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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Know Your Enemy II

Once again I have chosen the importance of knowing the enemy for the topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday because we are engaged in a great world-wide war between good and evil. There are people inside our nation and across the world who have declared their goal to be destruction of the United States. It is important that all of us understand that we are at war!

I recommend that you take a look at a book that I recently read; it is Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad by Andrew C. McCarthy. McCarthy was a top federal prosecutor who investigated "some of the most significant cases in recent history. In 1995, he led the seditious conspiracy prosecution against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven other jihadists for conducting a war of urban terrorism against the United States - a war that included the bombing of the World Trade Center and an even more ambitious plot to strike several New York City landmarks" (back cover fly). He and his team were successful in the trial to put a dozen enemies of the United States behind bars, but there are many other terrorists that are still free to continue their jihad.

McCarthy's book is about the investigation and the importance of following the rule of law - even against defendants who are abusing our freedoms. He gives a good description of why we are foolish to try terrorists in the criminal justice system of the United States. There is a lot of legal language, which I personally found not that interesting. I did however find it very interesting to learn more about the way that our government operates and the many ways that it fails to operate correctly. McCarthy gives good reason why our government needs to be smaller! The information in this book reveals that there are thousands, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands, of jihadists living inside our nation, inserting themselves into our military and government groups, taking advantage of our freedoms and biding their time until an opportunity arises to commit murder and destruction. It also shows why it is important that our nation needs to tighten the regulations and requirements for who can come into our nation and/or become legal residents. This is a book that is far from fun to read but very informative!

The following quote reveals some very good reasons why terrorists should be tried by military tribunals as enemy combatants instead of in our criminal justice system.
"Finally, there is a profound but often undetected corrosion of our justice system when we force the square peg of terrorism into its round hole. My belief that we oughtn't treat terrorists as criminals … reflects instead an abiding reverence for our system's majesty. Treating jihadists as if they were U.S. citizens accused of crimes and presumed innocent reduces the quality of justice Americans receive from their courts.
"Islamic militants are significantly different both in make-up and goals from run-of-the-mill citizens and immigrants accused of crimes. They are not in it for the money. They desire neither to beat nor cheat the system, but rather to subvert and overthrow it. They are not just about getting an edge in the here and now - their aspirations, however grandiose they may seem to us, are universalist and eternal, such that pursuit of those ends is, for most jihadists, more vital than living to see them attained. They are a formidable foe, and … the national security imperatives they present are simply absent from the overwhelming run of criminal cases.
"As a result, when we bring them into our criminal justice system, we have to cut corners - and hope that no one … will discern that along with the corners we are cutting important principles. Innocence is not so readily presumed when juries, often having been screened for their attitudes about the death penalty, see intense courtroom security around palpably incarcerated defendants and other endangered trial participants. The legally required showing of probable cause for a search warrant is apt to be loosely construed when agents, prosecutors, and judges know denial of the warrant may mean a massive bombing plot is allowed to proceed. Sensitive intelligence that is relevant and potentially helpful to the defense - the kind of probative information that would unquestionably be disclosed in a normal criminal case - may be redacted, diluted, or outright denied to a terrorist's counsel, for to disseminate it, especially in wartime, is to educate the enemy at the cost of civilian and military lives.
"Since we obdurately declare we are according alleged terrorists the same quality of justice that we would give to the alleged tax cheat, we necessarily cannot carry all of this off without ratcheting down justice for the tax cheat - and everyone else accused of crime. Civilian justice is a zero-sum arrangement. Principles and precedents we create in terrorism cases generally get applied across the board. This, ineluctably, effects a diminution in the rights and remedies of the vast majority of defendants - for the most part. American citizens who, in our system, are liberally afforded those benefits precisely because we presume them innocent. It sounds ennobling to say we treat terrorists just like we treat everyone else, but if we really are doing that, everyone else is necessarily being treated worse. That is not the system we aspire to.
"Worse still, this state of affairs incongruously redounds to the benefit of the terrorist. Initially, this is because his central aim is to undermine our system, so in a very concrete way he succeeds whenever justice is diminished….
"In sum, trials in the criminal justice system don't work for terrorism. They work for terrorists." (See pp. 313-314.)

Americans must simply stop trying to be politically correct and open their eyes to the real dangers presented by enemies of our nation. Islamic terrorists are doing their best to destroy our nation. They are our enemy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Elizabeth Annesley Lewis

Elizabeth Annesley married Francis Lewis, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. There is not much information about her childhood and youth, but it is evident that she was a woman of high character and undaunted spirit. Like Hannah Floyd (my post for March 16, 2011), Elizabeth lost her health and strength through the hardships inflicted by the British because her husband was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Francis was the orphaned son of a Welsh clergyman of the Church of England and was raised by a maiden aunt who treated him as her own child. His relatives helped him to obtain a good education. He apparently inherited some money when he became an adult, and he chose to invest it in merchandise for a business he started in New York City with his partner Edward Annesley, older brother of Elizabeth. Lewis traveled widely in Europe for his business.

Lewis took an active part in the French and Indian War and was present in the fort at Oswego when the fort was captured by Montcalm. His friend Col. Mersey (or Mercer) was killed, and Lewis, serving as the colonel's aide, was captured and taken to Canada. From there he went to France until he was exchanged. At the end of the war, he received 5000 acres of land from the British government.

Lewis moved his family to Whitestone, Long Island, about 1765, and there acquired a handsome estate. The British authorities put a price on the head of Francis Lewis, Philip Livingston, and Robert Morris. When the British was in control of Long Island, Captain Birtch was sent with his light horse soldiers "`seize the lady and destroy the property.' As the soldiers advanced on one side, a ship of war from the other fired upon the house. there was nothing to be done. Mrs. Lewis looked calmly on. A shot from the vessel struck the board on which she stood. One of her servants cried: `Run, Mistress, run.' She replied: `Another shot is not likely to strike the same spot,' and did not change her place. The soldiers entered the house and began their work of plunder and devastation. One of them threw himself at her feet and tore the buckles from her shoes. The buckles looked like gold but were nothing but pinchbeck. `All is not gold that glitters,' she remarked to the discomfited young man. The soldiers destroyed books, papers, and pictures, ruthlessly broke up furniture, and then, after pillaging the house, departed taking Mrs. Lewis with them…."

Elizabeth was taken to New York City where she was put in prison and deprived of a bed or a change of clothes and given only a meager amount of food. A faithful black servant followed her into the city and smuggled some clothes, food, and letters to her. "The British were bent on making an example of her because of her wealth and prominence, and the poor woman found little relief."

When General George Washington learned of Elizabeth's situation, he ordered the arrest of Mrs. Barren, wife of the British Paymaster-General, and Mrs. Kempe, wife of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, at their homes in Philadelphia. The women were confined to their homes with guards. Information was sent to the British that these women would be treated in the same manner as Mrs. Lewis if she were not released. An exchange was made, but Elizabeth was not allowed to leave New York City.

Soon after her release from prison, Elizabeth learned that her faithful black servant was ill and nearing death. He was a faithful Catholic and wanted to receive last rites. Even in her poor situation and ill health, she was able to send a messenger to Philadelphia to find a priest and smuggle him through the British lines into New York. He arrived in time to bless the dying man.

Elizabeth never recovered from the abuse of the British army. She was able to join her husband in Philadelphia, but it was obvious that her health was broken. Her husband had been elected to a fourth term in the Continental Congress, but he requested a leave of absence in early 1779 in order to care for his dying wife.

Elizabeth and Francis Lewis were blessed with three children: Francis, Morgan, and Ann. Francis married the daughter of a Tory who opposed the marriage because he thought his father was going to be hung. Morgan married Gertrude, daughter of Robert Livingston. Ann married a post-captain in the British navy without her parents' approval. She sailed for England with her husband, and they were the parents of three daughters. Ann was widowed in England but did not return to America.

Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 119-126.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Have you ever considered that having a baby could be a matter of the national economy or even national security? It appears that the futures of nations worldwide will be determined by the people who are having children.

The Total Fertility Rates (TFR) is measured by children per female. According to Wikipedia, "The TFR is a synthetic rate, not based on the fertility of any real group of women, since this would involve waiting until they had completed childbearing. Nor is it based on counting up the total number of children actually born over their lifetime, but instead is based on the age-specific fertility rates of women in their `child-bearing years,' which in conventional international statistical usage is ages 15-44 or 15-49."

The TFR in nations all over the globe is dropping quickly. In the period just after World War II (1950-1955) the worldwide TFR was 4.92 children per female. By 2010, the TFR had dropped to 2.49. The TFR is expected to drop to 2.1 by 2035.

The TFR for the United States is 2-3 children per female, but it appears that our growth is positive only because of immigration. The plummeting birthrates create numerous and significant problems. The generous entitlement programs that were once pyramid-shaped have become inverted with more people receiving benefits than those paying into the system. Other countries are also experiencing serious problems because of the entitlement programs established in past years.

