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.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Which Is More Likely to Affect the Election, Voter Fraud or Foreign Influence?

             Both Republicans and Democrats realize that the 2020 presidential election is a battle for the soul of the nation. However, their description of “the soul of the nation” is quite different. Republicans are fighting to keep the nation the America that we know that is governed by the Constitution and includes the American way of life. Democrats – at least the left wing of the party – wants to move the United States further down the road to socialism.

It is one thing to have the election become the result of a national discussion about the future, and it is something else to have the election affected by voter fraud and/or foreign influence. There is a lot of concern in the nation about both voter fraud and foreign influence, but few people seem to know which will have the greatest impact on the election. James Carafano at The Heritage Foundation believes that voter fraud is “more likely to affect the election.” 

One of the reasons why voter fraud is such a problem is that the two parties will not work together to safeguard the electoral process. Instead, each party points their finger at their political opponent and completely forgets that the main interest for Americans is to make a difference with their vote.

Carafano emphasized that “Foreign powers have tried to meddle in our elections – through overt action and covert manipulation – since we started having elections.” He said that “Election meddling is part of foreign statecraft.” He shared the example of Great Britain trying to “tilt a neutral America their way in the battle against the Axis powers” during “the years leading up to Pearl Harbor.” It stands to reason that China would prefer Joe Biden to be elected because his attitude toward China is much different than that of Donald Trump. If we are being honest, Russia would most likely prefer Biden also.

Carafano said that foreign influence presents two threats to American voting integrity. The first is “efforts to actually manipulate and change voting outcomes,” and the second is “efforts to influence voters.” He said that the US government “already takes very seriously” any “Efforts to actually change votes.” He added, “There is no proof that the Chinese, Russian, Iranian, or any other foreign government changed or interfered with balloting during the 2016 election.” However, the “allegations of wrongdoing” brought significant toughening of “ballot protection efforts” by both the federal and state governments. He said that those efforts will continue as we move toward the 2020 election.

Carafano said that “Americans ought to be far more concerned about domestic voter fraud and the integrity of state-managed election efforts.” A database maintained by The Heritage Foundation “shows that domestic voter fraud is all too real and all too common.” This is a sad conclusion because “Every vote cast illegally undermines the integrity of the system and the rights of legitimate voters.” In close elections, voter “fraud could undermine our democratic will.” We should all admit that voter fraud does happen even when we cannot determine how, where, or by whom.

Carafano suggested that Americans “worry less about foreign interference and concentrate on pressing state and local election authorities to adopt practices and provide oversight to assure that every legitimate vote is counted, and every bogus vote gets spotted and tossed out.” This sounds like good counsel for our deeply divided nation. We should all be working together to protect our election process, particularly when we know that the soul of our nation is at stake.


Monday, August 10, 2020

Who Is Brent Scowcroft?

             My VIP for this week is Brent Scowcroft. He was born and reared in Ogden, Utah, and he lived to serve and be respected by numerous Presidents of the United States. He died last week at age 95 leaving a great resume.

… He was an adviser to [Richard] Nixon and national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. He founded the Forum for International Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy think tank. He served in the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the headquarters of the Air Force and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense. He served as chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under the second Bush from 2001 to 2005 and Obama called on him to help choose his national security team.

            So how did this Utah boy become so influential? When he was inducted into the University of Utah Hinckley Institute of Politics political hall of fame in 2008, Scowcroft “said the principles that guided his political career were formed while growing up in Ogden.

Utah has the best workers in the country … the most honest and hardworking with integrity…. That was the environment in which I grew up, and whatever success I’ve had is due to that and due to the people around me.

            Th Deseret News opinion piece praised Scowcroft for his ability to serve America as he worked with various Presidents and in numerous capacities.

A brilliant foreign policy expert, Scowcroft may have done more than anyone else to shape how America interacted with the world over the past 50 years. Despite this, it is doubtful his name is readily recognizable. That’s because he rarely sought the spotlight for himself. He was a true stateman. People who wielded real power in Washington, whether Democrats or Republicans, knew that when he spoke, they ought to listen.

From Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, U.S. presidents relied on Scowcroft’s expert understanding of the world and his ability to weigh information free from partisan considerations. He wasn’t afraid of offending politicians with his honesty. He may have been “the guiding hand” behind President George H. W. Bush’s military operation to liberate Kuwait, as The New York Times put it, but he was one of only a few Republicans willing to publicly oppose President George W. Bush’s campaign to invade Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein from power several years later.

