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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Interesting Information

                At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, some Palestinian terrorists from a group known as Black September took eleven Israeli athletes and coaches hostage and killed them.  When Jim McKay, an ABC sportscaster, got the news, he reported it in a “simple, unadorned way.”  “When I was a kid, my father used to say, `Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized.’  Our worst fears have been realized tonight.  They have now said there were eleven hostages; two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight [in a botched rescue attempt].  They’re all gone.”  The story is told in a movie entitled “Munich.”

                The terrorist attack was an attempt to force Israel to release 234 Palestinian prisoners.   “Five of the eight terrorists were killed by police officers during a failed rescue attempt.  The three surviving attackers were captured, but later released by West Germany following the hijacking of a Lufthansa airliner.  Israel responded to the killers’ release with Operation `Spring of Youth’ and Operation `Wrath of God,’ during which Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and special forces systematically tracked down and killed Palestinians suspected of involvement in the massacre.”

                Juval (Yuval) Aviv  apparently was in charge of the revenge operations.  He is “an Israeli-American security consultant and writer.  He may be best known for his work with Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, and for having conducted the counter-terrorist operations as detailed by George Jonas in his novel, Vengeance:  The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team (1984).  Since 2003, Aviv has published four books related to security, two of which address notable mysteries.  He writes under the nom-de-plume of Sam Green.
                “Vengeance was adapted twice as films, which attracted considerable attention to Aviv and his role with Mossad….”

                An interesting email is making the rounds about Juval Aviv and his predictions about future but imminent terrorist attacks on the United States.  According to these claims are not true.  Aviv was however probably involved in the revenge attacks as a member of Mossad.  

                A good history lesson could be learned from watching the movie about the terrorist attack (“Munich”) and the 1986 TV movie Sword of Gideon based on Vengeance. The entire experience illustrates why those who hate Jews should learn that nobody messes with Israel and prospers.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Walter Whitman

                Walter “Walt” Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 in West Hills, Town of Huntington, Long Island, New York.  His parents were Walter and Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and followed the Quaker beliefs.  Walter was called Walt in order to distinguish him from his father.  He was the second of nine children and one of seven sons. 

                Walt was four years old when the family moved from West Hills to Brooklyn; they moved numerous times due to bad investments.  “Whitman looked back on his childhood as generally restless and unhappy, given his family’s difficult economic status.  One happy moment that he later recalled was when he was lifted in the air and kissed on the cheek by the Marquis de Lafayette during a celebration in Brooklyn on July 4, 1825.”

                Whitman finished his formal schooling at age 11 and then sought employment in order to help his family financially.  He worked as an office boy for two attorneys; he then worked as an apprentice and printer’s devil at the Patriot, a newspaper edited by Samuel E. Clements in Long Island, and learned about setting type and printing.  He worked for another printer the next year.  

                Whitman was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and a volunteer nurse during the Civil War.  He also began publishing his poetry.  He was a “humanist” and “was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works.  Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse….
                “… Early in his career, he also produced a temperance novel, Franklin Evans (1842).  Whitman’s major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money.  The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic.  He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892.  After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined.  He died at age 72 on March 26, 1892, in Camden, New Jersey."

                The source said that “His funeral became a public spectacle” but gave no reason why.  It may have been sexuality (homosexual or bisexual?) or his politics (opposition to slavery) or his writings.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Not Between States

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution:  “The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.”  This provision means that citizens cannot be sued by the citizens of another state.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “When the nation was younger the states were militantly alert to protect themselves from any intrusion by the federal government.  Under the principle of dual sovereignty, the states maintained that they should decide whether or not they would allow themselves to be sued, just as the United States can be sued only with its consent.  Therefore, when a citizen of South Carolina tried to sue the state of Georgia, and used the federal courts as a judicial arena in which to settle the matter, the state of Georgia felt that it was being forced into a suit without its consent. All of the states were very nervous about the situation because many of them were under heavy financial embarrassment following the ravages of inflation in the post-Revolutionary period and many of them were deeply in debt.
                “Two days after the decision in this case, a resolution was offered in Congress designed to amend the Constitution so that there would be no cases like this in the future.  However, this amendment did not actually take effect until five years later – January 8, 1798.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 713-714.)

