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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Before You Go

For this Freedom Friday, I want to tell you a story about Dr. Sam Bierstock who is a professional musician and entertainer as well as a physician. Dr. Sam formed a musical group in 1996 called "Dr. Sam and The Managed Care Blues Band." This band uses satire, great music and humor to entertain and has performed in more than forty states and sold many thousands of CDs.

Dr. Sam returned from a cross-country trip and arrived at an airport in Florida at 1:00 A.M. in the summer of 2002. He found his car and arrived at the collection booth. There he wished the attendant a good evening. The elderly attendant gave an angry and resentful reply, "I took two bullets for this country and look what I am doing now!" Dr. Sam drove a few feet while digesting what had just happened. He backed up and said to the attendant, "Sir, I have had a wonderful life in this country, and I want to thank you sincerely for what you did to preserve our way of life in this country." The attendant said nothing in response but began to cry.

Dr. Sam was haunted by his experience and started to think of the members of his family who had served in World War II. "He realized that not only would our entire way of life and system of freedom been destroyed, his parents and grandparents would have been killed, he would never have been born and his children would not exist. The same fate would have been met by virtually all other members of minorities, many religious groups, and the disabled. The personal freedoms that we take so much for granted would have disappeared. `How", he thought, `do you thank someone enough for the existence of your children, and for all of the freedoms and opportunities that we all take so much for granted?' "

Dr. Sam wrote the lyrics to a song called "Before You Go" the very next morning. The words came easily to him because they came from his heart, but he had a difficult time finding the right music. It was not until the summer of 2005 that he was able to find someone to write the music - and that person happened to be a new keyboard player in his band. "Before You Go" was finally recorded.

Dr. Sam was aware that the veterans of World War II were dying at a rate of 1,000 to 2,000 per day, and he wanted this song to reach as many of them as possible before they died. He made the decision to put his recording for free listening on the Internet.

My father-in-law was a veteran of World War II and died before I could send this song to him. Please make sure that every World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam War veteran that you know hears "Before You Go" before their time on this earth is gone.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nuclear Energy

Concerns about the safety of nuclear power production increased greatly after a serious accident took place at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1979. A breakdown of the reactor's cooling system and the destruction of the reactor's core came as a result of mechanical and human failures. A total core meltdown and a possible release of large amounts of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere were prevented by scientists and technicians, and plant cleanup continued in 1980.

An explosion and fire in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Kiev, in Ukraine - then part of the Soviet Union - was the worst nuclear accident in history. The explosion and fire tore open the reactor and released into the atmosphere large amounts of radioactive isotopes. The Chernobyl reactors - unlike most Western reactors - lacked an enclosure to prevent the escapement of radioactive isotopes. Authorities reported that thirty-one people died from radiation sickness or burns. They also reported that more than 200 other people were injured badly. Many people believe that those numbers are much lower than the true ones. The eastern part of what was the Soviet Union was covered with radioactivity, and wind carried it into northern and central Europe.

The accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl caused increased opposition to nuclear power in many countries during the 1980's. The Nuclear Regulatory commission in the United States increased control of nuclear plants. "Many experts believed the safety problems could be solved, and some countries planned to expand their nuclear power facilities. Research continued to develop safer reactors, using graphite as a moderator and layers of ceramics and carbon to enclose the fuel rods. The engineers claim that such a reactor could not melt down.

Information for this post came from an article by Vera Kistiakowsky in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, p 592.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Do Alaskans Really Want Murkowski?

Is Lisa Murkowski even qualified to serve as a United States Senator? She was a mediocre member of the lower house in the Alaska legislature when she was handpicked by her own father in 2002 to become a U.S. Senator. Frank Murkowski was a mediocre U.S. Senator who accomplished very little during the twenty-one years he represented Alaska in Washington, D.C. He was elected to the office of governor but didn't even make it through the next primary election. Meanwhile, he decided to appoint his own daughter to fill his vacated Senate seat. Two years later when she ran in her first statewide election, she barely won, receiving only 48.62% of the vote against Tony Knowles, a liberal Democrat. She was an incumbent Republican senator running for reelection in a Republican state in a Republican year and did not receive even 50% of the vote. A late endorsement by Senator Ted Stevens brought her enough votes to win.

Does Lisa Murkowski represent Alaskans or does she legislate according to her own political ideas. Alaska is a conservative state, but Murkowski is a liberal moderate. Lisa has an American Conservative Union voting record of 68%. In a comparison [] with other Republican senators from similar states, Murkowski has the lowest ACU voting record: Arizona/Kyl 92% Arizona/McCain 96%, Idaho/Crapo 92%, Idaho/Risch 96%, Nevada/Ensign 100%, Utah/Bennett 84%, Utah/Hatch 88%, Wyoming/Barasso 100%, and Wyoming/Ensign 100%. McCain won 59% of the Alaskan vote, and Bush swept all the Rocky Mountain States (including Alaska) except New Mexico in 2000. Out of 319 Republicans in the House and Senate, 308 have more conservative voting records than Murkowski. She is a more liberal RINO than John McCain or Bob Bennett.

Do Alaskans really want a senator who was mentored by Ted Stevens? I don't wish to speak badly of the deceased, but I want to remind Alaskans that Stevens was convicted for corruption and was not declared innocent when the charges were dropped. The charges were dropped because the Department of Justice did something illegal.

Can Alaskans believe Murkowski when she speaks? During the primary election, she said that she would be willing to accept the decision of the voters. She apparently was confident that the voters would choose her. When she conceded the primary election to Joe Miller, she told Alaskans that she would return to Alaska and get on with her life. It turned out that she was unwilling to accept defeat and throw her support to Miller. Her plans to seek re-election with a write-in vote should tell Alaskans that her word is not good.

Does loyalty mean anything to Murkowski? After she lost the primary election to Miller, there was some talk about her moving to the Libertarian Party. Her write-in campaign has pitted the GOP against her and threatens to split the conservative vote. A split could very well give Alaskans another liberal Democratic senator - and Begich is one too many.

Do Alaskans want to be represented by a senator who considers them to be "extremists"? Murkowski recently said that the 55,878 Alaskans who voted for Miller were extremists. I am not an extremist because I believe in fiscal responsibility for our nation as well as states and individuals. I am not an extremist because I live within my income and pay my bills on time and expect my government to do the same. I am not an extremist because I love my country and want it to remain strong.

I believe that Murkowski does not have the good of Alaskans or Americans at heart. It appears that Murkowski is concerned only about keeping the power and prestige of serving in the U.S. Senate. I believe that it is time to elect someone who will represent conservative Alaska and forget about electing liberals and RINOs. I believe that we should give Joe Miller an opportunity to break the liberal hold on our nation and possibly keep America from going bankrupt.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Jimmy Carter

In my opinion, Jimmy Carter was a very weak President, but I will hold my personal feelings about him in check while I attempt to write an impartial review of him. I will never understand how enough American voters could be convinced to elect Carter when they had Gerald R. Ford running in the same election. I knew I wasn't the only one with such feelings and this was confirmed by a recent news article comparing "the Obama White House with the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter."

Carter made a remarkable rise to national fame in the 1976 presidential election. Before he entered politics, Jimmy managed a peanut warehouse and farm owned by his family and served as an official in the U.S. Navy. While serving in the Georgia Senate, Carter won election as governor and served in that office from 1971 to 1975. He was, however, little known elsewhere until "he won 18 primary elections and became the Democratic candidate for President in 1976. He was denied a second term as President when Ronald Reagan, a former governor of California, won the 1980 election.

The United States endured many problems while Carter was President. The country was reeling from the effects of high unemployment and severe inflation at home while at the same time dealing with enormous problems abroad. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the relations between America and the Soviet Union "plunged to their lowest point in several years." Iran held a large group of Americans as hostages after revolutionaries took over the U.S. Embassy in Teheran. The hostages were captured to protest U.S. support for the deposed shah of Iran. Carter didn't handle either of these situations well, but he did win praise for helping to establish diplomatic relations between the United States and China and to bring about a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Carter was calm, reserved, and soft-spoken in his appearance and manner. He was a man of great personal warmth and charm with his friends. He also was an energetic campaigner who was determined to win every fight. He set high standards and demanded hard work - but pushed himself harder than he pushed anyone else.

The man known as Jimmy Carter was officially named James Earl Carter, Jr. Sandy-haired Jimmy was born on October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia; he had two sisters and a brother. When he was 4 years old, his family moved to a wooden clapboard house on a farm in Archery, Georgia. His father was a farmer and businessman, and his mother was a registered nurse. He was interested in business while still a child. At about age five, he sold boiled peanuts on the streets of Plains, earning $1 on weekdays and $5 on Saturdays. He purchased five huge bales of cotton for 5 cents a pound when he was nine years old, stored the cotton for several years, and then sold it at triple the price.

