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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

State of Union

                    President Barack Obama delivered the annual State of the Union address on January 24, 2012, from the U.S. Capital.  I did not watch him on television because I cannot stand to see his haughtiness and arrogance; I did however listen to the speech on the radio in spite of the fact that he was lying to us most of the time.  I do not trust the man or his advisors.  It was obvious that he described the Union as he sees it and not how the average U.S. citizen sees it. 

                    The "Morning Bell" from the Heritage Foundation noted:  "… The President essentially redelivered his 2011 State of the Union address - complete with the same empty rhetoric, class warfare cloaked in `fairness,' and proposals for massive tax and spending increases.
                    "The speech was notable for the items he did not mention, including many of the failed spending programs and policies he undertook over the past three years, the foreign policy and defense challenges he has exacerbated, and the economic actions he failed to take that would have created jobs and spurred economic growth."

                    Even though President Obama omitted some important facts, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels did mention some of them in his Republican response to the State of the Union address.  "The percentage of Americans with a job is at the lowest in decades.  One in five men of prime working age, and nearly half of all persons under 30, did not go to work today.
                    "In three short years, an unprecedented explosion of spending, with borrowed money, has added trillions to an already unaffordable national debt.  And yet, the President has put us on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead.  The federal government now spends one of every four dollars in the entire economy; it borrows one of every three dollars it spends."

                    President Obama tends to refer to himself and his accomplishments in his speeches.  The State of the Union address was no exception to this tendency.  The "Chronicle" from the Patriot Post noticed this tendency also:  "To sum up the SOTU:  `I went … I know … M … My … I took office … I'm president … I will work … I intend … I will oppose … I want to speak … I took office … I refused … told me … My message … Send me … I'll sign … I set … I signed … I will go … I will not stand … It's not fair … I'm announcing … I promise you … I also hear … I want … Join me … My administration … I want to cut … I call on … I spoke … let me put … I believe … my administration … I took office … I will sign … I'm directing … my administration … I'm requiring … I will not walk away … I will not walk away … I will not cede … I will … I'm directing … I'm proud … Send me … I will sign … I'm sending … I've approved … my presidency … I've ordered … I guess … I'm confident … I will not back down … I will not back down … I will not go back … I will not go back … I'm asking … fair play … So do I … I told … I'm prepared … fair share … my fair share … I get tax breaks I don't need … I recognize … I bet … I've talked … Send me a bill … I will sign … I ask the Senate … I've asked … I'm a Democrat … I believe … my education reform … I will keep taking …I can do … I have no doubt … I will take … I'm president … I intend … I have proposed … I have already … I'm proposing … brings me … my proudest … I sat … I look at … I'm reminded.'"  The "Chronicle" also included the statement:  "The speech also sounded a lot like last year's."

                    Tea Party Patriots had their own response to the President's 2012 State of the Union address.  Their message to the President is:  "The time is now to pass a budget, stop deficit spending, make real spending cuts and repeal government controlled healthcare!"  Their message to the nation is:  "We continue to grow, and we ask you to join us.  We will take back our country for liberty in 2012!"  

                    Charles Johnson's article about the State of theUnion address  pointed out just one of the inconsistencies in the speech.  "Last night President Obama renewed his calls for a so-called `middle class tax' cut that would all but kill Social Security:
`Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile.  People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year.  There are plenty of ways to get this done.  So let's agree right here, right now:  No side issues.  No drama.  Pass the payroll tax cut without delay.'
                    "And yet only two paragraphs later, he said this:  `Alas, in calling for a renewed payroll tax holiday, President Obama continues to raid Social Security and imperil the retirement account that many Americans have paid into and continue to depend upon.'
                    "On the one hand, he raids the Social Security trust fun, while on the other he attacks Republicans for threatening Social Security. Republicans ought not let him get away with such transparent chutzpah."
                    The rest of his article is interesting as he explains how all this will affect the Generation X-ers just as they get old enough to retire.
                    David Holt wrote the following in his response to the State of the Union address, particularly the comments about energy development:  "Tuesday's State of the Union address is noteworthy because it appears to signal a change in the Administration's approach to US energy development.  If so, this is welcome news.  Truly embracing an `all of the above' energy strategy that allows for the robust development of our oil and natural gas resources in the immediate term would boost economic development, lessen our dependence on hostile oil regimes, and save American consumers from record-high fuel costs.  However, while these words are encouraging, the Administration's actions over the last three years tell a different story." 

                I think that Mark Steyn had the best comment of all.  He started his article this way, "Had I been asked to deliver the State of the Union address, it would not have delayed your dinner plans: 
"`The State of our Union is broke, heading for bankrupt, and total collapse shortly thereafter.  Thank you and goodnight!  You've been a terrific crowd!'
"I gather that Americans prefer something a little more upbeat, so one would not begrudge a speechwriter fluffing it up by holding out at least the possibility of some change of fortune, however, remote.  Instead, President Obama assured us at great length that nothing is going to change, not now, not never.  Indeed the Union's state - its unprecedented world-record brokenness - was not even mentioned…."
Mark's article became better the more I read.  I highly recommend it!

                    There is an old adage that goes something like this:  You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time - but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. 