Economic problems are not the only signs of trouble ahead. It appears that the Muslim populations in European nations have higher TFR than native Europeans. This means that Muslims will soon be the majority ethnic groups in those nations and thus have added political power. There is sure to be more social and political unrest in those nations as the proportions of each group change.

The United States is not yet in that position, but we could soon have the same problems. We cannot continue to rely on immigration to maintain our population base. It appears that only those people who believe in families are having children, and the willingness to have children appears to be a religious issue. If the United States is to remain a Christian nation, then Christians must continue to have children.

I have always considered that the decision to have a child is between a man, his wife and God, and I still believe that no one else has the right to tell a couple when to have children or to stop having them. I just want to remind you that having a baby is important to the national economy as well as national security.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Francis Lewis

Francis Lewis, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in 1713 in the town of Landaff in Wales. He was the only son of his parents. His mother was the daughter of a clergyman, and his father served as an Episcopal clergyman. He was an orphan by the time he was five years old and was cared for by a maiden aunt who loved and cared for him as if he was her own child. Another relative provided a portion of his education in Scotland. He became proficient in both his native tongue (ancient Briton) and in the Gaelic language, which was commonly used in Scotland. He was sent by his uncle, Dean of St. Paul's, in London, to Westminster where he received a good education.

Following his period of education, he apprenticed with a merchant in London. When he was twenty-one, he received some money that he invested in merchandise and sailed for New York City. There he formed a business partnership with a Mr. Annesly and married Elizabeth, the sister of his partner. Francis and Elizabeth were the parents of seven children.

Business was good for the partnership, and Francis spent much of his time in Europe until the beginning of the French and Indian War. Francis took an active part in the war and was serving as an aid to Colonel Mercer at Oswego when Montcalm captured the fort in August, 1757. Colonel Mercer was killed, and Lewis was taken to Canada along with about 1400 other prisoners of war, 34 cannons, and large quantities of ammunition and stores as well as several boats in the harbor. Lewis was taken from Canada to France where he was finally exchanged. He received 5000 acres of land from the British government in compensation for his services in the war.

Lewis was elected as a New York delegate in the Colonial Congress of 1765. When the Stamp Act became law and his business nearly ruined by non-importation agreements, Lewis retired to his country home on Long Island.

Lewis was elected as a delegate to the General Congress of 1775 and 1776. There he was an active member and signed the Declaration of Independence in August, 1776. He served as a member of Congress until 1778.

While the British occupied Long Island, they destroyed the Lewis property and brutally confined Elizabeth for several months in prison without a bed or a change of clothing. Her health was ruined, and she died two years later.

Lewis passed away at the nearly ninety years of age on December 30, 1803, with the reverence and esteem of his countrymen.

Facts are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 71-73.

Islamic Messiah

CBN News now has a never-before-seen video produced by the regime in Iran. The Iranian government obviously believes that the current unrest in the Middle East is signaling that the Islamic messiah - known to them as the Mahdi - is about to appear. The video is called The Coming is Near and "describes the current events in the Middle East as a prelude to the arrival of the mythical Imam or Mahdi - the messiah figure who Islamic scriptures say will lead the armies of Islam to victory over all non-Muslims in the last days."

"`This video has been produced by a group called the Conductors of the Coming, in connection with the Basiji - the Iranian paramilitary force, and in collaboration with the Iranian president's office,' said Reza Kahlil, a former member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards who shared the video with CBN News.
"Kahlil, author of the book, A Time to Betray, worked as a double agent for the CIA inside the Iranian regime.
"`Just a few weeks ago, Almadenijad's office screened this movie with much excitement for the clerics,' Kahlili told CBN News. `The target audience is Muslims in the Middle East and around the world.'"

According to Kahlili the video is being distributed by the Iranian government throughout the Middle East with the goal to instigate more uprisings and turmoil in Arab countries.

You can see the CBN News video here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Prez Reviews Bills

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.7.2, "Every bill passed by the House and the Senate shall be presented to the President for his review." This provision simply states that the President has the opportunity and responsibility to review all legislation while he is the Chief Executive.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Authority of God

The power and authority to act in the name of God is called priesthood. This is the power that God uses to perform His work, and it is eternal. God used the power and authority of the priesthood to create the earth, the heavens, and the entire universe. This is the power through which He keeps perfect order in the universe.

Heavenly Father delegates His priesthood power to worthy men on earth. With the power and authority of the priesthood, these men are enabled to act in God's name to bless the human family. With the priesthood, men are authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation and govern God's kingdom on earth.

Priesthood authority is necessary to act in the name of God in performing baptisms, confirmations, and temple marriages and in administering the sacrament. Even though a man may be sincere, the Lord will not recognize ordinances he performs if he does not have priesthood authority. Priesthood ordinances must be performed on earth by men holding proper priesthood authority.

Priesthood power and authority are also required for presiding in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to direct the work of the Church. Jesus Christ chose His Apostles and ordained them while He lived on earth. He gave them the power and authority to act in His name and to lead His Church. Priesthood is also needed on the earth so that we can understand God's will and do His work. God reveals His will to His prophets. The current prophet serves as President of the Church and also as God's spokesman for all people in the world.

The order for receiving the priesthood was given in the days of Moses. Hebrew 5:4 says, "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." Moses was Aaron's priesthood leader and ordained him in the priesthood. In the same way, a worthy male of the Church receives the priesthood "by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof" (Article of Faith 1:5). Men cannot take priesthood authority on themselves nor can they buy and sell this power and authority.

The priesthood is here upon the earth to bless the lives of God's children and should be exercised in love, kindness and righteousness. Righteous priesthood holders who use the priesthood to bless others are promised great blessings.

Every man who righteously exercises the priesthood "will find his life sweetened, his discernment sharpened to decide quickly between right and wrong, his feelings tender and compassionate, yet his spirit strong and valiant in defense of right; he will find the priesthood a never failing source of happiness - a well of living water springing up unto eternal life" (David O. McKay, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, [2003], 116).

There are two divisions in the priesthood: the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Aaronic Priesthood. The Melchizedek Priesthood was named for Melchizedek, a great high priest, to avoid using the name of Christ too frequently. The lesser priesthood, known as the Aaronic Priesthood, is an appendage to the Melchizedek Priesthood. It was conferred on Aaron and his sons throughout all their generations and thus bears his name.

Melchizedek Priesthood holders have the power and authority to lead the Church, direct missionary work worldwide, and administer all the spiritual work of the Church. The President of the Church is the presiding high priest over the Melchizedek priesthood. Holders of the Aaronic Priesthood have authority to administer the outward ordinances of baptism and the sacrament.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Safety Seats

Families are strengthened when children are protected, and there are many different ways that children need to be protected. The latest policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (published on Monday in the Pediatrics medical journal) is that parents should keep their children in rear-facing car seats until they are at least two years old - and preferably longer. This is, of course, exactly opposite to what we have been previously told - that it was safe for a child to ride facing forward when they reached a certain weight or soon after their first birthday.

According to an article written by Patricia Callahan in the Chicago Tribune, "The new policy … is buoyed by research that shows children younger than 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are in a rear-facing child restraint.
"Equally important, the academy now recommends that children remain in a seat with a five-point safety harness as long as possible and should only transition to a booster seat that relies on the car's adult seat belts when children exceed the height and weight limit for the five-point harness."

Any intelligent person realizes that five-point harnesses provide more support than regular seat belts because they distribute the crash forces evenly over the strong, bony parts of a child's body. The harnesses go across the upper chest from shoulder to shoulder and across the hip area anchored by a strap that goes between the legs.

"The pediatricians also recommend that children remain in booster seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall - a height most kids don't reach until they are between 8 and 12 years old." In addition, the pediatricians recommend that children ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

Since each new transition causes the child to be less safe, this new policy shows that the pediatricians think that children should stay in the safer position for as long as possible. This sounds like a very conservative idea to me, and one that I can support.

Dr. Dennis Durbin, a pediatric emergency room physician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Pediatrics report's main author, "recommends that parents who have turned a child to face forward on her first birthday now reinstall that seat to the rear of the car….
"When researchers at Durbin's hospital looked at children between the ages of 1 and 4 hurt in wrecks, leg injuries were rare for those in rear-facing seats, while they are the second most common injury for those in forward-facing seats…. That's because the legs of a child in a forward-facing seat are thrown forward in most crashes and can hit the console or the back of the … front seat.
"In a rear-facing mode, the seats act like cocoons, cradling children's heads, torsos, arms and legs in an accident, and spread the crash forces over a larger area."

I encourage all parents of young children to follow the new safety seat policy and keep their children as safe as possible. These sweet little children deserve nothing less than our best efforts.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The freedom principle for this week is that religion is essential to a government of free people. Most, if not all, of our Founding Fathers believed that religion and morality were essential for good government as well as happiness, and they insisted that these topics be taught in the schools. No specific religion was to be taught, but the universal truths, which were acceptable to all religions, were necessary.

