Declaration of Independence

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

Thursday, November 30, 2023

How Can We Obtain Freedom from Hidden Costs?

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the hidden ways that the government picks taxpayers’ pockets. As Tyler O’Neil noted in his article published at The Daily Signal, “Americans expect to pay federal taxes,” but they do not like being taxed in hidden ways. O’Neil quoted Wayne Crews from the Competitive Enterprise Institute as saying: 

“American households pay at least $14,000 in hidden regulatory costs every year,” Wayne Crews, the Fred L. Smith fellow in regulatory studies at the institute, says in a new video provided exclusively to The Daily Signal. “Instead of finding ways to cut those costs for Americans, President Biden’s whole-of-government policymaking framework prioritizes political causes like climate change and equity in the regulatory process.”

“At CEI, we believe it is essential to increase transparency and accountability in the rulemaking process, and make sure rulemaking agencies stick to their original mandates,” adds Crews, who lays out three major recommendations in his new report, “Ten Thousand Commandments: A Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State,” published Wednesday.

“Rules made by federal agencies impose a cost of government that extends well beyond what Washington taxes,” Crews told The Daily Signal. “Federal environmental, safety and health, social, and economic regulations grip the economy, making it needlessly harder and more expensive to run a household or business in this country.”

His analysis – the latest in a series of annual reports – finds that the average American household pays $14,514 annually in a hidden regulatory cost.

“This amount exceeds every item in the household budget, except housing,” notes the report, which The Daily Signal obtained prior to its publication. “A typical American household spends more on embedded regulation than on health care, food, transportation, entertainment, apparel, services, or savings.” That number represents 17% of an average income before taxes ($87,434 in 2022).

Crews calculated the costs of regulation on the entire economy as $1.939 trillion, and found the average cost per household by dividing that gargantuan number by 133.6 million households.

[The article has a graph that] shows the regulatory costs in 2020 plotted alongside the costs households paid for other goods and services in 2020. It shows that the cost of regulation is greater for households for every item but housing.] …

Regulations issued by the executive branch far outstrip the number of laws Congress passes each year. During the 2022 calendar year, agencies issued 3,168 rules, while Congress enacted only 247 laws….

The report suggests a wide range of reforms to check the growth of regulation. It urges Congress to require congressional approval of significant or controversial agency rules before they become binding. It urges Congress to require annual regulatory transparency report cards and legislation requiring the automatic sunsetting of regulations. It urges Congress to pass a law preventing presidents from using “emergency declarations” to impose permanent government controls. It also urges Congress to identify which federal agencies do more harm than good and to eliminate them or shrink their budgets. It also urges Congress to set up a regulation-reduction commission to identify unneeded regulations to eliminate.

“Congress should start preparing now for substantial reforms to wrangle regulations back under control and put Congress back in charge,” Crews told The Daily Signal.

Congress passed the Sixteenth Amendment on July 2, 1909, and the States ratified it on February 3, 1913. This amendment established the right for Congress to impose a Federal income tax. There is no amendment that establishes the right of the Executive Branch to impose regulatory costs. The hidden costs imposed by the various agencies are not constitutional.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Should Hunter Biden Receive Special Treatment?

Abbe Lowell, attorney for Hunter Biden, confirmed that his client would testify before the House Oversight Committee about his foreign business dealings and allegations of Biden family corruption. However, his testimony apparently comes with conditions.

According to Chris Enloe at The Daily Signal, “Lowell told the committee that Hunter is prepared to “answer any pertinent and relevant question you or your colleagues might have.” However, he put a condition on the appearance: his client will only appear in a public hearing to avoid an alleged “cloaked, one-sided process.” 

“A public proceeding would prevent selective leaks, manipulated transcripts, doctored exhibits, or one-sided press statements,” Lowell claimed.

“We have seen you use closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort the facts and misinform the public,” he wrote. “We therefore propose opening the door. If, as you claim, your efforts are important and involve issues that Americans should know about, then let the light shine on these proceedings.”

James Comer (R), House Oversight Committee Chairman, indicated that Hunter Biden would not be allowed to dictate the conditions of his appearance before Congress. Comer called Hunter Biden’s bluff and emphasized that he would still be required to comply with the subpoena.

“Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else. That won’t stand with House Republicans,” Comer said.

“Our lawfully issued subpoena to Hunter Biden requires him to appear for a deposition on December 13,” he added. “We expect full cooperation with our subpoena for a deposition but also agree that Hunter Biden should have the opportunity to testify in a public setting at a future date.”

