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 21, 2018

Gina Haspel

           My VIP for this week is Gina Cheri Walker Haspel. She was confirmed on Thursday, May 17, 2018, to be the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She was confirmed by a vote of 54-45 with Senator John McCain not attending due to illness and two other Republicans voting against her. They were offset by six Democrat Senators voting for her. The controversy about her role with “enhanced interrogation techniques” caused many questions about whether or not she would be confirmed.

            Haspel served previously as the Deputy Director under Mike Pompeo – the second female to serve in that position. When Pompeo resigned to become U.S. Secretary of State, Haspel became the Acting Director of the CIA.

            Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He spoke on the Senate floor in support of Haspel’s nomination to become the next Director of the CIA – the first woman and first career member of the organization to do so. He highlighted her “distinguished career” and pushed “back against partisan opposition.”

She has done an outstanding job at the CIA. She began working at the CIA in 1985 during the closing days of the Cold War. She was stationed literally all over the world – in Africa, for example. She recruited and handled agents and survived a coup d’├ętat. She worked with government partners during the first gulf war. She ran different CIA stations around the world. She started with the Counterterrorism Center at the CIA on September 11, 2001, and essentially has spent her life since that time focusing on keeping our country safe.

Let me just end by saying that here is how it is not supposed to work. We have a very dangerous situation, like we had after 9/11. We asked our best and brightest to risk their lives to defend this country, to do really tough operations all around the world. We go tell them to do things. This body is briefed on it. We tell them it is legal, and then later, we said: do you know what? Now we are going to hold that against you.

            Maybe Sullivan’s comments had some effect on a few Senators. Maybe they did not. However, the U.S. Senate finally got its act together and confirmed a proven leader. After the voting was over and Haspel was confirmed, Sullivan congratulated his colleagues in the Senate.

I was proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to confirm the first woman who will have risen from the ranks of the CIA to lead the agency. … Gina Haspel is known throughout the intelligence community and the national security establishment as a person of determination, intelligence and honor. I’m confident that she will lead the agency with the kind of integrity and resolve that is necessary during this time of complex global threats. She has devoted her life to our country – we are grateful and will give her all the help she needs to lead the best intelligence-gathering agency in the world.

            The fact that Haspel is a female should have brought votes for her – especially if the Democrats really do support women! The fact that she is a capable woman, one that has the support of the workers in the CIA, should have brought even more votes. There should not have been such a circus around her nomination and confirmation. It appears that most of the Democrats want to cause problems for Trump so badly that they would willingly pass over a qualified leader. It is time for them to learn to put loyalty to country before loyalty to party!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Trump or Resistance?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is a question: How much damage is being done to the Constitution by the battle between President Donald Trump and the Resistance? Much of the resistance comes from supporters of Barack Obama that are imbedded in the federal agencies as well as the entire lame stream media. Resisters started protesting as soon as the results of the presidential elections became clear, and the resistance is continuing to hobble the Trump administration.

            The Resistance is slowing the accomplishments of the Trump administration, but it is not stopping it. Glenn Beck says that the Resistance has “Trump derangement syndrome.” He believes that this “syndrome” will lead to Trump winning in 2020 by a “landslide.” Democrats have been counting on a “blue wave” that would restore their power in Washington, D.C. However, they have watched their “lead” slowly decrease over the past several weeks.

            Beck recently called out the media for their bias in covering President Trump. He cited the “Trump derangement syndrome” and told the media that they had driven him to become a Trump supporter. Beck was a “never Trumper” before the election, but he has had enough of the extreme bias. He recognizes Trump’s numerous success stories and says that he will vote for Trump in 2020 because the behavior of the media and the rest of the Resistance has pushed him over the edge.

            Blogger David Prentice compares the situation between President Trump and the Resistance to the volcano erupting in Hawaii. He recognizes that some “lava” has been flowing and destroying everything in its path, but he believes that the problem will be blown wide open soon. He is screaming “Code Red” because he believes that the Resistance is going to get much worse.

