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.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

When Can the National Guard or Military Be Called by U.S. President?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns using the National Guard and/or military to restore order within the United States. The National Guard is technically part of the Armed Services, but they operate differently. The President can federalize the National Guard in times of emergency to fight international enemies or to restore order inside the nation. If this happens, the National Guard operates under the command of the Department of Defense. However, the National Guard does not usually operate this way.

            The National Guard operates under the direction of the Governor of the State where the unit is located. When the police officers in Minneapolis-St. Paul lost control of the city to the riots and looted, the governor called in the National Guard to restore order. I do not know the details of activating the National Guard, but I do know that they are available to the governors when needed.

There have been no soldiers marching in the streets of America since the colonists obtained freedom from Great Britain. However, there are times when our nation needs military forces against insurrection – read riots – or natural disasters. President Donald Trump called for the National Guard to be used in Minnesota, and they are there. However, I do not know if they have been federalized or are acting on orders from their governor.

President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have their eyes on the riots and protests over the death of George Floyd last week. Riots have happened in many cities across the United States, and they appear to have been orchestrated by a central source or coordinated sources. Several mayors have indicated that the people arrested in their cities were not residents of those cities. Some of their cars bore out-of-state licenses. Attorney General William Barr made the following press release today.

With the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful and legitimate protests have been hijacked by violent radical elements.  Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda.

It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it.  The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens. 

It also undercuts the urgent work that needs to be done – through constructive engagement between affected communities and law enforcement leaders – to address legitimate grievances.  Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups, and we cannot let them succeed. 

It is the responsibility of state and local leaders to ensure that adequate law enforcement resources, including the National Guard where necessary, are deployed on the streets to reestablish law and order.  We saw this finally happen in Minneapolis last night, and it worked. 

Federal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law.

To identify criminal organizers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with our state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF). 

The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.

            I understand that crossing state lines to riot is a federal offence. If any of the arrested people were from out-of-state, they could be facing federal charges. Meanwhile, the Minnesota National Guard – after allowing the riots to continue for three days – has brought order to Minneapolis-St. Paul. 

            Police officers in Salt Lake City brought the protests there under control without the help of the National Guard. However, other governors may be forced to call out their National Guard units if the protests continue.

            Fred Lucas wrote an interesting article containing some history of numerous times when U.S. Presidents have called the military to restore order within the nation. President George H. W. Bush and President George W. Bush each invoked the Insurrection Act of 1807 when they “sent federal troops to respond to emergencies.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower enforced federal civil rights under the same act. Two other Presidents – Herbert Hoover and Woodrow Wilson – called on federal forces to help during emergencies.

            Most Americans over the age of 20 remember that President George W. Bush sent the National Guard into airports after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Fewer people will remember that President George H. W. Bush sent “federal troops into Los Angeles in 1992 to restore order after the city erupted in riots after the Rodney King affair. Even though “police officers were caught on camera beating up” King, a jury acquitted them.

            There are very few Americans alive who remember the day in 1957 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower faced down Democrat Governor of Alabama Orval Faubus. It was during the time when schools were being desegregated, and “nine black high school students tried to attend the all-white Central High School in Little Rock.” Faubus announced before the school year began that he would call in the National Guard to prevent the “Little Rock Nine” from attending that school. The National Guard – under direction of the governor -- prevented the students from attending. Then the governor pulled the National Guard and replaced them with the State Police. 

At some point, riots began. Eisenhower used an Executive Order to invoke the Insurrection Act and federalize the Arkansas National Guard. He sent the 101st Airborne Division to stop the riots. The “Little Rock Nine” attended their first full day of classes on September 25, 1957, under the protection of the Arkansas National Guard and other federal troops. They attended the school until the last day of the school year but received many threats.

Lucas gave several other examples, but they were either before my time – or I do not remember them. They show that the military can be used to restore order in the states if the governors cannot or will not enforce laws. I encourage you to read about them because it is always good to know the history of one’s nation.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

What Is Priestcraft and Why Is It Dangerous?

            As the days run together and one week turns into the next, I have a difficult time knowing which block of scriptures I should be studied. This week for my “Come, Follow Me” studies, I studied Alma 1-4 and then moved into Alma 5-7. I decided to go back to Alma 1 for my post, and I remembered some information that I studied for Alma. I think that it is interesting enough to include in this post.

As compiler of the Book of Mormon, Mormon faced difficult challenges in determining what to include in the abridged record. At least two directives guided his selections. First, the Lord told Mormon to “write the things which have been commanded” (3 Nephi 26:12). Second, Mormon knew that his record was to come forth in the latter days for the purpose of gathering scattered Israel to the covenants of the Lord (see Words of Mormon 1:1-11; 3 Nephi 26:6-12; 29:1-9; 30:1-2). We understand, then, that when Mormon made editorial decisions, these two factors were his governing concerns.