                Ernest A. Young of The Heritage Foundation gave further explanation:  “The Eleventh Amendment was ratified in 1795 as a response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793).  Chisholm had held that the federal courts could hear suits by individuals against state governments for money damages, notwithstanding the sovereign immunity that the states had traditionally enjoyed.  The resulting furor – based largely on concerns that the states would be held accountable for their Revolutionary War debts – gave rise in 1795 to the ratification of the Eleventh Amendment, which established a fairy narrow textual bar to jurisdiction in cases like Chisholm itself.  Chisholm was the first major constitutional decision of the new Curt, and the Eleventh Amendment reversed it, eight years before Marbury v. Madison (1803).

                “The notion of sovereign immunity predates the Eleventh Amendment, having its origins in the English common law as well as from political theorists such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean Bodin.  The Framers were clearly aware of the traditional doctrine that the states were immune from private lawsuits as sovereign entities, and some Anti-Federalists feared that Article III, Section 1, of the Constitution – which declares that the federal judicial power extends to suits `between a State and Citizens of another State’ – would override that doctrine.  Several key Framers – including Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Marshall – are on record denying that the Constitution would, of its own force, deprive the states of this immunity.  The more difficult questions are ones that the Framers did not confront directly:  Did the states’ immunity apply in suits based on federal law, as opposed to the state common-law claim relied upon in Chisholm?  And was that immunity constitutional in stature, or could Congress abrogate it? …” (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 375.)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rule of Law

                The rule of law is essential for order, peace, and happiness.  The heavens and the earth conform to certain laws; nations, states, communities, businesses, and families operate by law.  Where there is no law, there is chaos and confusion.

                What is meant by “rule of law?”  It means that everyone is subject to the law; it means that everyone - famous or infamous, powerful or powerless, important or not – must abide by law.  The rule of law is the power that protects liberties and brings about justice for all. 

                The Kingdom of God is governed by law, and God governs the universe by law.  Because God governs the entire universe by law, the planets, sun, moon, stars must obey the law.  The earth is governed by laws that bring order to all inhabitants.  Laws cause the seasons to rotate; laws cause night to follow day.  Laws control the animals and plants. 

                “All kingdoms have a law given;
                “And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.
                “And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.
                “All being who abide not in those conditions are not justified” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:36-39).

                President Joseph Fielding Smith commented on the above statement:  “This truth is self-evident.  Thus, it is only reasonable that we should expect the kingdom of God to be governed by law and all who desire to enter there to be subject to the law.  `Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:8).
                “The Lord has given to man a code of laws that we call the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Due to lack of inspiration and spiritual guidance, men may differ in relation to these laws and their application, but there can hardly be a dispute in regard to the fact that such laws to exist, and that all who seek entrance into that kingdom are subject to them.
                “We have every truth, every doctrine, every law and requirement, every performance and ordinance needed to save and exalt us in the highest heaven of the celestial world” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 230-231).

                Obedience to law brings blessings to mankind.  Mankind must learn to obey the laws and commandments of God in order to qualify to spend eternity in the Kingdom of God.  People learn to obey laws by receiving blessings for obedience and negative consequences for disobedience because every law has a blessing and a consequence.

                “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated ---
                “And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21).

                If one desires a certain blessing, one must discover the law that governs the receipt of that blessing.  If one desires good health, one must live the law of good health known as the Word of Wisdom (Doctrine and Covenants 89).  If one desires to live a virtuous life, one must obey the Law of Chastity.  If one desires the windows of heavens to open and pour down blessings, one must live the Law of Tithing.  Every blessing comes from obedience to a certain law; the lack of blessings is the negative consequences for disobedience.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Amazing Dads

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when fathers take their responsibility as dads seriously.  There are deadbeat dads and there are amazing women who rear their families without a biological father in the home; however, fathers hold a very important position in the lives of their children, a position that no one else can truly fill.

                Jonathan Decker, a licensed marriage and family counselor, suggested seven things that amazing dads do.  He included in his list many of the things that he had seen his own father do.  His seven suggestions are:   (1) Be a good man, (2) Love (and/or respect) their mother, (3) Work hard, but make regular time for your children, (4) Share your interests, but encourage your kids in theirs, (5) Influence instead of control, (6) Openly express affection, and (7) Don’t lose your playful side.

                I encourage you to read the article and learn how to be an amazing dad – because your children deserve to have an amazing father.  When fathers become amazing dads, families, communities, and nations are strengthened.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

War on Poverty

                The War on Poverty is now fifty years old.  It began during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson; he proclaimed in his State of the Union address on January 1964 “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.”

                Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield of The Heritage Foundation researched the War on Poverty:  During the past fifty years the tax payers of the United States have spent more than $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs.  These programs do not include Social Security or Medicare.  The cost of the war on poverty, adjusted for inflation, is “three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution.  Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the `causes’ rather than the mere `consequences’ of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely.  In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.”

