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, August 31, 2017

Freedom from Hatred

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that people from all walks of life can work together without any sign of hatred. Hurricane Harvey roared into Texas on Friday bringing devastating results to millions of people in Houston and surrounding areas. Many Texans did not wait for any government agency to bring rescue parties.

            Neighbors helped neighbors, and strangers rescued strangers. Citizen volunteers have become heroes. Just as police and fire fighters take time to come to the rescue in ordinary times, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) cannot immediately be there to help in emergency situations. William Long, the head of FEMA, stressed prior to the arrival of Harvey that people need to be prepared to help themselves and each other. He said, “People need to be the help before the help arrives.” Texas has shown the nation and the world how to do it.

            Genevieve Wood, Senior Contributor at The Daily Signal as well as a Texan, reports on the circumstances in Houston and shares the following insights on the situation.

There is no telling how many lives have been saved because countless individuals took it upon themselves to wade through streets searching for family, friends, and strangers trapped by rising flood waters, using their personal boats, kayaks, and jet skis to reach people rescue workers could not, and opening up their homes to those who had nowhere to go.

Remarkably, much of the major news media almost seems shocked by all the Good Samaritan stories coming out of Houston and other communities in southeast Texas rocked by the storm….

What we’ve witnessed in Texas is the best of America. People from different cultural and economic and racial backgrounds coming together to demonstrate that all lives matter and showing through actions, not protests, what it looks like to love they neighbor.

            Even though disasters like Harvey are never welcome, Texans stood up and faced the situation. They did what needed to be done when it needed to be done. They became the rescuers rather than waiting to be rescued. They showed us that people from all walks of life can work together for the greater good. Well done, Texas!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Liberals' Aversion to Election Integrity

            Liberals seem to have an aversion to election integrity. They apparently want to win elections at whatever the cost. Since President Donald Trump took office, voter fraud is being found in more and more states. 

            The most recent report came from Chicago, which reported 14,000 more votes during the 2016 general election than voters to cast them. This information came out only because a man filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) “on a whim.”

            Chris Cleaveland, Chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, told the Chicago Wire that the Chicago Board of Elections gave him a list of the names of 1,101,178 people who voted in the November election. The board’s website had previously reported that 1,115,664 votes had been cast. A simple subtraction problem shows that 14,486 more votes were cast than actual people who voted.

            Cleveland is not the first person to report that Chicago has either “massive incompetency or massive fraud.” Judicial Watch has been investigating voter fraud for some months. It recently named Illinois as one of eleven states that “have another kind of discrepancy in their voting rolls: The number of registered voters exceeds the number of voting-age citizens as determined by a review of Census data.”

            The organization sent letters to the states in April threatening to sue. States are obligated to maintain accurate voting rolls by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. This is the act that “requires the states to offer voter registration forms with driver license applications.” The states are doing voter registration, but they are not maintaining accurate rolls.

            Texas has a different problem with liberals’ aversion to election integrity. Federal District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos rejected a voter identification law for Texas for the fifth time. Her consistency in rejecting voter ID laws clearly shows that she thinks of such laws. She believes all such laws are passed to discriminate against minorities rather than to provide election integrity.

            Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams posted an article at The Daily Signal commenting on the Texas law. As experts in this field, they clearing believe that the decision by Ramos should be reversed.

What makes Ramos’ latest ruling so odd is that the amended law not only followed all guidelines set out by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, it also contained provisions that Ramos herself had found acceptable as an interim remedy for the November 2016 election.

Adding a new wrinkle, Ramos also ruled unacceptable a provision Texas adopted that has been part of federal law – and never challenged – since 2002….

Texas has already indicated it intends to appeal. It should fight all the way up to the Supreme Court, if necessary, to overturn Ramos’ unfair, unjustified, and radical decision.

