are in the ongoing battle to preserve our liberty. Lt. Col. Waldman asked several questions and then answered them. 1) "How can we pay tribute to our veterans and to those currently serving…? We do it by committing ourselves to service in our everyday lives and by creating an environment in our country that embraces the values and principles that our soldiers fight to protect." 2) "Are you worth fighting for? … The best way we can thank our veterans is to make them proud of us through our own personal commitment, courage and compassion. We need to be warriors for freedom and do the right thing by living with honor." Mr. Thorsness suggested that we develop the habit of thanking veterans. "As a veteran, it is surprising, humbling and yet pleasing when strangers say `thank you' even now, 36 years after my own service in Vietnam…. "When veterans hear `thank you,' it feels like our mission was accomplished. It helps remind me - and surely other veterans - that even the most painful missions were worthwhile challenges. Every `thank you' …is like the joy of a promise kept and a goal achieved…. All service members still need support and a `thank you' - before, during and after the mission is accomplished." Mr. Benintendi suggested that we visit our local veterans memorial "to reflect on these sacrifices" made by veterans. He also suggested that we seek out veterans who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam as well as those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to discuss their experiences. Veterans Day is a special day each year when we formally honor all those who have given service, sacrifice and loss to protect our freedoms. It is right and good that we have a special day to honor them; nevertheless, we should willingly show them our gratitude every day of the year. We must always remember that it is the members of the military - those willing to fight and make sacrifices - are the ones who are safeguarding our freedoms. We must never forget that the experiences of war include many horrors. I am positive that it is a very difficult thing to be in a place where people are trying to kill you or being in a position where it is kill or be killed. There are also horrors involved in being injured or in watching fellow soldiers being killed or injured. I assume that there are other horrors that I cannot even imagine. I am very sorry that we have war because I believe that peace would be much more enjoyable. We do not currently have the option to not have war because there are crazy people in the world who want to kill all Americans. There are many attempts to do this, not the least of which took place recently at Fort Hood. My condolences and prayers go out to all those affected by all the terrorist attacks, especially this most recent one. I send a huge "Thank you" to all those who stand between our enemies and our citizens. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Berlin Wall

