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, July 31, 2017

Charlie Gard

            My VIP for this week is Charlie Gard, the terminally ill baby in Great Britain. He died last week just one week before his first birthday. His parents confirmed his death on Friday from Mitochondrial DNA Depletion, a disease that causes “progressive brain damage and muscle weakness.”

            The parents – Chris Gard and Connie Yates – fought a legal battle for five-months for the right to take their baby out of the hospital for treatment elsewhere. The hospital took the fight to the Court, and the Court ruled for the hospital. The court battle was about who had the right to decide on treatment for Charlie – the parents or the government.

            Charlie’s parents raised $1.7 million to pay for experimental treatment for his rare genetic disease in the United States. An American neurologist examined Charlie and suggested that treatment could help him. However, too much time had been wasted in the court battle. When tests proved that Charlie was past the point of help, the parents withdrew their legal challenge. When they asked for the opportunity to take Charlie home, the Court again ruled that he could not be allowed to pass away at home. Charlie passed away in a hospice facility in London.

            This writer sends condolences to the parents and questions the actions of the hospital and court. This question must be asked: Why were the parents denied the right to choose treatment for their son? It appears that the law in Great Britain does not bestow any parental “rights,” just parental “responsibilities.” This is the reason that the law will allow a hospital to override the wishes of parents for treatment “if it’s in the child’s best interest.” The hospital believed that the treatment would cause Charlie to have prolonged suffering and refused to allow him to be transferred. The court in Great Britain ruled for the hospital.

            The next question must be: Could a similar situation happen in the United States? The short answer is “yes” because “similar cases happen all the time.” However, it is unlikely to happen here because most cases “tend to be resolved in favor of parental rights,” according to Dr. John D. Lantos, director of Bioethics Center at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. 

            Dr. Lantos gave an example of a thirteen-year-old girl who went into a hospital for a
“routine tonsillectomy” and suffered “cardiac arrest and excessive bleeding” after the surgery. She was put on life support and declared to be brain dead legally. The parents requested the court to allow them to take her elsewhere for treatment. Even though the court agreed with the doctors that the girl was brain dead, they allowed the parents to take their daughter for other treatment with expenses to be paid by the parents. The article said that the girl is still alive, but it did not state the girl’s current condition.

            According to the doctor, the more common situation in the United States when courts overrule parents is when parents refuse blood transfusions for their child for religious reasons or refuse the standard and proven treatment for a problem. Then the court takes action to protect the child. In other words, American parents have the discretion to make decisions in behalf of their child as long as their decisions are in the best interest of said child. This is basically the same reasoning as in the Charlie Gard case.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Same Laws for All Americans

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the need for members of Congress to live under the same rules and laws that they impose on American citizens. As you probably know, the Senate failed once again on a straight repeal of Obamacare.

            Seven Senators who are Republican in name only (RINO) voted to keep Obamacare even though they promised for the past seven years that they would repeal it. This plan would not end Obamacare immediately because it would have given Congress two years to replace it. The seven RINO Senators who broke with Republican leadership are: Lamar Alexander (R-TN.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-MA), Dean Heller, R-NV., John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Rob Portman (R-OH). The Senate later voted on a “skinny” plan, and three of the RINOs voted “no” on it: John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Susan Collins (R-MA).

            Obamacare has never been good for working Americans although it does provide some medical help for those who are not working. Republicans have pledged to repeal it for years – and even passed bills to end it several times. Yet, when their votes really matter, some Republicans refuse to follow through on their promises.

            As reported by the Wall Street Journal, President Donald Trump and conservatives are livid at the RINOs betrayal of trust. This writer is pleased to learn that Mr. Trump is considering what conservatives have been suggesting: cancelling the health care benefits that Congress currently enjoys and making them live under the law they forced upon the rest of Americans.

It [Trump’s tweet] was also the first to mention that he [Trump] was open to another idea proposed by conservative activists to pull lawmakers back to the task of a health-care bill: cutting off their existing health benefits.

Activists including Heritage Action, the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, have proposed that Mr. Trump’s administration change a rule promulgated by the Office of Personnel Management during the Obama administration that allows members of Congress and their staff to obtain subsidized insurance alongside other Washington, D.C., small businesses.