The early settlers of the American continent were Christians who believed and lived the teachings of the Bible. Our Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution with biblical principles and beliefs. Even though our nation was founded on Christian principles, people of all religions have been welcomed to our shores. Now the very principles and beliefs upon which our nation was founded are being attacked in an effort to destroy religion and morality in the United States.

Recently Lawrence O'Donnell (MSNBC) went into a tirade against God and the Bible: "The book of Revelation is a work of fiction describing how a truly vicious God would bring about the end of the world. No half-smart religious person actually believes the book of Revelation. They are certain that their God would never turn into a malicious torturer and mass murderer beyond Hitler's wildest dreams…."

I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person - not just half-smart, and I believe the book of Revelation to be a revelation from God to warn us about the end days of time as we know it. In fact, there is a second witness to the book of Revelation. Nephi, a prophet who lived on the American continent 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, testified that an angel showed him a vision in which he saw "a man … dressed in a white robe." The angel told him that the man was "one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" and that he would "write concerning the end of the world."

"Wherefore, the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew [Bible]; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men.
"And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see.
"But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them.
"And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel.
"And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel." (See 1 Nephi 14:19-27.)

Since I have received spiritual confirmation from God that the Book of Mormon is a true record, I know beyond doubt that Nephi was and continues to be a witness for John the Revelator and the book of Revelation.

I also know that God is not a "malicious torturer and mass murderer" as described by O'Donnell. I know God to be a loving Father in Heaven who cares deeply about His children. He sends prophets and apostles to teach us how to live in peace and harmony with each other. He warns us of terrible things that will happen if we venture from the paths He wants us to take. These bad things are natural consequences which come because of disobedience - not because God wants to punish us. No loving parent would hold his child's hand to a hot stove, but every loving parent would warn and try to protect his child from touching the hot stove. God is a loving and perfect Parent who wants His children to be happy and successful, but He knows that happiness and success come by following His rules and not by rebellion from them. I know beyond doubt that happiness can come by listening to the teachings and warnings of God.

I, like our Founding Fathers, know that religion and morality are important to freedom and liberty. I also know that the God of this land is Jesus Christ. I know that we will be safe and prosper for as long as we are obedient to the laws and commandments of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Christina Livingston

Christina Ten Broeck married Philip Livingston, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Christina was the third daughter of Richard (or Direk) and Margarita Cuyler Ten Broeck. She was of "sturdy, thrifty Dutch stock" that dominated New Amsterdam located on the Hudson River. The first recorded information on her ancestors was of her great-grandfather, Dirck Wesselse Ten Broeck, an Indian trader, who paid 1000 guilders in beaver skins for a home in 1663. When Albany received its charter in 1686, the name of Dirck Wesselse Ten Broeck was first on the list of alderman. He later served as Recorder and then as Mayor. Christina's grandfather also served as Alderman and Recorder, and her father served as man of affairs, Alderman, Recorder and Mayor.

When Christina and Philip married about 1740, he was a prosperous young New York businessman, but he soon became interested in public affairs. He was first elected Alderman to represent the East Ward in 1754 and was re-elected the next nine years. He was chosen as a delegate to the first Congress in Philadelphia in 1774. He was in Congress where he voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.

While Philip was in Philadelphia attending Congress, Christina and her children were living on Brooklyn Heights. It was there in her home that the American generals held a council of war and decided to retreat from Long Island. Soon after that meeting, the Livingston family moved to Kingston, New York.

Philip suffered with ill health in 1778 and attempted to go home to visit his family and rest from his public duties. He returned to Congress at the urgent request of the state government in March. Before he left, he had a premonition that he would not return home and told his family and friends goodbye. When his son Henry, an aide to General George Washington, learned that his father was ill, he rushed to his father's bedside and remained there until after his father died on June 12, 1778, at age 62.

Nine children were born to Christina and Philip Livingston: Philip Philip, Richard, Catharine, Margaret, Peter Van Brugh, Sarah, Henry Philip, Abraham, and Alida. At least four of the children died as unmarried adults, and only Philip Philip is reported to have posterity. I found no date or place of death for Christina.

Facts are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, 115-119.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Child Suicide

Why are so many of our children, teenagers, and young adults choosing suicide rather than life? Suicide seems to be especially rampant in the lives of Alaska Natives and Native Americans, but no family, community, or race seems to be immune to this awful plague. The epidemic is so horrible and wide-spread that I simply assume that suicide is the cause of death if no apparent reason is publicized.

A conference was held in recent months in Anchorage about the suicide epidemic in our rural villages. Heart-breaking testimonies about youthful suicides were given by representatives of many villages over a period of several days, and all seemed to be begging for help to solve the problem. Chickaloon Village seems to be the only village that is not plagued by the epidemic of suicides; leaders of this village think that helping tribal members to know their heritage and language and to build self-esteem is their answer. Chickaloon has active programs to help their tribal members develop marketable skills in order to be more self-reliant.

A recent article by Matt Volz of the Associated Press reported on the epidemic of suicides taking place on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana. He wrote, "On the Fort Peck reservation, five children killed themselves during the 2009-2010 school year at Poplar Middle School - enrollment about 160 - and 20 more of the 7th and 8th graders tried."

An emergency was declared by the village elders, and the U.S. Public Health Service sent mental health teams in to assist the reservation resources. The teams were there for ninety days, and no suicides were recorded during that period of time. Since October, two more teenagers have killed themselves and dozens of others have attempted suicide.

Volz reported that "Like many reservations, Fort Peck is struggling with high unemployment, estimated at 28 percent in 2008, and rampant substance abuse. Some 45 percent of the residents live below the poverty line, including half the children, according to tribal statistics.
"The problems of the reservation are pronounced in the schools. Poplar school officials told the federal health team that more than a third of middle-school students tested positive for sexually transmitted diseases, at least one-fifth of fifth graders drink alcohol weekly and 12 percent of high school girls are pregnant. The dropout rate is 40 percent.
"But despite those devastating numbers, there doesn’t appear to be a predictable pattern to the suicides. The victims were from broken homes and loving families, they were substance abusers and popular athletes."

As I look back over the years that my children were in high school, it seems that there was at least one suicide in the local high school every year. One year, the principle committed suicide, and another year a popular hockey player chose to end his life. Some years ago I helped with funeral arrangements for the daughter of friend. Last year the daughter of another friend killed herself. My own family suffered heartbreak when my nephew chose suicide rather than life in an awful divorce and child custody situation.

Children at the Fort Peck Middle School think that bullying and peer pressure were the prime reasons for their friends' deaths. Other people would cite the dismal economy as a reason for choosing suicide, and there were stories of many people jumping to their deaths during the Great Depression. Suicides happen in both broken and stable homes, in good and bad economies, among all ages, in most if not all races and ethnicities, and in both healthy and ill people. Suicide is often the choice of a young person who seems to have everything going for them, and there doesn't seem to be a predictable pattern.

I am no stranger to the idea of attempting to solve a problem by suicide because I contemplated the idea once. The situation happened so many years ago that I don't remember the particulars of the situation or even why I was entertaining such a thought. I do remember that my faith in God, my desire to please Him, and my love for my family caused me to get rid of the idea once and for all.

For some reason, too many of our youth commit suicide. Children of all ages are paying a huge price for what they appear to believe are insurmountable problems. Too many of our youth are choosing death over life, and we simply must find a way to help them to choose life!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Philip Livingston

Philip Livingston, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was a descendent of a Scotch minister who left Scotland in 1663 to settle in Rotterdam where he passed away. Philip's father, Robert Livingston, emigrated to America soon after the death of his father. He was granted a large tract of land located along the Hudson River and was known as Livingston's Manor. Philip was the oldest of three sons and became heir to the property upon the death of his father.

Philip was born on January 15, 1716, in Albany. He completed a preparatory course of study and then entered Yale College. There he did well in his studies and graduated with distinguished honor in 1737. He had an "extensive and lucrative business" in New York City and was known and respected in the community for "his integrity and upright dealings."

He started his public service as an Alderman for the East Ward in New York City, serving satisfactorily in that position and winning reelection for nine years. Philip and his brother Robert were elected at the same for seats in the General Assembly where Philip became a leader among his fellow public servants. Philip was also a member of a committee established to communicate with Edmund Burke while he was serving as an agent for New York in England previous to the American Revolution.

Philip was elected as a delegate to the first Continental Congress in 1774. He was still serving in the Continental Congress and supported the fight for independence. He voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.

When New York formed its first state government, Philip Livingston was elected to be a member of the first Senate of the state. Even though he was experiencing some problems with his health, he left home to perform his duties in the Senate. He had a premonition that he would not return home and bade his family and friends farewell. He died on June 12, 1778, while serving in the Senate. Henry, his eighteen-year-old son who was living with the family of General George Washing, was the only family around when Philip passed away.

