Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

What Have We Learned After a Month of Rioting?

            On May 25, 2020, Americans watched in shock and heartache as George Floyd was killed under the knee of a rogue cop. None of us were surprised to see people rise to protest the brutality shown in the act. When the protests turned to violence – looting, burning, killing, we became apprehensive. Then the rioters began to destroy American history.

            The rioters first toppled statues and wrote graffiti that commemorated the Civil War. Then they started to topple statues of former presidents who may have been against slavery but were “not for blacks.” We wondered when the violence would end and why the rioters could continue their destruction.

            Democrat/liberal mayors and governors allowed the violence to continue until large portion of their cities and/or states were burning. Republican/conservative mayors and governors took actions to stop the violence. Many of us wondered why President Donald Trump did not send in the military to stop the destruction. We were forced to sit back and watch the destruction with seemingly little or no consequences taking place.

            I gained a little understanding when I heard someone – I think that it was Attorney General Bill Barr – discuss the division of responsibilities. He said that state and local police are responsible to step in and take control of the situation, and the responsibilities of the federal officers is to come later and solve the crimes.

            Last Thursday Barr participated with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in an episode of the “Verdict” podcast. Barr indicated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has about 500 active investigations into the destruction and burning during the riots over the past few weeks.

We’ve had scores of indictments so far for such things as arson, destruction of federal property…. We have right now about 500 investigations underway, so it’s picking up pace. We are committed to holding accountable the people who engaged in this.
State and local are not doing their jobs.  
            Trump, Barr, and other federal officials consider the violent behavior to be domestic terrorism. In fact, Antifa – a big component of the riots – has been designated as a domestic terrorism organization. Barr made the following statement about domestic terrorism in May.

“[T]he voices of peaceful and legitimate protests” have become “hijacked by violent and radical elements” consisting of “outside radicals and agitators” who 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 protesters, as well as all other citizens.”

            All America watched the death of George Floyd and stood with the protesters. My Facebook page was full of black squares and pledges of “Black Lives Matter” to show blacks that we are listening to them. However, the behavior of the rioters as well as their continual demands have caused many of us to step back to get a better perspective.

            Other information started coming out. The organization “Black Lives Matter” funnels funds to Democrat politicians. Everyone who contributed to the organization to make black lives better made an indirect contribution to the Democrat Party. This is one reason why Democrat mayors and governors did not stop the riots. It is also one reason why Democrats in Congress are not serious about passing legislation to reform police departments. It looks like Democrats as a group do not want to solve the race problem.

            Another bit of information that has surfaced is that the protesters/rioters are majority white with only a small percentage – maybe 15% -- being black. I have listened to statements made by numerous blacks that the white liberals are just making the lives of black people harder. Most blacks do not want to destroy history, do not expect white people to bow down to them or shine their shoes, do not think that they are better than whites, do not want us to be their saviors, or any of the other demands made by the rioters. They just want to have equal justice and to be able to live their own lives without fear or prejudice. In other words, they want to be treated as Americans and not as second-class citizens.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Who Is Reginald Williams

            I chose my VIP for this week because his position is different than most outstanding citizen. Reginald Williams is 59 years old and has spent the past 30 years in the Utah State Prison. He is serving a life sentence for aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery. While incarcerated, he has earned four college degrees and completed mandatory therapy programs.

            Williams is in the news because he discovered what appears to be fraud in several State of Utah criminal justice agencies. He filed a lawsuit against the state in 2015 as a whistleblower. The case has since led to a federal investigation with the Department of Justice handling it.

            While working in the prison print shop and watching corrections employees, he noticed fraudulent conduct. He believed that the employees who were paid with funds from grants were violating the terms of the grant awards. The lawsuit accuses the “state criminal justice agencies of illegally accepting millions of dollars in grant and stimulus money.”

            As a whistleblower, Williams is entitled to “a portion of any penalty or fees the government collects.” However, he considers himself to be more of a government watchdog than a whistleblower.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah filed a lawsuit against the state and 18 current and former state administrators in April, claiming they made false representations – including that they lost jobs or would lose jobs to budget cuts – in order to obtain and continue to receive U.S. Department of Justice grants.

            Williams is a good example of what can happen when a person becomes educated. With four degrees, apparently all of them earned behind prison bars, he had to take the classes online. In doing so, he developed “effective research skills” that he used to “convince the DOJ to sue the state and hold officials accountable.”

Sunday, June 28, 2020

What Is the American Way of Life and Why Is It Important?

