Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Appellate Jurisdiction

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article III, Section 2, and Clause 2:  “In all the other Cases before mentioned [all cases arising under the Constitution or the federal laws and treaties], the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”

                “This provision gives the Congress the RIGHT to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on any subject not previously allocated to it as a matter of primary jurisdiction by the Constitution.

                “This provision was not designed to give Congress the power to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts, but simply to make decisions on many topics conclusive after a hearing in the lower courts.  It was the purpose of the Founders to protect the Supreme Court from being submerged by a mountain of trivial cases when it should be concentrating its attention on matters of national importance” (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 612).

                “Recent debate over the Appellate Jurisdiction Clause has centered on proposals for legislation that would remove existing Supreme Court jurisdiction.  Constitutional scholars strongly disagree as to how far Congress may go in removing Supreme Court jurisdiction under the clause….

                “The Supreme Court has remained aloof from the scholarly contest, leaving its precedents to stand for broad congressional authority to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.  Thus far, the Court has followed the lead of John Marshall, who stated in the Virginia ratifying convention:  `Congress is empowered to make exceptions to the appellate jurisdiction, as to law and fact, of the Supreme Court.  These exceptions certainly go as far as the legislature may think proper for the interest and liberty of the people’” (See Andrew S. Gold in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 260).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Scriptures Teach About the Priesthood

                What do you know about the priesthood?  Do you have any desire to learn more about the power and authority which God has given to men to act for Him on earth?  President Boyd K.Packer explained that men who “exercise priesthood authority properly” do what God “would do if He were present.” 

One of the best ways to learn about the priesthood is to study the scriptures.  Studying the scriptures involves more than just reading.  In order to understand scriptures, we can learn and apply scripture study skills?  There are numerous scripture study skills that we can use to learn more about priesthood or any other topic found in the scriptures.  We can deepen our understanding of the scriptures by using the aids available to us.

One of those study aids is the Bible Dictionary.  Studying the topic “Melchizedek Priesthood” (pp. 730-731), we can learn much about the Melchizedek Priesthood:  Melchizedek Priesthood is the higher or greater Priesthood, as compared with the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood.  By turning to the suggested reference, we learn the reason why the greater Priesthood is called the Melchizedek Priesthood (Doctrine and Covenants 107:1-3).  Melchizedek was a great high priest.  Before his time the priesthood was called “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.”  The name was changed to Melchizedek in ancient times to show “respect or reverence” for the name of God and “to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name.”

The Bible Dictionary tells us where we can find the Melchizedek Priesthood mentioned in the scriptures (Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 2:17-18; 3:1; 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11, 15, 17, 21).  It tells us that Adam and the patriarchs and prophets in every dispensation had the Melchizedek Priesthood until Moses and the greater Priesthood were taken from the earth (Doctrine and Covenants 84:6-17).   

We learn in the Bible Dictionary that the “Aaronic Priesthood is not a different priesthood; rather, it is the lesser portion of the priesthood, dealing with the introductory ordinances and the preparatory commandments (Doctrine and Covenants 84:18-28).”  We learn that Jesus Christ “restored the Melchizedek Priesthood to the Jews and began to build up the Church among them.  However, it was lost again by apostasy, and was taken from the earth.”

We learn from this same source that Peter, James and John “literally came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the spring of 1829 and conferred this power and authority upon them (Doctrine and Covenants 27:12-13).  Later, Moses, Elias, and Elijah gave them further keys by which these brethren could use the Melchizedek Priesthood in additional ways (Doctrine and Covenants 110).”

The Bible Dictionary also tells us that the “president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the president of the high or Melchizedek Priesthood, and by virtue of this position, he holds all the keys that pertain to the kingdom of God on the earth.  This office or calling is held by only one man at a time, and he is the only person on the earth at that time in whom all the powers and keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood are functional” (Doctrine and Covenants 81:2; 107:2, 22, 64-66, 91-92).

Another scripture study aid we can use to deepen our understanding of the scriptures is the footnotes at the bottom of each page in the scriptures.  The footnotes give added meaning to some of the words and suggest other places to go to find more information, such as the Topical Guide or other references.  A related study skill is to look in a dictionary to determine the meaning of unknown or unfamiliar words, such as betimes, pricks, or unfeigned.

