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.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Who Is Katrina Lantos Swett?

             My VIP for this week is Katrina Lantos Swett, who has been described as “a Jewish child of Holocaust survivors, human rights advocate, Democrat and Latter-day Saint” by Hanna Seariac. “Her father was the late Tom Lantos, the first Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress and the former chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.” He was also a good friend of President Joe Biden.

            Swett is the current president and CEO of the Tom Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, which carries on the legacy of her father. She skipped high school and entered college at age 14. She graduated from Yale at age 18 and from law school 2.5 years later. By age 21, she was working on the staff of Senator Joe Biden, an experience that launched her into a lengthy career at the center of American politics.

            In 1980, Swett married Richard Swett, an architect. In 1990, he ran for Congress to represent New Hampshire’s 2nd District. He won the election and served two terms. While her husband was serving in Congress, Swett began her own political career. President Bill Clinton nominated her husband to serve as ambassador to Denmark. While there, Swett “lectured on U.S. foreign policy at Southern Denmark University and worked with Danish leaders to fight human trafficking.” Along the way, she earned a doctorate in history from the University of Southern Denmark.

In 2002, Swett ran for her husband’s vacated seat but lost the election. In 2008, she ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate, and she ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2010. In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed her to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, where she served for four years. The following is in the article written by Seariac:

Where her father was a trailblazer, Swett is a bridge builder. She’s every bit the fearless advocate that he was. And she, too, is close to Biden, having served as a staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee when he was the chairman. But since that early-career stint in Washington, she’s thrived at the intersection of a number of different worlds. She’s a progressive Democrat, and a fierce advocate for religious liberty; a Jew, and a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the wife and daughter of a politician, and a political strategist and former political candidate herself.

This unique makeup has allowed Swett to even more effectively advocate for the things her father dedicated his life to: human rights and global religious liberty. Wherever those battles are being won today, whether domestically or abroad, it’s likely that Swett is somewhere near the front lines.

            “Faith is central to Swett’s life,” but she was not reared in a faith tradition. Her mother later joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Swett did not attend Church often as a child. Swett’s sister also joined the Church of Jesus Christ. When Swett transferred to Yale as a sophomore, she agreed to attend “one church-related activity each week.” She chose to attend a class in the institute “where Latter-day Saint instructors teach college-level religious instruction.”

            Swett’s institute teacher was Jeffrey R. Holland, the future president of Brigham Young University and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ. After attending the institute class, Swett asked for baptism. She stated, “If someone set out not to be persuaded of the truthfulness of the gospel, one of the worst decisions you could possibly make would be to attend a class taught by Elder Holland.”

            Swett had simple counsel to anyone “seeking to make a difference and are troubled by human rights violations in the world: ‘find truth. That is the worthy mission of life, to find truth and live in accordance with it.’”

Sunday, May 15, 2022

What Is a Citizen’s Relationship to Government?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns government and the relationship between citizens and government. The authors of my textbook We The People define government as the “institutions and procedures through which a territory and its people are ruled” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 5). Governments range in size from the local town meeting to the enormous establishments that run nations. According to the authors, thousands of governments have existed, but few have lasted a long time.

            The government of the United States of America was established by the Constitution and has been stable for more than 230 years. This government is built on the core values of liberty, equality, and democracy. Americans embrace all three values, but the values mean different things to different people. An example is the way that both Democrats and Republicans claim that they are “protecting democracy,” while they practice the value in opposing ways.

            We group these conflicts and struggles in the meaning of the three values, as well as leadership, structure, and government policies, under the term politics. The authors define politics as “conflict over the leadership, structure, and policies of government” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 5).

            There are two important questions that should be asked in defining governments: Who governs? And how much control does the government have? The authors gave three types of governments to show who governs: autocracy (“a form of government in which a single individual – a king, queen, or dictator – rules”), oligarchy (“a form of government in which a small group – landowners, military officers, or wealthy merchants – controls most of the governing decisions”), and democracy (“a system of rule that permits citizens to play a significant part in the governmental process, usually through the election of key public officials”) (Ginsberg et al., 2021, pp. 5-6).

            The authors discussed three different forms of government to show the distinction in how much control a government has. Constitutional government (sometimes called liberal) is defined by the authors as “a system of rule in which formal and effective limits are placed on the powers of the government” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 7). This form of government is found in the United States and several other nations.

