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, February 28, 2011

William Williams

The ancestors of William Williams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, emigrated from Wales to America in 1630 and settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Williams' father and grandfather were both ministers. William was only sixteen years old when he entered Harvard College, and he graduated with honorable distinction at age twenty.

William began studying theology with his father but was distracted by the French War. In 1754 he accompanied a relative named Colonel Ephraim Williams on an expedition to Lake George. The colonel was killed during the expedition, and William returned home with a strong dislike for British officers. He felt that the British considered the colonists to be inferior to them and deserved little sympathy.

William married Mary Trumbull, the daughter of Governor Trumbull of Connecticut in 1772, and her family was impressed with his good character.

William stopped studying theology and worked in the mercantile business in Lebanon. He was chosen as town clerk at age twenty-five and held that position for nearly fifty years. He was also chosen as a member of the Connecticut Assembly and held a seat there for about forty-five years. He was elected in 1775 as a delegate to the General Congress, and his presence in the Congress was the only times he missed the sessions in the Connecticut Assembly. William was a strong supporter of the idea of independence, and he "cheerfully" signed the completed Declaration of Independence.

The cause of liberty was dear to William, and he made many personal sacrifices for the good of his country. When the Revolutionary War began, William closed his mercantile business to help fight the war. When confidence in the continental paper money failed, William bought two thousand dollars in it and nearly lost the entire amount. When a French army arrived in Newport in 1780 to help the colonists, Williams moved his family from their home into another house in order that the French officers could have comfortable quarters for the winter.

The following story is from Wives of the Signers - The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp 102-103: "At a meeting of the Council of Safety in Lebanon, near the close of 1776, when the prospects of our success looked dark, two members of the Council were invited to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Benjamin Huntington and William Hillhouse. The conversation turned upon the gloomy outlook. `If we fail,' said Mr. Williams, `I know what my fate will be. I have done much to prosecute the war; and one thing I have done which the British will never pardon - I have signed the Declaration of Independence; I shall be hanged.'
"`Well,' said Mr. Huntington, `if we fail I shall be exempt from the gallows, for my name is not attached to the Declaration, nor have I ever written anything against the British Government.'
"`Then, sir,' said Colonel Williams turning upon him, `you deserve to be hanged for not doing your duty.'"

Williams was a colonel in the militia in 1781 when the traitor, Benedict Arnold, attacked New London. Williams rode his horse twenty-three miles in three hours to help his fellow patriots, but he arrived only to see the town in flames.

After the Constitution of the United States was ready to be ratified, William was a member of the Connecticut State Convention and voted in favor of ratification although the people he represented were opposed to it. The people soon discovered their error and expressed gratitude for his "firmness."

Colonel Williams declined reelection to the Connecticut Assembly in 1804 and withdrew from public life. He lost his oldest son in 1810, and this caused his health to fail. He never recovered, and his health continued to decline. He was unconscious for four days when he "suddenly called with a clear voice" for his dead son to guide him to the world of spirits and died on August 2, 1811, at 81 years of age.

Facts and quotes for this post - except as noted above - are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp 56-58.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Future Positions

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.6.2: "No Senator or member of the House of Representatives may accept, during his or her term of office, a civil office or position in the United States government which was created or which had its salary, benefits, or other emolument increased during the time the appointee was serving in Congress."

The Founders obviously believed that the people had the right to expect their Senators and Congressmen to be doing the business of the people rather than creating new jobs or raising the salary of an old position, resigning from Congress, and being appointed to high-salary positions. This provision did not, however, prevent a legislator from resigning and being appointed to a position for which he did not vote to increase the pay. The Founders were simply trying to prevent a situation where legislators could be bribed to vote a certain way by the President with promises of well-paying jobs.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Communication with God

When Heavenly Father sent each of us to earth, it was as though He were sending us off to college. Just as I would never send my children away without a means of communicating with them, Heavenly Father did not leave us alone. The opportunity to talk with Heavenly Father through prayer is one of the greatest blessings we have while here on earth. Just as loving earthly parents listen to their sons and daughters, Heavenly Father listens to our prayers.

"As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matthew 7:7-11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings" (Bible Dictionary, 752-753).

Prayer is a sincere, heartfelt talk with our Heavenly Father. Prayer can be compared with visiting with a loved one on the telephone. There are many reasons why we should pray. The most important reason is to be obedient to a commandment given to Adam and Eve and never rescinded. They were told by an angel of God to call upon God in the name of the Son (Moses 5:8). We should pray for guidance and help in our lives and for family, friends, neighbors, homes and properties, our work and daily activities. We should pray for protection from our enemies and for strength to resist the temptations of Satan. We should pray to express our love to Heavenly Father and to feel closer to Him. Prayer will help us grow closer to God because it influences all of our thoughts, words, and actions. We should pray to thank Him for our many blessings and to confess our sins.

We should pray when we want to talk with Heavenly Father - and even more when we don't feel like praying. We can pray silently or vocally, alone or with others. We can pray at any time whether day or night. We can pray kneeling or standing or in any other position when needed. We should pray individually every morning and every night as well as with our families every morning and every night. We should also give thanks for and ask a blessing upon the food that we eat.

We should tell Heavenly Father what we really feel in our hearts, confide in Him, thank Him, ask Him for forgiveness, and tell Him that we love Him. We should always ask that His will be done. We should begin our prayer by addressing Heavenly Father, thank Him for blessings received, ask for needed blessings, and close in the name of Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father answers every sincere prayer at a time and in a way that God knows will be best for us. When the answer is yes, we receive a warm, comfortable feeling about what we should do. When the answer is no, we continue to feel confused or unsure about the proposed action. Sometimes the answer is "not yet" or "wait awhile." At those times we need to exercise our patience. Sometimes prayers are answered with an idea of what we can do. At other times, the answer may come through another person.

I am very grateful to know that I have a Father in Heaven who hears my simple and sincere cries for help and gives me the necessary guidance, comfort, and help.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Time for Armor of God

Families grow stronger as each individual dons the armor of God. I have been writing about strengthening the family for several months and sharing ideas on how to prepare for bad times. I told you that families need to be strong because the family is the basic unit of society; it is the foundation upon which communities, states and nations are built. Strong families lead to strong communities, strong communities lead to strong states, and strong states lead to strong nations.

The world is currently experiencing unrest and chaos, and this unrest is spreading and growing. The unrest is being caused by unrighteousness and greed. Most of us do not have much control over what happens in the world, the nation, the state or even the community, but we do have the ability to control what goes on in our own homes.

The most important principle that we must understand is that there is a great battle between good and evil being fought in our nation and across the world. We have been preparing for this battle, and now is the time for us to make sure that we are wearing the armor of God. As long as we are right with God, we do not need to fear what man does.

The writer of Ephesians 6:11-12 wrote, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rules of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

I believe that there are secret combinations at all levels of government, both in America and abroad, who are trying to destroy the government of the United States. I believe that there is "spiritual wickedness in high places" in our own nation as well as in our states, communities, and work places. I believe that many of the union leaders - not the average union member - of the current protests in Wisconsin, Indiana, and other states are evil.

Gordon B. Hinckley, a modern-day prophet, also spoke about the battle between right and wrong. He said, "We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish." (Stand A Little Taller, p 15.)

Wise parents will gather their children around them in family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, family dinner hours and wholesome family activities. The key word here is family! These activities will give children spiritual and emotional armor to withstand the forces of evil. They will also strengthen individual families who can then join groups of families to search out and support good, honest and moral people for positions of leadership in communities, states and nations.

If this or any nation is to survive the onslaught of evil in the latter days, it will need to have strong families whose members are wearing spiritual and emotional battle armor. Strong families form a basic force for good in the world and can do much to strengthen society. The strongest families clothe themselves in the armor of God.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Freedom of Self

The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is freedom of self, the freedom to think for ourselves, to reason, and to choose how to live life. Each individual has the right to find the meaning of his own life and to follow his own dreams.

My youngest daughter recently recommended that I read Anthem by Ayn Rand because she found the book to be very interesting. I recently read the book also, and I too found it very worth reading. The author first conceived the idea for this book while she was a teenager in Soviet Russia in the early 1920s, but she didn't think of it as a way to expose her socialist way of life. She thought that she would write it as "a play about a collectivist society of the future in which they lost the word `I.' They were all calling each other `we' …." (p viii).