Philip was very concerned about the public welfare and was one of the founders of the New York Society Library and the Chamber of Commerce. He also promoted the establishment of King's College (now Columbia). He left "a name and fame that kings might covet."

Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 67-70.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Revenue Amendments

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.7.1, "However, the Senate may propose or concur with amendments on revenue bills as with other legislation." Even though all "bills for the raising of revenue" are the responsibility of the House of Representatives, this provision gives the Senate the right and opportunity to add amendments to revenue bills.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Life of Christ

The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ were foretold by many prophets. Adam knew that the Savior would be known as Jesus Christ (Moses 6:51-52). Enoch, Noah, Moses, Isaiah, Nephi and King Benjamin all foresaw the Savior's life, ministry, and sufferings (see Moses 1:11; 7:55-56; 8:23-24; Isaiah 53:3-7; 1 Nephi 11:21; Mosiah 3:5-8).

When we were in the premortal world, Jesus Christ promised that He would come to earth and be the Savior of all mankind. Every person who has come or will come to earth is dependent on Jesus Christ fulfilling His promise. His mission as the Savior was one of the crucial pillars of the plan of salvation. Without Him, the plan would fail. His mission was so important that all of the prophets from Adam to Christ testified that He would come (see Acts 10:43). Every prophet since Christ has testified that He did come. In order to faithfully follow Christ throughout our lives, we need to study and learn about His life.

Information about the birth and life of the Savior can be found in the scriptures, particularly Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament. From the scriptures we learn that Jesus was born of Mary, a beautiful virgin who was engaged to marry Joseph when an angel appeared to her. The angel told Mary that she had been selected to be the mother of the Son of God. Mary asked how that would be possible (see Luke 1:34). The angel explained to her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). God the Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of an immortal Father and a mortal mother. That is the reason that He is known as the Only Begotten Son. From his Father, Jesus inherited divine powers. From his mother, He inherited mortality and was subject to pain, fatigue, hunger, thirst, and death. No one had the power to kill Jesus Christ unless He was willing to be killed. He had the power to give up His life, and He had the power to take up His body again after dying. (See John 10:17-18.)

Mary and Joseph guided Jesus, and He grew as other children grow. He loved and obeyed the truth. From the time of his youth, Jesus made good choices and obeyed all that Heavenly Father required Him to do. (See Luke 2:40; Doctrine and Covenants 93:12-14.)

An incident in Jerusalem demonstrates that Jesus by age twelve had some understanding that He was on earth to do the will of His Father. He went with His family to Jerusalem to participate in the Passover. When they started on their trip home, His parents discovered that He was not in the group and returned to Jerusalem to find Him. They searched for Him for three days before they found Him in the temple "sitting in the midst of the doctors, and they were hearing him, and asking him questions" (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 2:46). "And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers" (Luke 2:47).

Joseph and Mary were of course relieved to find Him. When Mary asked Him why He had treated "thy father and I" as He did, He answered, "Wist ye not that I must be about my [Heavenly] Father's business?" (Luke 2:48-49). Jesus understood that His mission was to do the will of His Heavenly Father. He declared, "… I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things… I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:28-29).

When Jesus was thirty years old, He went to the Jordan River to find John the Baptist and asked John to baptize Him in order "to fulfil all righteousness." John recognized that Jesus was greater than he, but he baptized the Savior, immersing Him completely in the water. Then he heard the Father speaking from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The Holy Ghost descended, as shown by the sign of the dove. (See Matthew 3:13-17.)

Soon after His baptism, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights to be with God. After this period of fasting was over, Satan tried to tempt Jesus, and Jesus resisted all of Satan's temptations and commanded Satan to leave. (See Matthew 4:1-11.) Jesus Christ was sinless, the only perfect person to ever live on earth. (See Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21-22.)

Jesus' mission on earth consisted of several different responsibilities. Among those duties were the responsibilities to teach us how to love and serve each other, to organize the only true church on earth, to save us from death, and to redeem our souls from our sins. Jesus taught us how to live by both His words and His example. He taught that there were two great commandments: The first is to love God with all our heart, mind and strength; and the second is to love others as we love ourselves. (See Matthew 22:36-39.) He showed us by His life how we should obey these two commandments. He demonstrated His love for God by trusting Him and by being obedient to Him. He showed His love for others by helping them to meet their physical and spiritual needs.

Jesus spent His life serving others: curing people of diseases, causing the deaf to hear, the blind to see and the lame to walk. When He miraculously fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes (see Matthew 14:14-21), He demonstrated that we are to help the hungry, needy, cold or lonely all that we can. He taught by His words and actions that we serve God by helping God's children. (See Matthew 25:35-46.)

Jesus loved people with all His heart. He wept with compassion for others. He loved little children, the elderly, the simple people who had faith in Him. He loved the sinners and taught them to repent. He loved those who sinned against Him and didn't repent. Even as He hung on the cross, He pleaded, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Jesus taught us to "love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

Another part of Christ's mission on earth was to organize His Church. He taught the people. He chose and ordained His Twelve Apostles. He gave them the authority to act in His name and to do the works they had seen Him do. They were to testify of Christ and to teach, baptize and perform other ordinances in His name and with His authority. After the death of Christ, the Apostles carried on His work until the people grew so wicked that they killed the Apostles.

Jesus Christ redeemed us from our sins and saved us from death. Jesus was condemned to death because He had testified that He was the Son of God. In preparation for the final events of His life, Jesus met with His Apostles in an upper room and introduced the sacrament to them. They sang a hymn and then went to a garden called Gethsemane. He was weighed down with much sorrow and wept as He prayed. He prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: never the less not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). Jesus described His suffering in a revelation to Joseph Smith, saying that it caused Him "to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit" (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18).

The next day Christ was beaten, humiliated, and spit upon. He was forced to carry His own cross and then was lifted up and nailed to it. While Jesus was suffering on the cross, the Father withdrew from Him, allowing Christ to finish suffering the penalty for the sins of all mankind and have complete victory over the forces of sin and death. (See James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd Ed [1916], 660-61.)

When He knew that the Father had accepted His sacrifice, the Savior exclaimed in a loud voice, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Luke 23:46 records that He said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." He then bowed His noble head and voluntarily gave up His spirit and died.

A terrible earthquake shook the earth. Some of the Savior's friends took His body to a tomb where it lay until the third day. During the time His body was in the tomb, His spirit went to the spirit world where He organized the missionary work needed to teach His gospel to other spirits. (See 1 Peter 3:18-20; Doctrine and Covenants 138.) On the third day, Sunday, he returned to the tomb and took up His body again, becoming the first to overcome death and be resurrected. Soon after His resurrection Jesus appeared to the Nephites on the American continent and established His Church there. He taught the people and blessed them (3 Nephi 11 through 28).

Jesus' willingness and humility to suffer in Gethsemane and on the cross showed His great love for the Father and for us. He fulfilled His part of the great plan of salvation that we might all receive the promised blessings. Now the responsibility is ours. In order to receive these blessings, we must put the Atonement of Jesus Christ into effect in our lives. We must repent of our sins, love Christ with all our hearts and follow Him.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Just Say No"

Families become stronger by helping their children to "Just Say No." Research points out that intact families help their teens to avoid substance abuse, drug use, and drinking problems. Heritage Foundation video shows that children who are happy at home do not need to look elsewhere for something to make them feel better.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Power to the People

The topic for discussion today is that the God gave the right to govern to the people. In other words, the people have the divine right to govern themselves and to exercise the power to select and/or depose their leaders. The leaders should understand that they are merely servants and are responsible to represent the will of the people as a whole. When an elected or appointed official misuses the authority of the people and form an abusive type of government, the people have the authority to "alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government…." (Declaration of Independence).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Two Wives for Floyd

Hannah Jones, daughter of William Jones of Southampton, Long Island, married William Floyd, one of the future signers of the Declaration of Independence, in 1760 or 1761. Floyd was a wealthy young farmer from Setauket, Long Island. Even though he had received a liberal education, he chose to care for the family estate instead of embarking on a professional or business career.

There is little known about Hannah except that she was a "capable, well-brought-up girl" who managed her husband's affairs while he was absent in his public duties. William was a delegate to the first Continental Congress that met in Philadelphia in 1774. He was also a commander in the Suffolk County militia as well as being active in county and local matters. He was re-elected to the Congress in both 1775 and 1776. He was "one of the first of the signers to suffer personally for the stand which he had taken."

The Floyd estate included a plantation with a beautiful mansion and lots of fruit and ornamental trees and acres of timber and firewood. It was located close to New York and so had a ready market for the fruit, firewood, and timber it produced.

