Declaration of Independence

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

Thomas S. Monson

            Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, celebrates his 90th birthday today. He has been a General Authority of the Church for 54 years since he was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 4, 1963. He was sustained as President of the Church on February 3, 2008, following the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley.

            President Monson was asked a few days ago what he would desire for his birthday, and he repeated his birthday wish from nine years ago. In 2008 he was asked to describe his ideal birthday gift, and he said, “Do something for someone else on that day to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely and do something for them. That’s all I would ask.”

            This is the same message that President Monson shared in the April 2017 General Conference of the Church. In his closing remarks in the priesthood session of that conference the Prophet says the following. 

Brethren, let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. And as we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home.

            All who have studied the life of Thomas S. Monson know that he has often done exactly as he encourages the brethren – and by extension all of us – to do. He wants us to reach outside our own little circle and do something to help someone else. We can practice kindness, love, and charity in our own lives and become more like the Savior. The Prophet has shown us the way to do this. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

First Amendment Freedoms

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns challenges to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There are more and more questions about what is protected by this amendment. Here is what the First Amendment says.

Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

            According to the wording of this amendment, “Congress” – and by extension all governments – cannot make any laws restricting religion or religious expression, speech, press, assembly, or petitioning the government. Yet, there are people who call for the restriction of these freedoms in one way or another.

            The freedom of expression has been challenged for numerous years by the concept of “political correctness.” Remember back a few years when “Christmas” became a bad word, and many demanded that we use “holidays” or “winter vacation” instead of Christmas? Later, we were called racist if we used the term “illegal aliens” instead of “undocumented immigrants.” Job titles had to be changed to accommodate different sexes, such as “policeman” became “police officer.” Any job title with “man” in it had to be changed to a neutral sex title, such as “chairperson” instead of “chairman,” “flight attendant” instead of “stewardess,” and many others. However, Americans would allow themselves to be pushed only so far.

            This article claims that the term “political correctness” arose in the 1990s from what one reporter saw as “a growing intolerance on university campuses for views that diverged from mainstream liberalism.” It also says that political correctness led to “the popularity of the Tea Party and the election of a president, Donald Trump, who made the shunning of political correctness a political trademark.” I was personally relieved that Trump made a mockery of political correctness.

            The above referenced article says that conservatives support the freedom of speech “more consistently than liberals, even when it’s speech that goes against their views…. By contrast, progressives have been more likely to advocate constraints, particularly on speech … seen as harmful to racial minorities and women.” It also states that conservatives would like ban the burning of flags while liberals say political donations should not be protected as free speech.

            I was amazed by the attitudes of some people when I read their comments on social media. Some people actually said that neo-Nazis should not have the freedom to assemble and the freedom of speech. I tried to help them see that all Americans have the right to assemble and to share their ideas, but they refused to change their views. The group had a permit to “peaceably assemble.” I understand that there was no violence until the counter-protesters arrived. The counter-protesters were there to deny the first group their right to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech because they did not agree with them.

            I do not support neo-Nazis in any way, shape, or form. I do not understand why they push for socialism when we have so many freedoms in America. They do not make sense to me, but they have the same rights as you and I do. According to the above referenced article, direct threats are not protected speech. “But to count as a threat, speech has to incite `imminent lawless action,’ in the words of a 1969 Supreme Court ruling; merely advocating violence is allowed. This is why neo-Nazis are allowed to march, and to cast themselves as free-speech champions.”

            The law must protect both conservatives and liberals in order to remain just. We cannot take the freedoms outlined by the First Amendment from any group - whether we agree with them or not – or we will lose those same freedoms for ourselves.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Holy Ghost Can Help Us

            A few weeks ago I taught a lesson on this subject to my five-year-old CTR class. We discussed as a class several ways that the Holy Ghost can help us. One of the stories in the lesson was about a young girl who saved the life of her little brother because she listened to a prompting from the Holy Ghost. They were walking along a railroad track when the brother’s foot was caught between the railroad ties. Time was of the essence because the children could see a train coming down the track. The sister tugged and tugged at his foot, but she could not get it loose. Then she said a little prayer and was prompted to unlace the shoe. She did so and was able to pull her brother’s foot out of the shoe. The children were barely off the track before the train was barreling down on them.

