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, December 6, 2022

What Will the EAGLE Act Do to America?

The southern border of the United States has been open since Joe Biden entered the White House on January 20, 2021. In less than two years, somewhere between two million and five million people have entered the United States illegally. Now the U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill that will make the situation worse. According to Joseph Edlow, the bill would be “a mechanism to speech up the availability of green cards for certain employment-based applicants.” Edlow continued: 

But the bill, HR 3648, actually would upend the nation’s legal immigration system while benefiting China and inviting an immediate, immeasurable influx of new applicants to overwhelm the process….


… Beyond ignoring the spiraling border crisis, this legislation is ill-advised because it would create significant national security risks.


Titled the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act of 2022, or the EAGLE Act, the bill would provide an accelerated path for more Chinese Communist Party members to gain permanent residence in the U.S.


HR 3648 also would favor Chinese and Indian nationals for several years, to the exclusion of other foreign nationals, in employment-based immigration….


The EAGLE Act would remove the country cap, create transition rules favoring certain employment-based categories. This would ensure that anyone, even those here on most temporary visas, could file for a permanent green card granting permission to reside and work in the U.S. if they have an underlying visa petition that has been approved for at least two years….


Under the legislation, once those green cards are issued, the clock would start for naturalization. Once they are naturalized, they may begin sponsoring family members to come to America. This is chain migration at its purest. This bill is not a move toward merit-based immigration….


The immigration consequences of this bill pale in comparison to the national security threats that America will witness as the Chinese government redoubles its efforts to spy on corporations and educational institutions. It is well known that Communist China actively steals domestic intellectual property and corporate trade secrets.

Edlow’s article has much more information about the dangers contained in this bill. The bottom line is that the EAGLE Act is bad for America. Lawmakers should vote no on it and then secure the borders. The crisis at the borders was caused by Biden administration policies, and it will not end until the border is secured.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Who Is Lorie Smith?

My VIP for this week is Lorie Smith, a graphic and website designer from Colorado. Her case, 303 Creative vs. Colorado, was heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is against her, but it is also against all Americans. According to Mary Margaret Olohan at The Daily Signal, Smith said the following: 

I am a graphic and website designer from Colorado. I want to create and design for weddings. And I want to do that consistent with my faith.


But the state of Colorado is censoring and compelling my speech and forcing me to create custom artwork, custom expression, that goes against the core of who I am and what I believe. So the court heard the case today. I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court will stand to protect everyone’s right to create and speak consistent with their own beliefs.

After the hearing, Smith reported that she was feeling “incredible, I’m just so grateful for this opportunity.” She continued, “My hope and prayer is that the court will protect everyone’s right to speak freely, whether your views are similar to mine on marriage or perhaps different, the right to speak freely is guaranteed to each of us, and I am hoping the court protects that right.”

Alliance Defending Freedom represented Smith, and the president of the organization is Kristen Waggoner, who made the following statement: She said that Smith’s case “involves whether all of us have the right of free speech. Colorado has taken the position that it can compel all kinds of artists and speakers to say things they don’t believe. That includes Lorie.” Waggoner continued, “I hope the court issues a broad decision that protects all speakers. Many states have public accommodation laws and some states have up to 20 different categories in those laws. They’re sweeping, and a number of government officials are using them to compel people to say things that they just don’t believe.”

According to Waggoner, the case not only threatens the personal rights of Americans, but it is “actually a threat to the principle of fundamental government and allowing authoritarian governments to tell people what ideas are worthy of celebration.”

Colorado seems to be intent on suing artists who want to practice according to their religious beliefs. A few years ago, there was a case between Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips and the State of Colorado because Phillips declined to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding due to his religious beliefs. His case went to the Supreme Court also, and he won the case – only to be taken to sued again as soon as the first case was settled.

Phillips claimed that Smith’s case, Phillips’ case, and other similar battles are “about the government’s responsibility to respect the right of each of us.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Why Is Voter ID Important to Free and Fair Elections?

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the right to vote and voter suppression (or lack thereof). Most Americans aged 18 years and over have the right to vote unless they are felons. Race, age, sex, gender identity, religion, or any other category cannot stop this right. One voter should equal one vote.

After the problems of the 2020 presidential election, the State of Georgia reworked their voting laws – all states do their own thing on the laws. Democrats were up in arms at the changes. President Joe Biden condemned the changes and called them “Jim Crow 2.0.” Stacy Abrams and other Democrats claimed that there would be “voter suppression” and “election subversion” in Georgia.

Neither voter suppression nor election subversion seems to be the case. Fred Lucas at The Daily Signal reported that “as of Thursday morning, 1.05 million early in-person voters had shown up at the polls for Georgia’s Senate runoff. The pace ‘far exceeds the number of voters who cast ballots in the runoff of 2018 and 2016,’ according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.” 

You may ask what was so bad about Georgia’s new law(s). I checked the website of the Georgia Secretary of State and found this statement: “Georgia law requires photo identification when voting, either in person or absentee. It’s the way your county ensures it’s you casting your ballot and not someone who isn’t eligible to vote.” 