After the American army left Long Island, the British troops took possession of the Floyd farm, and the family fled to Connecticut for safety. They lived in Connecticut for seven years with no income from their property. The British used the animals and crops for food as well as using the barn and the mansion to stable their horses. Their fruit, ornamental trees, and timber were cut down. By the end of the Revolutionary War, there was such destruction on the estate that General Floyd at age 69 retired from public life and moved his family to some previously purchased unbroken land on the Mohawk River.

Hannah did not live to make the move to the new home. She very patriotic and supported her husband completely in his public duties, but her health was destroyed by all the anxiety and hardship. She died at age 40 on May 16, 1781. Hannah and William were parents of three children, one son and two daughters, all of whom grew to adulthood.

William married Joanna Strong of Setauket, Long Island, in 1783, and this couple had two children.

Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp 112-115.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hurrah for Japan

Japan, the world's third largest economy is struggling under the strain placed on it by recent events there. The sun rose on March 11, 2011, on the devastated island nation following the strongest earthquake in the recorded history of Japan. The 9.0 earthquake was followed by two-story high tsunami waves that washed people, cars, and buildings out to sea. As if these two occurrences were not enough, Japan is also dealing with failing nuclear plants, powerful aftershocks, and a failing stock market. Life in Japan is definitely difficult, and yet the Japanese people are showing the rest of us how to behave as civilized people.

Stores are selling food at lower prices, and vending machine companies are giving away bottled water. There are no reports of looting taking place in Japan in spite of the great needs in the disaster-plagued areas. This behavior is in direct contrast to the behavior in the wake of other catastrophes. We have watched as looting took place in New Orleans, Haiti, and Chili after national disasters in those places and have marveled at the lack of looting in Japan. I, along with many other people, thought it was part of the culture of Japan.

Thomas Lifson ( explained in his article on March 15, 2011, that the "extraordinary good behavior" of the Japanese people is more than the "legendary politeness." He explained that it is "more a matter of social structure than culture" that is causing the people in Japan to act in a "civilized and enlightened manner.
"Many years ago, a worldly and insightful Japanese business executive offered me an analogy that gets to the heart of the forces keeping the Japanese in line, that has nothing to do with culture. `Japanese people,' he told me, `are like passengers on a cruise ship. They know that they are stuck with the same people around them for the foreseeable future, so they are polite, and behave in ways that don't make enemies, and keep everything on a friendly and gracious basis.'
"`Americans,' he said, `are like ferryboat passengers. They know that at the end of a short voyage they will get off and may never see each other again. So if they push ahead of others to get off first, there are no real consequences to face. It is every man for himself.'

Lifson explained that Japanese people "are well known to those around them. There is little urban anonymity…." He then described his introduction to life in Japan.

People worldwide could take a lesson from the Japanese and learn better manner. There would be far less difficulties between neighbors - families, communities, and nations - if we all used better manners and treated everyone in the manner we would like to be treated. Hurrah for the Japanese people who are showing us how civilized people behave even in times of great duress.

Monday, March 14, 2011

William Floyd

William Floyd, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, came from a family of early American settlers. His grandfather came from Wales in 1680 and settled in Setauket on Long Island where he gained great wealth and influence.

William was born on December 17, 1734, and was given every opportunity to gain useful knowledge. William was barely finished with his studies when his wealthy father passed away. He assumed the supervision of the family estate and performed his duties with great skill and integrity. He had excellent character traits and a pleasing personality, both of which helped him to be popular with his acquaintances. He was committed to the cause of liberty and was soon active in public life and opposition to the British.

William was elected as a New York delegate to the first Continental Congress in 1774 and took an active role in that body. Previous to his election, he was appointed as a commander of the Suffolk County militia and resumed his command upon his return from Congress in early 1775. When he learned that Long Island was being invaded by a naval force, he marched with his troops to the place where the troops would leave their ships and forced the invaders to go back to their ships. He returned to the General Congress in 1775 and was active on numerous committees there. He voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.

While William was involved in public duties, his private property was destroyed and his family exiled from their home. After the American army lost the battle of Long Island in August 1776 and retreated across to York Island, the Floyd estate was exposed to the abuses of the British army. The family sought shelter and safety in Connecticut. A party of British cavalry took over the Floyd mansion and used the estate's cattle and sheep to provide for the army.

William went seven years without any income from his property, and yet he never lessened in his zeal for the cause of liberty. He continued to work for independence in both Congress and in the New York legislature. William was part of a small but skillful group who saved the state of New York from bankruptcy in 1779 and put it in a very prosperous financial condition.

William was again elected to Congress in 1780 and remained a delegate until peace was declared in 1783. He and his family returned to their dilapidated home and were happy to be back home after a seven year exile. He declined the opportunity for reelection to Congress but agreed to serve in the State Legislature. When the newly adopted Constitution was ratified in 1778, he was elected as a member of the first Congress held in the city of New York in 1789. He declined reelection and retired from public life.

General Floyd retired to some previously purchased wild land located on the Mohawk and commenced the work of clearing and cultivating those lands. He considered the land to be so beautiful and the soil so productive that he moved there in 1803 at age 69. He concentrated on cultivating his lands and productive farms were on every side in just a few years.
William again entered public life when he was chosen as a Presidential Elector in 1800. The next year he was a delegate in a convention held to revise the New York constitution. He was elected as a state senator and served several times as a Presidential Elector.

William enjoyed robust health, both physically and mentally, and lived a long and active life. He was a successful businessman as well as a great patriot during the storms of the American Revolution and the establishment of our constitutional government. He had the ability to make good decisions and never let unimportant obstacles cloud his opinion and determination. William passed away on August 4, 1821, at 87 years of age.

Facts are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 63-66.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Raising Revenue

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.7.1, "All bills for the raising of revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." All Representatives stand for reelection every two years and are therefore more accountable to the people than Senators who serve for six year terms. This provision insures that American citizens have direct control over the raising of their taxes.

When the Constitution was written and ratified, Senators were elected by state legislators until the Seventeenth Amendment was adopted; therefore, it was very appropriate that the responsibility for money matters rested on the Representatives of the people. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have fiscal conservatives as the majority in the House of Representatives.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Word of God

Mankind receives many blessings because the written word of God is readily accessible. The scriptures contain information that God wants His children to know. The written word of God is contained in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

We cannot over-emphasize the importance of the scriptures in our lives. In the Old Testament we find, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." (See Joshua 1:8.)

In the New Testament we find instruction from Apostle Paul to his friend Timothy, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (2 Timothy 3:16).

Nephi explained in the Book of Mormon how he taught from the scriptures: "And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning" (1 Nephi 19:23).

The Doctrine and Covenants is a modern-day book of scripture. We can hear the voice of the Savior as we read in this book, "Search these commandments for they are true and faithful and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.
"What I the Lord have spoken I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (See Doctrine and Covenants 1:37-38.)

From the time of Adam, God has commanded His prophets to record His revelations and His dealings with mankind. Whenever prophets speak or write under the influence of the Holy Ghost, their words become scripture (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:4).

The Bible is a book of scripture which is a collection of sacred writings. Its pages cover many centuries from the time of Adam through the years of the Apostles of Christ. Many different prophets wrote the words contained in the Bible, which is divided into two sections. The Old Testament contains much history of the people and many prophecies foretelling the coming of the Savior. The New Testament gives us information on the life of the Savior, who is Jesus Christ. Many truths lost from the Bible through the centuries were restored or corrected by Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

The Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ. It is a sacred record of some of the people who lived in the Americas between 2000 B.C. and 400 A.D. It contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it tells of the visit of Jesus Christ to the people in America soon after His resurrection.

Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon into English by the gift and power of God. He said that the Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (introduction to the Book of Mormon).

The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of modern-day revelations. This book contains revelations concerning the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in these last days.

The Pearl of Great Price contains the book of Moses, the book of Abraham and some inspired writings of Joseph Smith. The book of Moses is an account of visions and writings of Moses as revealed to Joseph Smith. It gives more information about the Creation as well as clarifying teachings and doctrines that have been lost from the Bible. The book of Abraham is a translation by Joseph Smith from a papyrus scroll taken from the Egyptian catacombs. This book contains information about the Creation, the gospel, the nature of God, the priesthood, and our premortal life. The writings of Joseph Smith include part of his inspired translation of the Bible, selections from his History of the Church, and the Articles of Faith.

I treasure the words of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. I study them and try to live by them. I also treasure the words of our living prophets, which I also consider to be scripture. One of our Articles of Faith states, "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (Article of Faith 1:9).

The scriptures are here for our benefit. We should study them every day and teach the truths from the scriptures to our children. Our children need to see us studying the scriptures and applying their teachings in our lives. Our children also need us to study the scriptures with them in order that they might learn to love the scriptures and live by the truths in them.