Code Red. It’s about to blow…. That’s hard to believe, but just watch. Yes, they have been spewing destruction in their wake for well over two years now. Destroying property, lives, states, cities, nothing escapes their toxic brew.

The trigger for the eruption of the last years has been Trump. How dare he beat them, their agenda, their candidate? Doesn’t he know who they are? For that insolence, he, his family, his friends, his associates, every member of his administration, his voters, literally anyone who says one good thing about him must have lava poured on them 24/7. Maybe forever.

This has been non-stop since he won. Unfortunately, it’s about to get worse.

            Prentice seems to have the same attitude toward the Resistance as Beck. The “lava” that he speaks of is the ever-present negative attacks. President Trump has had some huge successes, but the media fails to report them. “To the leftist media, nothing good comes from Trump. It’s all terrible. So they continue to spew rivers of lava 24/7. They continue to lie, make up narratives, sources, stories, anything they think can derail Trump….”

            Like Beck, Prentice says that the “journalists” consider Trump to be “horrible, stupid, and evil.” He says that the Resistance is going to get worse because the Inspector General (IG) report is coming out. It was supposed to be out in March, then April, and now May. Either the IG is being hobbled also, or he continues to uncover more information.

            The most recent tactic by the Resistance is to pretend that spying on Trump was a good thing. It seems that the more investigating that takes place, the more swamp creatures are exposed. Prentice suggests that President Trump knows more than he is letting on about the whole deal.

One by one all these bad apples have been exposed, demoted, fired, outed, and reported on by real journalists named Sara and John. Does anyone really think that Trump hasn’t had a hand in that? Brennan, Clapper, Comey, McCabe, Yates, the whole lot of them … are losing.

… The IG report is the next big explosion. It’s quite clear the Mueller appointment is not what the left hoped…. Even without the leftist media reporting on these horrifying bureaucratic shenanigans, the American public, well over half believe Obama wrongfully spied on Trump.

Trump knows all this. He knows who the bad guys are, and how bad they were….

… The ever-increasing lava-spewing by the MSM will no longer help them. I am surmising there are players who have turned to plea bargaining and have spilled the truth out. I am thinking that all of them are going to start jumping ship like the rats they are, beginning with the IG report. There’s going to be Hell to pay. The public will hear the IG report….

Code Red for the left. Worst cognitive dissonance ever. They have no clue what is about to hit them.

            Some people call the Resistance “the swamp.” I call them secret combinations, and I pray daily for their exposure and for their power to be destroyed. Secret combinations are inspired by Satan, and their main goal is to destroy freedom. The best way to destroy the freedoms of America is to destroy the U.S. Constitution. This is the goal of the Resistance, and they do not care what they have to do to reach it.

            Apparently, President Trump understands the goal of these secret combinations. He stands firm and continues to move America forward in spite of the road blocks thrown into his path. I pray for his protection and for the safety of all those who are striving to protect and preserve the Constitution of the United States. May God bless President Trump and may God bless America!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Righteous Living

            The Prophet Joseph Smith was living in Kirtland, Ohio, on May 6, 1833, when he received a revelation now known as Doctrine and Covenants 93. This revelation explains how to become righteous enough to be prepared to meet God. The first verse of this section states:

Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.

            Section 93 covers numerous areas of righteous living. Some of the topics discussed in this section are: “John bore record that the Son of God went from grace to grace until he received a fulness of the glory of the Father” (verses 6-18), “Faithful men, going from grace to grace, shall also receive of his fulness” (verses 19-20), and “Christ received a fulness of all truth, and man by obedience may do likewise” (verses 29-32).

            I find it quite interesting that the revelation discusses the process of gaining righteousness and becoming worthy to see God face to face and then ends with a commandment to the leading brethren to set their house in order (verses 41-53). Verse 43 is as follows: "And now a commandment I give unto you – if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house."

            Then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says that this revelation “represents one of the many powerful validations of the integrity of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He did not delete from scripture words of stinging rebuke, even though some were directed to himself” (“Set in Order Thy House,” Ensign, November 2001). Elder Nelson then proceeds to explain how we set our houses in order.  