Lowell offered no support for his accusations against the committee. Neither did he explain why his client should get special treatment. All the depositions taken thus far by the committee have been conducted behind closed doors. The New York Times explained the Biden strategy:

Should Mr. Biden speak publicly in the House under oath, he would be taking risks, both criminally and politically. He is the subject of a federal criminal investigation now being led by a special counsel, and he is under indictment on charges of lying about his drug use on a federal form he filled out to purchase a handgun in 2018. Any testimony he provides to Congress could be used against him.

Mr. Biden has also engaged in activities – leveraging his father’s status for profit, accepting expensive gifts from overseas interests, failing to pay taxes on time, drug use and prostitution – that while already well documented could be politically damaging to President Biden’s re-election efforts if they become the focus of additional attention.

The Biden Department of Justice and the FBI have been giving Hunter Biden special treatment for several years. I say that it is past time for him to be treated as the average American would be treated.



Tuesday, November 28, 2023

What Is America’s Future?

Mobs have been rioting in the streets of America for years. They began with the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. They continued with the George Floyd riots. Now we have pro-Palestinian students rioting at a high school against a teacher. Students at a high school in Queens screamed for retribution against a Jewish teacher who attended a pro-Israel rally while vandalizing the school.

Tony Kinnett writes about this riot in his article published in The Daily Signal. He describes the situation in Queens as “another warning siren that America is devolving quickly into chaos reminiscent of the French Revolution.” 

The response so far to this disturbing incident from New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has been nothing less than reprehensible and cowardly.

Here’s what happened: After a photo of a health teacher at Hillcrest High School in Queens was shared in a TikTok video, showing the teacher holding an “I Stand With Israel” sign, students organized a protest Nov. 20 outside her classroom door, demanding that the school fire her.

The protest, like so many others associated with social “justice,” quickly whipped into a riotous frenzy. Students screamed and attempted to enter the teacher’s room for over two hours.

Students admitted to vandalizing the school during this riot, including ripping a water fountain from a wall and shattering tiles in a boys’ restroom.

After two hours of terror, the New York Police Department finally responded, including its counterterrorism bureau, to investigate possible threats “against the school,” according to New York City Council member James Gennaro, D-Queens.

The 23-year veteran teacher, whose name was omitted by the New York Post from its coverage for her safety, told the Post that she was “shaken to [her] core by the calls to violence against [her] that occurred online and outside [her] classroom last week.”

Adams announced that New York City Public Schools began an investigation and that “Project Pivot teams” would lecture students about “diversity, equity, and inclusion” and why their behavior is not acceptable. Kinnett gives his opinion as to what should happen to the students.

It’s obvious to any individual with a modicum of common sense that students who threaten the lives of others should be suspended or expelled. This used to be the case nationwide, but teachers unions and leftist professors deemed consequences “inequitable.”

It should be noted that those teachers unions, which claim to protect teachers, have been awkwardly silent following this attack on a teacher.

Socia justice, the bastardization of true justice which suggests vigilantism against perceived disparities is virtuous, has been a religion preached under names such as “diversity, equity, and inclusion” for over a decade in America’s grade schools and the teacher-education programs that staff them….

This certainly isn’t the first time that populist views of perceived wrongs to a social group resulted in violent attacks. The French Revolution was a chaotic slaughter of anyone deemed friendly with the oppressive aristocracy, until Robespierre himself was beheaded. Soviet purges slaughtered millions with less premise than rumors and thin accusation.

The most horrific populist lashings-out in the past few centuries didn’t start with Holocaust-like slaughter, either. Germany’s blame of the Jews for the loss of World War I resulted in night after night of Jewish businesses being vandalized, Jews being marked in public and followed around, and substituting their ethnicity for a political label.

In the 1930s, Germany labeled Jews “communists.” Now, pro-Hamas factions label Jews “Zionists.”

Any group – political, religious, economic, or national – that lays the blame of its woes at the feet of an ethnic group always lashes out animalistically in reprisal. These reprisals are laden with social “virtue,” promising that the offended group was driven to violence after watching its brothers and sisters downtrodden by “the white man,” “the Jews,” “the capitalist,” etc., for so long.

The liberal “woke” call to arms over some deep-seated, systemic ghost in all “oppressive” groups that must be constantly confronted is no different. Many, like Adams, have tut-tutted about racial violence and crime for years because social justice claims that these attacks are nuanced and virtuous.