            The Holy Ghost can help us in other ways, and I will share some of them after I discuss some of His attributes. First, the Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. His job is to testify of truth and to help in other ways. Second, the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit, meaning that He has a spirit body. Whereas Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bone, the Holy Ghost is a spirit. Third, the Holy Ghost can witness and testify of the truth to anyone, but one must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost in order to have Him as a constant companion. This gift is given by the laying on of hands by those who hold the proper priesthood authority to do so.

            Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on the topic of “How Does the Holy Ghost Help You?” in his April 2017 General Conference talk. Elder Stevenson shares three ways in which the Holy Ghost can help us: The Holy Ghost warns. The Holy Ghost comforts. The Holy Ghost testifies.

            The Holy Ghost can help us by giving advance warning of spiritual or physical danger. Elder Stevenson shares two experiences to illustrate. When he was a young boy hiking along a trail with his father, he wanted to climb up a big rock. The father suggested that they stay on the trail. When they were up the trail and could long down upon the rock, they could see a huge rattle snake curled up on the top of the rock. When the boy asked the father how he knew that the snake was there, the father was able to teach about the warnings given by the Holy Ghost.

            The second experience shared by Elder Stevenson took place in Japan. A mission president was prompted to invite all the missionaries of a certain zone to a meeting that would normally be held for just the leaders.

However, setting convention aside in order to follow the prompting he had received, he invited all missionaries serving in several coastal cities, including the city of Fukushima, to the meeting. On the appointed day, March 11, 2011, the missionaries gathered together for the expanded mission meeting in the inland city of Koriyama.

During this meeting a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the region of Japan where the Japan Sendai Mission is located. Tragically, many coastal cities – including those from which the missionaries had been gathered – were devastated and suffered great loss of life. And the city of Fukushima suffered a subsequent nuclear event.

Although the meetinghouse where the missionaries were meeting that day was damaged by the earthquake, through following the promptings of the Holy Ghost, President and Sister Tateoka and all missionaries were safely assembled. They were out of harm’s way and miles from the devastation of the tsunami and the nuclear fallout.

            The Holy Ghost can comfort us when events in our lives bring “sadness, pain, and disappointment.” Jesus Christ promised that the Father would send the Comforter to help us through the trials of mortality, and this Comforter is the Holy Ghost. Elder Stevenson illustrates this attribute with the story of the death of Fernando’s young wife Bayley and their unborn baby.

Yet as deep as was Fernando’s pain, as well as that of Bayley’s parents and siblings, so too was the depth of contrasting peace and comfort that distilled upon them almost immediately. The Holy Ghost in His role as Comforter truly sustained Fernando through this incomprehensible affliction. The Spirit communicated an abiding peace that led Fernando to an attitude of forgiveness and love toward everyone involved in the tragic crash.

            The Holy Ghost bears witness of the Father and the Son and testifies of all truth. Elder Stevenson continues the story of Fernando and Bayley to illustrate this role of the Holy Ghost.
When Fernando and his brother were baptized as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, their parents and three younger brothers were not. They declined “numerous invitations to meet with the missionaries over the years.”

Upon the painful passing of Bayley and her baby daughter, Fernando’s family was inconsolable. Unlike Fernando and unlike Bayley’s family, they found no comfort or peace. They could not understand how their own son, along with Bayley’s family, could bear their heavy burden.

Eventually, they concluded that what their son possessed and they did not was the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and this must be his source of peace and comfort. Following this realization, they invited the missionaries to teach their family the gospel. As a result, they received their own witness and testimony of the great plan of happiness, which brought them the sweet peace and calming comfort they were desperately seeking.

Two months after the loss of Bayley and their unborn granddaughter, Fernando’s parents as well as two of his younger brothers were baptized and confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Fernando’s youngest brother looks forward to his baptism when he turns eight. They each testify that the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, bore witness of the truthfulness of the gospel, leading them to a desire to be baptized and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

            In summary, the Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, a personage of spirit, and testifies of the Father, the Son, and all truth. He helps us by warning us of spiritual and physical dangers, comforts us at times of distress, and testifies of the truth.

            I join with Elder Stevenson in stating that I know these teachings to be true. I also know of the warnings, comfort, and witnesses for myself. I encourage you to invite the missionaries into your home and let them teach you about how the Holy Ghost can help you in your life.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Teach Respect for Others

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when adults teach children to show respect for people who are different than themselves. This includes financial, political, racial, religious, sexual, age, or any other difference. Adults must teach by precept and by example that all people are equal and deserve to be shown respect.

            This respect can be taught by looking for the good in every person because there is good in the worst of us and bad in the best of us. None of us are any better than any other person. The way we treat each other shows our real character.

