Monday, September 28, 2015

The Family Proclamation Turns Twenty

It was the last full weekend of September of 1995. For women in my church, that meant there was a worldwide broadcast, coming out of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, which we could watch by satellite at our various church buildings around the world. So I had an evening out with friends, leaving the kids at home with our husbands. A similar evening took place this last Saturday as well.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World 
On September 23, 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley had been the 15th President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for only a little more than half a year. We had heard from several women leaders, all uplifting and encouraging. And then the final speaker was President Hinckley. He also spoke in that context of love and encouragement, and inspiration, building us up. And then he dedicated a large portion of his talk to reading to us this proclamation, called, “The Family: A Proclamation to theWorld.”

A proclamation is not exactly a common thing. There were three in the 1800s. There were two in the 1900s. “The Family” is the second. Because it is such an unusual thing, we church members were surprised that it seemed so simple, and a repetition of what had been basic doctrine all our lives. But now, two decades later, we can see that it was declaring God’s word ahead of each concept being subject to disbelief and even attack.

I’ve written about it before. The first was recounting an experience Constitutional law professor and leader in defending the family, and my friend, Richard Wilkins had with it at the first international conference on family that he attended:

He told me that he spoke about the Proclamation on the Family, issued shortly before that by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to which he was a devout member (as I am). At the time it came out, the issues in the Proclamation were such standard doctrine to us that he said he wondered at the reasoning. Since that time, he says he sees it as prophetic; every line in it is challenged in the world today. But in 1996 he happened to take a brochure of the Proclamation with him and had it in his pocket. When he shared those ideas, the opponents to the family (the previous speakers) hissed their disapproval, but the room at large gave him a standing ovation. They came up to him afterward to thank him for speaking what so many of them believed, and they formed long-standing alliances to work toward protecting the natural family from the international onslaught.
At last year’s Humanum Summit at the Vatican, one of the speakers, a Muslim, quoted two paragraphs from our Family Proclamation, as reported by Elder L. Tom Perry, one of two apostles who attended.

It is not a proclamation to all the Mormons in the world; it is a proclamation to all people in the world. It is our belief that it is the word of God through his prophets on the earth today—and that it what it is even to those who do not believe in God, or that these men speak His words.

To those of us who know what it is, we might have a framed copy in our homes (I do). We might carry a copy with us (I do). We might have parts or all of it memorized (I’m working on that). Sometimes we refer to it as The Family Proclamation. For anyone, it is worth reading and considering.

It is and always will be true that civilization is built upon strong families. So when so much of the world fails to understand this basic truth, The Family Proclamation is what God is telling us. You’ll want to read the whole thing, but I’m summarizing here, in bullet points, to bring out the specific points:

·         Marriage is between a man and a woman, and is central to God’s eternal plan for His children.
·         All human beings—male and female—are created in God’s image, and gender is part of who we are from before life on earth and into eternity.
·         Family relationships can be perpetuated beyond the grave; families are intended to be united eternally.
·         The first commandment, to Adam and Eve, to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force; procreative powers are only to be employed between lawfully wedded husband and wife (no sex outside of marriage).
·         The means by which mortal life is created (sexual intercourse) is divinely appointed, and we affirm the sanctity of life.
·         Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children, to raise them in love and righteousness.
·         The family is ordained of God; children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.
·         Happiness in family life is most likely to come from living the teachings of Jesus Christ, by maintaining principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
·         By divine design, fathers preside in love and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for the families, while mothers are responsible for the nurture of their children; fathers and mothers help one another as equal partners.
·         Warning: those who violate covenants of chastity, abuse spouse or offspring, or fail to fulfill family responsibilities will stand accountable before God.
·         Warning: disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
·         Responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere should promote measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Back in 1995 everyone (almost everyone) knew that marriage was defined as between a man and a woman. Certainly everyone sensible knew that male and female was basic to who a person was, and was not open to a whim or mental choice. People still knew that children were entitled to two parents—a mother and a father—who should be married. “For the sake of the children” was something people thought about and knew what was best, rather than fuzzily thinking maybe government ought to accommodate any adult desire, regardless of the child’s needs.

We can witness, already, wherever the family breaks down, or where marriage is denigrated to something akin to “whatever people engaged in a sexual relationship want it to be for the time being,” children do not get what they are entitled to, and their lives tend to be troubled. Such children grow up to populate our prisons and welfare rolls. Failure is not a certainty, but the odds against children raised without the stability of two married parents is a heavy handicap to overcome.