That rule has been the subject of significant contention for years, with some lawmakers contending that it is an end-run around a provision in the 2010 health law that requires members of Congress to get their health coverage like other Americans. Lawmakers and their aides get a hefty subsidy from their employer – Congress – when they buy coverage through the D.C. online insurance exchange, which critics contend is unique to them. Defenders of the rule argue that the provision was never intended to force members of Congress or their aides to lose the employer-sponsored health benefits that many people get on the job.

            Heritage Action – and other people including this writer – believe that cutting the health benefits of members of Congress and their staff would “focus their attention” on legislating a suitable health care law for all Americans. Michael Needham, head of Heritage Action, states the following in an opinion piece published this week. 

With the long-promised goal of repealing Obamacare and providing relief from the failing law slowly slipping away because of liberal intransigence, senators should finally subject themselves to the same burdens imposed upon their constituents. Maybe then they would come around to begin delivering on their longstanding promise.

            This writer says “let’s do it!” It is time that members of Congress realized that they are elected to do the work of the people. They are sent to Washington to legislate laws that will be fair and just to all Americans.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Kindness Begins with Me

            The requirements for each of my religion classes included a “becoming” project. I was required to choose a Christlike attribute and then develop that characteristic during the semester through weekly exercises. I worked diligently to develop the various attributes and learned a lot about myself in the process. Since I took this semester off from school, I am not taking a religion class and am not working on a becoming project. I miss the growing experience.

            I awoke on a recent morning and realized that words of a Primary children’s song were going through my mind. These words are about kindness and are as follow (“Kindness Begins with Me,” words and music by Clara W McMaster). 

I want to be kind to ev’ry-one, For this is right, you see.
So I say to myself, “Remember this: Kindness begins with me.”

            I understood that the Lord was telling me something, and I listened. Knowing that kindness is a Christlike attribute, I decided to do a becoming project on my own and share what I learn with others. While doing research on the topic of kindness, I found this quote from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of TheChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes….

Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.

            Now we know that kindness is a Christlike attribute, is the “essence of a celestial life,” and begins with the individual – me. How do I go about developing this characteristic?  Barbara A. Lewis wrote an article titled “Kindness” (Ensign, July 2017, 54-57).  She states the following.

Thinking kind thoughts is a Christlike attribute. Kindness originates in hearts and minds. A lack of kindness can begin with critical thoughts of others, and it can develop into a habit of finding fault. However, if we accept responsibility for our own reactive thinking, we can become more charitable. Rather than judging others, we grow in understanding and kindness.

Kindness in the home, workplace, church, and school can open passages to hearts that have been blocked with misunderstandings. Showing kindness to others allows them to let go of angry feelings so they can focus on real issues. Kindness helps us and others feel acceptance and gain confidence.

            Lewis shares several stories of prophets, apostles, and children as examples of showing kindness to other people. Then she proceeds to give some suggestions on developing kindness.

Looking inside: Develop kindness within yourself.
. Look for times when God has touched your life with kindness.
. Read the scriptures on kindness in the Topical Guide.
. Pray to recognize opportunities to be kind to others.
. Think of kind things you could do and say each day.
. Practice how to react with kindness.

Looking outside: Find ways to show kindness to others.
. Recognize those who might need service or a kind act.
. Apologize whenever you should.
. Remain silent when someone speaks sharply to you.
. Notice the good things that others do and thank them.
. Forgive others and show them an increase of love.

            The world around us is rejecting Jesus Christ and His teachings and is increasingly unkind in the process. Therefore, there is much need for people to practice kindness. We are all children of a Father in Heaven, who loves us. He expects us to show love and kindness to each other in spite of our differences in skin color, religion, culture, or any other difference. There is no need to react with harshness and meanness to words or acts of others. Let us show kindness by remembering that “Kindness begins with me.”

Friday, July 28, 2017

Enduring Trials Well

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals understand that trials and tests are a major part of mortal life. All human beings are sent to earth for two major purposes. The first purpose is to obtain a physical body, and the second is to prove to God that we will be obedient to Him in all things.