                    What did you think of the State of the Union address?  Do you believe what the President said - or are you like many other people who believe that he lies?

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Greatness of Ronald Reagan

                    It seems that almost every politician wants to be known as a Reagan-something.  Newt Gingrich claims that he is a Reagan-Conservative and wants us to believe that we can usher in another "Age of Reagan" by electing Gingrich to be the next President of the United States.  I personally do not see President Reagan in anything that Gingrich says or does!  I am not campaigning for Mitt Romney, but here is a short political ad explaining why Gingrich is no Ronald Reagan.  

                    Ronald Reagan was the best President of the United States in my life time and possibly the best President in the past one hundred years.  I liked him while he was President, and I admire him even more as time goes by.  President Reagan came to us after four very long and dark years under the administration of Jimmy Carter and was like a ray of sunshine after a terrible storm!  It was obvious in his words and actions that he loved our nation and wanted the people of the United States to be the best we could be.  His words were always positive and uplifting - even while participating in political debates.  I can still hear him say "There you go again!" and say it with a smile on his face.

                    I admire Ronald Reagan so much that I have posted ten different articles about him or quoting him in the past two years and feel impressed to write still another article.  The first article I wrote about President Reagan was during the fight to stop Obamacare.  It was entitled "Ronald Reagan on Health Care" and was dated December 1, 2009.  It was a short article that included a link to a talk given by a younger Ronald Reagan speaking as a private citizen about socialized medicine.  His remarks are still so appropriate that I want to link to them again.  President Reagan gave this speech in 1961 in opposition to Medicare and possibly Medicaid.  It could very well have been given in opposition to Obamacare!   I encourage you to listen to President Reagan - not only for the information in his talk but to get the sense of a real leader.

                    My next article was entitled "Generations of Freedom" and was dated December 17, 2009.   It quoted Ronald Reagan about the importance of each generation teaching their children and grandchildren about the importance of freedom and how to safeguard it.  "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States when men were free." 

                    My third article, entitled "Progressive Movement" on January 7, 2010, included a link to a speech given by Ronald Reagan at the 1964 Republican National Convention.  The speech was about Russia and the threat of communism, but his words apply to our nation right now. The entire speech is wonderful and worth hearing.  Here is just one small quote from it:   "This is the issue of the election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves." 

                    My next two articles were very similar and included the basic facts about the life of Ronald Reagan.  One of those articles can be found here.  

                    My sixth article about Ronald Reagan centered on his integrity and his willingness to stand on his principles.  The article, dated March 3, 2010, was entitled "Plant Your Flag"  and started with this quote:  "When General Victor `Brute' Krulak asked President Reagan what advice he would give young Marine officers, Reagan didn't hesitate: `Plant your flag.' He meant find those principles, those ideals, that plan or project on which you will stake your reputation, and plant your flag there…." (William J. Bennett, America: The Last Best Hope, Vol. II, p. 480). 

                    A second quote included in that article was from a speech President Reagan made in June 1982 as the first President of the United States to address the British House of Commons: "In an ironic sense, Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of Marxist-Leninism, the Soviet Union…. [T]he march of freedom and democracy …will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people."

                    A third quote from the same article came from Reagan's famous speech at the Berlin Wall in West Germany in June 1987 as part of Berlin's 750th anniversary celebration.  The following paragraph tells the story.  "Reagan wanted to make a strong statement about divided Berlin. Reagan's speech writer visited Berlin in preparation for writing the speech. He saw the 60-mile long wall that separated West Berlin and East Berlin.  He also saw that the wall separated two different types of existence. He saw that East Berlin was colorless and had buildings which still showed signs of bomb and bullet damage from World War II. In West Berlin he saw life, color, movement, modern architecture, traffic, etc. He talked with people in West Berlin who explained how the wall had separated members of their family. He returned to Washington D.C. determined to write something about the wall coming down. The State Department, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of State didn't want anything about the wall in the speech. They rejected draft after draft of the speech. Each time Reagan put the famous line about the wall coming down back into the speech. Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg Gate is regarded today as one of history's greatest speeches. He said what he wanted to say, and he said it with emphasis. `General Secretary, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!' Reagan believed that the United States must always negotiate from a position of strength. He was a man who believed in standing firm on true principles."

                    My seventh article concerning Ronald Reagan was entitled "Defending Freedom,"  dated May 4, 2010.  It included this quote illustrating the strong and positive feelings that he had about the United States as he explained to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev:  "When World War II ended, the United States had the only undamaged industrial power in the world. Our military might was at its peak, and we alone had the ultimate weapon, the nuclear weapon, with the unquestioned ability to deliver it anywhere in the world. If we had sought world domination then, who could have opposed us? But the United States followed a different course, one unique in all the history of mankind. We used our power and wealth to rebuild the war-ravished economies of the world, including those of the nations who had been our enemies."  

                    My eighth article, entitled "Teach Liberty" and dated July 9, 2010, included the Reagan quote about freedom being "never more than one generation away from extinction" quoted above as well as some personal examples.