            The topic of conversation for this Constitution Monday concerns the way that America should move forward from this point in time. America is standing at the crossroad of its future. Democrats, liberals, and progressives are pushing and pulling to move the United States into multi-culturalism. Republicans and conservatives are trying to slow this movement while seeking to “preserve the American way of life.”

Thomas D. Klingenstein coined the phrase “preserve the American way of life” and said that it is more than “a bumper sticker or a talking point.” It is “the essential starting point for a strategy.”

Rush Limbaugh liked the idea so much that he suggested it as the theme for President Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign. Limbaugh’s reasoning is that “Make America Great Again” is was good for his first term but not a second time, and “Keep America Great” does not make sense with our current circumstances.

The purpose of this essay is to summarize Klingenstein’s ideas about what the American way of life is and how we can preserve it. He first explained that “Strategy follows from purpose.” This means that we must clearly understand our purpose; otherwise, our strategy “will be muddled” in changing circumstances.

Klingenstein used an example of a man who wanted to climb a mountain and found a trail that he was confident led to his destination. He could follow the trail with his head down, but he might run into problems “if the trail is washed away, blocked, or disguised.” His only choice would be to “find an alternative route – but this requires keeping his head up and his destination in sight.”

The author emphasized that President Trump understand this principle. His mission – his mountain top – is “Make America Great Again.” He keeps his eye on his goal and understands that he must used a route that is different than that traditionally used by Republicans. He said that Republicans often describe their mission as “freedom” or “constitutional government.” Freedom does not give guidance as to how to preserve it in different circumstances – such as we have seen with COVID-19.

We need a concept both more focused and more comprehensive than just freedom. We need a mission. If Republicans formulated their mission as preserving the American way of life, I think it might be clearer to them that minimizing deaths form the virus and the health of the economy, important as they may be, are not the only considerations.

            Klingenstein then focused on constitutional government or limited government and said that this “is not a mission: it is a means to a mission. The Constitution does indeed provide limits and we should, of course, stay within them – but within them there exists a great deal of latitude.” He continued by saying that limited government does not “provide enough guidance as to what the government should be doing at any particular time.”

 The mission I propose is shorthand for “securing the conditions necessary to pursue a worthy life.” “A worthy life” is what the founders meant by “happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. The most essential “conditions” are the beliefs and values that must be held by society at large in order that each American can pursue a worthy life. These beliefs and values support the American way of life; hence the short form version of the mission: To “preserve the American way of life.” …

What is the American way of life that Republicans should want to preserve? …. They want to preserve, and in some respects recover, what Americans thought was the right way of life until a generation or two ago.

We then believed that we were the shining city on the hill, marked out to show the rest of the world that people can govern themselves….

We believed that we had done great things in the past and were capable of doing more. This success, despite numerous missteps, made us a confident people….

We believed ourselves to be the least class-conscious, most individualist, most religious people in the world. We believed that success in life depends on one’s own talents and character and so we glorified the self-made man. We valued work, no matter how humble, and self-reliance. Dependency was thought to be shameful. This was all part of the “American Dream.”

Although we understood ourselves as individualistic, we believed that happiness (a worthy life) requires doing good in this world. And so volunteerism and sacrifice for the common good was highly valued and publicly honored. This meant more than voting and obeying the law: it meant serving in the military and participating in civic organizations, local government and political parties, and teaching one’s children what it meant to be a responsible citizen. For most people, happiness was found in family, church and community.

Many Americans still hold this understanding of the American way of life. It is this, I believe, that Republicans would like to preserve.

            After describing the American way of life, Klingenstein said that we must recognize that this way of life is being destroyed those who are pushing multiculturalism. Having this purpose would help us to repel the regime of multiculturalism.

… As I am using the term, multiculturalism sees society not as a community of rights-bearing individuals with a shared understanding of a national good, but as a collection of cultural identity groups, ranked in order of victimhood (though all oppressed by white males), and aggregated within highly permeable national boundaries. Multiculturalism replaces American citizens with so-called “global citizens.”

Identity politics is the politics of multiculturalism. Political correctness is its enforcement arm. Multiculturalism involves a way of life that cannot exist peacefully with the American way of life any more than could Communism or the antebellum South.

            Klingenstein described the conflict between multiculturalism and the American way of life as “a regime-level context.” The two systems cannot exist at the same time, and the “Differences in ends cannot be negotiated.”    Trying to use both systems would divide our country because “A nation cannot go in opposite directions at the same time.”