            The Lord Jesus Christ taught clearly how we should treat each other. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

            The commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. This means that we must first love ourselves. It is much easier to love ourselves when we know that our standing is right in the eyes of God. This means that we must love the Lord and keep His commandments. Then we will have respect for ourselves and be able to love ourselves. Then we can reach out to love our neighbors and to heal our nation.

            Hate can never dispel hate any more than darkness can dispel darkness, but love can dispel hate and light can dispel darkness. Hate, darkness, and division are tools of Satan and those who work for him. His motto appears to be “divide and conquer” for his henchmen often use division to destroy. We can heal our families, communities, and nation by teaching the rising generation to love and respect all other people.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Champion of Religious Freedom

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that religious freedom brings diversity into the social and political picture and brings growth in various other areas. While the world was facing down North Korea and the United States endured yet another eruption of violence, a religious leader received a World Peace Prize in India.

            Elder D. Todd Christofferson was honored for his “relentless mission of love, compassion and sacrifice” (World Peace University President Vishwanath Karad). This great honor was bestowed not only upon Elder Christofferson but upon The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The world today, with all its problems, it needs you, the church you represent and your work. It needs you more than ever” (Michael Nobel, a great-grandnephew of the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize). 

            Elder Robert Kumar William, an LDS Area Seventy from Bangalore, India, said: “Elder Christofferson has personally visited and worked with church members and government, civic and religious leaders in 80 nations” since he became a general authority of the Church in 1993.

            One of the reasons for the prize is that the Church gives so much in humanitarian aid throughout the world, $1.89 billion since 1985. Nobel gave the following explanation for the prize. The prize includes approximately $8,000, which Elder Christofferson will donate to a school for the disabled in India.

Why would they deserve (the prize)? … The members of the church have shown us that it’s possible to translate into worldwide action something that lies deep in the hearts of many of us, compassion for others. … The Mormon church and its organizations richly deserve this commission for its outstanding humanitarian accomplishments.

            Elder Christofferson focused on the good that is done by religion and urged world leaders to recognize this good and support religious freedom.

Failing to appreciate the good religion does society or the nation as a whole and to accommodate religion whenever possible results in social conflict….
Government officials and policy makers, like yourselves, who seek to establish lasting peace and prosperity for people of all faiths should understand why and how….

True religion offers a stable foundation for a just and healthy society. It strengthens and ennobles nations, communities and individuals. It is my hope that we will all recognize and appreciate the great good religion does and work together – as people of diverse faiths or no faith at all – to build more peaceful nations and ultimately a more peaceful world.

            Elder Christofferson obviously deserves the title “champion of religious freedom” as stated by one presenter. He promoted religious freedom on Friday in Cambridge, England, and echoed his remarks on Saturday when he said, “Recognizing and protecting faith is the path to peace” and added that it also can lead to prosperity.

Countries with strong traditions of religious freedom tend to be not only more stable and safe, but more prosperous. A recent study reached the remarkable conclusion that the presence of religious freedom in a country is one of only three factors significantly associated with global economic growth….

            This honor could not have come to a nicer, more pleasant, or humble man than Elder Christofferson. I appreciate the numerous times that I have had the opportunity to converse with him and his wife Kathy. I am pleased with his title of “champion of religious freedom.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Divide and Conquer

            The clamor about the violence in Charlottesville continues. Two groups of racist thugs clashed on Saturday, and the President is being blamed for it.  Donald Trump gave a thoughtful and presidential response to the violence with the information that was available at the time.

            The President gave a unifying speech, and he condemned ALL hatred, bigotry, and violence no matter the origin. This speech was not good enough for many people, particularly the mainstream media, liberals, and even some Republicans. They claim that the President’s words were not good enough and that he did not go far enough because he did not specifically condemn violence perpetrated by white people.

            The whites involved believe that the President did not name them because he supports what they are doing. He is not, and he made this clear in another statement two days later.

            Even though the President named some of the “criminals and thugs” in his second statement, he was still denounced once again. It was “too little, too late” to satisfy his opponents. He condemned racism on Saturday, but it was not enough to satisfy. He condemned racism again on Monday, but it was considered too late. It appears that to those who oppose him, nothing the President could say would satisfy them.

            An editorial at The Patriot Post explains that Trump was not too late because he was repeating the counsel given months ago.