How do we get thriving civilization? Start with a religious, self-governing people. Base the structure on strong families. These are things we know. And yet, in a very short time, knowing it is less common, and is being labeled as evil and bigotry.

But there is no other way to civilization. And without civilization, we have the misery of savagery, which we are seeing, in all its horror, in news around the world and around our own country.

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” is even more remarkable today, because we can see how true it is, by contrast with the counterfeits being pushed on us by the uncivilized. Those of us with clear vision can see that following this proclamation would repair our world.

You can watch President Hinckley read the Proclamation here.
His daughter, Virginia Pearce, wrote a blog post of her memories of that evening, worth reading, here

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Memory, Reason, and Inspiration

Library of Congress
During our recent trip to Washington, DC, we got to tour the Library of Congress, where I took more photos than any other place we toured. It’s beautiful, and inspiring.

We were blessed with an excellent tour guide there. I love when a guide knows so much, and enjoys sharing the details, that you just learn more than you had ever hoped. He talked a bit about the architecture. The building was designed by the same architect as the Parisian Opera House, and has the same form on the outside. One difference is that busts decorating the eaves of the opera house are musicians, and at the Library of Congress they are writers.
Bust of Benjamin Franklin
on the front of the Library of Congress

Since 9/11, entrances to almost every government building include security checks, so you can’t walk straight in through the original entrance at the Library of Congress, the way you used to be able to do. The original way was through a series of arches. The French used a combination of compression and expansion to draw people inward. The foyer is lower ceilinged, followed by arches into the Great Hall, with stairways and arches drawing you inward. The purpose is to inspire you to come in and explore.

Our guide noted that, for the sake of those who appreciate the original design, they open up the front entrance one day a year, on Columbus Day.

The interior took longer to accomplish than the outside. There were similar problems to the building of the Washington Monument. The Monument had stood half built for some twenty years, lacking funds and ways to solve foundation problems. A genius builder, Thomas Lincoln Casey, stepped in and said, “Let me do this,” and he did. He raised funds like crazy, mainly from private donations, rebuilt the foundation, and finished the project in just a few more years.

After that, those who were sitting around with a nice façade of a library but no interior went to the same problem solver and said, “We have something else you could help with.” And he did. Quickly. And under budget.

There are murals, paintings, and sculptures everywhere you look in the library. He hired artists, but he told them, “You won’t get paid for your work, but you will get the copyright to anything you produce.” As a result, all of the artists died wealthy.

The library was actually started under President John Adams in 1800, with an appropriation of $5,000 from the legislature. Without a library building, the 3,000 or so books accumulated were housed in the Capitol. But in August 1814, during the War of 1812, the Capitol was burned and pillaged.

Bust of Thomas Jefferson
in the Great Hall
So the father of the library—the man who insisted that the US Congress needed a library on every conceivable area of knowledge, and not just for themselves, but for the American people—was Thomas Jefferson. By then he was retired from public life, so stepped in and donated his personal library to re-establish the Library of Congress. The deal was, they had to accept all or nothing. And it had to be arranged in exactly the order that he set up. Also, the library had to be open not just to Congress, but to all people, for free. (It still is, by the way, including all the things you can now access online.) He told them they could set the price. They settled on $23,950 for his 6,487 books, a flat rate of $3.70 per book, which was low, but still complained of by members of Congress at the time. Some things never change.

Jefferson arranged his personal library into three main sections: Memory, Reason, and Imagination. The words themselves are beautiful. Our guide said Jefferson took the organizing words from Sir Francis Bacon. Librarians insisted that the words were too inexact for their categorization, so they have become History, Science, and Arts, which are functional and helpful, but I prefer the originals. Arts, by the way, include not just literature and art, but gardening, architecture, law, and a great many other interests of Jefferson—essentially anything that could contribute truth and beauty to the world.

In 1851 there was another fire at the Capitol, caused by a chimney flue; 35,000 of the 55,000 books in the library, including two-thirds of Jefferson’s books, were destroyed. That led to the effort to give the library its own building.

The effort to replace them is still ongoing.[i] In today’s Thomas Jefferson Library section of the Library of Congress, which was reconstructed and became a display area less than 20 years ago, there are the books that were saved. Others were replaced with copies of the same editions of the same books that the library owned. Additional missing books have been replaced over time, through worldwide searches, secretly through auctions. A typical missing book, if found today, might easily cost $30,000.
Thomas Jefferson Library display
withing the Library of Congress

There are about twenty books still not replaced. Our guide suggested looking for them in your inherited libraries; finding such a valuable book for the Library would set you through retirement.