                    My ninth article was entitled "Freedom to Work" and was dated November 11, 2010.  It included the following quote about putting Americans back to work.  "We hear much of special interest groups.  Our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected.  It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines.  It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and our factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we are sick - professionals, industrialist, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers.  They are in short, `We the people,' this breed called Americans.  Well, this administration's objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunity for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination.  Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work.  … All must share in the productive work of this `new beginning' and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy.  With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America at peace with itself and the world."

                    My tenth article was entitled "Great Leaders" and was dated June 7, 2011.  There were no Reagan quotes in the article, just praise for the leadership of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher as part of a celebration for the life of this great President.  The two leaders stood together and worked together to make the world a better and safer place.

                    There can never be another Ronald Reagan, but there can be other great leaders who love this nation, have integrity, and stand on principle.  I believe that Ronald Reagan was another great man that was prepared by God to lead our nation at an extremely dangerous time.  I have nothing but admiration for him!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

No Capitation Tax

                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I, Section 9, Clause 4:  "No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, [unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.]"  This principle of the United States Constitution guaranteed to American citizens that they would never be subject to a fixed tax of so much per person except in proportion to the population of their state.

                    "The word capitation comes from a Latin word meaning `head.'  Therefore, any reference to capitation taxes or poll taxes refers to a tax which is levied at `so much per head,' regardless of circumstance.  The Founders were well aware that this is not a fair tax, but it is the most easily collected in an emergency.  But how much should the head tax be?  Should this be determined by the wealth of the state, or its population?  … [T]he Founders felt there was no way of accurately determining the wealth of a state, whereas there could be no question as to the number of people.  For this reason they concluded at the Convention to make it a matter of constitutional mandate that if the government was ever forced to levy a head tax on the states, it would be according to the population."  (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p 477.)

                    Due to the fact that the Articles of Confederation did not give the national government much power to raise revenue, the Founders wanted to give the federal government more power to do so even though they were very concerned about taxes.  "Indirect taxes (generally understood as falling on articles of consumption) did not lend themselves to congressional abuse …, but the Framers believed that `directed taxes' needed to be cabined.  The cumbersome apportionment rule, requiring that a direct tax be apportioned among the states on the basis of population (so that, for example, a state with twice the population of another state would have to pay twice the tax, even if the more populous state's share of the national tax base were smaller), made the more dangerous taxes politically difficult for Congress to impose….
                    "Direct taxes, which were expected to be used only in emergencies, did not have the built-in protections characteristic of indirect taxes.  Direct taxes were imposed directly on individuals, who, it was assumed, could not shift their liability to others.  If a tax was not indirect, the Framers though it should be apportioned.  Capitation and land taxes were direct under this understanding, but so might other taxes be whether known in 1787 or not.  If nothing else, a broader understanding of `direct taxes' should require that the constitutional character of any proposed tax be studied before it is enacted in an unapportioned form."  (See Erik M. Jensen in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp 159-160.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mortality - A Time for Learning

                    Have you ever watched the Olympics or another prestigious athletic event in person or on television?  Although it is exciting to watch skillful athletic performances, few of us will truly understand the years of dedication, discipline, and practice that each athlete must experience before he or she can compete at that level of competition.  The athlete's performance is a direct result of working toward a chosen goal.

                    Life is much like the Olympics because both require a goal, preparation and hard work in order to gain success and both involve persistence in case of failure.  Life is unlike the Olympics in that very few athletes ever become gold medalists but each of us can receive the highest reward of life.

                    Like Olympic athletes, we are "in training" because we want to reach a very important goal.  The "gold medal" we are working toward is exaltation in the celestial kingdom.  In order to receive this reward we must be dedicated and disciplined in keeping the commandments and our covenants with God.

                    We must understand that Heavenly Father has a plan for the happiness of His children and that He introduced that plan to us while we lived in heaven with Him.  We listened as He explained that we would leave our heavenly home and go away to "college" to gain knowledge and experience, and then we accepted His plan.  As part of Heavenly Father's plan, we came to earth as infants and grew to our present stature. 

                    Why did Heavenly Father want us to come to earth?  Why is mortality an important part of the plan of salvation?  Our Heavenly Father loves each of us, and He wants each of us to reach our full potential.  He understood that we needed mortality in order to reach our highest potential.

President Spencer W. Kimball gave us two very important reasons for mortality:  "God has given us a plan.  He has sent us all to earth to obtain bodies and to gain experience and growth."  (See The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p 25.)

                    Heavenly Father sent us to earth in order for us to receive physical bodies and to gain experience.  We learned a lot while in our pre-earth life, but we needed physical bodies in order to progress any further.  "My brothers and sisters, we're away from home.  We're off to school.  Our lessons will not be easy.  The way we react to them, the way we conquer and accomplish and live will determine our rewards, and they will be permanent and eternal….
                    "You are sent to this world with a very serious purpose.  You are sent to school, for that matter, to begin as a human infant and grow to unbelievable propositions in wisdom, judgment, knowledge, and power." (See Teachings, pp 28, 31.)

