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, December 31, 2020

Did Little New Year Visit You?

             Happy New Year! Most people suffered through 2020 and hope for a better 2021. My thoughts tonight took me back to my childhood and family traditions. My parents started a holiday tradition more than 90 years ago that is still thrilling children five generations later. When my oldest brother was little, he wanted Santa to come again. Santa did not return, but Little New Year came and brought more candy and nuts.

            My oldest sister recently told the family about a time when she chased Little New Year but could never catch him. Our second oldest brother had the children running all over the neighborhood. They would turn a corner, and he would say, “I saw him turn that corner up there.” They would run to that corner and to discover that he was running around another corner. They never did catch Little New Year, but our family knows that he only comes to homes where an empty bowl is left on the porch.

            I continued this tradition with my children, and they are continuing it with their families. However, some of my siblings did not continue the tradition. Tonight, a nephew asked if Little New Year came to any homes. Some of his cousins replied that he had come, and other cousins wanted to know more about the tradition. Another nephew replied that Little New Year had come to his son’s home to leave treats for the fifth generation.

            My parents performed a simple act when they invented the Little New Year tradition of bringing treats. The event has morphed from a few nuts and candies to all kinds of treats and games. I received several pictures tonight of the treats brought by Little New Year to my children and their families. Despite the coronavirus causing people to hunker down at home, my grandchildren had an exciting New Year’s Eve because my parents started a new tradition 90 years ago.

Many little boys and girls have watched for Little New Year, but none of them have caught him. I realized tonight that Little New Year has not visited my home for many years. My daughter reminded me that he stops only at the homes where an empty bowl sits on the porch. What kind of traditions did you enjoy as a child? Have you continued them with your children?

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Are You Paying Attention Yet?

             Almost two months have passed since Election Day 2020 – November 3, but the election results have not yet been finalized. In fact, anything can happen when Congress meets on January 6, 2021, to certify the election results. In normal circumstances, Americans know soon after Election Day who won the election. However, we all know that 2020 has not been a normal year, and the election followed the abnormal pattern of the year.

            Despite court challenges in numerous states, all 50 states certified their election results, and the Electoral College voted about two weeks ago. Nevertheless, the important day is January 6 when Congress meets to certify the results. It appears that the drama of the election will continue into the congressional session. More than 130 years have passed since Congress approved the Electoral Count Act, but this is only the third time since 1887 that the presidential election will involve debates in both the House and the Senate.

            Numerous members of the House of Representatives – led by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) have indicated that they will challenge the election results from several states – mainly the states with alleged election fraud. It is not unusual for representatives to challenge the electoral votes. Numerous Democrats challenges the votes in 2016.

The unusual event for 2020 is that a Senator will join them in their objections. Yesterday, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) announced that he would object to the counting of votes from certain states. His announcement means that the objections raised by representatives in the House will be debated separately in both the House and the Senate. Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) have indicated that they might be willing to join objections, and Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) suggested that he was likely to sign a challenge.

In addition to the objections being raised, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was joined by 11 Republican alternative electors from Arizona in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. “The suit calls for [Vice President Mike] Pence, in his role as president of the Senate and presiding officer of the joint session, to reject Electoral College votes from states where voter fraud or irregularities are suspected.” Fred Lucas explained what the law says should happen, and why Gohmert filed a lawsuit. 

The Electoral Count Act of 1887 requires a joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College votes from each state and stipulates that the vice president, as presiding officer, will certify the results.

However, if an objection to the count is declared in writing by a House member and signed by at least one senator, the joint session would be required to suspend and both the House and the Senate would be required to debate the objection for two hours. The chambers would vote on the lawmakers’ objection before reconvening in the joint session.

The Gohmert-led lawsuit argues in part that the 1887 law is unconstitutional, contending that the Constitution grants the vice president the exclusive authority and sole discretion in determining which electoral votes to count.

The lawsuit argues that legitimizing electoral votes would be a violation of the Constitution’s Electors Clause and limit or eliminate the vice president’s 12th Amendment authority to determine which slates of electors should be counted.

Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment say the president of the Senate (in this case Pence) shall, in the presence of the Senate and House, “open all the certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.”


            Two days ago, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle gave Pence until 5 p.m. on December 31 to respond to the lawsuit, and he gave Gohmert until 9 a.m. on January 1 to issue a reply. Gohmert asked the judge to make his decision by January 4 in case he wants to make an appeal before Congress meets on January 6.

            President Donald Trump has not conceded the election because he obviously believes that election fraud took place. No honest person can deny that strange things happened in America in the weeks surrounding Election Day and with the counting of the votes. In fact, half the nation believes that election fraud took place, and that Trump is correct in challenging it. I support the President in his attempt to get to the bottom of the problems. The integrity of our elections is of the utmost importance if we are to have a republic.