            Authoritarian government is defined by the authors as “a system of rule in which the government recognizes no formal limits but may nevertheless be restrained by the power of other social institutions” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 7). This form of government is found in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

            Totalitarian government is defined by the government as “a system of rule in which the government recognizes no formal limits on its power and seeks to absorb or eliminate other social institutions that might challenge it” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 7). This form of government was found in the Soviet Union (Joseph Stalin) and Nazi Germany (Hitler) and is found today in North Korea. These governments try to control everything in their country, including political, economic, and social life.

            The Constitution of the United States places limits on what the government can do and how they can do it. The authors wrote the following:

Americans have the good fortune to live in a nation in which limits are placed on what governments can do and how they can do it. By one measure, 52 percent of the global population lives in democracies, but only 14 percent enjoy true liberal democracy with free and fair elections, the rule of law, and constraints on the executive (president or prime minister); 38 percent live in more limited democracies” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 7).

            The Founding Fathers of the United States created a government based on principles, and these principles define the individual liberty that Americans enjoy today and as outlined in the Bill of Rights (freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience, and freedom from arbitrary search and seizure). However, the Founders did not want a strict democracy. There were restrictions as to who could vote (white male property owners) and who could hold office. They wanted to restrict these privileges to the white middle and upper classes. History shows that the right to vote was first extended to all males, then to all females, and finally to all adults eighteen years old and older.

            When the authors wrote the word politics, they referred to “conflicts over who the government’s leadership is, how the government is organized, or what its policies are” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 8). Those determining these issues are said to have political power. There are numerous ways in which Americans can participate in government, such as “voting, donating money, signing petitions, attending political meetings, tweeting and commenting online, sending emails to officials, lobbying legislators, working on a campaign, and participating in protest marches and even violent demonstrations” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 8).

            The federal government in the United States is a representative democracy or republic, which the authors define as “a system of government in which the populace selects representatives, who play a significant role in governmental decision-making” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 8). Americans vote for representatives, but we do not vote directly on legislation.

            The government on the state and local level may be a direct democracy, defined as “a system of rule that permits citizens to vote directly on laws and policies” (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 8). When citizens vote on initiatives and referenda, we are participating in a direct democracy.

In 2020, 128 referenda appeared on state ballots, often dealing with hot-button issues, including measures in 6 states legalizing medical or recreational marijuana, in 12 states affecting taxes, in 2 states regarding abortion access and funding, and in 14 states regarding elections policies such as redistricting, voting requirements, and campaign finance (Ginsberg et al., 2021, p. 8).

            The closer the government is to the people, the more opportunity the people have to influence the decisions made by the government. We have more influence in our city governments and school boards than in our state governments, and more influence in our state governments than in the federal government.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Will God Reveal His Will to You or Me?

            My Come, Follow Me lesson for this week took me to Numbers 11-14; 20-24 where the children of Israel were still wandering in the wilderness. The lesson manual introduced the lesson in this way:

Even on foot, it wouldn’t normally take 40 years to travel from the wilderness of Sinai to the promised land in Canaan. But that’s how long the children of Israel needed, not to cover the geographical distance but to cover the spiritual distance: the distance between who they were and who the Lord needed them to become s His covenant people.

The book of Numbers describes some of what happened during those 40 years, including lessons the children of Israel needed to learn before entering the promised land. They learned about being faithful to the Lord’s chosen servants (see Numbers 12). They learned about trusting the Lord’s power, even when the future seems hopeless (see Numbers 13-14). And they learned that being faithless or untrusting brings spiritual harm, but they could repent and look to the Savior for healing (see Numbers 21:4-9).

We’re all like the Israelites in some ways. We all know what it’s like to be in a spiritual wilderness, and the same lessons they learned can help us prepare to enter our own promised land: eternal life with our Heavenly Father.

            As usual, there are numerous principles taught in the block of scripture. I feel prompted to write about this principle: “Revelation is available to all but God guides His Church through His prophet” (Numbers 11:11-17, 24-29; 12).

            The children of Israel grew tired of eating manna every day, and they lusted for the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that “did eat in Egypt freely” (Numbers 11:5). Moses heard the people complaining in their tents, and he was displeased. Moses went to the Lord and said the following to Him:

11 And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?

12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?