            Voter fraud obviously took place in a large number of states during the 2016 presidential election. It does not really matter whether it happened because of incompetency or intentional fraud. The simple fact that illegal votes were cast means that they cancelled out legal votes. In order to have election integrity, only legally registered voters should be casting votes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Thoughts on Harvey

            Anchorage has seen several weeks of rain interspersed with a few short periods of clouds with no rain and even shorter periods of sunshine. I, along with many other Alaskans, have complained about the steady rain. After all, we have only a few short months of good weather, and we want to enjoy as much of it as possible.

            My main complaints have centered on a few facts: (1) I am now in the midst of raspberry season, and I do not like to pick berries in the rain. (2) The grass has to be somewhat dry in order to be mowed, and it needs to be mowed regularly in order to be healthy. (3) I have only a few more weeks to accomplish projects in the yard, tasks that are difficult to do in the rain. (4) No matter how bad things are for me, other people have it worse.

            I stopped complaining about the rain in Anchorage when I saw the devastation in Houston, Texas, and surrounding areas caused by Hurricane Harvey, now downgraded to a tropical storm. I saw streets and highways turned into rivers. I saw homes half submerged in the water. I saw backyards and parks that look like lakes. Wow! I have no room to hold a pity party!

            My problems seem so small compared to the life and death situation in Houston. Does it matter if I get my raspberries picked when other people are losing their homes, vehicles, and precious items? Does it matter if my grass gets cut every week when other people will be digging several feet of mud out of their homes? Does it really matter if I get all my projects completed before winter when others are fighting for their lives and/or the lives of others?

            I did not worry much about the hurricane at first because my daughter and her family are safe in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Then I realized that she has in-laws in the Houston area and would be devastated if something were to happen to any of them. I also remembered that I have several nieces and nephews and their families in the area, and my family would be devastated at the loss of any of them. So far, all these people are okay. Now I am adding up the many friends and acquaintances living in the area and being affected and displaced by the flood.

            I think of all the miracles taking place in spite of the ravishing storm. A new baby with known heart problems was born just prior to the arrival of Harvey and was able to receive the necessary medical help. A young boy rescued from the middle of a stream. An elderly woman floating face down in the water was found just in time to receive the critical first aid care.

            The biggest miracle of all is people from many walks of life coming together to benefit others. This site offers a beautifully written article with pictures to express the message. After discussing some of the horrors caused by Harvey, the author shares these thoughts.

Yet, in the deluge, there is also something incredibly beautiful emerging. You see, Harvey has washed away something else – hatred.

Look at these pictures! The only color in greater Houston today is red, white, and blue. The only religion on our streets is love. There is no race, no creed, no gender, no socioeconomic classes, no nationality, no sexual orientation, no religion –

There are only people helping people. There are only strangers opening their homes for strangers. There are only men and women risking their precious lives for other precious lives.

For a stunning moment the world has stopped fighting against each other and started fighting for each other. It’s breathtaking.

Take note world. You don’t need to wait for a devastating disaster to love. You don’t need to wait until your neighbors are drowning to reach across the color, religious, nationality, political boundaries. This world is suffering a different kind of storm, one far more dangerous than Harvey – a storm of hatred. Let’s refuse to let it break us.

            Once again we have been taught the importance of loving each other and working together to help individuals and families. Once again we have been taught that lives are more important than buildings or vehicles. Once again we have been taught what is really important in life. Will we remember this time?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Jim Brown

            My VIP for this week is legendary Cleveland Browns football player Jim Brown. He retired from football more than fifty years ago when he was thirty years old. At the time he was an all-America and all-pro back. He announced his retirement from professional football on July 14, 1966, at a film studio in London, England. This site gives interesting information about his final season in professional football. 

When the 1965 NFL season ended, Jim Brown was the star of the league. He was the 1965 MVP after rushing for 1,544 yards in a 14-game season, which was 677 yards more than the runner-up, a Chicago Bears rookie named Gale Sayers. At that moment, Brown was the sport’s leader in single-season and career rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns. In nine years of pro ball, Brown was the rushing champion eight times and the MVP three times.

