Declaration of Independence

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

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Voter Registration Rolls

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is an important decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court last week concerning voter registration rolls. The verdict affirms Ohio’s right to keep their records up to date. The decision is a strike for freedom.

            One would think that all Americans would want voter registration rolls to be accurate, but this would apparently be a wrong assumption. Thomas Lifson shares some liberal reactions to the court’s decision. One of the reactions comes from Andrew Chung of Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived Ohio's contentious policy of purging infrequent voters from registration rolls in a ruling powered by the five conservative justices and denounced by liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor as an endorsement of the disenfranchisement of minority and low-income Americans.

            For whatever reason liberals such as Sonia Sotomayor believe that keeping the voter registration rolls current will be harmful to some groups of Americans. Registrars do not automatically remove a name of an infrequent voter from voting registers. The Ohio policy is to send registration confirmation notices to any registered voter who has not voted in two years. If the voter does not respond, their names are purged IF they do not vote during the next four years.

            The notices are to determine if the person on the record actually lives at the address on the registration. If they are not living in the precinct, they should not be voting in the precinct. If the person responds to the notice or votes, their name remains on the list. If there is no response at all, the name is purged from the voter registration roll.

            The process seems to be responsible, and it was approved by the Supreme Court. However, liberals are upset. The most hysterical response came from Senator Chuck Schumer in several tweets. His first tweet says that the “ongoing push to disenfranchise Americans” comes from the Trump administration. “This is why elections matter.” In other words, VOTE!

            The next tweet reminds Schumer’s followers that the “right to vote is the most sacred right we have as citizens. Aggressive voter purge systems like Ohio’s essentially make voting a `use it or lose it’ privilege.” The right to vote is not a “use it or lose it” situation, but having one’s name on the voter registration rolls is. If a person has not voted in six years, there is no need to keep their name on the rolls.

            Schumer’s third tweet says, “Democracy suffers when laws make it harder for U.S. Citizens to vote. This decision is dangerous and damaging and is NOT why we passed the National Voter Registration Act in `93. In fact, this goes completely against the spirit of the law.” Democracy really does suffer when there are fraudulent votes!

            Lifson reminds his readers that fraudulent votes disenfranchise the genuine American voters. He also says that the “Failure to purge the rolls of those who have moved or died or given up on voting is an open invitation to fraud.” He then quotes Dan McLaughlin of NRO to give some perspective on matter:

The Court was not asked to decide if states are allowed to purge names from the voter rolls. Federal law requires them to do so. That law, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 [referred to by Schumer], was written by congressional Democrats, passed with the votes of every single Democratic senator and 238 of the 252 Democrats in the House at the time (including Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Steny Hoyer, and James Clyburn) and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The NVRA, also known as the “motor voter” law, expanded voter registration in a number of ways, but it also formally recognized the legitimate interests of states in periodically updating their lists of voters so they are limited to people actually still residing in a place where they are eligible to vote, and commanded them to do something about it:

            NVRA requires States to “conduct a general program that makes a
            reasonable effort to remove the names” of voters who are ineligible “by                         reason of” death or change in residence. §20507(a)(4).

            It seems that the Democrats in office at that time the law was passed were so anxious to make voter registration easy that they did not consider the updating aspect of this law. They thought that they could continue adding potential voters without any consequences. If the names of dead people or former residents are no longer on the voter registration rolls, it will be harder for a fraudulent vote to be made for them.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

My Church, My Name

            After His Resurrection, Jesus Christ visited the people that were living in ancient America. He ordained twelve disciples, taught His gospel and organized His church before leaving. As His disciples journeyed and taught the gospel, they were also in an attitude of fasting and prayer. The Savior appeared to them and asked them what He should give to them. They told Him that they would like to know what they should call the church.

            The Lord asked them why this was such a problem for them. He reminded them that the scriptures say that they should take upon them the name of Christ and be called in His name. He told them to perform their labors in His name and to pray in His name to the Father. Then He gave instructions about the name of the church as found in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel (3 Nephi 27:8).

