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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Who Is the Racist?

            There are people who most likely will consider me to be a racist simply because I am writing this post. It seems that too many people start calling “racist” whenever they cannot win the intellectual debate. In many cases, no one has been a racist, but someone decides to bring up racism because they have no other argument. 

There are numerous cases to which I could refer, but the Donald Trump tweet about Baltimore is one of the most recent. I personally do not see anything remotely racist about the following tweet from the President as reported by The Blaze. As you can see for yourself, there is no reference to the color of anyone’s skin, hair, culture, or way of life. It is simply a statement of facts as far as I can see.

Rep. Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA….

… As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming[‘s] District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.

Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!

            Where is the racism? I see nothing racist in calling out Cummings and all other elected officials who have allowed Baltimore to get and/or to stay in this condition. Trump is absolutely correct when he says that “No human being would want to live there.” The thought of living in a rat-infested area is abhorrent to me. I go ballistic when one little shrew gets in my house, so I can only imagine what it would be like to have rats roaming in one’s home.

            Last fall I was in New York City with my daughters on a girl’s trip. We were hiking the Highline trail and were about thirty feet in the air above the streets of the city. My daughters were taking pictures, and I took the time to look over the edge and into a railroad storage yard. There in plain sight was a big, black rat – looked to be about the size of a large cat – scurrying across the yard. I was fascinated to see the animal – but only because I was safely thirty feet in the air. I might have died of a heart attack if I had met one on the street because I think that I might be more frightened of rats and other rodents than I am bears.

            The Blaze article has some interesting information and includes several videos. You can judge for yourself whether the President was stating facts or being racist.

            I may also be called a racist because economist Walter E. Williams is a hero in my eyes. I like him because he is willing to state facts and does not seem to care if he is politically correct in doing so. He is old enough to have seen real racism, and he describes some of the things that he knew about and maybe seen.

            Williams titled his article “Being a Racist Is Easy Today” and begins it with these words, “Years ago, it was hard to be a racist.” He mentions the white gown and pointy hat of the Ku Klux Klan and the burning of crosses, using axe handles to keep black customers away from businesses and “Bull” Connor using fire hoses to control civil rights demonstrators. He mentions several other truly racist words and behaviors, and then says, “Today, all that has changed. To be a racist today takes little effort.”

            Williams says that one can be called a racist for calling for across-the-board tax cuts, developing a “Contract with America,” or a whole set of “microaggressions.” He says, “Perhaps the easiest way to be labeled a racist is to suggest that a wall be built on our border with Mexico in order to keep people from Mexico and points south from entering our nation illegally.”

Also, a slam-dunk charge of racism is to say that the standard practice of separating children from parents is Nazi-like.

But imagine you are stopped with your child in the car and charged with a DUI in any of our 50 states. You’re going to be arrested and your child taken to protective child services. The identical practice on our southern border becomes racism….

The bottom line is that when leftists have no other winning argument, they falsely accuse others of racism. Republicans cower at the charge and often give the leftists what they want.

Black Americans who are octogenarians, or nearly so, need to explain what true racism is, not to correct white liberals but to inform young black people.

            Here is Williams doing what he does best: being bluntly honest and plain-spoken. He is intelligent enough to know that hiding the truth only prolongs correction of the problem. People of all colors could learn a lot from Williams if they would just pay attention to what he says.

            I am intelligent enough to know that racism does exist, but it should not. No matter our color, we are spirit children of the same Heavenly Father. Just as there are bigots and idiots in every race, there are also good, beautiful, honorable, intelligent people in every race. When we look for the good in people, we can see it clearly.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The President We Deserve

            American conservatives met last week in Washington, D.C., to discuss the “future of conservatism in America” (Jarrett Stepman at The Daily Signal). There were scholars, thinkers, and at least one each television personality, technology entrepreneur, and Senator. They gathered at the National Conservatism Conference and focused on “the future of America and conservatism in the age of Trump.”

            The speakers spoke about nationalism and policies, and they centered around three main themes: national sovereignty is growing in importance worldwide, identity politics destroys national unity, and issues about culture are growing. One of the highlights of the conference was discussion about “how both major parties failed to address the concerns of a huge swath of voters, which le to the election of Donald Trump.” 

In other words, there were millions of Americans who were tired of having our duly elected representatives paying no attention to our needs and desires. We were tired of hearing politicians make promises and never carry through on those promises. We are tired of politicians who care more about illegal aliens than they do Americans. Yet politicians in both parties, lamestream media, and the Americans who consider themselves to be royalty cannot see that there is a problem.