Jay Greene, a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, likens Adams’ feeble response to the treatment of Jews in imperial Russia:

In Russia, Jews were chased by angry mobs in pogroms, which the czar either fomented or failed to prevent. In New York City Public Schools, we are witnessing modern pogroms of angry mobs chasing Jews fomented by the Squad, The New York Times, and university intellectuals. We’ll see if Mayor Adams is willing to do more than the czar to put a stop to this. The czar may not have pursued restorative justice and trust circles as a remedy, as NYC Public Schools do, but it would have accomplished no more than what the czar actually did.

Kinnett ends his article by blaming “Americans’ abysmal lack of knowledge of this history, which so many around them still know far too intimately.” He begs “each and every one of you to exchange the silly pseudoscience of ‘social studies’ with the tried-and-true lessons of world history, as many in the school choice and classical education movements are attempting to do.”

According to Kinnett, “harvest time is already here” because an “entire generation has embraced ‘social justice.’” None of us should be surprised when bad behavior not penalized will continue. I agree that every single student involved in the riot against the Jewish teacher should be penalized in a way that will get their attention. The bad behavior will continue and become increasingly worse until it is stopped by someone in authority. America needs adults who act like adults and who are willing to step forward to put an end to childish, selfish, racist behavior.


Monday, November 27, 2023

Who Is Javier Milei?


My VIP for this week is Javier Milei, nearly elected libertarian conservative leader of Argentina. According to Ben Shapiro, “Javier Milei is extremely scary.” He came to this opinion from headlines of various media outlets announcing Milei’s election. 

Axios calls him a “far-right libertarian who’s been compared to Trump.” The New York Times writes, “Argentina Braces Itself for Its New ‘Anarcho-Capitalist’ President,” and called the election Argentina’s “Donald Trump movement.” “Who,” asks The Washington Post, “is Javier Milei, Argentina’s far-right president-elect?”

This is, unsurprisingly, is not the way the press treated the election of former convict and left-winger Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva in Brazil. “Brazil Elects Lula, a Leftist Former Leader, in a Rebuke of Bolsonaro,” The New Yor Times reported last year, “Who,” The Washington Post asked, “is Lula? What to know about Brazil’s president.”

Milei, as we’ve said, is one scary character.

So, what are his deeply frightening positions? He has called for vast cuts to Argentina’s government – a necessity, since Argentina has defaulted on its debts three times since 2001, has a $43 billion outstanding loan to the International Monetary Fund, and now faces another default. They received a $57 billion bailout just five years.

Thanks to out-of-control spending, Argentina has had to print pesos hand over fist, which is why, according to the Ministry of the Economy, total money supply in Argentina skyrocketed 30.7% a year from 2007 to 2022. The poverty rate in the country is 40%.

Milei’s media appearances may be colorful, but that all serves a purpose: a determination to make massive change to Argentina’s economic trajectory. Milei has promised to slash and burn his way through government, cutting 11 of 19 departments; he campaigned with a chainsaw he pledged he would use on the “parasitic state.” He wants to draw closer to the United States and Israel, and away from China. He wants to dollarize the economy.

All of this should be treated as good news. Argentina’s trajectory has been a total disaster area for decades, despite the glorification of Peronism at the hands of Hollywood. And, in fact, the markets are treating Milei’s election Sunday as they should: Argentine stocks and bonds have jumped on Milei’s election, mainly because he is the first leader of Argentina in generations who has a plan to actually avoid economic default.

So, why the heartburn?

Shapiro goes on to say that there are many people in the United States and Europe who prefer social radicalism to libertarianism or conservatism. Those with such views recognize that “Argentina is a living example of what happens when corporatism and social democracy are taken to their limits” governments are substituted for markets, industry is overregulated to bring social redistribution, and other such policies. Such people want all power to be given to the government, which promises to protect “the people” – a promise that “always results in privation and misallocation, in tyranny and poverty.”

According to Shapiro, this is the reason why leftists hate Milei and why the media and the political left will try to blame Milei for all of Argentina’s failures. Shapiro claims that Milei can succeed because investors are backing him. They are placing their money on Argentina to realize “its potential as a massive source of prosperity, wealth, and power – and that alliance with the United States grows stronger as a result.”


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Will Joe Biden Be Impeached?