Ayn Rand came to the United States in 1926 when she was 21 years old, but she didn't write her story about individualism until the summer of 1937. The story was published "at once" in Great Britain, "but in America, where intellectuals, intoxicated by Communism, were at the height (or nadir) of the Red Decade" (pp ix-x). The American audience had to wait for Anthem until it was printed as a pamphlet in 1946. It was printed as a hardcover book in 1953 and as a mass-market paperback in 1961.

The book is about a man known as Equality 7-2521 who grew up in a society with the following motto: "We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE, One, indivisible and forever." Everyone must be part of the whole, and no one was permitted to have individual thoughts, friends, or actions. The story is about this man and how his own personal desires and dreams were forced to yield to the good of the group. He struggled against his desire to study, learn, and become better because "all men must be alike."

The book continues with Equality 7-2521 learning about electricity and other ways to improve the community, but the leaders couldn't accept the fact that he had learned something as an individual. He ran away from the society and fled through the Uncharted Forest. A female friend heard that he had fled into the forest and followed him during the night. Together they found a place where they learned the word "I" and the meaning of individualism.

This book is a good reminder of why communism and socialism are not good for mankind. As I read this book, some words of a well-known poem started running through my mind. I learned these truths as a child and grew to adulthood with this understanding.

Know this, that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he'll be;
For this eternal truth is given:
That God will force no man to heaven.

He'll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heaven or hell.

May we no more our powers abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.
Author Unknown
Hymns, 240

My thoughts continued to Man's Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl. This author was born in Vienna and earned his MD and PhD from the University of Vienna. He was a Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust and labored in four different Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, between 1942 and 1945. His parents, brother, and pregnant wife all perished in the camps, but he survived life there and lived to publish more than 30 books before his death in 1997.

According to statistics, approximately 97% of the prisoners died in Nazi concentration camps. Those that did not die in the gas chambers, either killed themselves or died from starvation, beatings, overwork, exposure to the elements of nature without proper clothing and food, or their living conditions. Any prisoners who did not look capable of doing the work were taken to the gas chambers and killed.

The prisoners who survived the harsh environment were those who had meaning in their lives and reasons to live. Frankl learned that human beings cannot avoid suffering in life, but individuals can choose how to cope with suffering. He explained that people can look for the meaning in the suffering and can choose to move forward in spite of it. This is a freedom that can never truly be taken from mankind.

For each individual to find happiness, we must be free to discover and pursue whatever it is that we personally find meaningful. Without some meaning in life or something to live for, many people fall into apathy, depression or insanity and/or attempt suicide. We are all children of God, and He has made us free to choose for ourselves. No human being or government has the right to take our freedom of self away from us. It is the first and greatest of all our freedoms!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Valley Forge

Valley Forge is located in Pennsylvania in an area along the Schuylkill River, about twenty-five miles west of Philadelphia. General George Washington and his Continental Army camped there for the winter of 1777 and 1778 during the Revolutionary War. The conditions in Valley Forge were horrible, and the men (those who survived) endured several months of intense suffering.

The American troops lost the battles at Brandywine and Germantown, Pennsylvania, which left the British in control of Philadelphia. Washington led his army to Valley Forge to spend the winter. The soldiers had little food and not enough clothing for the cold weather because the Continental Congress was unable to provide the necessary supplies for the army.

There were about 10,000 soldiers at Valley Forge who lived in log huts they built for themselves. About 2,500 soldiers died at Valley Forge, and many other soldiers were sick or too weak to fight. Besides not enough food and no warm clothing, they were also battling a smallpox epidemic. On December 23, 1777, Washington wrote, "We have this day no less than 2,873 men in camp unfit for duty because they are barefooted and otherwise naked."

The people who lived in the area around Valley Forge were doing well because there was little fighting during this period of time, and the British Army was comfortable in Philadelphia. The winter at Valley Forge was a trying time for the soldiers and tested their loyalty to the cause of liberty. Only the most dedicated patriots remained in the Continental Army. Washington stayed at Valley Forge through the winter and spring in spite of criticism from many people. The troops at Valley Forge were trained by Baron von Steuben, a former Prussian soldier, and by spring the soldiers had become a disciplined and well-trained army. Washington was at Valley Forge on May 6, 1778, when he learned that France had committed to help the Americans. This news helped Washington when he moved against the British in June.

Valley Forge National Historical Park now covers Washington's camp site. The old stone house that served as Washington's headquarters still stands. The buildings and monuments in the park were built to honor Washington and his army. In addition to the old stone house, there are the following: Washington Memorial Chapel, National Memorial Arch, Cloister of Colonies, and Valley Forge Museum of Natural History.

Facts for this blog post are from an article by William Morgan Fowler, Jr., World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 20, p 290.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Protests and Unions

Protesters took to the streets of Cairo about a month ago, and the protests did not end when President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11 and handed power to the military. The revolution in Egypt followed on the heels of protests in Tunisia, and revolutions are cascading across the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East. "Days of rage" have taken place in Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Oman, and China. There are reports that two vice presidents of Google as well as union members were behind the unrest in Egypt.

Unlike in Egypt where the military refused to fire on their citizens, civilians and anti-government protesters in Libya are being gunned down by troops and mercenaries. Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is clinging to power even though his diplomats at United Nations headquarters in New York and other embassies worldwide are calling on him to resign for shooting his own people. An influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has issued a fatwa instructing Libyan soldiers to shoot Gaddafi if they have an opportunity.

Arabs are fleeing to Europe, and European leaders are concerned that their countries will have protests. Gadhafi is threatening that a flood of immigrants from Africa will go to Europe if his regime falls.

Oil prices are surging because of the unrest in the Middle East. The price of oil jumped 8.5 percent in one day, and gasoline prices are already over $4.00 in California. To add to these problems, Gadhafi has ordered his security services to start blowing up oil pipelines and cutting off the flow of oil to Mediterranean ports. Chaos reigns in Libya and may cascade into Saudi Arabia, causing even more problems with the oil.

The United States is seeing protesters in the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, as Governor Scott Walker and Republican state legislators attempt to solve the financial problems of the state. Governor Walker recognizes that his state does not have enough money to meet its obligations, and he wants to make some changes in order to balance his budget. He wants a budget repair bill that would limit the power of unions and require union members to help pay for their health insurance and pensions. Teachers called in "sick" last week in order to spend their time protesting the Governor's plan and were joined by members of other unions.

The state of Wisconsin faces an immediate deficit of $137 million for the fiscal year ending on July 1, plus another $225 million for other back debts. The budget repair bill would require state employees to pay about 5.8 percent toward their pensions, an amount about the same as the private sector national average. The bill would also require state employees to pay about 12 percent of their healthcare benefits, an amount about half the private sector national average. The Wisconsin bill would also limit the ability of government workers' unions to collectively bargain. Without this ability, union dues will not be taken out of paychecks, employees can choose whether or not to join unions, and unions lose power and money to help elect more Democrats to state and federal offices.

Democratic state legislators in Wisconsin left the state in an effort to stop the bill, but Walker and the Republican legislators are standing firm. If the bill does not soon pass, about 6,000 state employees will be laid off their jobs. The majority of people in Wisconsin seem to be siding with the Governor because they understand that government employees generally receive higher pay and better benefits than their private sector counterparts.

President Obama added to the problems in Wisconsin when he sided with the protesters and called the new bill an "assault" on the unions. This is not the first time that Obama has sided with protesters against governments. He openly supported the protesters in the Middle East - except those protesting in Iran and Libya. Obama knows that he will need the support of the unions in order to be reelected in 2012.

The political fight over unions is escalating as labor leaders are planning new protests in dozens of other capital cities. These protests have brought the role of labor unions into the national debate as well as who should make the necessary sacrifices in order that states can balance their budgets. Yesterday thousands of steelworkers, autoworkers, and other labor activists started protesting in Indiana against a bill there that would weaken the power of unions in the private sector. Public unions in Indiana have already lost their collective bargaining rights. Yesterday a House committee approved a new bill that would free private-sector employees from the requirement to belong to unions and to pay union dues. Employees would then have the right to work without union influence if they so choose. Democratic legislators in Indiana also fled to Illinois in order to avoid a vote.

