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, July 31, 2018

What Is Democratic Socialism?

            Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old former bartender, burst onto the political scene a few weeks ago when she won an upset victory against ten-term Representative Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th District Democratic primary. She is a charter member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), but she cannot explain the difference between socialists and democratic socialists. She also does not know much about economics or politics, whether national or international. She believes that everyone has the right to housing, food, college, and healthcare. She believes that no one in America should be so poor that they cannot afford to live in the United States.

            Ben Shapiro wrote an interesting article about Ocasio-Cortez and democratic socialism. According to him, there is a difference between socialism and social democracy.

Socialism suggests state ownership and control of all major resources – and generally ends with the complete collapse and destruction of the productive population. Social democracy suggests redistribution of capitalistic gains – more like Denmark or Norway or Sweden. It’s unclear where Ocasio-Cortez lies on this spectrum considering that the DSA openly acknowledges its desire to abolish capitalism.

But let’s assume that what Ocasio-Cortez and Democrats want is actually just European-style social democracy. If that’s the case, they’re still misreading the tea leaves: The Nordic countries aren’t thriving and healthy because they’re socialist; they’re thriving and healthy because they are small and homogenous. In fact, Nordic lifestyles means that Nordic life expectancy outclassed life expectancy in the United States before the Nordic states tried to grow government redistributionism radically. The left is fond of citing Norway and Sweden – even though both are now moving in a politically right-wing direction – but neglecting Switzerland, which is just as successful and far less socialistic.

Furthermore, generous welfare policies can only operate in small, homogenous countries because if you open the borders to such countries, immigrants flood in and then sink the boat. That’s why voters in Europe have been consistently moving toward a more restrictionist view of immigration – particularly in that bastion of social democracy, Sweden.

            This DSA web site gives its answer for the question, “What is Democratic Socialism?” It says that “both the economy and society should be run democratically – to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few.” It also states that “Democracy and socialism go hand in hand.”
They believe that they can “bring [private corporations] under greater democratic control” by “regulations and tax incentives to encourage companies to act in the public interest…. Most of all, socialists look to unions to make private business more accountable.”

            The democratic socialists do not believe that “starvation or greed are the only reasons people work.” They believe that people enjoy working “if it is meaningful and enhances their lives. They work out of a sense of responsibility to their community and society.” They believe that employers should “make work desirable by raising wages, offering benefits and improving the work environment. In short, we believe that a combination of social, economic, and moral incentives will motivate people to work.”

            Even though “no country has fully instituted democratic socialism,” DSA believes that it would work in the United States. They want to take the “victories” in other nations – such as “Canada’s national health care system, France’s nationwide childcare program, and Nicaragua’s literacy programs” – and put them together in this country. They want to do all these national programs on the belief that people are willing to work because they enjoy working.

            It seems to this writer that democratic socialists do not understand people very well. Even people who truly enjoy their work would not work if they could get someone else to provide for them and their family. One of my sons is an emergency room doctor who enjoys his work. However, if you gave him the choice between working a few shifts in the ER and going on an adventure, he would take the adventure every time. If someone else is paying the bills, why would anyone choose to work?

            America works because it is a democratic republic with capitalism as its economic and political system. If capitalism was eliminated, as the democratic socialists desire, the nation would fail.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Trump Defenders

            My VIPs for this week are the few politicians that are courageous enough to defend the President of the United States against attacks about his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Two of the most outspoken people are Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA). Their defenses are outlined below.

            Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sponsored a bill that would condemn Russia for their meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and asked that the Senate give it a unanimous consent decree.  He said, “The Congress must make it clear that we accept the assessment of our intelligence community with regard to Russian election interfering in our country and in other democracies.”

            Senator Paul voted to block the bill, saying that it was motivated by “Trump motivation syndrome.” He said the following in his own speech from the floor of the Senate. 

Trump derangement syndrome has officially come to the Senate! The hatred for the President is so intense that partisans would rather risk war than give diplomacy a chance.

Does anybody remember that Ronald Reagan sat down with Gorbachev and we lessened the nuclear tensions? We need to still have those openings.