Jimmy attended public school in Plains where he loved reading and received good grades. In later years, a classmate remembered Jimmy as being "the smartest in the class." Jimmy's favorite subjects included history, literature, and music. He played basketball on his high school team. After graduating from high school in 1941, Jimmy entered Georgia Southwestern College, and in 1942 received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, his boyhood dream. He took some mathematics courses at Georgia Institute of Technology to meet requirements for admission to the academy and entered the academy in 1943. He graduated in 1946 with a rank of 59 in a class of 820 after excelling in electronics, gunnery, and naval tactics.

Carter started dating Rosalynn Smith, the best friend of his sister Ruth, in 1945 and married her on July 7, 1946, about a month after graduating from Annapolis. They are the parents of three boys and a daughter.
Carter served in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Wyoming and the U.S.S. Mississippi before attending submarine-training school in 1948, graduating third in a class of 52. He served on submarine U.S.S. Pomfret and submarine U.S.S. K-1 before joining in 1952 a select group of officers who were involved in developing the first nuclear-powered submarine in the world. He was the engineering officer of the nuclear submarine Sea Wolf.

Jimmy and Rosalynn had their "first really serious argument in our marriage" when Jimmy's father died in 1953. He felt needed at home to help in the family business, and she wanted him to stay in the Navy. He resigned from the Navy with the rank of lieutenant senior grade that year. Jimmy returned to Plains where he took over the family farm and peanut warehouse. He studied modern farming techniques, expanded the warehouse, and bought new machinery for the farm, all of which helped the family business to thrive under his management.
Carter became involved in civic affairs and served on the board of education in his county. He was also a deacon and Sunday school teacher at the Plains Baptist Church and a member of the local hospital and library boards. He was well-respected in Plains but differed from most of his neighbors on the subject of segregation. He refused to join an organization designed to further segregation and voted - with one other church member - against a measure at his church to ban blacks from Sunday service.

In the 1976 election, many voters liked Carter because he was not part of the Washington, D.C., scene. They wanted a leader without ties to various interest groups in the nation's capital. They were also attracted by his vow to restore moral leadership to the presidency because their confidence was rattled by the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. Gerald R. Ford popularity fell greatly after he pardoned Nixon for any federal crime committed while President.

President and Mrs. Carter brought simplicity to the White House by ending much of the ceremony and pageantry marking official receptions there. Trumpeters announcing the presidential family and a color guard preceding them were eliminated. Most state dinners ended about 11:00 p.m. The Carters' only daughter Amy was nine years old when they moved to the White House. She attended nearby public schools and often brought classmates home to play. Rosalynn worked to help women gain equal rights and to improve care for the elderly and mentally ill.
Carter returned to Plains after he lost his second campaign for President to Ronald Reagan in 1980. He has remained very active in politics.

Events in the world of President Carter include: 1) Political events included the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise to power of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran. 2) Revolutionaries took over the U.S. embassy in Iran and held a group of Americans hostage for 444 days. 3) "Root," an eight-part television drama based on a book by Alex Haley that traced the 200-year history of a black family in America, from slavery to freedom. (Haley settled a suit recently alleging that he had plagiarized parts of his book.) 4) Pioneer and Voyager space probes were launched in the late 1970's. The Pioneer probes reached Venus in 1978 and sent back data and radar photographs of the plant. The Voyager spacecraft, starting in 1979, relayed pictures and other information about Jupiter and Saturn. 3) Many people questioned the safety of nuclear energy after an accident at Three Mile Island, a nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, triggered concern in 1979. 4) Drivers waited in long lines to purchase gasoline in 1979 in many parts of our nation. Small, fuel-efficient vehicles received new interest. 5) Many "boat people" traveling in small boats on open seas to escape persecution and thousands of immigrants from Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations poured into our nation in the late 1970's. 6) Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, aided by Carter. 7) Mount Saint Helens in the Cascade Mountains south of Seattle, Washington, erupted in 1980, causing extensive damage and about 60 deaths.

Facts and quotes for this post came from an article by Hugh S. Sidey in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol 3, pp 252-260.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


The principle for discussion on this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.3.6, "No members of the judiciary or the executive branch of government shall be convicted of impeachment charges unless there is a concurrence by two-thirds of the members of the Senate in attendance." This principle gives the accused person the right to protection from partisan politics because it requires the attendance of a substantial majority of the Senate.

Because there are currently 100 members of the Senate, a quorum could be constituted with 51 Senators in attendance. Two-thirds of 51 would be 34 so a President or any other executive or judicial officer could be impeached by a relatively small number of Senators. In reality, impeachment proceedings are so rare that there are usually plenty of Senators in attendance to provide for fairness. If all 100 Senators were in attendance at the proceedings, 67 would need to vote for conviction.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Obedience is the first law of heaven, and willing obedience is critical. Willing obedience is important because it brings order and safety as well as shows God that we love Him. Loving God is the greatest of all commandments.

Jesus Christ was once approached by a lawyer who asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40).

These words of Christ teach the importance of loving the Lord and our neighbors, but they do not explain how we show our love for God? Jesus also answered this question, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father" (John 14:21). Each and every one of us should ask ourselves why we are obedient to the commandments of God. Do we obey out of habit or for fear of punishment or desire for the rewards or do we obey because we love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and desire to serve Them?

Obedience is so important that even fear of punishment or desire for reward is better than disobedience. Willing obedience because we love God and want to obey Him brings much more happiness into our lives. When we obey His commandments freely, He then can be free with His blessings. He said, "I, the Lord, … delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end" (Doctrine and Covenants 76:5). Willing obedience helps us to grow and to become like Heavenly Father. Those people who must be commanded in all things and then obey unwillingly will lose their reward (see Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-29).

There are many times when we do not understand the reason for a particular commandment even though we know that we prepare for exaltation and eternal life by being obedient. Obedience without knowing why shows our faith and trust in God. Adam and Eve were commanded to offer sacrifices after they left the Garden of Eden. One day an angel appeared to Adam and asked him why he was offering sacrifices. Adam answered that he did not know why but was simply being obedient to God's commandment. (See Moses 5:5-6.) The angel then proceeded to teach Adam the gospel and the mission of the Savior. The Holy Ghost came upon Adam and he then prophesied about his posterity down to the last generation. (See Moses 5:7-10; Doctrine and Covenants 107:56.) Because he was obedient, Adam received further knowledge as well as greater blessings.

There is a story in the Book of Mormon about Nephi and his older brothers receiving a very difficult assignment from the Lord (see 1 Nephi 3:1-6). The brothers complained about it being hard, but Nephi replied, "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7). Remembering Nephi's words have helped me many times when I received difficult assignments.

All commandments from the Lord are important, even ones that seem inconsequential. The Bible tells of a man named Naaman who had a terrible disease. He learned about the prophet Elisha and decided to ask Elisha to heal him. Naaman was an important and powerful man in Syria and was greatly offended when the prophet in Israel sent his servant with a message for Naaman. He was offended even more by the message: wash seven times in the river Jordan. Naaman was very angry and demanded, "Are not [the] rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean?" His servants were a little wiser than he and asked, "If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?" The servants' questions helped Naaman to understand the importance of obeying the prophet of God, even in a small matter. Naaman went to the Jordan to wash and was healed. (See 2 Kings 5:1-14.)

Sometimes we may consider a commandment to be a "hard thing" like the brothers of Nephi or too simple like Naaman, but we must remember that God will give us no commandments unless He prepares a way for us to be obedient to Him. Abraham was given a hard commandment when he was told to offer his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice (see Genesis 22:1-13). He didn't understand why God would give him a son in his old age just to take him away, but he chose to obey God. In return for his willing obedience, God provided a ram for the sacrifice and promised great blessings to Abraham, Isaac and their posterity.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007, 160). I want to be obedient also. I want to be willing to do anything God requires.

The perfect example of obedience to God is Jesus Christ who said, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38). Jesus spent his entire mortal life in obedience to the will of God, even though He was asked to do hard things. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). Jesus Christ made salvation available to all mankind because He obeyed His Father in all things.

Every blessing we receive comes from obedience to the law upon which that blessing is based because the kingdom of heaven is governed by law (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21; 132:5). We know from other scriptures that we may gain knowledge and intelligence through obedience and diligence (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19) as well as grow spiritually (see Jeremiah 7:23-24). Through other scriptures we know that disobedience brings heart break, disappointment, and forfeiture of blessings. In Doctrine and Covenants 58:31-33 we read, "Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled? I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing. Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled."

I know personally that God fulfills His promises when we keep His commandments. God gives us life, the air we breathe, and many other blessings - and then gives blessings each time we obey Him. In the words of King Benjamin to his people, "He doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you" (Mosiah 2:24).