            I encourage you to get your popcorn and peanuts ready because there will be another circus to watch in Washington, D.C. on January 6. There will most likely be fireworks to make it more exciting. Trump issued the following invitation to his followers: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”  


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Who Is the Most Admired Man in America in 2020?

             The worst nightmare of the Never Trumpers just came true. President Donald Trump has received 90% negative news for the past four years. This year he was impeached by a partisan House of Representatives. He has been criticized for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He “lost” the 2020 presidential election.

For the past 74 years, Gallup asked Americans – without any prompts – to name any man on earth that they most admired. According to Gallup’s annual poll for 2020, Trump was named America’s most admired man. Others in the running were former President Barack Obama, President-elect Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the Pope.

The President of the United States is normally named the most admired man in America – 60 times since 1946. However, Barack Obama took first place in 2017 and 2018 and tied with Trump in 2019. This year, Trump received 18% of the votes, Obama received 15%, and Biden received 6%. Fauci received 3%, and the Pope received 2%. According to this site, “Gallup broke the results down by party.” 

Forty-eight percent of Republicans name Trump this year, with no other public figure receiving more than 2% of Republicans’ votes.

Obama is the top choice among Democrats, at 32%, but that is down from 41% last year. President-elect Joe Biden (13%) is also commonly named by Democrats.

Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is named by 5% of Democrats but only 1% of Republicans, further contributing to Democrats’ relative dispersion of choices.

Independents are evenly split between Trump (11%) and Obama (11%), with another 3% naming Biden and 2% Fauci.

Rounding out the top 10 list of most admired men of 2020, with 1% of the vote each, were Tesla’s Elon Musk, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, NBA start LeBron James, and the Dalai Lama.

            It must be painful for Never Trumpers – whose hearts are full of hate for Trump and who would do anything to destroy him – to hear that he is the most admired man in America. In addition, this poll is more evidence that Joe Biden is not popular enough in America to receive 81,000,000 honest, legitimate votes.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Who Are Mat and Savanna Shaw?

             My VIPs for this week are Mat and Savanna Shaw, father and daughter recording artists. I chose them for this week because I like their story. It began early in the coronavirus pandemic when Savanna wanted to share some music with her friends. Her plan was to start an Instagram account with a recording, but she was nervous about singing by herself. I think that it is cool that she asked her father to sing with her, and he did. To me, this shows a wonderful father-daughter relationship in which they are comfortable with each other.

The first recording was done at their dining room table, and their first song together was “The Prayer.” They made the recording, and Savanna posted it. They were both shocked by reactions and responses they received. They enjoyed singing together, so they kept recording and posting videos. In the past ten months, they recorded two albums, performed their first arena concert, and became internationally famous. At some point along the way, they started using a recording studio. They were recently interviewed by Virginia Allen at The Daily Signal when Mat made the following comments. 

But the reason I think we wanted to take that a little further into an album, two albums now, we just got so much positive feedback from people who, during a very difficult time, they seem to listen to the music and their heavy hearts were lifted.

And the feedback we got was really remarkable. It made a big difference in a lot of people’s lives. And maybe it was just because it’s a father and a daughter and it reminds us about our relationships and those we love the most during a time where maybe we’re not able to be with them. I think it struck a chord.

But we just thought it felt like a heavy responsibility, kind of, to use our music in a positive way, to really help a world that was struggling at the time.

So that’s why we wanted to do that, is share hope, spread joy through our music from a simple dad and a daughter. And that’s where it kind of led to, is making those albums, if that makes sense.

            What I like about this story is that it is about two ordinary people – a daughter who wanted to stay in touch with friends and a father who loved his daughter enough to sing with her. Now, they recognize that their music is helping many other people, but they are humble enough to be shocked at their success. Not only that, but they also involve the family in making their new business a success.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Has Cancel Culture Destroyed Freedom of Speech?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the simple fact that freedom of speech is under attack. Any time that anyone writes or says something that the woke mob does not like, they are ostracized or fired for their point of view. Progressives and the Far Left do not want the public to hear or read conservative viewpoints because they know that people will recognize that conservative ideas are better than anything that progressives can dream up.

            A case in point is William Jacobson, a conservative professor at Cornell Law School. He is also the founder and publisher of a website called Legal Insurrection. He has covered the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement since the Ferguson riots of 2014. He is familiar with the movement and its history, and he noticed the frequency of people marching with their hands raised over their heads while chanting “Don’t shoot” – the narrative from the Michael Brown incident “hands up, don’t shoot.” 