Nobody is saying or excusing Russia meddling in our elections, absolutely, we should protect the integrity of our elections. But simply bringing the hatred of the president to the Senate floor, in order to say we’re done with diplomacy, we’re going to add more sanctions and more sanctions.

You know what? I would rather that we still have more open channels of discussion with the Russians.

            As cries of treason and impeachment are heard more often by the deranged mainstream media and liberals, Scalise gives them a history lesson. He reminds them of “what took place between Russia and the United States during the Obama years.” He tweeted, “President @realDonaldTrump went into this meeting with Putin from a position of American strength to combat Russian aggression, but it’s important to remember how Russia was allowed to get to this point.” He then proceeds to explain how it happened.

            Scalise starts with 2009 when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hit the “reset button” to “reset relations with Russia and the United States.” Then he goes to March 2012 when Barack Obama was caught on a hot mike making the following comment to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. “This is my last election. After my election I [will] have more flexibility.” Medvedev replied, “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.” Then there was the presidential debate of 2012 when Mitt Romney called Russia “our top geopolitical foe.” Obama, other Democrats, and the media all mocked Romney’s statement. They said that it was “outdated” and “a throwback to the Cold War.”

            I agree with both Scalise and Paul. We must remember that Russian aggression got to this point during the Obama administration. Obama was too soft with Russia, and Trump has been much tougher. Yet, we must also keep the channels of communication open in order to defuse tensions and eliminate the possibility of the differences between the two countries escalating into nuclear war.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Constitutional Divide

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the simple fact that there is a great divide in the way that liberals and conservatives view the Constitution of the United States. Liberals believe that it is a “Living Constitution” or one that changes with the times. Conservatives believe that it says what it means and means what it says.

            These basic differences of view are what lie behind the hysteria of the Democrats in their opposition of Brett Kavanaugh. They oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination for justice on the Supreme Court because they know that he will follow the Constitution. What is more, they would oppose any conservative nomination for the same reason.

            David Harsanyi from The Federalist agrees that some of the anger at Kavanaugh’s nomination is simply “partisan bluster meant to placate the activist base” but says that “most Democrats were going to get hysterical about any pick, because any conservative pick was going to take the Constitution far too literally for their liking.” He then explains one reason for their anger.

For those who rely on the administrative state and coercion as a policy tool – forcing people to join political organizations, forcing them to support abortion, forcing them to subsidize socially progressive sacraments, forcing them to create products that undermine their faith, and so on – that’s a big problem.

            Harsanyi continues his article by giving several examples of Democrat statements against Kavanaugh as a conservative. However, “almost none of the objections coming from leading Democrats have been even ostensibly about Kavanaugh’s qualifications as a jurist or, for that matter, his interpretation of the Constitution.”

            Among all the statements by Democrats – their fears that Kavanaugh’s nomination is a threat to health care, women’s rights, workers’ rights, climate change, and more – there are no suggestions that Kavanaugh is not qualified for the position.

There is absolutely no guiding principle to any of this other than political preference.

It seems to me that with another originalist justice, we inch closer to a time when the majority of the left will simply dismiss the court as an antiquated impediment to progress. We already see this happening – not only from progressives but from supposed moderates….

Normalizing the idea that the Constitution should be subservient to the fleeting will of politics and progressive conceptions of “justice” goes back to President Barack Obama, who promised in 2008 to nominate justices sharing “one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.”

The left hailed this position as proof of a thoughtful and moral temperament, when in reality it’s an ideological position that allows judges to arbitrarily create law and subordinate their constitutional duty to their personal worldview.

            Harsanyi admits that there are “legitimate debates” about how the Constitution can be interpreted. He also admits that “all justices aren’t political on all issues” and not “all conservatives [are] pure.” He says that it is the left that “embraces relativistic arguments about the intent and purpose of the Constitution.”

            Appointments to the Supreme Court should be less important and attract less controversy. However, the fact that the court is “one of the only institutions preserving constitutional order” makes appointments to it of greater concerns. The fact that Donald Trump is nominating conservatives who honor the Constitution is what drives the left nuts. This is especially true now that he has nominated a conservative to fill the seat of Justice Kennedy who was a known swing vote. I can only imagine the anger and hysteria that we will see if and when Trump nominates a conservative to fill the seat left open by a liberal!