                    The "home" cited by President Kimball is our home in heaven with our Heavenly Father.  The "school" is mortality.  What have you learned in this school since you left your heavenly home?  President Kimball said that one of the purposes for coming to earth was to gain a mortal body.  A body is a wonderful blessing, but learning to control that body and how to use it righteously is a major learning experience.  This earthly lesson includes learning to control our appetites, desires, and passions.  It also includes using our newly learned skills like walking and talking in righteous ways.  We need to use our ability to walk to go to the places where we should be and to take us away from evil.  We need to use our ability to talk to speak honestly and positively and never take the name of the Lord in vain.  God's commandments, such as the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity, help us learn to use our bodies righteously.

                    There is much that we must learn while we are in this earthly school before we are ready to "graduate" and return to live with Heavenly Father.  An ancient prophet named Alma counseled, "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors."  (See Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 34:32.)

                    Alma said that we must "prepare to meet God" and "perform [our] labors."  What do we need to do in order to prepare to meet God?  The Apostle Peter taught, "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.
                    "And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
                    "And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity."  (See 2 Peter 1:5-7.)

                    Nephi, an ancient American prophet, taught, "And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved."  (See Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 31:16.)

                    So, in order to prepare to meet God, we must develop faith in Jesus Christ and then diligently add the following qualities:  virtue, knowledge, temperance (self-control), patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (Christlike love).  After we have developed all those qualities, we need to continue doing good and then endure to the end of our lives.

                    The different circumstances and situations we experience in our earthly life are tailored to our individual needs to help us develop those qualities we personally need in order to live with Heavenly Father again.  Our nation, our family, our friends, our health, and our church experiences are all situations that help us learn.   Caring for a young child helps to develop patience.  Dealing with a personal or family disability helps to develop compassion.  Experiencing failure or disappointment helps to develop persistence.  Keeping the commandments develops self-control and faith in Jesus Christ.

                    Our experiences on earth are all part of our eternal life.  Our view of eternity is now limited, but we will have a better understanding of the importance of using our mortality wisely after we leave this life.

                    President Kimball related the following personal experience.  "While in the city of Honolulu, we stayed in a room which was enclosed in glass on three sides.  The light in the room illumined it and we could see the shining glass, the beautiful furniture, ceiling, floor, walls, the vases and other ornaments, everything in the room only.  Our vision was limited to the small room and its contents.  And then we turned out the lights and went to the window and through that window, which before had been the end of our vision, now we could see clearly over the housetops, over the trees, to the thoroughfares beneath with their many street lights, studded with the lights of automobiles, and beyond that we could see the seashore and the great hotels, and Waikiki Beach, the Punchbowl and Old Diamond Head with their craters, and the great ocean with its ships carrying the commerce of the world.
                    "[This] is like eternity.  Here [on earth] we are limited in our visions.  With our eyes we can see but a few miles.  With our ears we can hear but a few years.  We are encased, enclosed, as it were, in a room, but when our light goes out of this life, then we see beyond mortal limitations….
                    "The walls go down, time ends and distance fades and vanishes as we go into eternity… and we immediately emerge into a great world in which there are no earthly limitations comparable to ours as to time, distance, or speed."   (See Teachings, pp 40-41.)

                    The knowledge that there is life after death or knowledge of eternal life can help us to use our mortality wisely in order to learn and gain all the knowledge and experience possible.  President Kimball said that "our lessons [in this life] will not be easy," but the reward - exaltation - for learning these lessons well will be well worth the effort.

                    I am very grateful for my experiences in life and the lessons I have learned from them.  I know that Heavenly Father gave us mortality as a time to learn and grow because He loves us and wants us to return to be with Him and like Him.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Abundant Life

                    Families grow stronger when members undertake "a personal, diligent, significant quest" for the "abundant life."  President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints described the abundant life as being "filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings," and then he set forth his ABCs on how to gain the abundant life.

                    The A in President Monson's ABCs means attitude.  "So much in life depends on our attitude.  The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference.  To do the best we can and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment….
                    "We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.  For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude."

                    The B in President Monson's ABCs means believe - "in yourself, in those around you, and in eternal principles.
                    "Be honest with yourself, with others, and with your Heavenly Father….
                    "Don't limit yourself and don't let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do.  Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities.
                    "You can achieve what you believe you can.  Trust and believe and have faith."

                    President Monson's C stands for courage.  "Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully but as a determination to live decently….
                    "There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged.  You may feel that you are defeated….
                    "Courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one's coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve."  (See "Living the Abundant Life," Ensign, January 2012, pp 4-5.)

                    These ABCs can strengthen families especially as we begin our journeys into a new year.  It is important that we cultivate and keep a positive attitude, believe in ourselves as we set and achieve goals, and strengthen our courage to withstand the many challenges that come our way as individuals, families, communities, and nations.  The abundant life can come to families that embark on President Monson's "quest" for the "abundant life."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marriage and Religious Freedom

                    The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is that marriage and religious freedom go hand in hand.  Freedom of religion is necessary in order to truly support marriage; keeping the sacrament of marriage is fundamental to maintaining religious freedom.  They must stand together, or both of them shall fall. 