13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.

14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness. (Numbers 11:11-15).

            The Lord told Moses to choose seventy men who were leaders from among the children of Israel and bring them to the tabernacle of the congregation. There the Lord met with the men and gave them counsel.

24 ¶ And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.

25 And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.

27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.

28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophetsand that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

30 And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel (Number 11:24-30).

            The Lord took of the spirit that was upon Moses and gave it to the seventy elders “and they prophesied” (verse 25). In addition, two men that stayed in the camp and was not among the elders also prophesied. When Joshua expressed his concern about the two men prophesying, Moses replied with the wish that all the Israelites were prophets.

Moses showed his greatness in his answer to Joshua. Some leaders would be threatened if subordinates had the same gifts and abilities, but Moses was not threatened. He wanted every single Israelite to share the same power as he had – the power to receive revelation. What does it mean to be a prophet? It means that God reveals His will to that person. Anyone to whom God speaks is a prophet.

President Russell M. Nelson taught, “Does God really want to speak to you? Yes! … Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 95). 

            Was Moses still the prophet when seventy-two other men could also receive revelation? Yes. God can reveal His will to each of His children for themselves and for their specific responsibilities, but He reveals His will for all His children to the prophet. Even though all baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the gift of the Holy Ghost and can receive revelation, they do not speak for the Church. We sustained fifteen men as prophets, seers, and revelators, but only the senior apostle, the President of the Church, receives revelation for the entire Church. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

What Is the Role of Credit and Loans in Successful Financial Planning?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when credit and loans are used wisely. Credit should be used sparingly and for purposes that cannot be purchased in any other way – such things as “education, a modest home, or a basic automobile” (Robert D. Hales). 

            E. Jeffrey Hill and Bryan L. Sudweeks wrote a textbook titled Fundamentals of Family Finance – Living Joyfully within your Means, and much of the material in this post come from their chapter on credit and loans.

Unwise debt leads to financial downfall. J. Reuben Clark, Jr. gave the following warning: “Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it … and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” 

            Debt can destroy marriages and crush families if it leads to marital conflict. Financial difficulties can lead to excessive debts and marital stress. Marvin J. Ashton quoted a study by the American Bar Association that indicated that “89 percent of all divorces can be traced to quarrels and accusations over money.” 

            Financial problems often come because we do not have enough self-control to wait until we have the money to purchase what we want. Thomas S. Monson taught how debt can have negative impacts on family relationships: “Feelings become strained, quarrels more frequent and nerves frayed when excess debt knocks on the door. Resources channeled to make payment on debts do not put one crumb on the table, provide one degree of warmth in the house, or bring one thread into a garment.” 

            Too many or too big of loans can bring havoc into a marriage, but credit cards are particularly destructive. Credit cards are tools to use for our benefit. My husband and I have used credit cards for many years without getting into financial difficulty with them. Our secret is that we pay the entire balance every month. We recognize that the money comes out of our pocket whether we use cash or credit card.

            Wise marriage partners will be wise in their use of credit and loans. They will “avoid debt as [they] would avoid a plague” (Ezra Taft Benson). When they have children, they will share their knowledge and experience with money management with their children, and thus they will strengthen their family, community, and nation. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Why Do Protesters Think It Is Okay to Gather at the Homes of Justices?

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the freedom to protest but under certain conditions. As soon as the leaked Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade came out, protesters descended on the Court to make their opinions known. They have a constitutional right to assemble or to gather with other people to protest. Therefore, they were not doing anything wrong when they peaceably protested at the Court.

However, protesters crossed the line when they gathered at the homes of the Supreme Court justices to protest. They exhibited poor judgment to protest in the streets, on the sidewalks, and in the yards of the homes of the justices. According to various sources, the protesters may have committed crimes when they tried to intimidate the justices while frightening the justices’ families.

Zack Smith and John G. Malcolm published an article on the matter at The Daily Signal. They indicated that the wrongness in the action of the protesters is shown by comments from the Democrat side. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) is the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, and he had the following counsel for the protesters: “I think it’s reprehensible. Stay away from the homes and families of elected officials and members of the court.” The left-leaning Washington Post published the following statement in their editorial section under the title “Leave the Justices Alone at Home.”