            Our loving Heavenly Father allows trials to come into our lives in order for us to prove ourselves worthy to return to His presence by enduring our trials well. The great Abraham saw in vision the premortal life and was taught the importance of life on earth by God.

Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

And God saw these souls that they were good, …; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:22-25; emphasis added). 

            Heavenly Father not only wants us to endure the trials but to endure them “well.” The Prophet Joseph Smith was unjustly incarcerated many times. While he suffered in the Liberty (Missouri) Jail, he cried out to the Lord: “O God, where art thou?” How long are you going to let thy servants “suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions?” After the Prophet had cried out to the Lord, he was rewarded with these words.

My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. (See Doctrine and Covenants 121:1, 3, 7-8; emphasis added.) 

            We can understand from these scriptures that Heavenly Father’s plan called for His children to pass through tests and trials. Those who endure their trials will be blessed, but those who endure them “well” will be exalted – meaning to be like Heavenly Father and to be with Him forever.

            So, how do we endure “well” our trials? This question is the basis for a message in the July 2017 Ensign by President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He gives three steps to enduring well. 

So many things beat upon us in a lifetime that it may seem hard to endure well…. [He gives several examples of difficulties.]

But a loving God has not set such tests before us simply to see if we can endure difficulty but rather to see if we can endure them well and so become polished….

Our trials and our difficulties give us the opportunity to learn and grow, and they may even change our very nature. If we can turn to the Savior in our extremity, our souls can be polished as we endure.

Therefore, the first thing to remember is to pray always (see Doctrine and Covenants 10:5; Alma 34:19-29).

The second thing is to strive continuously to keep the commandments – whatever the opposition, the temptation, or the tumult around us (see Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 4:30).

The third crucial thing to do is to serve the Lord (see Doctrine and Covenants 4:2; 20:31).

            Tests and trials are not pleasant experiences because they are not meant to be. We are given tests and trials for a purpose, and we know that the purpose is to refine and polish us and to help us become more like our Savior. One of the best ways to become more like the Savior and to endure our trials well is to pray always, keep His commandments, and to serve our fellow beings – just as President Eyring teaches. He continues his remarks with this statement.

In the Master’s service, we come to know and love Him. We will, if we persevere in prayer and faithful service, begin to recognize the hand of the Savior and the influence of the Holy Ghost in our life. Many of us have for a period given such service and felt that companionship. If you think back on that time, you will remember that there were changes in you. The temptation to do evil seemed to lessen. The desire to do good increased. Those who knew you best and loved you may have said: “You have become kinder and more patient. You don’t seem to be the same person.”

You weren’t the same person. You were changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ because you relied on Him in the time of your trial.

            It is no secret that people are changed by the tests and trials they face in this life. Some people curse God and become bitter. Others turn to God and become better people. Since we all have the gift of agency, we choose whether we want to be bitter or better. When I am faced with a trial, I have learned to ask, “What can I learn from this experience?” By asking this question, I open my heart and mind to revelation from Heavenly Father to help me face the trial and endure it well.

            My older sisters set great examples to me and teach me many lessons. I was once enduring a difficult experience when my oldest sister said, “Big people need big trials.” Later, another sister explained that other tests had prepared me to face this trial because we receive bigger trials as we become better people. These statements made me stop and think. Students are given tests to determine their knowledge, and then they advance to more difficult lessons. Why would God’s tests be any different?

            I have seen people fall during what I consider to be a minor trial, and I have seen others endure well trials that I would struggle to endure at all. We are taught that we will never be given greater trials than we can bear if we will rely on the Lord. Therefore, the secret to enduring our trials and doing it well lies in our reliance upon God to help us get through them.

            Parents, grandparents, and leaders can show by their words and actions the best way to endure trials. By watching and following good examples, the rising generation can face their trials positively and will see trials as opportunities to gain greater understanding. Families are strengthened by enduring their trials well, and strong families strengthen communities and nations.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Free from Obamacare

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is a question: Will Americans ever throw off the shackles of Obamacare with real health care reform? Republicans have promised a full repeal of Obamacare for seven years. They have voted numerous times to repeal it and even sent repeal bills to Barack Obama. Now we have a President who is asking for a repeal bill to be placed on his desk, but the Republicans are backtracking on their promises.