It is instructive to compare the length of books in the Book of Mormon and the time periods they covered. The inordinate amount of writing for a rather small period of history alerts the reader that the time of Book of Mormon history covered in the book of Alma is especially parallel and relevant for our time…

(Book of Mormon Student Manual – Religion 121-122 [2009]).

            Knowing that he was writing for our day, Mormon chose to include Alma’s record of his

dealings with a wicked man by the name of Nahor. Nahor was “large … noted for his much strength” (Alma 1:20). He decided to preach what “he termed to be the word of God” (verse 3), which were lies mixed with truths. 

Among the false truths that Nahor taught were the following: (1) Priests and teachers should become popular with the people. (2) They should not labor with their own hands but be supported by the people. (3) He mixed the truth that “all mankind should be saved” or resurrected with the lie that everyone will be redeemed and have eternal life. (See verses 3-4.) 

Nahor became full of pride and wore costly apparel provided by his supporters. As he was on his way to preach, he met Gideon, one of the teachers in the church of God. He contended “with him sharply” (verse 7) to lead him away from the church, but Gideon withstood him with the word of God. Nahor became so angry that he drew his sword and killed Gideon.

Nahor was brought before Alma, the chief judge of the people, to be judged. Alma told Nahor that this was the first time that “priestcraft has been introduced among this people” (verse 12). He told Nahor that he had not only practiced priestcraft, but he had sought to enforce it with the sword. Nahor was condemned to death, but he admitted before he died that he taught false doctrines.

So, why would Mormon include this story from Alma’s record? Was he warning us against priestcraft in our day? I believe that this story tells us that we should be suspicious of false teachers or those who seek riches from their preaching. Nephi left the following definition of priestcraft: “Priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing” (2 Nephi 26:29-30).

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints warned us of spiritual danger when he urged us to reject modern-day Nehors and their popular messages. “Nehor’s words appealed to the people, but his doctrine, while popular to many, was incorrect. As we face the many decisions in life, the easy and popular messages of the world will not usually be the right ones to choose, and it will take much courage to choose the right” (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 67).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was more concerned about what is being taught in our classes and meetings. He taught religious teachers to look to the Savior and to encourage their students to do the same.

A gospel teacher will never obscure [students’] view of the Master by standing in the way or by shadowing the lesson with self-promotion or self-interest. This means that a gospel teacher must never indulge in priestcrafts, which are “that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world” (2 Nephi 26:29). A gospel teacher does not preach “to become popular” (Alma 1:3) or “for the sake of riches and honor” (Alma 1:16). He or she follows the marvelous Book of Mormon example in which “the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner” (Alma 1:26). Both will always look to the Master (Ensign, November 1999, 79).

            Any speaker or teacher, who holds the Savior up for a light and encourages listeners to follow Him, is trustworthy, and we should strive to be this kind of teacher. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also spoke about teachers in the Church of Jesus Christ and defined how they could be practicing priestcraft.

Anything you or I do as an instructor that knowingly and intentionally draws attention to self – in the messages we present, in the methods we use, or in our personal demeanor – is a form of priestcraft that inhibits the teaching effectiveness of the Holy Ghost. “Doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:17-18) (“Seek Learning by Faith” [an evening with Elder David A. Bednar, Feb 3, 2006, 4; as found in Book of Mormon Student Manual – Religion 121-122 [2009].

            Alma (and Mormon) did not write of only priestcrafts and false teachers but included counsel on how we can stay strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ: (1) Stand fast in the faith, 
(2) Be steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, (3) Bear with patience any persecution that comes, (4) Leave our labors to hear the words of Church leaders, 
(5) Work to bring equality to all, (6) Labor to support ourselves, (7) Impart of our substance to the poor, needy, sick, and afflicted, (8) Wear neat and comely but not expensive clothes, 
(9) Be liberal to all, and (10) Treat all fairly (Alma 1: 25-31).

            So, we can assume that Alma 1 was included in the Book of Mormon to warn us against false preachers, false teachers, and false doctrines. We can also assume that we are to learn how to avoid and/or stand strong against all those who practice priestcraft – in or out of the Church of Jesus Christ. I know that we can stand firm by following the counsel of modern-day prophets and apostles.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Why Is Teaching Civics Critical to a Strong America?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when individuals understand the laws of the locality, state, and nation. Knowing the correct history of America, what the Constitution says, and why America is great is essential to greater hope in the greatness of America.

            The United States is facing a two-prong problem. One prong is the fact that the teaching of civics and history is schools has declined. The other prong consists of the efforts to undermine the founding principles of America. According to Katie Gorka, two of those efforts are Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and The New York Times’ “1619 Project.”