The right to assemble and speak freely is essential to democracy. Erasing any distinction between the public square and private life is essential to totalitarianism.

The protests are part of a disturbing trend in which groups descend on the homes of people they disagree with and attempt to influence their public conduct by making their private lives – and, often, those of their families and neighbors – miserable.

To picket a judge’s home is especially problematic. It tries to bring direct public pressure to bear on a decision-making process that must be controlled, evidence-based, and rational if there is to be any hope of an independent judiciary.

            There may be state or local laws that prohibit protesting at the homes of the justices. However, a federal law – 18 U.S.C. §1507 – seems to directly prohibit such action. At least, numerous legal experts think that it applies to this situation.

Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge … in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades … in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge … or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year or both.

            Smith and Malcomb wonder why the Department of Justice is not acting against the protesters. They reminded their readers that the DOJ was “quick to condemn parents who showed up at school board meetings … to protest the radical policies being pushed by some board members.” They noted that Attorney General Merrick Garland made a statement but did little else. Garland “continues to be briefed on security matters related to the Supreme Court and Supreme Court justices,” and he “directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the justices’ safety.” 

           However, Garland stopped short of issuing a statement about the breaking of the law or being “prosecuted and held accountable for their actions.” The protests around the homes of the justices are every bit as bad as the protest at the Capitol Building on January 6, but the protesters in the two situations are being treated differently. Where is the rule of law?


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Do Americans Have a Free Press?

            Last November, The FBI raided the home and office of James O’Keefe, the CEO of Project Veritas, a news organization that reports by making undercover videos. The purpose for the raid was to seek information about a diary allegedly belonging to Ashley Biden, the daughter of President Joe Biden. A source found the diary in a home that he rented and contacted O’Keefe. Someone from O’Keefe’s conservative non-profit organization traveled across state lines to obtain the diary.

            O’Keefe tried to verify that the diary belonged to Ashley Biden and contacted the Biden campaign for verification. Meanwhile, O’Keefe read the diary, determined that it was confidential information, and declined to publish it. He gave the diary to the police and did not have possession of it at the time of the raid. Because O’Keefe is a journalist, the FBI raid is tantamount to a raid on the free press, and every journalist should be standing with O’Keefe.

            Some Republicans in the House of Representatives are calling for a congressional investigation into the FBI raid to seize information from Project Veritas. Potentially, there may be other government actions taken against a member of the press. After a House GOP forum on press freedom, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was interviewed by The Daily Signal.

I have called for a specific investigation into how some of those tools were used against Project Veritas….

So, I want to be a little more specific than just a general review of the law and subject area. I want to see, if in this particular case, the standards that the Department [of Justice] sets and that are set in law may have been violated….

Our objective here is to vindicate a free press. I don’t think the specific substance of Ashley Biden’s diary is as important as these broader principles that seem to be implicated by the government’s control….

As we prepare for our time in the majority, it is not enough to pass laws and believe those laws will have their own fiat.

It has to be done on the front end, and then there has to be rigorous and aggressive oversight on the back end. Based on my review of the facts in M. O’Keefe’s case, we ought to launch an investigation, immediately upon taking the majority, not just of this policy area, but of this particular circumstance regarding Project Veritas, because it unlocks so many things.

            Gaetz is not the only member of Congress concerned about the FBI raid on Project Veritas. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the chairperson of the hearing-style forum, agree with the need for a congressional investigation. “One thing that should frighten every American is when the freedom of the press is threatened by the weaponization of the state police apparatus.” He continued, “Neither side of the partisan aisle should tolerate any kind of aggressive attempt to silence or censor speech, and particularly of a free press.”

            Biggs spoke of the FBI raid on Project Veritas and former President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks on certain news outlets and reporters. He said that is no comparison between Trump’s verbal attacks and the Biden administration turning the power of federal law enforcement against media outlets.

            Biggs explained the difference as follows: “On one hand, you have a president actually exercising his First Amendment speech being critical of the Fourth Estate. On the other hand, you had administrations weaponizing and using the police apparatus to go against people they wanted to stifle. I think that’s a huge difference.”