The ultimate blessing that comes to the obedient is eternal life. The Lord said, "If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God" (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). Obedience in righteousness and truth to the end of life brings other blessings. The Lord revealed, "Thus saith the Lord - I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven…. For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will - yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man" (Doctrine and Covenants 76:5-10).

I know that obedience to God is very important and that blessings come because of obedience. I know that obedience to the end of mortal life is essential to obtain the highest of the blessings of God.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Respect Is Spoken Here

Families are strengthened when parents require their children to speak to them with respect. What parent has not been faced with a teenager, pre-teenager, or young child who has responded with "whatever," "yada yada yada," or something similar? I imagine that most parents have had this experience at least once. How is a parent supposed to respond to such disrespectful behavior?

Family psychologist John Rosemond ( wrote an answer for this "widespread problem" in an article printed recently in the Anchorage Daily News. He indicated that the problem probably starts with the parent-child relationships portrayed on television in which "even preschool children are likely to speak to their parents as if they are addressing bumbling idiot servants, at which point the laugh track comes on. Over time this media influence has significantly undermined children's respect for adults." He claims that one of the first of these destructive programs was one of my favorite shows - "The Cosby Show."

Dr. Rosemond contends that the problem is also increased by parents who "function as perpetual servants to children who sit center-stage, and in all-too-many American classrooms, teachers act as if their highest priority is to be liked by their students." He continued with, "When a person who occupies a position of authority does not act like an authority figure, disrespect is the natural response."

Dr. Rosemond suggested a way to stop the disrespect - "confront it when it occurs but without anger." The authority figure should gently help the child or teenager to realize how his/or words are coming across. Whenever the disrespectful tone comes out, the parent or teacher should simply say, "Try that again." When asked for an explanation, tell him/her that learning to speak with the right tone of voice will be in his/her best interest because adults respond quicker and with more cooperation when respect is shown to them. Repeat the "try again" until respect is shown. Make sure that you praise the effort - and then fulfill any reasonable request. "A gentle, somewhat humorous stubbornness on your part will eventually carry the day."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Would You Destroy Terrorism?

On this Freedom Friday, I would like to discuss the problem of terrorist attacks on America. Osama Bin Laden was allegedly the mastermind behind the 9-11 assault on America, attacks on the Western World and encouraging other terrorists. Imagine that you have the responsibility to catch Bin Laden and put terrorists out of business. Imagine that you have unlimited funding, equipment, and power. How would you end the reign of terrorism permanently?

There are many ideas floating around such as: 1) Violence begets violence; therefore, we must not treat the terrorists violently. We could stop the attacks by simply showing love to the terrorists. 2) Set off a nuclear bomb over the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area and other areas where terrorists gather. This is a fairly sure way of destroying Bin Laden. 3) Prepare propaganda films with actors dressed like Bin Laden and his followers denouncing the terrorist movement and saying that Allah has changed his mind about destroying infidels and giving martyrs seventy virgins in heaven. 4) Send bunker-busting bombs to smash all the caves in the mountains where Bin Laden might be hiding. 5) If we would just talk with them and understand their positions better, they wouldn't need to attack us.

The Book of Mormon tells the story of Gadianton and his band of robbers who infested both the Nephite and Lamanite societies at various times. Mormon, the prophet who looked through all the Nephite records and compiled what became the Book of Mormon, wrote: "And behold, in the end of this book [the Book of Mormon] ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi" (Helaman 2:13).

The Gadianton robbers formed secret combinations to gain political power and to gain wealth. The robbers had secret words and signals to identify themselves to each other without letting the law-abiding citizens know who they were. These bands of robbers caused huge problems for the societies where they lived. They would live among the people and plot ways to get members of their bands elected to leadership positions. Once they had enough people in government, they would change the laws and destroy liberty. These usurpers of power caused much heartache and bloodshed.

The Nephite and Lamanite nations dealt with their terrorist problem in various ways and at different times. There was a definite cycle of good government being in power followed by robbers being in control. If the majority of the people were wicked, then the citizens supported and/or obeyed whatever the robbers wanted. When the majority of the people were righteous, the robbers were destroyed. In between these two extremes, the robber groups grew or lessened depending on the righteousness or unrighteousness of the people. There were times when the robbers lived in the mountains and only came down into the civilized areas to pillage and murder.

At a time when the Nephites were aiding and abetting the robbers in their areas, the Lamanites were hunting the robbers and destroying their craft by teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ. At another time when the robber band was threatening to destroy the entire civilization if the righteous people did not join their band, the Nephites gathered up all the people, animals, crops, valuables, etc. and brought them altogether into one place. They left nothing that would sustain life outside their "fort," and they had enough food and supplies to sustain life for seven years. When the robbers came out of the mountains, there was no food except for what the Nephites had stored in their fort. The robbers tried to lay a siege several different times, but their sieges only hurt themselves. Eventually, the Nephites were able to completely destroy all the robbers or convert them to living in peace.

We live in a different time period and different circumstances than the Nephites. The robbers in the Book of Mormon had no missiles or bombs to lob through the air to kill and destroy the people and property inside the fort. They had no jet airplanes to fly into the walls of the fort. They did not have any of the technology that we enjoy today, and they fought with swords, knives, and spears. We cannot isolate ourselves in a fort like the Nephites did and let the modern-day Gadianton robbers starve themselves. It doesn't seem to work well for us to go into their mountain retreats to try to destroy them; it just makes them martyrs. Simply talking with them, loving them and treating them nicely doesn't work; it just emboldens them. In good conscience, we can't destroy whole nations to kill a relatively few bad guys.

I believe that there are several reasons why we seem to be fighting a losing battle with terrorism. I believe that the main reason for our problem is that too many American citizens are unrighteous and insist that we can say and do only those things that are politically correct. Our Constitution was written to govern a moral and religious society, and it doesn't work well with an unrighteous citizenry. America has too much immorality, too much greed, too much hate, and too much pride. God has been taken out of the classrooms and school activities, out of the work place, off government property, and nearly out of the country. America, like the Nephites, is great when the people are righteous and serve God; when the people are unrighteous, America loses the guidance and power of God. America needs to return to God in prayer and service. David didn't go out to fight Goliath in his own strength; he went out in the power of the God of Israel.

I believe that the second reason for our problem is weak defense. Terrorists and other nations attack America only when they think they can destroy America. If America shows strength, we are not attacked as shown by the following examples. Jimmy Carter was a weak President and was impotent when Iran captured many of our citizens. As soon as Ronald Reagan became President, Iran released the prisoners because they understood that Reagan was tough and meant what he said. Bill Clinton decreased our military strength and failed to pursue those who attacked us on foreign soil, and America was attacked on her own soil less than nine months after Clinton left office. George Bush made a lot of mistakes, BUT America was not attacked again while he was President. Now we have another weak President who has surrounded himself with people like himself, and terrorists and tyrants are becoming bolder. Terrorists are no longer looking to cause big explosions like destroying the Twin Towers; they are satisfied with killing a few soldiers in Texas or a few civilians in New York. Besides terrorists and others who are living in our country and biding their time to kill Americans and destroy our government, there are rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea who are waiting to see if America can be attacked safely.

So my solutions to America's security problems - with unlimited equipment, funds and power - are two-fold: 1) Build up a strong enough defense system to deter any attacks domestically and overseas; 2) Teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone and insist that every person live the basic Christian values such as honesty and morality - whether or not they convert to Christianity - or lose their freedom. 3) Have less government and fewer but more understandable and enforceable laws.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teapot Dome Scandal

The Teapot Dome Scandal was "one of the most notorious government scandals in United States history." It took place while Warren G. Harding was President of the United States and was part of the reason for his poor ranking among U.S. Presidents.

The scandal was investigated by committees of the U.S. Senate and a special commission from 1922 to 1928. The investigation found the Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall guilty of persuading Harding "to transfer control of three naval oil reserves from the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Interior in 1921."

Fall then leased the reserves - located at Elk Hill, California, and Teapot Dome, Wyoming - to two private oil companies without competitive bidding in 1922. Fall was given a "loan" for $100,000 for helping to arrange the Elk Hills transfer and more than $300,000 in cash, bonds, and valuable livestock for the Teapot Dome transfer. He then resigned from office in 1923 and joined one of the companies. The government sued to cancel the leases and won the case in 1927. Fall became "the first Cabinet member to go to jail for crimes committed while in office." He was convicted of accepting a bribe in 1929, fined $100,000, and sentenced to one year in prison.

Facts and quotes for this post came from an article by Robert D. Palmet in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, p 74.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Registered to Vote?

The November 2010 general election is less than six weeks away. In order to vote in the election, a United States citizen must be registered to vote at least thirty days previous to the day of the election.