                The poverty rate after fifty years of war is approximately the same as at the beginning of the war:  “… there has been no net progress in reducing poverty since the mid to late 1960s.  Since that time, the poverty rate has undulated slowly, falling by two to three percentage points during good economic times and rising by a similar amount when the economy slows.  Overall, the trajectory of official poverty for the past 45 years has been flat or slightly upward.”

                The federal government has more than “80 means-tested welfare programs that provided cash, food, housing, medical care, and targeted social services to poor and low-income Americans.”  The following facts were taken from various government reports:  (1) 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning while only 12 percent of all Americans in the early 1960s enjoyed air conditioning.  (2) Nearly 75 percent have a vehicle; 31 percent have two or more vehicles.  (3) Nearly 66 percent have cable or satellite television; (4) 66 percent have a DVD player and 25 percent have two or more; (5) 50 percent have a personal computer with a small percentage having two or more computers; (6) More than 50 percent of poor families with children have an Xbox or PlayStation or other video game system; (7) 43 percent have Internet access; (8) 40 percent own wide-screen plasma or LCD TEV; (8) 92 percent of poor households have a microwave. 

                Robert Rector published an article at The Daily Signal claiming the War on Poverty has been “a colossal flop.”  LBJ stated that his purpose for declaring war on poverty was “to increase self-sufficiency, the ability of a family to support itself out of poverty without dependence on welfare aid.  Johnson asserted that the War on Poverty would actually shrink the welfare rolls and transform the poor from `taxeaters’ into `taxpayers.’
                “Judged by that standard, the War on Poverty has been a colossal flop.  The welfare state has undermined self-sufficiency by discouraging work and penalizing marriage.  When the War on Poverty began seven percent of children were born outside marriage.  Today, 42 percent of children are.  By eroding marriage, the welfare state has made many Americans less capable of self-support than they were when the War on Poverty began.”

                We now have generation after generation living on welfare.  Children are growing up in single parent homes because welfare rules discourage marriage.  Young men grow up without the influence of a father in their daily lives.  The entitlement groups are demanding more and more of the money made by those who pay taxes.  When will our leaders understand that people will not work for something they can get for no effort?  As long as those who receive handouts from the government continue to live on higher levels than many of the people who actually work for their living, we will continue to have more and more people demanding entitlements.

                I believe in helping people to help themselves, such as the old adage:  “Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day.  Teach a man to fish and he can feed his own family.”  We would be wise to follow the counsel given by Benjamin Franklin:  “I am for doing good to the poor, but … I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.  I observed … that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer.  And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

                The standard of living is higher for all Americans now than it was fifty years ago, including those in poverty.  How much higher could our standard of living be if all Americans were working and paying their fair share of the costs of our society?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pray for America

                America today is in danger, possibly the greatest danger since the American Revolution.  The reason for this terrible danger is the destruction of the United States Constitution.  The Constitution – the Supreme Law – of our nation is being taken apart bit by bit.  Every time Barack Obama usurps power from the Legislative Branch or the Judiciary Branch, the Constitution suffers.  Our nation is weakened every time his Department of Justice refuses to enforce the laws of the land.

                Secret combinations are in control of our government and involve both Democrats and Republicans.  I do not know the individuals involved in the secret groups, but I do recognize their work.  The only way America will survive is for all of us to turn to God in prayer and righteousness.

                Judi McLeod of Canada Free Press encourages everyone to pray for America “because without America there is no Free World.”  She reminded us that numerous great men have prayed for protection and were blessed.  One of those great men was General George Washington who was “never afraid to get down on his knees to pray in the mud.”  One of my favorite paintings shows General Washington on his knees in the snow.  One of his prayers was written as follows.

                “O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul.
                “Direct my thoughts, words and work.  Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb, and purge my heart by the Holy Spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the everlasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life.
                “Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the Gospel.  Give me repentance from dead works.  Pardon my wanderings, & direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation.  Teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments.  Make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber.  But daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life.  Bless my family, friends & kindred, unite us all in praising & glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed Savior, who hath taught us thus to pray, our Father.”

                At least two ancient American civilizations – the Jaredites and the Nephites - were destroyed when they failed to worship Jesus Christ, stopped praying to Heavenly Father, and turned to wickedness.  (See the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Christ.)  The Bible tells us that the people were so wicked in the days of Noah that God sent a flood to wash away the wickedness.  Only Noah and his immediate family were saved.  Modern prophets and apostles have stated that the world today is nearing the great wickedness of Noah’s day.