Saturday, July 28, 2018


            We are all faced with choices every day. Our choices start first thing in the morning with the decision to get up and face the day or to stay in bed. This decision is sometimes the most difficult choice of the entire day. I am guilty on some mornings of staying in bed longer than I should, and I pay the price by missing the valuable morning hours.

            Most of us face challenging choices from time to time, and those most critical decisions are often difficult to make. Whenever my children discuss a difficult decision with me, my first question is, “Did you pray about it?” My best piece of advice is to pray about choices.

            This advice is becoming more valuable to me as times passes. Where I once prayed about difficult choices, I find myself asking quick prayers about fairly minor decisions. I will give you a couple of examples of what I consider to be minor choices. They were small decisions in the overall picture, but they were important to me.

            The first decision was several years ago when my husband and I were replacing our windows and doors. We opted to have beige windows installed instead of white ones because we were planning to stain the frames. I went to all the paint stores looking for the appropriate stain but could not find it. I decided that I would have to paint the frames and looked at various paints without being able to come to a decision. I gave up and headed home. I was about half a mile from the store when the Holy Ghost prompted me to go back to the store and buy some paint. I still had no idea what color of paint to purchase, but I turned around and went back. As I stood there looking at all the colors, the Spirit prompted me to purchase a certain color. I bought the paint as prompted, but I also took several different paint chip cards home with me. As I looked at all the colors and compared them with the color of the windows, I decided on a certain color. Then I compared the color that I had chosen with the color that I had purchased and found that it was the same color. With the help of the Spirit, I made the right decision!

            My second example happened a few weeks ago when I stopped at a local nursery to purchase some plants for a new garden. I have researched plants for this garden for months, so I had a fairly good idea what type of plant I wanted. However, I did not know how many of each plant to buy. Again, I went to the Lord for help. Should I get one of these plants or two? With the Bleeding Heart plants, I was prompted to purchase two plants. With another plant, I was prompted to purchase only one. When it came time to put the plants in the garden, I discovered that I had purchased exactly the number of plants that I needed to fill the spot. When I went to another nursery later to purchase more plants, I had the same experience.

            I fully subscribe to the counsel to pray about decisions. When the decision is important, there is a greater need for prayer. Then-Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke on the topic of “Choices in the October 1990 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and suggested three questions that we should ask ourselves when we have choices to make.

I would suggest three questions you might ask yourself as you consider your options. Whether they are once-in-a-lifetime or routine daily decisions, serious reflection on these three questions will help clarify your thinking. You might wish to review these questions first alone and then with your [spouse].

1. “Who am I?”

2. “Why am I here?”

3. “Where am I going?”

Truthful answers to these three questions will remind you of important anchors and unchanging principles.

As you consider these fundamental questions, it will become clear that decisions you first thought to be purely personal virtually always impact the lives of others. In answering these questions, then, you must be mindful of the broader circle of family and friends who will be affected by the consequences of your choice.

            Elder Nelson then proceeds to discuss the three questions and suggests some possible answers. He suggests that the first answer for “Who am I?” is a simple one. We are all children of God. I should be able to say, “I am a daughter of God.” As I remember that I am a daughter of God, I will also remember that I was created in His image and that I have the potential to become as He is. I will also remember that I came to earth to perform a certain mission in preparation to returning to His presence. As I ask this question, I will also remember that I am a wife, mother, and grandmother and carry responsibility to love and support my family.

            In answer to “Why am I here?” This question can be asked of many situations. I often ask myself a similar question – What did I come in here for? – when I forget why I went to another room. Elder Nelson is speaking about why we came to earth and gives the following answer.

One of the most important reasons is to receive a mortal body. Another is to be tested – to experience mortality – to determine what you will do with life’s challenging opportunities. Those opportunities require you to make choices, and choices depend on agency. A major reason for your mortal existence, therefore, is to test how you will exercise your agency. (See 2 Nephi 2:15, 25.)