            According to Klingenstein, multiculturalism operates in a socialism environment with “social justice.” It infiltrates the education system where it indoctrinates the rising generation in its precepts in numerous ways, such as changing the nation’s history. This is one reason why statues of early leaders in our nation are being pulled down, names of cities and states changed, etc. It teaches our children and grandchildren that America is evil and must change.

 Multiculturalism seeks to destroy not only our history but education more broadly, as well as the other institutions that teach the beliefs and values necessary for preserving the American way of life. The most important of these institutions is family, because it is here “that the foundation of morality is laid” as John Adams put it. In other words, family is the foundation of the American way of life.

For Adams, as for most Americans until rather recently, a strong family generally requires a mother and father. The mother has primary responsibility for taking care of the children, the father primary responsibility for supporting the family financially. Americans understood what our social scientists have demonstrated conclusively: children raised in such a family are likely to be more law-abiding, more public-spirited, better educated, and wealthier than children raised in other arrangements.

Our regime depends on such citizens. Without them, we cannot have limited, constitutional government. In other words, it is the family (along with other value-forming institutions) that makes republican government possible.

The multiculturalists, on the other hand, seek to destroy the family as it traditionally has been understood. Their desire for outcome parity requires separating women from motherhood, for it is caring for children that makes it very difficult for women to compete with men in the workplace and other spheres outside the home.

            The article by Klingenstein is long and has much more information in it. I suggest that you read it to gain full understanding of why America is at a crossroads. If Americans try to live peaceably with two different regimes – the American way of life and multiculturalism, we will be a divided nation unable to withstand attacks from foreign nations. However, Americans must take a stand for the kind of country in which they want to live.

Just as the Civil War was fought between southerners who sought to maintain slavery and northerners who sought to end slavery, America today is facing a great cultural war. We must understand that multiculturalism will destroy the American way of life. We must become knowledgeable about the many invasions being made into our way of life and decide which battles we can fight. I choose to battle by standing up for the family and by refusing to bow down to political correctness. Our mission is to “preserve the American way of life.”

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Who Are Your Heroes?

            It is essential that we choose our heroes wisely. Some children choose heroes with power – Superman, Spiderman, and Wonder Woman come to mind. Some choose great athletes – think Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretsky. Some choose actors or music legends. Hopefully, some choose great men and women from the scriptures – Captain Moroni, Helaman, and Esther come to mind. Today is solemn day when I remember one of my heroes – the Prophet Joseph Smith.

            Joseph was a young man of fourteen years old when he read a scripture and made a decision that would change his life and the lives of millions of other people. The back story is that there was a religious revival in the area with preachers inviting people to join their church. Joseph was confused about which church he should join and wondered how anyone could discern the truth from all the religious claims being made. One day Joseph was reading in the Bible and came across this scripture in James 1:5-6:

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

            Joseph later wrote that the scripture entered his mind and heart with great power, and he determined that he would seek wisdom from God. He went to a place in the woods and knelt in prayer – his first attempt to pray vocally. As he struggled to make his wishes known, he saw a “pillar of light exactly over [his] head, above the brightness of the sun.” This light “descended gradually until it fell upon [him].” These are the Prophet’s words: “When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith – History 1:16-17).

            When Joseph recovered from his shock, he remembered the purpose for his prayer. He asked the Personages which church he should join and was told to join none of them. He was also told that God a work for him to do. This visionary experience took place on a beautiful spring day in early 1820, and Joseph spent the rest of his life doing the Lord’s work.

            Joseph and his brother Hyrum were killed in the Carthage, Illinois, jail while under the alleged protection of the governor of Illinois. John Taylor was in the jail at the time of martyrdom and was severely injured. The following paragraph is part of a larger statement made by Taylor about the two brothers as found in Doctrine and Covenants 135.

3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!

            Joseph and Hyrum were murdered in cold blood because of religious prejudice and persecution. Both were law-abiding citizens of the United States and should have been protected by the laws and officials of Illinois. However, hate of people who believed differently drove the mobs to kill them.

I feel certain that the mobs thought that they could destroy the church founded by Joseph. However, members of the church were not disciples of Joseph Smith. They were disciples of Jesus Christ and members of His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I look forward to meeting Joseph and Hyrum Smith when I pass to the other side of the veil. I expect that there will be many people who will be shocked when they discover the greatness of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He is a hero to me and to millions of people who accepted the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Can Government Officials Treat Church Differently than Secular Gatherings?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns freedom of religion and how this freedom has been impacted by state and local politicians. Religious freedom was protected today when District Judge Gary Sharpe ruled against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. It seems that the governor and mayor endorsed the racial justice protests while simultaneously limiting the size of church services. According to Judge Sharpe, politicians must treat religious and secular activities equally.