So, on Monday, Trump decided to respond to the growing media-created fervor. He addressed the nation once again on the Charlottesville riot. Trump reiterated, “We must love each other, show affection for each other and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that brings us together as Americans.” And this time Trump added, “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Of course, that message is too little, too late for the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd.

But it’s not too late at all. In his Inaugural Address, Trump said, “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice…. Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of Patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag.” It’s been his message all along. The media just don’t want you to know it.

            There are people and factions in our nation who wish to destroy America in order to create a “one world government.” I call them “secret combinations” because they come out of darkness to destroy. One of their main tools is division. They know that a nation that is divided cannot stand for very long. This is why people have encouraged division (Barack Obama) and paid protesters and rioters (George Soros) to cause unrest and violence.

            The problem, as I see it, is that the loud voices in the nation claim that white violence is different than black violence. There is no difference. All of it must be condemned in order for it to stop. We all know that racism divides our nation. The only way to combat this hatred and division is to follow the counsel of President Trump. We must recognize that all races bleed the same color of blood and enjoy the same freedoms in America. We must unite and become one people, and we can do it by condemning and eradicating all violence in our nation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hate Groups and Racism

            Hate is hate no matter what group is spewing it or their reasoning behind their hatred. I do not understand exactly why there is such clamor about the latest hate movement. It seems to me that the clashes by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, are no worse than the riots caused by members of Black Lives Matter. Both groups are demonstrating hate for members of a different race and causing division in the nation.

            I suppose that one major difference is that white people are coming forward condemning the actions of the white nationalists and no blacks have ever come forward condemning the riots and other troubles caused by blacks.

            Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro has been one of the most vocal whites to condemn the white nationalists when he sent out a 12-tweet message. He says that the white nationalists or “so-called `alt-right’ movement [is] a far-right political movement that rejects conservatism and embraces white nationalism.” He also says that the “alt-right movement” is “evil” and has “nothing to do with constitutional conservatism.”

            According to Shapiro, the mainstream media is attempting to make people think that the “alt-right” movement is bigger and more influential than it actually is. He compares the “alt-right” movement to a “replay of brown shirts vs. reds in Weimar Germany. They’re even carrying the same flags.” He says that the only way to end this “alt-white” movement is for everyone, including the White House and media leadership, to condemn it.

            This makes sense to me. However, the same treatment should be applied to every hate group – white, black, Hispanic, Muslim, etc. – across the board and in a unified way.

            President Donald Trump tweeted his condemnation the violence that took place in Virginia:
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!

            I thought that the President sent a good message. “ALL of us are responsible to end this problem!” However, he was criticized because he blamed “many sides” did not specifically condemn the white nationalists and Nazis.

            Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee explained on “Fox and Friends Weekend” that there was little more that the President could have said because there was little information available when he sent his tweet. 

I think it was smart not to jump to a conclusion. We would have condemned him for that … Look, here’s the fact. No matter what Donald Trump said, there are going to be people who condemn his every word, his every action. Nothing will ever satisfy the Trump haters. And there are a lot of Trump haters within the Republican Party who jumped on him as well.

Let me just be clear. Donald Trump is no more responsible for Charlottesville than Barak Obama was personally responsible for Baltimore and Ferguson.

            All Americans are responsible to eradicate hatred and evil from the United States. Right or left, conservatives or liberals, we must come together and make it clear that we condemn violence and racism. We must be unified as Americans.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Kim Jung-un

            The news cycles are full of information about Kim Jung-un of North Korea and his threats to nuke the United States. I have not paid too much attention to his threats, but I decided to learn a little bit more about him. 

            Kim was born on January 8, 1982-84 or July 5, 1984. There is little known for sure about this man, not even his birthday for certain. He is son and second child of Kim Jong-il (1941-2011) and his consort Ko Yong-hui. He became the leader of North Korea on December 28, 2011, after his father’s state funeral. He holds at least five titles. He also holds two degrees, one in physics and one as an Army officer.

            The first leader of North Korea born after the nation was founded, Kim seems determined to hold onto his power. He ordered the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek in December 2013. He is believed to be behind the assassination of his brother Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia in February 2017.

            Many people find it easy to think that Kim is a crazy lunatic for threatening to crush the United States. Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, South Korea, and the author of several books on North Korea, says they are mistaken. He claims that Kim is a survivor, just like his father and grandfather before him. He states that the nuclear program in North Korea is for defense and that Kim acts crazy on purpose. 