You may also ask what type of identification is acceptable for in-person voting. There are seven different types of identification that are acceptable: (1) Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including a free ID card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services; (2) A Georgia driver’s license, even if expired; (3) Student ID from a Georgia public College or University; (4) Valid employee photo ID from any branch department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state; (5) Valid U.S. passport ID; (6) Valid U.S. military photo ID containing a photograph of the voter, and (7) Valid tribal photo ID containing a photograph of the voter.

If requesting an absentee ballot, a voter “must include the number from your driver’s license.” Any voter without a driver’s license could “include the number from your state-issued identification card.” Voters without driver’s license or state-issued identification, could submit a photocopy of any of the items listed in the above paragraph OR current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or other government document.

Why Biden, Abrams, or any other Democrat disliked these photo ID requirements is as much your guess as mine. They seem to me to be quite lenient – far more lenient than I believe is necessary. What American does not have a photo ID card? They are needed at medical offices, Social Security offices, airlines, banks, schools, and many other places. I like the idea that Georgia requires ID for every voter whether voting absentee or in person.

I suggest that Democrats did not want photo ID laws in Georgia because personal identification hinders voter fraud. It is difficult to claim that dead people are voting if the voter has to prove their identification!

Saturday, December 3, 2022

What Is the Message Shared by Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah?

My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to the books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. The lesson was titled “His Ways Are Everlasting” and was introduced with the following information: 

Reading the Old Testament often means reading prophecies about destruction. The Lord frequently called prophets to warn the wicked that His judgments were upon them. The ministries of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah are good examples. In dreadful detail, these prophets foretold the downfall of cities that, at the time, seemed strong and powerful—Nineveh, Babylon, and even Jerusalem. But that was thousands of years ago. Why is it valuable to read these prophecies today?


Even though those prideful, wicked cities were destroyed, pride and wickedness persist. In today’s world, we can sometimes feel surrounded by the evils that were condemned by the ancient prophets. We may even detect traces of them in our own hearts. These Old Testament prophecies reveal how the Lord feels about pride and wickedness, and they teach that we can turn away from these evils. Perhaps that’s one reason we still read these ancient prophecies today. Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and the others weren’t just prophets of doom—they were prophets of deliverance. The descriptions of destruction are tempered by invitations to come unto Christ and receive His mercy: “Seek ye the Lord …; seek righteousness, seek meekness” (Zephaniah 2:3). This was the Lord’s way anciently, and it is His way today. “His ways are everlasting” (Habakkuk 3:6).

The three books are short ones, but they contained some important principles. The principle that I wish to discuss is found in Zephaniah 2:3: “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth.” According to the Old Testament Student Manual –Kings through Malachi, “Zephaniah was probably a contemporary of Jeremih, Lehi, Nahum, and possibly Habakkuk.” He was most like prophesying as the enemy was approaching Jerusalem to destroy it.

Zephaniah prophesied that the people of Judah would be completely destroyed by the Babylonians because of their wickedness. “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord” (Zephaniah 1:2). And yet Zephaniah also said that a “remnant” would be preserved (Zephaniah 3:13).

You may wonder why the Lord would destroy some people while preserving other people. Zephaniah gives us the answer. The Lord said that He would destroy Judah because they had turned their backs on Him and started to worship false gods (Zephaniah 1:4-6). The Lord said that He would destroy the people of Moab because “they have reproached my people” and “magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of hosts (Zephaniah 2:8, 10). The Lord said that He would bring destruction upon an unnamed city (Nineveh was the last city named in the previous chapter) because her people were filthy, polluted, and disobedient, and her priests and prophets violated the law and polluted the sanctuary (Zephaniah 3:1-4). For the above-named reasons, the Lord allowed the Babylonians to come through the area and destroy it.

You may also wonder about the characteristics of the people that God would preserve. The Lord through His prophet Zephaniah tells us about them also. “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:1-3). The word of the Lord through Zephaniah told us: “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid” (Zephaniah 3:13). Zephaniah’s final words to the people are as follow:

17 The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.


18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.


19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.


20 At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord (Zephaniah 3:17-20).

The Lord showers blessings down upon the people who will obey His commandments and keep His covenants, but He extends no such promises to the wicked and unrighteous people. However, He promised rebellious Judah that He would gather a remnant of them at a later day. That later day is now, and the people of Judah are gathering and prospering. At the time that the Savior returns to earth, the Jewish people will recognize Him as their Messiah and will be converted to His gospel.

What is the message that you and I should take from the writings of Zephaniah – and all true prophets? The Lord will bless us and prosper us as long as we are willing and obedient as we strive to follow Him. In the last days, He will gather all of His true followers to safety, while the wicked will be destroyed by His coming.

Friday, December 2, 2022

How Would You Destroy the Most Powerful Nation in the World?

Families, communities, and nations are stronger when parents can discern the truth about what is happening around them. Americans are deluged with information from all sides. The problem is that it is difficult to know what is fake news and what is the truth. The power to discern truth is important, and it helps to have trusted people who share it. One of the people that I trust is Victor Davis Hanson who shared ten things that an individual or nation would do to destroy the U.S. 

First, you would surrender our prior energy independence….


Second, print trillions of dollars in new currency as the lockdowns end, demand rises, and consumers are already saturated with COVID-19 subsidies. Keep interest rates low … as you print more money….


Third, end America’s physical boundaries….