Sister Joy Sunders Lundberg shared a story about a missionary who used the priesthood to bless his grandmother and himself (“The Priesthood:  God’s Gift of Love,” Ensign, February 1993, p. 15) 

                “Recently a missionary nearing the end of his mission was having a difficult time feeling the spirit of his work.  One day his mission president received a call from the elder’s mother.  `My eighty-year-old mother is dying,’ she said.  `She lives about an hour away from where my son is serving.  Would it be possible for him to give her a blessing?’  His grandmother was not a member of the Church but was a woman of faith.

                “The president concurred and sent another missionary from the mission office with the missionary.  When they arrived at the hospital, the elder and his grandmother lovingly greeted each other and visited a short while.  Then he said:  `Grandmother, I understand you’d like me to give you a blessing.  Before I do, would you say a prayer so we can have the Spirit present for the blessing?’  She accepted the invitation and recited the Lord’s Prayer.

                “The young man said, `That was beautiful, Grandmother.  Now I wonder if the Lord would want you to ask for what you want.’  Then he took her hand and tenderly taught her how to pray.  With that she offered a humble, sincere prayer from her heart, thanking Heavenly Father for her family and her blessings and asking him to be with them as the elder gave her a blessing.

                “Tears flowed freely as she finished.  Her grandson’s companion anointed her, and her grandson sealed the anointing.  He blessed her that through the influence of the Holy Spirit, she would gain greater knowledge of God and feel the truth of the gospel in her heart.  He blessed her that she would desire to read the Book of Mormon and that she would feel peace and joy for the remainder of her mortal life.

                “After the blessing he gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and asked her to read it.  She promised she would.  She began reading the Book of Mormon and lived in peace, free of pain, until she passed away three weeks later.  There was no question that through the use of the priesthood, the power of God had been manifested, resulting in blessings for the grandmother and also for the young man, who served the remainder of his mission with enthusiasm.

                “Grasping even a glimpse of the glory of God’s priesthood can and does change men and women.  Those who gain such an understanding want to be better people, serve with full heart and capacity, and love as Christ loves.”

                I am grateful for scripture study aids and for their assistance in learning more about the priesthood.  I encourage you to develop and use skills to study the scriptures in order to learn about many topics including the priesthood.  I know you will be blessed for your efforts in deepening your understanding of the scriptures.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Family Proclamation #6

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals understand and live the principles contained in the inspired document known as “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World.”  The proclamation on the family is inspired counsel from living apostles and prophets and contains counsel to help strengthen marriages and families.

                The sixth paragraph of the Proclamation states, “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.  `Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3).  Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.  Husbands and wives – mothers and fathers – will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”

                Every family could be strengthened by following the counsel found in the Proclamation on the family.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks  of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:  “Many children would have had the blessing of being raised by both of their parents if only their parent had followed this inspired teaching in the family proclamation:  `Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children….  Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another.’  The most powerful teaching of children is by the example of their parents….”

                Numerous scriptures teach the importance of parents teaching their children, but this is one of the most powerful.  It speaks plainly and deliberately about the responsibilities of parents.   “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:25).

                Music can also teach powerful lessons about families and family responsibilities.  “Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth”  (written by Carolyn Hamilton Klopfer with music by W. Herbert Klopfer) is one such hymn.

                Home can be a heav’n on earth When we are filled with love,
                Bringing happiness and joy, Rich blessings from above –
                Warmth and kindness, charity, Safety and security –
                Making home a part of heaven, Where we want to be.

                Drawing fam’ly near each week, We’ll keep love burning bright.
                Serving Him with cheerful hearts, we’ll grow in truth and light.
                Parents teach and lead the way, Children honor and obey,
                Reaching for our home in heaven, Where we want to stay.

                Praying daily in our home, We’ll feel His love divine;
                Searching scriptures faithfully, We’ll nourish heart and mind.
                Singing hymns of thanks, we’ll say, “Father, help us find the way
                Leading to our home in heaven, Where we long to stay.”

                Modern prophets and apostles teach that heaven is simply an extension of the ideal home on earth.  We can gather our families around us in daily family prayer and scripture study and in weekly family home evening.  We show our children that they are important to us by spending time with them.  Family home evening is an excellent time to teach the gospel to our children as well as to discuss responsibilities of each family member.