The fact that we have the right to vote also means that we also have the right to not vote. We have the freedom to choose whether or not we will vote in this or any election. If we do not care enough to vote for our representatives, we do not have the right to complain about the results of the election or the actions of the elected officials.

When you are making the decision of whether or not to vote, think of the people in Afghanistan who went to the polls to vote in spite of death threats from the Taliban. How much is your freedom to vote worth to you?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Warren G. Harding

Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865-1923) came to the office of the President of the United States in 1920 because Americans were tired of "wartime restraints and world problem" and hoped he could somehow bring back the pre-World War I days. His campaign slogan of "Back to Normalcy" encouraged this hope. Americans were so desperate to rid themselves of the policies of President Woodrow Wilson that they probably would have elected any Republican to the office of President. The people were especially opposed to Wilson's "definition of American ideals, and his unwillingness to accept any changes in his plan for a League of Nations." Americans were tired of their responsibilities in world affairs and wanted to go back to normal activities.

"Normal" was difficult to produce in the Roaring Twenties because different people thought of it differently. At one end of the spectrum there were the "rebels" who drank bootleg gin and danced in cabarets. At the other end were those who wanted more standardized thought and behavior; they included those who tried to enforce Prohibition as well as tried to ban the teaching of evolution in the schools. There were so many different ideas of how to get back to normal that Harding would be cross-wise with somebody no matter what his policy.
Harding was an easygoing newspaper publisher and Senator before becoming President, and his Administration was a popular one until the short and severe depression of 1921. Faith in his administration was destroyed within the first two years because of corruption in government agencies and the Teapot Dome oil scandal. Harding is unanimously ranked by historians as one of the weakest Presidents. His failure came because he "was weak-willed and a poor judge of character." His death was probably hastened by anxiety over the corruption in government circles. He was the sixth President to die while in office.

Harding was born on November 2, 1865, on a farm near present-day Blooming Grove, Ohio, and was the eldest of eight children. His father was a farmer and a homeopathic doctor who also owned half of the Caledonia Argus, a weekly newspaper. His English ancestors settled at Plymouth in 1624 and moved to Ohio in 1820. Harding attended local grammar schools, learned to set newspaper type and attended a high school called Ohio Central College where he was editor of the school newspaper.

Harding passed a test to become a school teacher in 1882. He taught school for one term in a one-room schoolhouse and later called teaching "the hardest job I ever had." He studied law and sold insurance and returned to journalism working for the Marion Democratic Mirror. After he was fired in 1884 for supporting the wrong presidential candidate, he and two friends purchased the bankrupt Marion Star for $300.

He married divorcee Florence Kling DeWolfe in 1891. The Hardings had no children. Florence had great ambitions for her husband as well as a dominating personality. With her help, Harding built the Star into a prosperous newspaper. He served as a director of several corporations as well as a trustee for the Trinity Baptist Church.

After becoming known as both an editor and a skillful speaker, Harding was elected as a state senator in 1898 and as lieutenant governor in 1903. He lost a 1910 campaign for governor, but was chosen to nominate President William Howard Taft for a second term at the Republican National Convention in 1912. He later commented that this honor gave him a greater thrill than his own nomination. He gave the keynote speech at the 1916 national convention as well as served at permanent chairman.

Harding was elected to the United States Senate in 1914 where he was genial and popular and enjoyed the fellowship and prestige of the Senate. He introduced no major bills, spent much time finding jobs for friends, and usually voted with the Republican leadership. He was nominated as a compromise candidate for President at the 1920 Republican National Convention and chose Governor Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts to run as Vice President. He campaigned, gave speeches, and met visiting delegations from his front porch. He won an "overwhelming victory" as the first President to be elected while serving as a Senator. This was also the first presidential election where all women were allowed to vote and the results were broadcast over radio.

Harding's view of his constitutional powers was very narrow because he, like most Republicans, thought President Wilson had usurped powers originally belonging to Congress; therefore, he relied on his Cabinet and Congress to lead the nation.
Harding signed peace treaties that did not include the League of Nations covenant with Germany and other Central Powers, but Congress lead in domestic legislation when it placed the first quotas on immigration and reduced taxes in 1921 and raised tariffs in 1922.

Harding brought so many friends from Ohio to Washington that they became known as "the Ohio gang." His poor judgment of character was evident in the friends that were untrustworthy but given jobs in government because he enjoyed socializing with them. There was a tide of corruption that began to rise soon after he entered the White House. ”The Teapot Dome scandal was the most shocking case" and involved the Secretary of the Interior accepting "a bribe for leasing government-owned oil reserves to private companies." He was sentenced to prison in 1929. The Attorney General was tried in 1926 but freed when two juries failed to agree on a verdict. A friend of the AG committed suicide after the revelation that he was involved in arranging settlements between the Department of Justice and law breakers. Misuse of funds at the Veterans Bureau resulted in its legal adviser committing suicide and his director being sent to prison.

As if the scandals were not enough for the electorate to lose faith in Republicans, a depression in the farm region occurred. Harding - with his wife and a large official party - went on a speaking tour in June 1923 to revive confidence in his Administration. He traveled across the United States and made the first presidential visit to Canada and Alaska. During this trip he received a long message in code from Washington about a Senate investigation of oil leases. "Reporters later said that the depressed Harding asked them what a President could do when his friends betrayed him."

Harding became ill, presumably from food poisoning, while his train was passing through Seattle. The tour stopped in San Francisco where doctors said Harding had pneumonia. He had a short rally and died on August 2. No autopsy was performed and so no exact cause for his death is known.

Sorrowing Americans gathered to show honor to their President as the train carrying his body back to Washington. The public did not yet know about the scandals, and Mrs. Harding burned as much of his correspondence as possible to protect his memory. She died the following year and was buried beside Harding in Marion.

Facts and quotes for this post came from an article by George H. Mayer in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, pp 56-59.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Impeachment of President

The principle for discussion on this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.3.6, "If impeachment charges should be lodged against the President of the United States, the Chief Justice shall preside over the Senate during the impeachment hearing."
This principle gives the President the right to be judged by the highest judicial officer in the nation. It also gives the people of the nation the right to have someone besides the Vice President preside at the hearing.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


One of the parables of Jesus Christ is about developing our talents. It tells us that we will be given greater responsibilities after we serve well in our current stewardship. Jesus taught, "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey." The servant who received five talents made some trades and doubled his talents, and the servant who received two talents did the likewise. The servant who received only one talent was afraid that he would lose it and incur the wrath of his master. He decided to bury his talents to keep it safe.

After a long time the lord of the servants returned and required an accounting for the use of the talents. The first two servants explained how they were able to double their talents. Their lord said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." When the third servant told the lord that he buried his one talent, his lord told him that he should have at least taken the money to the exchangers where he would have at least received the interest. He continued, "Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath…."

Just like the servants in this parable, we have received special gifts, talents, and abilities from our Heavenly Father. We brought them with us when we were born, but we do not all have the same gifts. Moses was a great prophet with wonderful leadership abilities but lacked the ability to speak powerfully. He was aided in his responsibility by his brother Aaron who was a good speaker. We have people around us who are great leaders like Moses and others who are good speakers like Aaron. There are others who are good in sports or have musical abilities. Other gifts include patience, cheerfulness, understanding others, or teaching. Some talents are very obvious to a casual observer, and others are more difficult to recognize.

We are given our talents with the responsibility to develop them. Many of us think that we have very few, if any, talents and think that others have been given many. Sometimes we hide our talents or don't use them because we don't want to fail or be criticized by others. This is a big mistake because we must use our gifts to develop them more fully. Heavenly Father gave each of us talents, gifts and abilities in order to bless our lives, help other people, and glorify God (see Matthew 5:16).

There are certain steps we must take in order to develop our talents, and all of the steps are easier with the Lord's help. 1) We must discover our talents. We can do this by evaluating our own strengths and abilities, asking family and friends for their input, and praying for help to learn about our talents. 2) We must willingly spend the time and effort necessary to develop the talent we desire. 3) We must have faith in ourselves as well as faith that Heavenly Father will help us. 4) We must learn the necessary skills - take classes, read a book, etc. 5) We must practice using our talent because every talent takes time and effort to develop and mastery of a talent must be earned. 6) We must willingly share our talent with other people because it is using talents that helps them to grow.

Even though we have weaknesses, we can still develop our talents. When Moroni expressed a fear to the Lord that people would mock his writing, he was told, "Fools mock…. And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them" (Ether 12:26-27).

We see the talents of others after they have struggled to develop them. Many great people have overcome weakness to develop wonderful talents. Beethoven was deaf when he composed his greatest music. The prophet Enoch became a powerful teacher after overcoming his slowness of speech (see Moses 6:26-47). Heber J. Grant turned many of his weaknesses into talents. He had the following motto: "That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing is changed, but that our power to do is increased" (in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant [2002], 35).