The State argues, in overly-simplistic fashion, that the challenged laws only incidentally impose a burden on religious exercise, and they are neutral and generally applicable, and therefore, only rational basis need be shown, which is self-evident: preventing the spread of COVID-19…. The State was silent with respect to the mass race protests….

Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio could have just as easily discouraged protests, short of condemning their message, in the name of public health and exercised discretion to suspend enforcement for public safety reasons instead of encouraging what they knew was a flagrant disregard of the outdoor limits and social distancing rules…. They could have also been silent. But by acting as they did, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio sent a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment.

            The suit was filed by Catholic churches and Orthodox synagogues in upstate New York alleging that their First Amendment rights had been violated. The judge agreed with them. The results of the suit are that “New York officials can no longer impose limits on indoor, in-person religious gatherings.”

            Cuomo and de Blasio are not the only liberal politicians who acted more like dictators than mayor or governors and sought to block Americans from exercising several of their First Amendment and Second Amendment rights. President Ezra Taft Benson and Elder David A. Bednar are just two prophets who have warned against governmental overreach. This video  has remarks from both Benson and Bednar as well as from an ancient American prophet named Moroni warning against secret combinations that seek to overthrow freedom. It is powerful and plain as it tells Americans to wake up.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Why Is It Critical for a Doctor to Have Hospital-Admitting Privileges?

            In 2014 Louisiana passed a law, Act 620, that required abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges. The law was challenged in federal court even though it makes perfect sense. The case – June Medical Services v. Russo – went to the U.S. Supreme Court, and a decision is expected any day. Hopefully, the Justices will see that the law is essential and constitutional.

            Damon Cudihy is an obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN) and expert witness for the law as it was challenged in federal court. He stated that this bill was written by a woman, had “overwhelming bipartisan support,” and “was easily voted into law with virtually no opposition.” He was surprised when it was challenged in court. “It made perfect sense to me as a doctor. After all, every other doctor serving at outpatient surgical centers is required to have hospital-admitting privileges. Why should doctors at abortion centers be held to a lesser standard?”

            Cudihy has more than 20 years of experience as a doctor. He has completed “extensive study of the issues involved,” and he has dealt with female patients who came to emergency rooms “with complications from induced surgical abortions.” Because of his experience, he has handled serious problems that were made worse by the fact that the abortion doctor did not have hospital-admitting privileges.

In my assessment of patients, precious time was lost while attempting to contact the abortion provider or at least to obtain medical records that would have helped me to better care for this patient who presented to the emergency room….

They were first evaluated by the triage nurses, then an ER doctor, and then I would be called, since the doctor who performed the abortion did not have admitting privileges.

With these patients, I was often disappointed to learn that there was no way to contact the doctor or to obtain pertinent medical records that would have provided critical information about what procedures had occurred or what medications were given.

Further compounding the problem, these women often seemed hesitant to share many details even as they understood them.

Knowledge of preceding medical or surgical interventions is essential for establishing a diagnosis as to the nature of the complication and how to treat it.

I have no doubt that more lives could be saved, and many lifelong health complications avoided if such patients could have continuity of care from the doctor who originally performed the surgery.

            I have strong feelings about dealing with doctors who do not have hospital-admitting privileges because I had experience with one of them. Last December, after about a month of feeling pressure in my chest, I went to my primary care person who performed an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the electrical activity of my heart and the rhythm and strength of my heartbeat. She did not like the results of the test and referred me to a cardiologist for further testing.

            The cardiologist and his assistant had me walk on a treadmill until I felt the pressure and then did an echocardiogram. This is an ultrasound of my heart that uses sound waves to create a picture of my heart. With the echocardiogram, the doctor could see that there was a problem with a muscle in my heart. He gave me some medication and scheduled me for a heart procedure for Monday. Well, I did not make it until Monday.

            I took one of the medications before eating at a restaurant on Friday evening, and I got dizzy and passed out about 15 minutes later. The ambulance was called, and more tests were done. I was taken to the emergency room where the ER doctor determined that I should be admitted to the hospital. My family and I waited in the ER for more than an hour for my doctor to come to admit me. As it turned out, the cardiologist that did the test did not have hospital-admitting privileges and the results of the test were not available to the people in the ER. The doctor who came to admit me to the hospital was from a different clinic, and my heart procedure was performed by a team of doctors that I had not seen previously. 

