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, January 20, 2020

Who Is Sharyl Attkisson?

            My VIP for this week is Sharyl Attkisson who has been described as a “National news media figure and multiple award-winning, straight-shooting investigative reporter.” The Obama administration “illegally and unconstitutionally” hacked into her computer as well as trespassed at her home. She recently refiled a lawsuit against the federal government for the bad behavior of several “high profile Deep State officials.” Mark J. Fitzgibbons wrote the following about Attkisson’s first lawsuit.

Attkisson’s first lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice for failing to expressly name the government spies and conspirators who hacked her computers and remotely planted classified materials, obviously to set her up. The Department of Justice, where [Rod] Rosenstein worked, had repeatedly obstructed Attkisson’s attempts to get information through litigation discovery. The court dismissed nevertheless, and even gave immunity to former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, whom Attkisson did name in her first lawsuit.

One federal court of appeals judge even called this dismissal of her lawsuit “Kafkaesque” given how well-nigh impossible it was for her case to proceed under our justice system’s rules and judicial interpretations rigged in ways that protect government lawbreaking….

            Given the problems with her first lawsuit, why did Attkisson refile it on January 10? A whistleblower came forward with information, including the fact that he was “involved with hacking her computers.” In addition, the whistleblower identified “other government officials complicit in the very disturbing spying on her. The refiled complaint quotes government forensics experts as being ‘quite shocked,’ demonstrating some within the government Intelligence Community thankfully have consciences.”

            Why did the Obama administration decide to spy on Attkisson? She was relentless with her “reporting on the gun-running scandal called Fast and Furious, then continued through her reporting on the Benghazi disaster.”

            It appears that Donald Trump was not the only person on whom the Obama administration spied. Sources within the government – some of those with consciences – said that Attkisson was “just one of hundreds of journalists or other American citizens who have been victims of such illegal spying.” Maybe you and I were included in the elite group! I hope Attkisson wins and wins big! Since Attkisson is funding her own costly lawsuit, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help her. If you so choose, you can link to it through Fitzgibbons article here

Sunday, January 19, 2020

How Long Will the Impeachment Trial Last?

            Today was the first day of the impeachment trial for President Donald Trump. Senators were sworn in as jurors and opening statements were made last week, but today the trial began. Senators are under confinement for the trial. There is no allowance for cellphones, talking, or escape. The Senators will sit at their desks as House prosecutors and Trump’s defense team present their arguments. 

In fact, the following statement will be made at the beginning of each day of the trial: “All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment.” This proclamation was first made in 1868 at the trial of President Andrew Johnson. It was heard again at the trial of President Bill Clinton. President Trump is only the third President to be impeached, but he is the first to be impeached without committing a crime. 

The House of Representatives impeached him for purely political reasons. They know that they cannot beat him in November 2020, so they are trying to weaken him with impeachment. I wonder how long the trial will last before the Senators get antsy and want it over. I wonder if it will last long enough to even call witnesses. I hope that Americans citizens are watching and taking notes. How can anyone in their right minds support the Democrat Party after watching the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing and the House of Representatives impeachment circus?

Do You Believe the Second Amendment Is in Danger?

            The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution declares that the government cannot “infringe” on the right to keep and bear arms. Yet, Democrats in Virginia, with their new power of total control over the state government, are trying to do ban firearms. Numerous counties have declared themselves to be sanctuary counties.

            Paul Pedard said that “100,000 Virginia gun owners” have attended county and town meetings rallying for “gun sanctuaries.” Now they are “bombarding” the Democrats in the state legislature. According to Pedard, Philip Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which is leading the sanctuary movement, said the following:

Now it’s time. Now we’re going to melt down their phones, explode their inboxes on their email. We’re going to bombard them more than they’ve been bombarded.

            Van Cleave sent an alert to his supporters to lobby lawmakers in Richmond who are against gun control. The group is organizing its annual “lobbying day” that promises to bring buses of supporters from all over Virginia and at least 13 others states with some of them coming from Texas, Florida, and Connecticut. For more information, see Pedard’s article here

            The Governor of Virginia imposed a ban on firearms at the planned pro-gun rally and a judge upheld the ban when gun owners sought an injunction against it. It is obvious that the Second Amendment is in danger in Virginia. How is it faring in other states? Liberals just cannot wrap their heads around the idea that people can own firearms and use them lawfully.

Added later:

            The rally at the Virginia capital was massive with thousands of gun rights supporters on hand. They had a message for legislatures about their new gun bans: We will not comply. See this articlefor more information.  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

How Much Do You Know about God?

            Much of the world as well as many Christians do not know or understand the true nature of God. On a beautiful spring morning in 1820 – some people believe that it was March 26 – young, fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees to ask God which church he should join. He came out of that experience with more knowledge about God than all the religious experts of the day. Here is the event in Joseph’s own words, which can be found in Joseph Smith-History 1:15-17.

15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God….

16 … I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

17 … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

            In an instant Joseph learned that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are two separate Personages and They have glorified bodies of flesh and bone. Joseph immediately shared his experience with his family, and he shared it a few days later with a preacher. I find it interesting that his family – the people who knew him best – accepted what he told them. However, the preacher did not. The preacher told Joseph that his experience was of the devil and that “there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days” (verse 21). 