What did the common American have to lose by electing a businessman – even if he does not speak or act like a politician? I do not know who wrote the following analogy, but it describes exactly why I voted for Donald Trump and why I still support him.

Imagine… You have been on vacation for two weeks. You come home and your basement is infested with raccoons: Hundreds of rabid, messy, mean raccoons have overtaken your basement.

You want them gone immediately so you hire a guy: A pro. You don’t care if the guy smells, you need those raccoons gone pronto and he’s the guy to do it! You don’t care if the guy swears; you don’t care if he’s an alcoholic; you don’t care how many times he’s been married; you don’t care if he voted for Obama; you don’t care if he has plumber’s crack. You simply want those raccoons gone! You want your problem fixed! He’s the guy. He’s the best. Period.

That’s why Trump [was elected].
Yes he’s an a__ and an egomaniac. But you don’t care. The country is a mess because politicians suck. The Republican Party is two-faced & gutless. And illegal aliens are everywhere. You want it all fixed!

You don’t care that Trump is crude. You don’t care that he insults people or that he had been friendly with Hillary, that he has changed positions, has been married 3 times, fights with [many people], or doesn’t know the name of some Muslim terrorist. This country is weak, bankrupt, our enemies are making fun of us, we are being invaded by illegal aliens, becoming a nation of victims. Now every Tom, Richardo and Hamid is a special group with special rights to a point where we don’t even recognize the country we were born and raised in. WE JUST WANT IT FIXED!

            Americans wanted to clear out the swamp creatures that had taken up residence in our nation’s capital. We hired a man who we hoped could do the task, and he took the job without the pay. “What happened in 2016, Donald Trump did not cause. He is the result of it.” This is a statement that Stepman attributes to Salena Zito, a columnist at The Washington Examiner. 

Zito’s statement supports a similar statement that is attributed to Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821), a French political philosopher. The statement has several variations, including “Every country has the government it deserves” and “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.” Jon N. Hall says that this is particularly true in a democracy because the people vote for their representatives in a democracy. 

Americans tried several different times to straighten out Washington, D.C., but the swamp creatures refused to leave. We needed a street fighter, even a bully, who would not back down from the bullies. We needed someone that was not obligated to anyone financially. We needed someone who would stand between us and the people are trying to fundamentally change our government and do away with our constitutional way of life. We found that fighter in Donald Trump, and we like what he is doing – even if he is not politically correct.

            Trump has kept promise after promise. He cut regulations and brought our economy alive. He moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the city that the people of Israel consider as their capital. He trying to do something about the illegal alien problem, but liberals on both sides of the aisle keep throwing up roadblocks. 

            Meanwhile, Trump has placed two conservatives on the Supreme Court and flipped the Ninth Circuit Court from liberal to conservative. The result is that Trump is beginning to win in the courts. He recently won a big fight about using leftover funds from the Department of Defense to build a wall along the southern border. He can build 100 miles of wall/fence/barrier with these funds. In my opinion, Americans got the best of the deal when we elected Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton.

Monday, July 29, 2019

John Ratcliffe

            John Ratcliffe is a United States Representative representing the Fourth District of Texas since 2015. He is a former prosecutor, which may or may not help in his new job. He has also been picked by President Donald Trump to serve as the Director of National Intelligence. President Trump announced on July 28, 2019, that he has nominated Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats in the position.

            I first took notice of Ratcliffe during his questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the congressional testimony. This is how Brooke Singman of Fox News reported the situation. During the five minutes that Ratcliffe was allowed to question Mueller, he asked Mueller to identify the Justice Department policy that sets “forth a legal standard that an investigated person is not exonerated if their innocence from criminal conduct is not conclusively determined.” This references Mueller’s report that says the investigation did not exonerate Trump.

Ratcliffe: “Can you give an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?”

Mueller: “I cannot but this is a unique situation.”

Ratcliffe: “Okay, well you can’t – time is short, I got five minutes, let’s leave it at you can’t find it because – I’ll tell you why, it doesn’t exist.

