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, February 28, 2019

Freedom from the Potemkin Effect

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the environment of dishonesty and distrust that pervades our society. Everyone, it seems, throws up facades that hide the real person, event, or purpose. We have to search behind the fake fronts to discover the truth. The Potemkin effect has taken over our nation.

            The Potemkin effect got its name from a story about a man named Grigory Potemkin who lived in the late 18th century and was governor of a certain area in Russia. Catherine the Great announced that she would tour the southern part of her empire with some foreign dignitaries. the As the royal visitors floated down the Dnieper River they saw thriving villages along the banks of the river filled with happy and hardworking people. The problem, it seems, is that all the villages were fake. Potemkin was so intent on impressing the royal visitors that he assembled facades of shops and cottages out of pasteboard and placed happy-looking peasants in the fields. Once the royal party was out of side, the fake village was taken down and rushed to the next place downstream. Even though this story may not be true, the term “Potemkin village” is part of the vocabulary of the world. It refers to any attempt made by anyone who is trying to make other people believe that something or someone is better than they really are.

            Monica Showalter posted an article about Joe Biden and his attempt to project himself as an average American while being treated as a star. She calls him “Potemkin Joe” and claims that he is far from being an “everyman” candidate. 

But the idea that this guy is an “everyman” candidate is pretty well blown apart by this kind of rock-star treatment, which is delivered only to the elites of the elites. Socialist Bernie has his private jet and three homes. Amtrak Joe has his contracted gourmet cuisine and vice presidential name plate on his dressing room door. All others take the campaign bus.

            Biden is most likely not the only person on the campaign trail that puts up a false front.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) is running for President of the United States on the fake idea that she is one with the black descendants of slaves. Her own father called her out on her claim saying that he is Jamaican and descended from slave owners.

            There is not much that we can do about other people who build their Potemkin villages except beware and search for the truth. We can, however, be genuine ourselves. Then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave some counsel about being true in a Potemkin world. He said that there is nothing wrong with trying to look as good as we can – shine our shoes, paint our homes, hide the dirty dishes when unexpected company comes. He said that it is when “this desire to impress shifts from being useful to deceitful” that we should be concerned. 

            The Savior had a good description for such people, those who tried to appear righteous when they were just looking for praise, influence and wealth. He called them “whited sepulchers” – they were beautiful on the outside but full of uncleanness within. President Uchtdorf’s counsel is as follows.

Whether your testimony is thriving and healthy or your activity in the Church more closely resembles a Potemkin village, the good news is that you can build on whatever strength you have. Here in the Church of Jesus Christ you can mature spiritually and draw closer to the Savior by applying gospel principles day by day.

With patience and persistence, even the smallest act of discipleship or the tiniest ember of belief can become a blazing bonfire of a consecrated life. In fact, that’s how most bonfires begin – as a simple spark.

So if you feel small and weak, please simply come unto Christ, who makes weak things strong. The weakest among us, through God’s grace, can become spiritually strong, because God “is no respecter of persons.” He is our “faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments.”

            So, instead of putting up a false front or becoming “whited sepulchers,” let us attack the real problems. We each have strengths and talents. We all have something to offer. We are all individuals, but we all have value to society and to Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Democrats and the Slippery Slope

            I have recently had to separate the Democrats that I know personally with those who are sitting in Congress. I do not personally know any Democrat who thinks it is a good thing to kill – whether the person is unborn or born. I consider any Democrats in my circle of acquaintances to be good people. Yet I cannot say the same for anyone voting in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress for bills that allow innocent unborn babies to be killed or left to die after birth.

            The Democrat governor of New York recently signed a bill into law that allows abortion up to the moment of birth. Democrats in Virginia went further in trying to pass a bill that would have allowed doctors to leave newborn babies to die. Democrats in the U.S. Senate killed a bill this week that would have protected any child who somehow survived an abortion attempt. Not all Democrats are so heartless because three of them joined with Republicans to support the bill.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would have required that “any health care practitioner present” at the time of a birth “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

            I usually agree with most of what Matt Walsh writes, but I saw his headline today that caused me to go “Wow! Wow! Wow!” The headline is “You Can No Longer Be A Decent Person and A Democrat.” What about the good people who are still Democrats?

We have come – plummeted is probably the better word – a long way since 2002, when the Born Alive Infant Protection Act passed unanimously through the Senate. That bill recognized all born children as human persons, which is a position that has since fallen out of favor in the Democratic Party. In just over a decade and a half, Democrats have gone from “safe, legal, and rare abortions” to “kill ‘em all and don’t stop when they’re born.” Many of us warned that the first slogan would lead eventually to the second. We take no pleasure in our vindication.