A protest took place in Columbus, Ohio, today to oppose a bill to strip collective-bargaining rights from about 400,000 public employees. Tennessee is also considering a bill that would dissolve the collective bargaining rights of the state's teachers. Hundreds of police are marching in the streets of Hartford, Connecticut, in opposition to proposed police layoffs. Across the state of Idaho, teachers are walking picket lines to oppose proposals to lay off hundreds of teachers and restrict collective bargaining rights. Union leaders in Michigan are calling for protests against proposals giving emergency financial managers power to break union contracts in schools and cities as well as remove elected officials.

Public employees at the federal, state, and local levels are generally paid higher wages and better benefits than the private sector. As thousands of people have lost their jobs in the private sector in the past two years, federal government employees have increased by 200,000. There is no requirement for the federal government to have a balanced budget - yet, but many of the state constitutions include a requirement for a balanced budget. Governors are wise to attempt to reign in the unions and expenses in order to balance their budgets. If Obamacare is declared to be constitutional, states will be required to pay more of the expenses in Medicaid in their states as well as other requirements.

I expect that protesters will march in more of our states, probably starting in the Northeast, as state and local governments attempt to balance their budgets. Anchorage has been making cuts for over a year in an effort to keep expenses within the income of our city. As Republicans in the US Congress attempt to cut costs and bring the federal expenses down, conservatives in state and local governments are trying to do the same on their level. I certainly hope that conservatives are successful in reigning in government expenses, but I also expect much more chaos in our nation as we work through these problems.


Monday, February 21, 2011

George Washington

We celebrated Presidents Day today and will celebrate the anniversary of the birth of George Washington tomorrow (February 22). It is only fitting that George Washington is my VIP for this week. I believe that George Washington (1732-1799) should be considered as the greatest American ever or at the very least one of a very small group of the greatest Americans. I read a recent poll indicating that Americans consider Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton to be our greatest presidents. I agree that Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan are among our greatest presidents, but I do not understand how George Washington could be lower on the list than Bill Clinton!

I believe that George Washington was raised up and prepared by God to lead our nation through our war for independence and to establish our government. Knowing of my beliefs, you can imagine my horror recently when I heard a mother tell about taking her kindergarten student to school and finding all kinds of pictures and information about Martin Luther King, Jr. but not a single word or picture about George Washington. She asked her son if he knew who George Washington was, and he didn't have any idea who she was talking about! She contacted the principal's office about the lack of teaching such an important part of our history and never even received a return telephone call. Please make sure that your children know the greatness of George Washington!

Washington, known as the "Father of the Country," led our nation for almost 20 years. He helped shape the beginning of the United States in three important ways. First, he was the commanding general of the Continental Army that won the Revolutionary War and brought American independence. Second, he served as the president of the Constitutional Convention where the United States Constitution was written. Third, he was the first President of the United States.

George Washington was loved by Americans during his life time. The officers in his army would have made him king if he had consented. He was unanimously elected to head the Virginia delegates to the Constitutional Convention, and his arrival in Philadelphia was announced by the ringing of the bells in the city. He was elected president of the convention where he helped the delegates stay together long enough to write the Constitution. Washington's name was linked with the Constitution, and people took it for granted that he would be the first President. He received 69 out of 69 electoral votes.

Washington was described by one of his officers, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, as "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." He looked like a man to be admired and respected. He was tall, strong and broad-shouldered. His friend, George Mercer, described him in 1760 as follows: "He may be described as being straight as an Indian, measuring 6 feet 2 inches in his stockings, and weighing 175 pounds… [He was about the size of my oldest son.] A large and straight rather than a prominent nose; blue-gray penetrating eyes… He has a clear though rather colorless pale skin which burns with the sun… dark brown hair which he wears in a queue [a plait of hair hanging from the back of the head; pigtail] … His mouth is large and generally firmly closed, but which from time to time discloses some defective teeth… His movements and gestures are graceful, his walk majestic, and he is a splendid horseman."

His character was described as follows after his death by Thomas Jefferson: "His mind was great and powerful … as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion….
"Perhaps the strongest feature of his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed.
"His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known…
"He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good and a great man… On the whole, his character was in its mass, perfect … it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great…."

Washington's family name has been traced back to the year 1260 in England where the name was de Wessington but later spelled Washington. His ancestral home in England is thought to be Sulgrave Manor. John Washington (1632-1677), George's great-grandfather, became American by accident when his small English ship went aground in the Potomac River in 1656 or 1657. While the ship was being repaired, he made the decision to marry and live in Virginia. He didn't have much money when he started, but he owned 5,000 acres of land within 20 years, including the land that became Mount Vernon.

John's oldest son Lawrence was George's grandfather, and Lawrence's youngest son Augustine was his father. Augustine discovered iron ore on some of his land and developed an iron works there. He had four children by his first wife, Jane Butler. After her death, he married Mary Ball who became George's mother. They had five other children.

George was born on February 22, 1732, on Pope's Creek Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia. When he was 3 years old, his family moved to a large, undeveloped plantation later known as Mount Vernon, which was about 50 miles up the Potomac River in Virginia. There were no close neighbors. Augustine traveled often to his iron works, about 30 miles away. When George was about 7, his father bought Ferry Farm, a 260-acre farm on the Rappahannock River across from Fredericksburg and moved his family closer to the iron works.

George attended school for only 7 or 8 years. His best subject was arithmetic. He studied enough history and geography to know about the outside world, but did not learn much about literature, foreign languages or history - especially compared to Thomas Jefferson or James Madison who received more formal education. He finished his formal schooling at about age 14 or 15. He could keep business accounts, write clear letters and do simple figuring. He kept diaries and careful accounts of his expenses for the rest of his life.

George was observant and hard working. He helped manage Ferry Farm, which he would inherit at age 21. He learned how to plant and produce tobacco, fruit, grains, and vegetables. He enjoyed living the life of a young Virginia country gentleman. He loved horses, became a good dancer, and enjoyed hunting, fishing, and boating. He had boyhood romances and wrote love poems. As a youth, he was sober, quiet, attentive, dignified, dependable, and respectful of his elders.

George loved and respected his older half-brother Lawrence and eventually inherited Mount Vernon from Lawrence's heirs in 1761. Through Lawrence, George became interested in the military and wanted to join the navy. His mother would not permit him to join the navy because she wanted to keep him close to her. Through Lawrence, George also became acquainted with Lord Fairfax, the largest property owner in Virginia. He owned 5 million acres of land in northern Virginia; his land included much of Shenandoah Valley and extended to the Allegheny Mountains. Lord Fairfax invited 16-year-old George to go with him on a surveying trip in March 1748. In July 1749, George became the official surveyor for Culpepper County. He was paid in cash, which he carefully saved until he found some good land. By 1752 he owned about 2,300 acres of land. George applied to the governor for a commission in the militia, and he was commissioned as a major in 1752. He was put in charge of training militia in southern Virginia and spent several years in military actions.

At age 20, George proposed twice to a 16-year-old young woman who turned him down both times. On January 6, 1759, he married Mrs. Martha Dandridge Custis, a widow with two children. The wedding probably took place at the bride's plantation home, which was called the White House. Her first husband left a fortune of 18,000 acres of land and 30,000 English pounds, equally divided between the widow and her two children. George and Martha had no children together, but he was a loving stepfather to her two children.

Washington was a surveyor, farmer, landowner, businessman, and legislator. He attended the First Continental Congress and helped to boycott trade with Britain. He heard Patrick Henry's famous speech, "Give me liberty or give me death." He was elected to the Second Continental Congress. By the time he left to attend it, the Battles of Lexington and Concord had already been fought when Congress opened on May 10, 1775. Even though the majority of the delegates wanted to avoid war, they feared that they would not be able to do so. Congress appointed Washington to one military committee after another and gave him several assignments to prepare for war.

On June 14, 1775, Congress called on Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to send troops to help Boston, which was under British military rule. John Adams led a discussion about the need to elect a commander in chief. Adams praised Washington highly and noted that his popularity would help to unite the colonies. Even though many delegates from New England thought the commander in chief should be a northerner, Washington was elected unanimously. He had not sought the position but humbly accepted it. He refused the $500 monthly salary but indicated that he would accept reimbursement for his expenses.