The special counsel’s job didn’t say you were to determine Trump’s innocence or to exonerate him. It’s not in documents, it’s not in the Office of Legal Counsel opinion, any justice manual… 

Respectfully it was not the special counsel’s job to conclusively determine Trump’s innocence because the bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence – everyone is entitled to it, including a sitting president, and because of a presumption of innocence, a prosecutor never, ever needs to determine it. … You wrote 180 pages about decisions that weren’t reached, about potential crimes that weren’t charged or decided.

[The obstruction section of the report] was not authorized under the law to be written – it was written under a legal standard that does not exist at the Justice Department.

I agree with Chairman Nadler this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. But he damn sure should not be below the law which is where Volume II of this report puts him.

Apparently, President Trump was already considering Ratcliffe as his next intelligence chief. However, I am sure that this exchange did not detract from anything else Ratcliffe had said or done. This argument with Mueller focused attention on Ratcliffe and showed that he knows the law and how it is supposed to work.

Ratcliffe highlighted the fact that a person is considered innocent if there is not enough evidence to convict him. Mueller said, “We concluded that we would not reach a determination

one way or another about whether the president committed a crime. That is the office’s final position.” If the investigation could not determine that Trump had committed a crime, Mueller should not have written the report as though Trump were guilty. The report could have been much shorter if it had simply said, “We did not find enough evidence to convict the President.”

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Why Keep the Electoral College

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the Electoral College and why we should keep it. Progressives continue to be in favor of abolishing the Electoral College. They claim that it is “undemocratic,” and they are correct. 

            The United States of America is a republic, not a democracy. It is also a constitutional republic because its government is built up the Constitution. The Founders included both democratic principles and republican principles when they wrote the Constitution.

The Preamble to the Constitution states, “We the People of the United States….” The Founders believed that the people held the power in the government, and they wanted the people to have a voice in how the government was run. However, they knew the dangers of a pure democracy, and one danger is that the majority of the people do not always choose wisely. Therefore, they wanted the people to be in charge, but they wanted to have some controls over the power of the people. This is the reason why they did not create a pure democracy. 

It is also one of the reasons that they wrote republican principles into the Constitution. Jarrett Stepman of The Daily Signal says that “much of our political system” is undemocratic, including the Bill of Rights. He explains that the Electoral College is one of those republican principles written into the Constitution for the good of the nation. 

…the Framers of the Constitution created the Electoral College as a way to select presidents who could gather broad-based support around the country. The system is somewhat skewed in favor of small states, as the total number of Electoral College votes of each state is dependent on the size of a state’s Senate and House delegation.

Since every state has two senators, small states have that edge, though not so much that the large states aren’t still far more important to win.

The implications of this are twofold. Small states collectively can check the power of large ones, and more importantly, presidential candidates must appeal to states as states, not to the nation as a giant, undifferentiated mass….

There is a large movement among the states called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact movement. States that join this movement agree to award all of their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. As of this month, fifteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted the compact. Together they have 196 electoral votes out of the 270 votes required to elect a president. 

            However, some blue-leaning states are beginning to understand the implications of giving away their electoral votes. They realize that the small states will lose influence if presidents are elected on a popular vote. They are also beginning to see that some individual rights guaranteed by our Constitution cannot be protected in a tyranny built on who is the most popular. Stepman continues with his defense of the Electoral College.

The Founders had differing views on democracy, but few saw it as an unalloyed good. The current system, where states rely on a popular vote to select electors provides that balance of both federalism and democracy.

It preserves federalism (and minorities’ rights), protects the system against election fraud, and has produced a remarkably stable system for selecting presidents in the world’s oldest constitutional republic.

Democrats/liberals/progressives are upset because the system worked exactly as it was meant to work. In order to win the required 270 votes in the Electoral College, presidential candidates must appeal to all the states as states. Donald Trump won the most electoral votes because he went to the smaller states and convinced the people to vote for him. 

I agree with Alexander Hamilton that the Electoral College is not a perfect system, but it is “excellent” (Federalist 68, as quoted by Stepman). The system has worked for more than 230 years. Why should we change it now simply because Hillary Clinton lost the election?

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Disciples of Jesus Christ

            Conversion means to change. When people are converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, they have a change of heart. One such person was a young man by the name of Saul. Saul was a devout Jew and a citizen of Rome. He thought that he was doing God’s will when he went about persecuting the disciples of Jesus Christ. 

The scriptures record that Saul was present when Stephen was stoned for testifying of Christ. “And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul” (Acts 7:58). The next chapter tells us that Saul consented to Stephen’s death. 