The scriptures tell us that we will be judged according to the work we do (see Matthew 16:27). President Joseph F. Smith taught, "Every son and every daughter of God has received some talent, and each will be held to strict account for the use or misuse to which it is put" (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 370). We can perform good works when we develop and use our gifts and talents for the good of other people. Just as the lord in the parable was pleased with the first two servants, Heavenly Father is pleased with us when we use our gifts wisely. He has given us these talents to benefit other people and to further His work here upon earth. Some of the blessings that we receive through wise use of our talents are joy, love, and self-control, all of which are necessary for worthiness to live with Heavenly Father again.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Support Systems

Families are strengthened during both small and large emergencies when they are surrounded by strong support systems. Our family was reminded recently about the importance of maintaining good relationships with many people when the wife of our youngest son was diagnosed with brain cancer. When the tumor was found, word was sent to the members of our large and supportive families, to the many members of our local church groups, and to our friends both near and far to invite everyone to join with us in fasting and praying for a miracle. We were able to contact this large number of people because of the technologies available to us, particularly the Internet and Facebook. We received many supportive messages from near and far. The physical touch such as hugs was very comforting, and our son's family was nearly buried with floral offerings. Meals were brought into his home three times each week plus other food. Much of the day to day work in fighting cancer will be accomplished by those closest to us, but there is great comfort in knowing that many people are praying regularly for a miracle. Thank you to our support system!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Constitution Day

September 17 is Constitution Day - the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States. The U.S. Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, by thirty-nine men, but this important document had no permanent home until 1952 when the National Archives Building was dedicated in Washington, D.C. This building contains nearly 800,000 cubic feet of records, including maps, sound recordings, and still and motion pictures. These records date from 1774 to the present and are stored in areas where the temperature and humidity are carefully controlled.

The National Archives Building was specifically designed and built as a place where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States could be displayed together. Thousands of people visit the stately Exhibition Hall each year to see these masterpieces. These documents, charters of America's freedom, are sealed in bronze and glass cases filled with helium. In emergencies and at a moment's notice, they can be lowered into a safe that is fire-resistant and shockproof.

The ceremony to dedicate the National Archives Building was presided over by the chief justice of the United States, and the invocation was given by the chaplain of the Senate. The main speaker was the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. It was a solemn time. The world was enduring a dark time in history, and the Cold War was putting a chill on everyone. Many people were in bondage behind the Iron Curtain in Europe, and the United States was fighting a war in Korea. Communism seemed to be advancing steadily. I'm sure that people were wondering if liberty was safe in America? President Truman said that liberty "can be lost, and it will be, if the time ever comes when these documents are regarded not as the supreme expression of our profound belief, but merely as curiosities in glass cases."

Do you have the words and principles of these two great documents engraven upon your heart and mind?? Have you actually read them? Do you feel the power of the words? Do you agree with them or do you consider them to be outdated?
"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…." Between those words at the beginning of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence and the final words "… we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor" is a list of twenty-seven grievances against the King of Great Britain. I was amazed the first time I read that list. Do you have any idea what those injuries were? If not, I suggest that you read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety.

The Preamble of the Constitution says, "WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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 men who wrote those words knew that their formula for freedom could be lost in a single generation and yet the Constitution of the United States has been the supreme law of our land for 223 years.

No generation before ours lost the independence and liberty provided by these two great documents and those people who sacrificed so much that we might live in freedom. Are you willing to be part of the generation that loses freedom? I answer a firm "NO!" If the generations before ours were willing to make great sacrifices to gain and preserve liberty and independence, I too am willing to make sacrifices to maintain freedom. I encourage you to memorize the Preamble as part of your observance of this Constitution Day. I invite all of you to join with me in keeping the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution as the "supreme expression of our profound belief."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The history lesson for this week is the Titanic (ty TAN ihk), "the "unsinkable" British steamer. The Titanic was the largest ship in the world on its maiden voyage from England to New York City. After striking an iceberg on the night of April 14-15, 1912, it sank in about 2 1/2 hours.
Officers on the Titanic spotted the iceberg before hitting it but not soon enough to avoid the collision. The iceberg tore a 300-foot gash in the ship's hull. With less than half enough lifeboats for the approximately 2,200 people on board, only 705 survivors - mostly women and children - were picked up by the liner Carpathia. Somewhere between 1,490 and 1,517 deaths occurred.
Researchers from France and the United States found the wreckage of the Titanic in 1985 but refused to give its exact location. Reports have the wreckage about 500 miles southeast of Newfoundland. Facts for this post are from an article by Walter Lord in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, p 299.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Working Poor

Early in the summer I spent several weeks helping a daughter with a new baby. While I was there, she brought home a book about the working poor entitled Nichol and Dime - On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, a reporter with a PhD. In order to do research for an article, Ehrenreich took low-wage work in different parts of our nation to discover for herself the world of the working poor. She worked at six different low-income jobs: waitress (twice), hotel maid, cleaning lady, Wal-Mart clerk, and nursing home aide.
Ehrenreich discovered the following about low-income jobs: 1) No job is "unskilled" - every job needed concentration and most demanded the mastery of "new terms, new tools, and new skills." 2) "Each job presents a self-contained social world, with its own personality, hierarchy, customs, and standards." 3) All jobs were physically demanding. 4) There were few or no rewards for going beyond average work. 5) Each job required job readiness skills, such as punctuality, cleanliness, cheerfulness, and obedience. 6) Work seemed to always be pitted against life in general, such as having food to eat and a place to stay. 7) She had to work two jobs and/or seven days per week to make a bare living.
The author learned that the biggest problem for low-income earners comes from low wages and high rents. It is very difficult for the working poor to find a clean, safe place to sleep. Those who are fortunate to own a vehicle often end up sleeping in it. Another problem for poorer workers is that they have less mobility to move to a better paying job. Employers "do little to encourage economic literacy of their employees," and money taboos keep employees from talking about wages among themselves. The author found that low-wage work places often require employees to surrender basic civil rights and self-respect through purse searches, drug tests, talking with fellow employees, etc.
Ehrenreich wrote, "Humans … can pump up our self-image with thoughts of our families, our religion, our hopes for the future …. We depend for our self-image on the humans immediately around us - to the point of altering our perceptions of the world so as to fit in with theirs. My guess is that the indignities imposed on so many low-wage workers - the drug test, the constant surveillance, being `reamed out' by management - are part of what keeps wages low. If you're made to feel unworthy enough, you may come to think that what you're paid is what you are actually worth" (p 211).
I found this book to be very interesting and kept thinking about it months after I read it. I kept trying to think of a way to help the working poor without involving the federal government or using force to get people to change their behavior. I was still thinking about the working poor a couple of months later when I read an article by David Baldacci entitled "Changing Lives through Books" (Parade, July 11, 2010, p 17). He wrote, "More than 30 million American adults can't read a prescription label or a short grocery list, much less a book, according to a large-scale federal survey. Another 63 million can't use a TV guide to find a specific program or compare ticket prices for two events. "The consequences of such high illiteracy rates are far-reaching, affecting virtually every social problem we have as a nation. More than half of prison inmates have difficulty reading. Only 35% of the least-literate American adults are fully employed. And high illiteracy seriously affects American global competitiveness."
Baldacci wrote that federal grants for millions of dollars, national literacy organizations and local organizations running on shoe-string budgets cannot solve the large and entrenched illiteracy problem in our nation. He and his wife have started several programs to fund literacy programs in thirty states and he shared some of the success stories. "In Pittsburgh, I met a 30-year-old man who tearfully related how he'd finally learned to read so he could support his family. In Connecticut, a woman shared her story of finally learning how to read at 50 just so she could be able to read to her grandchildren."
Baldacci wrote, "People who learn to read learn that they can succeed." He suggested the following ways we can participate in the fight against illiteracy - and perhaps help the working poor while we do it. 1) Go to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy's website at to become aware of the literacy rates in your state and country. 2) Write a letter to your congressional representatives asking for increased funding. (His idea, not mine!) 3) Learn how to become a tutor or other volunteer in your local library or literacy organization.
To Baldacci's suggestions, I would add the following: 1) Teach your own children to love to read. Most of my children picked up on reading quickly, but my youngest lingered longer than I preferred with picture books. I kept telling her that words could paint better pictures than artists could and finally convinced her to do some reading with me. We chose a historical novel series of eight or nine books. She was hooked on reading before we got very far into the first book, but we continued to the end of the series. It wasn't long before teachers were telling me that they wished more of their students were good readers like her. 2) Take an interest in your grandchildren. Encourage them to read and compliment them often for their reading progress. Be aware of how they are doing in school. If they are struggling, spend some time helping them to read better. 3) Be aware of other children around you. One of my friends learned that her son's friend could not read very well. She invited - probably insisted - that he come to her house twice each week for reading lessons. The time and effort of my friend changed the boy's life. 4) Encourage non-English speakers to learn English. Being fluent in a native language does not help much if a person doesn't know the language used in a given country. I don't have ideas of how to solve every problem encountered by the working poor, but I do know that a simple thing like knowing how to read can decrease the number of people included in the group.