When the president wouldn’t listen to him, he published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, warning that an attack would jeopardize the nation’s counterterrorist campaign and settle little. He also said it would undermine the faith others in the world had in an America they believed “meant well.”

“It’s easy to lose trust, but it takes a lot of work to gain it,” he said.

            Scowcroft was a true patriot who served America with integrity. He was humble and “serviceable” to the nation even though he did not stand in the spotlight. He left a great example for all of us to follow.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Is Speech Truly Free When It Is Censored?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the censoring taking place on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Apple, and Google. Conservative content is always the victim of the censor.

            The Trump Administration is currently contemplating some type of regulation for these platforms. The position taken by the administration is that the platforms will be regulated if they continue censoring. Even tweets from the President are being censored by so-called fact checks, and videos from Prager University and information from The Heritage Foundation are being blocked.

            Trump signed an executive order in April that eliminated some of the protections given to social media platforms under the Communications Decency Act. However, legislation would have more power over the platforms. There is a difference between the regulations on social media platforms than on broadcast media, and the former medium are not considered to be publishers and cannot be held liable for information on their platforms. Even though they face less accountability than broadcast media, social media platforms should not pick and choose content. If they want this ability, then they should be regulated by Congress.

            Mark Meadows, chief of staff for the President, explained: “We’re talking about freedom of the press, freedom of expression. And yet what we have are a number of companies that have decided on what should be communicated and what should not be communicated. And it is very troubling.” He continued, “We’ve seen video taken down. We’ve seen posts taken down. Ultimately, if you’re allowing the social media companies to be the determiner of free speech, you’re in a very dangerous place.”

            It is appropriate for owners, CEOs, and employees of such platforms to have political opinions and to express them. It is not appropriate for them to censor the speech of other Americans using those platforms.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

What Should We Do to Make a Stand for Christian Principles?

             Among other things, the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ is the history of ancient inhabitants of the Americas. It contains the history of the Jaredites, the Nephites, and the Lamanites as well as another group known as the Mulekites who joined the Nephites. The Jaredites left the Middle East and came to the Americas at the time of the Tower of Babel. About 600 B.C., the other people came from the Middle East to America in two groups – the Mulekites and the family of Lehi – and later combined. Soon after the death of Lehi, his children divided into the Nephites and the Lamanites.

            By the year 72 B.C., the Lamanites and Nephites had fought many battles, and the chapters for this week’s Come, Follow Me lesson is about some of their wars. Amalickiah was a Nephite dissenter who joined the Lamanites and became their king by a series of lies and intrigue. Being the king of the Lamanites gave him power but not as much as he desired because he wanted to be the king over all the land.

As soon as Amalickiah had obtained the Lamanite kingdom, he began to stir up the Lamanites in anger against the Nephites. Before too long “he had hardened the hearts of the Lamanites and blinded their minds, and stirred them up to anger” (Alma 48:3). He was determined “to overpower the Nephites and to bring them into bondage” (Alma 48:4). He chose other dissenters from the Nephites as his chief captains because they were “the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites” (Alma 48:5).

Meanwhile, Captain Moroni, the leader of the Nephites, had been “preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God” (Alma 48:7). He strengthened the armies, erected small forts, and fortified the forts with banks of earth and walls of stones around them. The Nephites were “preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace,” and their religious freedom that “they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of the Christians” (Alma 48:10).

Besides having a righteous cause for their preparations for war, the Nephites were led by a righteous man. Captain Moroni was described as “a strong and a mighty man” with “perfect understanding” who “did not delight in bloodshed” but found his “joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery” (Alma 48:11). His “heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings” given to his people, and “he was a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people” (Alma 48:12). He “was firm in the faith of Christ,” and he had sworn “an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood” (Alma 48:13).

When Mormon compiled the Book of Mormon, he wrote the following about Captain Moroni: “… I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men” (Alma 48:17).

Captain Moroni was not the only righteous leader among the Nephites. “Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni” (Alma 48:19). By following their righteous leaders, the Nephites were prepared for the attack of the Lamanites and were able to repel their enemies.