Washington led the Continental Army throughout the Revolutionary War. Thomas Paine wrote of the period, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot, will in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country." Washington was tried many times by "summer soldiers," who would not fight in winter, and "sunshine patriots," who were loyal to the cause only when things were going well. Washington had a strong will to win, which made it possible for him to overcome his many discouragements.

To many Americans, Washington represented what they were fighting for. They came to believe in Washington even when they didn't recognize the need for independence or trust Congress. After eight long and difficult years, the war ended when Washington's army and the French navy surrounded the British army at Yorktown and forced them to surrender on October 19, 1781. Washington's officers suggested that the military set up a monarchy with Washington as king, but when Washington heard the idea, he ordered them to abandon the idea. He told his officers goodbye on December 4, 1783, in New York City and headed home to Virginia. On his way, he stopped at Annapolis, Maryland, to return his commission as commander in chief to Congress. He was 51 years old and made it home in time to spend Christmas with Martha.

George spent the next five years as a Virginia planter, buying more land, promoting businesses, breeding mules, developing a rotation system for his farm crops, using waste products from his fishing industry as fertilizer, and trying to prevent soil erosion.

Although he longed to stay home, he was unanimously elected to head the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and was later elected president of the convention. He spent the hot summer months, May through September, in Philadelphia at the convention. His presence there made the convention and the Constitution more acceptable to the people.

Washington was elected President of the United States in February 1789 and inaugurated as the first President on April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City, at the age of 57. (By the time of his second inauguration, the government had moved to Philadelphia, where he was inaugurated in Congress Hall.) When Washington became President, there were only 11 states. Four other states soon accepted the Constitution or joined the Union: North Carolina (Nov. 1789), Rhode Island (1790), Vermont (1791), and Kentucky (1792).

Washington signed his first important bill passed by the new Congress on July 4, 1789. It set taxes on imports and provided income to run the government. His first veto came in April 1892 on a bill that he thought was unconstitutional in that it favored Northern States over Southern States in the number of Representatives allowed from each state.

George was very much aware that everything he did would set a precedent. He believed strongly that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government should operate as separately as possible and as outlined in the Constitution. He oversaw many important items of business for the new nation. He spent much time on the plans for a new capital, which would eventually be named after him. He appointed Alexander Hamilton as secretary of the treasury as well as other members of a small cabinet. Hamilton was instrumental in developing a plan to pay off the debts from the Revolutionary War and in setting up The First Bank of the United States.

By the end of his second term as President, Washington grew tired of public office and happily went home to Mount Vernon at the age of 65 (1797). There he spent the last years of his life, and there he died about 10:00 P.M. on December 14, 1799, from an infection in his throat. Washington was given a military funeral on December 18 and buried in the family tomb at Mount Vernon.

Washington held the title of lieutenant general at the time of his death, which was the highest military rank in the United States at that time. Because he was later outranked by many other Army officers, in 1975 Congress granted him the nation's highest military title, General of the Armies of the United States. This made him the senior general officer on the Army rolls.

George Washington was "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen" (Henry Lee). He was a great man and should be remembered with love, respect and honor.

Facts and information for this post came from an article by Philander D. Chase, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 21, pp. 90-108.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Freedom to Speak

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.6.1: "In order to insure complete freedom of speech by members of the House or the Senate, they shall not be questioned at any other place for what they may have said in a speech or debate while on the floor or in a committee hearing." Our Founders gave our Congressmen and Senators "congressional immunity" in order for them to speak freely in the national legislature without the worry of being charged with libel or slander. Apparently there were legislators who got into serious trouble for speaking against Queen Elizabeth I and other rulers. Even though our members of Congress do not need to worry about upsetting a king or queen, our Founders understood that protection from being sued for libel, slander, etc. was important if the legislators were to speak frankly about any person or subject.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Holy Ghost

Under the direction of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ prepared this earth as a home for the children of God. God chose Adam and Eve to be the first people to live on the earth (see Moses 1:34; 4:26). Their mission was to bring mortality into the world and to be the first parents. (See Doctrine and Covenants 107:54-56.) When they chose to partake of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, they became mortal and were kicked out of the Garden of Eden.

When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they began to till the soil and perform other work to provide for their daily needs and the needs of their many sons and daughters. Soon the sons and daughters were marrying and having children of their own. In this way, they were providing bodies for Heavenly Father's spirit children. As the spirit children left Heavenly Father's presence, the memories of living with God left them - but they were not left alone. Heavenly Father sent the Holy Ghost to comfort, help and guide His children.

Adam and Eve prayed and taught their children to pray. Heavenly Father spoke to them and gave them commandments. They were obedient. An angel came to teach them about the plan of salvation, and the Holy Ghost came to testify of the Father and the Son and to teach them the gospel. (See Moses 5:4-9.) Our individual need for guidance from God is no different than that of Adam and Eve except in our circumstances. This is the reason why the Holy Ghost visits men, women and children today.

The Holy Ghost is a "personage of Spirit" (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22) and is a member of the Godhead. (See 1 John 5:7; Doctrine and Covenants 20:28.) He can be in only one place at a time, but His influence can be everywhere at the same time. The Godhead is composed of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They are one in purpose although They each have an important assignment in the plan of salvation. Heavenly Father is our Father and Ruler. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. The Holy Ghost is the Comforter as well as the revealer and testifier of all truth. The Holy Ghost is the messenger for our Heavenly Father and is a special gift from Him to us.

The mission of the Holy Ghost is to bear witness of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and of the truth of all things. We are promised, "By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moroni 10:5).

The Savior taught, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that we can know that Jesus is the Christ and that we can understand and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the Holy Ghost bears testimony, He does it with such power that there can be no doubt that He is revealing truth. President Joseph Field Smith said, "When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase" (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., 5 Vol. [1957-66], 2:151).

President Smith also said, "Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fiber and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten" (Doctrine of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 Vol. [1954-56], 1:48).

I have felt the presence of the Holy Ghost many times during my life. He has comforted me many times. He has revealed information and confirmed much knowledge. I know that He is real, and I am grateful each and every time He comes to me. Feeling the presence of the Holy Ghost is the best feeling!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Correct Principles

Families are strengthened when parents and grandparents work together to teach correct principles. Parents are responsible for rearing and teaching their children, but backup support from grandparents can make the job of parenting easier. Grandparents who reinforce the teachings of parents can strengthen entire families.

I remember a few years ago when I found some pretty dresses. Since I had only two granddaughters at the time, I could afford to purchase them each a new dress for Easter. When I arrived at the home of my oldest granddaughter, I found my daughter dealing with a serious problem. Her four-year old daughter had been treating her with disrespect whenever the two of them were alone, but she was well behaved when her father was around. I listened to my daughter as she described the problem, and then I spoke with my granddaughter. I explained to her that her mother was my little girl, and I did not like anyone hurting my little girl. I also told her that I brought her a nice gift, but I could not give it to her until she showed more respect to her mother. A day or so later, the little girl was more respectful to her mother, and I gave her the dress. For the next few months, my granddaughter would occasionally call me to let me know that she was "being nice" to her mother, and I would send a little gift. The gifts were usually something very inexpensive like a coloring book, but my support for her mother helped my granddaughter to learn the important principle of treating her mother and father with respect. As time went on, the gifts became more and more inexpensive and eventually the calls stopped. By learning a correct principle, the little girl became a joy to be around instead of a little tyrant.

Correct principles can be found in the doctrines taught by the Savior Jesus Christ. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made the following statement: "The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior." (See Ensign, Nov. 1986, p 17).

Human nature can be changed by learning correct principles as contained in the teachings of Christ. President Ezra Taft Benson explained: "The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." (See Ensign, November 1985, p 6.)

The truth of this statement is shown in the following experience of Keith R. Edwards as he served as a young missionary. He and his missionary companion were in the process of teaching a young family of five in Albany, Georgia, in 1963. "After the third or fourth discussion, the wife told us that since we had started teaching them, she and her husband were closer and he was treating her better than at any other time in their marriage. As we concluded the next discussion, the husband shared an experience. `Today the people I work with wanted to know what has happened to me. When I asked them what they meant, they said, You don't use the same language you used to use when you get angry, and you're more patient. You seem happier.''' (See Ensign, July 2008, 54-56.)