We can avoid the evils of the world by feeding our minds with the truth and righteousness found in the scriptures. As we read, ponder, and pray about the scriptures, we will grow closer to God and to each other. When we sincerely and with real intent ask God to help us understand the scriptures, the Holy Ghost will bear witness to us of the truth of the scriptures. By studying the scriptures and receiving the testimony of the Holy Ghost, we can know the truth and avoid deception.

I love to read the scriptures and feel the love of God through His words, through the words of His prophets, and through the presence of the Holy Ghost.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Positive Parenting

Families are strengthened when parents act positively towards and with their children. Although most parents do their best to teach and train their children, all parents except God fall far short of being perfect parents. Even though we have no perfect parents on earth, we can all take a positive approach to our parenting whether our children are still small, teenagers, or adults with families of their own.

The following parenting advice comes from the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other authorities. The best parents I know follow this counsel.

Give daily doses of love. We all need outward assurances that we are loved, and we cannot give children too many hugs, kisses, and I-love-yous. We can also show love by praising and acknowledging accomplishments and efforts, including good behavior.

Make time for children. In this busy world with so many pressures for parents, children are sometimes put aside for what may be considered "more important" things. This is a mistake that many parents make. We need to remember that children want our attention more than anything else and will go to great lengths to get it. Like giving children affection, giving them our attention can help to build their self-esteem.

Spend as much time together as possible. I am so very impressed with the young parents that I know because they are so good at this. They play, walk, and talk with their children. They spend time reading with their children or taking them skiing, shopping, etc. Studies have shown that the simple act of eating dinner together each day as families can bring huge dividends in the lives of our children.

Tune children in. I remember a time when my children were young when my daughter came to me with a problem. I was busy multi-tasking as most mothers need to do when I heard her say, "Mama, listen to me with your eyes!" She taught me an important lesson! Children understand their importance to us when we take the time to truly listen.

Set rules. Children need boundaries in their lives. They need to have clear, consistent rules and an understanding of which behaviors are good and which ones will not be tolerated.

Teach good morals and correct principles. All children need to be taught the importance of obedience to rules, honesty, respect for themselves and others, love of country, etc. They need to learn good values that will last for generations.

If you are already parenting positively, give yourself a pat on the back. Families can learn, grow, and develop into strong basic units of society through positive parenting!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Unalienable Rights

The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is unalienable rights of man. Through their study of the Bible and other good works, the Founding Fathers understood that God gave unalienable rights to mankind through direct revelation to His prophets. These divine principles are found in the Holy Scriptures, and they are preserved and protected by divine law. Most people recognize these laws as the Ten Commandments, which are basically as follow: 1) Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 2) Thou shalt not make unto thee any gravel image or any likeness of anything. 3) Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. 4) Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. 5) Honour thy father and thy mother. 6) Thou shalt not kill. 7) Thou shalt not commit adultery. 8) Thou shalt not steal. 9) Thou shalt not bear false witness. 10) Thou shalt not covet. (See Exodus 20:3-17.)

Whenever God gives blessings to His children, He makes those blessings dependent on obedience to His commandments. When God bestowed divine rights on His children, He also bestowed duties. We know that our Founding Fathers understood the connection between divine or natural rights and unalienable duties because Thomas Jefferson made the statement that man "has no natural right in opposition to his social duties." (Bergh, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 16:282, as quoted by W. Cleon Skousen in The Five Thousand Year Leap, p 100.)

Skousen indicated that "our unalienable duties, both public and private are an inherent part of Natural Law. They constitute a responsibility imposed on each individual to respect the absolute rights or unalienable rights of others" (Five Thousand Year Leap, p 101). Skousen proceeded to list twenty of what he considered the "more important responsibilities which the Creator has imposed on every human being of normal mental capacity." Several of those duties correspond directly with the Ten Commandments. Here are some others: The duty to be law-abiding. The duty to care for the poor, sick, injured, etc. The duty to work hard enough to provide for your own needs and the needs of your family. The duty to vote and be part of the community. The duty to protect the institution of the family.

Skousen quoted Sir William Blackstone who was a contemporary of the Founders: "Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator…. This will of his Maker is called the Law of Nature…. This law of nature, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God, Himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the glove in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this." (Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1:54, 56, 63, as quoted in Five Thousand Year Leap, p 104).

God's laws are sacred and are not subject to legislation. No man or government has authority to take away rights that were bestowed on us by God. Our Founders understood the sacredness of the laws of God, and they wrote the Constitution to support the natural laws, not to oppose them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Laura Collins Wolcott

Laura Collins, the daughter of Captain Daniel and Lois Cornwall Collins of Guilford, Connecticut, married Oliver Wolcott, future signer of the Declaration of Independence, in January 1759. Laura descended from the first settlers and a member of a well-to-do Connecticut family. The National Cyclopedia of American Biography article about Laura reads, "She was a woman of almost masculine strength of mind, energetic and thrifty; and while Governor Wolcott was away from home, attended to the management of their farm, educated their younger children, and made it possible for her husband to devote his energies to his country."

Oliver, the youngest son of Roger Wolcott, a former Connecticut governor, was thirty-three years old when he brought his twenty-three year old bride home to Litchfield. He had graduated from Yale, served as a captain in the army, and studied medicine before being appointed as county sheriff. He continued to be involved in public matters. He continued to be active in the militia, eventually reaching the rank of major-general. He was elected as a council member and served there until being elected as Lieutenant-Governor in 1786. While a member of the Continental Congress, he spent a large part of his time with the army or recruiting and organizing troops for the army. He was elected Governor in 1796 and held that office until his death in 1797 at age 71.

Laura was as patriotic as her husband and opened her home to those who were aiding the cause of liberty. Oliver gave freely of his money for the cause, and Laura gave blankets, stockings, and supplies from their farm to the army "almost continuously."

Laura and Oliver were blessed with three sons and two daughters; one son died in infancy and the other children lived to adulthood. Laura passed away in April 1794 at age 58 without the opportunity to see her husband elected as governor.

Information and quotes are from Wives of the Signers - The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp 103-112.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Collective Bargaining

Most Americans are aware of the union protests taking place in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and other states. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin wants a bill passed that would require union members to help pay for their own health care and pensions as well as do away with collective bargaining. Union members have agreed to the costs of health care and pensions but are protesting the probable loss of collective bargaining. President Obama has called the bill an "assault on unions."

The protests have attracted nation-wide interest, but not everyone understands exactly what collective bargaining means or how it works in government unions. Now that there are more members in government unions than there are in private unions, it is important that we understand collective bargaining in government unions.

The Heritage Foundation explained that collective bargaining is a privilege and not a right. "There is a big difference between rights and privileges. Americans have the right to vote. The state, barring a felony conviction, cannot take that right away. Driving, on the other hand, is a privilege. The state can refuse you the privilege of driving for a myriad of reasons including failure to pass a test showing you know the rules of the road or failing to purchase auto insurance.
"Similarly the freedom of association is a right shared by all Americans and protected by the First Amendment. In contrast, collective bargaining is a special power occasionally granted to some unions. In upholding North Carolina's ban on government union collective bargaining, a federal court wrote in Atkins vs. City of Charlotte: `All citizens have the right to associate in groups to advocate their special interests to the government. It is something entirely different to grant any one interest group special status and access to the decision making process.'"

The Heritage Foundation points out that the proposed Wisconsin bill does not infringe on the people's right to associate and lobby their state government. The bill does give employees the right to choose whether or not to join a union without fear of losing their jobs. It also would require unions to collect their own dues rather than have the state withhold the money directly from employee paychecks.

The Heritage Foundation has a new video that should be helpful in understanding the rise in government unions and the monopoly power they have through collective bargaining. I hope that you will watch the video and learn how government unions with collective bargaining are bleeding our states into bankruptcy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Oliver Wolcott

Oliver Wolcott, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, on November 26, 1726. Oliver's father, Roger Wolcott, distinguished himself by becoming a major general, a judge, lieutenant governor, and finally governor of the state of Connecticut.

The family name of Wolcott was found among the early settlers of Connecticut. Oliver's English ancestor was Henry Wolcott, who arrived in America in 1630 and first settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He moved to Windsor, Connecticut, in 1636 with several associates to form a settlement there. He was one of the men involved in organizing the Connecticut government and obtaining a charter from King Charles II.

Oliver was 17 years old when he enrolled at Yale College. Four years later he graduated and was commissioned as a captain in the Army. He raised a company of soldiers for the French and Indian War and led them to confront the enemy in the northern frontier. He was regularly promoted from captain to major general and returned home after the hostilities ended.

Wolcott began a study of medicine under the direction of his uncle, Dr. Alexander Wolcott, but he interrupted his studies when he was appointed as sheriff for the newly-organized county of Litchfield.

Oliver married Laura Collins, daughter of Captain Daniel and Lois Cornwall Collins of Guilford, Connecticut, in January 1759. Roger was 33 years old at the time of the marriage, and Laura was 23 years old. Roger took his bride home to the town Litchfield. Five children were born to the couple, three sons and two daughters, with one son dying in infancy.