Kim Jong Un sees the nuclear program as purely defensive. Conquering the South would be nice in theory, but this task is completely beyond his reach, both due to the U.S. commitment to protecting South Korea and Seoul’s own huge advantage in economic and technological power. He knows that any unprovoked North Korean attack against South Korea or the United States will end badly, perhaps in his death, and he is certainly not suicidal. However, he also presumes that no great power would risk attacking a nuclear state or sticking a hand into its internal strife – especially if it has delivery systems and a second-strike capability….

While North Korea’s nuclear program is defensive, it still makes sense to remind the world about its existence and use what President Richard Nixon once described as “madman strategy,” that is, to appear to one’s opponents to be irrational, volatile, and willing to disregard costs. That’s why North Korean propaganda uses such fiercely colorful language. When North Korean TV promises to “make Seoul into a sea of fire,” or threatens to nuke Canberra, or shows Kim Jon Un in front of a map of the United States with cities marked as targets of nuclear strikes, they are delivering the same message: “we are here, we are volatile, and will stop at nothing if our opponents do something threatening.”

            It appears from Lankov’s article that Kim’s threats sound terrible but amount to nothing more than letting the world know that North Korea has the capability of sending nukes to other nations. He is basically saying, “Do not attack us or mess with us!”

            I thought he might be trying to provoke an attack for some crazy reason, but I can understand why he feels the need to show power. As Lankov points out, Kim saw what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, and Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya and wants to protect himself and his nation from a similar circumstance. This explains his desire for nuclear ability and his show of strength.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Amendment 25: Presidential Disability and Succession

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is Amendment 25 to the U.S. Constitution. The title of this Amendment is “Presidential Disability and Succession.” It was proposed on July 6, 1965, and ratified on February 10, 1967. Section 3 was used after President Ronald Reagan was shot and while he was in surgery and recovery. As Section 4 is relevant to our current day, I am including the entire amendment as follows.

1. In case of the removal of the President [Donald Trump] from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President [Mike Pence] shall become President.

2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate [Senator Orin Hatch] and the Speaker of the House of Representatives [Representative Paul Ryan] his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

            This amendment is relative to the present time because liberals want to use Section 4 to remove Donald Trump from the office of President of the United States. The President’s opponents wish to have him “declared incompetent because they say he concentrates so much on his tweets and doesn’t properly take care of his presidential duties.” 
            Section 4 is meant to be used in cases of injury, stroke, dementia, or other illness of the President. Liberals wish to use it to escape from dealing with Donald Trump. They wish to have the President declared crazy because he is driving them crazy – as illustrated by performances by Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, John McCain, etc.

            Numerous people are calling for this amendment to be invoked to remove Trump, including television hosts, newspaper columnist, and even members of Congress. A bill to do this already has 23 Democrat co-sponsors. Section 4 of this amendment has never been invoked and most likely will not happen now. Invoking Section 4 would require the consent of Vice President Pence and more than half of the President’s cabinet, plus the consent of the Republican-controlled Congress.

            The idea that so many people want to use Amendment 25 to remove President Trump from office is frightening. Liberals have gone crazy since Trump won the election – or Hillary Clinton lost it, whichever way you wish to think about it. His opponents cannot accept the fact that Americans chose Trump over Clinton, and they are still fighting against him.

            On the other hand, the same Americans who put Trump in office are still supporting him. He is basically the same person that Americans saw on the campaign trail and liked. Trump is not the average politician, and Americans like that he is not.

            There is a right way to remove a President from office, and there is a wrong way. The 25th Amendment was put in place for an emergency, not for political purposes. If you do not like what the President is doing, then you should speak out against him, elect other politicians who will oppose him, and vote against him if he runs for re-election in 2020. Forcing him out of office by a coup or a civil war would make the United States no better than a Third World country.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Consecrating Our Lives

            The visiting teaching message for August is about living a consecrated life. I recently wrote notes to the sisters on my letter route, and I thought that I would share the message with my readers. I am using quotes from several members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as one from a former Relief Society leader of the importance of consecrating our lives and how to do it. 

            Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on this topic and gave a definition of consecration. “To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives – that is, our time and choices – to God’s purposes.” (See D. Todd Christofferson, “Reflections on a Consecrated Life,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 16.) 

            Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles enlarged on this meaning when he said, “We tend to think of consecration only as yielding up, when divinely directed, our material possessions. But ultimate consecration is the yielding up of oneself to God.” (See Neal A. Maxwell, “Consecrate Thy Performance,” Ensign, May 2002, 36.) 