Monday, September 13, 2010

William H. Taft

William Howard Taft (1857-1930) holds the distinction of being the only man in the history of the United States to be elected President and later appointed as chief justice. Taft's heart was in his career as attorney and judge where he spent twenty years. He did not like politics and did not want to be President. His dream job was to be a justice of the United States Supreme Court. The two most important women in his life held different opinions on how he should serve his country. His mother recognized that he didn't like politics, saying "I do not want my son to be President. His is a judicial mind and he loves the law." His wife felt that being a judge was a "fixed groove" and urged him into politics. It was obvious that his mother knew him best because he was more unhappy in the White House than any other President. He told newly inaugurated President Woodrow Wilson in 1913, "I'm glad to be going. This is the lonesomest place in the world." Eight years later when he was appointed chief justice of the United States, he said that it was the highest honor he had ever received. He wrote, "The truth is that in my present life I don't remember that I ever was President." Taft stood six feet tall, weighed more than 300 pounds and was the largest man ever to be elected President. He was described by a newspaperman as looking "like an American bison - a gentle kind one." He was mild and pleasant in personality, but kept what he considered to be rugged values. He did not smoke or drink, was honest by nature, straightforward and plain of speech. He was loyal to family, friends and his political party (Republican). Taft was modest enough to feel unqualified to be President and had no sense of showmanship. His administration was adequate but didn't capture popular imagination. Many people thought him to be a failure as President. The world was mostly at peace during the Taft Administration, but leading nations in Europe were trying to balance power, leading to World War I. The imperial government of China was overthrown in a revolution, and a republic was set up there. Admiral Robert Peary of the United States reached the North Pole in 1909, and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the group reaching the South Pole in 1911. Life in the United States was speeding up with most people still living on farms but many moving to cities. Twelve states had approved the right for women to vote, and Congress passed an Amendment to the Constitution (#16) in 1913 to allow a federal income tax to be collected - starting with the Wilson Administration. Arizona and New Mexico were admitted to the Union, bringing the total number of states to 48. Other interesting events of the world of President Taft are: 1) The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909 to work for racial equality. 2) Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls were founded in the United States in 1910 with Girl Scouts being established in 1912. 3) The first motion-picture studio was built in Hollywood in 1911, making it the nation's movie capital. 4) The passenger ship Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic Ocean on the night of April 14-15, 1912. About 700 people were rescued, but about 1,500 people drowned. William Howard Taft was born on September 15, 1857, in a comfortable, two-story house in the Mt. Auburn section of Cincinnati, Ohio, and he spent his entire boyhood there. He was the second son of his father's second wife and had two half brothers, two brothers, and a sister. His father's ancestors emigrated from England in the 1600's and settled in Massachusetts and Vermont. His mother descended from an English family that was among the settlers of Weymouth, Massachusetts, in 1640. His Taft grandfather was a judge in Vermont who moved to Cincinnati about 1838 Taft's father was a successful lawyer and a prominent national figure in the Republican Party. Taft was large, fair, and attractive as a youth and was brought up in the Unitarian faith. His playmates were his siblings. He entered Woodward High School in Cincinnati at age 13 and enrolled in Yale College at 17, graduating second in his class in 1878. He studied law at the Cincinnati Law School, received his law degree in 1880, and was admitted to the Ohio bar. Taft's first public office was as an assistant prosecuting attorney of Hamilton County, Ohio, during 1881 and 1882 and then established a successful law partnership. He married Helen "Nellie" Herron on June 19, 1886. Her father had been a law partner of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Taft wrote that Nellie was "a woman who is willing to take me as I am, for better or worse. Mrs. Taft was both ambitious and intelligent and encouraged him to seek public office throughout his career. The couple had three children. Taft enjoyed being an attorney but was pushed toward politics because his father was prominent in the Republican Party. In early 1885 he was named assistant county solicitor for Hamilton County, and in March 1887 he was appointed by the governor to fill a vacancy on the Cincinnati Superior Court. He was re-elected to the position the next year to serve for five years. This was the first of only two offices he won by popular vote, and he resigned from it to accept President Benjamin Harrison's appointment in 1890 to be solicitor general for the United States. President Harrison appointed him in March 1892 to be a judge of the sixth circuit of the recently established United States Court of Appeals (now called the United States Court of Appeals), and he spent eight years as a circuit judge. During the same period of time, he also was the dean of the University of Cincinnati Law School from 1896 to 1900. Taft also served as the first civil governor of the Philippine Islands and then Secretary of War under President Theodore Roosevelt. Taft became Roosevelt's unofficial troubleshooter both at home and abroad. When Roosevelt announced that he would not seek reelection in 1908, he recommended Taft to be nominated. Taft did not want the position, preferring to wait for a possible appointment to the Supreme Court - but his wife and his brothers helped to change his mind. He won the nomination on the first ballot and won the election with more than a million votes over William Jennings Bryan. Mrs. Taft, as White House hostess, enjoyed presiding at state functions and holding small teas for friends until she suffered a stroke in 1909. The Taft family enjoyed summer evenings on the south portico of the White House listening to favorite phonograph recordings. Taft was an excellent dancer in spite of his large size, and his wife organized a small dance class for his diversion. He played tennis and golf and often rode horseback. Taft was nominated for the Republican Party ticket in the 1912 election but lost to the governor of New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson. Taft became a professor of constitutional law at Yale University in March 1913 and was elected as president of the American Bar Association the same year. He was appointed by President Wilson to be the chairman of the National War Labor Board during World War I. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft to be chief justice of the United States - the position that he had wanted for a number of years. He considered this appointment to be the greatest honor of his life. As the administrator of the highest court, he was instrumental in getting the Judiciary Act passed in 1925, which law gave the court greater control over the cases it would consider and made it possible for the court to function more effectively. He was also instrumental in gaining congressional approval for a new court building. Taft did more than his share of the court's workload and was an advisor to President Calvin Coolidge. He took care of his health, holding his weight to about 300 pounds. He walked the three miles between his home and his office almost every morning and evening. In spite of all these precautions, he was forced to retire from the court on February 3, 1930. He died on March 8 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Taft and John F. Kennedy are the only Presidents to be buried there. Facts and quotes for this post came from an article by John M. Blum in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, pp 8-13.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Under Oath

The principle for discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.3.6: "When the Senate is sitting in its judicial capacity to try impeachment cases, all members of the Senate must be placed under oath or affirmation to perform their duty honestly and with due diligence." This provision was placed in the Constitution for the specific purpose of ensuring a fair and honest trial. The requirement for the entire Senate to be placed under oath was put in place to make sure that each Senator understood the sacred responsibility he was assuming before fellow Senators, the nation, and God to make sure that the trial would be fair and just.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Missionary Work