I immediately recognized that to be false because I covered it at the time, I covered the [former Attorney General] Eric Holder, Obama Justice Department report and investigation, which said that never happened, his hands were not raised and he wasn’t saying “don’t shoot.”

In fact, he was shot and killed by the police because he punched a police officer in the face and tried to steal his gun.

So, I wrote a post, which I’d written before. I’ve covered this before and I said, “Reminder, the Michael Brown ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ is a fabricated narrative.” … 

That triggered a reaction at Cornell Law School – where I teach and have taught for almost 13 years – that led to alumni attempts to get me fired; led to letters and emails, I should say, to the dean.

I also wrote a second post right after my first one, which dealt with the rioting and the looting, and I severely condemned it. And I pointed out that this was reflective of the goals of the leaders of the movement – which is to tear down our society – which re Marxist, and which are anti-capitalist.

And so those two posts combined, but it was mostly the Michael Brown one that triggered it, but those two posts combined led to a concerted effort, both to fire me and to denounce me and to otherwise damage me.

            Twenty-one of Jacobson’s colleagues signed a letter denouncing him that was printed in the student newspaper, The Cornell [Daily] Sun. They did not name Jacobsen, but they essentially called him a racist. Student groups organized a boycott of his course. The dean issued a statement saying that he was not going to be fired because he has “academic freedom” and “job security.” However, he denounced Jacobson for writing such horrible things.

            Even though they were attacks on Jacobson, he realized that he was one of numerous non-liberal – not necessarily conservative – professors who had come under attack. He decided to be proactive and wrote another blog that went viral. He grabbed the narrative and framed the issue as “complete intolerance for opposing viewpoints at Cornell Law School, a mob mentality, a fairly classic cancel culture.” He defined cancel culture as coercing “you into not speaking or changing your view or apologizing” to save your job or reputation. “So it’s coercion rather than persuasion.”

            Jacobson’s blog explained what was happening and suggested a public debate with sponsorship from the law school. He offered to debate “a representative of the student groups and whichever faculty member they choose” – basically, two against one. The “offer was immediately rejected.” Progressives are not interested in debating or having an honest discussion. They just want to criticize and silence anyone who thinks differently.

            Jacobson had support from people who would contact him privately but were afraid to do so publicly. He called it “an absolute outpouring of support for me, really, from around the country, but also from within the law school.” He was not fired, but he works in a hostile work environment. The next sign up was normal, and his course filled up.

           None of his colleagues apologized for the way they treated him or admitted that they should have communicated with him personally before going public with their objections. We live in a day where people are ready to destroy anyone who thinks differently rather than listen to opposing ideas. This is a sad day for our republic because free speech is essential for freedom. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Why Do We Celebrate Christmas?

             The Christmas season is a time for us to reflect on and express gratitude for the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas to commemorate His birth because He was more than an ordinary Baby. We learn from His story in Luke that Heavenly Father is His Father, and His mother is Mary, a young woman who found favor with God.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in that womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:30-33).

            Mary asked some questions and received some answers. When she was satisfied, she said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38). An angel also visited Joseph and told him to fear not to marry Mary (Matthew 1:20). Luke 2 tells how Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to “be taxed” with the lineage of David. Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem. There, shepherds became witnesses of His birth, and wise men came bearing gifts to visit the family after they had moved to a house. (See John 2: 8-17; Matthew 2:11.)

            The traditional story of the Savior’s birth is often read at Christmas. However, the Book of Mormon has several prophecies about the birth of Christ. Nephi saw Mary in vision as “a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white” and heard an angel testify to him that “the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh” (1 Nephi 11:13, 18). Nephi later saw the virgin carrying a Baby and heard the angel testify that the baby was “the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father” (1 Nephi 11:20-21).

            King Benjamin taught his people that “the Lord Omnipotent” would come to earth and “be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary” (Mosiah 3:5, 8).

Samuel, a Lamanite, visited the Nephite community and prophesied that the Son of God would be born in five years. There would be “great lights in heaven” and “no darkness” in that “there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night” (Helaman 14:3-4). “There shall a new star arise… [and] “many signs and wonders in heaven” (Helaman 14:5-6). Samuel told the Nephites that God sent him “that ye might know of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and that ye might know of the signs of his coming, to the intent that ye might believe on his name” (Helaman 14:12). Another prophet named Nephi heard the voice of the Lord, and the signs given by Samuel began to be fulfilled:

Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son, -- of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given (3 Nephi 1:13-14).