Agency is a divine gift to you. You are free to choose what you will be and what you will do. And you are not without help. Counsel with your parents is a privilege at any age. Prayer provides communication with your Heavenly Father and invites the promptings of personal revelation….

            As Elder Nelson explains, we are here on earth for some very important reasons. We are here to gain a mortal body and to be tested. We have the necessity to exercise our agency and the opportunity to make decisions about what we will do and what we will become. Elder Nelson then discusses the third question, “Where am I going?” This is a question that I often ask as I drive around town, but Elder Nelson is asking a much more serious question.

This question reminds us that eventually you (and I) are going to die, be resurrected, be judged, and be awarded a place in eternal realms…. With each passing sunset, you are closer to that inevitable day of judgment. Then you will be asked to account for your faith, your hopes, and your works….

As all will be resurrected, your physical body will then be restored to its proper and perfect frame…. The day of your resurrection will be a day of judgment that will determine the kind of life you shall have hereafter.

That judgment will consider not only your actions, but also your innermost intent and heartfelt desires. Your everyday thoughts have not been lost. Scriptures speak of the “bright recollection” (Alma 11:43) and “perfect remembrance” (Alma 5:18) that your mind will provide in times of divine judgment.

            Our everyday choices are important, so we must make every effort to be sure that they are good ones. We can make good choices, even the best ones, if we will remember to pray about our decisions and to ask ourselves the three questions given by Elder Nelson. As we do this, we will find ourselves making choices that will help us return to the presence of our Heavenly Parents. As President Thomas S. Monson said, “Decisions determine destiny.” When we make our decisions in light of who we are, why we are here, and where we are going and then ask Heavenly Father for help, our destiny will be eternal life with God and our loved ones.

Friday, July 27, 2018

A War That We Must Win

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when adults recognize that we are at war because children are being trafficked to satisfy adult lusts and behaviors. Pedophiles are alive and busy in our society, and the rising generation is in danger of being used by them. There is even some talk that people are trying to legitimize pedophilia, just as same-sex marriage was legalized. We must win this war as soon as possible.

            Greg Trimble posted a powerful article about what is happening with regard to pedophiles and children. His article opened the eyes of this writer and should be read by every parent, grandparent, and responsible adult. He says that we should declare war on “an unspeakable horror that is taking place in our world.”  He continues with this horrible statement. 

Kids around the world are being preyed on by miserable wicked pedophiles. They are being enslaved for labor, starved, beaten, raped multiple times a day, and then when the time is right, they are killed in order to have their organs harvested.

            Trimble claims that this “epidemic” is “right in front of us, even in our own cities, and it’s getting worse by the day.” He also says that it is “American pedophiles who are leading the way in child trafficking worldwide.” He states that a person, usually a man, starts with “soft porn,” something that is available to anyone with a cell phone. The soft porn usually leads to hard porn. The porn addict then seeks something more exciting and turns to pedophilia.

… Americans have better access to technology, more money, and more freedom to travel throughout the world. So what happens is that these pedophiles view child pornography within the comfort of their own home and then travel to third world countries to act out what they’re viewing online. Third world country villains take advantage of poor conditions, fatherless families, and natural disasters to easily swoop up kids into their system of making money.

Much of this demand for child trafficking and sex slavery is created in the United States. The U.S. is the highest producer and consumer of child pornography in the world. … Every 30 seconds, a child is being sold for sex, labor, or so that someone can harvest their organs to sell for top dollar on the black market. The U.S. creates the demand and the bad guys in other countries fulfill the orders.

            There is only one way for parents to safeguard their children. They must create a safety net around their children and hold them close. Several years ago the Boy Scouts of America instituted “two-deep leadership” in order to keep the boys safe. Recently, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints instituted “two-deep leadership” for all classes involving children and teenagers. This includes all Sunday classes, all weeknight activities, and even Seminary, a scripture study class for teenagers that is held each weekday morning during the school year. It also includes any interviews with priesthood authorities for children, youth, or women.