            Walsh recognizes that three Democrats voted for the Senate bill that “supports fourth-trimester abortion.” He then calls the Democrat Party “an evil institution” with which a “decent person cannot in good conscience remain affiliated.” He then admits that all decent people do not need to belong to the Republican Party because it is not such a “bastion of moral courage….”

But a person with any sort of moral foundation, a person with any ethical sense whatsoever, cannot and will not align himself with a political institution that passionately defends abortion through every stage of pregnancy and beyond.

This is not about ideology or opinions or politics. This is just about basic humanity. The Democrat Party could be right about everything else it espouses (it isn’t), and its performance on this issue would still be enough to repel all men and women of virtue. There are some lines that simply cannot be crossed. A political party may have a lot of good ideas but it will still be a hideous blight on the Earth if it advocates slavery. Infanticide (and abortion, which is morally and physically indistinguishable from infanticide) belongs in that same category. It is probably not a coincidence that the Democrat Party, through its long and sordid history, has supported both of those peculiar institutions. What a force for evil it has been. But what amazing consistency – to always fall on the wrong side of every human rights issue.

            I could not honestly say that I agreed with him on his claim because I am so torn about the issue. I agree that slavery, abortion, and infanticide are all wrong and must be condemned. They are all wrongs that are against everything that I believe to be true and good. Yet, I know decent people who are Democrats. How can I even put them in the same class as those supporting abortion and infanticide? I decided that I cannot judge them or their motives, and I will continue to think of them as good people – even when I consider others to be evil.

            I do agree with Walsh about the plummet that our nation has taken because of the lack of moral direction in many members of the Democrat Party. These recent actions by Democrats have certainly pushed our nation further down the slippery slope of destruction!  

            What is that famous saying? It is something about the impossibility of anyone outside the United States being able to destroy our nation, and any destruction will come from within our nation. These are certainly dark days in our nation, but this is not the first time that our nation has been divided over evil practices. We fought the Civil War over the evil known as slavery. After four years and the shedding of much blood, new amendments were added to the Constitution to make sure that slavery never happened again. However, we are still paying a heavy price for allowing it in our nation.

            The Lord had some interesting words to say about America and the shedding of blood. After counseling early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to maintain the U.S. Constitution “for the rights and protection of all flesh,” He says the following.

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood (Doctrine and Covenants 101:80; emphasis added).

            This scripture speaks of the blood that was shed during the Revolutionary War, but it could easily say the same for the Civil War. I believe that He allowed the Civil War to take place in order to cleanse the land once again from the evils of slavery and to give us another chance to live moral lives.

            We do not seem to have learned our lesson because we are now engulfed once again in a great evil – the killing of unborn and newly born babies. Where will the killing end? Will the Democrats want to start killing the elderly, the handicapped, and all others who cannot contribute? Socialism and Communism have led to such actions in past years. Democrats are already calling to take the vote away from older generations!

            We should not make any mistake about how the Lord feels about the shedding of innocent blood. I know that He will hold our nation accountable for any evil that we permit, but I am encouraged by a recent Gallup Poll. It reports a big shift in numbers for the people who are pro-abortion and those who are pro-life. The numbers are basically 47 percent for both the pro-choice and the pro-life camps. However, these numbers have changed in the last month since a Marist survey said that 55 percent of Americans were pro-choice and 38 percent were pro-life, according to The New York Post. 

            I am truly wondering what punishments will be poured down upon the United States to atone for the 60,942,033 babies that have been aborted since Roe v. Wade became the law in 1973. I know that it will be substantial unless we do something drastic to change our ways. Maybe the Democrats have “shot themselves in the foot” as some people say, and they will be voted out of office in big numbers. Maybe these recent actions will open a whole bunch of eyes and allow many people to see what the Democrat Party has become. I guess we can hope and pray that it will! I pray daily that God will bless America, but I honestly cannot see how He will when we insist on killing innocent babies.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Venezuela and Socialism

            It seems that Venezuela is the topic for this week. Venezuelans are starving, but socialist dictator, Nicolas Maduro, does not seem to care. Humanitarian food and medical aid was sent to help the people, but Maduro blocked the Venezuelan border crossings and would not allow the trucks into the country. When his people tried to get food and supplies off the trucks stopped on the Simon Bolivar Bridge between Colombia and Venezuela, Maduro’s troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd and set the trucks on fire. Two people died, and twenty-nine others were shot. A total of 285 people were injured.