If adult behavior changes simply by learning correct principles, how much easier it should be for children and teenagers to change behavior because the bad behavior should not be so ingrained. For instance, I've noticed that children throw fewer tantrums when they realize that the tantrums don't bring the desired effect and eventually stop throwing tantrums. The exact opposite happens if the tantrums bring rewards of one kind or another.

It is the right of a grandparent to spoil his or her grandchildren a little, but it is important that the grandparent does not break too many family rules. Whenever a grandchild asks me for something and I am not sure of the family rule about that particular item, I always ask a few questions of the child. I can usually learn from the child or a sibling if the item is forbidden.

I am very impressed with the young parents I know, and I love to watch them as they teach their children. In fact, watching parents - and my children in particular - as they teach and train their children is one of the experiences of life that I really enjoy. I am relieved to no longer be on the front lines of parenthood and am grateful to be in the parent support position. I know for sure that grandparents can be invaluable to parents as they reinforce the teaching of correct principles to family members.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Land of Freedom

For this Freedom Friday I would like to review a book about one man's search for freedom. I received the autobiography as one of my Christmas gifts and found it very interesting. This international bestselling book as well as a major motion picture is based on the life story of Li Cunxin and his desire to live free. The name of the book is Mao's Last Dancer.

Li was a peasant in a village in northeast China and was part of a family where there was little food but much love. Li's mother and father taught their seven sons to be loyal and proud Chinese. The family was so poor that there was never enough food to give family members the feeling of fullness. Even though the compulsory age to start school was eight years old, Li started a year late because of lack of room for his age group in the village school. Mao's Little Red Book was one of the most important books used in his school, and the children were well indoctrinated in communism and forced to memorize words of Chairman Mao.

When Li was eleven years old, he was miraculously chosen to be one of Madame Mao's cultural delegates. He was taken from his rural home to Beijing to study ballet at Madame Mao's Beijing Dance Academy. I wondered how any mother or father could send their eleven-year-old child off to a distant city, especially not knowing if or when they would be together again. Then I realized that Li's parents understood that this opportunity was Li's ticket out of poverty, and they made their sacrifices for the benefit of their child.

Li didn't do well at the academy during his first year because he was so homesick. He received nearly the lowest grades in his classes. When he returned to his village for three weeks to celebrate the Chinese New Year, his father encouraged him to do better. Li wanted his parents to be proud of him and gradually improved in his classes. At first he hated ballet but learned to love it as he became a better dancer. Li studied ballet at the academy for seven years before his life was truly changed by the visit of Ben Stevenson, the artistic director of the Houston Ballet. Stevenson was part of the first cultural delegation from America to visit communist China. He was there to teach two master classes at the academy. Li was selected as one of twenty students to attend Stevenson's classes.

Stevenson offered two scholarships to his annual summer school at the Houston Ballet Academy in Texas, and the academy chose Li as one of the two students. After obtaining passports and visas, the two students left for America for six weeks. The following paragraphs describe Li's first impression of America: "… As we flew over the American landscape I noticed how green it was and that it was neatly divided into squares by straight roads and streets. We saw many little square patches of blue too. Ben said they were swimming pools.… I could hardly believe there could be so many swimming pools in just one area. The contrast with the bareness of China was so amazing that I started to wonder once again about America's prosperity and the stories we'd been told.

"…When we passed downtown Houston and saw all the modern office buildings and the spectacular skyline I thought to myself, if Houston looks this prosperous, what would New York and Chicago be like? Nothing I had seen so far matched the dark, decaying, depressing picture of America that the Chinese government had painted in my mind. Instead I saw high-rise buildings, wide clean streets, a green and orderly environment. I knew our foreign hosts could maybe fake their behavior, but they simply couldn't have built these buildings just to impress us. I was confused. Someone had lied to us about America being the poorest nation in the world and China being the richest nation. It seemed to be the opposite. But still I was confident I would eventually find many things about America that I could hate" (pages 267-268).

Li was impressed with the beautiful homes, cars, the amount of food available, and the ease with which Stevenson purchased new ballet clothes and other things for the two young men. He met many important people including George and Barbara Bush. He was impressed with their generosity and friendliness but was still suspicious. He was also surprised that people kept dogs as pets because they would have been eaten in his village. Li was "constantly surprised by how much freedom the American people had" (page 277), especially the freedom to talk badly about the president or other government leaders.

Before their time in America expired, Stevenson took the two young men to Washington, D.C. and New York. They posed for pictures in front of the White House and were surprised at the "few guards standing by a small gate, looking rather relaxed. They even let us stand next to the fence to have our pictures taken." When taken to New York City to see the twin towers, the Empire State Building, the Status of Liberty, Central Park, etc., Li "was in awe of this hustling, bustling city. Everything surprised and impressed me - the gigantic buildings, the number of cars, the cleanliness compared to Beijing. But it was the little things that left deeper impressions on me." He was particularly impressed by an ATM "when twenty-dollar bills began spewing out" (page 279).

Li was invited to come back to work with the Houston Ballet for an entire year and was granted permission by the Chinese government. "The thought of being able to come back to America made me happy, but really it sounded completely unbelievable. I was so grateful to the Chinese government. I felt that they really cared for me. For me, a peasant boy. Communism truly was great" (pages 278-279).

Even though Li was trying to be a loyal communist, he was having doubts. "On the plane I thought of the possibility of returning to Houston in only two months' time. I thought of how I'd felt about America and its people before I came. I laughed when I remembered my initial suspicions.

"But most of all I thought of those dark, scary images of capitalist society and how they had now been replaced by an entirely different picture in my mind. China's most hated enemy and the system it represented had given me something that was my heart's desire. Now I was frightened. Now I was confused. What should I believe? What communism had taught me? What I'd seen and experienced? Why had Chairman Mao, Madame Mao and the Chinese government told its people all those lies about America? Why were we so poor in China? And why was America so prosperous?

"I kept resisting my doubts all the way home on the plane back to China…. I knew I had to believe what the Chinese government wanted me to believe, or at least I had to pretend to. All this made me even more afraid. I was never supposed to question my communist beliefs and I never, ever thought that I would….
"But still the doubts persisted. I had now tasted freedom, and I couldn't lie to myself about that" (pages 280-281).

The rest of the book tells about the positive changes made in China after the death of Chairman Mao but also about Li's return to America, his defection, his life as a loyal Chinese living in a land of freedom, and his visits back to China.

I highly recommend the book and hope to see the movie soon!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Martha Devotion Huntington

Samuel Huntington, the son of a hard-working farmer and a future signer of the Declaration of Independence, married Martha Devotion, oldest daughter of Rev. Ebenezer Devotion and Martha Lathrop in 1761. She was 22 years old at the time of the marriage, and he was about 30 with a new law practice.

The couple established their home in Norwich where Samuel built an extensive law practice and began his involvement in political affairs. Martha was familiar with politics because her father was very interested in the politics of Connecticut and even represented Windham in the General Assembly from 1760 to 1771, the year of his death.

No children were born to Martha and Samuel, but they adopted two children of his brother, Rev. Joseph Huntington. The children, Samuel and Frances, were well reared and education. Samuel was elected Governor of Ohio in 1810 and 1811. Frances married Rev. Edward Door Griffin who was once President of Williams College.

Martha died in 1794 at age 55, and Samuel passed away two years later at age 65. They are buried side by side in the old Norwich burying ground.

Facts are from Wives of the Signers - The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp 98-100.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, was ruled to be unconstitutional by Senior Federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson in Florida on January 31, 2011. I read the entire 78-page ruling and found it very interesting. Even though I had a difficult time with the "legalese," I appreciated the common sense approach of the ruling. I encourage everyone to read the judgment in its entirety because his ruling is a good way to learn about how our Founders put binders on the federal government by the way they wrote the Constitution.

Judge Vinson's ruling that ObamaCare is unconstitutional stands until it is overturned by a higher court even though two other courts have ruled the Act as being constitutional. The December 13, 2010, ruling by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson of the Virginia court invalidated the central component of the health care law - the requirement that people buy health insurance. The decision of both courts hinged on whether or not the individual mandate was constitutional.

Judge Hudson wrote in his 42-page opinion that the individual mandate "exceeds the boundaries of congressional power" and that it would "invite unbridled federal police powers."