            O’Keefe believes that there should be a congressional investigation and hopes that there is bipartisan support for ensuring that other journalists do not experience similar raids. “If I’m wrong, and there isn’t bipartisanship on this issue, then we’re doomed.”

            Ironically, the FBI raided O’Keefe’s home and office after he had declined to publish the diary. However, Josh Gerstein actually published the leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion reversing the 1973 Roe v. Wade, and he did not face any legal consequences. The FBI is obviously biased about the news organizations that it raids. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

How Do We Protect Females in Vulnerable Situations?

            Biological males claiming to be women are endangering female inmates in prisons. Recently, Ramel Blount, age 33, who goes by Diamond Blount, pled guilty to attempted rape. He was housed in a women’s facility at New York’s Rickers Island jail when he raped a female prisoner. He has been sentenced to seven years for the rape. In addition to the seven-year sentence, he must register as a sex offender. 

            Rikers Island is known for its violent conditions. However, this woman would not have been raped if biological men were housed with biological men despite their claim to be female. The problem at Rickers Island is not a lone event. A female in an Illinois prison reported that this exact thing happened to her in 2021.

            For several years, officials at jail and prison facilities have been pressured to house male prisoners identifying as female with women. It is happening in New York and in California, but women are starting to push back to protect their privacy and safety. Nicole Russell stated that women are pushing back to preserve their right to safety and privacy.

The Women’s Liberation Front, which seeks to protect the privacy and equality of women, filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that California’s SB 132 is unconstitutional and creates an unsafe environment for women, for whom these single-sex facilities exist. One plaintiff in the suit says she was sexually assaulted by an inmate who transferred from a men’s facility. Another plaintiff says she was inappropriately “grabbed.”

One of the biggest reasons that so many conservatives oppose the Equality Act before Congress is that it would open the door to this, and similar situations, nationwide. And few laws would be left to protect the most vulnerable.

Under the Equality Act, any place that receives federal funds, from schools to prisons, would be forced to banish single-sex spaces or be liable to discrimination charges. It’s important to make clear: Most trans-identifying individuals aren’t perverts or assailants-in-waiting. But under these policies, bad actors need only to identify as the opposite sex to gain access to private spaces.

In Alaska, a man claiming to be a woman tried to enter a shelter for battered women. When he was refused, he sued the organization for discrimination under a local law governing sexual orientation and gender identity.

Women serving time in prison or jail still deserve to be treated humanely and with respect. They still have a right to privacy and safety.

            Privacy and safety for women and girls is being destroyed by claims of discrimination. The rush to protect people who are transgender is overriding the rights of women and girls to have safe, private places.

Monday, May 9, 2022

What Did Justice Thomas Say about Bullies?

            Last Monday, someone leaked a draft opinion showing that the U.S Supreme Court may overturn the constitutional right to abortion. The leak brought out abortion-rights supporters who are rallying outside the courthouse and at various locations around the United States, including the homes of several justices.

            The leak also caused an internal crisis at the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leaker and assigned the investigation to the Supreme Court police force that is answerable only to the Chief Justice.

Justice Samuel Alito authored the draft decision and cancelled a speaking engagement for security purposes. Justice Clarence Thomas also had a speaking engagement scheduled for last week. Unlike Justice Alito, Justice Thomas kept his engagement on Friday to speak at a judicial conference in Atlanta. Reuters reported that he made a few passing references to the protests over the leaked draft opinion.

            Thomas said that as a society, “we are becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes, not living with the outcomes we don’t like.” He continued, “We can’t be an institution that can be bullied into giving you just the outcomes you want. The events form earlier this week are a symptom of that.”

            The Far Left is a bunch of radicals who attempt to force their politics on all Americans. Whenever something does not go their way, they resort to mob rule to intimate those who do not agree with them. (An example is the riots that took place in Washington, D.C. upon the election of Donald Trump.) The radicals may continue with their rallies in an attempt to persuade justices to change their votes before the decision is finalized. If the final decision overturns Roe and Casey, their rallies may turn into riots. They are, in the words of Justice Thomas, only bullies trying to get their way. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Are Civil Liberties and Civil Rights the Same?

             The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is about civil liberties and civil rights. According to my textbook, We The People, they are related but different.