                    Last Friday I wrote an article about why we should defend marriage.  You can find that article here.  I included in that article some videos from the GOP debate in New Hampshire where the candidates defended marriage very well.  I encourage you to watch all of the videos there, but I want to emphasize in this article how Newt Gingrich "called out" the media - mainstream or lame stream which ever you prefer - for their bias when covering religious liberty issues.  That article also included a link to two letters written by a group of religious leaders who are very much concerned about losing religious freedom if same sex marriage becomes the law of the land.

                    Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney both emphasized during the debate that Catholic Charities had to close their adoption agency in Massachusetts because they would not place children with same-sex couples.  Catholic Charities had previously placed about fifty percent of all adoptions in Massachusetts, but now they can no longer help children find loving families. 

The letters from the religious leaders give several other examples of loss of religious freedom because of refusal to recognize same-sex marriages.  1) The State of New Jersey "cancelled the tax-exempt status of a Methodist-run boardwalk pavilion used for religious services because the religious organization would not host a same-sex `wedding' there."  2) "San Francisco dropped its $3.5 million in social service contracts with the Salvation Army because it refused to recognize same-sex `domestic partnerships' in its employee benefits policies."  3) "Portland, Maine, required Catholic Charities to extend spousal employee benefits to same-sex `domestic partners' as a condition of receiving city housing and community development funds."  Please read these letters because they deserve your attention.

One of the consequences of altering the definition of marriage is the interference with the religious freedom of those who continue to believe that "marriage" is the legal and lawful union of one man and one woman.  Anchorage, Alaska, will put an initiative on the municipal ballot for public vote in April that "would extend legal protections against discrimination to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Anchorage.  Current law already prohibits discrimination in employment, loans, rentals, real estate deals and other activities on the basis of race, color, marital status, sex, religion, disabilities and the like.  The initiative would add sexual orientation and transgender identity to the list."  (See Rosemary Shinohara in Anchorage Daily News, Saturday, January 21, 2012, p A-3.)

The Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Arizona, a national conservative Christian legal group, "analyzed the Anchorage initiative several weeks ago at the request of the Alaska Family Council, a conservative Christian organization that opposes the initiative."  The main problem that the Alliance Defense Fund sees with the initiative according to Holly Carmichael, a lawyer with the fund, is that "private business owners could be forced to hire or do business with people whose sexual orientation doesn't match their religious beliefs.
"The ultimate concern with enacting something like that is that it infringes on religious freedoms…. There's a huge constitutional concern here."

Religious organizations apparently receive an exemption in current "city law that says religious institutions and groups can give preferential treatment to people of the same religion if they are, for example, hiring someone who will promote religious principles."  Carmichael considers the exemption to be "too narrow" because it does not "protect other business owners or employees in the same way as it does religious groups."

One of my concerns about the Anchorage initiative is my belief that by outlawing discrimination on sexual orientation, we are one step closer to losing some of the freedoms in our society.  No place - our homes, churches, temples - will be safe.  When we are forced to give our stamp of approval to same-sex relationships, we must understand that we will also be losing blessings from God.  

Our nation was founded on Christian-Judeo principles and values.  Our Founders gave us the Constitution in order that we would be a nation of laws and they founded our laws on biblical laws, mostly the Ten Commandments.  We must understand that our laws are based on commandments from God. 

There is a huge problem in our nation now because of the movement for same-sex marriage.  Several states have given their approval for such marriages while most of the states have not.  We are a nation of laws; therefore, we cannot have people married in one state and not married in another state.  Many states have passed amendments to their state constitutions stating that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.  Now we need to pass an amendment to our national Constitution to protect that status of marriage being a legal and lawful union between one man and one woman.

There is a huge jump from being understanding, concerned and supportive about same-sex couples and letting them call their union "marriage."  Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and marital fidelity brings blessings from God.  In fact, marriage between a man and a woman is a holy sacrament that cannot be extended to any other union.   My personal belief is that homosexuality is a sin and that those who participate in it will reap serious consequences for their actions whether or not they are "married."   I also believe that any sexual activity outside of a legal and lawful marriage between one man and one woman is sin.

Having declared my own personal feelings about immorality, I can also state that I have no problem with same-sex couples receiving legal protection as a couple.  I do, however, have a big problem with using the term "marriage" to describe a same-sex union.

Using the same term of "marriage" to describe a union between a man and a woman as well as a same-sex union desecrates the sacrament of marriage.  A marriage is a three-way partnership between a man, a woman, and God that is instrumental in providing physical bodies for the spirit children of God.  As long as God remains a part of the relationship, the marriage is protected by God; therefore, God holds the marriage partners accountable for the success or failure of that marriage.  This is one reason why Christians desire their marriages to take place in churches and temples:  they want God to be a part of their marriage. 

If the government forces religions to perform same-sex marriages in their churches and temples, I expect that many religions will simply close the doors of their churches and temples rather than desecrate them.  The bottom line in this fight for same-sex marriage, whether or not people recognize it or are willing to admit it, is a desire to destroy religion entirely.  It isn't enough to take God out of the classrooms and graduations or off our billboards and football fields.  Now they want to take God out of our lives completely.  Once homosexuals achieve the legal status of marriage, they will want the same type of wedding ceremonies in the churches and temples.  What better way is there to destroy freedom of religion than to force the churches and temples to close if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages?  You better believe that religious liberty is threatened by the fight for same-sex marriage.  We must promote and protect marriage as being a union between one man and one woman!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Martha Custis Washington

                    Martha Custis Washington was the kind of wife that a great man like George Washington needed and deserved.  Martha was the very first woman to serve as First Lady.  She was so well loved and respected that many people called her Lady Washington, but George used her childhood name of Patsy.