            As explained by President Thomas S. Monson, the world would have us believe that Christmas is a time to give and receive “extravagant gifts, expensively packaged and professionally wrapped, reach their zenith in the famed commercial catalogs carrying the headline ‘For the person who has everything.’ …

For a few moments, may we set aside the catalogs of Christmas, with their gifts of exotic description. Let’s even turn from the flowers for Mother, the special tie for Father, the cute doll, the train that whistles, the long-awaited bicycle … and direct our thoughts to those God-given gifts that endure. I have chosen from a long list just four: …

First, the gift of birth. It has been universally bestowed on each of us. Ours was the divine privilege to depart our heavenly home to tabernacle in the flesh and to demonstrate by our lives our worthiness and qualifications to one day return to Him, precious loved ones, and a kingdom called celestial…. Ours is the responsibility to show our gratitude by the actions of our lives….

Second, the gift of peace. In the raucous world in which we live, the din of traffic, the blaring commercials of the media, and the sheer demands placed on our time – to say nothing of the problems of the world – cause headache, inflict pain, and sap our strength to cope….

He who was burdened with sorrow and acquainted with grief speaks to every troubled heart and bestows the gift of peace. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27) ….

Third, the gift of love. “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” queried the lawyer who spoke to Jesus. Came the prompt reply: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:36-39) ….

Fourth, the gift of life – even immortality. Our Heavenly Father’s plan contains the ultimate expressions of true love. All that we hold dear, even our families, our friends, our joy, our knowledge, our testimonies, would vanish were it not for our Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the most cherished thoughts and writings in this world is the divine statement of truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). (“Gifts,” Ensign, May 1993, 59-62).

            There are people who celebrate Christmas and then put Christmas away until next December. The people, who believe in Jesus and in His power to bring immortality and eternal life, put the Christmas decorations away but remember to keep the Christmas Spirit with them. They understand the importance of the Babe that was born in Bethlehem, and they remember that He grew to be a Man who died that mankind might live for eternity.

Friday, December 25, 2020

How Much Time Is Left Before We Lose Freedom of Speech and Press?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….” Liberty depends on the freedom to speak or write without censure as well as to hear and read what the President of the United States says to the citizens. Political correctness and the cancel culture are silencing many people, while destroying the lives of others. The media, both mainstream and social join in the censoring and even banning all information of which they do not approve.

            The Deep State and the Swamp have been selling America to the communist enemies for many years. They have become powerful secret combinations seeking to destroy the Constitution of the United States and bring about globalism or one-world power. They were well on their way until Donald Trump unexpectedly was elected as President of the United States. Suddenly their power was threatened, and they proceeded to do everything in their power to destroy Trump and to get him out of office as quickly as possible.

            Weak-kneed Republicans bowed to their demands, but Trump stood against the threats. They fought him every day since the 2016 election with one investigation after another. They wasted billions of American dollars and more than two years in the Russian collusion delusion. When the Mueller report came out with nothing on Trump, they looked for something on which to impeach Trump – anything would do – and soon found the Ukraine telephone call. The lunatics in the House did impeachment Trump, but the Senate did not convict him.

            When the impeachment attempt ended, the domestic enemies arranged for a fraudulent election. There is too much evidence to deny fraud took place even if courts never recognize it. Joe Biden may be feeble minded, but he knows that he “won” the election by fraud. He even admitted that “we have put together, I think, the most extensive and and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.”

            Our nation is currently enduring the results of massive fraud. Whether or not enough evidence is found to overturn the election, millions of Americans will believe that Biden and his minions stole the presidential election.

            Some years ago, I read Red Horizons by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet block intelligence official ever to defect to the West. The book exposed the terrible crimes and corruption of Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu. The dictator attempted to hunt Pacepa down to kill him, but he was unsuccessful. Ceausescu and his wife were executed by their own people on Christmas Day 1989 with accusations that sounded much like what was written in Red Horizons. The thing that I remember most about this book is the way that the Romanian government controlled their people, even to having microphones in bedrooms and in centerpieces on tables in restaurants with every conversation recorded.

            In a recent class, I read George Orwell’s 1984 about a man living in a totalitarianism, a form of government that sought to control everything that he did – including his thoughts. The fictional book reminded me of Red Horizons, supposedly a true story, and the memory bothered me. I recently read the December 2020 issue of Imprimis, where Larry P. Arnn, the President of Hillsdale College, compared Orwell’s 1984 with the America that we currently have. The analogies are frightening. 

In Orwell’s 1984, there are telescreens everywhere, as well as hidden cameras and microphones. Nearly everything you do is watched and heard. It even emerges that the watchers have become expert at reading people’s faces. The organization that oversees all this is called the Thought Police.