To set our house in an order pleasing to the Lord, we need to do it His way. We are to employ His attributes of “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, [and] meekness” (1 Timothy 6:11). Each father should remember that “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41).

Parents are to be living examples of “kindness, and pure knowledge, which … greatly enlarge the soul” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:42). Each mother and father should lay aside selfish interests and avoid any thought of hypocrisy, physical force, or evil speaking. (See 1 Peter 2:1.) Parents soon learn that each child has an inborn yearning to be free. Each individual wants to make his or her own way. No one wants to be restrained, even by a well-intentioned parent. But all of us can cling to the Lord.

            The same day that I studied the talk by Elder Nelson, I read an article titled “Living Righteously in a Wicked World” by Elder Peter F. Meurs of the Seventy. He uses the life of Abraham as an example of how we can remain righteous even though we live in a wicked world. He discusses the following ways that Abraham remained righteous. 

Consistent Choices: Abraham consistently chose righteousness. He followed the Lord’s prompting to move to Canaan. He built altars, worshipped, and offered thanks on arrival. He went into the mountains to pray. He followed inspiration that saved his family. Faced with conflict, he sought resolution by suggesting that his family and Lot’s family physically distance themselves from each other.

Evaluating Opportunities: After surveying the land, Lot chose to live on the plains near the city of Sodom. The land, well-watered and beautiful, appealed to him…. Lot later moved into Sodom….

Lot’s experience reminds us of the need to periodically consider allegiances and priorities. Are our symbolic tents pitched toward the Lord’s house or toward the seemingly enticing pleasures of the world?

To the Rescue: When Abraham “heard that his [nephew] was taken captive, he armed his trained servants” and rushed to save him. “He brought back … Lot, and his goods, … and the people” (Genesis 14:14, 16).

After the rescue, Abraham met with the king of Sodom and later with Melchizedek, king of Salem….
… Melchizedek “brought forth bread and wine.” Abraham recognized him as “the priest of the most high God” and willingly “gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18, 20).

Abraham demonstrated his love for the Lord and his brethren. On learning of Lot’s capture, Abraham did not say, “[He has] brought upon himself [these trials]” (Mosiah 4:17). Instead, he responded with love.

Despite Warnings: When the Lord told Abraham of His intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah “because their sin is very grievous,” Abraham asked if He would spare the city if 50 righteous souls could be found. Abraham continued asking – 45, 40, 30, 20 – finally asking if God would spare the city for the sake of 10 righteous souls. We see the Lord’s love for individuals when He confirms that if 10 can be found, “I will not destroy it” (See Genesis 18:20-33)….

Lot had made his choice to live in Sodom, and the influence of the wicked city was taking its toll on his family. Despite repeated warning, Lot was slow to respond….
What a tragedy! Lot’s choices – to live near Sodom, pitch his tents toward Sodom, move into Sodom, and return to Sodom after being rescued by Abraham --- had taken their toll. Even after being warned by angels, Lot could not convince his sons-in-law and his daughters of the pending destruction. Lot’s wife seemed so connected with life in Sodom that she could not resist the temptation to look back.

Although the Lord and Abraham clearly wanted to help Lot and his family, Lot’s choices, made over a long period, left his family weakened and unable to respond.

            Elder Meurs shares how Abraham was consistent in making good choices and evaluating the opportunities that came to him. He discusses the love that Abraham had for Lot when he went to rescue him and his love for God when he paid tithes to Melchizedek. He then explains that we have the opportunity to choose how we will respond to the counsels and commandments of God. He tells us how we can apply Abraham’s example in our lives.

Like Abraham, we can choose to live righteously. The Lord has provided stakes of Zion as places of refuge for Saints to gather. He has provided ordinances and covenants that protect and strengthen us. He has blessed us with temples where we can draw closer to Him and perform sacred work in behalf of our ancestors.
All of us struggle to cope with negative influences of the world. From Abraham and Lot we can learn the power and protection of choosing to live righteously, of choosing to avoid places where we or our families may be subject to great wickedness or temptation, and of choosing to always keep our tents facing toward the temple.