                    Lady Washington was born Martha Dandridge on June 2, 1731, on her parents' plantation, Chestnut Grove, near Williamsburg, Virginia.  Her parents were John Dandridge (1700-1756) and Frances Jones (1710-1785).  Her father emigrated from England and became a wealthy land owner and planter.  Her mother was of English and Welsh descent.  Martha was the oldest of eight children and had three brothers and four sisters. 

                    Martha married Daniel Parke Custis on May 15, 1750, when she was 18 years old.  Daniel was a rich planter who was much older than Martha - somewhere between 13 and 20 years.  They lived at the White House Plantation located a few miles up the Pamunkey River from her parents' plantation.  Martha and Daniel had four children:  Daniel (1751-1754), Frances (1753-1757), John (Jacky) Parke Custis (1754-1781), and Martha ("Patsy") Parke Custis (1756-1773).  Daniel and Frances died in childhood while Jacky and Patsy survived to young adulthood.  Martha was left a rich, young widow when her husband passed away in 1757; he left her with independent control over a dower inheritance for her lifetime and trustee control over the inheritance of her minor children.

                    There is apparently no record as to when Martha met George Washington.  They might have known each other while Martha was married to Daniel, and they might have met at a neighbor's house in Williamsburg in early 1758.  George was a colonel in the militia at the time and must have been very dashing.  He visited Martha at the White House Plantation twice in March 1758 and came away from the second visit with either an engagement to marry or a promise that she would think about it.  She apparently was also being courted by another wealthy planter named Charles Carter.

                    The wedding of George and Martha took place on January 6, 1759, and was apparently a "grand affair" as she wore "purple silk shoes with spangled buckles" and he was attired in "a suit of blue and silver with red trimming and gold knee buckles".  They honeymooned at the White House Plantation before beginning their life together at the Mount Vernon estate of Washington.  From all reports, their marriage was a solid match with no sign of problems or infidelity.

                    Martha and George had no children together, but they reared Martha's two surviving children.  Patsy died as a teenager from an epileptic seizure, and Jacky came home from college to comfort his mother.  Jacky was an aide to Washington during the 1781 siege of Yorktown and died during his military service - probably from typhus.  After Jacky's death, Martha and George took two of his children - Eleanor Parke Custis (March 31, 1779 - July 15, 1852) and George Washington Parke Custis (April 30, 1781 - October 10, 1857) into their home to rear.  George and Martha apparently provided personal and financial support to other family members in both the Dandridge and Washington families.

                    George and Martha enjoyed being home and living a private life at either Mount Vernon or one of the homes of the Custis estate.  It was at great sacrifice of personal feelings that George was gone from home so long to fight the Revolutionary War.  Each winter when the army went to its winter encampment, George sent for Martha, and she came in spite of the fact that she really enjoyed being around her large and extended family.  Martha was about five feet tall and had never been away from Virginia until her husband became the commander-in-chief of the army.  She traveled thousands of miles to be with him each winter, traveling to military encampments in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.

                    After the Continental Army marched into Valley Forge for their third winter encampment on December 19, 1777, Martha left Mount Vernon on January 26, 1778, and spent ten days traveling hundreds of miles in order to be with her husband in Pennsylvania.  While she was at Valley Forge, she helped to maintain a higher level of morale among the officers and enlisted troops.

                    Martha's main role in the encampment was to care for her husband and give him her "soothing gentle hand."  She served as hostess at the camp and socialized with the wives of other senior officers.  The officers and their ladies would gather at each other's quarters in the evening for conversation and singing as General Washington prohibited dancing and card-playing at Valley Forge.  Martha organized a women's sewing circle and mended clothing for the troops.

                    Martha was still at Valley Forge on May 6, 1778, to celebrate the formal announcement of an American alliance with France.  The General and his lady began the day at Sunday services with the New Jersey brigade.  After the sermon there was a thunderous feu de joie when thousands of soldiers fired their muskets consecutively to show their joy.

                    On May 11, Martha and George attended a camp production of Cato, one of the General's favorite theatricals.  Staff officers performed the Joseph Addison tragedy for a "splendid audience" of officers and their wives. 

                    Martha celebrated her forty-seventh birthday on June 2, and then six days later she packed up her carriage and returned to Mount Vernon, hoping that this was the last time that she would spend a winter in an army encampment.  It was not to be, and she made five more winter trips to join her husband.

                    Martha was so opposed to George being elected President of the newly-formed United States that she refused to attend his inauguration on April 30, 1789.  She did however act as First Lady and hosted many affairs of state in New York and then in Philadelphia when the capital moved.  (Washington, D.C. did not become the capital until 1800 during the John Adams Administration.)  Martha did not enjoy being the First Lady and felt like a "state prisoner."  She was called Lady Washington, but she dressed so plainly that people often thought she was the maid.