            The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) consistently reports that more than 22 million people will lose health insurance if Obamacare is repealed. It seems that whatever question is asked, the answer is nearly the same, and liberals are only too happy to keep repeating the figure. However, Avik Roy at The National Review reports that a congressional staffer recently leaked the real answer to him.

Thanks to information that was leaked to me by a congressional staffer, we now have the answer. Nearly three-fourths of the difference in coverage between Obamacare and the various GOP plans derives from a single feature of the Republican bills: their repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate. But the CBO has never published a year-by-year breakout of the impact of the individual mandate on its coverage estimates.

But the CBO has developed its own estimates of that impact, during work it did last December to estimate the effects of repealing the individual mandate as a standalone measure. Based on those estimates, of the 22 million fewer people who will have health insurance in 2026 under the Senate bill, 16 million will voluntarily drop out of the market because they will no longer face a financial penalty for doing so: 73 percent of the total.

            Roy suggests that moderate Republicans answer this question: “Do you support Obamacare’s individual mandate?” He says that no GOP replacement plan will satisfy anyone who supports the mandate. He also says that anyone who opposes the mandate “should ignore at least three-fourths of the CBO’s coverage score.”

            Jarrett Stepman at The Daily Signal claims that the CBO has a transparency problem. He says that facts and figures put out by the CBFO have been accepted as non-partisan for more than four decades. 

This important fact has been mostly left out of the debate, as the CBO has not been entirely transparent with how its numbers are calculated. So far, the CBO has essentially refused to explain the primary reason so many Americans will go uninsured….

The American people deserve an open debate on one of the most important policy issues of our generation.

It is a debate over the priorities and outcomes of a health care system that favors the individual and the family over the collective – one that throws vast decision-making power to government and bureaucracies, or is limited and placed closest to the hands of the people.

This is why transparency over potential policy outcomes is so essential.

            Transparency is a good thing. It allows people the opportunity to see the truth and base decisions upon truth rather than falsehoods. The fact is that Obamacare is bad for individuals and does not do what its supporters claim. Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal reported that a group of families with Obamacare horror stories recently gathered at the White House. One victim of Obamacare is Melissa Ackison of Ohio, who has a rare bone disease. Lucas gives the following quote from Ackison. 
My family was first introduced to Obamacare through the co-op that shortly went bankrupt, leaving us to hold the bag with a lot of those bills, then throwing us back into the marketplace again where we were sold another faulty insurance plan with an extremely high deductible that didn’t cover the vast majority of our pre-existing conditions…. Despite what you’re hearing about the [Affordable Care Act], the pre-existing conditions are not guaranteed to be covered.

            Lucas also reports that Ackison and other victims of Obamacare are threatening the Republicans that they will either sit out the 2018 election or take their votes elsewhere. I can see the reason for the threats. That reason is the Republicans are not keeping their promises.

            I am of the opinion that Americans will never see the real truths about Obamacare if Democrats and some Republicans have their way.  Some Republicans – such as my own Senator Liza Murkowski – are not really interested in repealing Obamacare because they are afraid of the political fallout. In other words, they do not have the courage to do the right thing for the right reasons. They are cowards and have no place in running the people’s business.

            I have heard two different suggestions that may provide the only way to freedom from Obamacare. The first suggestion is from President Trump who says to let Obamacare fail and then pick up the pieces. The second suggestion is for President Trump to sign an Executive Order that takes away the health care provided by the government to members of Congress and make them live under the health care laws that they pass. If this were to happen, Congress would most likely repeal Obamacare immediately!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Favorite Possessions

            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 11 is: What are your favorite possessions? Why? This is another interesting question and one that I would not have included in my personal history! The possessions that I consider to be the most important in my life would include my temple recommend, my scriptures, my family ring (diamond from my engagement ring plus a birthstone for each of my children), pictures, family history, and heirlooms from my parents and grandparents. I protect these items carefully, but I do not consider them my favorites.