If it sounds far-fetched, look at China today: there are cameras everywhere watching the people, and everything they do on the Internet is monitored. Algorithms are run and experiments are underway to assign each individual a social score. If you don’t act or think in the politically correct way, things happen to you – you lose the ability to travel, for instance, or you lose your job. It’s a very comprehensive system. And by the way, you can also look at how big tech companies here in the U.S. are tracking people’s movements and activities to the extent that they are often able to know in advance what people will be doing. Even more alarming, these companies are increasingly able and willing to use the information they compile to manipulate people’s thoughts and decisions.

The protagonist of 1984 is a man named Winston Smith. He works for the state, and his job is to rewrite history. He sits at a table with a telescreen in front of him that watches everything he does. To one side is something called a memory hole – when Winston puts things in it, he assumes they are burned and lost forever…. Winston’s job is to fix every book, periodical, newspaper, etc. that reveals or refers to what used to be the truth, in order that it conform to the new truth….

Winston’s awareness of this endless, mighty effort to alter reality makes him cynical and disaffected. He comes to see that he knows nothing of the past, of real history: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified,” he says at one point, “every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute…. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” Does any of this sound familiar?

            Our nation resembles 1984 where history is being rewritten and unwanted information goes down the memory hole. Politicians usually use doublespeak to communicate, but now the media is also using it. We no longer know what is true and what is not. I believe that it is important to know what is really happening, and what is true.

1984President Trump recently tweeted two videos from Seth Holehouse, a relatively unknown YouTube personality. Holehouse explains in 18 minutes what he believes has been happening in America over several administrations. I encourage you to listen to both broadcasts and ponder them seriously. I suggest that you listen to them with these questions: “What if this is the truth?” “Could this be true?” “What do I know that would lend credence to what he is saying?” “What dots am I seeing now that connect to what I already know?” A free America must have an informed citizenry.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Who Will Take the Son?

             It is Christmas Eve 2020, and all is calm in my house. The stress and work of the last semester ended last week, and the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas is now finished. Tonight, my memories go back nearly fifty years to a time when our oldest children were toddlers. We arose that Christmas morning and went through the excitement of opening presents with small children. Then I disappeared into the kitchen to create a fantastic Christmas dinner – and missed all the fun of playing with the children and simply enjoying them. I determined that changes would be made for future Christmas celebrations.

            The next year we enjoyed a nice Christmas Eve dinner and had plenty of leftovers. Since I was finished cooking and baking, I could enjoy Christmas Day with my family. We added other Christmas Eve traditions over the next few years. The first one was to have the toddlers and small children act out the nativity story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Soon, we added angel food cake for dessert and sang “Happy Birthday” to Baby Jesus.

            These traditions built over the years, and the children kept the rituals going in their own families. However, we added a new twist this year. The family in Alaska had our Christmas Eve dinner on December 23 because a family member is scheduled to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Night for the police department. We planned to do our nativity a day early also, but our plans changed at the last minute.

            With our family isolated in our various homes across the nation, we acted out the traditional nativity story on Zoom. Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and the angel were in one home in Spanish Fork, Utah. Shepherds were in another home in Sandy, Utah. Wisemen were in third home in Texas with King Herod and his scribe in a fourth home in Alaska. It worked well, and I enjoyed seeing all the family on Christmas Eve. We even had a short appearance by our oldest grandson who is on a mission in Pennsylvania.

            Later this evening, I sat down at my computer to write something profound for my blog, and a scripture kept going through my mind: “For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16). As I contemplated this scripture, I remembered a story shared by a dear friend. I share this story with you, but I do not know the name of the author.

Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together, they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many others adorned the walls of the family estate.

The widowed elderly man looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son’s trained eye caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world.

One year, as winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic.

Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the sad old man. As he opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hands. He introduced himself to the old man by saying, “I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you.”

As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man’s son had told everyone of his, and his father’s, love of fine art. “I am no artist,” said the soldier, “but I want to give you this. “As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man’s son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man’s face in striking detail. The soldier had done an admirable job.

Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside millions of dollars’ worth of art. His task completed, the old man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given.

During the days and weeks that followed, the man realized that, even though his son was no longer with him, the boy would live on through those he had touched. He learned that his son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers.

As the stories of his son’s gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease his grief. The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received.

The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away, and the art world’s anticipation for the collector’s paintings was heightened. According to his will, all his art would be auctioned on Christmas Day.

The day soon arrived, and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum’s list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100?”

No one spoke. From the back of the room came a voice, “Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son.” 

“Let’s forget about it and move on to the good stuff,” more voices echoed in agreement.

“No, we have to sell this one first,” replied the auctioneer. “Now, who will take the son?” Finally, a neighbor of the old man spoke. “Will you take ten dollars? That’s all I have. I knew the boy; so, I would like to have it.”

“I have ten dollars. /will anyone go higher?” asked the auctioneer. After more silence, the auctioneer said, “Going once, going twice, gone.” The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room, and someone exclaimed, “Now we can get on with bidding on the real treasures!” 