            Numerous surveys show that civic history and love of country are declining. There are fewer Americans who “think that our nation is the best place of hope, opportunity, and community.” Many people have wondered how to bring back the level of “knowledge and understanding of America’s founding values and principles.” Lindsey Burke at The Heritage Foundation explained that this knowledge and understanding was the reason behind the establishment of the public-school system in America. 

Horace Mann, a leading advocate of public education in the mid-1800s, when America was still a young nation, said that a republic whose citizens were uneducated would be like an insane asylum. He believed that public education was essential to cultivating civic virtue and character in students.

That was the primary driver of tax-payer-funded public schools.

            The public-school system failed to do its job. Somewhere along the way, public educators decided that teaching civics and history was not necessary. A national assessment test results show that “only 24% of eighth-grade students performed proficiently on the civics exam.” One official said that students do not know important facts about the United States, but they do not believe America is a good country. “[T]hey do not have a deep understanding of what is right and true and good and beautiful about America.”

            Anyone who knows anything about the history of our nation knows that there are black marks against us. There is nothing right, true, good, or beautiful about slavery, racism, and racial segregation. There are people in our nation who have not seen fulfilment of the “promises of liberty and equality for all.” However, those promises in the Declaration of the Independence are what all the wars in America have been about for more than two centuries. Gorka explained how learning civics and American history can help to realize those blessings.

… Civics can equip young people – indeed, all Americans – to say we share in those promises, and we will not give up on them.

As a nation, we must be more intentional about reaffirming, illuminating, explaining, and disseminating the founding principles of freedom and individual liberty in compelling ways to prompt the next generation to safeguard our republic for generations to come.

That means going beyond the rudiments of civics. We must teach the next generations a deeper understanding of why our Founders risked their lives for the right to govern themselves, why they believed a Constitution and the Bill of Rights were necessary, and why they committed to equality for all, but then failed to codify that in the Constitution.

            Experts of all kinds suggest that “the solution lies in education, and in particular, in a return to primary sources.” They say that the founding documents are easy to read, and their ideas speak for themselves. Gorka suggested that students should be encouraged to read the words of the Founders and learn what they considered to be “right, true, good, and beautiful about America.” This type of study would strengthen families, communities, and our nation

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Why Are Churches Considered "Essential"?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the First Amendment right of Americans to believe as they choose and to exercise their religion as they choose. When COVID-19 invaded American shores, officials thought it was expedient to shut everything down except those things that are “essential.” This included churches.

Police and fire departments are essential for obvious reasons as are numerous government offices. Groceries stores are considered essential because they provide food, but Mom and Pop stores and other small businesses were not considered to be essential. I questioned why alcohol stores and marijuana shops are essential until I learned of the horrors of withdrawal from the substances.

Many churches recognized the dangers caused by large groups of people gathered in an enclosed place. On March 12, 2020, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suspended all public gatherings of church members worldwide “until further notice” and closed all meetinghouses. All Sunday meetings and mid-week meetings were cancelled for more than 300,000 congregations. In addition, all temples were closed. 

General Conference was held with less than ten people in the small meeting room and several million people watching via the internet and televisions stations. My congregation continues to hold “ward devotionals” via the internet with presiding authorities, speakers, and musical numbers remaining in individual homes.

An interesting tidbit about the buildings being closed is that it means that missionaries, like my grandson, cannot enter the buildings for their early morning exercise. My grandson loves to play basketball, but he was forced to find another way to get his exercise.

Other churches had “drive in services” with individual families coming in their cars, parking in the church parking lot, and listening to the sermon over the radio. Still other churches stayed open to meet the needs of their members.

When the nation was ready to reopen, the churches that were closed slowly prepared to reopen. Our temple services are limited to small groups of people for live husband and wife sealings for couples where both were previously endowed. There are no other temple services being held at this time. Sunday meetings are slowly being reopened, but not in my area yet.

Some states with Democrat governors ordered churches closed even though other segments of society were reopening. President Donald Trump declared that churches are essential and should be allowed to reopen.

This declaration brought mixed feelings from members of my family. Several of my children said that they prefer home church because it brings such a sweet spirit into their home. The husband in each of the homes holds the Melchizedek Priesthood and a current temple recommend. This means that he can officiate with a sacrament service for his family. Most of the homes have at least one son who holds the Aaronic Priesthood and can bless or pass the sacrament. In addition to the blessing of partaking of the sacrament each Sunday, they share music, talks, and testimonies, and they develop stronger spiritual intimacy, drawing the family closer. Being able to hold home-based church has kept many members of the Church of Jesus Christ healthy spiritually.

Why does Trump consider churches to be essential? Churches teach faith in God, and faith in God brings hope. Hope helps people to endure difficult situations and gives them spiritual power and emotional health. The lack of hope is one reason why some people commit suicide, something that has increased due to the isolation. This is the reason that churches are essential, or at least the opportunity to exercise religious beliefs.