            This change took place about two months ago. I teach a class in Primary for children that are eight years old. The children were surprised when they learned that there would be a second adult in our class every week. When I told them that the Church was just making sure that they were safe, they became highly indignant. One girl said quite adamantly, “You would never hurt us!” I agreed with her that I would never hurt them, and I then explained that there are people in the world, and even in the Church, who would hurt them. Therefore, the Church is being careful and making sure that they stay safe. They accepted my explanation and have not mentioned it again. Every week since the announcement there has been a second adult in our classroom. Usually the person sits quietly in the back of the room while we go forward with our lesson. Other times the second adult participates in the lesson. The children are totally comfortable.

            Responsible adults must take the necessary steps to keep children and youth safe. The war for their safety is too great. The bottom line is that we must keep them safe in order to strengthen our families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Freedom of Religion Answers 2

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the need for us to know our religious rights, freedoms that are protected by the laws of the land. Freedom of religion is under attack more than it has been for many years, and many Americans are afraid to even speak of religion in public settings. It is imperative that all Americans know and understand our rights of religion in order for us to be prepared to defend them.

            I shared some information last week from an article posted by Maurine Proctor. Her article is titled “You Should Know the Answers to these 35 Questions about Religious Freedom.”  She takes her 35 questions from a booklet compiled by the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the Brigham Young University Law School. She quotes their goal as follows: “Our aim is to help everyone understand the scope of religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and to offer suggestions on how to peacefully reconcile the rights of all.”

            Last week I shared the answers to several questions (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9) that seemed to go together. This week I will select a few more of the questions and answers to discuss.

            Question #2 concerns the public square and what this term describes. The people and groups who wish to reduce the influence of religion on our nation seek to restrict our freedom of worship to our homes rather than being able to practice our beliefs in the public square.

The “public square” refers to all settings outside private homes and houses of worship. These include public parks and sidewalks, government buildings and meetings, public schools and universities, private property that the owner opens to the general public and many other similar settings. The public square may also include media – books, newspapers, magazines, the Internet – and, in general, anything that is accessible and open to the public.

            One can readily see why the enemies of religion would like to eliminate religious practices from the public square. If this elimination were to be enforced, a great portion of religious influence in our nation would be abolished also. Question #8 goes along with this question because it asks if religion has to be a private matter.

No. The Constitution protects religious liberty both in private and in the public square. The right to religious freedom does not disappear when a person enters a public setting such as a school or a government building, when he or she accepts government office or employment, or when he or she operated a business open to the public. In fact, the government is obliged to protect religious liberty in all these settings, with only very limited exceptions.

            We learn from the above two answers that we do not have to restrict our religious practices to our homes and places of worship, and we do not have to “check our religion” at the door of any public place. This brings us to Question #10. It asks if people of faith or religious groups can participate in politics.

Yes. Religious groups and individuals have the right to take positions and influence public opinion on all public and political matters. Religious leaders and organizations frequently do so.

Some types of political involvement, while constitutional, may affect a religious organization’s ability to keep its federal tax-exempt status.

            Religious groups and people of faith have the right to be involved in politics and to use their faith to influence public opinion. However, religious organizations may lose their tax-exempt status by participating in some types of political involvement. Because of the subject, I jumped down to Question #16 that asks if tax exemptions for religious organizations violate the Constitution.

No. Religious organizations are tax-exempt under all state and federal tax codes, Ub fact, the Constitution may require this, as the Supreme Court has suggested that taxing churches would cause excessive involvement between church and state.

            While some churches may abuse their tax-exempt status, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is very strict about maintaining it. There are guidelines about what activities can and cannot be held in the buildings or as a “church activity.” If a group of women want to hold an exercise or dance class in the building, it must be free of charge. There are no paid pre-schools operating in the buildings, although there are nurseries provided for certain meetings.

            Question #11 is my last question in this group. It asks if religious beliefs may influence public policy. I believe that this means that a person of faith may use their understanding of principle of faith to influence public policy.