Germans and many other people are celebrating this week! It is now twenty years since November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall - sometimes known as the Iron Curtain - came down. In 1945, at the end of World War II, victorious Allies took over Berlin and divided the city into four sectors. Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States each occupied one sector. Germany was also divided into four zones controlled by the same countries. Berlin is located deep within the area occupied by the Soviets, but the Allies expected to be granted access to the city. In June 1948 the Soviet Union blocked all rail, water, and highway routes through the Soviet territory to the Western sectors. The Soviets hoped the blockade would drive the Western troops out of Berlin, but the Western nations had other ideas. They organized a project called the Berlin airlift to bring the needed supplies to West Berliners. At the height of this project aircraft were landing into West Berlin at the rate of one airplane every couple of minutes. The Soviets ended the blockade in May 1949, but the airlift continued until the following September. Starting sometime toward the end of 1948, East and West Berlin had separate governments, police forces, currency and utility systems. In 1949, the Britain, France, and United States zones were combined into West Germany, and the Soviet zone became East Germany. Roads between East Berlin and West Berlin were unrestricted during the 1950s, allowing thousands of East Germans to flee Communism. By 1961 more than a thousand East Germans were fleeing to West Berlin every day. On August 13, 1961, a wall was begun to divide the two sections of Berlin. The wall was made of concrete slabs 12 to 15 feet tall with pipes, barbed wire, and other obstacles on top of the wall. The wall was about 26 miles long in the Berlin area with a total length of the walls and other barriers about 110 miles long. The wall stood for 28 years, two months, and 27 days. During that time, many East Germans tried to escape to West Berlin. Some of them were successful, but somewhere between 170 and 753 people lost their lives trying to break through this border. Most of them were shot by the East German border guards, but some were blown apart by mines and automatic guns. Others drowned while trying to escape by a sea route. Those escapees caught alive were jailed. There were attempts to break the Communist strangle hold: Hungarians in 1956, the Czechs in 1968, and the Polish shipyards in 1980. In 1989, many East Germans fled to West Germany through Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Finally, on November 9, 1989, the East German government ended all travel and immigration restrictions on their people. Americans like to think that the fall of the Berlin Wall came about because Ronald Reagan made a speech on June 12, 1987 while standing at the Brandenburg Gate: "We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" [] Pressure from Western countries was one reason the Communists backed down, but there are also other reasons given for the fall of Communism. I watched a program on television last evening which credited the music from the Beatles - brought into Russia illegally and wildly popular with the young people - with destroying the control of the Communists. Russians say it happened because of perestroika - restructuring of the Soviet society, especially its economic policy. Lech Walesa, who led the revolution for Polish freedom, said that the communists were beaten back because the masses of people organized and demanded change. I assume that it was a combination of all these reasons. Life under Communism was very difficult. One visitor to Russia wrote in 1982, "If it is hard to describe the economic wasteland of Russia to someone who hasn't been there, it is even harder to describe what their totalitarian system has done to the human spirit…. It isn't just the drabness and grayness one sees everywhere. Or the rudeness and surliness one encounters so often. It's that you virtually never see people laughing, smiling, or just seeming to enjoy themselves. People seem to walk slightly bent over, their eyes always averting a stranger. There is an overwhelming sense of oppression and depression." Allen Hall retells the experience of Alfred and Renate Kostbade, with their two teenagers, escaping from East Germany on October 13, 1988. They chose to make their escape in a small rubber boat in the dark and then spent twelve hours on the Baltic Sea before arriving in West Germany. The fact remains that human beings want to be free, and many will risk everything including life itself to obtain freedom. As I've said before, freedom is not free! We must not take our liberty for granted. If we lose our freedom, it will be very difficult to regain it. We must protect our freedom, not only for ourselves but because maintaining our freedom gives courage and hope to freedom-lovers all over the world. Many of the facts for this post came from articles written by either Lutz Holzner or Melvin Croan, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p 265-267.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day is a legal federal holiday in the United States and is a day set apart to honor the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Services. Veteran's Day is always celebrated on November 11 no matter what day of the week that happens to be - a departure from all the holidays moved to Monday to make three-day weekends. November 11 is celebrated by several countries according to Sharron G. Uhler (World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 20, p 368). The United Kingdom celebrates it as Armistice Day, not as a legal holiday but as a day to remember the armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. Canada celebrates November 11 with a legal holiday called Remembrance Day. Parades, speeches, and special services at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery are included in the Veteran's Day celebrations. In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day to help Americans remember the horrors of war. A law in 1938 made the day a federal holiday. Congress changed the holiday's name in 1954 to honor all United States veterans. Irving Berlin's popular American patriotic song "God Bless America" was performed for the first time on Armistice Day 1938 according to Katherine K. Preston (World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, p 244). It was written in 1918 but remained unknown until singer Kate Smith asked Berlin for a patriotic song to perform on Armistice Day. "God Bless America" became one of the most popular songs of 1938. Berlin donated his earnings from the song to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. Last summer while traveling home to Alaska, I spent some time in an airport. I am a "people watcher" and love to watch people because I find them so fascinating. I noticed an elderly man sitting near me who was wearing a baseball cap with the words "World War II Vet" on it. When I simply said, "Thank you for your service to our country," he beamed and acted as though being thanked was a rare experience. Be sure to thank our veterans and current service men and women for their service to our nation. I know that it means a lot to all of them to know that we recognize and appreciate their sacrifices. I want to take this opportunity to belt out a huge THANK YOU to all the veterans for your past services and sacrifices and to all the men and women in the Armed Services who are on the front lines to protect our freedoms. I want to thank their families as well for the many sacrifices made to support our protectors. THANK YOU!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Grover Cleveland

        I chose to highlight Grover Cleveland today for two reasons: 1) he shares a birthday with one of my grandsons and 2) he tried to abide by the Constitution. Stephen Grover Cleveland was born on March 18, 1837, in Caldwell, New Jersey. While still a boy, he dropped his first name. He was the fifth child in a family of five boys and five girls. His father was a minister and a relative of Moses Cleveland, the founder of Cleveland, Ohio. The family had little money, and Grover went to work as a store clerk at age 14. His father died when he was 16. When Grover was 17 he started work as a law clerk and was admitted to the bar about 5 years later in 1859.

       Grover provided support for his mother and the other children during the Civil War. He paid a substitute to take his place in the army, a common and legal practice that later gave his political enemies ammunition to use against him. Cleveland served as sheriff (1870), mayor of Buffalo, New York (1881), and governor of New York (1882) before being elected as the 22nd President of the United States in 1884. He was the only President to serve two terms but not consecutive ones. After his first term in office, he was defeated by Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but he defeated Harrison in 1892 to become the 24th President. He did not seek a third term.