We know that missionary work is part of God's plan for His children and has been from the time of Adam. Moses 5:58 tells us that Jesus Christ revealed the gospel plan to Adam: "And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning." Later generations of Adam's righteous descendants were sent to preach the gospel, and they "called upon all men everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men" (Moses 6:23). Each prophet in his own day was a missionary and was obedient to the commandment to preach the gospel message. The Lord has called missionaries to preach the eternal principles of the gospel to his children whenever priesthood authority has been on earth. We know that the Lord's Church has always been a missionary church because Jesus Christ ordained Apostles and Seventies with priesthood power and authority and sent them out to preach the gospel. Most of the preaching done by the early Apostles was to the Jews (see Matthew 10:5-6). Then, following His resurrection, Jesus Christ told Peter that the gospel was for the whole world and sent His Apostles to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. His commandment to the Apostles is the same as in our day, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). One of the greatest missionaries in all time was the Apostle Paul who was sent to the Gentiles and spent the rest of his life preaching the gospel to them. He continued to preach the gospel to them even though he was at different times whipped, stoned, and imprisoned (see Acts 23:10-12; 26). When the Lord restored His Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith, missionary work started anew. The chief responsibility for preaching the gospel and making sure it is preached in all the world lies with the Apostles and Seventies. Samuel Harrison Smith, the Prophet's brother, began the first missionary journey for the Church in June 1830 in answer to the Lord's commandment to Joseph Smith: "Proclaim my gospel from land to land, and from city to city…. Bear testimony in every place, unto every people" (Doctrine and Covenants 66:5, 7). Today, over one million missionaries have been called, set apart, and sent forth to preach the message that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior. Missionaries also testify that God has restored His gospel once again to earth through His chosen prophet. All missionaries have the responsibility to preach the gospel to all people, to baptize them, and to teach them the commandments of God (see Matthew 28:19-20). These missionaries go to all parts of the world at their own expense for the specific reason to preach the gospel message. The Lord requires His Church to take His restored gospel to every nation and people (see Doctrine and Covenants 133:37). We know that the Lord does not give any commandment without also preparing a way for that commandment to be accomplished (see 1 Nephi 3:7). Under the Lord's direction and through His preparations, missionaries have been able to teach the gospel in nations that were once closed to us. We know that the Lord will open the doors of other nations to missionary work as we continue to exercise faith and pray for those doors to open. There are many other ways in which the Lord is helping missionaries to spread the gospel. According to Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, God is "inspiring the minds of great people to create inventions that further the work of the Lord in ways this world has never known" (see "Computerized Scriptures Now Available," Ensign, April 1988, 73). The gospel message is spread to millions of people through newspapers, magazines, television, radio, satellites, computers, the Internet, and related technology. Those who currently enjoy the blessings of the fulness of the gospel of Christ are urged to use these inventions to obey the Lord's commandment: "For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost part of the earth - the gospel must be preached unto every [person]" (Doctrine and Covenants 58:64). President Ezra Taft Benson explained, "This is our first interest as a Church - to save and exalt the souls of the children of men" (Ensign, May 1974, 104). The importance of missionary work can be better seen with the understanding that all the people of the world must be given an opportunity to hear and accept the gospel. This is so important because every person must have an opportunity to learn the truth, turn to God, and receive forgiveness from their sins. There are many good people on earth, our brothers and sisters, who are blinded by the false teachings of men and "are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it" (Doctrine and Covenants 123:12). It is through missionary work that all these wonderful people can receive the truth. It is through missionary work that the world is being prepared for the Second Coming of the Savior (see Doctrine and Covenants 34:6; see also Doctrine and Covenants 43:28). Every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a missionary even if we are not formally called and set apart. We are each charged with the responsibility to teach the gospel by word and deed to all of the children of Heaven Father. The Lord said, "It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:81). The Book of Mormon has a story showing how the sons of King Mosiah willingly accepted their responsibility to teach the gospel. Following their conversion to the Church, their hearts were filled with compassion for other people. Their love for others included their enemies and led to their request to preach the gospel to the Lamanites because "they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble" (Mosiah 28:3). This kind of love and compassion for others comes to us as the gospel fills our lives with joy and leads to a desire to share the message of the gospel with everyone who will listen. Missionaries receive great blessings: "Ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you" (Doctrine and Covenants 62:3). Working for the salvation of other people brings forgiveness for our own sins and salvation for our own souls (see Doctrine and Covenants 4:4; 31:5; 84:61). The Lord said, "If it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!" (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15-16). Teaching the gospel to others and then seeing them receive blessings from obedience to those teachings brings the sweetest joy I know.

Friday, September 10, 2010

September 11

It is now a year since I started writing my blog. I felt strong and specific promptings to do a blog for several months before I actually started writing one. I remember my procrastination because I didn't even know how to do a blog and much less about how to set one up. I remember questioning what I would write - and then stressing over every single entry. I remember especially the pressure I felt as 9-11 neared and the need for me to actually start the blog. I still feel confirmations that writing this blog is a "calling" from God, but I do not know why or who is to benefit from my thoughts and writings. Yet, I feel a strong prompting to continue writing, hoping and praying that I am writing the words that Heavenly Father would have me write. I have been wondering for several weeks what I should write about for September 11 this year that I didn't write last year. (See my posts for September 8 and 11, 2009.) I still don't know what I am to write, and so I'm just going to write with the hope that something important will come out of it. Nine years ago on September 11, 2001, our world was turned up-side-down when Islamic extremist terrorists decided that they should fly jet airplanes into our historic landmarks. Two airliners hit the Twin Towers, a third hit the Pentagon, and a fourth went down in a field in Pennsylvania before it could hit its target. Why did these men think that they had the right to destroy lives and property of Americans? They apparently were following "instructions" from their God - Allah. Now we have members of the Islam religion who want to build an Islamic community center and mosque- in the name of liberty - near the sacred ground where nearly 3000 Americans were killed and their bodies never found. They are apparently following "instructions" from their God on this idea too. We also have a Christian preacher in Florida who says that God is telling him to burn 200 copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islamists, on September 11 as a way to stand up to the Islamists. How can a God who loves His children give such harsh commands? There is a story in the Book of Mormon about a young man by the name of Nephi who had the assignment from the prophet to go with his brothers back to Jerusalem to get the Brass Plates - records which contained the writings of the prophets as well as family history. The four brothers traveled nearly two weeks to arrive back in Jerusalem where they decided that they would simply ask their relative Laban to give them the records. Laban didn't like the request and sent his armed guards after the fleeing brothers. After hiding from the guards for awhile, the brothers decided that they would gather the family's wealth and purchase the records. When Laban saw their wealth, he coveted it - and again sent his armed guards to kill the brothers. Again the brothers fled from the armed guards and hid themselves. Some of the brothers wanted to return to the prophet and report, "We tried - but failed." The youngest brother Nephi refused to return without the Brass Plates. He told his brothers, "Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth…." When they arrived at the wall of Jerusalem, Nephi went into the city alone after telling his brothers to wait for him by the wall. Nephi didn't know what he was supposed to do when he arrived at the house of Laban but allowed himself to be "led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do." As Nephi neared the home of Laban, he saw a man lying in the street. Upon closer examination of the man, Nephi recognized him to be Laban who was "drunken with wine." As Nephi looked at Laban, he was "constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban." Nephi's immediate reaction was to say, "No way! I've never killed a man, and I don't want to start killing now." The Spirit told Nephi again to kill Laban, but Nephi still refrained even though he knew that Laban had threatened his life and stolen his property. A third time, the command was given. "Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands; Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief." Even after three different commands to kill Laban, Nephi still hesitated to obey. He began to reason within himself as to why it was necessary for Laban to die in order for Nephi to be obedient to the command to obtain the Brass Plates. Nephi remembered the promise of the Lord that his people would be blessed if they kept the commandments of God, and he realized that they couldn't keep the commandments if they didn't have the words engraven upon the plates. Nephi then understood the importance of obtaining the plates and realized that there was no other way to obtain them. Upon this realization, he "did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword" (1 Nephi 4:18). I believe that this story in the Book of Mormon is a true story. I believe that Nephi actually killed Laban in obedience to commands from God and in an effort to obtain the required records. I know by personal experience that it is a powerful feeling to receive a prompting from God. I too have received promptings to do difficult things, many of which I very much didn't want to do but none of which would break another commandment. The Prophet Joseph Smith said "… I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it" (Teaching of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], p 160). Like Joseph Smith, I believe that everyone should be obedient to the commandments of God, but how can we know that the prompting is coming from God and not from the "Dark Side"? The answer comes from scripture. The Lord told Oliver Cowdery through the Prophet Joseph Smith, "I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart" (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2). In Doctrine and Covenants 9:8, the Lord gives more counsel, "… you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right." When we must make a decision about something - even whether or not to obey a prompting - we must "study it out" or reason it out in our mind. Does this make sense? Why would God want me to do this act? What are the pros and cons of this behavior? Does this idea conform to what I have already learned? Does it adhere to the teachings that I know to be true? When our mind is clear on the matter, we must then consult our heart. Does it feel right? If both the mind and the heart are saying that it is right, then ask God for confirmation about the decision. If the decision is right, "your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right." If the decision is wrong, there shall be "no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong…." (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9). Sometimes we don't receive a definite answer and must go forward in faith. We can be sure that the Lord will not let us go too far wrong without correcting us if we will continue to listen for His counsel. Most of us will never have the thought or feeling that we should murder another person or to fly an airplane into a building, or even to burn sacred books of other people - but all of us are faced with tough decisions that affect our lives or the lives of loved ones. Let us use September 11 - not only in remembrance of an attack on America by hateful men but as a reminder that we must take the tough decisions of our lives to the Lord for confirmation or disapproval. Let us remember that Heavenly Father loves all of his children and wants to bless all of us. Like any loving Parent, He does not want us hurting each other, but He does want us to live together in love and harmony.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Manifest Destiny