            The United States and at least fifty other nations back Juan Guaido to replace Madero, but Madero is making it plain that he is not going out without a fight. President Donald Trump has not ruled out military intervention, but the situation may lead to it if Madero continues to attack his own countrymen.

            Daniel Di Martino grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, but his family escaped to Spain in 2017.  Di Martino escaped in 2016 when he came to the United States as a student. He knows firsthand the effect of socialism on a country, and he spelled it out in an article at USA Today. 

I watched what was once one of the richest countries in Latin America gradually fall apart under the weight of big government.

I didn’t need to look at statistics to see this but rather at my own family. When Chavez took office in 1999, my parents were earning several thousand dollars a month between the two of them. By 2016, due to inflation, they earned less than $2 a day. If my parents hadn’t fled the country for Spain in 2017, they’d now be earning less than $1 a day, the international definition of extreme poverty. Even now, the inflation rate in Venezuela is expected to reach 10 million percent this year.

Venezuela has become a country where a woeful number of children suffer from malnutrition, and where working two full-time jobs will pay for only 6 pounds of chicken a month.

            Di Martino makes it clear in his article that the problem in Venezuela is socialism, and he is trying to warn Americans of the results of it. He says that things went well in the first years, but then everything went downhill from there. I join Di Martino in his hope that President Trump is correct in that the United States will never be a socialist country!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Dayton Moore

            My VIP for this week is Dayton Moore, the general manager for the Kansas City Royals baseball team. The name means nothing to me because I do not follow professional baseball or any sports team. I am impressed with Moore because he had the courage to stand and face something that he considers to be evil.

            Moore has been involved with baseball for nearly thirty years. He has seen things during those years that concerned him. He saw many different problems, and he realized that “every major issue that we dealt with … traced back to pornography.” He explained that baseball players are people – not assets or commodities – with some of the same struggles that afflict people around the world.

            So Moore decided to do something about the root of the problems. He asked a group known as Fight the New Drug, a nonprofit anti-pornography activist group, to visit with his team about pornography. In doing so the Royals became the first major league team to tackle the problem directly.

            In his remarks at the recent Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference held in Salt Lake City, Moore made the following comment.

When we continue to look the other way, it’s not going to get better…. What you permit, you promote, what you fail to confront, you condone. I don’t sleep at night when we don’t confront issues that are hurting our team, our family, our community.

            Moore told a group of more than 2,000 attendees that general managers speak with their athletes about numerous other problems, such as domestic violence and financial responsibility. He believes that he is responsible to warn his players about pornography because it is “destroying our kids, and hurting their thought process.”

            There were other speakers at the annual conference who spoke of the dangers of pornography. They include Taylor Chambers, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Porn-Resilient Parenting, and Martin Roundy, a psychotherapist who works for the State of Utah Division of Child & Family Services and has 23 years of experience working with survivors of childhood trauma.

            Chambers explained that the parental reaction to their children viewing pornography will either help them to grow into healthy adults or will shut them down. Reacting with anger, punishment, lecturing, or tears will not help youth deal with pornography appropriately.

When (our kids) are using porn or have accidentally run into porn, they are very much like that kid on the mountain [who was bitten by a snake]. They’re curled up and wounded and when we start putting our spotlight somewhere else, they’re left in the dark. That’s not a situation we want to put our kids in. We want to be right there, focused first and foremost on helping them out.

            Chambers suggested that the best thing that a parent or spouse can do is to start asking questions and then listening to the answers. He said that it might open up the discussion if the parent or spouse acknowledged their discomfort in the discussion.

            Roundy stressed that it was important to discover the reason for the trauma that is driving the pornography habit. He says that there is usually a reason for “thorny behavior” whether that behavior is pornography, drugs, or something else. “The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be able to recover from trauma. Love is the greatest healing power in the universe.”

            So it sounds like Moore is on the right track by opening the door to discussions about pornography with his players. He seems to be truly concerned about his players and their marriages and families.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is whether or not it is constitutional to include a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census. President Donald Trump asked for a citizenship question to be included on the census, and Democrats went nuts. It was taken to the courts, and an Obama-appointed judge said that it was unconstitutional. Another judge refused to block it, and the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review it and have a decision by the end of June 2020. This is the last possible day for the census forms to be printed.

            The President did not ask for something that has never been done. In fact, there used to be a citizenship question on the census forms, but the practice was discontinued in 1950. The Democrats do not want the question on the census because it may decrease their representatives in Congress. Other people claim that the question would cause people to not fill out the form. Still others say that it will increase the cost of the census.