       Cleveland was the first Democratic President elected after the Civil War, indicating that the country returned to a two-party system. His victory came as a protest against the waste and corruption of Republican administrations after the war. He was a hard-working president who didn't delegate responsibility well, but his honesty and common sense helped restore confidence in the government.

       Cleveland had the courage to say "no" and said it often, which made him unpopular in his time but more respected in a historical sense. An example of his ability to say no happened in 1887 when Congress passed a bill to help Texas farmers who were suffering through a great drought. He said, "I feel obliged to withhold my approval of the plan… to indulge a benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of public funds for that purpose. I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fell-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood" (The Writings and Speeches of Grover Cleveland, George Frederick Parker, 450, added.) 

        Cleveland vetoed three times more bills than all his predecessors combined. He was right in this instance because the "fellow-citizens" donated ten times more money to the farmers than the President vetoed. 

        Cleveland was a big, good-natured man whom his family called "Uncle Jumbo." He was the only President to be married in the White House when he married Frances Folsom in June 1886. He was 49, and his bride was 21 - the youngest First Lady in the nation's history. He apparently had been waiting for her to grow up because she had been his ward since her father died in 1875. The Clevelands had five children: Ruth, Esther, Marion, Richard, and Francis. Esther Cleveland was the first and only child of a President to be born in the White House.

        National highlights from the time of President Cleveland are:  1) The American Federation of Labor was founded in 1886. 2) The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886 by President Cleveland and was a gift to the United States from France.  3) The Interstate Commerce Act, approved by Congress in 1887, was the first federal law to regulate railroads and other forms of transportation in the United States.  4) The US Department of Agriculture became a Cabinet-level agency in 1889.  5) The Pullman strike, a violent labor dispute in Chicago in 1894, was ended when President Cleveland sent government troops.  6) The Red Badge of Courage, a classic novel by Stephen Crane, was published in 1895.  7) Henry Ford's first automobile appeared in Detroit in 1896, three years after the nation's first successful gasoline-powered car was built by the Duryea brothers.

        World highlights from the time of President Cleveland:  1) The Canadian Pacific Railway was finished in 1885 and was the first to cross Canada.  2) Queen Victoria of Great Britain celebrated her fiftieth year as queen in 1887.  3) New Zealand granted voting rights to women in 1893, becoming the first nation to give women the complete right to vote.  4) X-rays were discovered in 1895 by a German physicist named Wilhelm K. Roertgen.  5) A practical wireless telegraph system was produced in 1895 by an Italian inventor named Guglielmo Marconi.  6) Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1896 became the first French-Canadian prime minister of Canada.

 Facts for this post came from an article by Oscar Handlin in World Book Enclyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp 668-673.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Preamble to US Constitution

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." The Preamble of the United States Constitution has an interesting history. During the process of writing the Constitution, the Committee on Detail wrote a preamble, one which was not accepted by the Committee on Style. The chairman of this latter committee was Gouvernaur Morris, who decided to write his own Preamble. The Founders settled on six basic goals for the new form of government: Union, Justice, Tranquility, Defense, Welfare, and Liberty. Morris felt that these six principles should be included in the Preamble. He wanted to make sure that everyone knew the most important information in the Constitution, just in case they failed to read the rest of the Constitution. Morris wrote the Preamble in such a way that it has since been admired by many people, including political scientists, because it included the most important items and nothing extra. The Preamble written by Morris has been described as first-class, inspired, and even poetic. The people proved Morris to be wrong in his assumption that they would not read the Constitution. There were thousands of people who read the entire text because they were so concerned about the new form of government. It is important that we also know what is in the Constitution; therefore, I am embarking on a study of the Constitution for the details. Please join me in this study. Monday is now considered Constitution Monday. I hope you will use my messages as ideas for your own family teaching moments. We can begin by memorizing the Preamble in its entirety. This is an excellent activity for family home evening tonight!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why Marriage Is Important

On September 23, 1995, a Proclamation to the World was made concerning marriage and families. The Proclamation begins with: "We the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children…."

 The Proclamation continues: "The First commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife…."

The Proclamation further states: "… By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children…."