There are several principles in this story. The first principle is that we should choose righteous people as our leaders. The second principle is that we are more able to survive and even thrive during emergencies and disasters when we are prepared for them. The third principle is that we cannot all be in the spotlight as was Captain Moroni, but we can “be serviceable” to our fellow human beings just as Helaman and his brethren were. The fourth principle is that sometimes we must make a stand for our Christian principles.

            Sometimes true followers of Christ must make a stand just as Captain Moroni and his people did to defend “their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace” as well as “the cause of the Christians” (Alma 48:10). We are living at a time when there is a tide of wickedness sweeping the world. President Gordon B. Hinckley of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that “there are times when we must stand up for right and decency, for freedom and civilization, just as Moroni rallied his people in his day to the defense of their wives, their children, and the cause of liberty (see Alma 48:10)” (Ensign, Nov. 2001, 72).

            We are living in the last days before the Savior Jesus Christ returns to earth to rule and reign for 1,000 years. The family has been under attack for many years and continues to be attacked. Now churches, particularly Christian churches, are being attacked, and Christians are being denied the right to worship together. One group of Christians recently met in a casino in Nevada to worship together, while another group in another state worshipped at Wal-Mart.

            Freedom of religion is the First Freedom because it is the most important. All other freedoms will fall like Dominoes if we lose this first one. It is time for all Christians to stand up and to stand together to protect the cause of Christians, which is really the cause of liberty.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Why Are Democrats Now Pushing for Schools to Open?

             Families, communities, and nations are stronger when the rising generation is well taught, and schools are the place where most of them gain their education. President Donald Trump has been saying for a couple of months that schools need to open, and he even threatened to withhold money from states that do not open their schools.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Democrats have been holding back on this topic, but they have apparently changed their minds. Fauci encouraged the nation to use the “default principle” in making this big decision.

The default principle should be to try as best you can to get the children back to school. The big, however, and qualifier in there is that you have to have a degree of flexibility. The flexibility means if you look at the map of our country, we are not unidimensional with regard to the level of infection.

The bottom line is everybody should try within the context of the level of infection that you have to get the kids back to school, … but the primary consideration … should be the safety, health and the welfare of the children, as well as the teachers and the potential secondary effects on parents and family members.

            Fauci further explained that the psychological and physical wellbeing of children should be protected – particularly those children “who rely heavily on school for proper nutrition” – and to prevent a “negative downstream ripple effect” for overburdened parents. He said that children in “green states” should get back in school using proper precautions used in general society. States with “smoldering infections” might be wise to use the hybrid models for now. States with “high infections” may want to wait before sending children back to school.

            Fauci is not the biggest surprise. After all, he does work with President Trump and should give the appearance of being supportive. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is an entirely different matter. However, Schumer admitted today that schools must open to help the economy to recover regardless of efforts to control and contain COVID-19. “If we don’t open up the schools, you’re going to hurt the economy significantly because lots of people can’t go to work…. Executive orders leave out schools altogether.” 

            Apparently, Trump’s threat to issue an executive order to “address some economic issues, including unemployment benefits, rental foreclosures, and student loans” influenced Schumer. He and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have refused to negotiate in good faith with Republicans and the President on an economic relief package for COVID-19. Both sides were blaming the other, but Schumer blamed Republicans for not being willing to “include funding to help schools reopen safely.”

            Trump may or may not have constitutional authority to issue such an executive order because all funding must originate in the House of Representatives – the House holds the purse strings of the nation. However, Trump’s threat brought action from Schumer and hopefully from other Democrats. It will be good if the politicians can work together to get the children and teens back in school. School helps the rising generation with physical wellbeing as well as staying psychologically and socially healthy. Children’s attendance at school strengthens homes, communities, and nations.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

What Evidence Shows the Progressive Attack on Essential American Values?

             The liberty principle for this week is the fight to protect essential American values of faith and family from the relentless attacks by the progressive left. These two basic values are “essential pillars that serve as true stabilizing factors in any society” according to Timothy Goeglein and Craig Osten at The Daily Signal. 

            The nuclear family has been under attack for many years. The attacks started in the late 1950s and increased in the 1960s when President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed The Great Society on the American people. Possibly the most devastating part of this program was the government usurping the responsibility of fathers to provide for their children. When mothers could receive more money from the government if they had no husband in the home, women were less motivated to marry. This led to generation after generation of families on welfare and children reared without a father in the home. Legalized abortion and no-fault divorce further devastated the family. The attack continued with the fight for and the passing of the same-sex marriage law. We recently learned that part of the mission of the Black Lives Matter movement is to destroy the nuclear family.