As many book owners do, Jefferson wrote notes for himself in the margins. His original books are marked with a green ribbon. Those with no ribbon are those replaced from elsewhere in the Library. They are contemporary to Jefferson’s books, but without his markings. Those with yellow ribbons are later replacements, acquired from beyond the Library, of the same book and edition. The missing books are marked with a place-keeping book-shaped box naming the title.

Warning: If you go to the Library, and have a researcher's pass, you can actually sit there and hold the books in your hand, and read them. But you will be guarded the whole time—because the librarians have learned from experience that some readers can’t use common sense. One of these valuable books was highlighted. I can’t imagine anyone doing that to any library book. But it happened. They will track you down. They won’t imprison or fine you—they will have you replace the book, whatever the cost.

For a less tactile experience, you can still read these books, learn about them, and see the digital copies of them, online at the website.

The copyright laws in the late 1800s required applicants to send two copies of each book to the Library of Congress. The Library today receives about 15,000 books a day. After paring them down, it keeps about 8,000. A day. It is the one of the largest libraries—the largest repositories of knowledge—in the world.

Mosaic of Minerva,
representing Wisdom
Jefferson, and other founders, were fans of Greek civilization, their form of government, and their art. They read, of course, in the original Greek. So they used many things from Greek mythology as symbols for the concepts they liked. The Library is well represented by Minerva, the goddess of wisdom (also known as Athena), a favorite of Jefferson. She shows up something like sixteen times in the Library.

Just up from the center hall is a mosaic of Minerva, holding a scroll listing the important areas of study.
Detail of the Minerva mosaic

Symbolism shows up everywhere, in the art especially. Murals show the results of a good, educated life, or the way we gain knowledge through all the senses. The Enlightenment and the founding fathers are well represented, as well as eagles and other symbols of the nation. Quoted words show up frequently as well.

One of the prizes of the Library is one of three copies of the original Gutenberg Bible. Our guide was a specialist on that, and we spent a good chunk of time learning things about that Bible, about Guttenberg, the printing processes he perfected, and more that I won't take space to share here today.

I already knew this, but I appreciated having the idea embodied in this extraordinarily beautiful building: civilization requires a righteous and educated people. Books are a way to access the learning of those who searched out truth before us.

[i] I found an excellent 5-minute video linked from the Library of Congress website, on the rebuilding of Jefferson’s library. [   ]

Friday, September 18, 2015

View from the Gallery

I’m traveling this week, arrived in Washington, DC, yesterday. I had arranged to meet my congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, (R-TX), and then tour the inside of the capitol—something I didn’t get to do on my last trip to DC.

During the tour we got to spend a few minutes sitting in the House gallery. Arguments were going on for and against the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, HR 3134. This was within an hour of the vote, which resulted in passing, with two Democrats voting with the Republicans, and three Republicans voting against. (I don’t know yet who the three are. What is wrong with them?)

The arguments I heard for the resolution were impassioned, and concentrated on the videos showing that Planned Parenthood has been engaging in trafficking of body parts of babies—some of whom are born alive and whole. Speakers made it clear that the American people are appalled at these practices, and refuse to continue to pay taxpayer dollars to an organization engaged in these activities.

The speakers I heard against the resolution were all female Democrats. They ignored the videos, and the accusations against Planned Parenthood. They repeated the lie that this is all just a political ploy to take away women’s health care. And among the lies, they still claim that Planned Parenthood is a major source of breast exams—except that they don’t. The only thing related to breast exams they do is to tell a woman where she can go to get one. No funding to help. Nothing. Just a lie.

I did manage to refrain from yelling out, “You lie!” from the gallery, but I did whisper it to the person sitting next to me.

Here’s another lie: this bill doesn’t remove any funding from women’s health; it takes it away from Planned Parenthood and makes it available to other women’s health service organizations—that don’t do the grisly abortion-to-body-part-trafficking that Planned Parenthood has been shown to do.

Also, it’s only to remove federal funding from PP for one year—long enough to show that it was all just a misunderstanding or false accusation (which it’s not). That leaves the possibility open of restoring funding if the organization can show it is clean (which it can't).