            My favorite objects include things that can be easily replaced and items that I use in my daily life, such as my sewing machine. I now own several sewing machines and have my eyes on another one. I could sew for several hours every day and never tire of it. I enjoy sewing because it allows me to be creative while it relaxes me. I have sewn many items of clothing in past years, including clothing and costumes for my children and grandchildren as well as prom dresses and wedding gowns for my daughters. I am now more interested in quilting projects and am in the process of making a quilt for each of my grandchildren. I have learned through personal experience that quilting has the same effect on me as putting puzzles together or working with Legos. The simple act of putting pieces together to make something beautiful distracts me from my daily life as well as relaxes me.

            Other favorite items include my gardening tools, particularly my shovels, rakes, pitch fork, and wheelbarrow. I love working in my yard and garden because it brings me closer to nature and to God. I have been blessed with numerous personal revelations as I worked in my backyard. I am grateful to have these tools available to me as I create more beauty. The shovels, rakes, and wheelbarrow have many uses in my gardening projects, but the pitch fork is irreplaceable as I work my compost piles. I did not own a pitch fork for many years until I started composting. Then I remembered my life on the farm and how we used pitch forks daily to move the hay into the mangers for the cattle and sheep, and I immediately made plans to buy one!

            Another favorite item is my iPhone because it keeps me in touch with my children and grandchildren. I had no use for a cell phone when they first came out. I remember being amazed when I saw people walking down the street with a telephone in their hands. It was such a new and exciting thing to see that I marveled at it for a long time. Then my husband and I started traveling, and I needed to have a cell phone. That was when I learned that I had instant contact with my children. I have had an iPhone for about seven years and enjoy staying up with daily events and activities of friends and family. I would have a difficult time going back to not having this link – but I suppose that I could make that adjustment also.

            I am sure that I have numerous other favorite things, but I think that you can understand why these things among my favorites. My relationships with God and my family are extremely important to me, and I can use these objects to improve those relationships as well as to develop my own gifts and talents.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Voter Fraud Is Real

            We heard a lot of talk about voter fraud during the 2016 presidential election and more after Donald Trump was elected. When Democrats bragged about Hillary Clinton winning the “popular vote,” Trump claimed that he would have won both the electoral vote and the popular vote if “millions” of illegals had not voted for Clinton.

            Liberal claim that voter fraud does not exist. The liberal Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law claims that voter fraud is a myth. 

It is important to protect the integrity of our elections. But we must be careful not to undermine free and fair access to the ballot in the name of preventing voter fraud.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly, and falsely, claimed millions voted illegally. Yet examination after examination of voter fraud claims reveal fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly non-existent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators. Election officials and leaders of the president’s own party also agree fraud is not widespread.

            Yet, Jason Snead at The Daily Signal disagrees. The Heritage Foundation has a database of cases where people were convicted of voter fraud, and Snead writes about this database.

Time and again, studies and analyses point to one incontrovertible conclusion: that voter fraud is a real and pressing issue that deserves serious solutions, and The Heritage Foundation has the evidence to prove it.

On Thursday, The Heritage Foundation is releasing a new edition of its voter fraud database. Featuring well over 100 new cases, the database documents 1,071 instances of voter fraud spanning 47 states, including 938 criminal convictions.

This revamped edition of the database separates cases by type of disposition, allowing readers to easily distinguish not only what type of fraud occurred but the outcome of the case – criminal convictions, pre-trial diversion programs, and other types of adjudication used in various states and counties across the United States.

            Snead continues his article by sharing three examples. In Virginia, a university student pleaded guilty to submitting 18 voter registration forms during the summer of 2016. He was working for a Democratic Party organization and “used false birth dates and Social Security numbers to register deceased persons to vote. He received prison time for his efforts, but his case is only one of hundreds where false registration to vote took place. In fact, Snead says that “a 2012 Pew study concluded that 1.8 million voters remained on the rolls after their passing.”

            An illegal alien in Baltimore, Maryland, overstayed his temporary work visa in 1969. “He was convicted of “residing illegally in the United States, collecting Medicare and Social Security benefits, and voting in U.S. elections.” Even though he “was convicted of child abuse in 2004” and “a registered sex offender,” “he continued to vote numerous times despite being ineligible.” He was sentenced to spend three months in prison, one year in supervised release, and “ordered to pay $48,928 in restitution.” Snead says that the “newest additions to the database included a dozen cases of illegal voting by noncitizens” and each vote nullified the ballot of an eligible voter. It only takes a few nullified ballots to swing an election.