            The Department of Justice claims that they need the question on the census in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act. If there are more registered voters in a precinct than there are citizens living in the precinct, it shows that there is voter fraud. It seems to me to be a legitimate reason for having the question on the census. I cannot imagine that it is unconstitutional to want to count citizens, but who knows what the Supreme Court will rule. I am anxious to hear the decision, but I am certainly not anxious for more liberal temper tantrums.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

A House of God

            C. S. Lewis wrote a story about a living house as a metaphor of how God is changing us as mere humans into follows of Christ. I think that it is most appropriate and applicable.

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

            All who have given their lives to Christ understand how this living house feels. The first repairs are minor and not to painful. However, when He starts taking out walls and adding more stories, it is a bit painful. We must remember that God knows our potential much better than we do. He also gives us prophets and apostles to help us understand what is happening to us. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke about a God’s blueprint for us, and he said that it means for us to believe in Christ, to love as He loves, and to do the works that He does. 

            Elder Uchtdorf begins his talk by stating that “hope is found in the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the Savior’s redemptive power to heal us of our soul-sickness.” Jesus declared, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Elder Uchtdorf explains that we “achieve that abundant life … by becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ – by following in His ways and engaging in His work. We find the abundant life by forgetting ourselves and engaging in the great cause of Christ.” He continues by explaining that the cause of Christ “is to believe in Him, love as He loved, and do as He did.”

            We are told that the gospel of Jesus Christ makes bad men good and good men better. Elder Uchtdorf says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is “a blueprint for happiness and meaning in this life and a way to experience eternal joy in the halls of glory in the life to come.” This blueprint is to help us to become like Christ by believing in Him, loving as He loved, and doing as He did.

            We first must believe in Him. Elder Uchdorf: “In my experience, belief is not so much like a painting we look at and admire and about which we discuss and theorize. It is more like a plow that we take into the fields and, by the sweat of our brow, create furrows in the earth that accept seeds and bear fruit that shall remain.” What should we believe?

            We should believe in the power of His Atonement. Bishop Merrill J. Bateman, while serving as the Presiding Bishop, said the following:

“The Savior’s atonement in the garden and on the cross is intimate as well as infinite. Infinite in that it spans the eternities. Intimate in that the Savior felt each person’s pains, sufferings, and sicknesses. Consequently, he knows how to carry our sorrows and relieve our burdens that we might be healed form within, made whole persons, and receive everlasting joy in his kingdom.”
(“The Power to Heal from Within,” Ensign, May 1995, 13-14). 

            We should believe that God is still in control and that He has a plan for us. He knows how things are going to turn out and has told us to put our trust in Him. The following quote has been attributed to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and was supposedly given in a devotional at BYU. It could have originated in an email from Elder Holland to John Bytheway, 1 June 2004.

The future of [the] world has long been declared; the final outcome between good and evil is already known. There is absolutely no question…because the victory has already been posted on the scoreboard. The only really strange thing in all of this is that we are still down here on the [playing] field deciding whose jersey we’re going to put on.
            We should believe that we can be happy even in the darkest of times IF we wear the Lord’s jersey. There were extensive wars, death, and corruption in high places during the time of Captain Moroni. Yet the scriptures tell us that it was a happy time. “But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni, yea, even at this time, in the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges” (Alma 50:23).
            The next requirement is that we must love as He loves. Elder Uchtdorf says:
The scriptures reveal that the more we love God and His children, the happier we become…. The love God speaks of is the kind that enters our hearts when we awake in the morning, stays with us throughout the day, and swells in our hearts as we give voice to our prayers of gratitude at evening’s end.

            As a parent and grandparent, I am particularly grateful for those people who love and serve my children and grandchildren. I feel confident that Heavenly Father feels the same way to those who serve His children. In fact, when we truly love the Father, we will love His children. King Benjamin explains to his people that he has given his life in their service, but in reality that had “only been in the service of God” (Mosiah 2:16-17, 19). So, service is a way that we can develop love for God and our neighbors. President Thomas S. Monson says: 

An attitude of love characterized the mission of the Master. He gave sight to the blind, legs to the lame, and life to the dead. Perhaps when we make face-to-face contact with our Maker, we will not be asked, “How many positions did you hold?” but rather, “How many people did you help?” In reality, you can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people (“Great Expectations,” BYU Devotional, Jan. 11, 2009).