                    After President Washington passed away in 1799, Martha continued to live at Mount Vernon.  A short time before her death on May 22, 1802, she burned all of Washington's letters to her.  She was buried by the side of her husband at Mount Vernon.  All of the Washington slaves were freed between the time that George passed away and the day of Martha's death.

                    Facts for this article are from Wikipedia and Kathryn Kish Sklar in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 21, p 109.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

GOP Candidates

                    The ideal Republican presidential candidate would be a person with all the strengths of Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum and none of their weaknesses.  It would be wonderful to have a President with the knowledge of government like Gingrich, experience in foreign affairs like Huntsman, desire for small government like Ron Paul, executive experience and success like Perry, business experience like Romney, and conservative values like Santorum.  Alas, we have not found such a person; however, any one of the men listed above would make a better President than the one we have currently in the Oval Office!

                    I was very disappointed this week to read that Texas Governor Rick Perry was quitting the Republican presidential race.  I kept hoping that Republicans would give him a second chance because I think he is the best candidate.  I like Governor Perry because he is (and has been for a long time) a conservative - unlike Mitt Romney.  He has been married to Anita for 29 years and has apparently been faithful to her - unlike Gingrich.  He has been a well-liked and successful governor of Texas for a dozen plus years; therefore, he has leadership experience - unlike Santorum.  He is sane - and Ron Paul's sanity is questionable. Governor Perry has been thoroughly vetted; therefore, we would know what we were getting.  I also believe that Governor Perry, simply by being in the race, did a lot to keep the other candidates more honest.  Besides, Governor Perry is a very likeable person!

                    I believe strongly that Mitt Romney is a good man with great leadership ability and strong love for the United States.  It doesn't matter to me that he is rich and made his money as a venture capitalist because venture capitalism is muchbetter than crony capitalism.   I do not think that the media will find anything bad in his closet because they would have found it by now.  I believe he would run the nation as a business and stop our slide into the bondage of debt.  I watched part of the GOP debate in Tampa, Florida, and liked what I saw there.  I am leaning more towards Romney.  Please don't be fooled by the media talking about Romney's 15 percent tax rate because 87 percent of Americans pay less than 15 percent - 47 or 49 percent pay no taxes at all!  A man that gives 15% of his income to charity has to be a good man!

                    I like Rick Santorum.  I believe that he has good, solid conservative ideas and a good record of conservatism.  My big worry about Santorum is his lack of executive experience.  It is one thing to be one Senator among one hundred members of the Senate; it is quite a different thing to be the person sitting in the Oval Office.  We have a President now who came to the Executive Office from the Senate, and he doesn't know how to lead!  Because Rick is basically a good man and a conservative, he would be a better President than Obama!

                    I agree with a few of the ideas that Ron Paul shares.  I like his support of the Constitution and his ideas about small government.  I do not like his ideas about foreign relationships.  I basically think he is a "loose cannon."  I think that he is too old to elect as our President and that he does not have the mental ability to be the leader of the Free World.

                    I admire Newt Gingrich in the way he handles the media, for his debating skills, and for his knowledge of how government runs.  I have a real problem with his lack of morality; the man has cheated on two different wives and is a serial adulterer.  He has too much moral baggage for a party of principles and values.  Obviously, I am not the only person who thinks Newt's morals should be considered.   Check out this article or this one or this one.  A man whom I know very well and whose opinion I admire very much considers Gingrich to be "evil."  I found some articles that enlarge on the same idea - here and here.  

                    In addition to his lack of morals, I believe strongly that Gingrich is a Republican progressive.  Any man who considers Franklin D. Roosevelt to be the best President in the last hundred years cannot be considered to be a conservative.  Every conservative I have listened to claims that Ronald Reagan was the best President; Gingrich claims FDR was the best one. Gingrich apparently does not understand that a person can be a great leader and not be good for the people.  Examples include Hitler and Lenin, both with great leadership skills.  Being a good leader does not necessary mean that FDS was a good President of the United States.  FDR accomplished many things during his three+ terms as President of the United States, but that does not mean that he was good for the United States!  I understand that Gingrich also admires Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson - all liberals/progressives.  Gingrich is a Republican, but he is also a liberal/progressive, big-government person who is masquerading as a conservative.  I believe that our nation would be better off with Gingrich than Obama but not a whole lot better.  Please do not fall for his smooth language and debating skills!

                    Now that Governor Perry is out of the presidential race, this is the way I rate the GOP candidates:  Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.  I have to admit that I'm still looking for that ideal candidate!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Greatness of George Washington

                    I feel strongly that I should write an article about George Washington.  I have already written several articles about him concerning the facts of his life.  These facts can be found here or here.  

                    I want to write about the greatness of the man, and yet I lack the words to truly describe him.  George Washington performed many great acts of achievement, but he remained humble and willing to serve his country.  He possessed great wealth but was willing to walk and work with common men.  He was a great leader but was willing to listen to counsel from his subordinates.   He controlled the army whose officers would have made him king, but he went before Congress to resign his military commission and return to private life.  He seemed to always put the good of the army and/or the good of the country before his own personal needs and desires.  What caused this man to be as he was?