But he was bored. So when the season ended, Brown was out in London filming the movie “The Dirty Dozen” [and] trying to stimulate his mind. It was his second acting appearance and because of delays in filming, the days kept creeping closer to when Brown would have to return to prepare for the next NFL season. He realized he had a decision to make. It was July already, and Brown was about to enter the final year of a two-year deal that paid him a little over $60,000 per year. But if he wanted to play the next season and collect his money, he’d have to ditch the film. [He decided to retire when Browns owner Art Modell gave him an ultimatum.]

            I am not writing about Jim Brown because of the fact that he was a great football player five decades ago or the fact that he is an actor. I am writing about him because he is a patriotic American with common sense.

            Apparently, Jim Brown did not like hearing that “a dozen Cleveland Brown football players knelt during the National Anthem prior to their preseason game against the New York Giants.” He met with the players prior to their next game and urged “them to not ‘disrespect’ their flag and country.” When it was time for the National Anthem, “All Browns players and coaches stood up in respect.” He must have given a powerful talk!

            The Browns players and coaches obviously respect Jim Brown. They should because he is a man who deserves respect. He was named “the greatest professional football player of all time” in the 2002 “Sporting News.” He was also “a multiple NFL Most Valuable Player who broke most of his era’s major rushing records and led his team to a Championship in 1964.”

            Brown is also a man who “has deep respect for America and its culture,” and he was not afraid to use his influence to teach the younger players and coaches to show respect for the National Anthem. Wouldn’t it be great if all the professionals in sports and movies would stand up for America!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Presidential Pardons

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the power of the President of the United States to grant reprieves and pardons. Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 states: “The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

            The clause is short, but it gives nearly unlimited power to the President. This site explains the power and the limitations. 

The power to pardon is one of the least limited powers granted to the President in the Constitution. The only limits mentioned in the Constitution are that pardons are limited to offenses against the United States (i.e., not civil or state cases), and that they cannot affect an impeachment process. A reprieve is the commutation or lessening of a sentence already imposed; it does not affect the legal guilt of a person. A pardon, however, completely wipes out the legal effects of a conviction. A pardon can be issued from the time an offense is committed, and can even be issued after the full sentence has been served. It cannot, however, be granted before an offense has been committed, which would give the President the power to waive the laws….

The development of the use of the pardon power reflects its several purposes. One purpose is to temper justice with mercy in appropriate cases, and to do justice if new or mitigating evidence comes to bear on a person who may have wrongfully convicted….

Pardons have also been used for the broader public-policy purpose of ensuring peace and tranquility in the case of uprisings and to bring peace after internal conflicts. Its use might be needed in such cases….

The pardon power has been and will remain a powerful constitutional tool of the President. Its use has the potential to achieve much good for the polity or to increase political conflict. Only the wisdom of the President can ensure its appropriate use.

            President Donald Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio last week. The sheriff was “convicted of criminal contempt for defying a court order saying his department must quit detaining illegal aliens.” 

            As you may remember, the Obama administration failed to uphold federal immigration laws. In fact, the federal government put much pressure on law enforcement officers to not enforce the laws. Sheriff Arpaio was a “law and order” type of sheriff and continued to uphold the law. Michelle Malkin visited a recent Sean Hannity show and gave the following reminder.

This was on overzealous, open borders persecution and prosecution and I think people need to remember the context here because you had the Obama administration officials who have open borders as their motto, as their agenda, as their end goal….

These were the ideologues populating the Department of Homeland Security. Of course, they went after Joe Arpaio, because he was doing the job the Obama administration officials and the federal government refused to do.

            President Trump understands that laws are established by local, state, or federal governments and are meant to be enforced. He was not blind to the political reasons for prosecuting and punishing the 85-year-old sheriff. Therefore, he pardoned the sheriff for the misdemeanor that is “punishable by to six months in jail.” President Trump considers Arpaio to be “an American Patriot” who had been unjustly prosecuted and sentenced, one of the purposes for the power to pardon being in the U.S. Constitution.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Love One Another

            Jesus Christ brought a new gospel of love to the people. He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).

            The Savior taught the principle of love on many occasions. He was once asked by an inquiring lawyer,“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” The Savior replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord that God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:36-39). 