In the 1830s, French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to discover “the greatness and genius of America.” These were the early years of the new nation known as the United States of America, and Tocqueville traveled across the nation in his quest. He later wrote the following words in his book titled Democracy in America, a book that many people consider to be the greatest ever written about America.

I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers -- and it was not there … in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there … in her rich mines and her vast world commerce … and it was not there … in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.

            Tocqueville discovered that “the greatness and genius of America” is in her churches. It was the churches and their faith in God that gave the early American colonists the power and the strength to break away from Great Britain. It was divine intervention that helped the ill-prepared but willing American army to overcome the army and the navy of Great Britain, the most powerful nation on earth at that time. 

Trump recognized the power found in the churches and deemed them to be essential. They are essential because they teach faith in God and help ordinary people to bring the power of God into their personal lives.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Is COVID-19 Racist, Partisan, or Indiscriminate?

            There are claims that COVID-19 is racist. There are about three times more black Americans dying from the disease than other Americans. There could be numerous reasons why this is happening, but it looks like racism at first glance.

Across the country, African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.

More than 20,000 African Americans – about one in 2,000 of the entire black population in the US – have died from the disease.

            Some officials thought that the difference could be attributed to “underlying health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.” We have been told for a couple of months that these conditions tend to lead to more deaths from the disease. However, these co-morbidities are not the entire picture. It appears that black American neighborhoods have disadvantages in accessing both diagnostic testing and treatment for the disease.  

            It is apparent from news reports and maps, that death from COVID-19 is concentrated in certain areas. It just so happens that most of these areas are large metropolitan areas – Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City. These are areas where “ethnic and racial minorities” live in “densely populated urban and suburban areas.” It just so happens that “almost all [are] represented by congressional Democrats.”

            John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering collected information on COVID-19 deaths, and Pew Research Center analyzed the data. The data shows the following:

… As of last week, nearly a quarter of all the deaths in the United States attributed to the coronavirus have been in just 12 congressional districts – all located in New York City and represented by Democrats in Congress. Of the more than 92,000 Americans who had died of COVID-19 as of May 20 (the date that the data in this analysis was collected), nearly 75,000 were in Democratic congressional districts….

Of the 44 hardest-hit congressional districts – the top 10% in terms of deaths – 41 are represented by Democrats, while three are represented by Republicans. These include the New York-area districts, as well as those in the Boston, Detroit and New Orleans metropolitan areas. The average death toll in each of these hardest-hit districts was 1,122 as of May 20.

            Does this data say that COVID-19 is not only racist but partisan too? The answer is no because the disease is slowly moving from Democrat districts to Republican ones. However, the data shows some interesting results.

Two-thirds of residents of the hardest-hit districts live in urban or dense suburban areas, compared with just 19% of those living in the least hard-hit districts.

Nearly half (47%) of the population of districts that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus do not identify as white (while 53% of residents of these districts are white).

By comparison, in the 44 districts that have the lowest coronavirus death rate, seven-in-ten residents are white.

Harder-hit districts also tend to be places where residents have higher levels of formal education: 39% of those living in the districts with the highest death rate [having] a four-year college degree or more, compared with 28% of those living in the districts with the lowest death rate.

However, there are no differences across districts in terms of poverty rates. About equal shares of those living in both the most and least hard-hit places are under the poverty level as defined by the Census Bureau (13% of those in the districts with the highest death rate, 14% of those in districts with the lowest death rate).

            So, what can we take from the available data? It appears that (1) Education alone does not prevent illness, (2) white people are less likely to die of COVID-19, (3) more people living in in densely populated areas are likely to die, (4) poverty rate does not affect the death numbers.

            This is an interesting set of data, which shows correlation but not causation. We cannot say that more black people died because they live in Democrat congressional areas. We cannot say that the bad policies of Democrat governors caused more deaths. We cannot say that poverty is the reason for more deaths in one area than another. We can say that whites seem to fare better than other races with the disease. We can say that congested areas fared worse than those with wide-open spaces.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

How Do Americans Fight Tyranny in 2020?

            The American colonists went to war against Great Britain over tyranny. Americans today are again fighting tyranny in their state governments. The coronavirus invaded American shores and caused all kinds of problems while we searched for solutions to it. One of the problems was Americans voluntarily staying in their homes to “flatten the curve” so that medical facilities were not overwhelmed.

            The lockdown itself was not a bad thing because it met the goal of flatting the curve, and it was done for a good purpose. However, one result of the lockdown is a depressed economy. President Donald Trump recognized what was happening with the economy and tried to get the country opened again. He wanted it to be opened by Easter, but scientists convinced him that a longer lockdown was necessary. 