Fourth, destroy the public trust in its elections. Render Election Day irrelevant….


Fifth, redefine crime as one rich man’s crime, another poor man’s necessity….


Six, junk the ossified idea of a melting pot and multiracial society united by common American values and ideals….


Seven, render the United States just one of many nations abroad….


Eight, neuter the First Amendment….


Nine, demonize half the country as semi-fascists, un-Americans, insurrectionists, and even potential domestic terrorists….


Ten, never mention the origins of the COVID-19 virus. Never blame China for the release of the SARS-CoV-2 virus….

After listing the ten ways to destroy the United States, Hanson stated: “We have done all of the above.” He continued, “It would be hard to imagine any planned agenda to destroy America that would have been as injurious as what we already suffered the past two years.”

I agree with Hanson on his ten items. I do not believe in coincidences or conspiracies. I do believe that there are individuals, organizations, and nations that wish to destroy the United States. I believe that the Biden administration is purposely working with them. Parents must open their eyes to discern what is really happening in our nation, and do what they can to strengthen their family, community, and nation.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Do Texas and Louisiana Have Standing to Sue on Border Issues?

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the need for sovereign nations to protect their borders. Hans von Spakovsky and Charles “Cully” Stimson published an article at The Daily Signal about a case now at the Supreme Court. Texas and Louisiana sued the Biden administration for its “guidelines that severely restricted the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement of federal immigration law against illegal aliens.” This case was supported by amicus briefs from twenty other states. 

Oral arguments in the case were heard by the Supreme Court this week because the Biden administration appealed a September 30, 2021, ruling by a federal district court judge. Von Spakovsky and Stimson reported the following:

According to the administration, the misnamed “enforcement” efforts of the Department of Homeland Security are to be “guided by the fact that the majority of undocumented noncitizens who could be subject to removal have been contributing members of our communities for years” and the fact that they are here illegally “should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them.” …


Texas and Louisiana claimed this type of individualized review and discretionary decision-making violated federal law, specifically 8 U.S.C. §§ 1226(c) and 1231 (a)(2), which mandate that the executive branch “shall take into custody” or deport aliens convicted of specific types of crimes or who have final orders of removal issued against them by immigration judges. Shall means shall (ie., must), Texas argued in the lower court.


The district judge agreed, saying that the Biden administration offered an “implausible construction of a federal law that flies in the face of the limitations imposed by Congress” and that it was invoking “discretion and prioritization in an effort to evade meaningful judicial review.”

The justices heard oral arguments for two and a half hours on Tuesday, and they questioned the lawyers on the above issues as well as “whether the states even had standing to bring a lawsuit in the first place.” No one knows how the justices will rule on this case, but they made some interesting statements.

The solicitor general of the U.S., Elizabeth Prelogar, for example, argued that the states had no standing to sue the federal government, no matter how much they are damaged by the policy implemented by the Biden administration.


She also argued that the word “shall” in the immigration statutes – as in the federal government “shall” detain aliens convicted of particular crimes – does not actually mean “shall,” and the Biden administration instead has the “discretion” to decide which aliens it will detain. In essence, she argued that the administration has the “discretion” to decide whether to comply with the law….


Chief Justice John Roberts sharply questioned Prelogar about her claim that states never have standing to “challenge immigration policies concerning apprehension or removal of aliens.” Roberts himself pointed out that the solicitor general’s claim conflicted with the Supreme Court’s decision at the end of last term in Biden v. Texas over the Biden’s administration’s cancellation of the “Remain in Mexico” policy implemented by the Trump administration.


The chief justice said he thought she would “have a little more concern about an opinion of ours that’s 4 months old” and chided her, saying, “It’s not even out of the cradle yet and you’re throwing it under the bus.”

Other justices asked questions of Prelogar. Justice Samuel Alito questioned the government’s argument about standing – giving standing to individuals but not states. Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked Prelogar if she was saying that a new administration could refuse to enforce any federal labor or environmental laws and deny standing to the states to sue. “Prelogar said that was exactly the position the Biden administration was taking.” This statement is amazing, but it is not the only amazing statement made by the government.

 


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

What Is at Stake in the 303 Creative v. Elenis Case?

Lorie Smith is a Christian graphic artist who owns 303 Creative. She designs custom websites and loves to use her talents to help others. Her decision to create custom wedding websites that are consistent with her Christian beliefs got her in legal trouble in Colorado. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case 303 Creative v. Elenis on Monday.

The issue at stake is whether an artist has the legal ability to decide how they will use their skills and talents. An artist should have the right to determine which issues they will support. However, the State of Colorado and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

According to Lathan Watts at The Daily Signal, Smith decides what she will custom-design “based on her beliefs, the message being requested, and her own expertise.” She creates only custom designs, and each design “must be consistent with her faith.” Smith is like other artists in that she does not “promote every message requested.” As examples, “she can’t create art that promotes certain political messages or casinos. She also can’t design anything that is un-American, degrades people who identify as LGBT, or disrespects someone’s faith.”

Colorado is seeking to force Smith and all other artists “to forfeit their right to free speech as a cost of doing business.”         

As specious as that claim is, its tenuous link to credulity is further weakened by the fact that the state only imposes this Faustian bargain on those who disagree with the state’s current preferred message on marriage. Its position is clear: Speak the state’s message or don’t speak at all.