            What is love? Love is something that develops in us when we are open to it. How does one develop love? We develop love by acting on the principle of “as if.” Sometimes, love comes naturally. Other times, we have to work to develop love for another person. When we act as if we love someone, we will soon develop love for them. President Thomas S. Monson discusses the importance of love for God and love for our fellowmen. 

We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellowmen if we do not love God, the Father of us all. … We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier.
Actually, love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar. His life was a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. At the end the angry mob took His life. And yet there rings from Golgotha’s hill the words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34] – a crowning expression in mortality of compassion and love.

There are many attributes which are manifestations of love, such as kindness, patience, selflessness, understanding, and forgiveness. In all our associations, these and other such attributes will help make evident the love in our hearts.

Usually our love will be shown in our day-to-day interactions one with another. All important will be our ability to recognize someone’s need and then to respond.

            President Monson practiced what he preached, and he went about loving and helping other people. He was questioned in 2008 about his ideal birthday gift, and this is how he answered the question. He basically told people how to love one another. “Do something for someone else on that day to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely and do something for them. That’s all I would ask.” 

            President Monson recently celebrated his 90th birthday, and he is still concerned that we love and help each other. In his address in the April 2017 General Conference, he asks us to examine our lives and follow the “Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable.” 

            President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor to President Monson, says that “love is the central motive for all we do” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then asks what we should do after “we declare our love for God and for our fellowman.” Is it enough to feel love for others? Does a declaration of love satisfy our responsibility to love God and love our neighbor? President Uchtdorf uses the “Parable of the Two Sons” to show the teachings of the Savior.

At the temple in Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders of the Jews approached Jesus to trap Him in His words. The Savior, however, turned the tables on them by telling a story.

“A certain man had two sons,” He began. The father went to the first and asked him to go work in the vineyard. But the son refused. Later that son “repented, and went.”

The father then went to his second son and asked him to go work in the vineyard. The second son assured him that he would go, but he never went.

Then the Savior turned to the priests and elders and asked, “Which one of these two sons did the will of his father?”

They had to admit that it was the first son – the one who said he would not go but later repented and went to work in the vineyard (Matthew 21:28-32)   

The Savior used this story to emphasize an important principle – it is those who obey the commandments who truly love God.

            President Uchtdorf answers his own question, “After love, then what?” in closing his talk. “If we truly love the Savior, we incline our hearts to Him and then we walk in the path of discipleship. When we love God, we will strive to keep His commandments” (John 14:15). He continues, “If we truly love our fellowmen, we extend ourselves to help “the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Doctrine and Covenants 52:40). For they who do these selfless acts of compassion and serve, (Mosiah 18:8-9) the same are disciples of Jesus Christ.”

            In summary, we show our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by obeying Their commandments and by keeping the covenants that we make with Them. We show our love for our neighbor by treating them with kindness, acting with compassion toward them, and serving them.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Teach Self-Reliance

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when children are taught to become self-reliant. As I have written previously, parents are commanded to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to their children. One of the commandments is to be self-reliant.

            I narrowed my focus to three different areas of self-reliance: emotional, temporal, and spiritual. Even though I am no expert in teaching children or self-reliance, I realize that these three areas overlap a lot and reinforce each other.

            Even though I will not share the personal experiences here that I shared with my ward family, I want to share some ideas on how to teach self-reliance in these three areas, starting with emotional self-reliance and then moving on to temporal self-reliance and spiritual self-reliance.

1. In order for children to become self-reliant emotionally, they must know that they are loved unconditionally by their parents. They need to know that their parents will continue to love them no matter what the child says or does. They need to know that parents do not stop loving their child simply because the child says or does mean or hateful things. Even though the parent may be hurt, disappointed, or angry, they will continue to love their child.

2. In order for children to become self-reliant emotionally, they need to see the bigger picture. Along with knowing that they are loved unconditionally, children need to know that many people love them and are concerned about them besides the people in their same household. They need to develop personal relationships with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

3. In order for children to become self-reliant emotionally, they need positive experiences more than they need every new gadget. Parents can get more bang from their buck by sharing special experiences with their children. An example: Instead of spending all the Christmas money on gadgets, parents should spend some of the money on special experiences. These experiences could include a skiing trip or the experience of watching “Nutcracker.” A special birthday experience could include a special date with only Dad and Mom or a trip to Lego Land with Mom.