This Proclamation states very clearly how Heavenly Father feels about marriage and family. I looked for other evidence for the importance of marriage in building strong families, communities and nations. I found a number of sources that explained clearly why marriage is good for everyone. One source listed a number of "legal and practical ways" that marriage "changes your life." Some of those benefits are as follows: "filing joint income tax forms," "family partnerships," "inheriting a share of your spouse's estate," "receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse," "receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses," "receiving veterans and military benefits for spouses," "obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer," "visiting spouse in a hospital intensive care unit," "making medical decisions for your spouse" if needed, and "making burial or other final arrangements." This source lists other legal and practical reasons for marriage.

The New York Times printed some results from a study on marriage . "A body of demographic research presented at the Conference of the Population Association of America today indicates that marriage offers dramatic emotional, financial and even health benefits over the single life and cohabitation." According to Linda Waite, the association's president, commitment increases with marriage, and this "enhanced commitment" "increases all levels of the support that individuals bring to their relationship and lives." Waite argued that "the married enjoy better health, more money, and more satisfying sex."

In an article written by Rebecca Dalmas entitled "Why Marriage?" the author wrote: "Yet while marriage is a social state and lifestyle, and it is based on a philosophy of well being, it is also based on innate biological forces." The author states, "Like any law, the institution of marriage does two things: it provides consequences and it teaches. Marriage, as strange as it sounds, makes divorce possible; or in other words, marriage improves the enforcement of parental rights and responsibilities when a couple parts. Secondly, but just as essentially, it teaches the importance of commitment before sex…." "…Most importantly, marriage helps us manage our drives and their consequences toward the best possible outcome."

Another source explained why a "healthy marriage is not just a luxury item, its something we should strive for and expect. Marriage researchers have determined that having a healthy, happy, fulfilling marriage benefits all family members." This source listed marriage statistics from research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Healthy Marriage Institute. These statistics all compare families when the parents have healthy marriages to those with unhealthy ones. In families when parents have healthy marriages, all family members are "healthier" both physically and emotionally. These families tend to be "wealthier" and to enjoy "better relationships" between spouses as well as between parents and children. Members of families when parents have healthy marriages are "less likely" to attempt or commit suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, contract STD's, commit violent crimes, or live in poverty. Men in healthy marriage "live longer," have more "stability in employment", make "higher wages," and have a "more satisfying sexual relationship." Women in healthy marriages have a "more satisfying relationship." They are "less likely to be victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or other violent crimes." Children and youth raised by parents in healthy marriages are "more likely to succeed academically" and "attend college." They are "less likely" to "commit delinquent behaviors," "be a victim of physical or sexual abuse," "be sexually active as teenagers," or "become pregnant as a teenager or impregnate someone." They have decreased "chances of divorcing when they get married." They are more likely to "be open and honest" and to "seek wisdom and understanding from God." Communities with a "higher percentage of couples in healthy marriages" also benefit. They have "higher rates" of "physically" and "emotionally healthy citizens." They have "higher rates of educated citizens" and "home ownership" as well as "higher property values." They have "lower rates" for "domestic violence," "crime statistics," "teenage pregnancy," "juvenile delinquency," and "migrations" and "decreased need for social services."

 I believe that God knew about all the benefits that come from marriage. I believe that He ordained marriage because He wanted all of His children to have the benefits of it. I also believe that we can strengthen the communities we live in and our nation by building strong, healthy, happy families.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Chili Blanco

In my continuing quest to prepare more nutritious meals for my family, I have been meeting with a group of friends for a monthly cooking lesson. We were served the following chili dish a couple of months ago. I fixed this recipe for dinner last night and thought that it was still delicious. I recommend it to one and all. Chili Blanco (White Chili) (SLC Junior League "Always in Season" Servings 12 [This recipe makes enough for three meals for the two of us.] 1 pound dried small white navy beans 2 onions chopped [about 1 1/2 to 2 cups] 1 48 oz can chicken broth 4 cups cooked chicken 1 7 oz can chopped green chilies 6 cloves garlic, minced 4 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground oregano 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste (only if you don't add pepper jack cheese) 1 cup sour cream 3 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese (can use 1 cup pepper jack cheese) Pick and rinse the beans; cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and place in crock pot with chicken broth and half of cooked chicken. Simmer on high 2 hours or until beans are soft. Add the rest of the chicken, green chilies, garlic, oregano, cumin and cayenne. Simmer 30 to 60 minutes longer. Turn off heat and stir in sour cream and cheese until melted. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve with fresh salsa if desired. I made a few changes to the recipe to fit my situation. My crock pot took about four hours to cook the beans on high heat. Make sure that you allow enough time for the beans to cook until soft. I didn't have any ground cumin and simply left it out. I used two cans of canned chicken, which seemed to work very well and gave us plenty of chicken. I knew that we would not eat all the chili in one meal; therefore, I did not add the sour cream and pepper jack cheese to the entire batch but simply added them to our individual bowls of chili.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Freedom Is Not Free