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns impeachment of the President of the United States. Article II, Section 4 states “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” 

With the above noted section, the U.S. Constitution gives to Congress the authority to impeach and remove various civil officers from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The power of impeachment given to Congress is an essential check on the Executive and Judicial Branches to stop violations of the law and power abuses. Three Presidents have been impeached in the past – Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump – but none of them were removed from office. 

The two impeachments of Trump have been called into question by evidence that came out in recent months. The first impeachment was for questioning the President of Ukraine about Biden family corruption, and now a Republican-led Congress is amassing bank records, emails, and other items showing that members of the Biden family were selling the Biden name to foreign nationals – corruption. The investigation is continuing, but the evidence indicates that there is a connection to Joe Biden.

According to Tyler O’Neil at The Daily Signal, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan recently issued the 60th subpoena issued during the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. This subpoena went to Lesley Wolf – assistant U.S. attorney for Delaware – demanding that she testify before the committee. The date set for her testimony is December 7 at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. O’Neil continued with the following information. 

Jordan explained in a letter to Wolf that the Judiciary Committee considers her testimony essential to its oversight of the “executive branch’s commitment to impartial justice” and to “whether sufficient grounds exist to draft articles of impeachment against President Biden.” The Justice Department under Biden twice refused to make Wolf available for a voluntary interview, leaving the committee “no choice but to compel your testimony at a deposition.” …

Republicans have accused Wolf of impeding the Delaware U.S. attorney’s investigation into Hunter Biden’s alleged influence peddling. Republicans note that Hunter Biden handsomely benefitted from lucrative business deals in China, Ukraine, and elsewhere while his father, then the vice president to President Barack Obama, served as the administration’s point-man for those countries.

Democrats, meanwhile, have claimed that there is no evidence the president directly benefited from his son’s foreign business deals. President Biden has denied any wrongdoing on his part or on the part of his son.

“Witness testimony and public reporting indicates that as an assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, you were directly involved in that office’s investigation of Hunter Biden, which deviated from standard investigative procedures,” Jordan notes in the letter.

O’Neil reported that Jordan’s letter cites whistleblower testimony, “noting that Wolf ‘attended a substantial majority, if not all, of the prosecution team meetings concerning the [Justice] Department’s investigation of Hunter Biden.” His article includes more information from Jordan’s letter.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

How Can We Find Joy?

My Come Follow Me studies for this week took me to the books of First and Second Peter in a lesson titled “Rejoice with Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory.” The following counsel preceded the lesson: “As you read the Epistles of Peter, you may receive spiritual impressions. Promptly record them while you re “yet in the Spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:80) so you can accurately capture what God teaches you.” The lesson was then introduced by the following information. 

Shortly after His Resurrection, the Savior made a prophecy that must have been troubling to Peter. He foretold that Peter would be martyred for his faith, being carried “whither [he] wouldest not …, signifying by what death he should glorify God” (John 21:18-19). Years later, when Peter wrote his epistles, he knew that his prophesied martyrdom was near: “Shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me” (2 Peter 1:14). And yet Peter’s words were not filled with fear or pessimism. Instead, he taught the Saints to “greatly rejoice,” even though they were “in heaviness through manifold temptations.” He counseled them to remember that “the trial of [their] faith” would lead to “praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” and to “the salvation of [their] souls” (1 Peter 1:6-7, 9). Peter’s faith must have been comforting to those early Saints, as it is encouraging to Saints today, who are also “partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, [we] may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13).

The principle for discussion in this post is “I can find joy during times of trial and suffering” (1 Peter 1:3-9; 2:19-24; 3:14-17; 4:12-19). The time period after Christ’s Crucifixion was not an easy time to be a Christian, and Peter acknowledges this fact in his first epistle. In the first four chapters, Peter describes the difficulties that many of the Saints were feeling: heaviness, temptations, grief, fiery trial, and sufferings (see 1 Peter 1:6; 2:19; 4:12-13).

However, Peter also wrote words that expressed joy: “abundant mercy” and “lively hope” brought by Christ’s resurrection from the dead (1 Peter 1:3); “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5); “the trial of your faith … might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7); “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, … ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Other statements of joy can be found in 1 Peter 2:19-24; 3:14-17; and 4:12-19).

Peter was the President of the Church of Jesus Christ in his day and sent words of encouragement to the early-day Saints. Russell M. Nelson is the President of the Church of Jesus Christ in our day, and he often speaks or writes words of encouragement for the Latter-day Saints. In his October 2016 General Conference talk, President Nelson shared the following counsel. 