            The attacks on faith came out in the open during the COVID-19 crises. Mayors that banned drive through church meetings but allowed drive through restaurants and bars made the news. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California has been relentless in his attacks on churches. He even told church members that they could not sing during their worship services. Nevada allows casinos to open but keeps churches shuttered. Rioters in Portland, Oregon, started burning Bibles along with American flags last week. Black Lives Matter spokespersons say that white churches must go. Medical personnel are persecuted for refusing to perform abortions, while florists, bakers, and others are sued for not providing services for same-sex marriages because of religious objections.

            So, why is the attack on faith and family so devastating? When social justice is substituted for absolute truth, it “left a spiritual vacuum” the progressives filled with governmental solutions. Society could no longer thrive because it lost “the virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.” Goeglein and Osten explained as follows.

Thus, once the pillars of faith and the family were weakened, the rest of the house started to collapse, just as Abraham Lincoln warned the nation in 1858 that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

With the gap that was left by the removal of these two pillars of faith and family, progressives were able to introduce policies that destabilized rather than stabilized society. One such policy: encouraging single parenting, which has led to the tragic loss of fathers – an essential individual in every child’s life – in ever-increasing numbers.

Progressives attacked religious freedom and the role churches play in creating a “safety net” that government never could – by feeding both the body and the soul.

Much of the current out-of-control government spending is tied to government takeover and destruction of both these institutions, which taught self-reliance and personal responsibility….

The breakdown of the family has been a primary factor in the societal chaos we are experiencing. It has led to massive government spending that enables the very behaviors that continue a cycle of despair and destabilization.

The decreased role of faith has led to the breakdown of community, neighbors helping neighbors, and the other societal supports that government cannot recreate but tries to – again through more massive spending, which only perpetuates problems instead of solving them.

The disregard for – and eventual mocking of – religious faith and the values of selflessness and personal responsibility it instills have led to a nation that values its privileges over its principles….

… [B]oth family and faith go to the essence of what makes a healthy society. A functional, healthy family provides for and equips the next generation to be self-reliant citizens, not dependent upon government programs for their sustenance. It provides the next generation with the tools and the confidence to succeed in life.

            In a healthy family, boys grow up “with a strong father as a role model – a father who leads by example of how to love his wife, shepherd his children, and make sacrifices that benefit both.” In such a family, girls grow up knowing “what it is to be valued and loved by a man [who] will make good decisions regarding future relationships.” Such families teach children how to be self-reliant and without need for “government intrusion and taxpayer support.”

            The family and the church “provide a moral framework that teaches that all people are worthy of dignity and respect” because they are created “in the image of God.” Our Founding Fathers knew and wrote that “only a moral, righteous, and virtuous people can be free.” The authors close their article with this note of hope and instruction.

If future generations are going to enjoy the freedoms we have cherished, we must return to the moral framework that made these freedoms possible in the first place. Once that moral foundation is rebuilt, America’s house once again can stand strong, united against any storm it may face.

            I would very much like to rebuild the moral foundation of America because I want my grandchildren to live in a land of freedom and opportunity. However, I do not have much hope that it can be accomplished. I recognize that there are many forces in the nation seeking to bring down our constitutional and American way of life, and I know that some of those forces are in the educational institutions of our country. From the time the rising generation enters kindergarten until they graduate from the university, they are inundated with progressive ideas. These ideas build on one another until parents wake up one day to realize that their child has become a socialist or communist.

My children graduated from high school 15-30 years ago, and I believe that they had somewhat “normal” teachers. Yet, I am often shocked at some of the things that I hear from them. It seems that most of them would rather vote for socialism than for Donald Trump. If children are hearing socialistic ideas from their parents as well as from teachers and professors, there is no hope for rebuilding the moral foundation of America.

My hope for my grandchildren is the fact that they are all being reared in homes where they are taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, self-reliance, and personal responsibility. I hope that they are also learning about the Constitution and constitutional principles. I encourage all parents to help in the rebuilding of a moral America by teaching their children about the American way of life and how to safeguard it. Without faith, family, and freedom, America will continue circling the slippery slope until there is no return to the America that I love.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Can Our Divided Nation Be Unified?