Judge Vinson was very blunt in his ruling that the government cannot force anyone to buy health insurance. He reasoned that if the government can force people to buy health insurance, it can also force Americans to decide "whether and when (or not) to buy a house, a car, a television, a dinner or even a morning cup of coffee." Vinson said that, in his opinion, the Constitution did not allow that type of unbridled power to the federal government.

The legal battle over the constitutionality of ObamaCare will probably go to the United States Supreme Court, and the battle lines are already being drawn. Seventy-four Democratic senators sent a letter to Justice Clarence Thomas calling for him to sit out deliberations on ObamaCare because his wife founded a conservative group that opposes the health care law. Senator Orrin Hatch suggested that Justice Elena Kagan sit out the deliberations due to the fact that she was a member of President Obama's administration previous to becoming a justice.

The plaintiffs requested injunctive relief to stop the Obama Administration from implementing the Act. Judge Vinson wrote, "Injunctive relief is an `extraordinary' … and `drastic' remedy…. It is even more so when the party to be enjoined is the federal government, for there is a long-standing presumption that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction."

I think that Judge Vinson gave the Obama Administration more credit than they deserve because members of the administration indicated that they will move forward with ObamaCare with the belief that the Supreme Court will overturn Judge Vinson's ruling. Attorney generals in several of the states involved in the case have indicated that their states will not implement any regulations of ObamaCare until the Vinson verdict has been overturned. The Virginia attorney general has called on the U.S. Supreme Court to move the case forward on its docket. There is also the little problem of the administration being found in contempt for reissuing a drilling moratorium that a U.S. district judge found overly broad in the Deepwater Horizon case. Last week the judge ruled that the Interior Department 's reissuing of a drilling moratorium followed by a de facto moratorium via an overly restrictive permitting process constituted contempt. For the Obama Administration to be found in contempt for moving forward with ObamaCare after Judge Vinson's declaratory judgment, one or more of the states will have to go back to the judge with evidence.

The fight over ObamaCare is still taking place in Congress. It started in Congress, and it will continue in Congress. Soon after the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010, President Barack Obama signed it into law. The House passed the bill by a vote of 219 to 212 (a difference of 7 votes) with all the Republicans and 34 Democrats voting against the bill. On January 19, 2011, the House voted to repeal ObamaCare by a vote of 245 to 189 (a margin of 56 votes) along party lines. The House repeal of ObamaCare was not merely symbolic but very substantive. Any legislation that repeals a law of more than 2000 pages that is the President's signature initiative is nothing short of a great accomplishment.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed that he would never let the bill to repeal ObamaCare come to the floor of the Senate, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell forced a vote on the bill on February 2, 2011. The McConnell Amendment failed to pass on a vote of 51-47, but it put all Democratic senators on record for opposing the repeal.

Senator Jim DeMint was the lead sponsor of the Senate bill, and all Republican senators cosponsored it. Senator DeMint made the following statement after the disappointing vote: "Today's vote reveals the senators who refuse to listen to the American people, and I believe those who continue to block repeal will find themselves repealed at the ballot box. ObamaCare is a partisan power grab that cannot stand because it will irreparably harm our economy and the health of our citizens. The American people have loudly rejected this takeover and courts have invalidated the law as unconstitutional. Republicans will continue to fight until ObamaCare is fully repealed so we can enact commonsense reforms to make health care more affordable and accessible for every American."

The battle will continue as the Republicans in the House of Representatives have declared that they plan to vote soon on defunding ObamaCare. This could stop the implementation of the Act, but Obama has promised to veto it if the Senate passed the bill.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will need to be found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and/or entirely repealed in order for us to move forward with the process that ObamaCare claimed to be. No one seems to really know what is contained in the more than 2000 pages of the Act because new information continues to come out. A friend recently sent me the following message: "Did you know that if you sell your house after 2012 you will pay a 3.8% sales tax on it? That's $3,800 on a $100,000 home, etc. When did this happen? It's in the health care bill. Just thought you should know."
He followed with this message: "The tax … affects a few very wealthy folks. From Snopes: "We can understand how this misconception got started. The law itself is couched in highly technical language that only a qualified tax expert can fully grasp. (This provision begins on page 33 of the reconciliation bill that was passed and signed into law.) And it does say the tax falls on "net gain… attributable to the disposition of property."

I don't have any idea what selling my house has to do with health care, but I think the whole plan was to force Americans to redistribute wealth. Most people are aware that there are areas of our health care system that need to be changed, but most Americans believe that ObamaCare is not the way to do it.

Judge Vinson concluded his ruling with these words: "The existing problems in our national health care system are recognized by everyone in this case. There is widespread sentiment for positive improvements that will reduce costs, improve the quality of care, and expand availability in a way that the nation can afford. This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution. Again, this case is not about whether the Act is wise or unwise legislation. It is about the Constitutional role of the federal government.
"For the reasons stated, I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate….
"Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void…."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Samuel Huntington

Samuel Huntington, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, began life as a humble ploughboy, but he used his natural abilities to achieve greatness. He was loved and respected by all who knew him. He was born into a family that was among the earliest settlers of Connecticut. He was born on July 2, 1732, in Windham, Connecticut.

Samuel's father was a hard-working farmer, but he was not able to give his son more than the common education available from the schools in his neighborhood. Samuel was a good student with a very active mind and did not let the obstacles stand in his way. He gained a "tolerable knowledge" of Latin and commenced his study of law at age 22. He did not have a teacher and had to borrow books, but he was mastered the difficulties of law and obtained a good law practice before he was thirty years old.

Samuel married Martha Devotion in 1761 when she was 22 years old and he was about 30. The couple did not have any children of their own but adopted, reared, and educated two children born to his brother, Rev. Joseph Huntington.

In 1764, Samuel was elected to the General Assembly of Connecticut and was chosen to be a member of the council the next year. He was able to maintain the confidence and esteem of his constituents no matter what his official station was.

Samuel was appointed in 1774 to be Associate Judge of the Superior Court, and he was appointed in 1775 to be one of the Connecticut delegates to the General Congress. He had the "glorious privilege" of voting for and signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He spent nearly five years as a member of the Congress and was considered to be one of the most active participants there. He was "stern and unbending" in his integrity and patriotism and was appointed President of Congress (the highest office in the nation at that time) because of his "sound judgment and untiring industry." He retired reluctantly from Congress in 1781 due to ill health.

Samuel returned to Connecticut and continued his duties on the Council and on the Bench. He went back to Congress in 1783 but returned to Connecticut late in the year. He was soon appointed to be Chief Justice of the Connecticut Superior Court. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1785 and promoted to Chief Magistracy in 1786. He held this office until his death.

Governor Huntington was a thoughtful and modest man. He talked little but was very decisive. When he had completed his investigation and made a decision, he never turned from it. He was a devoted Christian and a true patriot.

Samuel passed away in Norwich on January 5, 1796, at the age of 65, two years after the death of his wife. They are resting side by side in the old Norwich burying ground.
Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp 53-55.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Immunity from Arrest

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.6.1: "Except for treason, a felony, or a breach of the peace, Senators and members of the House of Representatives shall be immune from arrest when their respective houses are in session or when they are going to or returning from a session." In order for Senators and members of the House of Representatives to perform their duties properly, they must be free to function in their duties in Congress without the worry of petty lawsuits, etc.

In order to prevent a legislator in England from voting on an important matter, they would be arrested on some insignificant charge. In the early days of our nation, a person could be arrested for a civil matter and delayed by petty suits. The Founders put this provision into the Constitution in order to prevent any delays for the Senators or members of the House of Representatives in performing their Congressional duties. This provision does not however prevent the arrest of a member of Congress for criminal activities.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Valentine's Day reminds us of the need to love and to be loved so I want to wish a Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you even though I do it a little early.

M. Scott Peck reminded us that love is a verb, an action action. "The desire to love is not itself love.... Love is an act of will - namely an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. No matter how much we may think we are loving, if we are in fact not loving, it is because we have chosen not to love and therefore do not love despite our good intentions. On the other hand, whenever we do actually exert ourselves in the cause of spiritual growth, it is because we have chosen to do so. The choice to love has been made" (The Road Less Traveled, p 83 as quoted by Stephen R. Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, p 35).