            We learn from this verse of scriptures that the Lord wants His church to bear His name. The Lord gave even more explicit instructions about naming His church to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4).

            Another prophet, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke about the name of the Church in the April 1990 General Conference: “Surely every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord is precious. So each word in this name must be important – divinely designated for a reason. If we study the key words in that name, we can better understand the name’s full significance.” He then proceeds to discuss each word.

Saints. Despite its use in ninety-eight verses in the Bible, the term saint is still not well understood. Some mistakenly think that it implies beatification or perfection. Not so! A saint is a believer in Christ and knows of His perfect love….

Latter-day. We live in those latter days, and they are remarkable. The Lord’s Spirit is being poured out upon all inhabitants of the earth….

Jesus Christ. By divine directive, the title of the Church bears the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whose church this is (See Doctrine and Covenants 115:3-4). He so decreed more than once. Nearly two thousand years ago, the Lord said, “Ye shall call the church in my name (3 Nephi 27:7-8).

The Church. The first two words of the name the Lord chose for His earthly organization are The Church. Note that the article The begins with a capital letter. This is an important part of the title, for the Church is the official organization of baptized believers who have taken upon themselves the name of Christ….

Therefore, just as we revere His holy name, we likewise revere the name that He decreed for His Church.

            As decreed by the Lord, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears the name of the Savior. It is often differentiated from the Church that He founded during the Meridian of Times – The Church of Jesus Christ of Former Day Saints. The name of Jesus Christ is found in both names, and both Churches are/were built upon the gospel of Jesus  Christ.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Gifts of the Spirit

            Families, communities, and nations are blessed when individuals recognize their particular gifts of the Spirit. These gifts can be made known in various ways, such as through prayer, observation, and patriarchal blessings, but the best way is to turn into the Holy Spirit. He can teach us what we need to know.

            The world is full of noises that distract us and many voices that attempt to persuade us. President James E.Faust invites us to listen to the voice of the Spirit and follow His promptings. His voice is calm and quiet, and He will lead us to eternal life. 

            President Faust taught that we must listen for the “still, small voice” of the Holy Spirit, or we will not hear it among the many voices and other noises in the world. The ability to “hear” the voice of the Spirit develops with practice. As we listen to this calm and peaceful voice, we can learn to recognize the gifts that He brings to us.

            The scriptures teach us that there are many gifts of the Spirit, even though they all come from the same Spirit. The scriptures also say that we are to pray for spiritual gifts and then to use our particular gifts to bless the lives of all people. The Apostle Paul taught the Corinthian saints:

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4-12

            Paul lists specific gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, and several others. Similar lists of the gifts of the Spirit can be found in both the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ and the Doctrine and Covenants. These lists contain only a few of the many gifts that the Spirit brings to individuals, but they give us an idea of the sort of gifts we can pray for. Gifts that come from the Spirit but not listed are gifts such as cheerfulness, being a peace maker, being able to teach as the Savior taught, etc.

            A wonderful family home evening lesson is titled “How does the Holy Ghost work?”  It teaches about how to recognize the Holy Spirit and encourages family members to help each other to discover their own special gifts of the Spirit.

            Then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on the topic of “Spiritual Gifts” at a Brigham Young University women’s conference on March 28, 1986. He discusses many spiritual gifts before making the following statement.

I have spoken of many different spiritual gifts. I have pointed out that these gifts come by the power of the Holy Ghost and that they are available to every member of the Church, male and female.

We should seek after spiritual gifts. They can lead us to God. They can shield us from the power of the adversary. They can compensate for our inadequacies and repair our imperfections….

            As we follow the counsel to seek spiritual gifts, we will receive those that are fitting for us. Gifts of the Spirit are special blessings given to worthy individuals to benefit themselves and to help others. Individuals who seek these spiritual gifts and use them appropriately can strengthen their families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Freedom from Social Media

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the need to limit our time with social media. In fact, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints challenged the youth of the Church to disengage from social media for seven days. The prophet of the Lord had his reasons for making the request.