            We can choose to follow the example of Abraham and live righteously. One of the ways that we can live righteously is by making and keeping sacred covenants and by marrying in the temple for time and all eternity. As we teach the gospel to our children and grandchildren and create a righteous family, we put our house in order. Like Abraham, it is a matter of making consistent choices, evaluating the opportunities that come, rescuing other people, and paying attention to any warnings from God and/or His servants.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Strong Families and Prospering

            Families, communities, and nations are interdependent on each other. When communities and nations understand the importance of strong families, they will develop policies and procedures that will strengthen families.

            The Family Prosperity Index is an Index that measures prosperity a little differently than other national Indexes. Family Prosperity Initiative published its 2018 report this week, and the report shows how the Index measures prosperity by examining social factors as well as economic ones. The report begins with the following information.

Strong families are the foundation of healthy communities, upward economic mobility, and a robust civil society. American families aren’t flourishing the way they once were. But do we know why? …

To help provide a crystal clear [view] of human behavior in the states, economists Wendy Warcholik, Ph.D., and J. Scott Moody, M.A., have undertaken the Family Prosperity Initiative (FPI). The cornerstone of this project is the Family Prosperity Index, the first and only Index, which demonstrates quantitatively the link between economic and social well-being. Wendy and Scott work with state partners to identify those areas in their states where they are thriving and where they need to improve.

The FPI Index measures the strength and prosperity of families – and the nation – by combining the most important economic and social data into a single number and then ranking those states based on which states create the best environments for families to thrive….

            The FPI Index is a “tool” that leaders can use to decide which policies will benefit their state the most. By making helpful changes, states can restore their economies and help their families and communities to prosper.

            The 2018 Family Prosperity Index lists the top ten prospering state as follows: (1) Utah 7.37; (2) Idaho 6.28; (3) South Dakota 6.17; (4) Nebraska 6.01; (5) North Dakota 5.93;
(6) Colorado 5.80; (7) Texas 5.76; (8) Minnesota 5.76; (9) Wyoming 5.65; (10) Washington 5.60. Utah appears to have been #1 every year since 2012. When one looks at the above states on a map, one can readily notice that all of them are in the western half of the United States and only one of them is on the West Coast. In other words, they are located in “fly over” country.

            The bottom ten prospering states are: (41) Alaska 4.47; (42) Vermont 4.43; (43) Ohio 4.42; (44) Nevada 4.40; (45) Alabama 4.36; (46) Rhode Island 4.25; (47) Mississippi 4.16;
(48) Louisiana 3.95; (49) West Virginia 3.54; (50) New Mexico 3.35. A quick glance says that these states cover a much wider area. 

            The Index measures the following categories: Economics, Demographics, Family Self-Sufficiency, Family Structure, Family Culture, and Family Health. The report has many charts and graphs and measures numerous sub-areas. I found the report to be fascinating but would need much more time to study it in order to truly understand how the various states are ranked. I could see that strong families are the foundation upon which communities, states and nations can prosper.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cornerstone of Peace

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that freedom of religion is necessary in order to have peace. One must be free to worship according to one’s conscience and to share one’s beliefs without persecution, or one is not truly free.

            Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke at an interfaith “Celebration of Religious Freedom” in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 29, 2015. In his talk he recognizes that Brazil is “a nation rich with diverse culture and people. By embracing its diversity, including its religious diversity, Brazil has prospered and will continue to prosper.” Elder Christofferson congratulates Brazil as being “recently recognized by the Pew Research Center as the country with the lowest government restrictions on religion.” Elder Christofferson continues his remarks with these paragraphs.

Religious freedom is the cornerstone of peace in a world with many competing philosophies. It gives us all space to determine for ourselves what we think and believe – to follow the truth that God speaks to our hearts. It allows diverse beliefs to coexist, protects the vulnerable, and helps us negotiate our conflicts….

A robust freedom is not merely what political philosophers have referred to as the “negative” freedom to be left alone, however important that may be. Rather, it is a much richer “positive” freedom – the freedom to live one’s religion or belief in a legal, political, and social environment that is tolerant, respectful, and accommodating of diverse beliefs.