            We must do the works that He does. Elder Uchtdorf says:

In the Savior’s work, it is often by small and simple means that `great things [are] brought to pass’ [Alma 37:6].

We know that it requires repetitive practice to become good at anything. Whether it’s playing the clarinet, kicking a ball into a net, repairing a car, or even flying an airplane, it is through practicing that we may become better and better.

The organization our Savior created on earth – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – helps us to do just that. It offers a place to practice living the way He taught and blessing others the way He did.

As Church members, we are given callings, responsibilities, and opportunities to reach out in compassion and minister to others.

            We are asked to minister to each other and to people in our community, but our first responsibility is in our homes. We are all needed in the building up of the kingdom of God even in our imperfections. Girls ages 8-11 were invited to the Women Session of General Conference as a way to strengthen them against the evils of the world. However, it was quickly learned that the women and teenagers need the younger girls – for their faith, testimonies, and personal revelation – in this battle against evil. There is much work to be accomplished before the world will be ready to welcome the Savior. We need everyone because everyone has at least one talent that would further the work of the Lord.

            Elder Uchtdorf says that we need to remember to welcome everyone to the work and then show love and support to them. “But they do have this in common – they want to improve and draw closer to the Lord, our Savior, even Jesus Christ. They are trying to get it right. They believe. They love. They do. They want to become less selfish, more compassionate, more refined, more like Jesus.”

            Elder Uchtdorf closes by acknowledging that we all go through hard times and bouts of despair and discouragement. “But the gospel of Jesus Christ offers hope.” We can get through the hard times if we will continue to believe, love, and do.

Friday, February 22, 2019

God-Given Parental Roles

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when mothers and fathers fulfill their God-given responsibilities in families. Men and women are much the same in some ways even though they are created differently in body and capacities. These differences in men and women are to enable them to be two halves of a whole, perfecting and completing each other.

            In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” God spoke to the people of the world through His duly authorized servants, the prophets and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This document describes the ideal family and teaches principles and practices that help us bring our individual families as close to the ideal as possible. The proclamation teaches that husband and wife are to “love and care for each other and their children.” It specifically outlines the duties of fathers and mothers as follow.

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

            The world would have us believe that equality means the same and that men and women must be the same if they are to be equal. This belief is wrong. If God wanted us to be the same, He would have created us the same. That would result in the same effect as having an orchestra made up of only violins or only harps. The varieties are what make life rich and interesting. Equality means that both genders stand on equal ground – one is not above or in front of the other. They stand side by side as husband and wife, father and mother, patriarch and matriarch.

            Latter-day Saints have long believed that it is important for mothers to be in the home while rearing a family if at all possible. This belief comes from the words of living prophets as well as scriptures denoting the importance of teaching and training children. President Spencer W. Kimball made the following prophetic statement in 1978. 

To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times.

            The most important influence that a righteous woman can ever hope to have is in nurturing, teaching, and training her own children, working hand in hand with her righteous husband. In a time when the role of motherhood is devalued or seriously questioned and when women are delaying or declining the opportunity to become mothers, it is good to hear the clarion call of prophets. The prophetic counsel is supported by scientific evidence that demonstrates the importance of a mother’s care in the life of her children.

            The role of fathers is equally important in the lives of their children. To be a father means more than simply a biological act; it is a divine calling that will continue throughout eternity. President Ezra Taft Benson said that the position of a father “is an eternal calling from he is] never released.” President Howard W. Hunter taught that a father’s “leadership of the family is [his] most important and sacred responsibility” and the “family is the most important unit in time and in eternity and, as such, transcends every other interest in life.”          

            According to the proclamation, a father is to preside (be the spiritual leader) in his family. He is to love, teach, and direct his children. His is the power to bless generations. A father is to provide food, shelter, and clothing as well as to manage resources, time, and energy. He is to provide for both physical and spiritual needs of his family. A father is to protect his children by keeping them safe but also by preparing them to take the responsibilities of adulthood. Scientific evidence shows that there are two other requirements for fathers. The first is that they be a partner with the mother whether or not they are married. The second is that they need to be present in body, mind, and spirit in the life of the child.

            Children need both a father and a mother in their life because men and women are different and have God-given responsibilities along with the capacities to fulfill those roles. When fathers and mothers act as equal partners and fulfill their God-given roles, families, communities, and nations are stronger.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Freedom from Socialism

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the fact that socialism does not work. Bernie Sanders and other socialists in the United States keep trying to move our nation closer to socialism, and they fail to consider the example of Venezuela that is imploding before our very eyes. They claim that socialism would work in the United States even though it has failed in every other place. “This time it would be different!”