            Being just “an obscure boy” Joseph was surprised when there arose “a great deal of prejudice” against him. The prejudice continued to increase and became “bitter persecution” (verse 22). The persecution followed Joseph Smith until he and his brother Hyrum were killed.

            Despite the persecution that he, his family, and his followers – many of them my ancestors – faced, he never changed his story. He went to his death testifying that he had seen God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.

            The persecution seemed to come from two false ideas: (1) There were no more visions or revelations after the days of the Apostles and (2) Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost were one entity without body, parts, or passions. Joseph’s experience, known as the First Vision, proved both ideas to be false.

            This year marks 200 years since the First Vision. Millions of people testify that the Holy Ghost bore witness to them that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I add my witness that Joseph Smith is a prophet through whom God restored the true concept of the Godhead. He saw two Personages -- the Father and the Son, and he heard the Father introduce His Son. He spoke with Jesus Christ and gained the knowledge that he sought. Here is the testimony of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the living Apostles of Jesus Christ, to close my message.

Now, to anyone within the sound of my voice who has wondered regarding our Christianity, I bear this witness. I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace can we gain eternal life. (See Ensign, November 2007.)

Friday, January 17, 2020

How Do We Learn to Listen with Love?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when individuals learn to listen to each other with love. Listening with love makes a difference in the willingness of the speaker to discuss problems because no one wants to share deep feelings with a person who does not care enough to listen. 

An important thing to remember is that we can hear someone say something but not really be listening to them. Nicholeen Peck posted an article titled “10 Lessons for Listening with Love,” and she gives some powerful reasons for doing so.

1. Focus your whole attention on them. [We cannot be multi-tasking and truly listen.]

2. Silence is okay. [Both the speaker and the listener sometimes need time to process thoughts.]

3. Sometimes just think but don’t say. [The speaker will know that we are listening to them if we are looking at them.]

4. Look at the person. [We can show that we love them and care about them with our eyes.]

5. Judging first is always a trap. [Allow the speaker to tell their full story and give all the facts before jumping to a conclusion.]

6. Analyze their words before planning your words. [Spend some time thinking about their words before speaking.]

7. Value them and their experiences. [When we listen with love, we let our loved one know that they have value in our life, and we allow them to fully share their experience without jumping in to tell one of our own.]

8. Recognize that when they say something, they might have just heard it for the first time and could change their mind later. [Sometimes we need to put an experience into words before we can see it clearly.

9. Ask questions. [Your questions can show that you are listening and that you do care.]

10. Repeat back what they said. [When we repeat back key points, it shows that we listened to what they were saying, and it gives the speaker time to consider what else they wish to say.]

            There are numerous relationships that can be strengthened by listening with love. How many wives or husbands long for their spouse to truly listen to them? How many teenagers believe that their parents do not understand them? How many children misbehave in order to get the attention of their parents? Listening with love can solve many problems in a family. It can also make other problems easier to bear. I know that we can learn to listen with love by following the suggestions above. I know that listening with love will strengthen families, and I know that strong families strengthen their communities and nations.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Do We Need Governmental Permission to Pray in Public?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns freedom to pray in public. President Donald Trump says that students should be allowed to pray. He recently held an event in the Oval Office showing his support for students. He told the group of students and others, “You have the right to pray and that’s a very important and powerfulright.” 

            Trump has a prayer plan that will protect prayer in schools without changing existing policy. It focuses on “ensuring current protections are understood and enforced.”  There is an improved process for students and teachers to file complaints and a request for “educational leaders to confirm they comply with rules related to school prayer.” Trump stated, “We will not let anyone push God from the public square. We will uphold religious liberty for all.”

            Even though school-sponsored prayers were outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1962, student can still “pray privately in the classroom and elsewhere on school property.” They can also “reference their faith in homework assignments and form religious clubs.” I wonder how this new “freedom to pray” will affect school activities when students want to pray.

            I was in school in 1962 when the Supreme Court reached its decision on prayer. I do not remember the new law affecting my time in school. In fact, I do not remember participating in prayer at any time during my childhood and youth. We did pray in high school in our released-time religion classes, but those classes were not held on public property. Even though there were no school-sponsor prayers in my memory, I feel certain that there were many private prayers being said.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

What Happens Now?

            Today the House of Representatives voted 228-193, almost along party lines, to send formal articles of impeachment to the Senate. The articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump were then ceremoniously carried across the U.S. Capitol Building to the Senate. After ending at the back of the Senate chamber, the Clerk of the House made the announcement: “The House has passed House Resolution 798, a resolution appointing and authorizing managers of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, President of United States.”

            The Senate will become an impeachment court at noon tomorrow with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. He will administer the oath to senators who will be the jurors. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appointed seven Representatives to act as prosecutors with two of them being Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler.

            Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that the Senate would rise above party factions to do what is best for our nation. Only time will tell whether the clown show continues in the Senate, but Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney will certainly add interest to the entertainment by their shenanigans.