It appears that Oliver was meant to be in politics because he was elected as a member of the council of Connecticut in 1774 and was reelected annually until 1786. During the time that he served on the council, he also served as a delegate to the Continental Congress, Chief Justice of Litchfield County, and Judge of Probate for the district.

Oliver was appointed by the General Congress to be one of the Commissioners of Indian Affairs for the northern area. In this position he helped to bring about an amicable settlement between Connecticut and Pennsylvania concerning the Wyoming settlement.

Wolcott was elected as a delegate to the second General Congress near the end of 1775 and took his seat in January 1776. He took an active role in debating the independence of the Colonies; he then voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.

Oliver returned home soon after signing the glorious document and was immediately appointed to the command of fourteen regiments of the Connecticut militia destined to defend New York. Following the battle of Long Island, he returned to Connecticut and resumed his seat in Congress in November. He was in Congress in Philadelphia when the congressional body was forced to flee to Baltimore by the approach of the British army.

Wolcott was active in recruiting soldiers during the summer of 1776 and sent several thousands of volunteers to General Putnam then camped on the Hudson River. He then took command of a group of volunteers and joined General Gates at Saratoga. He was there when Burgoyne and his army were captured in October, 1777.

Oliver soon was back in Congress - then meeting in York, Pennsylvania. George Washington and his army were at that time in Valley Forge. Oliver continued in the Congress until July, 1778. He took command of a militia division in the summer of 1779, and his company successfully defended the southwestern coast of Connecticut from the British army.

Wolcott alternated his service between civil and military duties in Connecticut until 1783 and occasionally served in Congress. He continued to serve as an Indian Agent and was one of the commissioners who issued terms of peace to the six Indian nations living in western New York.

General Wolcott was elected as the lieutenant governor of Connecticut in 1786 and was reelected every year until he was elected as governor in 1796. He was reelected as governor in 1797 and held that office when he died on December 1, 1797, at age 71. Governor Wolcott was a patriot, a statesman and a Christian; he was a man whose most prominent characteristics were virtue, piety, and integrity.

Facts for this article came from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp 59-62.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

No Government Employees

The topic for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.6.2, "No person employed in the United States government may at the same time serve as a Senator or member of the House of Representatives." This provision was carried over from Article V of the Articles of Confederation and guaranteed that American citizens would have representatives independent of both the executive and judicial branches of government. This constitutional principle prevents and/or minimizes bribery, corruption, and intrigues.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


God has spoken to His prophets since the time of Adam and continues to speak to His prophets in our day. In fact, the prophet Amos said, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). Through Joseph Smith, this statement was corrected to read, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing until he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (JST Amos 3:7) (emphasis added). From these two statements, we learn that God always warns His people through a prophet before He does anything affecting His children.

Adam was a prophet who walked and talked with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were cast out of the Garden of Eden, God continued to instruct them by revelation through the Holy Ghost.

God spoke to Noah and instructed him to cry repentance to the people, and Noah preached to the people for 120 years before the Flood came. God also told Noah how to build the ark. Noah followed God's instructions and was able to save his family and some animals from the Flood.

God spoke to Enoch and instructed him to call his people to repentance. Enoch and his people built the city of Zion and became so righteous that the entire city of Zion was translated and taken into heaven.

God spoke to Moses and instructed him to take the Israelites out of Egypt. By following God's instructions, Moses led thousands, maybe millions, of people out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land.

God spoke to Lehi 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ and warned him to take his family and flee out of Jerusalem because the city was going to be destroyed. Lehi was obedient and took his family to the American continents.

God spoke to Nephi, the son of Lehi, and he became a great leader. He and those prophets who came after him left many important writings in the Book of Mormon.

The mission of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. According to Jesus Christ, there were no prophets greater than John.

Joseph Smith was a modern-day prophet who translated the Book of Mormon, organized the Lord's Church once again on earth,and laid the foundation to prepare the people in our day for the Second Coming of Christ.

The Lord's prophet for all the people on earth today is Thomas S. Monson, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a prophet, seer, and revelator. He is assisted by fourteen other men who are the two Counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Council of Twelve Apostles.

A prophet is a man that has been called by God to be His spokesman on earth. When a man speaks for God, it is as though God himself were speaking. A prophet testifies of Jesus Christ as His special witness and teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. A prophet explains or interprets the word of God and teaches His truth. He calls all sinners to repentance. He receives directions, instructions, and other revelations from God to bless all mankind. He can see into the future and know of events to come in order to warn the world. How grateful I am to know that God does speak to His children and that He does so through His prophets.

A prophet may be old or young. He may be uneducated or highly trained. He may be an engineer, a doctor, a farmer or a businessman. He does not look like the prophets of old with long beards, tunics, and staffs. Modern day prophets look like businessmen with their suits, briefcases, and Blackberries. A true prophet can be identified because he is always chosen by God and called through proper priesthood authority.

Many people are able to believe in the prophets of old but do not believe in prophets today. Heavenly Father always works through His prophets on earth. We need prophets today to help us with today's problems. The information that God gave to Noah on how to survive the Flood or to Moses about leading the Israelites to the Promised Land will not help us to know what we need to do today. God always reveals to the living prophet whatever He wants his people to know. I know that the Lord speaks to his prophet today and tells him what we need to survive these troubled times.

Our duty is to pray for the prophet and to pay attention when he speaks. We should be completely obedient to his teachings. When we follow the prophet obediently, blessings flow down from heaven.

I know we have a prophet on earth today, even Thomas S. Monson. I have received many blessings through following the counsel of prophets and am always anxious to hear the counsel given by the living prophet. President Monson, our current prophet, recently reminded us of the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17. As Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. He was met by ten lepers who called to Him to have mercy on them. When He saw them, He told them to go to the priests. As they went, they were healed of their leprosy. One of them, a Samaritan, turned back to thank Jesus for the healing. "And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? … Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole."

President Monson added, "Through divine intervention those who were lepers were spared from a cruel, lingering death and given a new lease on life. The expressed gratitude by one merited the Master's blessing; the ingratitude shown by the nine, His disappointment.

"My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God's love."

President Monson then quoted the late prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley as saying: (Whenever a prophet quotes another prophet, we need to pay particular attention because it means that the information is very important.) "When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives."

President Monson added, "A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort - at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude. Often we feel grateful and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don't get around to it. Someone has said that `feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."

President Monson summarized his thoughts, "My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven." (See Ensign, Nov 2010, pp 87-90.)

I thank God everyday that He has a prophet on earth today to guide us through these troubled days.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Principles and Morals

Families are strengthened when correct principles and good morals are taught, and parents can use stories, fables, and personal experiences to illustrate the principle or moral being taught. Children remember principles and morals better when they understand how to apply the teachings in their lives.

One of the stories included in Aesop's Fables is about an ant and a grasshopper. The ant worked hard all summer gathering food and preparing for winter. The grasshopper didn't think there was any reason to worry about winter when the sun was shining. The summer ended, and winter came. The grasshopper was dying from hunger when he noticed ants "distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer." Aesop concluded with this moral: "It is best to prepare for the days of necessity."
Of course, this fable would only work to teach children living in a free society where people are responsible to meet their own needs. In a Communist or socialist society, the ant's food would be taken from him and redistributed to the grasshopper.

Another story included in Aesop's Fables is about a goose that laid golden eggs. One morning when a "countryman" went to gather eggs, he found a solid gold egg in the goose's nest. Every morning he found a golden egg in the nest, and he grew rich by selling his eggs. He became greedy and didn't want to wait for the eggs so he killed the goose in order to get all the eggs at once. There were no golden eggs inside the goose, and the goose was dead. Moral: "Greed oft o'er reaches itself." In other words, don't get greedy or you might not have anything!

A story that teaches the importance of honesty is about a boy who called "wolf" too many times. The boy was hired to watch the villagers' sheep and was told that he only had to yell "wolf" for them to come running. One day while he was out with the sheep, he decided to test the "response system" and yelled "wolf!" The villagers came running to fight the wolf and were a little upset that the boy had misused the system. He thought it was exciting to see the villagers come running and yelled "wolf" again. Sure enough, the villagers came running again and were angry at the boy. The next time the boy yelled "wolf," the villagers hesitated but finally ran to help. The boy kept abusing the system, and the villagers grew tired of answering his calls. Then a real wolf came and started to attack the sheep. The boy called "wolf," and the villagers did not come. The boy called "wolf" again, and the villagers did not come. Eventually, someone came and found the sheep all dead. The boy wanted to know why no one came to help when he yelled "wolf" and was saddened to learn that the villagers couldn't tell the difference between a real call for help and the fake ones. Moral: If we want people to believe us when we say something, we have to always be honest.