4. In order for children to become self-reliant temporally, they need to learn the importance of work and how to work. They need to learn the skills necessary to complete many tasks. They also need to learn to work well with other people. They can learn the importance of work and working with other people as the family works together to keep the house clean or to fix dinner and clean up afterwards. Children can also learn to be consistent in making their bed and picking up their room every day.
5. In order for children to become self-reliant temporally, they need to know the value of education and advanced training. I impressed on my children from the time that they started school that education was important. I attended every PTA meeting and every parent-teacher conference. I made sure that they did their homework and completed assignments. I expected my children to bring home good grades because I knew they had the ability to do so. I drilled into their heads the idea that they needed to attend college and that they would need to pay for their expenses either through scholarships or jobs. Now all of my children have college degrees with most of them holding advanced degrees.

6. In order for children to become self-reliant spiritually they must know that they are children of God and that He watches over them. We must teach them that Heavenly Father knows them by name, loves them, and wants them to come back to His presence to live with Him forever; that He sent Jesus Christ to atone for our sins and to make it possible for us to return; that He sends the Holy Ghost to help us choose the right. It is critical for each child to develop this personal spiritual experience with God. The foundation for doing so is prayer and scripture study, and the best way to teach it is by example. However, this example does not always come from a parent.

7. In order for children to become self-reliant spiritually they must be taught the importance of prayer and how to pray. I do not know how old I was when I became aware that my older sister was kneeling in prayer each night before she climbed into bed. I had been taught about prayer, but the teaching was just a theory until I watched my sister praying every single night. Somehow, her example moved me to action, and I began praying also. I cannot get through a day or get into bed without prayer.

8. In order for children to become self-reliant spiritually they must be taught how to find answers to their problems through studying the scriptures. We teach scripture study by precept, example, and sometimes with bribes. Children must see their parents – or other people that they admire – studying the scriptures in order to understand the importance of doing so.

9. In order for children to become self-reliant spiritually they must be taught correct doctrine. As we teach light and truth to our children we must be careful to keep the doctrine pure. We must help our children to base their testimonies on truth rather than legend or half-truths; otherwise, they will fall away when the going gets too tough. Knowing true doctrine will not only help our children to become spiritually self-reliant, but it will also improve their behavior. I love this quote by President Boyd K. Packer:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. … That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel” Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (“Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17)

            To summarize: Becoming self-reliant has many facets, and I have touched on only a few of them. We can help our children to become emotionally self-reliant by making sure that they understand and feel unconditional love, know that they are part of a big family, and enjoy enriching experiences with loved ones. We can help them development temporal self-reliance by teaching them how to work and the value of education. We can help them become spiritually self-reliant by teaching them to communicate with Heavenly Father, to study the scriptures, and to understand correct doctrine.

            Emotional, temporal, and spiritual self-reliance all go together in one eternal round. When we build a child in one area, it helps them in another. We cannot go wrong if we love them enough to teach them how to become self-reliant. A child that is taught to be self-reliant will grow into a self-reliant adult and strengthen their own family, community, and nation.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Transgenders in Kindergarten

            Liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns children and transgenderism. Children should be free from influence and pressure to change genders. Children are innocent and should not suffer this type of abuse.

            Children attending kindergarten in a California public school were recently taught about transgenderism by their teacher. It seems that one little five-year-old child is transgender. The child was born a male and came to school as a boy. “He” changed clothes sometime during class and came back as a “she.” The teacher then read two books on transgenderism to the children. Children who had never heard of gender identity are suddenly frightened that they will suddenly be turned into a boy – or vice versa.

            Matt Walsh is just as upset about this experience as some of the children’s parents who took the problem to a school board meeting. He says that the children were “dragged …into a demented, sexually deranged fantasy world invented out of whole cloth by ideological militants in the LGBT lobby.” He claims that the children were “damaged” by the “gender reveal” of their classmate. He says that the damage can be reversed by good parents “who wish to protect their children.” Even though he wishes that the children had not had this experience, he says that “we need to learn from it now that it has.”