                The great evil of barbarians in the Middle East is spreading and affecting the entire world.  ISIS/ISIL is pure evil and must be stopped if civilization as we know it is to survive.  The United States and a few other countries started making air strikes against ISIS/ISIL in Syria on Monday, September 22, 2014.  This conflict is already being referred to as World War III.  Ms. McLeod is correct in saying that we need to pray for America “because without America there is no Free World.”

                How can prayer help America?  Sincere prayer requires humility, and humility makes mankind turn to God to ask for protection.  God cannot bless us in our wickedness; His law requires that we turn to Him.

                At a similar time in ancient America, the prophet Alma told his people:  “Yea, and I say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction; yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword.
                “But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared… (Book of Mormon, Alma 10:22-23). 

                Please join Ms. McLeod, myself, and millions of other people in praying for America.  We can call down the powers of heaven to bless our nation if we will humbly bow before God and ask for His protection.  America is a powerful nation, but our nation will ultimately be saved by the power of God.  “Pray for America because without America there is no Free World.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Understanding ISIS/ISIL

                What is the deal with ISIS/ISIL?  What is the Sykes-Picot Agreement?  How much do you know about it?  I had not even heard about this agreement and so knew nothing about it until Glenn Beck did a program on it.  Glenn claims that the whole ISIL/ISIS mess can be understood better by knowing what is in the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

                Glenn used his hour-long program to explain what is really happening with ISIS and ISIL.  “Out of all of the peace accords and the cease-fires and the nonviolent pledges, none of them ever get to the root of the problem, and that is the `why.’  Until the why is addressed, the cycle of violence and hate is just going to continue.”

                Glenn showed a timeline that included the 2014 Israeli/Hamas conflict, the 2012 Gaza conflict, the Second Intifada (2000), the First Intifada, the 1968 Six Day War, and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War – and then took his timeline all the way to World War I.
                Glenn showed a map detailing the Allied Powers (U.S., Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Serbia), the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire).

                According to Glenn, his map shows the “root” of the modern-day tensions in the Middle East.  He was particularly interested in the Ottoman Empire.  “This is the last time the Arab world had a united Islamic state led by a religious leader, the Ottoman Empire, the caliphate.  … The Allies knew the Ottoman Empire could shut down key shipping routes effectively and then cripple Britain’s economy, France.  So they knew the Ottoman Empire was going to be a problem.  They had to neutralize it.

                The Ottoman Syria of 1851 encompassed the modern-day nations of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, parts of Iraq and Jordan.  These are the borders that ISIS/ISIL is trying to reestablish.  In order to divide the Ottoman Empire, Britain sent an army officer by the name of T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) to the Middle East “to convince the Arab leaders to fight against the Ottomans.”  Lawrence promised the Arabs whatever they wanted, but, according to Glenn, Great Britain did not intend to keep any of the promises.

                A new set of borders was decided by two countries – Great Britain and France – that sent representatives to lead the negotiations.  Those men were Francois Georges-Picot of France and Mark Sykes of Britain.   A secret agreement drawing up new borders - known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement - was signed on May 16, 1916, by Britain, France, and Russia.

                Glenn believes “there are five key points to keep in mind when considering the history of this conflict:  (1) The Sykes-Picot agreement, (2) The desire for a united Arab kingdom, (3) The quest to regain control of `Greater Syria,’ (4) The western desire to maintain economic control of the Middle East, [and] (5) The Jewish and Palestinian people are nothing more than pawns in this larger game.”  For more information on Glenn’s ideas, link here.

                I wanted to know more about the Sykes-Picot Agreement and found this information:  “The Sykes-Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I.  The negotiation of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916.  The agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.
                “The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of future British and French control or influence.  The terms were negotiated by the French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot and Briton Sir Mark Sykes.  The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party to the Sykes-Picot agreement, and when, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the agreement, `the British were embarrassed, the Arabs dismayed and the Turks delighted.’”

                Under the agreement, “Britain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the sea and River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and a small area including the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean.  France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and the Ottoman Armenian vilayets.  The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas.  Further negotiation was expected to determine international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers, including the Sharif of Mecca.”