I was told that I have coronary heart disease and that a stent was placed in my heart. However, I was fortunate to get the procedure done before I had a heart attack and before damage was done to my heart. I did not return to the first cardiologist for follow-up care but stayed with the doctors who did the procedure. In a life and death situation, I want a doctor with hospital-admitting privileges. In fact, my son who is an ER doctor told me to carry the information about my heart with me, so the ER doctor will have the latest information in case of emergency.

            I believe that the Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges is a good law. In case of an emergency, the woman could be taken to the hospital by ambulance and the doctor could accompany her with all the records and information.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Would an All-Mail System Result in a Rigged Election?

            We live in a crazy world with many signs of the last days being seen. Amongst these signs are natural disasters, such as “earthquakes in divers places” and manmade disasters. Democrats and leftists have tried numerous tactics for the past three years to take down Donald Trump, all of which failed spectacularly. Just as the impeachment attempt was winding down, the coronavirus came on the scene. Democrats were true to nature and chose to use COVID-19 as a crisis that they could not let go to waste. 

Americans, like millions of people worldwide, willingly stayed home to protect the vulnerable people, while hospitals and other medical facilities ramped up to handle the pandemic. Once the curve had been flattened and hospitals were prepared, Americans began protesting the stay at home orders. We were told that it was not safe to gather in groups of more than ten people, and we should not go to church, school, or other normal places. After a video of a white copy kneeling on the neck of a black man and killing him went viral, protests started against police brutality and erupted into riots declaring that “Black Lives Matter!”

Even though Americans cannot go back to church or school, politicians at state and local levels seemed to condone the riots. It was as though the coronavirus would not infect anyone that was fighting for racial equality, just church-going people. Then a strange thing happened. The activity that began as a protest morphed into destruction of good as well as bad and seemingly supported by Democrats and some Republicans.

With all the tensions of the coronavirus and the chaos and destruction of the riots, many people may not be aware of a different tactic to take Trump out of office and keep him out of office. Democrats are pushing for an election where all Americans mail their ballots – after all, voting in person is one of the activities that is not safe during the pandemic!

I have voted by absentee ballot several times as I traveled. I know that many people travel for numerous reasons and may not be in town for an election, so I believe strongly in absentee voting. However, I am strongly against all-mail voting. Both types of voting are done by mail, but they are not the same.

Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal recently posted an article about eight key points that distinguish the two types of voting. He emphasized that many people, including Trump, do not trust Democrats to have an honest all-mail system. After all, Democrats are the party that has dead people voting and more than 100% of residents voting. Lucas’ eight key points about the “difference between absentee voting and expanded mail-in balloting, the advantages and disadvantages, and how states handle each” are as follow.

1. What’s the difference?

Every state provides a means for voters to cast a ballot without physically showing up at the voting booth.

Absentee balloting traditionally has been a means to participate in an election for voters who are unable to physically go to the polls, whether because of mobility issues such as illness, travel on Election Day, military service, or residence on a college campus….

Absentee voting is prone to fraud, election experts say, but has more safeguards than all-mail voting.

“The main difference is [in] voting by absentee ballot, a voter has to request a ballot in most cases and fill out a form and sign to authenticate the request,” Hans von Spakovsky … told The Daily Signal….

“With all-mail [voting], they just send out a ballot and without certainty it’s going to a live voter,” von Spakovsky said. “The problem with all-mail voting is that ballots are mailed to every registered voter. We know voter registration rolls are in bad shape all across the country, with multiple duplications and sending out ballots to people that don’t live there.”

A dozen states currently allow voters to request an absentee ballot online….

2. Does This Increase the Chance of Fraud?

In 2005, the Commission on Federal Election Reform … determined that absentee ballots were the biggest source of election fraud….

In one practice, known as ballot harvesting, political operatives may collect absentee ballots from voters and even be present when a voter makes selections….

Mail-in ballots, particularly those sent without a voter’s request, also could be prone to theft, von Spakovsky said.

“You have a very valuable commodity in an election – a ballot – floating around, and that can be picked up by ballot harvesters or others and mailed in,” von Spakovsky said.

3. Do Mailed Ballots Spark Real Problems?

California, Michigan, and New Hampshire took measures to expand mail-in voting this year, citing COVID-19….