The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was over.

Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone asked, “What do you mean, it’s over? We didn’t come here for a picture of some guy’s son. What about all these precious paintings? There are millions of dollars’ worth of art here!”

Said the auctioneer, “It’s very simple. According to the will of the father, whosever takes the son … gets it all.”

This story puts things into perspective! Just as those art collectors discovered on Christmas Day, the message is still the same: the love of a Father, whose greatest joy came from his Son who went away and gave His life rescuing others; and because of that Father’s love, whoever takes the Son gets it all. In life, many things will catch our eye, but only a few will catch our heart.

            We celebrate Christmas because God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save the world. However, we would not celebrate Christmas if we had no Easter. We celebrate Christmas, not because a Baby was born, but because that Baby grew into a Man who gave His life that all mankind might live. We celebrate Christmas because of Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whoever takes the Son gets it all! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Where Is Peace?

             Donald Trump is one of few Presidents of the United States who did not enter or start a major war. In fact, he was willing to give Iran the benefit of a doubt when it shot down an airliner by mistake. Iran is again lobbing missiles into Iraq, and we do not yet know how the situation will end. Iran has sworn to destroy Israel, and numerous Arab nations have recognized that aligning with Israel against Iran is the better option.

Trump has not only kept the United States out of war, but he is also making history in working for peace in the Middle East. In less than six months, four different Arab nations have made peace deals with Israel. Morocco joined the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan as the fourth Arab country to normalize relationships with Israel in recent months.

To put these peace deals in perspective, the last United States-brokered peace deal in the Middle East took place more than 25 years ago during the administration of Bill Clinton. The peace deal was brokered in Dayton, Ohio, and the formal agreement was signed in Paris on December 14, 1995, by the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia. Clinton and several dozen other world leaders were present for the signing. 

It is nice to live in a world without war, but we can feel peace whether war is raging or not. Peace comes from Jesus Christ and through His gospel. It is made possible by “the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the ministration of the Holy Ghost, and our own righteousness, sincere repentance, and diligent service.” 

Even when the world is in turmoil all around us, we can receive the blessing of inner peace. This blessing will continue with us as we stay true to our testimony of the gospel and as we remember that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us and watch over us.

In addition to feeling peace ourselves, we can be an influence for peace in our families, our community, and the world. We work for peace when we keep the commandments, give service, care for family members and neighbors, and share the gospel. We work for peace whenever we help relieve the suffering of another.

            Before His death, Jesus Christ promised His apostles that He would send the Holy Ghost to them. The Holy Ghost would teach them “all things, and bring all things to [their] remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). He reassured His followers that they would not be alone. Then He added these beautiful words: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

We can have inner peace even in a world of turmoil if we remember Jesus Christ and follow Him as true disciples. Christmas is a time of peace because it is a time when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ. This is a time when we can work for peace in our marriages and families as well as our communities and nation. Peace comes through following the Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Why Is December 23rd Important to the World?

             December 23d has been an important day to me for many years because it is the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was born on December 5, 1805, to Lucy Mack and Joseph Smith, Sr., in an 800-square-foot farmhouse in Sharon, Vermont. The house was located on a farm owned by his grandfather, Solomon Mack.

            On the 100th anniversary of the Prophet’s birth, a fifty-foot monument was erected in the Vermont countryside “as a witness to the world of the life and mission of Joseph Smith.” 

Though the Smiths only stayed on the Mack farm for three years, the site has remained a spot of significance to Latter-day Saints. As the 100th anniversary of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s birth approach, Junius F. Wells, a longtime admirer of the Prophet, visited the old farm. The landscape had changed since 1805. Fields once cleared and cultivated gave way to new tree growth and pasture lands. Over time clapboards, chimney, and other materials from the home once occupied by the Smiths were removed from the site. Still, landmarks from the former farm remained. Cellar walls, a hearthstone, and a front doorstep showed the location of the humble home where Joseph Smith was born.

Wells suggested to Church leaders that a monument be built in honor of Joseph Smith, near the location of his birthplace. Working as an agent for [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], Wells purchased 68 acres of the original Solomon Mack farm and arranged for the construction of a monument. Wels suggested that an obelisk, widely used to commemorate heroes of the past, would honor the memory of Joseph Smith and convey the significance of the Prophet’s life and accomplishments. Befitting the Prophet’s Vermont roots, the monument was composed of polished granite cut from a nearby quarry. Sitting atop a series of bases, an inscription stone, and a molded cap, the obelisk stone rises 38½ feet, one foot for every year of the Prophet’s life.