            A woman in Ohio pleaded guilty to illegal voting. She registered to vote and requested absentee ballots. She then submitted the ballots under two different names. Her sentence of 120 days imprisonment was suspended, but she had to pay a fine of $200 plus court costs. Her “experience is not uncommon” as there “are dozens of cases in the database where individuals voted multiple times in the same election.”

            The voter fraud database at The Heritage Foundation does not include all cases of fraud. However, it does prove that 1,071 cases of fraud took place, and it shows “the importance – and the urgency – of the work of the Election Integrity Commission.” More data must be collected and analyzed to determine “whether the nation’s voter registration records are accurate or riddled with errors.”

            The task of collecting more data is difficult because some states are “stonewalling” the effort. Snead says, “This begs the question, why? If fraud is as rare as liberals say, and if state protections against it are as robust as we are told, why withhold data that would prove these claims? Perhaps liberals are afraid that the data might, in fact, say the opposite.”

            Voter fraud is obviously real. The information on the database contains only proven cases of voter fraud. There are most likely many cases that have not been discovered and prosecuted. However, there may not be the “millions” of illegal votes claimed by President Trump.

Monday, July 24, 2017

John McCain

            My VIP for this week is Senator John McCain because he is in the news again. I voted for him in 2008 because he was the Republican nominee and because I did not want Barack Obama in office. I did not know much about McCain’s politics, but I did not like what I was hearing from Obama.

            I have paid more attention to McCain and his politics since 2008, and I disagree with his stance more than I agree with him. In my way of thinking, he should have retired long ago. He has served his country well both in the military and in Congress, and I thank him for his service.
I hoped that he would not run for reelection in his last campaign, but he did.

            Now we learn that McCain has fast-growing brain cancer, and I believe even stronger that he should retire. In the first place, he is old, and he should retire – just like all the other old men and women in Congress and in the court system. In the second place, his ability to fulfill his responsibilities to Arizona and the United States has been compromised by the cancer. Even though the tumor was removed, the residual medical problems will take their toll.

            A member of my family had a baseball-size tumor removed from her brain seven years ago. The surgeon took out the tumor and as much of the cancer as he could without causing more brain damage, but cancer cells were still present. Her cancer is a slow-growing kind, and she did not receive any radiation or chemical treatment. There has been some growth of the cancer, but she is still on wait-and-see treatment.

            This family member is young and otherwise healthy. In visiting with her, a person would never know that she has brain cancer. However, she has frequent seizures on an average of one per week and is on medication for the seizures. The seizures and/or medication make her extremely tired, and she requires more sleep than she normally would need. They also make her unable to perform tasks that require deep thinking, such as handling the family finances and making travel arrangements.

            Senator McCain is dealing with age-related issues as well as brain-cancer related issues. From my family experience, I cannot see how McCain can continue to perform his duties as a senator. Besides, he owes whatever time he has left in this life to his family.

            Jeffrey Weiss is a long time reporter who is dealing with the same type of cancer as McCain – glioblastoma (GBM). Weiss writes an interesting article about his experience with the cancer. 
As I discovered after my surgery seven months ago, the median survival time after diagnosis [of glioblastoma] is about 15 months. Which means half of those diagnosed live for less time and half more – with not many living more than a couple of years.

I’m no doctor, but I know three relevant factors about McCain’s case: Older patients tend to wind up on the shorter side of that median. But patients whose mental state is strong can shift to the longer side. And even many patients whose path to the Egress from GBM is close to the median enjoy a pretty good quality of life until near the end.

            Even though Weiss’s surgery took place seven months ago, he had a recent “focal seizure” where he “could not get words out of [his] mouth. Comprehension was fine, Physical coordination was fine. No pain. But nothing but garble.” He is now on medication for his seizures, which make him “pretty sleepy.”

            I wish McCain and his family well, but I believe he would be doing himself, his family, and his nation a big favor by retiring and spending his remaining time with his family.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Health Care Fight

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the continuing battle over Obamacare. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, but the U.S. Senate cannot seem to get the job done. The vote on the Senate bill has been postponed twice, and a vote to strictly repeal Obamacare is promised for this week. As reported by Conservative Review, the House Freedom Caucus has decided to force some action. 