Liberty and Freedom are not free for they come with a high cost. Most American citizens my age and younger have been blessed to live in a land of freedom, prosperity, and safety. Sure, we know people who have served in the Armed Services, gone to war, and even lost their lives, but these are the exceptions. Most of the people we know continue with their lives as if there have been no wars. It is easy to develop the attitude that we deserve the blessings of liberty, that we are owed the opportunities of living in America. We must remember that our freedoms, independence, liberty and opportunities were purchased at a high price. In a 1787 letter to William Stephens Smith, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants" (Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America, 911). In a 1790 letter to the people of South Carolina, George Washington wrote, "The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by the difficulty of its attainment and the worth of characters appreciated by the trial of adversity" (Maxims of George Washington, Schroeder, ed.,16; original The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Fitzpatrick, ed., vol. 3, 67). In a 1765 dissertation, John Adams stated, "Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood" (The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams, Thompson, ed. 28). Our fathers bought our liberty, but our freedoms are preserved and protected by the men and women of the Armed Services. Including Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation has been involved in twelve different wars with the following statistics for the first ten from Robert J. Art, "War," World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 21, 25). US Military Deaths are followed by the US cost of the war. Revolutionary War (1775-1783): 25,324*,$101,100,000; War of 1812 (1812-1815): 2,260, $90,00,000; Mexican War (1846-1848): 13,283, $71,400,000; Civil War (1861-1865): Union Forces: 360,222, $3,183,000,000; Confederate Forces: 260,000*, $2,000,000,000; Spanish-American War (1898): $2,446, 283,200,000; World War I (1914-1918): 116,516, $18,676,000,000; World War II (1939-1945): 405,399, $263,259,000,000; Korean War (1950-1953): 54,246, $67,386,000,000; Vietnam War (1957-1975): 58,000*, $150,000,000,000*; Persian Gulf War (1991): 305, $61,000,000,000; Afghanistan War (2001-Present): 750+, $?; Iraq War (2002-Present): 4,000+, $? These figures do not include any civilian deaths or the health of military members and the marriages and families that have been destroyed by war. Millions of people have given their lives that we may enjoy freedom. Millions more sacrificed other things. Liberty is not free. It comes at a high price. May we always remember those who paid the price and show our appreciation by doing everything we individually and collectively can do to preserve that liberty!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ancient Rome

Is the United States following the same path that the ancient Romans trod? Maybe it is time for another history lesson. Facts for this post came from Erich S. Gruen, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 16, pp 436-449. The story of ancient Rome began on seven wooded hills along the Tiber River in central Italy. The first Romans were shepherds and farmers. The farmers worked their own lands, planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall. They fought in the army during the summer. These Romans sound much like many of the soldiers who fought in the American Revolution. Rome was located about fifteen miles from the sea, but was connected to the sea by the Tiber River. The distance from the sea protected Rome from pirates, and the steepness of the hills gave protection from enemies. Roman rule gradually spread over all the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. The Roman Empire eventually extended as far north as the British Isles and as far east as the Persian Gulf. The Roman Empire had many natural resources, fertile grain fields, rich ore deposits, thick forests, and thriving vineyards and orchards. At its height, the empire had from 50 to 70 million people with about 1 million living in Rome and 5 to 6 million in the rest of Italy. The people of the empire had many different customs and spoke many languages. Some of the conquered nations had cultures older than that of Rome, but people of other nations were introduced to a higher standard of living. Government officials and the upper class spoke Latin and Greek, but most conquered people continued to use their native languages. The people in ancient Rome were divided into various social groups. The most powerful upper class group consisted of members of the Senate and their families. Most Romans belonged to the lower classes and had little social standing. Most of the people were eventually given Roman citizenship, which meant protection under Roman law. There were no public schools. Most children ages 6-11 were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic at home, but some children attended private schools. Most students who received further education were from wealthy families. They studied Latin and Greek grammar and literature as well as mathematics, music and astronomy until age 14. Upper-class Romans who planned a career in law or politics went to higher education to study rhetoric, the art of public speaking and persuasion, and maybe to study philosophy and history. Few women studied rhetoric because women could not be in politics. In the beginning, ancient Rome was ruled by kings, each of which was advised by a Senate. Citizens voted on the decisions of the king and Senate. In 509 B.C., the Roman Republic was established when Roman nobles overthrew the king. The Republic kept many of the features of the earlier system. The Roman Empire came into being when the Republic was destroyed after 20 years of civil war. The empire lasted until the fall of Rome in 476 A.D. Under the Empire emperors had supreme authority. Republican institutions of government continued, but the Emperor nominated consuls and appointed new senators. The citizen assemblies had little power. Even though the Roman Empire consisted of people with many different religions, customs and languages, the empire bound them together under a common system of law and government. This remarkable accomplishment is admired even today. The empire began to crumble partly because it grew too large for Rome to govern all of it. The fall continued when the emperors stopped using the laws to govern and started governing with power and control. I previously understood that Rome fell because of the loss of morals. Could it be that morals go before the Rule of Law? Ancient Rome existed for over 700 years. Its greatest strength came when it operated on a system of laws. Now that the United States Constitution is being slowly destroyed, the Rule of Law in our country is changing to the rule of man. How much longer can the United States exist without the Rule of Law?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rules for Radicals