Saul continued in his quest to persecute the church set up by Jesus Christ. He even went so far as to go into houses to lay hold up men and women and take them to prison. All the Saints were frightened of Saul, and many of them left Jerusalem for other areas. Saul continued to breathe out “threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). The high priest sent him to Damascus to capture men and women and bring them bound to Jerusalem.

While traveling with several companions to Damascus, Saul suddenly saw a bright light that “shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul answered, “Who are thou, Lord?” The Lord said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” Saul asked the question that all of us should ask, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:3-6).

The Lord told Saul to go to Damascus and find a man by the name of Ananias. Saul was blind for three days and did not eat or drink anything. Meanwhile, Ananias had a vision where the Lord told him to go meet Saul. Ananias was hesitant to do so because he knew Saul’s reputation, but the Lord said to him, “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

Ananias was obedient and went to meet Saul. He gave Saul a priesthood blessing, and Saul regained his eyesight. He also received a change in heart. Whereas he thought that he was doing God’s will by persecuting the Saints, he now knew that he had been wrong and set about correcting his wrong. Saul spent years and traveled many miles to share his experience with all who would listen. At some point during his missions, Saul became known as Paul the Apostle.

At the end of his third mission to the Jews and to the Gentiles, Paul was on his way back to Jerusalem and became aware that his life would be in danger when he arrived there. He had a choice. He could either continue along the road to Jerusalem and face the consequences of going there, or he could go somewhere else. His friends certainly tried to dissuade him from going to Jerusalem, but he was committed to going. “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus…. The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:13-14). He went to Jerusalem and was arrested. He spent several years in and out of prison, but he never stopped sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. He shared his experience on the road to Damascus and his testimony with Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa. He completed the mission given to him by the Lord and was killed in Rome.

Paul, who once persecuted the disciples of Jesus Christ and consented to their deaths, now became the persecuted and martyred. Paul’s experience shows us that even though adversity may come, we should always put the Lord first even though the consequences may not look good to us. If we know that we are doing the will of the Lord, He will bless us in our endeavors.

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) described the convictions of those who are true disciples of Jesus Christ: “Men changed for Christ will be captained by Christ…. Their will is swallowed up in His will. (See John 5:30.) They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.) Not only would they die for the Lord, but more important they want to live for Him” (“Born of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6). 

            Like Paul, disciples of Jesus Christ bear their testimonies boldly to all who will listen. They know that when they are serving God, He will stand with them. President Thomas S. Monson (1927-2018) taught: “When we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help” (“To Learn, to Do, to Be,” Ensign, Nov. 2008, 62).

Paul, President Benson, and President Monson knew that they could follow the Savior no

matter the consequences. We are fortunate to live in a day when fifteen Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ travel to all parts of the world bearing their witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Where they do not go in person, they send their message through one of the many technological miracles of our day. They also send approximately 80,000 missionaries out into the world to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

            We have the choice to either listen to the Apostles and other witnesses of Jesus Christ or to reject their message. Those who reject the message of God’s servants will one day be held accountable for their disbelieve. Those who listen and accept the message will be blessed. It is a choice that each of us must make at some point.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Study of Families

            Communities and nations are stronger when families are healthy and thriving. This makes sense because the family is the basic unit of society. If the foundation of any building is weak, the entire structure is endangered. The same is true of our society. Without strong families, communities and nations are threatened with destruction.

            I completed the final exam of my latest class titled “The Family.” For a textbook I used Marriage & Family – The Quest for Intimacy by Robert H. Lauer and Jeanette C. Lauer [2018] published by McGraw Hill Education in New York City. It is impossible for me to share with you everything that I learned over the past fourteen months. What I can tell you is that my studies about marriage and family have opened my eyes. I feel much more compassion for families in general and particularly for some types of families. 

I will keep the book to use as a reference, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to strengthen their own family and/or to help others. I encourage older teenagers and young adults to read books and take classes about marriage and family before they make any serious commitments.  

I learned much that I can use in strengthening my own family, which would be reason enough to value my new knowledge. However, I also learned much about other marriages and families and their strengths and struggles. My tunnel vision has given way to wider views, and I will never look at families quite the same way again. As one of my final assignments, I wrote the following list of the top ten things that I want to remember from my studies. 