The House Freedom Caucus has not abandoned the health care fight. In fact, it has declared all-out war on Obamacare.
On Wednesday, the conservative House members filed a motion to force a vote on the 2015 repeal bill the GOP-controlled Congress passed and sent to President Obama.
Congressman Tom Garrett, R-Va., a freshman representative, filed a special rule known as a “discharge petition” to begin the process of forcing a vote.

            Garrett said that he was sending a message to several individuals or groups, including the President, the House leadership, the Senate, and the Democrats. The message is that the House Freedom Caucus will support anyone who will work toward repealing Obamacare.

Every member of this body elected prior to last year’s election who has an “R” beside their name at some point voted on many of the dozens of occasions on which we passed a repeal…. Let me be clear on this: It’s not a full repeal and nothing. It’s a full repeal with two years … with a 24-month phase-out to find a replacement.

This is a message to House leadership that we support their best efforts and we want to work with them to continue to move the ball forward to do what we all said we wanted to do….

This is a message to the Senate that if they act as Leader McConnell has suggested that they act, we have their backs. We will be here. This is a message to the president of the United States that we haven’t abandoned the fight, nor have we relinquished our desire to fight for the promises we made.

            The repeal legislation in question “would repeal most of Obamacare,” but it requires the “signatures of 218 members of Congress.” By signing or refusing to sign the petition, each member of Congress will demonstrate their support or non-support to repealing Obamacare – and voters will take notice.

            Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) says, “We should put on President Trump’s desk what we put on President Obama’s desk. We should demand no less.”

            This writer agrees with Garrett and Meadows that Congress should pass the bill and put it on Trump’s desk. The in-fighting and non-support of Republicans is not acceptable. It is time to repeal Obamacare!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Remembering the Pioneers

            July is an exciting time to be in Utah because there are many events leading up to the big celebration of Pioneer Day. Residents of Utah and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in other areas celebrate Pioneer Day in remembrance of the arrival of the Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. The holiday is celebrated for several weeks and includes concerts, rodeos, and marathons as well as the big parade on the 24th.

            President Gordon B. Hinckley presented some remarks at a Pioneer Day commemoration concert on July 22, 2001. He counsels the people of Utah and particularly members of the Church to never forget the sacrifices and achievements of the pioneers.

I have felt that we must never permit ourselves to lose sight of the great and singular achievements of those who first came to this valley in 1847. They came not for riches or gold, but rather to find a place where they could worship God under the revelations which are the foundation of this work. They were outcasts, driven and hounded, persecuted and peeled. Their reliance was on the God of heaven. When they reached this place, they stopped in spite of entreaties to go on to California or the Northwest. 

As I have said before, they knew nothing really of the climate of the area, of the conditions of the soil, of the crickets or the grasshoppers with which they soon became acquainted. They had learned all they could concerning the Great Basin, but that was precious little. No one before them had ever grown a potato or an ear of corn or moved a plow to break this sunbaked soil.

            In the months leading up to July 24, 1997, members of the Church studied the lives and accomplishments of the Mormon pioneers. There was a huge reenactment of the pioneer trek with a wagon train traveling from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Salt Lake Valley. My husband’s brother and his wife took part in this event. Their experience had a profound effect in their lives.

            In recent years the youth organizations of the Church started doing “Trek.” The youth and their leaders are divided into “families” who are members of a handcart company. The youth have the experience of walking for several days, pushing handcarts, and living in conditions similar to those of the pioneers. If the youth live near enough to the pioneer trail, they do their trek along the actual path of the pioneers. Other groups reenact the experience in their local areas. All come away from their experience with greater knowledge about their ancestors and other pioneers and stronger faith in Jesus Christ.

            President Hinckley often reminded members of the Church that we are all beneficiaries of the Mormon pioneers whether or not we had ancestors among the Mormon pioneers. In these remarks he shares the following quote made by Brigham Young in 1868 – 21 years after entering the Salt Lake Valley.