The move by the three states coincides with a new finding that 28.3 million mail-in ballots have gone missing, based on data from the federal Election Assistance Commission covering election years 2012 through 2018….

4. What States Automatically Send Ballots?

For the 2020 presidential election, the states of Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington will send out ballots, with no application required. In these states, a voter may physically return a ballot to an election official if he or she chooses, and a limited number of polling places generally are open on Election Day.

Another three states – California, Nebraska, and North Dakota – allow local jurisdictions to determine whether elections will be only by mail…. In California … about 50% of the voting population lives in counties that automatically send out ballots.

In 1998, Oregon became the first state to adopt voting only by mail. The neighboring state of Washington enacted such a law in 2011, Colorado in 2013. In Hawaii, mail-only voting has been on the books since last year.

Utah allowed local jurisdictions to do all-mail voting in 2012, then expanded to statewide last year.

5. How Does Absentee Voting Differ by State?

Some states have a “no excuse” voting system, so that any voter for any reason may mail in an absentee ballot. Even so, a voter must first submit an absentee voter application.

In “excuse required” systems, a voter must meet certain criteria, which varies from state to state but generally provide that a voter must give a reason for being unable to show up at the polls Election Day. Here also, an absentee application is required.

In two-thirds of the states, an excuse is not required to vote absentee….

6. Does Voting by Mail Increase Participation?

Advocates for mail-in voting cite voter convenience….

Voter participation increases at least in some cases, research shows, but not in a big way….

7. What’s [the] Impact on State, Local Budgets?

A study by Pew Charitable Trusts from 2016 found that election costs went down by an average of 40% across 46 sampled counties in Colorado.

However, the National Conference of State Legislatures notes that sending ballots by mail increases printing costs for elections….

8. What Are [the] Downsides Besides Fraud?

Voting by mail also could lead to more voter errors or “residual votes.” If someone is unsure about a vote at a polling place, he or she is able to seek assistance from an election worker.

But when marking a ballot outside a polling place, a voter could check more options than allowed, also called an “overvote,” or fail to make their choice clear, called an “undervote.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures: “Voting equipment at in-person voting locations will notify voters if this happens and allow the voter the opportunity to correct it. When returning an absentee/mailed ballot there is not a similar mechanism to inform voters of errors…. Damaged absentee/mailed ballots may be harder to correct as well.”

Postal service also isn’t the same in all neighborhoods, the group says: “Mail delivery is not uniform across the nation. Native Americans on reservations … may have difficulty with all-mail elections. Many do not have street addresses, and their P.O. boxes may be shared.

“Low-income citizens move more frequently and keeping addresses current can pose problems. Literacy can be an issue for some voters, as well, since election materials are often written at a college level.”

            I consider many people involved in the election process to be unworthy of my trust. This is the reason why I do not trust an all-mail election system. In fact, the only thing that I distrust more than the all-mail system is an online voting system. I believe that people should go to the polls in person if possible AND show a personal identification before getting a ballot. There is too much at stake in our nation to allow unnecessary opportunities for fraud.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

What Can Be Done to Save Title IX Sports for Girls and Women?

            There is a lot of unfairness in the world. Some of it comes naturally, but too much is created by humans. Most people with no agenda would consider that it is unfair for biological males to compete against biological females in physical competitions. The male body is different from the female body in significant ways, and these ways generally include more and bigger muscles and longer legs.

            A long time ago there were no high school or college athletic programs for girls. In my high school in the early 1960s, boys played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track to compete against other schools, while the girls became cheer leaders or spectators to cheer for the boys. I do not remember thinking much of the unfairness because this is how it had been for numerous years.

            According to an article written by Autumn Leva and Blaine Conzatti, the girls who were fortunate to play team sports prior to 1972 were forced to find their own funding, facilities, uniforms, scholarships, etc. Only one out of every twenty-seven girls played sports. Congress passed Title IX in 1972 “as part of a suite of civil rights laws to ensure equal access to educational opportunities, including athletics, for girls.” Someone or something caused lawmakers to open their eyes to see the unequal treatment between boys and girls. 

Lawmakers recognized that it was inherently unfair for men to receive athletic opportunities and money that that women could never hope to access – regardless  of how talented they were. The ACLU rightly championed the passage of Title IX, and female athletes have been the beneficiaries ever since.

Now, we celebrate nearly 50 years of Title IX and the amazing growth in female athletics. Today, 2 in every 5 girls play sports – a tenfold increase since 1972.