Yes. All kinds of beliefs influence the policy preferences of voters and legislators, including religious ones. The simple fact that a policy coincides with a religious teaching or grows out of religious values concerning right and wrong does not make it unconstitutional so long as the policy itself has a secular purpose, does not advance or inhibit religion, and avoids excessive government involvement with religion. For example, just because many religious teachings oppose violence does not mean that laws prohibiting assault are unconstitutional. To take a more controversial example, some types of laws restricting abortion are constitutional even though they coincide with certain religious beliefs, because they have secular justifications, are neutral regarding religion, and don’t unduly involve the government in religion.

            One can readily see from these questions and the answers the great importance of Americans knowing their religious rights. If we do not know our rights and the legal limitations, we will not be able to defend our freedom of religion. I will share more questions and answers next week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Trump Derangement Syndrome

            Trump Derangement Syndrome is in full blast. Liberals and the mainstream media have been up in arms since Donald Trump won the presidential election in November 2016. They never run out of things to be upset over when it comes to Trump.

            In recent weeks they were upset about ICE separating families that enter the US illegally – even though the same thing has been happening under previous administrations. They moved instantaneously to being upset because Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to fill the Kennedy seat on the Supreme Court. They are absolutely certain that Roe v. Wade will end if Kavanaugh is confirmed. Now they are upset because they think that Trump dissed American intelligence in his news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putting.

            Liberals and people in the media even get upset when conservatives mention Trump Derangement Syndrome. Judge Jeanine Pirro went on The View - knowing full well that she was walking into “the lion’s den” - to discuss her new book Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy. During the “conversation” the Judge pointed at Whoopi Goldberg and said that she has Trump Derangement Syndrome. Whoopi immediately got upset. Even though she claimed that she did not have it, the conversation erupted and the Judge was told to get out of the building. On her way out, Whoopi came at her again. The other side of the story can be found here. 

            The Judge is exactly right. America IS better than this. Both sides must come to the point where a simple conversation can happen without eruptions. Whoopi’s eruption did not accomplish a single thing except to make her look like an idiot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

One Giant Leap

            Last Friday, July 20, 2018, was the 49th anniversary of the day that the Apollo 11 landed on the moon. This was a great accomplishment resulting from more than seven years of diligent effort and sacrifice.

            Mark Alexander of The Patriot Post reminds us that in 1961 the United States was in the middle of the Cold War with USSR, and both nations were racing to see which one would gain the domination of space. President John F. Kennedy (JFK) declared, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” 

            July 20, 1969, was a day that stands out in my memory. Just as 9/11, the assassination of JFK, and the shooting of Ronald Reagan stand out in my memory because horrible things happened, July 20, 1969, stands out because something wonderful happened.

            Long before super computers, NASA launched Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969, from the Kennedy Space Center to the moon. The space ship consisted of a “combined North American Rockwell command module and Grumman lunar module atop a huge Saturn V Rocket.” It was manned by Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins. Armstrong was an aviator from the Navy while Aldrin and Collins flew for the Air Force.

            We must have known ahead of time when the lunar module was scheduled to land on the moon. I remember that it was a Saturday. My husband and I were gathered with a group of his fellow employees and their wives for a sort of get-acquainted party. The main entertainment at the party was watching the moon landing. The nation and the world were glued to their television sets to watch the momentous happening. Alexander shares the excitement of the situation as follows.

On July 20th at 20:17 UTC, mission commander Armstrong and pilot Aldrin landed the lunar module Eagle on the moon. After a perilous descent and nearing exhaustion of their fuel supply, the Eagle settled on the surface of the moon. Armstrong announced to the world, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” [The cheering in our group was loud, and the patriotism and pride of nation was very evident.]

Charles Duke, CAPCOM during the landing operation, acknowledged their landing, saying, “We copy you down, Eagle.” (In 1972, Duke would become the tenth of the 12 astronauts to walk on the moon.)

Six hours after landing, Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface, joined by Aldrin 20 minutes later.

As he stepped from the Eagle’s ladder to the Moon, Armstrong said famously, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The two men explored the moon for about two hours and 15 minutes, collecting 21.5 kgs of lunar material and deploying an American flag.