Suppression of viewpoints that conflict with the government’s is what characterizes every tyrannical regime.

Coerced speech and censorship are two sides of the same unconstitutional coin. Even in the darkest times of American history, when Jim Crow laws were enforced and state governments attempted to crush the civil rights movement, freedom of speech exercised peacefully in marches and protests eventually pierced hearts and prompted the American conscience to finally live up to its promise “that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”

The 303 Creative v. Elenis case is an excellent opportunity for the Supreme Court to remember its promise made at the time of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. The promise was that those who disagreed would not lose the right to speak consistent with their beliefs that marriage is between a husband and wife.

After all, this case transcends the marriage issue. It’s about whether the government can purge people (and their ideas) from the marketplace simply because the government doesn’t like their beliefs. We are right to expect and demand that government treat people equally under the law by protecting everyone’s right to free speech.

If Smith wins the case at the Supreme Court, all Americans will win with her. If she loses, we all lose. According to Watts, the question “What kind of country do we strive to be?” is at the heart of this case. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

What Will Be the Results of the Respect for Marriage Act?

As reported by Mary Margaret Olohan at The Daily Signal, the U. S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act today, but the final version did not include “a vital amendment that conservatives had pushed to protect religious freedom.” The supporters of the bill claimed that it has plenty of protection for religious liberty, but opponents warned that the bill “puts a giant target on people of faith.” United States Senate Passes Radical Respect for Marriage Act (dailysignal.com)

The first thing that the new legislation does is to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The second thing that it does is to require those “acting under color of state law” to recognize same-sex marriages. A third thing is that it “orders the federal government to recognize marriages that are deemed valid by one or more states.”

Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee urged Senators of both parties to support his amendment that would create “a strict policy that the federal government can’t discriminate on either viewpoint of marriage, whether same-sex or traditional.” His amendment failed 48-49 on a Tuesday vote. The amendment had a 60-vote affirmative threshold.

Twelve Republican Senators voted to advance the legislation, and they also voted for the final passage of the bill: Senators Roy Blunt (Missouri), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Shelley Capito (West Virginia), Susan Collins (Maine), Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), San Sullivan (Alaska), Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Todd Young (Indiana).

The same twelve Republicans Senators except Susan Collins (Maine) voted for Senator’s Lee amendment. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) also voted for Lee’s amendment. Two other amendments – one by Republican Senator James Lankford (Oklahoma) and one by Republican Senator Marco Rubio (Florida) – failed, both with votes of 45-52.

Lee sent a letter to the twelve GOP Senators last week and emphasized that his amendment would “ensure that federal bureaucrats do not take discriminatory actions against individuals, organizations, nonprofits, and other entities based on their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage by prohibiting the denial or revocation of tax-exempt status, licenses, contracts, benefits, etc.”

Lee added, “It would affirm that individuals still have the right to act according to their faith and deepest convictions even outside of their church or home.” He tried to convince them to not vote for the final bill unless his amendment was added to it. “The free exercise of religion is absolutely essential to the health of our Republic…. We must have the courage to protect it.”

Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy at The Heritage Foundation stated, “Members of Congress who voted for this bill and claim to support religious liberty are either na├»ve or don’t understand the laws they are passing.” He continued:

Despite polling showing that their constituents oppose this legislation, they refused to adopt Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s amendment that would have protected the religious freedom of millions of Americans without taking away a single benefit or legal entitlement from same-sex couples.


As a result, the tax-exempt status of religious schools and nonprofits is now up for debate. Additionally, the Left will try to use the bill to sue faith-based adoption agencies and contractors to drive them out of business as they have done in multiple states and localities already.

It appears that tyranny against religious organizations and people will continue to grow. Americans have twelve Republican Senators to thank for this monstrosity. If they had withheld their votes for the final bill, Lee’s amendment or a similar one might have passed.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Who Is Cole Capener?

            My VIP for this week is Cole Capener, an ordinary man who is accomplishing great things. One part of his preparation was learning to speak Mandarin while serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan. Another part was becoming a partner in one of the largest law firms in the world, Baker & McKenzie. He lived in Beijing and Hong Kong where he could use his Mandarin and help to bring American high-tech companies to China. A third part of his preparation was adopting a quote from Sir Edmund Burke: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” 

            With Burke’s words ringing in his ears, Capener walked into the managing partner’s office at Baker & McKenzie and requested permission to take leave for a year. That was 21 years ago. He started with a desire to do something to help other people with his attorney skills. He became aware of “the catastrophe HIV/AIDS was causing in Africa” and two virology professors at the Stanford School of Medicine who were trying to combat the disease.

            Capener visited Dennis Zerelski, one of the professors, and learned that his colleague, David Katzenstein, was in Zimbabwe leading the Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention Project. Katzenstein needed all the help that he could get, so Capener flew directly to Zimbabwe for a firsthand experience. He learned that fathers were contracting the virus and bringing it home to their wives, who became pregnant. Often, the fathers were dead before the babies were born, and the mothers were dying soon after giving birth. Capener had found his quest.