One of Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales is about an emperor's new clothes. The emperor was so self-centered and materialistic that he could only think about his clothes and could usually be found in his dressing room. One day two swindlers came to town and "made people believe that they were weavers, and declared they could manufacture the finest cloth to be imagined. Their colours and patterns… were not only exceptionally beautiful, but the clothes made of their material possessed the wonderful quality of being invisible to any man who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid."
The emperor hired the two swindlers, and the swindlers proceeded with the project. They ordered the finest of silks and gold cloth and asked for money to buy necessary supplies; they pocketed the money and discarded the materials. Then they pretended to manufacture fabric for the emperor's new clothes. Several people observed the manufacturing process but didn't see any fabric. They didn't want people to think they were stupid or unfit for their office so they pretended to see the fabric and exclaimed about its beauty. Even the emperor went to see the fabric and pretended to see it. Eventually the day came when the emperor's new clothes were finished, and the emperor went with his attendants to receive them. None of the people could see the clothes, but all of them pretended to see them. The attendants all advised the emperor to wear the clothes in a great procession in order that everyone in town could see his new clothes.
The swindlers pretended to hold up the new clothes, the emperor pretended to dress, the chamberlains pretended to pick up the train, etc. All the adults in the town exclaimed about the emperor's beautiful clothes, but a little child was the only honest person in town. He cried out, "But he has nothing on at all." Once someone actually admitted that there was nothing there, everyone felt safe to agree. One by one the people were brave enough to join the child in saying, "But he has nothing on at all."
This story shows how bad it is to be politically correct and how important it is to have someone that is unwilling to just pretend. It also depicts the importance of not being so materialistic that we become fools.

Parents can choose from among many stories and fables to help teach correct principles and good morals. Families grow stronger as they learn, understand, and adopt correct principles and good morals.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Know Your Enemy

The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is the importance of knowing as much as possible about the enemy because we are engaged in a great war between good and evil. There is much unrest across the world but mainly in the Middle East and northern Africa, and there are protesters marching in many of the capital cities of the United States. Much of the unrest shown by the foreign crowds as well as members of employee unions is actually being encouraged and supported by Communists, socialists and radical Islamists who have stated their goal to be destruction of the American way of life.

It is important that we know our enemy because knowledge is power. It is not enough for those who are currently in leadership positions to know the enemy because individual citizens need to study and learn as much as possible in order to stay on the side of truth and right. All Americans need to study about Communists, socialists, radicals, Islamists, etc. in order to be able to avoid deception and go over to the "dark side."

One of the best ways to gather information and gain knowledge is a personal study of books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc. As part of my self-education, I recently read Red Horizons: Chronicles of A Communist Spy Chief by Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa. I am currently reading a second book by General Pacepa entitled Programmed To Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination.

General Pacepa was the former chief of the DIE (the Romanian equivalent of the CIA or the KGB), and he worked very closely with the Communist regime of Romania's President Nicolae Ceausescu. General Pacepa is one of the highest ranking officials of the Soviet bloc countries to ever defect, and his defection to America caused the entire DIE operation to collapse. By the time General Pacepa arrived in America, he had a brand new name and identity. General Pacepa was debriefed daily for three years by the CIA/FBI to glean the information he had to offer. Romanian attempts to locate and destroy General Pacepa continue to surface periodically.

In his introduction to Red Horizons, Pacepa wrote: "With the passage of time, however, I have come to understand that the nature and purpose of devious Communist influence operations are often incomprehensible to the Western mentality….
"It took me many years before I could look back on my previous boss and his Communist system with the eyes of an American. It took me even longer to realize that individual Communist influence operations are not particularly worrisome to a Westerner unless he can visualize the whole, three-dimensional setting in which they occur. This book represents an attempt to provide that setting, in the form of a diary covering several weeks in 1978 when I was constantly at Ceausescu's side. It contains the story of my day-to-day life with a Communist leader who, during more than 20 years of absolute power, has built the most orthodox Marxist domestic policy in Eastern Europe and has clearly designated democracy as his number one enemy…" (xvi-xvii).

General Pacepa reveals the ruthlessness and depravity of Ceausescu as well as the depth of Romania's and other Communist country's involvement in international terrorism. This book reveals that PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Libya's Colonel Gadhafi are some of Ceausescu's closest allies and that Romania. "Pacepa recounts Ceausescu's chilly relationship with [Russia's] Leonid Breznev, his brilliant manipulation of Jordan's King Hussein and maniacal contempt for Jimmy Carter" (front jacket).

Red Horizons describes how Romania maintains an unbelievable, worldwide, network of spies and "agents of influence." These spies and agents range from ambassadors to archbishops in America, and they hold positions in our government. It also details the surveillance under which every citizen in Romania is subjected to and how the most private conversations and intimated acts are recorded and revealed to government leaders. I was shocked to read that every building in the nation is bugged and monitored. All the property in Romania is owned by the government and nearly all rooms are bugged. Public buildings are also bugged. Centerpieces in restaurants hold microphones so that the government can listen in on conversations. In an effort to control Romanian citizens, the government wants to know what every person in the country thinks, says and does. In order to completely control Romanians, Ceausescu ordered handwriting samples from the entire population (including children), licensing of typewriters, and the decree that every Romanian family have four children. (See back cover.) Ceausescu was able to control his citizens because he knew everything that was happening. If anyone got too far out of line, they would simply disappear.

I am currently in the process of reading Programmed to Kill. I remember well the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and the concern I felt about why he was killed and who was really behind the murder. I selected this book because I wanted to learn more about what happened. After reading Red Horizons and gaining a little insight into how the Communist countries operate, I have found this book very interesting also.

General Pacepa had direct knowledge of the connection between the KGB and Lee Harvey Oswald, and he spent fifteen years as part of the Communist intelligence effort of casting the blame for the death of President Kennedy on someone in the United States. Communist propaganda pointed fingers at President Lyndon B. Johnson, CIA, mafia, and others.

This book is about how General Pacepa examined "the documents on the Kennedy assassination published by the U.S. government, to see if I could find facts to support what I knew from Romania. As I tried to sift the wheat from the chaff in going through the stacks of reports, I became increasingly fascinated by the wealth of Soviet operational patterns visible throughout the material on Oswald that had been turned up by U.S. government investigators - who had not recognized them as such, owing to their lack of an insider's familiarity with Soviet intelligence operations" (p xiii).

Pacepa's investigation of the Kennedy assassination took a back seat to his efforts to rid Romania of Ceausescu and protect his daughter, but he eventually embarked on the project, which took many years. "… when I finished I was amazed at the wealth of information that dovetailed with Soviet operational patterns. In fact it was a perfect fit - to a point. As I will demonstrate, everything suggests the Soviet recruitment of Oswald when he was assigned as a young Marine in Japan. In the available documents I also uncovered clear evidence that his mission upon his return to the United States was to assassinate President Kennedy…." (xiv).

Since I always like to know the "why" of any situation, I was very much interested in General Pacepa's explanation for a motive as to why the USSR wanted President Kennedy dead. He revealed that Moscow was afraid that Richard Nixon would continue the Eisenhower policies and so the "Soviet propaganda machinery let the world believe that the handsome young Kennedy would bring fresh air into the tense standoff between the two countries" (xvii). Khrushchev was so pleased with the election of Kennedy in 1960 that he released two American reconnaissance pilots. Khrushchev was not so pleased when Kennedy insisted in 1961 that "the freedom of West Berlin was not negotiable" and started "a rapid buildup of American combat troops in Europe. Khrushchev was forced to erect the Berlin Wall" (xvii-xviii).

Khrushchev was humiliated by Kennedy again in the Bay of Pigs incident when the USSR was forced to withdraw nuclear missiles from Cuba in 1962. Pacepa wrote that Khrushchev had the "habit of solving political matters through political assassinations…" (xxii); therefore, it seems plausible that he would order the assassination of Kennedy. Oswald was trained and dispatched, but other circumstances forced Khrushchev to cancel the orders. Oswald went ahead with the plan and completed the mission, probably hoping for a hero's welcome in the USSR. Pacepa found evidence that Oswald was planning to return to Moscow after completing the job and had requested a reentry visa to return to the Soviet Union. Moscow was afraid that Oswald would reveal the Communist plan and therefore arranged to silence him forever. That is where Jack Ruby, another Communist agent, came into the picture.

Pacepa found Communist fingerprints all over the assassination of John F. Kennedy even though the Warren Commission and a House of Representatives investigation failed to do so. He also states that both the USSR and the United States "were vitally interested in hiding the truth" (front jacket flap). It seems that the USSR wanted to avoid a nuclear war, and President Johnson was interested in being elected to a term of his own.

I found both of these books fascinating in the details of how easily foreign nations can obtain information, technology, and recognition from the United States and how gullible and easy to fool Americans are. Both of these books are good examples of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. They also give a good understanding of how socialists, communists, and radical Islamists work to destroy our democratic republic. I gained an even greater appreciation and gratitude for the freedoms I enjoy from these books.