            President Donald Trump has been taking the fight to the socialists. When he delivered his State of the Union address before Congress, he said the following. 

Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence --- not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

            Trump made it clear in his address that Americans do not want socialism. We were “founded on freedom and independence,” and we intend to stay free and independent. Trump went on the attack against socialism again this week. He gave a speech that should make every American proud and that would have definitely pleased Ronald Reagan. 

For decades, the socialist dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela have propped each other up in a very corrupt bargain. Venezuela gave Cuba oil. In return, Cuba gave Venezuela a police state run directly from Havana. … But this is a much different day, and those days are over. The ugly alliance between the two dictatorships is coming to a rapid end.

A new future is beginning. … [That’s because those in the arena and outside it] are united because we know the truth about socialism in Venezuela, in Cuba, in Nicaragua and all around the world. Socialism promises prosperity, but it delivers poverty.
Socialism promises unity, but it delivers hatred and it delivers division. Socialism promises a better future, but it always returns to the darkest chapters of the past….

That never fails. It always happens. Socialism is a sad and discredited ideology rooted in the total ignorance of history and human nature, which is why socialism, eventually, must always give rise to tyranny, which it does.

Socialists profess a love of diversity, but they always insist on absolute conformity. We know that socialism is not about justice, it’s not about equality, it’s not about lifting up the poor. Socialism is about one thing only: power for the ruling class. And the more power they get, the more they crave.

They want to run healthcare, run transportation and finance, run energy, education – run everything….

They want to the power to decide who wins and who loses, who’s up and who’s down, what’s true and what’s false, and even who lives and who dies. In short, all of us here today know that there is nothing less democratic than socialism.

Everywhere and anywhere it appears, socialism advances under the banner of progress…. But in the end, it delivers only corruption, exploitation, and decay.

            It is good to have a President who is willing to tell the truth – at least as he sees it. It is good to have a President who defends democracy and our democratic republic. I am proud of him for the way that he stands firm in the face of hatred and stupidity. My God bless Donald Trump, and may God bless the U.S.A.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Medical Treatment Instead of New Car

            Liberals, Democrats, Never-Trumpers, and some Republicans are angry because Donald Trump declared that there is a national emergency on the southern border of the United States.
This emergency has been building for decades, and past Presidents have declared that something should be done. Even Democrats in Congress professed that something had to be done about all the illegal aliens who were crossing the border.

            Then along comes Donald Trump who campaigns on building a wall. The majority of Americans decided to give him a chance and voted him into office. He has been trying to build a wall for the past two years but has been stymied by Congress – both Republicans and Democrats. He shut down the government for more than thirty-five days in an effort to push Congress into funding the wall. Congress did not budge, and Trump had compassion for the federal employees who were not being paid. It should have been Congress that went without paychecks, but that is another story. Trump gave Congress another chance to pass a bill that would fund the wall, but Congress failed to do their job once again.

            The President of the United States has the duty to keep Americans safe, and there is a real emergency on the border. Because Congress failed to do their job, the President had to find a way to do his duty. He chose to issue a declaration of a national emergency, and everyone is upset at his calling it an emergency.

            Hans von Spakovsky posted an interesting article at The Daily Signal in support of the President by likening the situation to the family budget. I like this analogy because it makes the whole business seem reasonable.

The president is using the declaration to enable him to shift funds already in the federal budget to border security. The shifting of money from one set of priorities to the more urgent priority of border security will allow the president to spend over $8.1 billion to build barriers along part of our border with Mexico and fund other border security measures.

… In truth, the president is using his constitutional authority in the same way other presidents have, in order to find money to deal with an emergency.
And make no mistake, the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is a real emergency – not a figment of Trump’s imagination.

Think of what the president is doing in terms of your family budget. You have money set aside to buy a new car. Then a member of your family gets seriously ill and requires emergency medical treatment that costs you several thousand dollars not covered by your health insurance. What do you do? You postpone buying the new car and use the money for emergency medical care.

            I hope that you think about the President’s emergency order in the same way that you would consider paying for medical treatment instead of buying a new car. Almost everyone can nurse an older car along for a few more months or even years, but emergency medical treatment must take place immediately if not sooner.