1. All human beings have a need for intimacy in their lives. “Intimacy involves love, affection, caring, and deep attachment to a friend, lover, spouse, or relative” (Lauer & Lauer, 2018, 4). Loneliness is the opposite of intimacy, and there are two kinds of loneliness. Social loneliness means less interpersonal interaction than desired, and emotional loneliness means fewer intimate relationships that desired.

2. There are numerous definitions for family. A family can be more than a nuclear family with father, mother, and children or an extended family of more than three generations. Lauer and Lauer define family as “a group united by marriage or cohabitation, blood, and/or adoption in order to satisfy intimacy needs and/or bear and socialize children” (2018, 26). Even though there are many similarities between the different types of families, there are also many differences. Each type of family has its own set of struggles. Lauer and Lauer state that “A good deal of diversity in family life stems from such factors in the social context as cultural background, religion, social class position, and the experience of prejudice and discrimination” (2018, 50).

3. There are more similarities between females and males than differences, and there are some specific terms to explore them. Sex refers to the biological identification as male or female. Gender refers to the male or female as a social creature. Gender role refers to the behavior considered to be either male (strong) or female (gentle). Gender-role orientation refers to how a person perceives their own individual combination of masculine and feminine traits. (See Lauer and Lauer, 2018, 57.)

4. Self-disclosure is important in building intimacy. Each person needs to be willing to share information about themselves in order to have a balanced relationship but should always be discriminating about how much and with whom they share. Self-disclosure “is more than a sharing of information” because it “links you with another person in a mutually growing process.” This sharing of “feelings, needs, thoughts, and self-awareness with someone else is both a result of intimacy and a creator of greater intimacy” (Lauer and Lauer, 2018, 119).

5. There is a difference between liking someone and loving them and between friendship and love. Love includes all the characteristics of friendship, plus passion and caring. There are different kinds of love (infatuation, empty, romantic, companionate, fatuous, and consummate) and different styles of lovers (erotic, ludic, storgic, manic, pragmatic, and agape). (See Lauer and Lauer, 2018, 140-143.)

6. People cohabit for various reasons, but cohabitation is not a good test for marriage. Cohabitation “brings no advantage to those who desire marriage” but brings “a higher risk for problems and breakups” (Lauer & Lauer, 2018, 150-153). 

7. There are different types of marriages that are classified by lifestyle (polygamy, open, traditional, or egalitarian) and by the nature (strengths and weaknesses) of the relationship. (See Lauer & Lauer, 2018, 1277-183.)

8. Communication is both verbal and non-verbal and can become complicated because of all the encoding and decoding through individual ideas and feelings. “Satisfying communication is essential for a healthy marriage” (Lauer & Lauer, 2018, 206). A big part of good communication is self-disclosure.

9. “Power is an integral part of human relationships” because it brings “some sense of control over our lives” and “is important to our mental health” (Lauer & Lauer, 2018, 215). The way that power is used in an intimate relationship and how the two partners perceive its balance is “important to marital satisfaction” (216). A power struggle is basically a conflict, and conflict can have positive functions, such as bringing the conflict out into the open and clarifying issues. It can also “create and maintain an equitable balance of power” (221-222). Lauer and Lauer state that there are rules for good fighting (maintain perspective, develop tension outlets, avoid festering resentment, be sensitive to timing, communicate, be flexible and willing to compromise, attack the problem and not the person, and keep loving even though fighting) (229-232).

10. Crisis comes to every family in some way and at some time. It is the way we deal with the crisis, not the crisis itself, that determines our coping success. Some families struggle with crises that pile up before they can be dealt with appropriately, and it is the pileups that make the crises so difficult to handle. 

I learned much more about marriage and family, but I wanted to particularly remember these things. I know that the family is the core unit of society and needs to be given priority in our lives. I know that we can strengthen our communities and nations by strengthening our own individual families.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Black Freedom from Poverty

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the need to change the topic of discussion from the illegal aliens crossing our southern border to the African-Americans living in the inner cities of America. Democrats have all but abandoned Black Americans in their rush to welcome more potential – but illegal -- voters into the United States. African-Americans in the inner cities are crying for help. Who will step up to be assistance to them.

            Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, wrote an article titled “Too Many Black Americans Live in Horrible Conditions.” His article is about the living conditions in “the dangerous high-crime and poor-schooling neighborhoods of cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, or St. Louis.” He says that it is time for higher priorities in our nation.

Which is most important to you: doing something about public safety and raising the quality of education or, as most black politicians do, focusing energies upon President Donald Trump and who … will lead the Democratic Party?