            We watched breathlessly as the two astronauts, in their bulky space suits, climbed slowly down the steps of the lunar module and walked around. It looked like they were walking in slow motion. It was an exciting day to be an American! It was made even better because we were able to actually watch the landing on the moon take place. Americans were pleased to have beaten the Russians to the moon!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Elizabeth Heng

            My VIP for this week is Elizabeth Heng, a young woman who is running for Congress against Democrat Jim Costa in California’s 16th district. The last time that a Republican won in that district was forty years ago.

            Heng’s parents fled the violence in Cambodia in the early 1980s and immigrated to the United States. She was student body president at Stanford and graduated in 2008. She and her brothers opened some cell phone stores in the central San Joaquin Valley. Being and business owner and manager of 75 employees was a learning experience for her. She recognized that capitalism was struggling to survive the effects of progressivism and says the following.

I saw firsthand how regulations impacted businesses negatively. I constantly felt that from Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, they were saying that I was everything wrong with our country, when all I was doing was creating jobs.

            Heng saw the need for good people to become involved in government and stop the spread of progressivism. She moved to Washington, D.C. and worked for six years to gain knowledge about legislation and campaigning. She became a director for the inauguration ceremony for Donald Trump. At the same time, she finished her MBA at Yale.

            One of the biggest lessons that Heng learned from her Washington experience is the very platform that she is using for her campaign: fiscal responsibility. She realizes that families and businesses are not surprised at the idea of making an annual budget. She knows that a budget is a critical item in fiscal responsibility, and she believes that she has the knowledge and skills to help Congress pass a budget.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Defend Second Amendment Rights

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the need for all gun owners to be prepared to defend the right to keep and bear arms. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court says that Americans have the right to own firearms, several states have passed laws allowing weapons to be confiscated. A recent case in New Jersey is just one example

            New Jersey State Police recently went to the home of Leonard Cottrell Jr. in attempt to take his firearms. They made the visit to the home of the disabled Iraq war veteran because of something his 13-year-old son said about the security at his school. They wanted to confiscate Cottrell’s gun while they worked their investigation. Cottrell was at work at the time of the visit, but his wife let the officers to search the home. They search the entire home including the son’s bedroom but did not find any firearms.

            Cottrell insists that the officers were there to confiscate his shotgun and pistol. However, he knew his Second Amendment rights and refused to let the police take his firearms without a warrant. He says that the incident is related to a new law that allows police to seize guns from law abiding citizens without due process if the state determines they are a threat to themselves or others.

            In this case, the state apparently did not find that threat. According to the state police spokesman, “Troopers responded to Mr. Cottrell’s residence in reference to the report of a possible school threat. Based on their investigation, it was determined that Mr. Cottrell’s weapons did not need to be seized.”

            Even though the investigation showed no need to seize Cottrell’s guns, the school refused to allow his son to attend his school’s graduation. The whole situation arose over a conversation that was blown way out of proportion in an effort to stop school violence.

            It appears that parents need to do more than control their guns. They must also teach their children to be careful about their words and actions. What can they safely say, and what will get them into trouble? Children have gotten in trouble for drawing a gun, making their sandwich into the shape of a gun, and for putting their fingers in the shape of a gun. What sorts of words are safe these days? Are words, such as guns, weapons, or firearms, to be totally eliminated from conversations in order to avoid investigations?

            I am all for being alert to spot potential problems and to prevent violence. However, I feel there is also a need to use common sense in our judgments.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Canker Sores and Contention

            Anyone who has ever had canker sores in their mouth knows that they are painful and make talking and eating difficult. They are tiny ulcers that appear on the inside of the mouth or on the tongue, lips, or throat. They are not the same as fever blisters or cold sores, and they are not contagious. There are numerous causes for canker sores, such as spicy or acidic food, vitamin deficiencies, stress, or injury to the mouth. Most of them will heal on their own without treatment, but some need medical care.

            When Jesus Christ said, “Peace I leave with you….” (John 14:27), He meant inner peace, not political peace. He promised that we can enjoy this personal or inner peace if we would simply follow Him and be obedient to His commandments.

            Then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke of this inner peace at the April 1989 General Conference of the Church. He says that the “spirit of inner peace is driven away by contention.” He then explains that “Contention does not usually begin as strife between countries. More often, it starts with an individual, for we can contend within ourselves over simple matters of right and wrong. From there, contention can infect neighbors and nations like a spreading sore…. Contention fosters disunity.”