There are many scriptures that tell us of the important part that love plays in our lives. For example, John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I know a little bit about loving sons and daughters and understand just a little of the great sacrifice that our Father in Heaven made when He gave His Son Jesus Christ to us. We know that Jesus Christ gave His life because of His love for our Father and His children.

How do we show our love for our Heavenly Father and His Son? Jesus Christ told us, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:5). With these words, Jesus Christ taught His followers how to be true disciples of the Savior. The same applies with children and mortal parents. If parents truly love their children, they will take good care of them and teach them properly. If children truly love their parents, they will be obedient and respectful.

Some people think that love does away with the need to be obedient, but they are mistaken. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "The love of God does not supersede His laws and His commandments, and the effect of God's laws and commandments does not diminish the purpose and effect of His love. … those who understand God's plan for His children know that God's laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children…. God's love is so perfect that He lovingly requires us to obey His commandments because He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect as He is" (Ensign, Nov. 2009, 26-29).

Jesus was asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" His answer was, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:36-39). Christ taught that to truly love God, we must also love His children. A true disciple of Christ shows his or her love of God by keeping the commandments and showing love to everyone.

Love should be at the center of everything we do. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, "Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and talk.
"When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden" (Ensign, November 2009, 21).

Heavenly Father wants us to love Him because He knows that "love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are - and who we will become" (Uchtdorf, p 22).

God loves us and wants us to return to His presence to live with Him and Jesus Christ for all eternity. The commandments as well as the principles and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are part of the ladder by which we make our way back to heaven. Our obedience shows God how much we love Him.

We can increase our love for God by "aligning our thoughts and actions with God's word" (Uchtdorf, 23). As we reach out to God through prayer, scripture study, and attendance at Church and temple, He reaches out for us and leads us in the way we need to go.
"Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple's path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder.
"Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the altitude of our discipleship.
"Love is the way of the disciple" (Uchtdorf, 24).

I know that God lives and loves His children - every one of us. I love Him. I want to be known as one who loves God with all my heart, soul and mind and one who loves my neighbor as myself.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Small Problems

Families are strengthened when members help each other in taking care of small matters. It has been my experience that problems never go away if we ignore them, but, if not taken care of properly, they can become gigantic problems.

My husband and I recently spent a few weeks away from our home and left our property under the care of our son, daughter and their spouses. I must say that I am very pleased with the overall care they give our home while I am away. While we were gone this time, a small matter was taken care of before it became a major problem. The water line leading from our water supply to the ice maker in the refrigerator began to leak. We have no idea when the leak began. All we know is that Jon checked the house on Thursday, and Rick checked the house on Friday. Neither of them noticed anything out of order. Jennifer and Rick came on Saturday evening, and she discovered the rug in front of the kitchen sink to be soaked with water. Rick stopped the leak, and then they cleaned up the water and washed and dried all the towels. Because someone was checking the house on a regular basis, the leak was discovered before it did any damage. A small problem stayed small because it was not ignored.

The same principle applies to the relationships within a family. Families are made up of individuals, none of whom are exactly the same and none of whom are perfect. All families experience problems of one kind or another as they travel through life together, but a willingness to talk about concerns and work together can bring solutions before problems grow larger.

I remember a time when I discovered that my middle school age daughter was piercing her own ears numerous times. I had already taken her to have her ears pierced once, but she apparently thought that she needed more holes. The problem seemed to be that she was feeling unaccepted in her peer group and wanted to fit in better. We had a long discussion about the problem and came up with a solution: I would take her shopping for new clothes, and she would take the extra earrings out of her ears. The problem was apparently solved because we had no more struggles over it. I must say that my daughter grew up into a beautiful young woman who is an example for good to all who know her and an exceptional mother to my grandchildren.

My mother-in-law was known as the peace maker among her siblings because her relationship with each brother and sister was good. Each of her siblings knew that she would listen to their problem and help them to the extent that she could, and she became like a second mother to her younger sister and brothers. There were problems among some of the other siblings, and these problems caused much tenseness in the family. Most of the problems had to do with someone saying something that somebody else didn't like. Instead of discussing the problem and finding a solution, both parties would carry a grudge toward the other person for months and sometimes years. I don't remember hearing of any serious problems, but I certainly heard about a lot of people taking offense by something someone else said. As a result of all these petty problems, siblings that dearly loved each other ceased to have good relationships with each other.

I feel frustrated and sometimes even upset because my children often make comments about one child or another being more favored or less loved than the others. I love all of my children dearly and have always tried to treat them as nearly equal as possible. None of my children are exactly alike, and all have required individual treatment. I tried the best I could to meet the needs of each child, but there were times when they didn't tell me their concerns or I didn't understand how something was affecting them. Better communication with each other might have brought more solutions before the problems grew. I am pleased that my children love me, want me to be a part of their lives, and trust me with their children. I am very pleased that they dearly love each other, enjoy being together and get along well. I am also pleased with the way they also love and care for each other's children as they do their own.

I remember an experience that happened when I was about four or five years old. I packed a few belongings and told my mother that I was going to run away from home because I was adopted and not loved. I was too young to understand that a family with twelve children had no need to adopt any of them. My mother couldn't help laughing a little before saying something similar to: "Isn't it amazing that my children who most feel adopted are the ones who look most alike?" We then discussed whatever it was that was troubling me, and I began to feel better. I thought past the point of leaving home: Where would I sleep? What would I eat? How would I stay warm? I decided that I was in a pretty good place and better stay home. My parents have both passed away long years ago, but my siblings are some of my best friends. We love to be together and help each other out whenever we can.

Some concerns are bigger and more serious than others, but family members build stronger relationships when they work together to find solutions for their problems before they become impossible to solve.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


The discussion for this Freedom Friday is the establishment of justice because Justice is necessary in order to enjoy Freedom and Liberty. Like many of you, I read with horror about the recent rape and murder of Hena Begum, a 14-year-old girl in Bangladesh, who was reportedly raped by her 40-year-old married cousin named Mahbub. The next day Hena was accused of having an affair with a married man and sentenced by the officials of Shariatpur to 100 lashes under Sharia law. After being hit nearly 80 times, Hena passed out and was taken to a medical facility where she died. Besides having his daughter murdered, her father received a fine of $700 to pay out of his annual income of $520.

The High Court of Bangladesh has ordered the district officers to explain why the girl was not protected. Fatwa was declared illegal eight months earlier and declared to be a punishable offense - but it still took place. Villagers are seeking justice for the girl who suffered through rape and then was beaten to death, and fourteen people are being investigated for the horrible murder. Will those who issued the fatwa be brought to justice? Will those who executed the fatwa and murdered Hena be brought to justice? Will the rapist be brought to justice? Will true justice ever come to Hena?

There is much injustice in our world and even in our great nation, but it doesn't have to be and it wasn't meant to be. Our Founding Fathers desired to do away with injustice and made the establishment of justice an important part of the Constitution of the United States.

The phrase "to establish Justice" means to organize a legal system where all people in the nation will receive equal justice as declared by the law of the land. While each state and local government have their own judicial systems, the Constitution established a federal judicial system to handle disputes between the people who lived in different states. This system has served our nation well for over 200 years.

The people who lived in America in 1787 were very concerned about injustice and unfairness of laws because they had been victims of such under the mandates of Great Britain. The Founders knew about the injustices heaped upon citizens by Rome, Athens, Carthage, and other nations, and they wanted something better for their new country. They desired a system that would be just and fair to all people; they wanted to make the playing field as level as possible for all Americans.

What is justice? W. Cleon Skousen defined true justice as being a means "to restore the victim or offended party to his original position as far as humanly possible" (The Cleansing of America, p 75). The guilty person or persons would be responsible to restore health, wealth, property, reputation, etc. to the greatest extent possible. Because there is no way to restore life itself, many people support the death penalty for murderers.

The phrase "equal justice for all" means that every resident of the United States has the Right to be protected as to life, liberty, and property as well as to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This means every person no matter the race, sex, ethnicity, etc. Every person has the right to be treated with fairness and justice.

Our Declaration of Independence declares: "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…."