I acknowledge that there are positives about social media. But if you are paying more attention to feeds from social media than you are to the whisperings of the Spirit, then you are putting yourself at spiritual risk, as well as the risk of experiencing intense loneliness and depression.

            President Nelson was not asking them to give up social media permanently but simply to “fast” from it for seven consecutive days. How did the youth respond? According to this site, there are some mixed feelings. While most of the youth realize that they can waste a lot of time on social media, they feel that there are some positive aspects of it, such as keeping in touch with friends and family.

            I joined the youth in disengaging with social media. I did not do a complete “fast” because I am in the midst of planning a family reunion, and I need to connect family members on our group page on Facebook. However, I did a complete fast from the rest of Facebook. I would go on Facebook long enough to see if a family member had posted on the group page. If something was there, I read it. If no one had posted, I was immediately off Facebook.

            My experience confirmed what I already knew: I waste a lot of time on Facebook! I learned that I get much of my “news” from Facebook. I felt disconnected from world events and was hungry for knowledge – much like one would be hungry for food. I was relieved when the week was over and I could get my fill of news! The experience was a good one for me in that I limit my time on Facebook now. I want to be able to hear the whisperings of the Spirit, the main reason for the Prophet’s request.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

North Korean Summit

            There are two major items of interest in the news. The first is the G7 Summit, and the second is the North Korean Summit. Since I discussed the G7 Summit yesterday, today I will discuss the historical meeting between the President of the United States and the leader of North Korea on June 11, 2018.

            After years of smoldering strains and months of escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, the leaders of the two countries met for the first time in Singapore on Monday. The meeting almost did not take place when President Donald Trump threatened to cancel it after North Korea criticized senior members of his cabinet, including Vice President Mike Pence. Trump agreed to attend the meeting after Kim Jong Un sort of apologized.

            The two leaders met face-to-face in an orchestrated public greeting and shook hands. They then had a private meeting with only interpreters in the room with them. This meeting lasted about forty minutes before they appeared on a balcony and spoke to reporters before moving into an expanded bilateral meeting with the delegations from each nation.

            The President and the Dictator emerged with a joint document. North Korea pledged to denuclearize their nation, and the US agreed to stop war exercises with South Korea. There was also an agreement to return the American POW/MIA from the past 65-70 years. All the sanctions are still in place.

            Whether or not this historical meeting brings the desired results, the fact that the leaders of the two nations met in person is a momentous occasion. It is the first time that any President of the United States has met with any leader of North Korea. Hopefully, this meeting will result in peace and security for the world and prosperity for the nation of North Korea.

            The ball is now North Korea’s court. They can choose to move forward into the light or stay in the dark. The decision is theirs to make. As Donald Trump often says, “We’ll see” what they do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

G7 Summit

            There are two topics that have dominated the news recently. One of those topics is the G7 summit held over the weekend in Quebec, Canada. In case you are wondering what G7 means, here is the Wikipedia definition

The Group of Seven (G7) is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries, with the seven largest advanced economies in the world, represent more than 62% of the global net wealth ($280 trillion).

            President Donald Trump attended, along with the leaders of the other nations, and made one thing clear. He basically sent the heads of the globalist leaders of Europe and Japan spinning when he told them that the piggy bank is closed. He is looking for what is good for the citizens of the United States first. He pressed his case that the U.S. has been on the losing end when it comes to trade with other nations. As he often does, President Trump caught everyone off guard when he made this suggestion. 

No tariffs, no barriers – that’s the way it should be. And no subsides. I even said no tariffs. Ultimately that’s what you want. You want tariff-free, no barriers, and you want no subsides because you have some countries subsidizing industries and that’s not fair. So, you go tariff free, you go barrier free, you go subsidy free.