Some states did not have lockdowns at all, and states with Republican governors began opening several weeks ago. Alaska was the first state to be fully open with several other states following close behind. Anchorage has a Democrat mayor who was slower to open the city than the rest of the state. Numerous states with Democrat governors are still under lockdown. You see, Democrats see that the lockdown hurts the economy, and they think that a damaged economy will improve their chances for the election in November. 

Americans have voluntarily stayed in our homes and isolated ourselves to practice social distancing. We have been told to stay at least six feet away from anyone that does not live in our household. Alaskans were told to get out of their houses and enjoy this beautiful state. The only requirement was to social distance. We could go hiking, fishing, running, or whatever we chose to do outside if we kept a few feet between us and another household. There were no cops patrolling the neighborhoods to make sure that we were social distancing. We were treated like adults who could care for ourselves. We did, and we were the first state to open.

A few of the Democrat governors and/or became tyrants who inflicted tyranny on their residents. According to Jarrett Stepman, they set up “arbitrary and … absurd rules that do little more than aggravate citizens and almost nothing to stop the spread of the virus.” There are many different opinions about how to best battle COVID-19 and end the pandemic. However, it is one thing to have a different opinion and another thing be tyrannical.

Unlike Alaska, some states or local authorities decided that citizens could not be in their cars. “For instance, some Americans have been pulled over and ticketed for merely driving, hardly an activity that is likely to spread disease” (Stepman). A woman in Pennsylvania was received a $200 ticket for defying the governor’s statewide hunker down order and going for a drive. The district attorney was wise enough to drop the matter.

Going for a drive in her private car was a whole lot better than getting cabin fever. Therapists are reporting higher numbers of calls for mental illness since the lockdown. Private cars are better than riding mass transit systems too. There are reports that “states with a higher amount of mass transit generally have had a higher number of COVID-19 cases” (Stepman).

Local, state, and federal parks were shut down to stop people congregating in them. A local park near my daughter’s home in Texas closes its gates when a certain number of people enter the parking lot. The parking lot has been closed as early as 7:30 in the morning and remained closed for the rest of the day. The closure stopped the wear and tear on a local park that was one of the few parks in the area. What is the cost to the mental health of area residents?

Pennsylvania does not have a lock on crazy rules. A man in Colorado was arrested for playing catch with his daughter in a park. I can understand why local authorities would close the playground equipment, but I do not understand why using wide open spaces would be wrong. 

Other states have arrested people for surfing in the ocean and walking on beaches. When beaches were opened, there were some activities that were approved and some that were not – some were absurd. I saw a sign from one beach in New Jersey with lists of things that people could and could not do there. They could walk, run, exercise, surf, or fish, but they could not swim, sunbath, or sit in chairs. I can understand why they did not want group sports or people forming groups, but I think that swimming, sunbathing, or sitting in chairs is a little overboard.

Because of states rights issues, there are some things that the federal government can do, and some things that are left to the states or the people to do. However, the Constitution is still the law of the land even in a pandemic. It is right that Americans be aware of orders that violate their constitutional rights and rights as human beings.

U. S. Attorney William Barr was concerned that some states and local governments were restricting the civil rights of Americans. One town issued tickets to people who drove their private cars into the parking lot of their church, stayed in their cars with the windows rolled up, and listened to the Sunday sermon over their car radio. The city fathers were ordered to allow churches to do whatever is allowed for other businesses. If a bar or restaurant could have drive up business, then churches can have drive-up sermons.

I am grateful that we have an Attorney General who honors the Constitution. He told U.S. attorneys in April that “the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis” (Stepman). He told them to be vigilant about upholding the Constitution while protecting the public from the virus. Stepman closes his essay with these reminders.

Our national push and pull over good laws and bad, the often-noisy debates over how to respond correctly to crisis, is the normal course of an American system created to handle both good times and bad.

America is not a democracy, but self-government and the democratic elements of our republic allow us to work through complex challenges far better than governmental systems with rigid, top-down control.

As tumultuous as our system may seem to the outside world, it gives us the best chance to beat COVID-19 and escape encroaching tyranny at the same time.

            Our democratic republic that allows Americans to rule ourselves is an inspired form of government. The tyranny exhibited by some state and local governments can be corrected by applying constitutional laws. No matter how noisy or crazy our debates get, we have the best kind of government in the world.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Who Is Allen West

            My VIP for this week is Lt. Col. Allen West, former congressman from Florida, and now a Texan. He is in the news this week because he was injured in a motorcycle accident on Saturday. The word is that a car cut him off as he was riding his motorcycle near Waco and forced him to swerve into another motorcycle.

            West was returning from the Texas Freedom Rally in Austin when the accident occurred. He was airlifted to a hospital in Waco. He suffered “a concussion, several fractured bones, and multiple lacerations” according to a media post from his team. They posted a picture of him leaving the hospital today with his arm in a cast. According to his personal account, he is grateful to be living and walking out of the hospital.