The government of the United States of America was established to protect the rights of its citizens and to provide a way to restore value when rights were violated. It is only by following the rule of law that our government can provide equal justice for all.
To achieve true justice, judgment must be fair and administered equally and exactly to one and all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gettysburg Address

There are few people in America who have not heard the words that began, "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal ….." and ended "… and that governments of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1 and ended on July 3, 1863, and marked a turning point in the Civil War in favor of the North. The Northern army of about 90,000 men was led to victory by General George G. Meade against the Southern army of 75,000 men led by General Robert E. Lee. The battle began when the two armies accidentally met in the little town of Gettysburg.

In the battle, the Confederate army took the town, but the Union army took a better and stronger position on high ground south of town. About 3,000 Union soldiers and 4,000 Confederate soldiers were killed in the battle. The total number of casualties - those killed, wounded, missing, or captured - was about 23,000 for the Northern army and 25,000-28,000 for the Southern army.

The Gettysburg Address was a short speech given by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863. This speech was delivered at the place of the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania at ceremonies to dedicate part of the battleground as a cemetery for those who died there. Lincoln wrote the speech because he wanted to define the purposes for the Civil War for those people who lived in the North. His simple and inspired words are among the most remembered in American history.

Lincoln wrote five versions of the speech and signed the fifth version. The version given below is based on shorthand notes of a reporter who heard Lincoln deliver the speech. In a comparison of the two speeches, I found a few minor differences but nothing major. Some examples of the differences are "We are met…" instead of "We have come…" and "carried on" instead of "advanced." Historians are reasonably sure of what he actually said because several reporters attended the ceremonies and wrote his words as he spoke. The nobility of Lincoln's brief remarks were recognized by many people and newspapers of the time.

"Four score and seven year ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We are met to dedicate a portion of it as the final resting place of those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
"But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain - that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom - and that governments of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Facts for this blog post are from articles by Gabor S. Boritt, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, 176-177.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


As I write this post, the unrest in Egypt with street protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak is nearing the two week mark. Protesters numbering nearly a million are still occupying the central Tahrir Square in Cairo as well as several million others rallying in towns and cities across the nation. Banks reopened for a few hours on Sunday after being closed for more than a week. Opposition groups want new government proposals on how to end the political crisis. The Obama Administration has been pushing for a regime change, but Mubarak insists that he must stay in order to prevent a larger crisis.

As I read the reports and saw the pictures of destruction and standoffs between the protesters and the military, the entire scene took on new meaning for me. I suddenly remembered that my friends Linda and Dave were in Egypt, and I wanted to know where they were and if they were safe. After several days of questioning people, I was finally able to learn that Linda was in Germany and Dave was safe. Imagine my joy to walk into Church on Sunday and come face to face with my friend Linda. She shared some of her experiences in Egypt and indicated that it was a scary situation. She even wondered if she would ever be able to return to Egypt.

Media sources are reporting that the protesters want democracy, but cries for democracy might be a front. There are many questions about the future of Egypt and what kind of government will eventually take control. Egypt is not a third world country; it is a star in the Middle East. Egypt or at least Mubarak has been an important ally for the United States as well as a friend to Israel. Whatever happens in Egypt will impact all the nations in the Middle East and the United States.

I found a very interesting article written by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, former head of Romania's Presidential House, on Lt. Gen. Pacepa was once a top figure in the KGB intelligence community before coming to the United States for safety and has written of his experiences in a book entitled Red Horizons. He indicated the crisis in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East looks like "an updated version of the Kremlin's highly secret Cold War effort to turn the Islamic world into an enemy of the United States.
"It is noteworthy that the current Middle East rebellion is taking place only in Islamic countries that are pro-American and that the people demanding democracy there are burning the flag of the … United States. It is remarkable that these `mass uprisings' were so secretly planned that the entire U.S. intelligence community was taken completely by surprise….
"Even more significant is that the Hezb'allah representatives demonstrating on the first day of the Cairo uprising were carrying flags displaying the hammer and sickle. That was evidently a mistake caused by overzealousness…. In Cairo, the error was quickly rectified, and now the hammer and sickle is nowhere to be seen."

Lt. Gen. Pacepa explained how he can no longer document the involvement of the Soviets, but he knew from past experience working within the KGB how Russians "went to great lengths to transform an Egyptian-born Marxist, Mohammed Abd al-Rahman Abd al-Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini, nom de guerre Abu Ammar, into a Palestinian-born Yasser Arafat. It took us years to credibly falsify his birth certificate and other IDs, to build him a new past, and to train him at the KGB Balashikha special-operations training school east of Moscow." It took even more years and the help of "former Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser, another Soviet puppet, to catapult the newly-created Arafat into his position as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (also created and financed by the KGB)."

He explained that this Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei, who has recently appeared on the scene, seems to be the new Soviet-anointed leader for Egypt. He described how he had a part in trying to convince the late Anwar Sadat to become one of the Soviet puppets, but Sadat "got religion" and refused to work with the Soviets. In fact, he "expelled the Soviet advisers from Egypt" in 1972, "visited the U.S." in 1975, and "became the first Eyptian president to visit Israel" in 1976. "In 1981, Sadat paid with his life for his courageous decision to break with the Kremlin…."

In addition to the Soviet influence in the Middle East (including Iran's dictator, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), we also have the Muslim Brotherhood taking a large role in the talks in Egypt as well as other organizations such as Hamas, Hezb'allah, and ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) ("an offspring of the Workers World Party [WWP], an organization created by the KGB community while I was still living in Romania") operating among the protesters in Egypt. None of these groups are pro-America or pro-Israel.

Lt. Gen. Pacepa is not the only one who is concerned about the fate of Egypt. Columnist Jeffrey T. Kuhner wrote the following quote that appeared in on February 7, 2011: "Years ago, Washington should have encouraged civil society and political reform. America could have fostered a secular democratic opposition. Instead, by blindly backing Mr. Mubarak, the United States enabled the most militant, unified and organized Islamist party to take advantage of the growing discontent: the Muslim Brotherhood. It is the Brotherhood's supporters who fill the ranks of the protesters. The Muslim Brotherhood very likely will join a national unity government and eventually seize control. Its goal is to erect a Sunni version of Iran's Shiite theocracy. It champions the hatred of America, war with Israel and a global jihad against the West. It supports Hamas in the Gaza Strip and other terrorist groups. In short, the post-Mubarak regime most probably not only will be anti-Western but will have ties to al-Qa'ida and Iran's mullahs. Egypt is not some strategic backwater; it is not Yemen, Tunisia or Jordan. Rather, it is the cultural linchpin of the Arab world.... If the land of the pharaohs should go Islamic, it will reverberate across the entire region."

I have done a little study about the Muslim Brotherhood and am very concerned about this organization. Its slogan is "Islam is the solution" and its stated goal is to instill the Qur'an and Sunnah as the "sole reference point for … ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state" ( It seeks an Islamic state in Egypt and has already called for Egyptians to "prepare for war with Israel."

Israel and the United States both need Egypt on our side! There is much concern about what action the United States should take now, but maybe Lt. Gen. Pacepa has the right answer: "Rather than crucifying Mubarak for refusing to become a Moscow puppet -- as other Arab leaders did -- the government of the United States would do well to thank him for thirty years of loyal cooperation, and to work with him toward preparing Egypt for a smooth transition to an Egyptian version of democracy. Otherwise, Egypt may become another long-term nightmare in the Middle East…."

UPDATE: President Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011, and turned the government over to the military. I think that this is probably the best way out of the chaos in Egypt, but I wonder how the military will handle the power that has been handed to it. Will the military commander be like George Washington and hand power over to a person chosen by the people, or will he be like Napoleon? Egypt is now under martial control, but Egyptians are dancing in the streets of Cairo and saying, "Egypt is free."

What happens in Egypt now is anyone's guess, but the well-planned revolution was supported by communists, socialists, extreme Islamists, and community organizers. More days of "rage" are being planned for the following week. Will revolutions "cascade" over Jordan, Yemen, and other Middle Eastern countries and then move into European countries? People on the left are calling for revolution in America. Even President Obama said that the Egyptian unrest was caused mainly by young people and that the "change in Egypt will change the world." Are his words "code" for the young people in America to rise up? Only time will tell what happens, but democracy, liberty, and freedom are being strengthened worldwide!

Leaders of Germany, Great Britain, and France have all made statements about multiculturalism being bad for their countries, and yet leaders in America continue to support and defend people and religions that are calling for the downfall of democracy, capitalism, and the United States.