Inscriptions on the monument teach about Joseph Smith’s life and the singular role he played in restoring the gospel of Jesus Christ. The testimony inscription on the monument’s north face proclaims what millions of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know to be true: that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in the spring of 1820, that through the gift and power of God he translated the Book of Mormon from plates, that angelic messengers visited him and others to restore God’s authority to minister His gospel and organize His Church on the earth, and that when Joseph Smith was assassinated in June 1844, he “sealed his testimony with his blood.”

            The monument was dedicated on the 100th anniversary of the Prophet’s birth by his nephew, President Joseph F. Smith. President Smith returned to Vermont many years after his father and uncle from it. He dedicated the monument and the surrounding grounds on December 23, 1905. The dedicatory prayer included these words, “May it be hallowed by Thy people…. May Thy blessing abide upon it, that it may be a blessed place, where Thy people may visit from time to time and rejoice in contemplating Thy goodness in that Thou hast restored to the earth the fullness of the Gospel of Thy Son, with all the power and authority necessary to administer it and all its ordinances unto the inhabitants of the earth, for their salvation and for the redemption of their dead.”

            December 23rd will always be important to me because it is the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. However, I now have an additional reason to remember the date. On this date in 2019, I had a heart procedure done that has blessed my life. Although I have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease – which has slowed me down, I am blessed with good enough health to continue doing most of the things that I was doing before the diagnosis. I count December 23rd as the beginning of my new life, and I count every single day as a blessing. I thank God for blessing us with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and I thank Him for saving my life and my health.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Who Is Bill Barr?

            My VIP for this week is Attorney General Bill Barr, whose resignation is effective on December 23, 2021. This is the second time that Barr has served as Attorney General, the first time being in the George H.W. Bush administration. Many conservatives do not like Barr because “his first loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law, not the president.” This is a direct opposite in understanding from that of Eric Holder, the attorney general in the Barack Obama administration, who described himself as Obama’s wingman. 

            No one should believe that Barr has been President Donald Trump’s wingman because it is not true. Trump said many good things about Barr, but he has also criticized him. The most recent criticism came because Barr did not acknowledge the investigation of Hunter Biden under after the 2020 election. Barr did not want to influence the election by revealing that an investigation was taking place. Even though knowledge of the investigation may have influenced some Biden voters to change their minds, Barr was observing Department of Justice rules.

            There were numerous other times that Barr did his own thing instead of kowtowing to Trump. He did not change any of the report about Trump and the Russian collusion delusion prepared under the direction of Robert Mueller. He allowed Mueller to be interviewed by Congress. He worked with the Mueller team on the decisions about the redaction of material that might be sensitive in the report, but he wanted to make the report available to the public as much as possible. Hans von Spakovsky at The Heritage Foundation wrote the following about Barr:

It is hard to summarize all of Barr’s accomplishments. Under his leadership, the Justice Department defended religious liberty, brought back the carrying out of the federal death penalty, and changed the Justice Department’s procedures in light of the buses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The abuses were revealed by the Russia investigation and the work of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General.

Barr’s willingness to reveal the misconduct of government officials involved in the prosecution of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn also demonstrated how Barr is determined to do the right thing, not the politically correct thing….

Under Barr’s leadership, the Justice Department fulfilled its obligations to enforce federal immigration law. This included filing the first-ever immigration fraud prosecutions of individuals involved in the birth-tourism industry, a multimillion-dollar criminal industry that existed for decades but was ignored by prior administrations.

Barr also worked to reverse some actions of the Obama administration, which tried its best to terminate all cooperation that local authorities were giving to federal authorities to enforce our immigration laws.

Similarly, many colleges and universities – particularly Ivy League schools – have been violating civil rights law for years with impunity by discriminating on the basis of race in their admissions practices….

On top of all this, the Barr Justice Department has done everything it can to help our beleaguered state and local law enforcement agencies. This included opening up multiple investigations of the violent rioters who attacked law enforcement officers – something that many local prosecutors were ignoring (often at the direction of their mayors).

            I am sorry to see Barr resign, but I can see that he has earned the right to spend some time with his family. I wish Barr and his family have a wonderful Christmas season and that his replacement acts according to the Constitution. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Why Is America at a Crossroad?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the United States Constitution, the framework upon which the United States of America was created. The American way of life was built upon the idea that ordinary men and women can govern themselves. The Founding Fathers based their new government on We-the People, and Abraham Lincoln stated that the United States is a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

            The United States has faced many difficulties since it won independence from Great Britain and formed the government for the new nation. Only the Civil War and the current condition of the nation threatened to destroy the nation, and both divisions came from problems within the country rather than foreign enemies.

            Many people think that America now stands at a crossroad, and Americans have the choice between greatness or destruction. Lee Cary called it a “choice between the road leading to awaking v. demise,” and he claimed that the ultimate decision “is in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.” 