            Contention is not a condition of our modern world. In fact, it began in the pre-mortal world and caused a great war in heaven. Elder Nelson explains that this war was not one of bloodshed but one of “conflicting ideas.” That war ended when a third part of all the hosts of heaven was cast out and denied the opportunity to have physical bodies. However, those same spirits are present on earth and are still causing contention in homes, communities, and nations as well as between nations. They fight against families, followers of Jesus Christ, and divine truth.

            We must guard against contention in ourselves as well as in our families and other circles of influence. Elder Nelson gives the following suggestions on how to combat the “canker of contention.”

. Show compassionate concern for others.

. Control the tongue, the pen, and the [computer].

. Bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory.

. Truly love God: “There was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 4 Nephi 1:15).

Thus, love of God should be our aim…. Through love of God, the pain caused by the fiery canker of contention will be extinguished from the soul.

Shun contention. Seek godliness. Be enlightened by eternal truth. Be like-minded with the Lord in love and united with Him in faith.

            Even though canker cores are not contagious, they damage the mouth and inhibit eating and talking. Contention also causes damage because it is contagious and often spreads quickly. One contentious person can destroy the peace of an entire family. One contentious person can bring much trouble to a city, and a contentious ruler can bring about war between nations. May we all follow the counsel of Elder Nelson and eliminate the “canker of contention” from our lives and bring peace to ourselves, our families, and everyone within our circles of influence.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Marriage, Family, and Society

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals realize that society benefits from marriage and healthy families. Since the family is the basic unit of society, it is good that the evidence on the importance of marriage and family is so clearly seen. Even though the data is evident, the way to promote marriage and family has been politicized.

            David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, posted an article about the difficulty of bringing about positive changes in the nation because of the hostile political environment. He is mainly speaking of the political divide between conservatives and the never Trumpers. He says that one can no longer be a conservative and a Republican but must choose one or the other. Even though there is disunity among the Republicans, there is an even greater divide between the conservative elements of the nation and the liberal elements, particularly where marriage and family are concerned.

            Brooks writes that conservatives consider the place where individuals are formed to be a “sacred space” while liberals are prone to believe that government programs are the most important.  He says that “individuals emerge out of families, communities, faiths, neighborhoods and nations. The order comes first. Individual freedom is an artifact of that order.” Brooks seems to be saying that the order found in the environment in which a child lives determines his/her view of freedom.

            Since freedom and the opportunity to use one’s agency is important to Heavenly Father, is it any wonder that He places His children in families when He sends them to earth? It is within the family – headed by a married man and woman – that children receive their first lessons about the importance of family, love, obedience, unity, and many other righteous principles.

            It is interesting to note that the family is the only unit of society that will continue beyond the grave. There will be no government agencies in the next world. The order will be based on family units. Since the family unit is so crucial to both this world and the next, it is imperative that all other organizations support the family.

            A Deseret News editorial says that conservatives, never Trumpers, and liberals need to learn how to work together to promote the family. It gives some suggestions on how to do so in its final paragraph. 

When it comes to reaping the benefits of strong families and promoting solutions to increase marriage rates, the real heroes will be the policymakers who resist the false choice of either-or policies and draw on the best wisdom of both conservative and liberal ideas. Social norms will inevitably evolve, but that evolution should not devalue the desirable pro-social benefits of marriage. Meanwhile, government policies must create an environment where newly married couples have a credible prospect of achieving self-reliance and financial security. Either solution alone likely will leave society worse off.

            The two articles quoted above leave little doubt of the importance of marriage and family to society. Politicians have the grave responsibility to create policies that will promote marriage and family life. In 1995 the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles published a document titled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It contains much information about the importance of the family unit and closes with this statement: “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

            There are many words that describe the family as being an important unit of society. Some people use fundamental, while others use basic or core to describe this unit. At any rate, the family is the foundation of society and must be promoted, protected, and preserved in order for our society to remain strong. Therefore, we can strengthen our communities and nations by strengthening the family.