            In the same way, the wall needs to be built immediately if not sooner. There is a real emergency at our southern border. People of all sorts are taking advantage of the large loop holes in our immigration laws. They are bringing drugs across the border that kill thousands of Americans each year. They are trafficking in humans, including children. Illegal aliens in our nation are committing crimes, all while being protected by sanctuary cities. There are lunatics in our Congress and leading our largest cities. The President had no other choice than to declare the emergency in order to build a barrier to protect Americans.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A Real Coup d’état against Trump

            We have heard for two years about how the Deep State was out to get Donald Trump. Now it has been confirmed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were running a coup d’état against a duly elected President of the United States. This claim was validated when former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was interviewed by 60 Minutes.

            McCabe admitted on the nation-wide program that he and other officials from the FBI and the DOJ were seriously considering ways to move Trump out of office. This admission constitutes a claim to committing treason. He apparently realizes what he has done because he is trying to walk back his statement.

            Although McCabe did not “levy war” against the United States, he certainly tried to destroy the power of the President of the United States. In addition, he “aided and comforted” other people who were trying to destroy the President. The penalty for treason is death or imprisonment for not less than five years plus a fine not less than $10,000. An additional punishment would be the ban from holding any office under the United States.

            Do I expect McCabe to be charged with treason? No. Should they be charged with treason? I do not know. Alan Dershowitz, a democrat and an emeritus professor of law at Harvard Law School, appeared recently on the Tucker Carlson Tonight show and said the following: 

“If [McCabe’s comments are] true, it is clearly an attempt at a coup d’état.”
Evoking the 25th Amendment, Dershowitz added, would be a fundamental misuse of its original purpose. He said it was originally “about Woodrow Wilson having a stroke. It’s about a president being shot and not being able to perform his office.”
Dershowitz said any justice official who discussed the 25th Amendment in the context of ousting the president “has committed a grievous offense against the Constitution.”

            The next night Dershowitz was interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox News, and he said that there was definitely a coup d’état against Trump. The Twenty-fifth Amendment should never be used to remove a President from office just because he is not liked. Dershowitz also said that Rosenstein should be fired before he can resign.

            Now we know that Trump has been right all along. The Deep State was truly out to get him in a real coup effort at the highest levels of government. However, the attempted coup has now been exposed for what it is. We can only hope that all those involved will get what they so richly deserve.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Gary Sinise

            My VIP for this week is Gary Sinise. I have been reading good things about him for months and never thought to do a post on him – until yesterday. First, here is a little background. Sinise starred in Forest Gump as Lt. Dan Taylor, and his experience connected him to the men and women in the armed services for more than 40 years. He did USO tours in 2003 and then formed the “Lt. Dan Band” in early 2004. This progressed to entertaining troops both at home and elsewhere. The band now does about 30 shows per year for “military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.”

            Sinise recently wrote a book titled “Grateful American” that was released on February 12. Some of the Hollywood stars and other people that he has worked with for years put together a video expressing their own gratitude for the work that Sinise does. The video was a surprise to Sinise, and his surprise and humility are shown through a separate video. It is very touching to see how he responds to the many words of gratitude from numerous people. Sinise is obviously a very important person in the lives of the men and women who serve our nation in the military forces or as part of a law enforcement or fire unit. He truly deserves to be recognized for his humility, kindness and support for the first responders.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Slavery and Abortion

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the connection between slavery and abortion. To put it plain, both slavery and abortion deny human rights, divide the nation, and are/were promoted by Democrats. Republicans fought to end slavery and are battling abortion.

            Even though the United States fought a Civil War to end slavery, it is still part of the national discussion and still divides the nation. Will Democrats continue their assault on the lives of unborn and new-born babies until it brings a second Civil War? The truly troubling piece of the puzzle is that slavery involved mostly Black individuals, abortion kills mostly Black babies, and Blacks continue to support Democrats.

            Cardinal Timothy Dolan posted an interesting op-ed at the Wall Street Journal in which he connects the recent New York State legislation on abortion with the Dread Scott decision. He reminds his readers that the case of Dread Scott and his wife went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Democrat-dominated court determined that they had no right to file the case because they were property and, as property, had no human rights. This is the same argument that Democrats make for abortion and even infanticide. They claim that the unborn and new-born babies do not have rights as human beings.

            The Cardinal wants to know if the nation is having another Dread Scott decision. That is a good question because the Democrats seem to be doubling down on abortion and making it worse. Will it take another Civil War to protect the lives of innocent babies? The Cardinal does not think so, and I hope not. However, the pro-life movement is gaining strength and science seems to be on the side of life. This is a war that will be fought in the minds and hearts of Americans. I choose life, and I hope that you do also.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Women and the Proclamation

            I have invested the past six weeks to studying “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in depth. I have studied the words of prophets and apostles, and I have studied the words of social scientists in support of the proclamation. The more I study this great document, the more I recognize the greatness in it and the more I understand the need for studying it.