What we learn is something that ought to have been obvious all along: kids don’t develop gender confusion on their own. They learn it. They are indoctrinated into it. They are programmed to believe it. It is forced upon them by the adults they love and trust. To put it more simply, they are confused about their gender because their parents or their teachers made them that way. Show me a “transgender” child, and I will show you an abuse victim; a child who has been psychologically tormented and manipulated by the very people entrusted with protecting him.

Here we have a case study where an entire classroom full of children became gender confused all at once. It’s like a disease they contracted, and their teacher is the mad scientist who gave it to them on purpose. None of them – save the one – were confused on the subject before class that day. But they came home in tears, confused and scared to death that everything they know about themselves may be a lie. The purpose of this “lesson” wasn’t to inform the kids about transgenderism, but to create transgender kids. And if these children are subjected to many more “lessons” of this sort, it may eventually have the intended effect for some of them.

            Like Walsh, I do not remember hearing about any people that were transgender when I was a child or even when my children were in public schools. Why are there so many transgender children today? I agree with Walsh when he says that adults are the ones who are making children gender confused.

            I believe that very few, if any, children are naturally confused about their gender. However, adults have great power over children because children are so easily influenced by the people they love and respect. If the adults are normal, the children will usually turn out normal. If the adults are wicked and perverse, the child will almost certainly have problems. If the adults in a child’s life talk about becoming transgender, the child will follow their lead and bear the scars and heartaches of becoming transgender. This is a sad but often true fact.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Borders, Language, Culture, and History

            Some years ago I listened to the Michael Savage, an outspoken talk radio host. He often spoke about “borders, language, and culture.”  Although I have not listened to him for several years, his comments on this subject still ring through my mind. He spoke about the importance of defining our nation with borders, insisting that immigrants learn to speak and write the English language, and the culture of America – or the “shining city upon a hill” as described by President Ronald Reagan.

            I was reminded again today of Savage’s words when I read some comments made by President Donald Trump when he addressed the American Legion’s 99th National Convention. He spoke about patriotism and unity and recognized the veterans as the heroes they are. He also signed a bill that should help veterans receive help quicker. President Trump said the following.

Every veteran here today is part of a long, unbroken chain of American heroes…
You help keep history alive. History and culture, so important. You encourage the observance of patriotic holidays. … You stress the need to enforce our laws, including our immigration laws. You teach the responsibilities of citizenship and the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance. You do it all, as your motto says, for God and country. That’s why we’re here today, for America and for God….

It is time to heal the wounds that divide us, and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us.

            I believe that both Michael Savage and Donald Trump are correct in emphasizing the importance of borders, language, culture, and history. I also believe that the Left is trying to destroy the United States by opening our borders, inviting people into our nation who refuse to learn the language but want to change our culture, and attempting to destroy and/or change our history by lies and other means, such destruction of statues.

            Why are borders necessary? Kevin Li,University of California, Berkeley, explains that the borders in the “developed areas of Europe, North America, and East Asia” “represent cultural or linguistic divides that have been established for centuries.” These borders are more cultural than physical.

            Li reminds his readers that some borders mean next to nothing. When Africa, South Asia, South America, and the Middle East were colonized, the borders were put in place by political convenience and maybe by simply drawing straight lines. These borders put groups of people together who are of different ethnic or racial identities but separate other groups. Some obvious examples of political divisions are East and West Germany and North and South Korea.

            Why is a national language important? One needs look no further than the United States to recognize the need for a national language. The costs of doing business, at least in some areas of the nation, are increased because paperwork must be printed in multiple languages. If all immigrants were forced to learn American English, these costs would go away. Knowing several languages is a nice attribute and aids in communicating with people of other nations, but having many different languages spoken in a nation tends to make divisions among the people.