                I know that we can make our homes a little more like heaven by spending more time together learning the gospel and sharing spiritual experiences.  We can also spend time together working on special projects or simply having fun.  Families who spend time together are usually happier.  Happy families equal strong families, and strong families strengthen communities and nations.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Judges and Freedom

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that judges and justices have much power to protect and preserve our freedoms.  When judges make court rulings, they are in a unique position to teach the importance of obedience to law and consequences of breaking those laws.  We need judges who understand the importance of individual freedom in America and will rule in favor of constitutional law.    

                One such judge presided over the trial of the “shoe bomber.”  On December 22, 2001, Richard Colvin Reid, a 29-year-old British citizen, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami.  While on the flight, he attempted to light a fuse in his shoe to bring down the aircraft.  He was stopped by flight attendants and other passengers and then restrained until landing.  He was sentenced to life in prison on January 30, 2003. 

                The trial was presided over by Judge William Young, U.S. District Court.  Prior to handing down the sentence, Judge Young asked the defendant if he had anything to say.  The defendant responded by admitting his guilt to the court for the record.  He also admitted his “allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah.”  He defiantly stated, “I think I will not apologize for my actions.  I am at war with your country.”  Judge Young then delivered the following statement, a “stinging condemnation of Reid in particular and terrorists in general.”

                “Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you.
                “On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General.  On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutively.  (That’s 80 years.)

                “On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years, again to be served consecutively to the 80 years just imposed.  The Court imposes upon you for each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000, that’s an aggregate fine of $2 million.  The Court accepts the government’s  recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5, 784 to American Airlines.

                “The Court imposes upon you an $800 special assessment.  The Court imposes upon you, five years supervised release simply because the law requires it.  But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further.

                “This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes.  It is a fair and just sentence.  It is a righteous sentence.  Let me explain this to you.

                “We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid.  We are Americans.  We have been through the fire before.  There is too much war talk here, and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.  Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals.  As human beings, we reach out for justice.

                “You are not an enemy combatant.  You are a terrorist.  You are not a soldier in any war.  You are a terrorist.  To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature.  Whether the officers of government do it, or your attorney does it, or if that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.  And we do not negotiate with terrorists.  We do not meet with terrorists.  We do not sign documents with terrorists.  We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

                “So war talk is way out of line in this court.  You are a big fellow.  But you are not that big.  You’re no warrior.  I’ve known warriors.  You are a terrorist.  A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders.  In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said, `You’re no big deal.’  You are no big deal.

                “What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have, as honestly as I know how, tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific.  What was it that led you here to this courtroom today?

                “I have listened respectfully to what you have to say.  And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty, and admit you are guilty, of doing?  And, I have an answer for you.  It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

                “It seems to me, you hate the one thing that to us is most precious.  You hate our freedom.  Our individual freedom.  Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.  Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom.  It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea.  It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom, so that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.  It is for freedom’s sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges.

                “We Americans are all about freedom.  Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.  Make no mistake though.  It is yet true that we will bear any burden, pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.  Look around this courtroom.  Mark it well.  The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here.  The day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure.

                “Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice – not war, individual justice, is in fact being done.  The very President of the United States through his officers, will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

                “See that flag, Mr. Reid?  That’s the flag of the United States of America.  That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten  That flag stands for freedom.  And it always will.

                “Mr. Custody Officer.  Stand him down.”

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Immigration Bill

                We hear a lot from members of Congress about an immigration bill making its way through Congress.  The “Gang of Eight” - four Democrats and four Republicans – have been working on a Senate immigration bill, and Representatives are also discussing a House immigration bill.  It appears that our leaders in Washington are determined to give amnesty to 11 million people who are in our country illegally.  It also appears that we have some freedom-loving Patriots standing in their way and attempting to save our nation from another huge mistake.  Some of these Patriots are declaring that the Senate immigration bill will cost tax payers in at least three ways:  loss of wages, welfare and entitlement costs, and the fiscal burdens on cities and states.  In spite of these increased costs, the bill will not stop illegal immigration!

                Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement on June 18, 2013, about the new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) regarding the Gang of Eight immigration bill. 