Civil liberties protect people from the government. Civil rights are protections of citizen equality by the government. The foundations of civil liberties and civil rights re to be found in the state and federal constitutions, which guarantee freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and so forth. The federal Constitution’s Bill of Rights includes both liberties and rights.

            Some examples of the differences are as follow. The government cannot restrict freedom of speech because it is a civil liberty. Conservatives have the civil right to not be discriminated against when invited to speak at universities. Universities have the responsibility to treat both liberal and conservative speakers fairly. This is not done in most cases, and universities should stand up against the liberal mob who will not listen to conservative viewpoints.

            Another example is that government and civilian employers have the civil liberty to determine who is promoted. There is no civil right to be promoted. However, employees have the civil right to be treated fairly and considered equally about being promoted if they have the required training, skills, and experience without regard to gender, race, religion, etc.

            Civil liberties concern things that the government must not do, and civil rights concern things that the government must do to protect citizens against discrimination.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

How Do We Become Holy?

            My Come, Follow Me studies took me to Exodus 35-40 and Leviticus 1; 16; 19. This lesson teaches about how God works to help His children to become holy. The lesson was introduced with this paragraph:

Leaving Egypt – as important and miraculous as that was – didn’t fully accomplish God’s purposes for the children of Israel. Even future prosperity in the promised land wasn’t God’s ultimate objective for them. These were only steps toward what God really wanted for His people: “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). How did God seek to make His people holy when they had known nothing but captivity for generations? He commanded them to create a place of holiness to the Lord – a tabernacle in the wilderness. He gave them covenants and laws to guide their actions and to change their hearts. And when they fell short in their efforts to keep those laws, He commanded them to make animal sacrifices to symbolize atonement for their sins. All of this was meant to point their minds, their hearts, and their lives toward the Savior and the redemption He offers He is the true path to holiness, for the Israelites and for us. We have all spent some time in the captivity of sin, and we are all invited to repent – to leave sin behind and follow Jesus Christ, who has promised, “I am able to make you holy” (Doctrine and Covenants 60:7).

            The Lord’s instructions to build a tabernacle are found in Exodos 25-31. He wanted them to build the tabernacle as a place where sacred ordinances could be performed to help them become a holy people. The tabernacle was to be made of wood and fabric and was to contain the ark of the covenant, altar of incense, candlestick or lampstand, altar of sacrifice, and a laver or basin of water. President Henry B. Eyring taught the following about becoming holy.

Greater happiness comes from greater personal holiness…. The scriptures teach us that among other things, we can be sanctified or become more holy when we exercise faith in Christ, demonstrate our obedience, repent, sacrifice for Him, receive sacred ordinances, and keep our covenants with Him….

The hymn “More Holiness Give Me” [Hymns, no. 131] suggests a way to pray for help in becoming more holy. The author wisely suggests that the holiness we seek is a gift form a loving God, granted over time, after all we can do (“Holiness and the Plan of Happiness,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2019, 100-101, 103).

            Wendy Nelson authored a wonderful book titled, “What Would a Holy Woman Do?” that has a lot of interesting information in it. After reading it, I was faced with a decision about going on a hunting trip with my husband. I did not want to go, and I expressed my feelings to my husband. Nonetheless, he continued to ask me to go, and I was becoming frustrated. We had been away from home, and I had important tasks to do. I asked myself, “what would a holy woman do in this situation?”

The answer was to pray about the situation. I prayed and felt that I should go on the hunting trip. Once I knew what Heavenly Father thought I should do, my frustration disappeared. Dangerous weather gave me a few more days at home to complete the necessary tasks, and I felt fine about going on the trip.

The positive aspect to the decision was that we were able to return at the designated time, rather than sitting out rainy weather and waiting for good flying weather. The lesson that I learned is that thinking about situations with a holy perspective can help us make better decisions and become more holy.

Friday, May 6, 2022

What Do You Know about Cash Management?

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when parents understand correct principles of cash management and teach them to their children. Most people are not born with this understanding, so we need to learn it from someone, and parents are most qualified to do the teaching.

            E. Jeffrey Hill and Bryn L. Sudweeks taught cash management in their textbook titled Fundamentals of Family Finance – Living Joyfully within Your Means. They defined cash management as “how to effectively manage your family’s monetary assets.” They defined monetary assets as “Financial resources that are legal tender (cash) or can be converted to legal tender very quickly.” The quotes in this post will come from their book in chapter 3.