            This was a happy ending to a long fight, but it is now being challenged by biological males who “identify” as female. They appear to be males who could not win against males, so they decided to be female and compete against women.

The push for men who “identify” as women to compete in women’s divisions has suddenly become the clarion call of the left.

The same crowd that once called for equal athletic opportunities for women now cheers gleefully when a biological male mixed martial arts fighter liberally beats a woman. And the ACLU – which once championed girls sports – now wants to turn boys into girls sports champions.

            Idaho is the first state to champion women’s sports, and it passed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act to save sports for girls. “The new law limits participation in girls high school and college sports to biological females, preserving the spirit of Title IX for a rising generation of female athletes.”

            Less than a month after the Family Policy Alliance after the new law was signed, the ACLU sued to stop it and is using Title IX to do so. Family Policy Alliance will continue to fight for female athletes even though the ACLU has switched sides. This organization is joined by President Donald Trump who declared that “sex” in federal law means biological sex and not gender identity, and this includes in Title IX.

            Anyone who is serious about saving girls sports can unite in the #SaveGirlsSports campaign that starts on the 48th anniversary of Title IX.

#SaveGirlsSports is the chance for female athletes and their supporters to join together to save Title IX. It’s a chance for us all to stop the ACLU’s efforts in Idaho – so that the Fairness in Women’s Sports Acts can spread to other states for the sake of our female athletes….

Nearly 50 years of girls have benefitted from Title IX and the athletic opportunities afforded to them. Why should all those advancements be washed away for our daughters and generations that come after them just to score a political point?

            #SaveGirlsSports is a worthy activity for all of us to get behind. It is not fair for males who identify as females to destroy the opportunities that women and girls fought so hard to obtain. Girls and women deserve the right and circumstances to compete on level playing fields.

Monday, June 22, 2020

How Can Learning Our Family History Help to Heal Our Nation?

            I have two VIPs for this week, Will Ford and Matt Lockett. They are the authors of The Dream King: How the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. Is Being Fulfilled to Heal Racism in America.” I would not normally say this, but it has meaning to their story: Ford is black, and Lockett is white. They gave an overview of their story in a podcast with Virginia Allen at The Daily Signal. 

            The story told by Ford and Lockett shows that God is involved in the details of our lives. He has a plan for each of His children, and each child has their own mission in this mortal life. It just so happens that Ford and Lockett share a joint mission. Their story can help America “move forward as a united country, remembering the past but choosing hope and healing instead of unforgiveness.”

The book written by Ford and Lockett was endorsed by Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Will Ford and Matt Lockett are indeed advancing the God-inspired dream of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Two paths, united beyond skin color, came together to bridge the racial divide in this compelling saga destined to turn the pages of history toward a victory.”

            Ford and Lockett met at a 2005 prayer meeting when Lockett listened to Ford’s story of his people and a 200-year-old cast iron kettle pot that was used by slaves in his family. The pot was used for washing clothes, but it became their prayer kettle. The owner would beat his slaves for any reason, including prayer. He wanted his slaves to be Christian, but he did not want them to pray because prayer would give them hope and hope might cause them to run away. Therefore, their prayers had to be in secret – sort of like the people of Alma in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 24:10-14).

            The slaves held their prayer meetings late at night and used the pot to ensure that their prayers were not overheard. They turned the kettle upside down and propped it up with rocks on the edges. They prostrated themselves on the ground, put their lips in the opening between the kettle and the ground, and whispered their prayers. They hoped that the kettle would muffle their prayers as they prayed through the night.

            None of the slaves believed that they would see freedom, “so they prayed for the freedom of their children and the next generation.” However, freedom came in their lifetime, and a teenage girl kept the pot and passed the story down in her family.

            Lockett’s backstory is that he developed a strong desire to know more of his family history after his father died unexpectedly. The Lockett family did not know any of their genealogy, and he spent about a year trying to figure it out. After the struggle and frustration of searching for a year, he “hit the same roadblocks that other family members had hit in the past.” He could trace his family back to his dad’s grandfather in Kentucky but no further.

During this frustrating time, Lockett “had this very strange dream from God.” In the dream “God began to speak to me … about what he wanted to do to shift America to a culture of life specifically, but how he was going to do that through day and night prayer.” Led by the dream, Lockett tried to track down what happened in the dream.

Lockett learned about a prayer meeting being held on Martin Luther King Day in Washington, D.C. on January 17, 2005, at the Lincoln Memorial. He took time off work and flew across the nation to attend the prayer meeting where he met Ford.