            Putting his lawyer skills to work, Capener started to make deals. He first returned to the United States where he set up a nonprofit and called on colleagues, family members, and friends to provide financial assistance. He named his nonprofit Saving African Families Enterprise (SAFE). He next lobbied the government in Zimbabwe “to declare HIV/AIDS a public health emergency.” The declaration paved “the way for much cheaper generic medicines to come into the country.”

            Capener was just getting started. He found “a company in India to supply the medication (antiretrovirals) and “a much bigger charity, Doctors Without Borders” to do the heavy work. Thanks to the antiretrovirals, the Doctors Without Borders, and “many other heroic efforts, more mothers stayed alive to raise their children. More dads, too.”

            Currently living in Park City, Utah, Capener makes an annual trip to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, to see how SAFE “is faring and to make plans for the coming year.”

To this day, he marvels at how fast the pieces fell into place.

“I think if you have a desire to try to serve, doors will be opened, I believe that,” is all he can ascribe it to.

            SAFE continues to operate much like it did when it was started. One paid employee runs the office in Harare and does the day-to-day work. The nonprofit has no website and no fundraisers besides Capener. The organization runs on volunteers and 98 cents of every dollar goes to the projects. He can be contacted at colecapener@gmail.com. His closing words are:

My religious worldview motivates me to do all the good that I can, even if it’s a small amount. I guess that’s my Buddhist Mormon speaking. That’s why I think we’re all here – to try and relieve suffering.

He concludes, “Service isn’t the icing on the cake. It’s the whole cake.”

Sunday, November 27, 2022

What Changes Should Arizona Make to Their Elections?

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the constitutional right to vote given to all citizens aged 18 years and over. In 2020, there were many questions about the election system, and conservatives are accused of being “election deniers.” However, the 2022 election also showed problems with the election system in Arizona. The 2022 mid-term election was held on November 8, but the election in Arizona has not yet been certified.

Peter Parisi at The Daily Signal recently claimed that it was time for Arizona to get its act together IF the state “is genuinely interested in enacting much-needed state election reforms.” He suggested that Term-limited outgoing Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, should call a lame-duck special session of the Legislature for the sole purpose of enacting voting reforms before the presumptive governor-elect, Democrat Katie Hobbs, can take office on Jan. 2” because it will not get done by her administration. 

At the present time, Hobbs leads Republican “Kari Lake by 0.6 of 1%, or 17,150 votes, out of more than 2.55 million counted.” Although the news media called the election for Hobbs, Lake has not yet conceded. In fact, Lake has filed a lawsuit or two against the Maricopa County election board. In addition, Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright notified Maricopa County’s top election officials that she wanted detailed reports on why there were so many problems with voting on election day.

After the State of Florida had problems counting the “hanging chads” during the 2000 presidential election, Florida reworked their election laws. In 2022, Florida had several times more votes to count than did Arizona, but Florida had their votes counted and reported about five hours after the polls closed. Thus, Florida could probably give Arizona some help in reworking election laws. Parisi stated that any “election-reform legislative package should include some combination of the following:

1. Increase the severity of punishment for the inherently corrupt practice of ballot-harvesting, which is currently only a Class 6 felony, the least severe type of felony in the state. 


2. Eliminate all ballot drop boxes, which were supposedly intended to accommodate a one-time emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic, and never meant to be a permanent feature of the electoral landscape. 


3. Require photo identification. (Currently, there are too many alternative forms of ID allowed, many not requiring a photo.) 


4. Significantly shorten the window for early voting, which currently begins in Arizona 27 days before Election Day. Election Day should be just that, not Election Month. Early voting shouldn’t run for more than a week, because the longer the period is, the more time there is to cheat. 


5. Eliminate so-called Active Early Voting List mail-out ballots, which allows voters to sign up for a mail ballot to automatically be sent to them for every election. That’s a prescription for ballots to be mailed to voters who have moved or died, which creates an opening for orphaned ballots to be filled out and returned by someone else. 


6. Sharply curtail most mail-in and absentee-voting options, except where they have traditionally been used, such as when the voter is out of town or ill. They should not be allowed merely for convenience. (France banned voting by mail in 1975 because of its propensity for fraud.) 


7. Require the last four digits of a voter’s Social Security number or the serial number of the voter’s driver’s license or state-issued voter-ID card as a safeguard on allowed absentee ballots, rather than just signature-matching, which is at best an art and not a science. Matching Social Security and state ID numbers would also be much faster and more accurate.


8. Require by law a sitting secretary of state running for reelection or for another office to recuse himself or herself from election supervision. Lake repeatedly called on Secretary of State Hobbs to do so during the campaign, citing conflict of interest, but indefensibly, she refused to do so.  

Hobbs will not rework the election process, but Lake promises to do so if the election turns in her favor. Whoever eventually becomes the Governor of Arizona, they need to do something. The residents of Arizona and the citizens of the United States deserve better treatment that currently happens in Arizona.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

What Message Do You Learn from the Story of Jonah?

My Come, Follow Me studies took me to the books of Jonah and Micah this week. The lesson was titled “He Delighteth in Mercy” and was introduced by the following paragraphs.