            Asim Nawas Abbassi of Pakistan explains that a national language “makes a country become respectable and unique” along with its boundary, name, flag, and currency. He says, “Indeed, a national language is a clear indicator that represents the national identity of a country…. National language is a driving force behind unity of the nation’s people, and makes them distinct from other nations….” He also says that “History proves that every great leader tried his best to strengthen the national language.”

            Why is the culture of a nation important? This article is about the importance of individual groups maintaining their culture – such as Alaska Natives, but it also explains what culture can do for a nation. “Culture is politics. There are few things that are as powerful as culture. Culture ensures unity during crisis, influences identity, debate and dialogue. It is important for nation building and for peace and reconciliation.”

            Why is it important for a nation to retain its history? There are numerous reasons why history is important to a nation. One of the most important reasons is to learn from it. George Santayana is credited with saying, “Those who cannot learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

            This article in its title explains that a national history is important because “A people cannot forever remain a people if they forget what it is that binds them.” The article continues.

There are few things more important to a nation’s sense of itself than an understanding of its own history. In fact, it might well be the most important thing of all. How the citizens of a country view that country and its place in the past can have profound consequences for the politics of that country or even, in extremis, its future existence.

            Knowing the importance of borders, language, culture, and history helps me to better understand why the Left wants to do away with all of them. In order to continue to be that “shining city upon a hill” and influence other nations, Americans must secure the borders of the nation, adopt a national language, preserve the American culture, and learn from our history.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Solar Eclipse

            The big news of this week is the solar eclipse yesterday, August 21, 2017. Anchorage was not on the published path for the total eclipse, but the partial eclipse could have been seen if the sun had been visible. I did not see the sun at all because we had clouds and/or rain all day long. I do not know whether to feel bad about missing the eclipse or not.

            As I read of the traffic jams heading into Idaho and Wyoming, I sort of thought all the people were crazy to go to such lengths to watch something that lasts two minutes or less. Then I read comments from people who did make the effort to go to the area of “totality” in order to see the full eclipse. Their words ranged from “awesome” to “totally worth it.” The pictures are definitely awesome.

            I have been far more interested in the meaning behind the eclipse than the actual eclipse. Does the 2017 eclipse qualify as one of the “signs of the times” for the latter-days? It might, particularly because it is followed in 2024 by another total solar eclipse, both of which go over the United States. The time between 2017 and 2024 is seven years. This site says that seven is “the number for perfection and completeness in Jewish numerology.” From my own knowledge I know that the Lord uses the number seven in various ways: seven days in a week, the office of Seventy, the requirement to forgive others seven times seventy, etc. I do not believe in coincidences, so I wonder why the seven-year period.

            Both heavenly signs are part of the prophecies for the last days. Are the eclipses of the sun and the moon some of those heavenly signs?

And he answer them, and said, In the generation in which the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity, like the sea and the waves roaring. The earth also shall be troubled, and the waters of the great deep (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 21:25).

            I have read several articles that discuss how the 2017 eclipse and the 2024 eclipse cross each other above the New Madrid earthquake zone located in southeast Missouri. Does a solar eclipse – or two – over an earthquake zone mean anything important? Are eclipses and earthquakes in any way connected?

            The author of this article discusses the New Madrid fault and the fact that both the 2017 and 2024 solar eclipses pass over this fault. While watching an episode that discussed the New Madrid fault, the author remembered something that he had previously learned in his studies about natural disaster.

The New Madrid fault is known to produce extremely large and damaging earthquakes. But earthquakes along the New Madrid that are similar in magnitude to those produced by the well-known faults of California can be more damaging than those in California, because the earth in the heartland amplifies the waves due to its unique make up.

It just so happens that both the 2017 and the 2024 eclipses go straight through this fault zone….

In recorded history, the most powerful earthquake to shake the USA east of the Rockies happened on December 16, 1811, and it happened on the New Madrid. Estimates put the powerful quake at around magnitude 7.5-7.9, but I’ve read the fault can produce earthquakes in the 8s. That year, in September, there was an annular solar eclipse that pathed a few hundred miles northeast of the edge of the fault zone. The edge of the path of totality closest to the fault zone went through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The edge of the fault zone closest to the path of totality is in the southern Illinois area.