These are the latter days, so none of us should be surprised when we see prophecy fulfilled. A host of prophets, including Isaiah, Paul, Nephi, and Mormon, foresaw that perilous times would come, that in our day the whole world would be in commotion, that men would “be lovers of their own selves, … without natural affection, … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God,” and that many would become servants of Satan who uphold the adversary’s work. Indeed, you and I “wrestle, … against the rulers of the darkness of this world, [and] against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

As conflicts between nations escalate, as cowardly terrorists prey on the innocent, and as corruption in everything from business to government becomes increasingly commonplace, what can help us? What can help each of us with our personal struggles and with the rigorous challenge of living in these latter days?

The prophet Lehi taught a principle for spiritual survival….

Clearly, Lehi knew opposition, anxiety, heartache, pain, disappointment, and sorrow. Yet he declared boldly and without reservation a principle as revealed by the Lord: “Men are, that they might have joy.” Imagine! Of all the words he could have used to describe the nature and purpose of our lives here in mortality, he chose the word joy! …

That’s it! Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!

My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.

When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening – or not happening – in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. We feel it at Christmastime when we sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” And we can feel it all year round. For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy! …

Just as the Savior offers peace that “passeth all understanding,” He also offers an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension….

How, then, can we claim that joy? We can start by “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” “in every thought.” We can give thanks for Him in our prayers and by keeping covenants we’ve made with Him and our Heavenly Father. As our Savior becomes more and more real to us and as we plead for His joy to be given to us, our joy will increase….



Friday, November 24, 2023

How Can We Help Children to Be More Resilient?

Families, communities, and nations are stronger when individual family members have enough resilience to deal with the problems that life throws at them. The goal is to have more protective factors in one’s life than risk factors, and individuals will lots of protective factors become resilient. A resilient person is one who is able to withstand or recover quickly from negative conditions.

A risk factor is a condition, circumstance, experience, or characteristic that increases the probability that a person will experience maladjustment. Risk factors for children include parental divorce, substance abuse, parental mental health problems, or chronic illness.

On the other hand, a protective factor is anything that decreases the likelihood that a person will have problems and increases the probability that a person will have positive experiences. Protective factors for children include high intelligence, positive parenting practices, and anything that reduces the effects of a risk factor.

Infant secure attachment is the foundation for building resilience in children, and authoritative parenting practices build on that foundation. Parents who love and care for their children with kindness are more likely to have resilient children. Families with resilient children will strengthen their communities and nations. 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Will She Testify?

The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the possibility of President Joe Biden being compromised to our enemies. The House Judiciary Committee has been investigating the Biden crime family. Committee Chairman Jim Jordan recently issued the 60th subpoena into the Biden impeachment inquiry.

According to Tyler O’Neil at The Daily Signal, the 60th subpoena letter went to Leslie Wolf, assistant U.S. attorney for Delaware, demanding that she testify before the committee on December 7 at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. 

Jordan explained in a letter to Wolf that the Judiciary Committee considers her testimony essential to its oversight of the “executive branch’s commitment to impartial justice” and to “whether sufficient grounds exist to draft articles of impeachment against President Biden.” The Justice Department under Biden twice refused to make Wolf available for a voluntary interview, leaving the committee “no choice but to compel your testimony at a deposition.”

While the Justice Department agreed to make some employees available, Wolf was not among them.

Republicans have accused Wolf of impeding the Delaware U.S. attorney’s investigation into Hunter Biden’s alleged influence peddling. Republicans note that Hunter Biden handsomely benefitted from lucrative business deals in China, Ukraine, and elsewhere while his father, then the vice president to President Barack Obama, served as the administration’s point-man for those countries.

Democrats, meanwhile, have claimed that there is no evidence the president directly benefited from his son’s foreign business deals. President Biden has denied any wrongdoing on his part or on the part of his son.

Democrats can say what they want to say, while Jordan is looking for evidence of wrongdoing. He clearly disagrees with the view of Democrats as he noted the following in his letter to Wolf.

“Witness testimony and public reporting indicates that as an assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, you were directly involved in that office’s investigation of Hunter Biden, which deviated from standard investigative procedures,” Jordan notes in the letter.

The letter cites whistle blower testimony, noting that Wolf “attended a substantial majority, if not all, of the prosecution team meetings concerning the [Justice] Department’s investigation of Hunter Biden.”