We use our freedom of religion and belief to establish our core convictions, without which all other human rights would be meaningless. How can we claim the freedom of speech without being able to say what we truly believe? How can we claim the freedom of assembly unless we can gather with others who share our ideals? How can we enjoy freedom of the press unless we can publicly print or post who we really are?

            When and where there is freedom of religion, all people are blessed. The freedom to worship as one chooses allows people to choose not to worship at all. Thus, this freedom protects everyone – Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist or agnostic. When this kind of tolerance and respect is present, there is peace.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jerusalem, the Eternal Capital of Israel

            The United States officially dedicated its new Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. Several Republican Senators traveled to Israel for the grand opening, but there were no Democrat Senators in attendance.

            Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) was part of the American delegation, and he called the act of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “a long overdue recognition of history and reality.” He described the mood at the opening ceremony to be “optimistic” and “upbeat” in spite of the “unfortunate” and “tragic” protests. He continued with this statement.

It is unacceptable that people would choose to respond with violence to a move that is as innocuous as the United States moving its embassy to the actual capital of the host country. Think about how odd this is.

            Many people are excited to have the embassy moved, but others are throwing fits. As Senator Lee points out, the people who are upset are the “same people who wouldn’t want the state of Israel in existence in the first place.” He says that Jerusalem “is, in fact, Israel’s eternal capital,” so people might as well get used to that reality.

            The United States did the right thing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel and to move the nation’s embassy to Israel’s capital city. Palestinians are going to be violent no matter what the United States does, so the U.S. might as well do the right thing.

            The fact remains that there would be peace if the Palestinians wanted peace, and Palestinians would not exist at all if Israel wanted war.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Big Day in Jerusalem

            Monday was the 70th anniversary of the day that the State of Israel was created in 1948. In an effort to commemorate this important event, the United States Embassy officially opened in Jerusalem on Monday. 

            The United States first promised in 1995 that the embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, but president after president signed waivers to avoid doing so. They cited security concerns over the probability that Palestinians would oppose the event with violence. President Donald Trump had the courage to keep the promise, and the Palestinians responded with violence.

            Thousands of Palestinians stormed the Gaza border fence at the time that the U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem. The Israeli military went into defense mode. At least 55 protesters were killed and thousands more were injured as they lobbed Molotov cocktails at the fence.

            The Trump administration published a statement that they are “aware of the reports of continued violence in Gaza today. The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas” because Hamas has “intentionally and cynically provoked this type of response.” The Trump administration expressed its support for the show of force by Israel because “As the Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] said, Israel has the right to defend itself.”

            Israel joined the United States in defending the Israeli right to defend themselves. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following statement at the opening of the United States Embassy. 
We are in Jerusalem, and we are here to stay! We gather here today to celebrate another historic day in the life of this city, which I know will take its place alongside other momentous decisions in the history of our people.

Thank you, President Trump, and thank you all, for making the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever.

            This writer agrees with President Trump in that Israel – or any other nation – has the right to choose which city will be their capital city. The United States, any other nation, or the United Nations has the right to tell Israel that they cannot make Jerusalem their capital. Since Israel has long proclaimed that Jerusalem is their capital, it is only right that the United States move their embassy to Jerusalem – as are several other nations.

            The truth is shown in the following statement by the Patriot Post, “If the Palestinians wanted peace, there would be peace. If Israel wanted war, Palestinians would not exist. Think about it!” 

            The Palestinians have had many opportunities to make peace with Israel, but they have chosen unrest and violence as their response. This shows that they do not really want peace; they want to get rid of the Jews. Israel, on the other hand, has shown great resolve. They have the power to completely wipe out the Palestinians, but they have not. Instead, they continue to defend themselves from the violence day after day, month after month, year after year.

            It does not really matter if the United States moved their embassy to Jerusalem or not. The Palestinians would find some excuse to riot and cause violence. So the embassy might as well be in Jerusalem because the violence will continue in the future just as it has in the past.