“The bill’s drafters relied on the same scoring gimmicks used by the Obamacare drafters to conceal its true cost from taxpayers and to manipulate the CBO score.  There is a reason why eligibility for the most expensive federal benefits was delayed to fall mostly outside the scoring window:  to mislead the public.  As Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, I asked CBO to provide a long-term estimate.  Sadly, CBO did not provide the long-term estimate as requested.  As a result, the score effectively conceals some of the biggest long-term costs to taxpayers contained in this legislation, including providing illegal immigrants with Medicaid, food stamps, and cash welfare.  Some members of Congress are already pushing efforts to expedite this eligibility.

                “Welfare and entitlement costs will increase across the lifespan of the illegal immigrants legalized under this legislation.  CBO did not provide enough information to assess the assumptions it made about the education background of illegal immigrants and thus their methodology may be substantially flawed.  An accurate analysis would acknowledge that half of that population does not have high school degrees, and is therefore more likely to receive far more in government support than they will pay in the form of taxes.  For every dollar a low-income illegal immigrant might pay in either taxes or payroll contributions, he or she could easily receive two dollars back from the government in the form of public assistance for their household.  It defies logic and common sense for anyone to suggest there is not an enormous cost in choosing to provide welfare to those who are currently not eligible for these benefits.

                “CBO’s score also necessarily fails to capture one of the most significant fiscal impacts this bill would have:  the immediate fiscal burden on cities and states.  When illegal immigrants are first legalized, they will become almost instantly eligible for local and state programs at a great cost to taxpayers.  These costs will be increased substantially by the unlimited chain migration that is called for under the bill.

                “Finally, on wages:  it is natural that a large increase in the number of legal immigrants added to the United States – an increase of at least 46 million by 2033 according to CBO, including a doubling of the number of guest workers – will increase the GDP.  But, as Dr. Borjas has illustrated and as CBO confirms, this increased GDP will be at the expense of poor and working-class Americans.  The benefit will go to the business owners while the wages of U.S. workers – which should be growing – will instead decline.  That is indisputable, and while CBO did not sort out the effects among U.S. residents, the impact will be harshest for today’s low-income Americans.  Meanwhile, the 21 million Americans who can’t find full-time work will have an even harder time getting a job and supporting their families.  More of them will therefore qualify for means-tested benefits, adding to deficits.

                “This bill guarantees three things:  amnesty, increased welfare costs, and lower wages for the U.S. workforce.  It would be the biggest setback for poor and middle-class Americans of any legislation Congress has considered in decades.”

                On June 19, 2013, Amy Payne at The Heritage Foundation published an article entitled “Congress Is Trying to Fool You on Immigration”.  “Congress is trying to fool you.

                “Here’s how they do business.  A piece of legislation is going to cost trillions of dollars, but Members of Congress don’t want the public to see that.  Instead, they have the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) look at the bill for just the first 10 years – and they move any costly items off into the future on purpose.

                “They did it with Obamacare – saved the budget bombshells for later.  Now they’re trying to do it with immigration.

                “Yesterday, the CBO released its score of the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill.  Heritage experts are still analyzing the full report, but a few things jumped out immediately.  The Gang of Eight bill:

                “WILL NOT stop illegal immigration – Despite promises of a secure border, the bill would slow future illegal immigration by only 25 percent, according to the CBO.  In the next couple of decades, that means 7.5 million new illegal immigrants.

                “WILL drive down wages – For legal American workers, the CBO estimates the bill would drive down their average wages.”

                Robert Rector, another expert at The Heritage Foundation explained, “S.744 provides only a temporary delay in eligibility to welfare and entitlements.  Over time, S.744 makes all 18.5 million eligible for nearly every government program, including:  Obamacare, 80 different welfare programs, Social Security and Medicare.  When this occurs, spending will explode but nearly all the real costs do not appear in the CBO score.”

                The Blaze reported that Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke with Rush Limbaugh on June 19, 2013, about the immigration bill currently being debated in the Senate.  Limbaugh asked Senator Cruz to explain why the immigration bill is referred to as “amnesty,” and the Senator answered:

                “This Gang of Eight bill is a disaster.  What the Gang of Eight bill does is it grants legalization now.  It takes everyone who’s here illegally says, `You’re legal,’ and then just like in 1986 it promises, ``sometime in the future, trust us, wink-wink, we’ll secure the border.’