We made and broke the road from Nauvoo to this place. … Some of the time we followed Indian trails; some of the time we ran by the compass. When we left the Missouri River we followed the Platte. And we killed rattlesnakes by the cord in some places, and made roads and built bridges till our backs ached. Where we could not build bridges across rivers we ferried our people across, until we arrived here, where we found a few naked Indians, a few wolves and rabbits, and any amount of crickets; but as for any green tree, or any green fields, we found nothing of the kind, with the exception of a few cottonwoods and willows on the edge of City Creek. For some 1,200 or 1,300 miles we carried every particle of provisions we had when we arrived here.

            President Hinckley says that President Young went on to say: “We prayed over the land, and dedicated it, and the water, air and everything pertaining to them unto the Lord, and the smiles of heaven rested on the land and it became productive, and today yields us the best of grain, fruits and vegetables” (quoted in Nibley, Brigham Young, 441-42).

            Then President Hinckley says, “We must never allow recognition of their trials, of their sacrifices, of their tenacity, of their faith and their prayers in establishing this great community to lapse or be forgotten.”

            The Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and began to tame the desert. They built homes and dug ditches to bring water from the mountains to water their crops. They made the desert blossom and the Valley to become fertile. Many of them were barely settled when they were asked by Brigham Young to go to other areas to make more settlements. Most of the cities in the Mountain West were first started by Mormon Pioneers.

            I am a descendent of the Mormon Pioneers. Seven of my eight great-grandparents traveled to Utah with the pioneers. The eighth came after the transcontinental railroad was finished. Pioneer Day has always been an important day in my life as I remember the trials and sacrifices of my ancestors and their associates.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Family Reunion

           Families are strengthened by family reunions, and strong families support communities and nations. My husband and I - along with three children, their spouses, and twelve grandchildren - recently attended the annual reunion for the posterity of my parents. I love family gatherings, and I look forward to THE family reunion each year. Even though I recently had two weeks with my children and grandchildren, I still looked forward to attending the reunion of my extended family. I love being with my siblings and seeing the various members of their families.

            Most years I leave the reunion feeling a little let down, and this year was no exception. I felt a little sad and slightly disappointed, but I did not know why. The patriotic program was outstanding, the company was wonderful, the food was delicious, and the games entertaining. What more did I want?

            I finally determined that I was saddened at the number of family members who attended. I checked the official records and determined that about 130 people were at the reunion. Although this number is a little low, it is very close to the average attendance. I was sad because 130 people represent about 27 percent of my parents’ posterity of 487. I wondered why the rest of the family was not there.

            I started by subtracting the family members who are deceased – about a dozen. I figured that there were another dozen or so people serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or serving in the military. I know that a fair number of people live far enough away to make it difficult to travel to the reunion annually. I gave them a pass as well as a pass to a niece celebrating her birthday, another niece who had an annual commitment on that particular weekend, a great-niece who gave birth to her first child the previous day, and anyone who was too ill to come or had to work. I gave an arbitrary number of 243 people who fit in these categories. That leaves 244 people. Where were the 114 people who were not there?

            Why would this number of people choose to stay away from a family reunion – especially when they live in the same city or within an hour’s drive of the reunion? Everyone is welcome for whatever time they can spare. There is no requirement to attend the entire reunion, and numerous family members were in attendance only a part of the time. My son attended the first half and then left for work. Members of my younger brother’s family left a little early in order to attend a nephew’s baptism. Others came late and were a welcome addition.

            I am saddened to think that I have loved ones who do not want to be around family enough to attend the reunion. How many of them are nursing bitter feelings? How many of them do not feel like they are important to the family? How many of them do not place a high priority on family togetherness?

            These thoughts and feelings are weighing on me quite heavily. I have them every year, but this year they are a little weightier. I suppose the extra weight could come from the fact that I am the chairman for the next reunion. Now I am faced with more questions: What can I do to encourage better attendance? Who can I invite to assist me? What will make a difference?

            I put a high priority on family, and I feel that attendance at the family reunion is important. My husband and I paid more than $1300 to attend this reunion, and we are away from home for ten days this year. I consider those facts to be proof of my commitment to family. I hope and pray that more members of my family will put a high priority on family togetherness!