Monetary assets include things like the money in your wallet, in your checking and saving accounts, your certificates of deposit, and money market accounts. All of these items consist of cash or something that can be converted to cash quickly. Vehicles, houses, and other property can be converted to cash, but they do not have as much liquidity. Liquidity means “the immediate accessibility of money.”

Hill and Sudweeks listed an emergency fund as “the most important role of cash management.” In case you do not know what an emergency fund is, it is “Liquid financial resources to meet unexpected and immediate needs.” The authors suggested that you should have enough money in your emergency fund to cover your living expenses for three to six months. Such a fund would be helpful if you lost your job unexpectedly, or your car broke down.

Managing our cash is an important part of effective money management. It is also a skill that can be taught to the rising generation or to adults. In either case, learning and teaching effective cash management can strengthen families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

What Do You Know about “Remain in Mexico”?

            The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Biden v. Texas about “Remain in Mexico” last week. Justices will issue a ruling on controversial policy this summer. Do you know what the “Remain in Mexico” policy is?

            According to Mya Jaradat, the “Remain in Mexico” policy is “officially known as the migrant protection protocols.” This policy was implemented by the Trump administration in January 2019, and it was instrumental is returning migrants to Mexico to await immigration proceedings. 

            The Biden administration suspended the policy in January 2021 and terminated in June 2021. However, “it was reinstated in early December because of a court ruling. U.S. officials again began sending non-Mexican asylum-seekers to Mexico.”

            The migrant protection protocols put in place by “Remain in Mexico” apply only to people from the Western Hemisphere, and there are numerous exemptions – such as not applying to unaccompanied minors. Other exemptions put in place by the Biden administration are “pregnant women, the elderly, and those who might be harmed because of their gender identity.”

            The “Remain in Mexico” policy was put in place by the Trump administration as one of several ways to “disincentivize individuals and families from seeking asylum in the U.S.,” said Giulia McPherson, Jesuit Refugee Service’s director of advocacy and operations. The Trump policies slowed the migration into the United States to controllable levels. However, adjustments/cancellations/policies by the Biden administration have again increased the levels.

            Immigration advocates believe that “Remain in Mexico” should be lifted. They cite several reasons for their belief with one of them being their belief that “Remain in Mexico” violates a 1967 protocol relating to refugee status. Another reason is the dangerous conditions in northern Mexico. A third reason is difficulty in accessing counsel to pursue their asylum claims.

            Politicians and other advocates for “Remain in Mexico” policy “say that it’s essential for the safety and security of Americans and that it reduces the number of migrants entering the United States illegally.” After the policy was reinstituted by a court ruling in 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott applauded the move, calling it a “major victory for our state, our nation, and for the safety and security of our communities.”

Timothy Roemer, director of Arizona’s Department of Homeland Security, said, “When applied properly, MPP helps protect the lives of every Arizona community and those throughout the nation” by helping law enforcement officials to better protect the nation.

The impact on the situation at the southern border is unknown if the policy is reinstated. It depends on how the Biden administration react to the reinstatement. We know that it was working during the Trump administration even though the flow of immigrants crossing the border illegally did not stop completely. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Should Mayorkas Be Impeached and Removed from Office?

            The topics of impeachment, removal from office, and even treason are being discussed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The congressional members are not talking about President Joe Biden, but his Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Republicans pressed Mayorkas for answers last week for the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants surging at our border. Each month sets a new record for the numbers of migrants crossing the border illegally.

            Agents for U.S. Customs and Border Protection logged over 221,000 “encounters” with illegal aliens along the border in March 2022. This is a 33% increase over February 2022. Mayorkas tried to tell the House Judiciary Committee that the border is under “operational control” as required by law.

            Republicans did not believe Mayorkas and said that he should be impeached and removed from office for intentionally neglecting his duty to secure the border. They mentioned specifically the vast numbers of illegal migrants crossing into America and no plans by Mayorkas to stop them. Virginia Allen reported the following six highlights from the hearing. 