It alone is the last hope for justice in a Presidential election that was thoroughly corrupted by a political party whose hatred for President Trump, based solely on what he’s been trying to do, has led to extremes only short of assassination….

The U.S. Presidential Elections of 1824 and 1876, post-12th Amendment, were dicey, but 2020 eclipses both and is the new standard for election corruption.

If left to stand, the Biden-Harris administration will usher in a dark age to the land of the once free and brave….

If the division within the nation matched the geographical alignment of the 1861-1865 American Civil War, the shooting would have already started. But because it doesn’t, this is, to date, an unarmed division.

            The Trump administration has faced near-constant attacks by Democrats, Leftists, Never Trumpers, and others who could not let Trump succeed in Making American Great Again. They were members of the Swamp and/or the Deep State who had become wealthy on the backs of American taxpayers, and they knew that Trump had the power to expose their corruption.

            The constant attacks led to hostility among Americans with many friendships and some families being destroyed. The hostility was exasperated by the pandemic that we know originated in China, but we have not yet identified the motive. The hostility broke into riots last summer where stores were looted and burned under attacks of Black Lives Matter, otherwise known as BLM. Those initials could just as well stand for burning, looting, and murder because those are the activities of the group.

            Democratic mayors allowed BLM to destroy their cities under the disguise of claims for equal treatment under the law. They have even bowed to the demands of the arsonists, thieves, and murderers by defunding or moving funds away from their police departments. Small businesses, poor citizens, and national unity are the biggest losers.

            Through all the hardships that came to America by way of coronavirus quarantines and intentional destruction in Democrat-led cities, the Democrat Party, along with their allies in the liberal media, stoked the flames of hatred for Donald Trump. Then the party that never lets a crisis go to waste, enacted their plan to steal the presidential election. This is what Cary considered to be what brought America to the current “critical intersection.”

            Under the guidance – or lack thereof -- of a Biden-Harris administration, America takes the road to “Demise, with a sudden slide into increased federal government intrusion into the lives and freedoms of American citizens … [and make America] increasingly vulnerable to its international enemies.” The same people who cried “Russia, Russia, Russia” for four years are now claiming that “there was no international interference in the 2020 election.” The same people who resisted every single thing that Trump did to make America better and stronger are now calling for Americans to become united.

            The other road leads to a stronger America and freedom. The same thing that Cary calls “America’s 21st Century Awakening.” Cary made a great point about the previously mentioned “Swamp.” Most Americans were aware that most politicians could not be trusted. We knew that they were lying if their lips were moving. However, Trump gave a name to the entrenched politicians who were robbing Americans while “serving” their country. Trump called them the “Swamp” and threatened to “drain the swamp.” Well, the swamp creatures rose in resistance and caused great division in the nation. Along with “the Swamp,” the “Deep State” is also recognized as a reality by millions of Americans.

The “Deep State,” once a term discredited by those employed in it, is now acknowledged by roughly half the nation as accurately descriptive.

Both the Swamp and the Deep State are now recognized realities to tens of millions.

One is a metaphor for the quagmire of corruption where those who leach a living off of federal taxes swim in the darkness of government bureaucracies and institutions too deep for many elected officials, and all average citizens, to know and influence.

Awareness has come in the last four years, thanks to Donald Trump. He was unafraid to out America’s internal enemies. After Dwight David Eisenhower, all the U.S. President’s before Trump were complicit by their silence. Ike warned the nation of the “military industrial complex” on his way out of the White House. He knew the danger of the Deep State.

            Americans should be grateful for Trump’s awakening us to the reality of the Swamp and the Deep State. Most of us knew that something was wrong in Washington, D.C., but we did not know what it was. Trump put names on the creatures and opened our eyes to their destructive practices. In Cary’s words, Trump let the “genie of awareness” out of its bottle for all to see.

            The Swamp and the Deep State have fought Trump every single day of his administration trying to discredit him. First, there was the Russian hoax that cost the nation more than two years of time and millions of dollars. When the Russian hoax did not get rid of Trump, the Ukraine phone call about Hunter Biden corruption took on a life of its own. That led to impeachment in the House of Representatives but not conviction in the Senate.

            The next tactic of the creatures was election corruption. We do not yet know how far up the ladder the corruption goes. I have seen reports that Chief Justice John Roberts is involved. Barack Obama also seems to be involved to some degree. Will Trump be able to pull the curtain aside and expose all the creatures lurking behind it? Only time will tell – and time is running out. One month from today, the new President will be inaugurated. I expect to see many fireworks in the forthcoming days. Hopefully, they will lighten our way to the road to freedom!