The President has already said he will veto this bill—or anything that inhibits the child sacrifice required of the liberal/feminist pseudo-religion. (He said he would veto this and any such bill; I have described it in words I’m sure he wouldn’t use publicly,although I think I'm accurate.)

If Planned Parenthood were actually performing an essential service, there would be enough private donations to support it, regardless of funding coming from government. Cutting government funding is not equivalent to taking away a service offered by a non-profit organization. So that is another lie of the baby-killers.

But, in fact, the largest chunk of their funding does come from our taxes. While it is unlawful technically to spend taxpayer dollars on abortions, the tax money allows them to spend all of their other sources (donations and fees for services, plus apparently the profits from the baby part trade) on the abortions they exist to do.

The contrast between civilization and savagery is stark. The process, which comes from our civilized founders, allows for respectful discussion, taking turns, treating the savage pro-baby-killers-and-selling-their-parts contingent as though they were persuadable and had a worthy opinion. The whole system is civilized. But we, who are watching, would do well to stand up and say clearly what Planned Parenthood and its supporters are about. They are savage.

I couldn’t take photos in the gallery. I had to check my camera, my phone (anything electronic) before going up to the line. And when I pulled out a notebook to write down the name of the bill and the bill number, I was directed that we aren’t allowed to write anything in the gallery. I’m not sure of the reason for this limitation. Security, we’re told. But I am satisfied it is all in the Congressional record.

So, no photos from the actual Congressional gallery. But here are a couple of other photos from the capitol.

This is where the Senate used to meet, up until, I think, around 1860.

Former Senate Chamber

This is where the Congress used to meet. It is now a hall of statues.

The former place for Congress to meet
is now the statue gallery.

Each state gets to decorate the capitol with two statues from its state. This one is Sam Houston in the hall of statues. The other was Stephen F. Austin, in what is called the crypt.

Stephen F. Austin statue
in the former Congress hall

There’s so much more to see here. Looking forward to the next few days.

Monday, September 14, 2015

How Five Justices Made Marriage Unconstitutional

Guest Post By Political Sphere

The landmark decision of Obergefell v. Hodges redefined the governmental definition of “marriage” throughout the United States, ruling that all states must now recognize and promote “marriage” between two adults of the same sex as equal to marriage as it “has existed for centuries and millennia.”[i] But redefining marriage so fundamentally produces a serious unintended consequence. With the stroke of a pen, five justices on the Supreme Court of the United States have rendered unconstitutional the government recognition of "the foundation ... of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress."[ii]

Under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, when a state statute seeks to classify people, the classification is presumed to be valid, but will only be sustained if the classification drawn by the statute is rationally related to a legitimate government interest.[iii] States are responsible for developing and implementing marriage laws, and the whole point of marriage laws is to classify certain types of relationships. Marriage laws grant rights and responsibilities to spouses that are not granted equally to live-in girlfriends/boyfriends or to polyamorous relationships. These rights and responsibilities bestowed upon married couples show that the government considers marital relationships as superior over other types of relationships in the eyes of society. Therefore, under the 14th amendment, the classification must be rationally related to a legitimate government interest.

What then is the legitimate government interest in classifying some people as married and others as unmarried? The majority opinion sets forth four principles and traditions explaining why marriage is fundamental under the constitution. While these are intended to show why the definition of marriage should be fundamentally changed to include homosexual unions, perhaps these will offer insight into the legitimate government interest supporting government recognition of this cornerstone of society.

The first premise is that “the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.”[iv] In using this premise to justify fundamentally redefining marriage, the majority explains that the personal choice of who to marry is protected from government involvement just as other intimate choices that follow the Roe v. Wade line of cases.[v] Therefore, this premise does not provide us with a legitimate government interest in classifying people as married or not, but rather a reason that the government is prohibited, or at least limited, from intruding on marriage.

The second premise is that the right to marry “supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.”[vi] The majority elaborates that “the right to marry dignifies couples who 'wish to define themselves by their commitment to each other.’”[vii] And continues, “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out to find no one there.”[viii] While a government may have an interest in ensuring that people are more reliant on those they directly associate with than on the government when there are rough patches in their life, there must also be a rational relationship to this interest when classifying one set of roommates over another. So there must still be something more that provides the legitimate government interest for the classification of marriage over other relationships.