Jordan also accuses Wolf of breaking from “standard investigative protocol” in five ways, either “directly or by instructing others.” He claims that she told Hunter Biden’s lawyer about a potential search warrant for his abandoned storage unit and later objected to executing a warrant for the unit; that she prohibited investigators from asking witnesses about “the big guy” or “dad,” presumably referring to President Biden; that she ordered investigators to remove any reference to “Political Figure 1,” i.e. Biden, from a search warrant; that she prohibited investigators from following up on evidence of criminal campaign finance violations; and that she forbade investigators from interviewing Hunter Biden’s adult children.

Furthermore, Jordan cites witness testimony that Wolf obstructed the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania from briefing the Delaware office “about information from a highly credible confidential human source regarding bribes allegedly paid to President Biden and Hunter Biden.” The former U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania testified that Wolf served as the “primary interface” for the Delaware office to receive information about Biden family bribery allegations, and that Wolf “constricted” the information sharing between the two offices.

“Given your central role in the [Justice] Department’s investigation of Hunter Biden, you are uniquely situated to advance not only the committee’s oversight and inform potential legislative reforms, … but also the committee’s impeachment inquiry,” Jordan notes.

Jordan’s letter also rejected the argument from the Justice Department that Congress does not have the authority to force non-political appointees to testify in front of committees. In his letter, Jordan brought no less than a Supreme Court decision to prove his point.

The Supreme Court has recognized that Congress has a ‘broad and indispensable’ power to conduct oversight, which ‘encompasses inquiries into the administration of existing laws, studies of proposed laws, and surveys in our social, economic or political system for the purpose of enabling Congress to remedy them.’

In his letter, Jordan also cited Supreme Court precedent recognizing that “Congress may seek information from the Executive Branch about ‘corruption, maladministration or inefficiency in agencies of government.’”

Here, whistleblowers have brought forward numerous allegations of corruption (e.g. preferential treatment for the president’s son), maladministration (e.g. retaliation against whistleblowers), and inefficiency (e.g. an investigation so bogged down by delays and micromanagement that the statute of limitations lapsed before prosecutors could file certain charges), all backed by contemporaneous documentary and testimonial evidence.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Why Is Expressing Gratitude So Essential for Happiness?

 As Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, it is good to remember the reason why we celebrate this day: Gratitude. The Pilgrims were grateful for surviving their first winter in America. They were grateful for the coming of spring. They were grateful for the assistance of the Native Americans in growing crops in the new land.

Every year, Rush Limbaugh would dedicate his last broadcast before the Thanksgiving break to telling the real story of the Pilgrims’ trip to America and their life in the new world. Here is Rush’s retelling of the story on his last Thanksgiving show. 

According to Derrick Morgan at The Heritage Foundation, Americans celebrated Thanksgiving prior to the Revolutionary War, but it did not become an official national celebration until President George Washington sent out his 1789 proclamation. He encouraged all Americans to set aside November 26 to render “sincere and humble thanks” to God “for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country.”

Morgan wrote that subsequent Presidents did not follow Washington’s example, and Thanksgiving was nearly forgotten until President Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition of celebrating gratitude in 1862. He set apart the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day from that time forward.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to change the day for commercial reasons, but Congress stopped him and passed a federal law setting the fourth Thursday in November apart as Thanksgiving Day in 1941.

Thanksgiving is a federal holiday, meaning that children are out of school and many offices and other businesses are closed to enable families to be together. Family unity is worth our gratitude, but Morgan (and other people) report that showing gratitude is good for us in many ways.

… Researchers at the John Templeton Foundation have uncovered that “in general, more grateful people are happier, more satisfied with their lives, less materialistic, and less likely to suffer from burnout.” Other studies show that more grateful heart patients report better sleep, less fatigue and less inflammation.

Grateful people were not only happier and healthier themselves, they also positively influenced others through higher levels of generosity, kindness, and helpfulness. Giving thanks improves relationships and can even make our homes, our workplaces, and perhaps even our country better places to live.

Giving thanks is easier said than done, however, especially in a world where “anger has come to characterize our polarized political environment,” as scholar Patrick Garry has noted. But despite all that there is to be angry about – from crime and inflation to war and wokeness – conservatives especially can’t give up on Thanksgiving.

Gratitude is the heart of conservatism, and in the long run, it may even prove to be the virtue that “helps sand off the edges of anger toward those we disagree with” and unite us [as] a country again, as conservative writer Pete Wehner has suggested.