The path of totality of the 2017 eclipse will be much closer to the fault zone than the 1811 eclipse. In fact, if I’m interpreting my research correctly, the path of totality will go directly over the northeastern edge of the fault zone.

            So, how are we to know if there is a connection between solar eclipses and earthquakes?  I believe it would be very interesting if an earthquake happened in the New Madrid zone within the next few months.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Thomas S. Monson

            Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, celebrates his 90th birthday today. He has been a General Authority of the Church for 54 years since he was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 4, 1963. He was sustained as President of the Church on February 3, 2008, following the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley.

            President Monson was asked a few days ago what he would desire for his birthday, and he repeated his birthday wish from nine years ago. In 2008 he was asked to describe his ideal birthday gift, and he said, “Do something for someone else on that day to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely and do something for them. That’s all I would ask.”

            This is the same message that President Monson shared in the April 2017 General Conference of the Church. In his closing remarks in the priesthood session of that conference the Prophet says the following. 

Brethren, let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. And as we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home.

            All who have studied the life of Thomas S. Monson know that he has often done exactly as he encourages the brethren – and by extension all of us – to do. He wants us to reach outside our own little circle and do something to help someone else. We can practice kindness, love, and charity in our own lives and become more like the Savior. The Prophet has shown us the way to do this. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

First Amendment Freedoms

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns challenges to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There are more and more questions about what is protected by this amendment. Here is what the First Amendment says.

Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

            According to the wording of this amendment, “Congress” – and by extension all governments – cannot make any laws restricting religion or religious expression, speech, press, assembly, or petitioning the government. Yet, there are people who call for the restriction of these freedoms in one way or another.

            The freedom of expression has been challenged for numerous years by the concept of “political correctness.” Remember back a few years when “Christmas” became a bad word, and many demanded that we use “holidays” or “winter vacation” instead of Christmas? Later, we were called racist if we used the term “illegal aliens” instead of “undocumented immigrants.” Job titles had to be changed to accommodate different sexes, such as “policeman” became “police officer.” Any job title with “man” in it had to be changed to a neutral sex title, such as “chairperson” instead of “chairman,” “flight attendant” instead of “stewardess,” and many others. However, Americans would allow themselves to be pushed only so far.

            This article claims that the term “political correctness” arose in the 1990s from what one reporter saw as “a growing intolerance on university campuses for views that diverged from mainstream liberalism.” It also says that political correctness led to “the popularity of the Tea Party and the election of a president, Donald Trump, who made the shunning of political correctness a political trademark.” I was personally relieved that Trump made a mockery of political correctness.

            The above referenced article says that conservatives support the freedom of speech “more consistently than liberals, even when it’s speech that goes against their views…. By contrast, progressives have been more likely to advocate constraints, particularly on speech … seen as harmful to racial minorities and women.” It also states that conservatives would like ban the burning of flags while liberals say political donations should not be protected as free speech.

            I was amazed by the attitudes of some people when I read their comments on social media. Some people actually said that neo-Nazis should not have the freedom to assemble and the freedom of speech. I tried to help them see that all Americans have the right to assemble and to share their ideas, but they refused to change their views. The group had a permit to “peaceably assemble.” I understand that there was no violence until the counter-protesters arrived. The counter-protesters were there to deny the first group their right to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech because they did not agree with them.

            I do not support neo-Nazis in any way, shape, or form. I do not understand why they push for socialism when we have so many freedoms in America. They do not make sense to me, but they have the same rights as you and I do. According to the above referenced article, direct threats are not protected speech. “But to count as a threat, speech has to incite `imminent lawless action,’ in the words of a 1969 Supreme Court ruling; merely advocating violence is allowed. This is why neo-Nazis are allowed to march, and to cast themselves as free-speech champions.”

            The law must protect both conservatives and liberals in order to remain just. We cannot take the freedoms outlined by the First Amendment from any group - whether we agree with them or not – or we will lose those same freedoms for ourselves.