            We can increase our faith in Jesus Christ and in His atoning sacrifice as we consecrate ourselves to the purposes of God. We can become holy step by step as we live a consecrated life.

            Sister Carole M. Stephens, former First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, quoted Elder Robert D. Hales and then shared her understanding of consecration.

“When we make and keep covenants, we are coming out of the world and into the kingdom of God.”

We are changed. We look different, and we act different. The things we listen to and read and say are different, and what we wear is different because we become daughters of God bound to Him by covenant. (See Carole M. Stephens, “Wide Awake to Our Duties,” Ensign, Nov. 2012, 115-16). 

            Consecration is the covenant God makes “with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33). We can bring our lives into harmony with God’s plan for us by living a consecrated life.

            My spirit longs to have the word of God written in my hearts, but my physical tabernacle is not always willing. However, I can see myself slowly changing and becoming more like Heavenly Father would have me be. I encourage you to consecrate your life to God and reap the blessings of doing so.

Friday, August 11, 2017

What I Like Best about My Siblings

            Families are strengthened when siblings have good relationships. Parents can encourage good sibling relationships by treating their children fairly and honestly. There is much truth in the title of a hymn, “There Is Beauty All Around when there’s Love at Home.   
            I received a different but interesting and appropriate gift for Mother’s Day. One of my daughters gifted me with a subscription to “StoryWorth.” The idea behind the subscription is for me to write the stories of my life. Each week my daughter will select a question, and the company will email it to me. I am supposed to write the answer to the question and send it back. The company will send the answer to my daughter as well as combining the answers into a book at the end of the year. Here is another picture into who I am.

            The question for week 12: What do you like best about your siblings? This is an easy question for me to answer because I love my siblings and love to be with them. The thing that I like most about my siblings is the unconditional love that I receive from them and feel for them. I enjoy being with my siblings more than anyone else in the world other than my immediate family. I know that they accept me and love me in spite of my many weaknesses and problems. I also know that they will support me at any time in anything that I might ask of them.

            I like the way that my siblings boost my self-esteem and make me feel good about myself. I like the way that our communication with each other is always positive. I like the way that we can joke and laugh with each other about the silly things we do and not be offended. I like the way that my siblings share their talents with me, whether it is family history work, quilting, or whatever.

            The only thing that I do not like about my siblings is that we do not have regular communication with each other. We tend to stick to our own lives and never make contact with each other unless there is a problem or need. If a telephone call is made, it is usually me that makes it. Even with the email and Facebook, it is like pulling teeth to get a response out of some of them. I wish that we had more frequent communication. I envy women who have regular outings with their sisters – which would include my sisters by marriage. My dream would be to live in a community with all my siblings and see them weekly or even more often. My dream would be to live in a community with all my siblings and see them weekly or even more often.

            Even without frequent communication and visits, the unconditional love that we have for each other makes us better people. Families are strengthened when there is unconditional love in the home. When siblings truly love each other, they are happier and the family is stronger. Strong families strengthen communities and nations.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Freedom from Pressure

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the pressure on older teens and young adults to attend college. I stand by the principle that everyone needs advanced training beyond high school, but I also realize that not everyone is capable of going the college route.

            Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, wrote an article on this subject. He gave some statistics in his article that should be considered by prospective college students and their parents.  

More than 18 million students attend our more than 4,300 degree-granting institutions….

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “when considering all first-time undergraduates, studies have found anywhere from 28 percent to 40 percent of students enroll in at least one remedial course. When looking at only community college students, several studies have found remediation rates surpassing 50 percent.”

Only 25 percent of students who took the ACT in 2012 met the test’s readiness benchmarks in all four subjects (English, reading, math, and science). Just 5 percent of black students and 13 percent of Hispanic students met the readiness benchmarks in all four subjects.

The National Conference of State Legislatures report says, “A U.S. Department of Education study found that 58 percent of students who do not require remediation earn a bachelor’s degree, compared to only 17 percent of students enrolled in remedial reading and 27 percent of students enrolled in remedial math.”

The fact of business is that colleges admit a far greater number of students than those who test as being college-ready.

            Williams, being the professor that he is, includes many other facts and figures in his article. I would like to know why there are so many students graduating from high school without knowing how to read, write, and do arithmetic. I would like to know why the students needing remedial college classes even want to go to college. I would also like to understand why any student is admitted to college without the capability of doing the academic work required at universities.