                    I believe that George Washington could have been one of "noble and great" men seen in vision by Abraham.  "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
                    "And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said:  These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me:  Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born."  (See Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:22-23.)

                    What kind of rulers did God include in this statement?  Was God referring only to spiritual leaders or did He include George Washington and other Founders?  Latter-day revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith included the following information:  "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;
                    "That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
                    "Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
                    "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."  (See Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80; italics added.)

                    Ancient prophets were told that the American continents were the "promised land" and had been kept in reserve and unknown to the people in the Old World until God determined that time was right.  God also proclaimed that this land would be free of kings and would remain free only to people who were righteous and followed Jesus Christ.  (See the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ.)  God said that He "raised up" "wise men" to write the Constitution of the United States.  The fact is that the Constitution would not have been written if the Americans had not won the Revolutionary War!  I strongly believe that God performed miracles and helped Washington and his army to win that war in order that a free nation could be established in America!

                    One of Washington's officers, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, spoke for most, if not all, Americans at the time when he proclaimed Washington to be:  "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

                    How did Washington come to hold such an honored place in the hearts of Americans?  The people loved him because of his character and his leadership; they loved him because of his integrity and character.  He was a great leader who helped to shape the new nation that became the United States of AmericaWashington did this in three very important ways:  1) He was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  He kept the army together - a major accomplishment in and of itself - and led it for eight long years before winning American independence from Great Britain - the greatest military power on earth at the time.  2) He served as president of the convention that wrote the Declaration of Independence.  Because of the love and respect that the delegates had for Washington, he was instrumental in keeping the convention together long enough to finish the Constitution. 3) Because the people trusted Washington, they agreed to ratify the Constitution and then they elected Washington to be the first President of the United States.  They had enough faith in his integrity to give him great power, and he honored that faith by serving his nation well and by setting numerous precedents for those who came after him.  He was very mindful of the precedents he was setting and was determined that they should be appropriate and proper.

                    Washington's character and integrity probably stemmed from his childhood and the teachings of his parents about honesty, integrity, responsibility, and work.  His mother or a teacher might have suggested that he copy the following rules of behavior in his notebook.  The rules are written in his own spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
                    Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.
                    Use no Reproachfull Language against any one, neither Curse nor Revile.
                    Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Deck't, if your Shoes fit well, if your Skokings Sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.
                    While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.
                    Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.
                    It's unbecoming to Stoop much to ones Meat Keep your Fingers clean & when foul wipe them on a Corner of your Table Napkin.  (See article by Philander D. Chase in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 21, p 92.)

                    Washington's character was probably formed by his faith in God, his humility and willingness to kneel in prayer to ask for guidance and then attribute his success to that Supreme Being.  The following quote shows his tremendous desire and determination to do what was right before God and for future Americans. 

                    The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves…  the fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army - our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission…  We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die.  (General orders to the Continental Army, July 2, 1776, as quoted in World Book, p 105)

                    I truly do believe that George Washington was one of the greatest men to ever live.  I believe that he acted under inspiration from God when he led his rag tag army to victory and independence.  I believe that he continued to listen to inspiration from God in the Constitutional Convention and as President of the United States.  George Washington was a truly great man!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

No Ex Post Facto Law

                    The topic of discussion on this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.9.3:  "No … ex post facto law shall be passed [by Congress].  This provision in the Constitution gave every American the guarantee that there would be no law passed by Congress after an act had occurred.

                    "The term ex post facto simply means `after the deed or fact.'  There are five situations which this provision prohibits: 
1) Charging someone with an offense or crime which was not illegal at the time it occurred….
2) Charging someone with a crime under a law which has made the offense more serious than when it was committed….
3) Subjecting someone to a greater punishment than was prescribed by the law at the time the offense was perpetrated….
4) Allowing evidence to be introduced under new rules which were not in effect at the time the offense occurred….
5) Passing a law which deprives the accused of some protection to which he was entitled at the time the act occurred….
                    "Many injustices have been prevented under this provision…."  (See W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p 476.)

                    "As generally understood, a law that is ex post facto - literally, after the fact - is one that criminally punishes conduct that was lawful when it was done.  It is an aspect of the fundamental maxim, nulla poena sine lege:  there can be no punishment without law - in this case, without pre-existing law.  Despite the fact that the prohibition against such laws had worked its way into English law (as celebrated by Sir William Blackstone), Parliament had, nonetheless, claimed the right to enact ex post facto laws in the form of bills of attainder against unpopular groups and persons.  In addition, prior to the Constitutional Convention, some states themselves had passed ex post facto laws.  (The prohibition of ex post facto state laws is found in Article I, Section 10, Clause 1).
                    "Nevertheless, opposition to ex post facto laws was a bedrock principle among the Framers….
                    "In Philadelphia, the Framers debated the issue vigorously….  The delegates then approved the clause….
                    "While the Supreme Court has hewn to the position that the Ex Post Facto Clause prohibits criminal penalties only, it has also applied the clause in civil cases where criminal penalties are disguised as civil disabilities.  As the Court has said, `it is the effect, not the form, of the law that determines whether it is ex post facto.'  Weaver v. Graham (1980)."  (See Daniel Troy, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp 156-157.)