                “I don’t think the American people are that foolish.  You know, fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, same on me.  If this bill is enacted, it will make the problem worse.  If this bill is enacted, in another decade or two we’re going to be back here not with 11 million, but with 20 million or 30 million people here illegally.

                “This is a broken system.  I think what Americans want is to fix the problem, stop playing political games, actually secure the border and make a legal immigration system that works.”

                It is apparent that many of our leaders in Washington are determined to pass an amnesty bill or “die trying” to do so.  It is also apparent that giving amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens will not be good for Americans.  It seems to me that any immigration bill should first consider whether or not it will be good for those of us who are already Americans.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Liberty and Security

                I do not often agree with anything that Shannyn Moore writes in her column for the Anchorage Daily News; in fact, I usually have a difficult time reading any of her column because she leans so far left.  I not only read a recent column, but I found myself agreeing with some of it!  I also found myself wondering why I was not paying more attention to what our government was doing in 2001.

                Moore wrote, “We all remember the 2001 attacks on this country and how 40 days after September 11 the 363-page USA PATRIOT Act was introduced and voted on by the House on the same day.  The next day the Senate voted, and within 72 hours of introduction then-President George W. Bush signed it into law.  [What were they/we thinking:  Introducing and voting on a bill in one day in the House, the Senate voting the next day, and the President signing it by the end of the third day!  That definitely was not long enough to know what was in the bill!]

                “That should be the day we have memorial services.  The death of freedom.  And it wasn’t even hard fought.  Congress, in some sort of pathetic paternal power grab, didn’t even read the bill it voted on.  [Sounds like the health bill known as Obamacare:  it was signed on Christmas Eve when everyone wanted to be home with their families.]

                “Those outraged by the affront to our Constitution by the bill were told to join the Taliban, that they hated America and wanted us less safe and that `if you’re not doing anything wrong you’ve got nothing to hide.’  Did Congress vote because it just likes the title?  Ironically its acronym stands for “United (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.’  [This sounds so terrible now that we have an administration that is taking advantage of it.]

                “How is anyone shocked?  The tool box was developed years ago with the blessing of folks fraught with fantasies of a white-hatted government taking care of them.  Instead of acknowledging mistakes made, they swallowed the shiny hook `they hate us for our freedom’ and `went shopping.’

                “A 29-year-old computer programmer, Edward Snowden, blew the whistle on just how invasive the National Security Agency and FBI were going with their surveillance.  Mr. Snowden was reporting an assault on our Fourth Amendment right against the illegal search and seizure – and now Attorney General Eric Holder is conducting a manhunt for him.  Even though there have been no charges filed against him, Homeland Security has warned airlines about letting him on flights. 

                “Are you kidding me?  The Obama administration has taken the ball from Bush and Cheney and run yards toward the goal line.  More people have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act by Obama than any other administration – and at the same time the NSA is data mining citizens with no warrant.”

                I was “asleep” twelve years ago and was not paying much attention when Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act.  Now that I am more awake I understand that Bush simply laid much of the ground work for things Obama now pushes.  Even though many Americans are waking up, there are still millions who have no idea what is happening and why they should be concerned.  For example, how many people are aware of the national discussions about immigration and amnesty?  Only immigration bills that are good for Americans should be considered, and yet Congress is being pressured to pass an amnesty bill.  Why?

                Americans should not be shocked at what we are seeing at present, but we are.  Many of us trusted our government and did not oversee our representatives in Washington.  We allowed our leaders to take away some of our freedom in the name of security. When will we learn?  When will we insist that our representatives actually read the bills before they vote on them? 

                Benjamin Franklin understood the importance of protecting freedom, even at the expense of security.  He apparently spoke about this topic numerous times because several statements are attributed to him.

                “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

                “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

                “He, who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.”

                “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”

                “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”

                “If we restrict liberty to attain security, we will lose them both.”

                “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

                “He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.”

                “Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither.”

                “Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.”

                I do not know if Franklin actually made all these statements or if they are all variations of one statement.  It appears obvious though that he understood that people could give away all their freedoms and still not be secure.  Over the years, our government has taken more and more of our freedoms in the name of security.  We need to plainly and loudly tell our representatives:  “NO MORE!  Freedom is more important to us than anything, including security!”