            America is as divided as it has ever been other than during the Civil War. It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” but he was quoting Jesus Christ  who said, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27).

            Through this short statement, the Lord revealed the source of division. “If ye are not one ye are not mine” could just as easily be written, “Ye are not mine if ye are not one.” When He speaks of being “one,” He speaks of unity. If unity comes from God, then division comes from the enemy of God – even Satan. Division comes from evil desires, words, and actions.

            It seems that Americans have always been divided. This site says that “significant divisions existed in America during the Revolution.” However, the Patriots were more unified than the Loyalists. A greater percentage of the population appeared to be actively involved in the Patriot cause. The author quotes “historian Robert Calhoon [who] wrote that probably 15 to 20% of adult white males remained loyal to Britain, and that 40-45% of the free population, ‘at most no more than a bare majority’ actively supported the Patriots.” Tens of thousands of Loyalists fled the colonies at the end of the Revolutionary War.

            This information begs the question, “Were the States equally divided over the slavery issue?” It seems that most of the Founding Fathers understood that the establishment of slavery would have to go for all men to be equal. This site indicates that slavery was condemned in a draft of the Declaration of Independence.

What isn’t widely known, however, is that Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, in an early version of the Declaration, drafted a 168-word passage that condemned slavery as one of the many evils foisted upon the colonies by the British crown. The passage was cut from the final wording.

            According to this site, there was substantial debate in the Constitutional Convention on or about August 22, 1886, about slavery. Many of the delegates were opposed to slavery, but most of them understood that the southern states would not support a union if slavery was abolished. After much debate, members of the Convention made a compromise, which caused big problems a few years later and still causes problems today. They agreed that the Constitution would prohibit any restrictions on the importation of slaves for 20 years, but they could not end slavery and still have a union.

            Today our nation is unified in condemning the institution of slavery. We agree that no human being should ever be enslaved by another, and we agree that slavery is a black mark in the history of America. However, there is much discussion and disagreement as to what we should do about the issue of slavery to allow our nation to heal. This site has an article about the chasm in our nation and suggests that we turn to the same sources that Abraham Lincoln used – the Founding Fathers.

Lucas Morel, a professor of politics at Washington and Lee University and author of the new book “Lincoln and the American Founding,” makes the case that, for President Lincoln, human equality was the central idea of the regime created by the Founders.

“Slavery was not created on July 4, 1776. It was refuted on that date – the grand anti-slavery statement of a people, the first time in human history that a people decided to form a government on the basis of equality,” Morel said, adding:

“They didn’t wait to get rid of slavery to start the machinery of self-government that they believed in time would get rid of it.

“As Lincoln put it, ‘Put it on the course of ultimate extinction.’

What did Lincoln learn from the Founders about the best peaceful, political way of weaning ourselves off of that awful institution, Morel asked. “Every Founder to a man believed that slavery was wrong. Not wrong for him – wrong for everyone.”

            Recognizing that the Founders understood that America would “have to get rid of slavery,” they still signed the Constitution to create the Union. According to the author, we have a problem today because “far too few Americans understand why the Founders created the nation they did.” They created a nation “in which men and women would not be ruled by the whims of a monarch, but by their own consent.” In addition, too few Americans today understand “how truly revolutionary it was to build a nation based on an ideal of equality.”

            It is this “lack of knowledge about the founding” that opens that way for revisionist histories. Works such as Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and the 1619 Project sponsored by The New York Times bring greater division to our nation with “their partisan propaganda.” Such things cause people to lose faith in American principles, such as the rule of law. “Without this foundation, I believe our diversity, which we make a lot of, won’t be a benefit to us, but put us on the path to further division, conflict, and chaos.”

            Since “The United States remains the best place of hope, opportunity, and freedom,” we should do as Lincoln did. We should study the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for guidance and inspiration needed to work our way through this current crisis. Our nation was created on the ideal that “all men are created equal,” and we can move further in that direction if we will work together as one.

Lincoln also turned to God for guidance, and we should bring Him into the solution. However, we must first understand, “If ye are not one, ye are not mine.” Our Heavenly Father is a God of unity. If we are to heal the divisions in our nation, we must throw off the yoke of Satan, who wants us to be divided and miserable. We must turn to God if we truly desire unity.