The third premise is that “It safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education.”[ix] This is where we finally get a reason for the classification which is rationally related to a legitimate government interest.
The Chief Justice explains more fully in his dissent:

The premises supporting this concept of marriage are so fundamental that they rarely require articulation. The human race must procreate to survive. Procreation occurs through sexual relations between a man and a woman. When sexual relations result in the conception of a child, that child’s prospects are generally better if the [biological] mother and [biological] father stay together rather than going their separate ways. Therefore, for the good of children and society, sexual relations that can lead to procreation should occur only between a man and a woman committed to a lasting bond.

Society has recognized that bond as marriage. And by bestowing a respected status and material benefits on married couples, society encourages men and women to conduct sexual relations within marriage rather than without. As one prominent scholar put it, “Marriage is a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible does not solve.” J.Q. Wilson, The Marriage Problem 41 (2002).[x]

Therefore, the government does have an interest in classifying marriage, but it is related to the procreation process. Introductory biology teaches that all organisms live, breed, and die. Thus, as a human race, we have a biologic requirement to procreate in order for our species to survive. Not only is procreation vital to the survival of the human race as a whole, but also to the individual state as a country which is declining in population is susceptible to being overthrown by more vibrant societies. Therefore, there is an interest for the government to encourage procreation in order to continue the state. And all of the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage appear to revolve around promoting procreation and the preference for biological parents to raise their children together.

But the majority states that “The constitutional marriage right has many aspects, of which childbearing is only one.”[xi] [xii] So let us consider whether the final premise offers an additional rational basis, one that would also provide a rational basis for including a homosexual relationship.

The fourth premise is that tradition makes clear that marriage is a keystone of our social order.[xiii] There are two problems with this premise. First, tradition is not a legitimate government interest that allows for classification. That is made clear by the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. Traditionally, all people of color were treated as second-class citizens. But under the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment, that horrific tradition was abolished. Therefore, tradition is incapable of acting as a rational basis for a statutory classification under the equal protection clause.

The second problem is, while the definition of marriage has certainly had changes throughout the millennia it has existed, there has been only one common factor. Traditionally, marriage has always been limited to a union between man and woman. Even where polygamous marriage is and was allowed, all polygamous marriages have required at least one male and one female. As the Chief Justice noted in his dissent, both the majority opinion and the petitioners in the case had to concede that they are not aware of a single society which permitted homosexual “marriage” prior to 2001.[xiv] Thus, tradition both cannot and should not be a rational basis for the classification of marriage as the Supreme Court has defined it.

In conclusion, the only rational basis for government recognition of the classification of marriage that may reasonably be argued is procreation and the raising of children by that child’s biological parents. By eliminating this requirement from the definition of marriage, the Court has eliminated the sole rational relation to a legitimate government interest in classifying people by marriage.

The Court has eliminated marriage as a government institution. Therefore, when a case arises where an official refuses to grant marriage licenses, as happened in Kentucky, that official should not be compelled to issue such licenses as they purport to classify people without any rational basis related to a legitimate government interest.

[i] See Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015) (p. 3-4 of the Majority opinion, p.4 Roberts Dissent).
[ii] Id. at 16 of the majority opinion quoting Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190, 211 (1888).
[iii] Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc., 473 U.S. 432, 439-40 (1985).
[iv] Obergefell, majority opinion at 12
[v] Id.
[vi] Id. at 13
[vii] Id. at 14 quoting Windsor v. U.S.
[viii] Id.
[ix] Id.
[x] Id. at 5 of Roberts dissent.
[xi] Id. at 16 of the majority opinion.
[xii] The majority also states that “it cannot be said the Court or the States have conditioned the right to marry on the capacity or commitment to procreate.” However, until the Griswold v. Conn., Roe v. Wade, and Lawrence v. Tex. line of cases, the commitment to procreate was regularly required by the states. The capacity has always been presumed, through the fertile octogenarian rule which holds that every person is irrebuttably presumed fertile from birth until death.
[xiii] Id.
[xiv] Id. at 4 of Roberts dissent.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

No Iran Deal

I attempted to watch the End the Iran Deal rally at the Capitol yesterday. The live stream on my computer was not without glitches. My viewing was interrupted a number of times. But I got to hear Ted Cruz’s speech, followed by Donald Trump’s speech, uninterrupted. And then, when it got hung up during Glenn Beck’s speech and I reloaded, it played from Ted Cruz again.
Ted Cruz at September 8, 2015
Tea Party Rally against Iran Nuclear Agreement
image from here

I’m sure I missed some good moments. And I searched out Glenn Beck’s speech later, which was worth hearing—maybe essential listening for anyone waking up to our situation. [The clip is here.] But I want to share Ted Cruz’s speech here today. I’m pleased with how well thought out his words are. He spells out the truth with bold clarity. And maybe more importantly, he offers solutions.