The average American has no inkling about the horrible conditions in which many blacks live. Moreover, they wouldn’t begin to tolerate living under those conditions themselves.

            Williams says that neither white nor black politicians will wade into the problems of the Black communities. There is so much lawlessness there that law enforcement officers are threatened and even killed on a somewhat regular basis. There are not too many people who want to enter the ghetto areas. Yet, some help has arrived.

            Tad Walch at The Deseret News wrote an article titled “How the NAACP and Latter-day Saints are working together to address inner city problems” in which he describes a joint project to serve the people living in the inner city of Chicago and San Francisco. President Russell M. Nelson, along with his associates in the leading councils of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, saw a great need and set forth to help some of the “most under- privileged African Americans.” The Church provided “self-reliance manuals [which] had been specifically rewritten and adapted for inner-city blacks by the church and the NAACP.”

            The first manuals were delivered in March, and 100 students graduated in late June. Ten out of twelve students that graduated in Chicago, and one woman took three buses each week in order to attend the class. There were bumps along the way, but the graduates and leaders are to be congratulated on their efforts. The “graduates, who learned to budget, reduced or eliminated debt and came to recognize the pitfalls of payday lending.”

            The Church and the NAACP may be considered as “strange bedfellows,” but they are working together to fill a need. The effort “is rooted in a fundamental common belief that all people are children of God. To show how unified they are, the NAACP invited President Nelson to speak  at their national convention last Sunday

We are all connected, and we have a God-given responsibility to help make life better for those around us…. We don’t have to be alike or look alike to have love for each other. We don’t even have to agree with each other to love each other. If we have any hope of reclaiming the goodwill and sense of humanity for which we yearn, it must begin with each of us, one person at a time.

            According to Walch, the relationship between the NAACP and the Church is just getting started. “The NAACP and BYU law school alumni are organizing a project to help previously incarcerated men and women expunge their public criminal records so they can regain the right to vote and improve their employment opportunities.”

            There is hope for the people living in African American communities. They need to know that someone cares about them and is willing to help them get started. Even though politicians refuse to become involved in the cause, there are good people who are willing to do so.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Mueller Time, Second Round

            Robert Mueller investigated Donald Trump for more than two years, interviewed 500 witnesses, spent $30 million, and wrote a 448-page report about his investigation. After all that time, effort, and expense, he could not say that Trump had broken any laws. In the words of Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), it was a big “nothing burger.” Democrats and other never-Trumpers were irate and pledged to get Trump another way.

            Democrat leaders in the U.S. House finally convinced Mueller to give sworn testimony to two different House committees. He defended his investigation before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Judiciary Committee. Lisa Mascaro at Associated Press (AP) wrote that Mueller’s testimony “sent the clearest signal yet that impeachment may be slipping out of reach for Democrats” and that the final verdict on Trump will be left to the voters in the 2020 Presidential Election. 

            Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal shared eight takeaways from Mueller’s appearance before Congress:  First, he could not cite Department of Justice (DOJ) policy or principle on exonerating an individual because the “bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence” until proven guilty. Mueller did not prove that Trump was guilty of collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice. 

            Second, when questioned about the possibility of indicting a sitting president, Mueller said, “We did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”

            Third, there was some confusion about whether “collusion” and “conspiracy” are synonymous terms. Mueller’s report says that they are, and he said that he would “leave it with the report.”

            Fourth, numerous Democrats set the stage for Mueller to recommend impeachment, but Mueller declined to step into their trap. He “refused to state that impeachment was what the report means in referring to other venues to pursue evidence of obstruction of justice.”  Representative Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) asked Chairman Nadler if “the point of this hearing [is] to get Mr. Mueller to recommend impeachment.” Nadler responded, “That is not a fair point of inquiry.”

            Fifth, Mueller was asked when he made the decision to “put conspiracy to rest.” Mueller replied, “I can’t say when.”

            Sixth, there were questions that Mueller refused to answer. Why did his team fail to prosecute Joseph Mifsud who told “George Papadopoulos that Moscow had some of Hillary Clinton’s emails? Did he interview Steele or Fusion GPS had Glenn Simpson? Did he read the Steele dossier? Did the Russian meddling sway the outcome of the presidential election? There were several other answered questions.

            Seventh, Mueller defended the alleged conflicts that he created when he hired Democrat lawyers, many of whom donated to Democratic candidates, to work on the Trump case. He said that he never asks people about their political affiliation. “What I care about is the capability of the individual to do the job.”