            I first became aware of West when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Florida’s 22nd district. I liked his conservative style right away and was sorry when he left Congress in 2013. He moved to Texas soon after he left Congress, and he is currently running for the chair of the Republican Party of Texas. He is a strong conservative who deserves to win the job. I hope that he heals quickly and soon returns to helping conservatives win their political races.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

How Will You Commemorate Memorial Day?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is Memorial Day. Some people do not know what Memorial Day is, and other get confused about Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

The two holidays are similar because they are both national holidays that honor people who have served our nation in the military services. They are different in that the honored groups are different are somewhat different. 

Memorial Day is a day to remember those service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and died while serving their nation. Veterans Day honors all service men and women who served in the Armed Forces in any war, both the living and the dead. There is a third holiday that is not a national holiday or well known. It is Armed Forces Day, a day when we honor the men and women who are currently serving in the Armed Forces of our nation.

            An easy way to remember the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day can be found in their names. When we think of Memorial Day, we should look at the first three letters of the name – M E M – or think of a variation of the word – memory. We want to remember those who died to protect and preserve our nation. The same thing is true of Veterans Day. We should look at the first three letters of the name – V E T – and remember that “vet” or “vets” is a shortened form of veteran(s) – those who served in the wars of our nation. In the same way, Armed Forces Day says it all in its name.

            There are numerous ways that we can remember and honor those who died in our service. One of the most important ways is to fly the American flag proudly. It stands for great Americans who live and die for our nation and to help people everywhere. Instead of simply putting the flag up, we can have a small ceremony where we say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the nation anthem. If possible, the flag should be flown at half-staff.

            It is a good day for children to draw and/or color their own American flag on construction paper. The flag can then be stapled to a straw for flying, or it can be taped in their bedroom window to show other people.

            In a normal year, we could visit a national cemetery and pay respect at the graves of individual fallen heroes. Cemeteries or veteran associations often have programs to mark the day. I have attended programs that honored veterans that were held on the Park Strip in downtown Anchorage. Memorial Day is a somber but important day for children to be taught that people bravely die protecting our country.

            We can prepare a care package to send to a soldier. These living heroes appreciate being remembered as they risk their lives for the cause of freedom. We can connect with soldiers who are currently serving at

We can prepare our meal and decorate our table with the national colors of red, white, and blue. I have seen desserts and cakes decorated like a flag, and strawberries and blueberries seem to be the favored fruits to use. We can make the day extra special by inviting a veteran to honor and to spend the day or evening.

We can read books about American history, and we can find them for all ages. I am currently reading a historical novel series with five or six volumes that covers the Revolutionary War era. The title is Prelude to Glory by Ron Carter, and the series strongly suggests that the colonists had divine help in winning the war and setting up a free nation. The author does not present the main events of the war in a chronological order because things were often happening in several places at the same time. So, he took each major event and carried it to its conclusion using selected real and fictional characters to tell the story. Then he goes back and picks up another event and tells its story. He weaves all the events together through the experiences of fictional characters.

            I hope that you will do something to remember the men and women who fought and died to protect and preserve America. As I am still isolating myself with my husband, I will hold a brief memorial ceremony to honor the fallen heroes. I hope that the rain currently falling will stop, so I can fly my flag outside.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

What Can We Learn from Ancient American History?

            I studied Mosiah 29 during my “Come, Follow Me” studies this week. I learn that King Mosiah was getting old, but all his sons declined the opportunity to succeed him. They had all left on a mission to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Lamanites, so King Mosiah suggested to the people that they change their form of government. The people loved King Mosiah, so they were happy when he told them that he would continue to be their king until he died. However, he suggested that they change their government to one of judges.

            King Mosiah reminded his people that “all men are not just” and some kings cause a lot of iniquity, wickedness, abominations, and bondage for his people. He told them that it is almost impossible to dethrone a wicked king because they have their friends who support them. They write evil laws and trample the commandments of God under their feet. (See Mosiah 29:16-22.) Then he told them his plan for a new form of government.

25 Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.

26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law – to do your business by the voice of the people.

27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

King Mosiah continued by explaining how the system of judges would work. The people would choose lower judges and higher judges. If the lower judges did not judge fairly, the people would take their case to the higher judges to be judged. If the higher judges judged unfairly, they would be judged by the lower judges. The system worked great until most of the people and all the judges became wicked, and then the government collapsed and led to the destruction of the ancient American society.