This Thanksgiving, then, how can you best use your holiday? For starters, you might consider avoiding politics altogether. Politics, which increasingly resembles a contact sport, rarely brings families together and it is hopefully not the most important thing in your life.

But what is? This Thanksgiving, perhaps, consider reflecting on the four basic things that the wisdom of the Scriptures, Aristotle, and modern social science all indicate lead to human happiness: family, friends, work, and religion.

Why not focus conversations on these topics, deeply connecting with friends and family? One tried and true way to do that is to count your blessings, literally. It is nearly impossible to make a list of all the things you are thankful for, but it is a great exercise and you’ll end up feeling much better than you did before. Although you certainly can do this individually, you might also suggest that everyone around the Thanksgiving table voice what they’re grateful for.

Morgan’s article reminded me of a hymn that I have sung since I was a little girl. The title of the hymn is “Count Your Blessings.” The text was written by Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1922), and the music was written by Edwin O. Excell (1851-1921). The words are as follows. 

1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings; name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.


2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly,

And you will be singing as the days go by.


3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.

Count your many blessings; money cannot buy

Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.


4. So amid the conflict, whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged; God is over all.

Count your many blessings; angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.



Count your blessings;

Name them one by one.

Count your blessings;

See what God hath done.

Count your blessings;

Name them one by one.

Count your many blessings;

See what God hath done.

 Please join me this Thanksgiving in counting your blessings. I promise you that you will feel better by expressing gratitude than you did before doing so. Happy Thanksgiving! “Count your blessings – name them one by one.” You will be surprised at your many blessings.



Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Is Debate Good for the Nation?

How should political and religious conservatives deal with conflict? Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said that they should not become hostile to or stifle public debate.

According to Lucy Gilbert, Roberts said on Jordan B. Peterson Podcast: “I don’t mean this to be offensive, but I care a lot less about your feelings than I do about your pursuit of truth.” Peterson is a Canadian psychologist, author, and conservative political commentator. Gilbert continued: 

Roberts and Peterson agreed that faith becomes dogma without debate. Roberts explained that the same goes for The Heritage Foundation’s policies and his belief that there should be debate, while also not compromising on core principles.

“As long as the debate doesn’t become personal, everything is fair game,” he said.

“I mean, if you have to hide away, and never be, you know, called to account for what you presume, there’s no faith there,” Peterson said.

“American institutions, especially since the 1940s and accelerating in the ‘70s, there’s basically the absence of that [truth]. In fact, the opposite of that. So that if you go in, and you say that I want to do intellectual combat, you know, somehow, you’re committing some grave sin inside the American academy. But it’s essential, because that’s where we refine our own positions,” Roberts said.

The Heritage president explained that back when he was an untenured professor, there were some what he called “big lib” professors planning a symposium about Ronald Reagan’s presidential legacy. So, he talked to a conservative friend, and they tried to join the panel to have a “fair, objective assessment of his legacy … but because of the scheduled appearance of the two of us as conservatives, they canceled it. And they canceled it because, as you know well from your own experience, they can’t stand the disagreement,” said Roberts.

Peterson is one of those people who were “canceled” for expressing his conservative opinions. In addition, the Ontario College of Psychologists wants him to be “retrained.” Maybe we should use the word reprogrammed.

Peterson is not reticent in sharing his opinions. He told Roberts that by shielding students from proper debate “all we’re doing is removing the possibility from our students of exposing themselves to the sort of challenges that would actually make the strong … making them weaker, more hopeless, and more anxious, by protecting them in that manner.”

It just so happens that some of the students in the classes of Roberts and Peterson are now members of the United States Senate where they “lead with their feelings.”

Roberts explained that The Heritage Foundation “exists to devolve power from Washington back to the states and ultimately back to the people themselves.” He concluded by saying, “Ultimately, the most radical part of leftism is one that undermines truth very actively… And if you look at what’s going on in the political right … there’s a very healthy, sometimes kind of fractious debate that’s going on.”

You may not like the debates going on in Congress by conservatives, but we all should be grateful that the Republicans in the House are willing to debate and argue about the best way to lead the nation.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Who Is Melvin Russell Ballard?

My VIP for this week is Melvin Russell Ballard Jr. who was born on October 8, 1928, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Melvin R. and Geraldine Smith Ballard. His father owned Ballard Motor Company in Salt Lake City, Utah, and young Russell learned his work ethic as a young child. As the only boy in the family, he worked in every department at the company. He even drove cars around the used car lot when he was barely in his teens. 