            The G7 leaders were shocked because this is not the way that the United States usually does business with them. They discovered that Trump is not like the usual politicians with whom they have been dealing. They did not like being told that the United States is no longer going to foot their bills, and they were stunned to learn that Trump was unwilling to play by their elitist rules.

            The G7 leaders prepared a “communique” that Trump signed before he rushed off to meet with the leader of North Korea. After Trump left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blasted him in a press conference and threatened retaliatory measures on July 1. When Trump heard what Trudeau was saying, he withdrew his signature from the communique. In saying that Fair Trade is not fair unless it is reciprocal, he added, “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing, and that ends.”

            Trump’s unpredictability is frustrating Europe’s leaders just as it does the Democrats. It appears that he used the occasion to expose the unfavorable balance in trade between the U.S. and the other nations in the group. We helped the nations of Europe to rebuild after World War II ended seventy years ago and continued to prop them up. Now it is time for them to stand on their feet and stop depending on the United States.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Charles Krauthammer

            Charles Krauthammer is my VIP for this week for several reasons. One reason is that he is a brilliant man who made life better and/or interesting for millions of people. A second reason is his announcement that he has only few weeks to live.

            Krauthammer was born in 1950 in New York City. His father was from Ukraine, his mother was from Belgium, and his only brother was four years older. Both of his parents were Orthodox Jews, and they educated their two sons at a Hebrew school. The family spoke French in their home and moved to Montreal when Krauthammer was five years old.

            Krauthammer graduated with First Class Honours in 1970 from McGill University in Montreal. Since McGill University had a lot of political activism, he learned to avoid extremism – whether far left or far right. A year after graduating from McGill, Krauthammer studied as a Commonwealth Scholar in politics at Balliol College at Oxford. He then returned to the United States to attend medical school at Harvard.

            During his first year of medical school, Krauthammer suffered a serious diving board accident and was left paralyzed from the neck down. He was in the hospital for 14 months and used a wheelchair the rest of his life. In spite of his injuries, he continued with his studies and graduated with his original class in 1975.

            Krauthammer was a resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1975 to 1978 and served as the chief resident during his final year. While a chief resident, “he noted a variant of manic depression (bipolar disorder) that he identified and named `Secondary Mania.’ He published his findings in the Archives of General Psychiatry. He also coauthored a path-finding study on the epidemiology of mania.’”

In 1978, Krauthammer moved to Washington, D.C., to direct planning in psychiatric research under the Carter administration. He began contributing articles about politics to The New Republic and, in 1980, served as a speech writer to Vice President Walter Mondale. He contributed to the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In January 1981, Krauthammer joined The New Republic as both a writer and editor. In 1983, he began writing essays for Time magazine, including one on the Reagan Doctrine, which first brought him national acclaim as a writer.
In 1984, he was board certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. His New Republic essays won the `National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism.’ The weekly column he began writing for The Washington Post in 1985 won him the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1987. In 1990 he became a panelist for the weekly PBS political roundtable Inside Washington, remaining with the show until it ceased production in December 2013. For the last decade, he has been a political analyst and commentator for Fox News.

            Krauthammer, now 68 years old, has been silent, or nearly so for most of the past year. He revealed on Friday, June 8, 2018, that he is in the final stages of cancer and has just weeks to live. This is his statement: 
I have been uncharacteristically silent these past ten months…. I had thought that silence would soon be coming to an end, but I’m afraid I must tell you now that fate has decided on a different course for me.

[He stated that recent testing showed that his cancer is back.] There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly…. My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over.

I leave this life with no regrets ….. It was a wonderful life – full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.

            I began listening to and reading the words of Krauthammer some years ago. I did not know of his academic or writing successes, much less about his diving accident. I did not realize that he lived his life in a wheelchair – much like my beloved nephew who was also a quadriplegic from an accident. I will miss the wisdom of Krauthammer’s words.