We live in a day when secret combinations are trying to destroy the constitutional government of the United States to form a one-world government. The supporters of the secret combinations are trying to turn the United States into a socialist nation. If the secret groups convince the majority of American citizens to support them, our government will collapse. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints warned that we must not be indifferent to wickedness in society, because destruction awaits nations that choose unrighteousness:

Speaking behaviorally, when what was once the lesser voice of the people becomes more dominant, then the judgments of God and the consequences of foolish selfishness follow (see Mosiah 29:26–27).

“Cultural decline is accelerated when single-interest segments of society become indifferent to general values once widely shared. This drift is facilitated by the indifferent or the indulgent as society is led carefully down to hell (see 2 Nephi 28:21). Some may not join in this drift, but instead they step aside, whereas once they might have constrained, as is their representative right. …

“We actually have an obligation to notice genuine, telltale societal signs. …

“For what happens in cultural decline both leaders and followers are really accountable. Historically, of course, it is easy to criticize bad leaders, but we should not give followers a free pass. Otherwise, in their rationalization of their degeneration they may say they were just following orders, while the leader was just ordering followers! However, much more is required of followers in a democratic society, wherein individual character matters so much in both leaders and followers (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 28–30; or Ensign, May 1999, 23–24).

According to Elder Maxwell, American citizens are just as responsible for the conditions in our nation because we choose our leaders. Many of our problems have come from tolerance for less than ideal practices and social correctness. Elder Boyd K. Packer also spoke of the recent trends of distorting tolerance:

The virtue of tolerance has been distorted and elevated to a position of such prominence as to be thought equal to and even valued more than morality. It is one thing to be tolerant, even forgiving of individual conduct. It is quite another to collectively legislate and legalize to protect immoral conduct that can weaken, even destroy the family.

There is a dangerous trap when tolerance is exaggerated to protect the rights of those whose conduct endangers the family and injures the rights of the more part of the people. We are getting dangerously close to the condition described by the prophet Mosiah [in Mosiah 29:26–27] (“Children of God,” BYU Women’s Conference, May 5, 2006, 6).

Donald Trump is a blessing to America in several ways, and one of them is his unwillingness to tolerate what was happening in the United States under previous administrations. He loves America, he loves the military, and he loves first responders. He loves and supports all Americans. He does not seem to care what race or religion they come from. He tries to surround himself with fellow patriots who support the rule of law – and too bad for political correctness or being tolerant of stupidity. He calls them out for what they are.

I believe that Trump stopped the destruction of America, and that is the reason why he is so hated by Democrats, socialists, communists, and other liberals. One of the ways that he stopped the destruction was putting constitutionalist justices on the Supreme Court and federal courts throughout America. He has also done more to heal the racial differences in the land than any previous president, including the one known as the Messiah (Barack Obama). I believe that Trump will go down in history as one of the greatest Presidents of the United States.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Why Do Parents Use Self-Defeating Patterns to Relate to Their Children?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when parents teach and discipline their children so both sides can win. Dr. Haim G. Ginott wrote in his book Between Parent and Child, “Certain patterns of relating to children are almost always self-defeating; not only do they fail to attain our long-term goals, but they often create havoc at home here and now.” He then listed the following patterns that he called self-defeating: threats, bribes, promises, sarcasm, verbal overkill, sermons on lying and stealing, and rude teaching of politeness.

            Dr. Ginott says that threats are just “invitations to repeat a forbidden act.” When an adult says, “If you run into the street, I will swat your bottom,” the child hears, “run into the street.” Sometimes the child thinks that the adult expects them to do the forbidden thing. In other words, the parent’s warning becomes a challenge to the child’s ability to act for themselves (pp. 58-59).

            Bribery has been used by parents and teachers for years to “motivate” children to do something. "If you do _____, I will give you ______.” One problem with bribes is the child may get the idea that the parent does not think that he/she can do thus and so. Another problem is that the parents become conditioned to giving the child a toy or something for good behavior. What if the parent forgets to get the toy? According to Dr. Ginott, “Rewards are most helpful and more enjoyable when they are unannounced in advance, when they come as a surprise, when they represent recognition and appreciation” (p. 60).

            I ruined a freshmen Seminary class one year because I started to bribe them. The first quarter they were wonderful about giving prayers, thoughts, devotionals, and all types of things that I asked. Other teachers talked about how their students were earning tickets and having so much fun doing it, so I tried it the second quarter. My students soon learned the “game” and would not do anything without negotiating the number of tickets they would earn doing it. I did not make the same mistake again.

            Dr. Ginott stated that parents should never make promises to their children or extract promises from their children. He said that when parents promise something, they admit that “their unpromised word is not trustworthy.” Extracting promises for future good behavior is like asking a child to write a check on an account that has no money. 

            Sarcasm should never be used with children because it creates a “serious mental health hazard” and “erects a sound barrier to effective communication” (p. 61). Dr. Ginott said, “Bitter sarcasm and cutting clichés have no place in child upbringing” because we “should not deflate the child’s status in his own eyes or in the eyes of his peers” (p. 62).