1. ‘It’s by Design’

“The chaos on our southern border is not an accident,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said during his opening statement about the surge of illegal aliens since Biden was sworn in as president Jan. 20, 2021. …

“President Biden on Day One said there’ll be a moratorium on deportations,” Jordan, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said. “He ended [the] ‘Remain in Mexico’ [policy]. He terminated agreements with Northern Triangle countries, and he stopped building the wall.”

The big increase in illegal immigrants at the southern border is an “intentional” result of DHS policies implemented under Mayorkas, the Ohio Republican said, adding: “It’s deliberate. It’s on purpose. It’s by design. …

2. ‘Inherited a Mess’

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., addressing Mayorkas in his opening remarks, said: “You inherited a mess when you took over the department, and no one can solve overnight the problems left for you by the previous administration.” …

Mayorkas echoed these sentiments in his testimony, saying, ‘we inherited a broken and dismantled system” from the Trump administration.

When Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., challenged Mayorkas on these remarks, the homeland security secretary said he was “speaking of a broken system before the prior administration.”

The nation’s immigration system has been in need of reform for a long time, Mayorkas added.

3. End of Title 42 to ‘Make Matters Worse’

The wave of illegal aliens headed for the southern border only will grow with the end of a public health measure called Title 42, which will “make matter worse,” Jordan said.

The Biden administration has put an expiration date of May 23 on Title 42, which immigration officials have used to deport illegal immigrants from some countries quickly to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We all know that after Title 42 is repealed, 18,000 immigrants a day are going to result, coming over that border,” Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., said, adding that such a surge will lead to “a total collapse of operational control.” …

4. ‘Comprehensive’ DHS Plan

Republican and Democrat lawmakers questioned Mayorkas on his plan to address the increase in migrants unlawfully coming across the southern border…

The homeland security secretary repeatedly referenced the “six pillars” throughout the House hearing, noting that the plan is both “comprehensive” and “very detailed.”

The DHS plan, using its words, includes: 1) “Surge resources, including personnel, transportation, medical support, and facilities.” 2) “Increase efficiency without compromising the integrity of our screening processes, to reduce strain on the border.” 3) “Administer consequences for unlawful entry, including expedited removal and criminal prosecution.” 4) “Bolster the capacity of NGOs and coordinate with state, local, and community partners.” 5) Target and disrupt transnational criminal organizations and human smugglers.” 6) “Deter irregular migration south of our border, in partnership with other federal agencies and nations.”

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told Mayorkas that the only “plan” the homeland security secretary is offering is to “process aliens faster and encourage more to come.”

“We know that to be true,” Roy said. “I know it’s true. You know it’s true. Cartels know it’s true. And people around the world know it’s true, and that’s why people are coming. … The entirety of your plan says that.”

5. Where Are 42 on Terrorist Watch List?

In one of the more lively exchanges of the hearing, Jordan pressed Mayorkas on the whereabouts of the 42 known individuals on America’s terrorist watch list who were caught attempting to cross the southern border since Biden took office.

“Forty-two illegal immigrants … encountered at our border are on the terrorist and no-fly list. Are any of them still in our country?” Jordan asked.

Jordan, whose time expired as he continued to press Mayorkas for an answer, didn’t receive one that appeared to satisfy him.

When it came time for Louisiana’s Johnson to question the homeland security secretary, he first yielded to Jordan.

“Have any of the 42 illegal migrants on the terrorist watch list or no-fly list encountered on our southwest border been released into the United States?” Jordan asked.

“I will provide that data to you with respect to the disposition of each one. I do not know the answer to your question,” Mayorkas replied.

“The secretary of homeland security does not know the answer to the status of 42 individuals who came to our southern border illegally, are on the no-fly list and the terrorist watch list,” Jordan said. “You do not know whether they have been released or not into the country. That’s your testimony.”

6. ‘You Should Be Impeached’

Multiple Republican lawmakers called for the impeachment and removal of Mayorkas, even going as far as to call his handling of border security treasonous.

            I agree with the congressional agreement that Mayorkas should be impeached and removed from office. He either completely lacks the ability to fulfill his responsibilities, or he is purposefully allowing hundreds of thousands of migrants to enter the United States illegally. The numbers are not “normal,” and they are much bigger than they were when Donald Trump was in office. The border was secure under Trump with numbers of migrants coming illegally small enough to be control by border agents. The current problems are caused by Mayorkas and Biden administration policies.