I finally slogged my way through Rules for Radicals - A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky. He was born in 1909, began organizing communities in the 1930s, and died in 1972. The effects of his evil teachings continue today.

Reading this book was a real chore for me because the author's thinking is so different from mine. I can see better why liberalism has been called a mental illness. One thing that I now understand is that "organizing communities" means to agitate communities until they are so angry that they will follow anyone who shows them a way to be heard.

I want to share Salinsky's rules for power tactics (pp 127-132) from his chapter called "Tactics" in order that you can understand some of the things that are currently happening in our nation and be prepared for more of the same in the future. Salinsky quoted Hannibal as saying: "We will either find a way or make one" and then wrote: "Tactics means doing what you can with what you have" (126).

1. "Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have." 

2. "Never go outside the experience of your people." Going outside a person's experience brings confusion, fear, retreat, and a break down of communication. 

3. "Wherever possible go outside of the experience of the enemy." An example given for this rule was that of General William T. Sherman when he caused a "frenzy" on his march through the South without front lines or rear supply lines, something that was completely foreign to the Southerners. 

4. "Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules." In other words, if people claim to be Christians, make them act like Christians. 

5. "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon." We must not let their ridicule cause us to react. 

6. "A good tactic is one that your people enjoy." The people involved must be having fun. 

7. "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag." In other words, militant interest can be sustained only so long, and it is to our advantage to stretch issues out. We must also make sure that we stay strong for the entire battle. 

8. "Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose." This explains why so many things have been changed in our country in just a few months - the automobile companies, the banks, health care, etc. 

9. "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself." 

10. "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. The pressure produces the reaction, and constant pressure sustains action." 

11. "If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counter side; this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative." 

12. "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. You cannot risk being trapped by the enemy in his sudden agreement with your demand." 

13. "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it…. If an organization permits responsibility to be diffused and distributed in a number of areas, attack becomes impossible." 
Could this be the reason that the Obama Administration has zeroed in on Fox News? 

"The real action is in the enemy's reaction. The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength. Tactics, like organization, like life, require that you move with the action" (136). 

"It should be remembered that you can threaten the enemy and get away with it. You can insult and annoy him, but the one thing that is unforgivable and that is certain to get him to react is to laugh at him. This causes an irrational anger" (137-138). 

It is critical that we develop tough enough skins that we can be ridiculed and made fun of in order to think clearly enough to act instead of react. He described some tactics that he had used to take the enemy out of their experience: feeding a crowd of agitators a bunch of baked beans before taking them to a concert or using a crowd to block restrooms in an airport or other large crowd areas - and then letting the natural functions of the human body cause a crisis. Remember, radicals don't let any crisis go to waste!   "Power is not static; … it must grow or die" (149). 

Rules for Radicals is not an easy book to read if you are an average-thinking, Constitution-loving American citizen. The only people who could understand the need for these kinds of behaviors are those who have a "victim mentality." Please don't be a victim or even a survivor. Be a hero because heroes do the right thing for the right reason!