Jonah was on a ship headed for Tarshish. There’s nothing wrong with sailing to Tarshish, except that it is far away from Nineveh, where Jonah was supposed to go to deliver God’s message. So when the ship encountered a great storm, Jonah knew it was because of his disobedience. At Jonah’s insistence, his fellow mariners cast him into the depths of the sea to stop the storm. It looked like the end of Jonah and his ministry. But the Lord hadn’t given up on Jonah—just as He hadn’t given up on the people of Nineveh and just as He doesn’t give up on any of us. As Micah taught, the Lord does not delight in condemning us, but “he delighteth in mercy.” When we turn to Him, “he will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and [He will] cast all [our] sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19). 

There were several principles taught in this scripture block, but I feel prompted to discuss this one: “All of God’s children need to hear the gospel.” Chapter 1 of the book of Jonah starts with the Lord commanding Jonah to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:1-2). Jonah 3 tells us that Jonah “rose up” as he was commanded, but he fled to Tarshish to escape “from the presence of the Lord.” He traveled to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish, so he paid the fare and boarded. The problem was that Tarshish was in exactly the opposite direction than was Assyria.

Nineveh was part of the Assyrian empire, an enemy of Israel known for its violence and cruelty. The situation would be similar to an LDS missionary being called to preach the gospel to the Taliban or even ISIS. Obviously, Jonah did not wish to go to Assyria. It is possible that he doubted that such wicked people would hear the word of the Lord and repent. Yet, the Lord had commanded this prophet to go to Assyria to warn them.

Members and missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have also been called to warn our neighbors. Most of us are not required to go to our sworn enemies to declare repentance, but we are asked to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with our family, friends, and neighbors.

President Dallin H. Oaks taught the following: “We should never set ourselves up as judges of who is ready and who is not. The Lord knows the hearts of all of His children, and if we pray for inspiration, He will help us find persons He knows to be ‘in a preparation to hear the word’ (Alma 32:6)” (“Sharing the Restored Gospel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 58-59).

Jonah quickly learned that he could not hide from the Lord. Soon after the ship on which Jonah traveled set sail, a strong storm arose. The sailors did everything that they could to stabilize the ship, but they feared that it would be destroyed. Jonah told them to toss him into the sea, and the waves would calm. The sailors reluctantly did as they were told, and the sea became calm.

Jonah was caught by a big fish and swallowed. He spent three days in the belly of the fish before he turned to the Lord, and the fish soon spit him out on dry land.

Jonah traveled to Assyria and cried repentance to the people. All the people as well as the king repented in “sackcloth and ashes.” This was not the situation that Jonah expected, and he was not happy about his enemies receiving the blessings of repentance. Hopefully, we will be happy for anyone who hears the gospel and is blessed by it.    

Friday, November 25, 2022

Is Debt Your Servant or Your Master?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger if they have little to no debt. As we enter into the Christmas season, I thought that it might be good to discuss debt. Wise people understand that debt is a tool that can be a blessing if it is used correctly. However, debt can become strong chains if used incorrectly.

            At this moment, the debt owed by the United States government is $31,334,888,632,641. The national debt amounts to approximately $93,989 per citizen. “About 46 percent of Americans carry a balance on their credit cards from month to month, with an average balance of $6,093

            The first credit card issued was the Diners Club in 1950. Bank of America issued the first general-purpose credit card that offered a “revolving credit” feature.” The same year, American Express Company issued a travel and entertainment payment card. In 1969, a magnetic strip was adopted in the U.S. for all credit cards. In 1976, Bank of America created BankAmericard and joined with other banks to create Visa. Three years later in 1979, Mastercard was born. Discover Card was created in 1986, and in 2015 the EMV chips became standard to help protect buyers against fraudulent card transactions. 

            Jay Evensen’s article in Deseret News explained that grocery stores began accepting credit cards. Most of the women interviewed at that time did not think that credit cards would bring anything good. One woman said that paying on credit would be “like paying for a dead horse,” and another said that “credit cards would lead people to overspend.” A third suggested that credit would “end up as one of the biggest causes of voluntary bankruptcy.” A fourth woman looked into the future and proclaimed that there would come a “time when we won’t handle any of our money at all. Some big computer will run us and our money.” None of the women mentioned anything about hackers stealing our money, but they got lots of things correct. 

            Millions of Americans have been living on credit for numerous years, and many more are using credit cards now because inflation is eating so much of our money. Evensen referenced the following data recently released from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

[The data shows] that household debt in the United States rose faster in the third quarter of this year than at any time since 2008. We added $351 billion in overall debt, with higher-interest mortgages leading the way.


But the report said we also added the most credit card debt in 20 years, increasing our collective balances by 15% over this time in 2021. This, at a time when interest rates are topping 19% on those cards, and when you don’t have to Google too hard to find warnings of a possible looming recession.

            No one is suggesting that anyone stop using credit cards. Evensen and this post are pleas for Americans to be mindful of the amount of money being put on credit cards as well as wise plans to pay the bills. My family uses credit cards for our convenience in making purchases. However, we never put anything on the cards that we could not purchase with cash. The credit card bills are always paid completely at the end of each month. We learned this lesson from the examples of our parents, one set used credit wisely while the other set did not.

            J. Reuben Clark, Jr. made the following statement in 1938: “Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” (See Conference Report, Apr. 1938, 103.)  