            Eighth, Mueller’s report said that “the Trump campaign was aware of Russian election meddling and expected to benefit from it.” What is the “new normal” for politicians’ responsibility to report hostile foreign powers trying to influence an election? Do they still have duty to report to the FBI or other authorities? Mueller replied, “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.”

            The bottom line is that Mueller conducted his investigation of Donald Trump and could not find enough evidence that would convict Trump of collusion or obstruction of justice. He should have said so in his report because Trump should have been considered innocence until proven guilty. Mueller should not have written his report in the way that he did, and he should have confirmed more strongly before the Congressional Committees that there was not enough evidence to convict Trump. It was Mueller’s job to prove Trump was guilty or to set him free. He served up another big “nothing burger.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Closing More Loopholes

            According to Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a new rule in the Federal Register today. The new regulation will take effect after the normal 60-day comment period. The reform is meant to close a loophole in the food stamp program and could remove approximately 3.1 million recipients. 

            The loophole that the USDA is seeking to close “allows states to make those receiving even minimal federal welfare benefits eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” – also known as food stamps. “The loophole is known as ‘broad-based categorical eligibility’ [and] allows applicants to bypass an assets test.” This means that someone with little actual income but lots of property and huge bank accounts could receive food stamps.

            Rob Undersander, a millionaire in Minnesota, sought to expose the loophole when he “applied for and legally obtained food stamps under the existing laws.” He was not a recipient of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but he had little income. He was not yet old enough to receive Social Security, but he had “substantial assets in retirement through savings and investments.”

            Lucas says that the new regulation should prevent such fraud from taking place. He uses quotes to emphasis that the guilty parties in this fraud are the states, not the individuals.

Under the current system a person can be eligible for food stamps simply for receiving an informational brochure about the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program often with no check of income or assets.

Under the new proposed rule, a person must have a cash benefit of at least $50 per month from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to qualify under a state’s categorical eligibility program.

The aim is to close the loophole allowing states to expand eligibility so broadly that even people who don’t need public assistance are getting food stamps.

Under the proposed rule, taxpayers could save billions of dollars if food stamp benefits are provided on a consistent basis across states, according to the USDA.

            Americans are generous people with few objecting to helping someone in need. However, most Americans do not enjoy being used by people who are gaining government benefits by fraudulent means. The case of the millionaire referenced above shows the extent of how they system can be abused.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Ross Perot

            My VIP for this week is Ross Perot because I recently heard a story that changed my opinion of him. Perot ran for President of the United States as a third-party candidate in 1992. Exit polls showed that he drew supporters equally from President George H. W. Bush and Governor Bill Clinton. I still blame him for the fact that Clinton won the election.

            I had such a bad idea of the man known as Ross Perot that I was surprised at a recent news story about him. Perot recently died, and Rick Perry said it was time for him to tell this story. Apparently he was known for his “love of country, larger-than-life personality and generosity,” but I knew nothing about him except he messed up the election. 

            As Governor of Texas, Perry says that he had “the honor and privilege” of knowing many “warriors” who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and came home wounded. One of those heroes was U.S. Army Cpl. Alan Babin Jr. He was serving as a medic in the 82nd Airborne in Iraq in 2003 when he was shot in his abdomen while tending a fallen comrade. Along with his “long and difficult recovery” from his war wounds, Alan’s recovery was “complicated by the onset of meningitis and a stroke-induced coma.” He is “confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.”

            One year after the injury, Perry visited with Rosie, Alan’s mother, and asked what he could do to help. She spoke of her desire to take Alas home, but she could not figure out how to transport him to his many medical visits. Perry called Ross Perot.

            The next morning Perot called Rosie and “made arrangements for his plane to pick up the Babins in Austin and fly them to Dallas” where Alan could be treated by “leading neurologists at Zale Lipshy University Hospital.” Perot was at the hospital to meet the Babins. He gave Rosie “a key to a hotel across the street” from the hospital where she could stay close to Alan.

            When Rosie went home for her daughter’s prom, Perot visited privately with Alan and kept him from being alone. Three weeks later Rosie and Alan were taken home to Austin in Perot’s plane. There they found “a fully customized luxury conversion van equipped with a wheelchair lift” in their driveway. Perot told Rosie, “One phone call is all you ever need to make if you need anything. Now, I want you to focus on Alan.”