                At the same time, discussions were held about the future of Palestine and the Jewish people.  Glenn explained that the Arab leaders knew they had to have a common enemy in order to consolidate power once again.  They made the Jews that enemy.  Palestinians were offered their own land in 1947 when “a two state solution was proposed with 56% of the land going to the Jews and 43% to the Arabs.  Jerusalem would be international territory….
                “The Jews accepted the deal.  All the Arabs need to do is sign on the dotted line, and the land will be theirs.  But, alas, they refuse.  Why?  Because peace with Israel means the Jewish scapegoat the Arabs were using to cultivate power suddenly goes away.
                “`If the Palestinian homeland was the goal for the Arab world, not the Palestinians, the Arab world, all they had to do was agree.  But remember, the scapegoat goes away,’ Glenn said.  `If you make peace with Israel, that all goes out the window.  So when they were presented with what they said they wanted and always wanted, the nation of their own, they said no.  And then all hell broke loose.’”  

                The whole mess is very confusing to me, but this explanation gives me a better idea of why things are happening the way they are.  Knowing about and understanding the Sykes-Picot Agreement makes the mess easier to understand for me. Of course, it will take a whole lot more studying to truly understand it – and maybe there is no one who can truly understand it!  I encourage you to learn more about this 100-year-old agreement and how it affects the world today.

Monday, September 22, 2014

John D. Rockefeller

                The VIP for this week is John Davison Rockefeller, Sr., an American business magnate and philanthropist.  Rockefeller was born on July 8, 1839 in Richford, New York.  He was the second of six children born to his parent, William Avery “Bill” Rockefeller (November 13, 1810 - May 11, 1906) and Eliza Davison (September 12, 1813 – March 28, 1889).  His siblings were Lucy (1838-1878), William Jr. (1841-1922), Mary (1843-1925), and twins Franklin (Frank) (1845-1917) and Frances (1845-12847).  His ancestry was English and German on his paternal side and Scottish and Irish on his maternal side.

                Rockefeller’s father was a lumberman before becoming a traveling salesman who claimed to be a “botanic physician” and sold elixirs.  He was mysterious and fun-loving; he was referred to by the locals as “Big Bill” and “Devil Bill.”  “He was a sworn foe of conventional morality who had opted for a vagabond existence and who returned to his family infrequently.  Throughout his life, Bill became notorious for shady schemes.  In between the births of Lucy and John, Bill and his mistress/housekeeper Nancy Brown had a daughter named Clorinda (c. 1838 - ?, died young).  Between John and William Jr.’s births, Bill and Nancy had another daughter, Cornelia (c. 1840 - ?).”

                Rockefeller’s mother was a homemaker and devout Baptist; she struggled to maintain stability at home.  “She also put up with his philandering and his double life, which included bigamy.  Thrifty by nature and necessity, she taught her son that `willful waste makes woeful want.’  Young Rockefeller did his share of the regular household chores and earned extra money raising turkeys, selling potatoes and candy, and eventually lending small sums of money to neighbors.  He followed his father’s advice to `trade dishes for platters’ and always get the better part of any deal….”

                The Rockefeller family moved to Moravia, New York, when John was a boy; in 1851 the family moved to Owego where John attended Owego Academy.  Two years later in 1853, the family moved to Strongsville, a suburb of Cleveland, where John attended Central High School.  He then studied bookkeeping at Commercial College.

                “In spite of his father’s absences and frequent family moves, young John was a well-behaved, serious, and studious boy.  His contemporaries described him as reserved, earnest, religious, methodical, and discreet.  He was an excellent debater and expressed himself precisely.  He also had a deep love of music and dreamed of it as a possible career.  Early on, he displayed an excellent mind for numbers and detailed accounting.”

                Rockefeller was sixteen when he started his first job in bookkeeping in 1855.  In 1859 he started a produce commission business with a partner and raised $4,000 in capital.  In 1870 he co-founded Standard Oil with his brother William and several other men.  Standard Oil “dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust.  Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry, and along with other key contemporary industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie, defined the structure of modern philanthropy.  He actively ran Standard Oil until he officially retired in 1897.  He “became the world’s richest man and the first American worth more than a billion dollars.  Adjusting for inflation, he is often regarded as the richest person in history.”

                Rockefeller retired to his estate, Kykuit, in Westchester County, New York, and spent the last forty years of his life in retirement.  He used his fortune “to create the modern systematic approach of targeted philanthropy.  He was able to do this through the creation of foundations that had a major effect on medicine, education and scientific research.  His foundations pioneered the development of medical research and were instrumental in the eradication of hookworm and yellow fever.”