            Dr. Ginott said that no parent should think the comment, “You talk like a parent,” is a compliment. It means that you are repeating yourself time after time without any obedience from your child.  He said that parents should “learn economical methods of responding to children” (p. 62). He gave an example of a mother who said to her older child who was tormenting a younger sibling, “Ted, you choose. You can get the usual lecture or take care of the complaint yourself.” Ted got the message and went to find something else to do. Dr. Ginott also said that parents should remember that “less is more with children” (p. 65).

            Almost every parent has dealt with lies from one or more children. Since children usually lie to defend themselves, “parents should not ask questions that are likely to cause defensive lying” (p. 65). Dr. Ginott said that parents should not “ask questions to which we already have the answers” (p. 66). If the parent is looking at a table full of dirty dishes after meal, there is no need to ask a child if they did the dishes. The answer is evident, and a statement is better, “I see that the dishes have not been washed.” 

Sometimes children “lie because they are not allowed to tell the truth” (p. 67). If a child says, “I hate Grandma,” the parent should not say, “You do not hate Grandma.” The better thing to do is to acknowledge that the child is upset and discover what Grandma did that made him angry. Dr. Ginott said that we must “be prepared to listen to bitter truths as well as pleasant truths” if we want to teach honesty.

Sometimes children lie to tell truths. If a child tells Grandma that she has a unicorn, Grandma should not tell her to stop lying but “reflect understanding of its meaning” (p. 68). The Grandma could say, “You wish you had a unicorn. You would probably like to have a whole bunch of different animals.” By reflecting understanding, the Grandma would help the granddaughter to “distinguish between reality and wishful thinking” (p. 68).

Dr. Ginott stated, “Dealing with dishonesty: an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of investigation” (p. 69). Instead of an investigation, a parent should call a spade a spade. When a parent sees an overdue library book, she should state, “I see your library book is overdue,” rather than asking if the book has been returned or why it is still on the dresser. Dr. Ginott wrote, “In short, we do not provoke the child into defensive lying, nor do we intentionally set up opportunities for lying. When a child does lie, our reaction should not be hysterical and moralistic, but factual and realistic. We want our child to learn that there is no need to lie to us” (p. 70). He also said that parents should stop asking why questions and use statements. Instead of asking, “Why can’t you ever be on time?” the parent should state “I worry when you are late” (p. 70). The question puts the child on defense, while the statement shows love and concern.

Stealing is another problem that most parents deal with at some time in a child’s life. Dr. Ginott stated that “Learning the lessons of ownership takes time and patience” (p. 71). He suggests that parents remain calm when the “theft” happens and simply state, “This toy does not belong to you. It needs to be returned” (p. 71). The confrontation should always be unemotional but firm, “I expect you to put the chocolate bar back on the shelf” (p. 71). Dr. Ginott said that parents should avoid calling a child a thief and a liar or ask the child why they did what they did. This is another area that this rule applies: when we know the answer, we do not ask the question” (p. 72).

In teaching politeness, Dr. Ginott said, “Politeness is both a character trait and a social skill; it is acquired through identification with, and imitation of, parents who are themselves polite. Under all conditions, politeness must be taught politely” (p.72). He said that parents should model the behavior they expect from their child. If a child forgets to thank Aunt Sally for the gift, the parent thanks Aunt Sally and then teaches the child at home about showing gratitude by helping the child to write a thank you note to Aunt Sally. 

Children often interrupt adult conversations. Dr. Ginott suggested there is a better way than to say, “Don’t be rude. It is impolite to interrupt.” He said that the parent should simply say, “I would like to finish telling my story” (p. 73). I heard of a mother who taught her children to put their hand on her forearm when they wanted her attention. She would touch their hand with her own hand to let them know that she knew they wanted to speak to her. She would finish her conversation and then meet the needs of her child.

Dr. Ginott said that parents should never tell a child that they are rude. He also made a good suggestion for handling problems in another person’s home. “Visiting should be fun for the parent and child. This can best be achieved when the burden of responsibility for the child’s behavior is left to the child and the host” (p. 74). When arriving at the home, the mother can say,

“This is your home. You know the type of behavior that is acceptable here. Please feel free to correct my child’s behavior when necessary” (p. 75).

            Dr. Ginott summarized his chapter with these words, “Threats, bribes, promises, sarcasm, and rudeness are not the answers. The most effective solution is to make clear statements that express our values. We do not ask questions to which we already have the answers and, most important, we treat our children with the respect we expect from them” (p. 75). 

Dr. Ginott provided ways that teaching and disciplining children can be win-win situations for both parent and child. When parents treat their children with the same love and respect that they expect from them, the family is stronger and can then strengthen the community and nation.