            Debt is a tool to use for our benefit. When we use it wisely, it is an obedient servant, However, it becomes our master if we use it unwisely. Wise parents will use credit wisely and teach their children to do the same. The wise use of debt can strengthen families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

What Makes You Happy?

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the free-market system that we enjoy here in the United States. Carlos Garcia posted an article at The Blaze sharing several blessings that we enjoy because of the free market. 

However, you define the happiness you seek in life, I can almost guarantee you that the free market has made it easier for you to obtain and enjoy happiness.


Obviously, nearly everything that you can buy has become better and cheaper over the last decades. Fantastic inventions that people couldn’t even imagine a hundred years ago so commonplace that we take them for granted…..


The miracle of fracking has made energy far less expensive. This incredible process has allowed humanity to extract far more gasoline from the earth than we used to believe even existed. In fact, all of those predictions that we would run out of oil in this century were obliterated by this one incredible operation.


The miracle of modern fertilizers allowed humanity to grow more produce per square inch than anyone could possibly have imagined before their invention. In fact, humanity was crashing against its farm-space limitations before that miraculous invention changed everything.


The incredible invention of anti-bacterial soap absolutely revolutionized medical efficacy. Soap has made our lives safer, good health cheaper, and medical care astoundingly better. Why aren’t we thanking God every day for soap? Because we take this miraculously commonplace advancement for granted….


Even considering things are more expensive than they were last year or the past two years, the free market has made them available to us when in past years, only wealthy people could afford them.

Garcia reminded his readers that there are some things that the free market cannot provide, blessings that bring us the most happiness. These blessings include “our families, our communities, our faiths, and all of those intangible things that you can’t buy.”

Thanksgiving is a great day to express gratitude for blessings, and gratitude brings additional happiness. Maybe gratitude should be part of every day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Are You Counting Your Blessings for Thanksgiving?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day set aside in the United States to express gratitude. According to an editorial in the Deseret News, the fourth Thursday in November was designated as “a day of thanksgiving” by President Georg Washington, but American colonists had designated days for giving thanks and for spiritual reflection. Washington’s first thanksgiving proclamation stated, “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor….” 

Other U.S. presidents have also made Thanksgiving proclamations. During some of the darkest days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln listed many of the nation’s blessings and then added, “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”

In 2020 as people dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued an invitation to all people to express gratitude on social media and engage in daily prayer for the week prior to Thanksgiving.

Over my nine-and-a-half decades of life, I have concluded that counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems. No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription.

            I accepted President Nelson’s invitation and made a gratitude post each day. This activity helped me to look for the blessings in my life and acknowledge that they come from a Source outside myself. Many years ago, a friend mentioned that she always listed three things in her daily journal for which she was grateful that day. I began that practice. I started by listing three things and realized that I had many more blessings.

            Now I list five things each day. On days that I am extra grateful for blessings, I list five groups of blessings. This practice of expressing daily gratitude has helped me to stay positive in difficult times. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

What Is San Francisco Thinking?

San Francisco stepped ahead of other American cities when it created a financial incentive for residents to “transition” to a different gender. The city created a new program called Guaranteed Income for Transgender People (GIFT). I join others in expecting that the number of people transitioning will increase.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the “GIFT pilot program ‘will provide 55 eligible residents with $1,200 per month for 18 months, as well as health care and financial coaching.”  Jay Richards at The Daily Signal gave the above quote from the LA Times and then declared, “This scheme fuses bad fiscal policy with bad social policy. And the whole will be worse than the sum of its parts.” Then he wrote the following. 

First, note that this program doesn’t provide so-called universal basic income. It doesn’t target the whole population or even those in greatest financial need, but rather those with the greatest status in the intersectional hierarchy. In this case, that means residents, including minors, living at the intersection of economic poverty and transgender identity….


Of course, we already have evidence that this scheme won’t reduce poverty in San Francisco. Over more than a decade, the federal government financed research on “guaranteed income” schemes. It supported randomized, controlled trials across six states conducted from 1968 to 1980.


Guess what the U.S. government found? Recipients’ motivation to work dropped, regardless of their sex, marital status, or status as a parent. In fact, for every dollar in transfer payments, earnings fell by 66 cents….


Just consider: The number of people identifying as transgender, nonbinary, and so forth has exploded in the last several years, especially among your people. This growth has been so alarming that it led Dr. Lisa Littman, a physician and researcher, to suggest a new diagnosis in 2017 that she called “rapid onset gender dysphoria.”


This pandemic among the young has gotten far worse in the past five years….

Anyone who studies the rise of gender ideology in schools, culture, and social media is bound to suspect that we are dealing with a new social contagion, not the rare gender dysphoria of the previous century.


Gender transitioning is now, for many minors, a trend [that] leads to sterilizing cross-sex hormones and disfiguring surgery.

With the above information stuck in your brain, now consider the cases of Camille Kiefel and Chloe Cole. Each woman filed a lawsuit suing the health care professionals who advised them to have double mastectomies and transgender. According to Dan Hart at The Daily Signal, Kiefel filed her lawsuit two weeks ago in Oregon against a social worker and a mental health therapist for misdiagnosing her severe mental illness. Cole filed a similar lawsuit on November 9 in California accusing health care professionals of misdiagnosing her mental health. 