                Rockefeller founded two universities (University of Chicago and Rockefeller University) and funded the establishment of Central Philippine University in the Philippines.  As a devoted Northern Baptist, he “supported many church-based institutions.”  He totally abstained from alcohol and tobacco throughout his life.  He taught Sunday School at the Erie Street Baptist Mission Church where he also served as a trustee, clerk, and occasional janitor.
                “Religion was a guiding force throughout his life, and Rockefeller believed it to be the source of his success.  Rockefeller was also considered a supporter of capitalism based in a perspective of social Darwinism, and is often quoted saying `The growth of a large business is merely a survival of the fittest.’

                Rockefeller married Laura Celestia “Cettie” Spelman (1839-1915) in 1864.  She was the daughter of Harvey Buell Spelman and Lucy Henry.    He credited his wife with this statement:  “Her judgment was always better than mine.  Without her keen advice, I would be a poor man.”  The couple had four daughters and one son together:  Elizabeth “Bessie” Rockefeller (August 23, 1866 – November 14, 1906), Alice Rockefeller (July 14, 1869 – August 20, 1870), Alta Rockefeller (April 12, 1871 – June 21, 1962), Edith Rockefeller (August 31, 1872 – August 25, 1932), and John Davison Rockefeller, Jr. (January 29, 1874 – May 11, 1960).

                The wealth of the Rockefeller family was distributed through a system of foundations and trusts; it continued to fund the family interests throughout the 20th century.  David Rockefeller, the youngest son of John Jr., served for more than 20 years as CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank (now part of JP Morgan Chase).  Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, second son of John Jr., was the Republican governor of New York and the 41st Vice President of the United States.  The fourth son Winthrop Aldrich Rockefeller served as Republican Governor of Arkansas.  Rockefeller’s grandchildren followed in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents as politicians, philanthropists, and conservationists.

                “In his 50s Rockefeller suffered from moderate depression and digestive troubles and, during a stressful period in the 1890s, developed alopecia, a condition that causes the loss of some or all body hair.  By 1901 he did not have a hair on his body, and he began wearing wigs.  The hair never grew back, but his other health complaints subsided as he lightened his workload.”

                Rockefeller died on May 23, 1937, at The Casements, his home in Ormond Beach, Florida, of arteriosclerosis at age 97.  His death came less than two months before his 98th birthday.  He was buried in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

States' Powers

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution:  “All powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  The people and the states have the right to all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government or prohibited by the Constitution to be exercised by the states.

                W. Cleon Skousen stated, “This provision was designed to protect states’ rights as well as the rights of individual citizens.  Each sovereign state retained unto itself all powers that had not been given to the national government.  Unfortunately, with the passing of the Seventeenth Amendment (wherein Senators are elected by popular vote rather than being appointed by the state legislatures), the states lost the right to be represented in the Senate, where they had held a veto power over any legislation which violated states’ rights.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 712-713.)

                Charles Cooper of The Heritage Foundation explained:  “The Tenth Amendment expresses the principle that undergirds the entire plan of the original Constitution:  the national government possesses only those powers delegated to it.  The Framers of the Tenth Amendment had two purposes in mind when they drafted it.  The first was a necessary rule of construction.  The second was to reaffirm the nature of the federal system.

                “Because the Constitution created a government of limited and enumerated powers, the Framers initially believed that a bill of rights was not only unnecessary, but also potentially dangerous.  State constitutions recognized a general legislative power in the state governments; hence, limits in the form of state bills of rights were necessary to guard individual rights against the excess of governmental power.  The Constitution, however, conferred only the limited powers that were listed or enumerated in the federal Constitution.  Because the federal government could not reach objects not granted to it, the Federalist originally argued, there was no need for a federal bill of rights.  Further, the Federalists insisted that, under the normal rules of statutory construction, by forbidding the government from acting in certain areas, a bill of rights necessarily implied that the government could act in all other areas not forbidden to it.  That would change the federal government from one of limited powers to one, like the states, of general legislative powers.

                “The Federalists relented and passed the Bill of Rights in the First Congress only after making certain that no such implication could arise from the prohibitions of the Bill of Rights.  Hence, the Tenth Amendment – a rule of construction that warns against interpreting the other amendments in the Bill of Rights to imply powers in the national government that were not granted by the original document.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 371.)

Saturday, September 20, 2014


                What does the word preparedness mean to you?  I believe there are as many ideas on preparedness as there are people.  Merriam-Webster defined preparedness as “the fact of being ready for something; the state of being prepared.”  