Monday, June 24, 2013

Edward Snowden

                Can Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked the classified information on NSA programs, be considered a Very Important Person in our nation?   He spilled the beans on a program that is responsible to collect data on the communications of Americans. Should we think of him as a VIP?  Snowden’s statement, “This country is worth dying for” is comparable to that of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”  Does this statement show an attitude similar to that of our Founders?

                Bob Schieffer, Face the Nation host, certainly does not think Snowden is a VIP.  On Sunday, Schieffer called Snowden “a narcissistic young man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us.  I don’t know what he is beyond that, but he is not a hero.”

                I do not know if we can consider Snowden a hero, but I would consider him a VIP.  He has more to lose by what he did and going public about it than he has to gain.  He was fired from his job as soon as his boss heard of his actions.  He cannot return to his country because his government wants to take him into custody.  He even believes that his government wants to kill him.  He realizes that he might spend the rest of his life in prison.  At any rate, he knows that his life as he knew it is over.  He definitely started a conversation about whether or not Americans are free.  I suppose we will have to wait for history to tell us whether Snowden is a VIP or narcissist.  Meanwhile, I think we should all pay attention to what he is doing and what affect it has on our nation and the world.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cases Where a State is Party

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article III, Section 2, and Clause 2:  “In all Cases … in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction….”

                “When a sovereign and independent state is a party to a federal case, it is essential that it have the RIGHT to be heard in the highest court in the land.
                “This provision was in deference to the anxieties of the states that the federal judiciary would treat the states as subordinate departments of the general government.  This provision was to emphasize that the federal government would always be fully cognizant of the sovereign entity represented in each state of the Union.  As Alexander Hamilton put it:  `In cases in which a state might happen to be a party, it would ill suit its dignity to be turned over to an inferior tribunal’” (As quoted by W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 607).

                “The Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction is limited to a narrow but important range of cases.  The grant of appellate jurisdiction under Article III is far broader, although under the Appellate Jurisdiction, Congress has at least some discretion to modify it. The Court has been assiduous in protecting the Constitution’s core grant of original jurisdiction from congressional expansion.  The Court explicitly declared in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that Congress cannot add to the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction.  Under Section 13 of the Judiciary At of 1789, Congress had granted the Court mandamus power (the power to order lower courts or executive officials to perform duties required by law).  In Marbury, Chief Justice John Marshal held that the mandamus power as applied to executive officials was actually a grant of original jurisdiction, and that Congress could not constitutionally expand the original jurisdiction of the Supreme.  Writing for the Court, the Chief Justice declared Section 13 unconstitutional and denied the relief sought.  Marshall’s carefully crafted (1) by limiting its scope to the categories of cases contained in the text; and, as a consequence, (2) by shifting its focus from executive matters to suits between states….

                “There have been fewer than two hundred state-versus-state original cases in the history of the Republic, less than one per year of constitutional life. There have been only two original cases under the `affecting Ambassadors’ section of the clause.  Despite these relatively modest numbers, original jurisdiction continues to serve an indispensable purpose in resolving matters of high moment between states.  No forum other than the Supreme Court can act with the authority and dignity necessary to resolve what are in effect diplomatic encounters between contending sovereigns under our constitutional system” (See Paul Verkuil in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp.257-258).

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Priesthood Holders and Daughters of Heavenly Father

                Young women all over the world repeat the Young Women theme each week.  Their theme begins:  “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.”  Young women understand that Heavenly Father loves His daughters as much as He loves His sons and has given them important roles to play in life.

                Sister Elaine S. Dalton, recently released Young Women general president, spoke in General Conference about the fact that all girls and women are daughters of God (Ensign, May 2013, pp. 12-14).  She said that every time she hears the words “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him,” she feels the Holy Ghost affirm to her soul that they are true.  “It is not only an affirmation of our identity –- who we are -- but also an acknowledgment of whose we are.  We are daughters of an exalted being!”

                Sister Dalton continued:  “As daughters of God we are each unique and different in our circumstances and experiences.  And yet our part matters – because we matter.  Our daily contributions of nurturing, teaching, and caring for others may seem mundane, diminished, difficult, and demeaning at times, and yet as we remember that first line in the Young Women theme -- `We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us’ – it will make all the difference in our relationships and our responses.”