            This morning as I was studying a talk from the October 2018 General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I came across a talk that gives more meaning to a portion of the proclamation. The talk was given by President Henry B. Eyring and is titled “Women and Gospel Learning in the Home.”

            During the Women’s Session of conference, President Eyring reminds us that the Lord is accelerating the rate by which He is pouring knowledge into the minds and hearts of His children. “He has made clear that the daughters of Heavenly Father will play a primary role in that miraculous acceleration. One evidence of the miracle is His leading His living prophet to put far greater emphasis on gospel instruction in the home and within the family.”

            When I read that statement I remembered one made by President Spencer W. Kimball many years ago. He too speaks of the role that righteous women will play in the final years of this world as we know it.

Each of you should be grateful to be a woman! … To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times. She has been placed here to enrich, to protect, and to guard the home – which is society’s basic and most noble institution. Other institutions in society may falter and even fail, but the righteous woman can help to save the home, which may be the last and only sanctuary some mortals know in the midst of storm and strife.

            I hope that you can see the connection that I made between the statements of the two prophets. Going back to the talk by President Eyring, you may be wondering how to connect the new emphasis on gospel instruction in the home to faithful sisters being a “primary force to help the Lord pour out knowledge on His Saints.” President Eyring gives the following explanation.

… The Lord gives the answer in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” You remember the words, but you may see new meaning and recognize that the Lord foresaw these exciting changes, which are now occurring. In the proclamation, He gave sisters charge to be the principal gospel educators in the family in these words: “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” This includes the nurture of gospel truth and knowledge. (Emphasis is mine.)

The proclamation goes on: “Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” They are equal partners, equal in their potential for spiritual growth and for acquiring knowledge, and so are unified by helping each other. They are equal in their divine destiny to be exalted together. In fact, men and women cannot exalted alone. 

When, then, does a daughter of God in a united and equal relationship receive the primary responsibility to nourish with the most important nutrient all must receive, a knowledge of truth coming from heaven? As nearly as I can see, that has been the Lord’s way since families were created in this world.

            President Eyring continues by explaining that it was Eve who first received the knowledge that partaking of the fruit was essential “for them to keep all of God’s commandments and to form a family.” When Adam received the same knowledge, they became “perfectly united.” President Eyring also reminds us of the 2000 stripling warriors who were taught by their mothers to have faith and never doubt. “We do not doubt that our mothers knew it.” Then he continues with his explanation.

While I do not know all the Lord’s reasons for giving primary responsibility for nurturing in the family to faithful sisters, I believe it has to do with your capacity to love. It takes great love to feel the needs of someone else more than your own. That is the pure love of Christ for the person you nurture. That feeling of charity comes from the person chosen to be the nurturer having qualified for the effects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ….

As daughters of God, you have an innate and great capacity to sense the needs of others and to love. That, in turn, makes you more susceptible to the whisperings of the Spirit. The Spirit can then guide what you think, what you say, and what you do to nurture people so the Lord may pour knowledge, truth, and courage upon them….
Yet, whatever your personal circumstance, you are part – a key part – of the family of God and of your own family, whether in the future, in this world, or in the spirit world. Your trust from God is to nurture as many of His and your family members as you can with your love and your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Continuing, President Eyring counsels us to ask God who it is that He wishes us to nurture as well as how, and when, and he promises that He will let us know when someone is prepared to accept our nurturing. In addition to prayer, we should study the scriptures to strengthen our “growing power to nurture.” “So you will take more time to pray, to ponder, and to meditate on spiritual matters. You will have knowledge of truth poured out upon you and grow in your power to nurture others in your family.” He counsels us to “not be weary in well doing” but to continue “laying a foundation of a great work.”

            I am very grateful for President Eyring’s explanation of how the new policies can help women to better nurture their families. He even goes so far as to share a few examples of how we might know how to nurture specific members of our families. He concludes his remarks with the following statement.

You will each find ways to contribute to the outpouring of truth upon your families in the Lord’s restored Church. Each of you will pray, study, and ponder to know what your unique contribution will be. But this I know: each of you, equally yoked with sons of God, will be a major part of a miracle of gospel learning and living that will hasten the gathering of Israel and will prepare God’s family for the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

            This conference talk has added much to my understanding of a small portion of the proclamation. I am confident that there is much more awareness that I need and will receive as I increase my capacity for it. Therefore, I am truly grateful for this semester when I have the opportunity to study the proclamation in depth.