                Wikepedia described preparedness as referring “to a very concrete research based set of actions that are taken as precautionary measures in the face of potential disasters.  These actions can include both physical preparations (such as emergency supplies depots, adapting buildings to survive earthquakes and so on) and trainings for emergency action.  Preparedness is an important quality in achieving goals and in avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes.  There are different types of preparedness (i.e., Snow Preparedness Teams – SPT), but probably the most developed type is ‘Disaster Preparedness’, defined by the UN as involving ‘forecasting and taking precautionary measures prior to an imminent threat when advance warnings are possible’.  This includes not only natural disasters, but all kinds of severe damage caused in a relatively short period, including warfare.  Preparedness is a major phase of emergency management, and is particularly valued in areas of competition such as sport and military science.
                “Methods of preparation include research, estimation, planning, resourcing, education, education, practicing and rehearsing.”

                President Thomas S. Monson  counseled members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:  “We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt.  Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had a supply of food and clothing and were debt-free.  Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse:  they have a supply of debt and are food-free….
                “Are we prepared for the emergencies in our lives?  Are our skills perfected?  Do we live providently?  Do we have our reserve supply on hand?  Are we obedient to the commandments of God?  Are we responsive to the teachings of prophets?  Are we prepared to give of our substance to the poor, the needy?  Are we square with the Lord?
                “We live in turbulent times.  Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties.  When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.”

                To me, preparedness means the practice of being prepared for whatever may happen.  When I think of preparedness, I think of preparing for bad days, such as saving for a “rainy day” or having some extra food in the house.

                I recently had an opportunity to take advantage of practicing preparedness.  Some cousins came to spend the night with us, arriving about midnight and planning to catch a bus to Whittier at 1:00 the next afternoon.  We planned to eat breakfast at Village Inn in order to have more time for all of us to visit together. 

                Before we could leave the house we learned that our guests needed to check in for their cruise at 11:00 instead of 1:00; I realized that we had no time to go out to eat.  I immediately inventoried what I could serve our guests.  I had enough eggs for scrambled eggs.  I also had some pancake mix to make some pancakes.  I had a choice between ham and sausage.  I had fruit and fruit juice.  It turned out to be a wonderful breakfast and was put together within just a few minutes. 

                We used the extra time to show our guests some of the sights in Anchorage.  We showed them the Anchorage Alaska Temple, the large chocolate (water) fall at the Wild Berry store.  We drove around Lake Hood and showed them our airplane.  We showed them Earthquake Park and how Cook Inlet wraps three-quarters of the way around Anchorage.  We even had some time for them to do some souvenir shopping.  The fact that I was prepared to serve breakfast unexpectedly made our day so much nicer than it might have been if we had tried to eat out.

                Prophets have counseled members of the Church to practice preparedness since our pioneer ancestors crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.  Brigham Young (1801-77):  “If you are without bread, how much wisdom can you boast and of what real utility are your talents, if you cannot procure for yourselves and save against a day of scarcity those substances designed to sustain your natural lives?” (Deseret News, July 18, 1860, 153).

                Wilford Woodruff (1807-98):  “We feel led to caution the Latter-day Saints against forming the bad habit of incurring debt and taking upon themselves obligations which frequently burden them heavier than they can bear, and lead to the loss of their homes and other possessions.  … Our business should be done, as much as possible, on the principle of paying for that which we purchase, and our needs should be brought within the limit of our resources” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Wilford Woodruff [2004], 232-33).

                George Albert Smith (1870-1951):  “How on the face of the earth could a man enjoy his religion when he had been told by the Lord how to prepare for a day of famine, when instead of doing so he had fooled away that which would have sustained him and his family” (Deseret News, Mar. 4, 1868, 26).

                Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972):  “[The pioneers] were taught by their leaders to produce, as far as possible, all that they consumed, and to be frugal and not wasteful of their substance.  This is still excellent counsel” (“The Pioneer Spirit,” Improvement Era, July 1970, 3).

                Harold B. Lee (1899-1973):  “We expect the individual to do all he can to help himself, whether it be an emergency for a single family or for a whole community, that the relatives will do all they can to help, then the Church steps in with commodities from the storehouse, with fast offerings to meet their needs that commodities from the storehouse will not supply, and finally, the Relief Society and the priesthood quorums will assist with rehabilitation” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Harold B. Lee [2000], 171).

                Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985):  “We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property.  Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees – plant them if your climate is right for their growth.  Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard.  Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters.  … Make your garden as neat and attractive as well as productive.  If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities” (“Family Preparedness,” Ensign, May 1976, 124).

                Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994):  “The revelation to store food may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah” (“Prepare Ye,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 69).

                Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008):  “The best place to have some food set aside is within our homes, together with a little money in savings.  The best welfare program is our own welfare program.  Five or six cans of wheat in the home are better than a bushel in the welfare granary.  …
                “We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months.  I am speaking now of food to cover basic needs” (“To Men of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 58).

                We are encouraged by Church and civic leaders to have food in our homes. We should begin with obtaining food we can immediately access – food that does not need cooking or refrigeration – enough to last from three days to a week.  We should then obtain more food as quickly as possible, enough to last for at least a year – and do so without going in debt for it.  We should also obtain enough clothes to last a year and also fuel if at all possible.  The goal is to be prepared to remain independent of other people, the Church, and the government.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sacred Duty

                We must all understand that strengthening families is the sacred duty of all of us.  The breakdown in our society, such as fatherless homes, children running in gangs, lack of respect for authority figures, etc., is the result of lack of strength in our families. 

                Did you know there is “a nationally and internationally recognized parenting and family strengthening program for high-risk and regular families”?  The program is “Strengthening Families Program (SFP).  It “is an evidence-based family skills training program found to significantly reduce problem behaviors, delinquency, and alcohol and drug abuse in children and to improve social competencies and school performance.  Child maltreatment also decreases as parents strengthen bonds with their children and learn more effective parenting skills.”  You can learn more about this program here.

                If you are interested in the Lord’s program for strengthening families, I suggest that you read and/or listen to a talk given by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  It can be found here.  

                Elder Hales explained in his talk why strengthening “families is our sacred duty as parents, children, extended family members, leaders, teachers and individual members of the Church” and suggested some things we can do to strengthen families.
                “The importance of spiritually strengthening families is taught clearly in the scriptures.  Father Adam and Mother Eve taught their sons and daughters the gospel.  The sacrifices of Abel were accepted by the Lord, whom he loved.  Cain, on the other hand, `loved Satan more than God’ and committed serious sins.  Adam and Eve `mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren,’ but they never ceased to teach their children the gospel (see Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:12, 18, 20, 27; Moses 6:1, 58).
                “We must understand that each of our children comes with varying gifts and talents.  Some, like Abel, seem to be given gifts of faith at birth.  Others struggle with every decision they make.  As parents, we should never let the searching and struggling of our children make us waver or lose our faith in the Lord.”

                In February 1999 the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a call to all parents “to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church.  The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility.”
                In the letter, “the First Presidency taught that by teaching and rearing children in gospel principles parents can protect their families from corrosive elements.  They further counseled parents and children `to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities.  However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform’ (First Presidency letter, 11 Feb. 1999; cited in Church News, 27 Feb. 1999, 3; quoted by Elder Hales).

                Elder Hales stated that the “key to strengthening our families is having the Spirit of the Lord come into our homes.  The goal of our families is to be on the strait and narrow path.”  He then listed many things families can do “within the walls of our homes to strengthen the family” and ideas to help identify problem areas.  A few of his ideas are as follow:

                (1)   “Make our homes a safe place where each family member feels love and a sense of belonging….”

                (2)   “Remember, `a soft answer turneth away wrath’ (Proverbs 15:1)….

                (3)   “Spend individual time with our children, letting them choose the activity and the subject of conversation.  Block out distractions.

                (4)   “Encourage our children’s private religious behavior, such as personal prayer, personal scripture study, and fasting for specific needs.  Measure their spiritual growth by observing their demeanor, language, and conduct toward others.”

                (5)   “Pray daily with our children.”

                (6)   “Read the scriptures together….  Read the words of the living prophets and other inspiring articles” for their age groups.

                (7)   “Fill our homes with the sound of worthy music as we sing together from the hymnbook and the Children’s Songbook.

                (8)   “Hold family home evening every week….”

                (9)   “Hold family councils to discuss family plans and concerns” either as a group or individually.”   

                (10) “Eat together when possible and have meaningful mealtime discussions.”

                (11) “Work together as a family….”

                (12) “Build family traditions.”

                Elder Hales listed many more ideas to strengthen families and then encouraged us to “listen to the prophet’s voice and set in order our own homes (Doctrine and Covenants 93:41-49).  The family is strengthened as we draw near to the Lord, and each member of the family is strengthened as we lift and strengthen and love and care for one another….
                “May we be able to welcome and maintain the Spirit of the Lord in our homes to strengthen our families….”

                I suggest that you try the Lord’s way first and save time.  The Lord knows what the problems are and how to solve them; He reveals this knowledge to prophets and apostles such as Elder Hales.  I know the Lord’s way works.  I know we can strengthen our families by bringing the Spirit of God into our homes and keeping Him there.