            In 2005 Perot flew the Babins to Washington, D.C. in order for Alan to return to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Perot “arranged for a private ambulance to pick him up on the tarmac and transport him to the hospital.”

            Perry told us about Alan but said that there are “untold others [Perot] quietly helped.
It seems that there is usually another story besides the ones carried by the mainstream media.       
I am grateful for the opportunity to know the real Ross Perot, and I am sorry that I carried bad feelings about him for so many years.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Promote the General Welfare - Not Welfare

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the phrase “promote the general welfare” found in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. This phrase says that the main purpose for the Constitution is to promote the general welfare. The key word in this phrase is general. When a government promotes the general welfare, it is providing for the health, peace, morality, and safety of all its citizens. Other common terms that could be used would be “general welfare,” “common good,” or “public interest.”

            There are six specific ways that the Constitution promotes the general welfare, and all six purposes are also found in the preamble: perfect the union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.

            Democrats use the phrase “promote the general welfare” to mean welfare benefits. Now they are pushing for welfare benefits for illegal aliens, those who have broken our laws and now demand benefits. Have you noticed how Democrats are always calling for more help for the undocumented immigrants but could care less for the homeless living on the streets of our cities? They cry about the children crossing the border, but they do not care about the unborn children of Americans.

            The hordes of migrants crossing our borders illegally or asking for asylum are coming from many countries. There are people from Central America, Mexico, Asia, and Africa. They are all trying to get a piece of the American pie. I cannot blame them for wanting better lives, but I do blame them for coming illegally.

            I do not believe that people who break the law should be rewarded. I believe that anyone who crosses the border illegally should never – I repeat NEVER – be given legal residency here. They are not forced to come here. They are not forced to cross our borders. No one invited them to come. They chose to come to the United States, and they chose to do it illegally. Therefore, there should be no rewards given to them!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Forgiveness and Justification

            In my “Come, Follow Me” study this week, I came upon some words that the Apostle Paul taught. He taught about John the Baptist and how he baptized Jesus Christ. He taught about Jesus Christ being put to death and then coming back from the dead. He bore witness that there were many witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He then spoke of the powers of Christ.

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39).

            Paul taught that forgiveness comes only one way, and that way is through Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice (see Acts 13:38). There is no other way! Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how forgiveness works.

Whether the violation be great or small, the solution is the same: full repentance through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement with obedience to His commandments….

I testify that of all the necessary steps to repentance, the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes in and through Jesus Christ. It is essential to know that only on His terms can you be forgiven. You will be helped as you exercise faith in Christ [see 2 Nephi 9:22-24; Alma 11:40]. That means you trust Him and His teachings” (“Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 16-17).

            After Paul taught about forgiveness, he moved right into justification: “by him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). Paul also taught that justification could not come through the law of Moses. Justification is defined as follows: “Justification is a gift from the Savior. He declares that a person is guiltless, free from the full demands of justice, being put back into a right relationship with God so that progress toward perfection can continue” (New Testament Student Manual – Religion 211-212 [2014], 305). 

            Paul’s teachings about justification continue in other books in the New Testament where he discusses works. In Romans 3 and in Galatians, he uses the word works, but he is specifically referring to the performances completed under the law of Moses. These “deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28) refer to “Jewish observances like circumcision, dietary regulations, and special feast days – parts of the law that were not required of Gentile Saints” (see Acts 15:1-11, 19-20). He taught that these observances could not bring forgiveness because forgiveness is available only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In other words, salvation was available to both Jew and Gentile “through faith in Jesus Christ and commitment to His gospel” (see Romans 3:29-30). (See New Testament Student Manual, 340.)

Paul’s use of the phrase “the law of faith” (Romans 3:27) shows that even though salvation does not come by the law of Moses, individuals must follow laws in order to be saved. Faith in Christ is the law of faith, a way of life that does not “make void the law,” but rather, through faith, “we establish the law” (Romans 3:31; compare Matthew 5:17; Romans 8:2). Faith leads to repentance and striving to live as Jesus Christ taught (New Testament Student Manual, 340).

            Faith in Jesus Christ leads us to repentance. The next steps are baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. With the influence of the Holy Ghost, we continue to repent of our sins and to live the commandments to the best of our ability. As we follow the Savior and become the best that we can be, He will recognize our efforts, forgive us of our sins, and declare us to be free from the demands of justice. In other words, He will justify us.