Ballard was best known as Elder M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency sat beside President Ballard for more than three decades in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Oaks commented, “[M. Russell Ballard] was a man to be trusted. And he as a man who trusted you.”

President Ballard, age 95, passed away late on Sunday night, November 12, 2023, surrounded by his loved ones. He is survived by his seven children, 43 grandchildren, 105 great-grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. His wife Barbara passed away on October 1, 2018, at the age of 86 years of age, and he often spoke of how much he missed her. Funeral service for President Ballard were held on Friday, November 17, 2023, in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Should Churches Pay More for Water in Texas?

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns religious freedom. A local government in Texas violated the Constitution when it charged taxes that were disguised as fees, according to claims in a new lawsuit. According to Lucy Gilbert, Grace Community Church in The Woodlands, Texas, is suing the local government with a claim of “illegal excessive” fees charged to install a water tap. 

The Church claims that the fees violate both the U.S. Constitution and the State of Texas’s religious freedom law. The lawsuit was filed against Southern Montgomery County Municipal Utility District on Wednesday by First Liberty Institute and King & Spalding LLP. First Liberty is a legal organization whose focus is on religious liberty, and King & Spalding is an international law firm.

The county’s water tap fee scheme is a thinly veiled illegal property tax on Grace Community Church,” Jeremy Dys, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement Thursday. “Local governments like Montgomery County, in search of new revenue, are illegally targeting churches and other non-profits with similar schemes.”

The district initially told the church that labor and materials would cost $24,900 to connect to the water line. Lter, the church asked the district to install the water tap, which the district said would cost $61,500, which is much higher than the actual cost. The church challenged the cost because of its tax-exempt status, at which point the district countered with a tap fee of $147, 938, more than doubling the prior fee. Eventually, the church had no choice but to pay the fees.

“No government agency should impose a ‘fee-in-lieu-of-taxes’ against faith-based entities,” Dys told The Daily Signal. “What we see now is merely an effort to generate revenue by those the State of Texas have protected against taxation because of the tremendous good they do in the community.”

Dys said the church had not heard of any other complaints about the district placing illegal fees on any other entities.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

How Do You Show Your Faith in Jesus Christ?

My Come Follow Me studies for this week took me to the Epistle of James and a lesson titled “Be Ye Doers of the Word, and Not Hearers Only.” The lesson was preceded by this statement: “As you read the Epistle of James, pay attention to phrases that stand out to you. How are you prompted to be a ‘doer’ of these words? (James 1:22).” The lesson was then introduced with the following information. 

Sometimes just one verse of scripture can change the world. James 1:5 seems like a simple bit of counsel—if you need wisdom, ask God. But when 14-year-old Joseph Smith read that verse, “it seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of [his] heart” (Joseph Smith – History 1:12). Thus inspired, Joseph acted on James’s admonition and sought wisdom from God through prayer. And God did indeed give liberally, giving Joseph one of the most remarkable heavenly visitations in human history—the First Vision. This vision changed the course of Joseph’s life and led to the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. All of us are blessed today because Joseph Smith read and acted on James 1:5. 

What will you find as you study the Epistle of James? Perhaps a verse or two will change you or someone you love. You may find guidance as you seek to fulfill your mission in life. You may find encouragement to speak kindly or to be more patient. You may feel prompted to make your actions align better with your faith. Whatever inspires you, let these words “enter … into every feeling of [your] heart.” And then, when you “receive with meekness the … word,” as James wrote, be a doer of the word, not a hearer only (see James 1:21-22).

James, the writer of the Epistle of James, is generally believed to be the son of Mary and the half-brother of Jesus Christ. He is mentioned in Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; and Galatians 1:19; 2:9. The above scriptures suggest that James was a Church leader in Jerusalem and had been called as an Apostle.

The principle of discussion for this post is “Faith requires action” (James 1:3-8, 21-25; 2:14-26; 4:17). Consider these two questions as you study these chapters: How do you know if you have faith in Jesus Christ? How do your works demonstrate our faith in God? Think about these questions as you study James’s teachings about faith?

James mentions Abraham (Genesis 22:1-12) and Rahab (Joshua 2) as two people who demonstrated their faith in God.

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

How do you show your faith in Jesus Christ? If you do not show your faith in Him by your actions, how do you show it? Faith is an action word. If one has faith, then they perform works than strengthen the kingdom of God.