Strange as it may seem, Ford was also there because of a dream. He had been traveling around the country with the pot and telling his story. Ford’s dream was about the dream of Dr. King. In his dream, God began to “deal” with Ford “about the unforgiveness issues that I had with the white community” and the baggage he was carrying. He shared the dream with a friend, and the friend invited him to the prayer meeting at the Lincoln Memorial.

Lockett listened to Ford’s story and was sort of angry because Ford knew his family history and Lockett was still searching. Then he heard Ford mention that the kettle had been handed down after the end of “slavery to Harriet Locket, who gave it to Nora Locket, who gave it all the way down to Will Ford III.” Lockett was intrigued to hear Ford say his family name.

After the meeting Lockett went up to meet Ford, and the two men compared notes about where their ancestors were from and how they spelled the last name. The Locketts were from Kentucky, and the Lockets were from Louisiana. The coincidence was so amazing that they prayed together. They “prayed about the past of America, … prayers of repentance for sins of the past, prayers of forgiveness, and then … for the future of this nation as well.”

That prayer was the beginning of “developing a strong friendship and praying together for racial reconciliation.” They traveled together and learned to love each other. After being friends for ten years, Lockett visited Appomattox Court House, which is in the middle of Virginia and is the place where General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Lockett and another friend went to the courthouse to pray. While they were in the visitor center, the friend picked up a book and opened it to a random page. The title of the page was, “The Battle of Lockett’s Farm.” Lockett did not know anything about the topic, so he researched it. He discovered that the “last battle of the American Civil War happened in the front yard of a family named Lockett, spelled with two T’s.” Here Lockett was, ten years later, hearing his name again and thinking, “This has to man something.” 

About this same time, Lockett’s brother discovered that the Lockett forefathers came through as settlers in Virginia in the year 1645. Lockett said to his brother, “Virginia? Have I got a story for you.” He tells the story to his brother, and his brother asks, “That’s not that place down by Appomattox Court House, is it? … Oh, I just found the documents on it. That was our family.”

Of course, Lockett shared the discovery with Ford. They were amazed because both had a relic from the past. Ford had a kettle, and Lockett had a family farmhouse that was now a historical site. When Lockett visited the farmhouse, he found the Lockett family history framed and hanging on the wall – and it matched the research done by his brother.

The caretaker asked Lockett how much he knew about the family. Since Lockett knew little, the man started “talking about the Locketts who had left and gone to Kentucky.” He said that some of the Locketts moved to the deep South and were “involved in very significant historical events.” Then he said, “Some left and went to Louisiana and, in some cases, there was a clerical error in the handwritten ledgers, and they misspelled the name and they dropped one of the T’s.” That was the connection between the Locketts and Lockets.

Lockett gathered all the information and went to visit Ford in Dallas. Ford told Lockett that his “grandfather was born Lawrence Locket” but was given a different last name because his parents did not want him to have a slave last name. His family had always known that they were Lockets. Ford hired a genealogist who discovered a man named Isaac Locket who lived in Lake Providence on a plantation in 1870 (1870 census). He was 90 years old five years after the end of slavery, so it is likely that he was a slave on that property. In the document, Isaac Locket said he was originally from Virginia.”

Lockett and Ford compiled research for another year and a half and learned that Lockett’s family owned Ford’s family as slaves. This discovery put the two “friends on a path of forgiveness and reconciliation with one another.” After another year and a half, Lockett discovered that another ancestor, Daniel Lockett, was a Methodist abolitionist that went about setting slaves free during the Revolutionary War. This discovery helped to heal the gap between the two friends, and they felt compelled to tell their story. Ford gave the following explanation for writing the book.

I feel like we wrote it, one, because we didn’t have a choice, the way God interwove our lives together, and we just could not not see the handiwork of God in the whole thing. The Puritans used to have this way of conceptualizing God and talking about … providence, and it was just so interesting that the story starts in Lake Providence, Louisiana.

Providence is the continuous activity of God by which he preserves and governs, just the way God looks over seemingly insignificant things and apparent accidents. Seeing the handiwork of God and how he brought us together, but then understanding it.

If God is that serious about the details of our life in this, it means, one, he’s really serious about life and the intrinsic value of every person, he’s really serious about healing the racial divide, and I also believe he’s really serious about bringing revival, bringing another awakening to this nation.

            This is a powerful and interesting story, especially as we consider the racial strife in our nation right now. The book sounds interesting, but we all have interesting stories in our family history. What have you found in researching your ancestors?