                Do you know that you are a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father?  What difference does it make in your life to know that you have Divine Parentage?  Sister Dalton’s mother was a widow for 47 years and supported her family by teaching school in the daytime and then giving piano lessons in the evening.  She also cared for her aging father and made sure that her daughter and two sons received college educations – all without complaining about her circumstances.  “She kept her covenants, and because she did, she called down the powers of heaven to bless our home and to send miracles.  She relied on the power of prayer, priesthood, and covenant promises.  She was faithful in her service to the Lord.  Her steadfast devotion steadied us, her children.  She often repeated the scripture:  `I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise’ (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10).  That was her motto, and she knew it was true.  She understood what it meant to be a covenant keeper.  She was never recognized by the world.  She didn’t want that.  She understood who she was and whose she was – a daughter of God.  Indeed, it can be said of our mother that she acted well her part.”

                President Gordon B. Hinckley once said about women and mothers:  “We must never lose sight of the strength of the women….  It is mothers who most directly affect the lives of their children….  It is mothers who nurture them and bring them up in the ways of the Lord.  Their influence is paramount….
                “… They are the creators of life.  They are the nurturers of children.  They are the teachers of young women.  They are our indispensable companions.  They are our co-workers in building the kingdom of God.  How great is their role, how marvelous their contribution” (“Standing Strong and Immovable,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, January 10, 2004, 21, as quoted by Sister Dalton).

                Sister Dalton encouraged mothers, fathers, and leaders of Young Women to instill in the young women “the ennobling and eternal truth that she is a daughter of God.”  She said that “young women need women and men to `stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.’  Never before has this been more important than now.  Young women need mothers and mentors who exemplify virtuous womanhood.  Mothers, your relationship with your daughter is of paramount importance, and so is your example.  How you love and honor her father, his priesthood, and his divine role will be reflected and perhaps amplified in your daughter’s attitudes and behavior.”

                I was recently in the temple and met a young woman whom I taught in Seminary approximately ten years ago.  We spoke for just a few moments before she and her groom were taken into the sealing room to be married for time and all eternity.  That evening I attended her wedding reception.  She was a beautiful bride; her makeup, hair, and dress were all modest and very becoming to her.  As beautiful as she was, I was even more impressed with her inner beauty.  She beamed with moral cleanliness and happiness.  After the dancing started, the bride’s very young nieces and nephew as well as a couple of their friends wanted to dance with the bride.  My young friend gathered all the children together and made a circle with them.  The bride and circle of children went around several times before the children lost interest and wandered away.  I was impressed that she would take the time on her wedding day to bring happiness to several little children.  Her actions bore testimony that she recognized the importance of even the smallest members of her family.  Even though she is not yet a mother and may never have children of her own, she was exercising her divine role as a woman in nurturing and teaching the little children.

                “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World” (Ensign, November 2010, 129) states:  “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.  Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.  In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners….
                “We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”

                Sister Dalton concluded her talk with a “call for the return to virtue. Virtue is the strength and power of daughters of God. What would the world be like if virtue – a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards, including chastity – were reinstated in our society as a most highly prized value?  If immorality, pornography, and abuse decreased, would there be fewer broken marriages, broken lives, and broken hearts?  Would media ennoble and enable rather than objectify and degrade God’s precious daughters?  If all humanity really understood the importance of the statement `We are daughters of our Heavenly Father,’ how would women be regarded and treated?  …

                “In an extremely challenging world, that is what I see young women and women of this Church doing.  They are an influence for good. They are virtuous and exemplary, intelligent and industrious.  They are making a difference because they are different. They are acting well their part….
                “Today as a daughter of God, I stand as a witness that He lives.  Jesus is the Christ.  He is our Redeemer.  It is through His infinite atoning sacrifice that I will one day return to live with Him – proven, pure, and sealing in an eternal family.  I shall ever praise Him for the privilege of being a woman, a wife, and a mother….”

                I too am grateful for the role given to me by God.  I am grateful to be a righteous woman in these latter days.  I am grateful for the opportunity to be a mother and grandmother.  I am grateful for the many opportunities I have enjoyed in teaching the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to many young men and young women.  I know that I am a daughter of God, and I rejoice in my role of being a woman.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Importance of Fathers

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when fathers are active in the lives of their children.  The importance of fathers cannot be understated, and there are too many “missing fathers” in our nation.