            The Professor says that high schools are delivering “grossly fraudulent education” when they allow a student to graduate from college when they are not capable of performing at even an eighth- or ninth-grade level.” I personally know a young man who graduated from high school without being able to read a third-grade level book. So, one reason we have students unprepared for college work is because the public school system has failed in their responsibilities to prepare them. Where are the high school counselors, and why are they failing these students?

            My next question concerned the motivation of unprepared students even wanting to go to college. If the student was not motivated enough in junior high school and high school to learn the high school subjects, why do they even apply for higher education? Are they reacting to peer pressure? Are all their friends going to college, and they feel left out? Are parents providing this pressure on their unprepared children?

            My third question is the motivation of the colleges and universities to admit students who are unprepared. Surely, the low percentage of graduation for students requiring remedial help (17 percent who needed remedial reading and 27 percent who needed remedial math) compared to the percentage of those graduating who needed no remedial assistance (58 percent) tells its own story. Williams cites a “study that more than a third of students showed no improvement in critical thinking skills after four years at a university.” In addition, many employers of those who manage to graduate from college report that their employees are not prepared to enter the work force.

            Williams suggests, and I agree, that it is a waste of time, effort, and money for some students to attend college. He says, “The bottom line is that college is not for everyone. There is absolutely no shame in a youngster’s graduating from high school and learning a trade.”

            Many people who learn a trade actually earn more money than their friends who have college degrees. I believe that everyone needs a high school diploma that shows that they completed work on a twelfth-grade level, but I do not believe that everyone can or should attend college.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What I Miss Most about Being a Child

            I received a different but interesting and appropriate gift for Mother’s Day. One of my daughters gifted me with a subscription to “StoryWorth.” The idea behind the subscription is for me to write the stories of my life. Each week my daughter will select a question, and the company will email it to me. I am supposed to write the answer to the question and send it back. The company will send the answer to my daughter as well as combining the answers into a book at the end of the year. Here is another picture into who I am.

            The question for week 13 is: What about being a child do you miss the most? The thing that I miss most about my childhood is the feeling of being carefree. I was reared in a home where I felt very secure. I knew that my mother and father loved each other, and I knew that they loved each of their children with all their hearts. I had no doubts that they would do anything in their power for me and my happiness, and I never worried about having a place to stay or food to eat except for one time.

            Something happened. I do not know the reason, but I decided to run away from home and even left the house. I had no plan, and I did not take any blankets, food, or extra clothing with me. I was about an eighth of a mile down the road when I considered my situation. I wondered what I would eat and where I would sleep, and I immediately turned around and went back to the house. I never ran away from home again.

            My family lived on a farm that provided much of our food and money. My father worked the graveyard shift at a gas station in town for extra income. We were poor, especially by today’s standards. We had the essentials for health and life but little more, and I understood enough to not ask for anything expensive. I wore mostly hand-me-down clothing until I was in junior high school and learned to make my own.

            I understood that my family did not have as nice of a house or the newest clothes, but I never felt poor. I did not have my own bedroom or even my own bed, but I did not think anything about it. I did have my own drawer in the dresser because Mom insisted that we each have a private space. Other than my own toys and clothes with a drawer to hold them, I did not really have much of anything that I could call my own. I remember being in about the fifth grade and receiving a briefcase-type bag to carry my papers and stuff to and from school. I was so proud of that bag!

            I did not have a bicycle. In fact, no one in the family had a bicycle. We either walked the mile or so to visit a friend, or we rode a horse. We had one old brown work horse that had the creative name of The Sorrel. He was one of a pair of horses with the other one name Blue. Guess what color he was? Blue died when I was almost too young to remember him, but The Sorrel was still living when I was a teenager. He was huge and gentle, and we rode him bareback.

            We could climb all over The Sorrel, and he would just stand there. We could put children on him from his tail to his ears, and he would carry them wherever they wanted to go. However, he sometimes got back at us in a sly way - but never when little children were on him. I remember several times when he pulled his trick while I was riding him. We would be trotting along and making good time. Then he would take a side step. I would keep going forward with the momentum and land on the ground. Then I would have to find a fence or something to stand on before I could get back on his back. I remember another time that he got back at me, but I do not think that it was intentional. I was putting a child on his back, and he stepped on my left foot. My foot hurt so badly! I thought he would smash it before I could convince him to lift his foot! He was a good horse even though he was old and fat, and I have many fond memories with him.