The two women are part of a growing group of people who are disillusioned. They join “a burgeoning movement of doctors openly decrying the practice of gender-transition procedures.” The movement by medical professional and “acknowledgements in the legacy media of growing concern over transgender drugs such as puberty blockers – seems to be having a cumulative, negative effect on the popularity and cultural power of gender ideology.” Maybe, just maybe, the transgender trend is beginning to crack! San Francisco should beware. They may be looking at numerous lawsuits!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Who Is Jennifer Wright?

My VIP for this week is Arizona Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright. According to Joseph MacKinnon, Wright wants answers to why the 2022 general election in Maricopa County was bungled so badly. The Attorney General Office (AGO) sent a letter to the Maricopa County attorney’s office on Saturday questioning why voters had so many problems with ballot tabulators and ballot-on-demand printers – not to mention potential election law violations.

Wright’s letter was sent just one day after the board of Arizona’s Cochise County delayed certifying the election results. Wright’s November 19 letter to the Maricopa County attorney’s office “noted that the AGO’s Election Integrity Unit has received ‘hundreds of complaints … pertaining to issues related to the administration of the 2022 General Election in Maricopa County.’” The letter continued, “These complaints go beyond pure speculation, but include first-hand witness accounts that raise concerns regarding Maricopa’s lawful compliance with Arizona election law.”

On the basis of these complaints and the problematic administration of the election, Wright underscored how Arizonans “deserve a full report and accounting of the myriad problems” that occurred in Maricopa County on Election Day.


In addition to voters’ complaints, Wright indicated there was additional cause for concern, given that “statements made by both Chairman Gates and Recorder Richer, along with information Maricopa County released through official modes of communication appear to confirm potential statutory violations of [Arizona election law].”

Wright’s letter, as noted in MacKinnon’s article, contained more information about why she invoked Arizona Revised Statutes Section 16-1021. She was particularly concerned about printer problems and check-out problems. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

What Is the Connection Between Trump, Democracy, and Free Speech?

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns democracy and free speech. Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk recently purchased Twitter, and he has been causing leftists heartburn since the purchase. He decided to ask Twitter users if former President Donald Trump should be allowed by on Twitter.

Musk sent a simple tweet with a poll: “Reinstate former President Trump.” Two hours after the poll was published, it received more than 3 million votes. The final numbers were 15,085,458 votes with 51.8% of voters voting yes and 48.2% of voters voting no. At the time that The Blaze published their article, the percentages were 57% to reinstate Trump, while 43% did not want him to be reinstated. Musk used the voice of the people to reinstate Trump’s right to free speech.

Twitter suspended Trump’s account on January 6, 2021, during the riot at the U.S. Capitol because he was somehow responsible for the riot. He was later suspended permanently from its platform, and other social media platforms suspended him.

Trump joined Truth Social and other social media platforms, and he indicated that he is not interested in returning to Twitter. Now that he has been reinstated, he may change his mind, but democracy and free speech won.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

What Is the Role of Prophets?

My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Amos and Obadiah in a lesson titled “Seek the Lord, and Ye Shall Live.” The lesson was introduced by the following paragraphs:

God chose Abraham’s seed to be His covenant people so that they would “be a blessing” to all people (see Genesis 12:2-3). But instead, by the time of Amos’s ministry, many of the covenant people were oppressing the poor and ignoring the prophets, making their acts of worship empty and meaningless (see Amos 2:6-16). True, the nations surrounding them were also guilty of great sins (see Amos 1; 2:1-5), but that has never been an excuse for God’s people (see Amos 3:2). So God sent a herdsman from Judah named Amos to preach repentance to the Kingdom of Israel.


Later, God also declared through the prophet Obadiah that although the Kingdom of Judah had been destroyed, the Lord would gather and bless His people again. The covenant people had strayed from the Lord, both prophets testified, but they would not be cast off forever. When God reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets (see Amos 3:7), we can take it as a sign that He still wants to help us live up to the covenants we made with Him. 

The topic of this essay is the principle just mentioned: The Lord reveals truth through His prophets. Amos introduced the principle by giving several examples of cause and effect:

4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?


5 Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all?


6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?


7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.


8 The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:4-8)

Amos spoke to the entire house of Israel, all twelve tribes, and he used the metaphor of a husband and wife. The Lord reminded Israel that He had chosen no other (see Amos 3:2; Deuteronomy 7:6). He spoke of Himself as faithful husband and reminded Israel of her covenant relationship with Him (see Jeremiah 3:19-20). The images used by Amos were chosen to express this message: God knows about calamities before they happen, but He never sends a calamity unless He first notifies His prophet that it is coming. Amos 3:7 is a clear statement of the role of prophets: they are spokesmen for the Lord. President N. Eldon Tanner said the following:

There are many scriptures which assure us that God is as interested in us today as he has been in all his children from the beginning, and thus we believe in continuous revelation from God through his prophets to guide us in these latter days. The Prophet Amos said, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1975, p.52, as quoted in Old Testament Student Manual – Kings through Malachi, 2003). 

I know that God still speaks to us through His prophets. His prophet today is Russell M. Nelson, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am grateful to live in a day when living prophets are upon the earth to guide us in the ways of God.