                Many of us - adults, youth, and children – honor our fathers annually on a special day known as Father’s Day.  We honor them for the impact they have on us throughout our lives.  Yet there are many people who have not been blessed with having a father impact their lives for good because their fathers are missing in action.  Where are the missing fathers?

                First Things First is an organization in Richmond, Virginia, that is dedicated to strengthening families and keeping dads involved with their children.  One week prior to Father’s Day, this organization held “Celebrate Fatherhood 2013” at the Collegiate School Aquatics Center.  Dads and their children took the opportunity to spend time together swimming, bouncing, and competing in contests; however, there were many children in the area whose fathers were not around to help them celebrate.

                According to First Things First, 60 percent of Richmond families are headed by single-parent households.  That figure shoots up to 86 percent within the African-American demographic.  This problem is not just in Richmond, Virginia, or in African-American families; it is part of our present culture. 

                Fathers are more likely to leave their families than mothers according to experts.  Truin Huntle, executive director of First Things First, said, “We have a major father absenteeism issue in Richmond….  Father absenteeism, broken homes, broken marriages and teen pregnancy are continually being found as the root cause of [childhood poverty and poor performance in school].”

                A First Things First web page discusses the importance of fatherhood and lists reasons for why fathers are important:  “1) Every child needs a Dad.  2) Children perform better in school when connected to Dad. 
3) Children make better social decisions when connected to Dad.  4) Children have better self-confidence when connected to Dad.  5) Children become more active citizens when connected to Dad.  6) Mom is relieved of developmental pressure when children are connected to Dad.  7) Mom and Dad have a better relationship when children are connected to Dad.  8) Generational family formation is desired and experienced when children are connected to Dad.  9) Non-family relationships are healthier when a child is connected to Dad.  10) Our community is a better place to be when children are connected to Dad.”

                Another web page at the site discusses five reasons why children do better when their biological parents are married to each other:  “1) Children are less likely to thrive in cohabiting households, compared to intact, married families.  2) Family instability is generally bad for children.  3) American family life is becoming increasingly unstable for children.  4) The growing instability of American family life also means that contemporary adults and children are more likely to live in what scholars call complex households.  5) The nation’s retreat from marriage has hit poor and working class communities with particular force.”

This site lists the top 101 cities with the highest percentage of single-parent households and populations of 50,000 people or more.  I looked to see if my city was on the list and found it was not.  The top cities with single-parent households appear to me to be located in the eastern half of the United States.  Why?

Trevor Thomas published an interesting article entitled “Where Is Daddy?” at American Thinker.  As part of his article he discusses the question “Why are so many American dads not married to and in the home with the mothers of their children?  There are two scenarios to consider:  the dads who divorce and the dads who never marry.  Increasingly, the latter is more common.  In December of 2011, Pew Research revealed that, according to U.S. Census data, `[b]arely half of all adults in the United States – a record low – are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26. 5 years) and grooms (28.7)[.]  … In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are.’

According to Pew Research quoted by Thomas, the percentages of both men and women who claim that “having a successful marriage is important to them” have dropped and the reason given is that “women aren’t women anymore” and neither are “men “men” anymore.

 “Many men have been deceived into thinking that, among other things, they can have all the sex that they want without any real commitment or other consequences….  [F]ar too many men have allowed themselves and the roles that they were created to fulfill to be cast aside….

“Many women have been deceived into thinking that, among other things, they are no different from men and can have careers and children without marriage or devout motherhood….  For the first time in American history, women outnumber men in the workforce, and more women than men are obtaining college degrees….

“Thus, it’s not just fatherhood that is dying, but motherhood as well….What we are seeing here is the death of the traditional (biblical) family, and when the family dies, that will herald the end of our republic.”

               One of the best ways that we can strengthen our families, communities and nations is prioritize marriage before children and to keep both fathers and mothers in the home with their children.  Children develop better and live healthier lives when they have the influence of both their father and their mother impacting their lives.  In order to strengthen our community and nation, we must first strengthen the family unit and this means putting father back at the head of the family.