            I loved being outside even as a child. It could have been the small house with the large family or my need for space and privacy. I do not know the reason. I simply know that my favorite memories of living on the farm happened in the spring. I loved running through the yard and pastures with the winter snow barely melted and the March winds blowing their chill breath. I was free, and I loved it! I loved the freedom so much that even the chilly wind could not drive me back in the house. I would find a ditch or a low spot where I could hunker down to get out of the wind, and I would stay there until I was warm enough to run and play again.

            Even though I had a carefree childhood, I also had a few fears. My biggest fear was being afraid of the dark. It was not so much the dark that frightened me but what or who might be in the darkness. I was afraid to go to the outhouse any time because I thought Satan lived in the hole in the ground under the toilet. I particularly did not like going out there alone in the darkness. I did not mind walking the quarter of a mile to or from the meetinghouse in the darkness if I was with someone, but I was frightened to do it by myself. In the first place, badgers lived at “the little hill” that was about halfway between the church and the house. We knew they were there because various members of the family had seen them. So I was afraid of badgers even though I never personally saw one. I was also afraid of anything else that might lurk in the darkness.

            I still do not like the darkness. Why do I live in a place that has such long hours of darkness? I stay close to home at night, and I do not like to be home alone at night. I was okay being home with the children in the house and my husband traveling, but I feel quite different being here alone at night. Even now I calm myself by giving myself some serious counseling – “There is no one out there watching you!”
            My other big fear was missing the school bus. We watched for the bus every morning because we could see it coming over the hill above the farm. The call would go out, “The bus is coming!” We walked a quarter of a mile to the bus stop every morning, and the bus had one and one-half miles to travel from the time when we could first see it until it was at our bus stop. We had to do the farm chores - milk the cows and feed the animals – before we could get ready for school. If we got up late or something went wrong, we would not leave the house when we normally would. Then we would run. I remember running to catch the bus many times and the bus waiting for us. I still hate to be late, but I wonder if I developed my running speed because I had to run for the bus so many times as a child. I still have nightmares sometimes about running for the bus.

            There have been times in my adult life when I yearned to be back in my childhood years. I finally figured out that I wanted the security that I felt with my parents and siblings. When I understood my need for security, I could look at my life and figure out what I needed to do to feel more secure. Now that I am in my older years, I feel somewhat carefree again. It is good!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Registered Voters vs. People Eligible to Vote

            There is some disagreement about who won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump says that he would have won the popular vote along with the electoral vote if it were not for the illegal alien vote. Hilary Clinton claims that she won the popular vote by 2.9 million. Realty says that both of them cannot be right, but the average American voter has little power to determine the truth.

            Judicial Watch is coming to the rescue for Americans by searching for the truth. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRC) dictates that voting precincts maintain the accuracy and integrity of voter rolls. According to a new letter from Judicial Watch, some California counties have difficulties in following the mandate. It seems that there are more registered voters in nearly one dozen California counties than there are people who are eligible to vote.

            Judicial Watch is threatening to sue the State of California if they continue to refuse to comply with the NVRC. Compliance would mean removing the name of all deceased registrants or those people who no longer live in that precinct and ensuring that noncitizens do not register to vote. The conservative watchdog group put their threat in writing with an August 1, 2017, letter to Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The Judicial Watch press release gave the details. 

In the letter, Judicial Watch noted that public records obtained on the Election Assistance Commission’s 2016 Election Administration Voting Survey and through verbal accounts from various county agencies show 11 California counties have more registered voters than voting-age citizens: Imperial (102%), Lassen (102%), Los Angeles (112%), Monterey (104%), San Diego (138%), San Francisco (114%), San Mateo (11%), Santa Cruz (109%), Solano (111%), Stanislaus (102%), and Yolo (110%).

In the letter, Judicial Watch noted that Los Angeles County officials “informed us that the total number of registered voters now stands at a number that is a whopping 144% of the total number of resident citizens of voting age.”

            Los Angeles County is a liberal area. If the information on this county was multiplied hundreds of times by the other liberal counties, it could add up to millions of votes. We may now know why Hillary Clinton won California by more than 3.4 million votes!

            This is not the first time for Judicial Watch to threaten to sue a state for not complying with the NVRA. Their press release indicated that they sent a letter to 11 other states in April seeking compliance. Although California is liberal, the list of 11 states includes both Republican and Democrat. They are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee. In addition, a lawsuit was filed on July 18 against Montgomery County and the Maryland State Boards of Elections for non-compliance with NVRA.

            If Judicial Watch is able to force the states to comply, Americans may once again have assurance that the voting process is not tainted and that every American’s vote is counted.