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that the United States must be an example and blessing to every other nation on earth because it has a manifest destiny to do so. From Christopher Columbus to the Pilgrims and Puritans to the Founding Father - all American settlers felt a strong sense of mission. They felt that they were part of a divine plan and had a manifest destiny to bless all human beings. John Adams stated, "I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth." (Quoted in Conrad Cherry, God's New Israel, p 65). This same idea of manifest destiny continues today as expressed by every new President of the United States. Our Founders - as well as many Americans today - felt the responsibility to provide superior leadership and service to the people of the world. Our Founders understood that they had created a unique government, and they felt the responsibility to make it successful. John Jay, one of the Founders, wrote: "It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, wide-spreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a particular manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions and watered it with innumerable streams for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together; while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient distances, present them with highways for the easy communication of friendly aids and the mutual transportation and exchange of their various commodities. John Jay added, "With equal pleasure I have often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people - a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established their general liberty and independence." John Jay ended with these thoughts: "This country and this people seem to have been made for each other and it appears as if it was the design of Providence that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest of ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties" (The Federalist Papers, No 2, p 38). The Founders of our nation shared the same opinion of our nation as many ancient prophets who wrote that America is a promised land which is choice above all other lands. A prophet named Lehi said that if the inhabitants of this land will keep God's commandments, they will prosper and no other nation will molest them nor take away the land. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord Jesus Christ said, "According to the laws and Constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; … And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood" (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77, 80). According to this scripture, our Founders were correct in their idea that America has a manifest destiny to be a blessing to all human beings. America and Americans must be prepared to show the people and nations of the world that our example is a good one to follow. Some of the ideas and quotes for this post came from W. Cleon Skousen, The Five Thousand Year Leap, pp 215-219.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah began at sundown on September 8 and continues for at least one day - but it usually lasts two days. The Jewish words Rosh Hashanah or Rosh Ha-shanah mean Beginning of the Year. This holy day or Jewish New Year is a solemn festival where Jews pray for forgiveness from God, for a good year, and for a long life. Rosh Hashanah usually occurs in September, beginning on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri. Rosh Hashanah is the first day of the Ten Days of Penitence, which end on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. According to Jewish belief, Rosh Hashanah marks the genesis of God's annual judgment of mankind. They believe that God decides at that time who will die during the next year and who will continue to live. Synagogue services are held for Jews on Rosh Hashanah with emphasis on penitence, forgiveness, and judgment. The sound of a shofar (a ram's horn) calls the people to repentance and to awaken Jews to service of God. There are three separate groups of prayers that are recited during Rosh Hashanah. The first group of prayers is to remind people that God rules or controls the world. The second group of prayers is to remind the people that God responds to the call of the shofar. The third group of prayers is to remind people that God remembers the deeds performed. Facts for this post came from an article by Lawrence H.Schiffman in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 16, pp 482-4823.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque

I have pondered the planned Islamic cultural center and mosque near the World Trade Center for some time. I have come to the conclusion that a plan to build a Japanese pagoda or Buddhist temple near the site of the attack on Pearl Harbor would bring the same type of opposition. A plan to build either an Islamic mosque at Ground Zero or a Japanese temple near Pearl Harbor is simply unkind and insensitive to the feelings of Americans. It isn't the right thing to do! I'll have to admit that I had a difficult time bringing my thoughts and feelings about the insensitivity of the idea in line with the words contained in the United States Constitution. Article I states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …." The words seem to be really clear to me: the government has no power to establish religion or to prohibit people from practicing their religion. In other words, the government cannot stop the erection of the Islamic building as long as all the building requirements are met. Experience has taught me that people can stop chapels and temples from being built. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made different plans several times for building temples and chapels. Sometimes the neighbors of the planned building have caused such an uproar that the Church has sold the property and built elsewhere. This happened right here in my area when our Stake President went to the Municipality of Anchorage to obtain a permit to build a much needed new chapel. The neighbors were adamant that they did not want the increased traffic in the area that a chapel would bring. The permit was denied, and the Stake President sold that property and built a chapel in another area of the community. When the Anchorage Alaska Temple was being planned, the neighbors could not complain about a temple being built there because a chapel was already on part of the property. That fact did not stop Church leaders from visiting with every neighbor of the property to learn of the neighbors' concerns. They did this because they wanted to maintain a good relationship with the people who live in the area. When the temple open house was held, there was a special VIP tour just for the neighbors. One of the compromises that was made with the neighborhood is that the lights on the temple and in the Church parking lot are turned off every night at 11:00. It seems to me that when the Church planned temples in other areas that plans were changed. I think that the Church obtained other property in both Billings, Montana, and Boston, Massachusetts, because of opposition from neighbors. The bottom line to my thinking is this: Government cannot stop the free exercise of religion, but citizens of the United States still have the right to object to the erection of church buildings. Religions that want to maintain good relationships with the community listen to the people in the neighborhood. Religions that don't care will go ahead and build no matter what the neighbors say. In the case of the mosque, the neighborhood includes all of the United States. It is only a matter of time before we learn whether or not the Islamists want to have a good relationship with Americans. If they care about how Americans feel about a mosque at Ground Zero, they will build their Islamic cultural center and mosque some place else.

Monday, September 6, 2010

James A. Garfield

James Abram Garfield (1831-1881) was a large, athletic, good-looking man with blond hair and beard who was warmhearted and genial. He accomplished much before becoming President of the United States; he was successful as a professor, college president, Civil War general, and U.S. Congressman. He was read much and wrote well; he even composed a little poetry. He was capable of writing Lain with one hand while writing Greek with the other and often did so to entertain friends. Garfield was the last President of the United States to have a log cabin as his birthplace. He had a short tenure as President because he was assassinated a few months after taking office. He was the second President to be assassinated, and the fourth to die in office. Until Garfield's death, a "spoils system" was a big part of national politics. When a new President took office, thousands of civil servants were fired and were replaced by political supporters of the new Chief Executive. Garfield was not a reformer, but he recognized a problem with the system. He wrote the following in his diary a short time before he was shot, "Some civil service reform will come by necessity after the wearisome years of wasted Presidents have paved the way for it." A "disappointed job seeker" assassinated the President and shocked the nation. Congress began civil service reform two years later. Garfield was born on November 19, 1831, in a log cabin on a farm in Orange, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the youngest of five children of pioneers from the East. His father died before Garfield was two years old, and his mother continued working the thirty-acre farm to provide for her family. She was the first woman to attend a presidential inauguration of a son. Garfield did odd jobs during school vacations while a teenager and then left home at age 16 to find adventure as a sailor on the Great Lakes. After a ship's captain yelled at him and chased him away, he worked for six weeks for his cousin driving the horses that pulled a barge in the Ohio Canal. He said, "I fell into the canal just fourteen times and had fourteen almost miraculous escapes from drawings." James returned home with malaria and entered Geauga Academy in Chester when he recovered. He started teaching in the district school after his first term. He enrolled at age twenty in the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College) in Hiram, Ohio, and studied there for three years. He spent the next two years at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, under the guidance of the college president. After his graduation from Williams in 1856, Garfield became a professor of ancient languages and literature at Hiram College. The next year he became president of the college; he was twenty-six years old. While he was president, he studied some law and preached some sermons for his church. Garfield married Lucretia Rudolph, one of his former students at Hiram, on November 11, 1858. She was the daughter of an Ohio farmer and taught school while he completed his education. The couple had seven children, losing two as infants. James became a soldier shortly after the Civil War started when the governor commissioned him a lieutenant colonel of Ohio volunteers. He was made the youngest brigadier general in the Union Army after winning a minor battle in Kentucky in 1862. He was chief of staff under General William S. Rosecrans and rode under heavy fire to deliver an important message to General George H. Thomas during the Battle of Chickamauga. He was made a major general after the battle. While still in the army in 1862, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives but did not resign his commission until December 1863. He was re-elected to the House eight times. In 1880 Garfield was elected by the Ohio legislature to the U.S. Senate. Before he was ever seated in the Senate, he attended the Republican National Convention and was chosen as the presidential candidate on the 36th ballot. He won the presidential election by 1,898 votes. Garfield was planning to leave Washington D.C. on July 2, 1881, to attend the twenty-fifth reunion of his class at Williams College. He was at the railroad station when Charles J. Guiteau fired two pistol shots at him. Guiteau was arrested immediately. A jury convicted him for the murder, and he was hanged in 1882. One of the assassin's bullets lodged in Garfield's back and one grazed his arm. He was near death for eighty days but remained calm and cheerful through the hot Washington summer. Even though the Constitution says that when a President's "inability to discharge the powers and duties" of his office, "the same shall devolve on the Vice President," Chester A. Arthur did not step in because he didn't want to disturb Garfield or create a major political controversy. Arthur's decision was supported by the Cabinet. Garfield performed only one official act while he lay dying: he signed an extradition paper. Alexander Graham Bell tried to locate the bullet in Garfield's bag with an electrical device but was unsuccessful. With modern equipment and medicines, Garfield's life might have been saved before infection set in. He was moved to a cottage on the seashore in Elberon, New Jersey, where he died on September 19, 1881. He was buried in Cleveland, Ohio. Mrs. Garfield and her children benefited from a large fund raised by friends. Facts and quotes for this post are from an article by H. Wayne Morgan in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, pp 40-43.