If you prefer watching, C-SPAN has the full event [here], and Senator Cruz speaks beginning at 33:18 and ending at 45:50. But I have transcribed his 12-minute speech, and then I have a few more comments afterward.

Senator Ted Cruz Speech at Tea Party Rally against the Iran Nuclear Agreement

God bless the United States of America! What an incredible gathering here today!
I want to speak to three groups of people. I want to start by speaking to the American people. This Iranian nuclear deal is catastrophic. It is the single greatest national security threat facing America. If it goes through, there will be three consequences:
Number 1: The Obama administration will become quite literally the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism. If it goes through, over $100 billion will flow directly to Iran, to the Ayatollah Khomeini. And  billions of those dollars will go directly to Hamas, to Hezbollah, to the Houthis, to radical Islamic terrorists across the world. And those jihadists will use those billions to murder Americans, to murder Israelis, to murder Europeans.
The second consequence of this catastrophic deal is that it abandons four American hostages in an Iranian hell hole, including Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, a Christian pastor sentenced to eight years in prison for the crime of preaching the gospel. Including former Marine Amir Hekmati. Including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. Including Bob Levinson. It is a disgrace for this administration to abandon Americans in Iranian hell holes.
But the third consequence of this deal going through, if it does, is that it will facilitate and accelerate the nation of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. There is no greater threat to the safety and security of America. There is no greater threat to the safety and security of Israel, than a nuclear Iran. I agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu that a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to the nation of Israel. And let me be clear, when he says existential, he doesn’t mean a bunch of Frenchmen in black berets chain smoking. He means literally going to the very existence of Israel.
When Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress, a joint session that president Obama boycotted, that Vice President Biden boycotted, that every member of the cabinet boycotted, I participated in a panel with Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Laureate, the holocaust survivor, and Elie Wiesel observed the one threat on the face of the earth capable of murdering six million Jews in an instant, in a flash of light, is a nuclear Iran. Elie Wiesel observed, “Never again means never again.”
The second group I want to address are Democratic senators and Democratic members of Congress [boos from crowd]. Right now today forty-two Senate Democrats have come out in support of this deal. It is my hope and prayer that every one of those Senate Democrats reconsiders—that they go home, and they fall to their knees, and they pray tonight. I agree with former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman that this vote is quite likely the most important vote that any member of Congress, any member of the Senate, will cast in their entire career.
There was a time when there was a tradition of Scoop Jackson Democrats, of JFK Democrats, of Joe Lieberman Democrats—of Democrats who were willing to defend national security. Sadly that is becoming rarer and rarer in today’s Congress. So to every Democratic senator, they are facing a choice: do you value the safety and security of the United States of America? Do you value standing with our friend and ally, the nation of Israel? Do you value the lives of millions of Americans? Or do you value more party loyalty to the Obama White House?
To every Democratic senator who said he or she will support this deal, I ask you to consider, how will you look in the eyes of the mothers and fathers of our soldiers, the hundreds of soldiers, American soldiers who were murdered in Iraq with Iranian IEDs that came from General Soleimani? This deal lifts sanctions on General Soleimani. Tell me, if you’re a Democratic senator, how you look a mom in the eyes and say, “I voted to lift sanctions on the man who murdered your son when he was defending this nation.”
But beyond that, when we talk about terrorism, it’s worth remembering that if this deal goes through, we know to an absolute certainty people will die. Americans will die. Israelis will die. Europeans will die. Osama Bin Laden never had a hundred billion dollars. He was filled with bilious hatred, and using rudimentary tools, murdered nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001. We’re now talking about giving the Ayatollah Khamenei, a theocratic homicidal maniac who hates America every bit as much as Bin Laden did—giving him $100 Billion to carry out his murderous plan.
I want to ask every Senate Democrat, how will you look in the eyes of the mother or father or sons or daughters of those who were murdered by jihadists, of those who were blown up, of those who were shot, those Americans who were killed, those Israelis who were murdered? And let me be clear: if you vote to send billions of dollars to jihadists who have pledged to murder Americans, then you bear direct responsibility for the murders carried out with the dollars you have given them. You cannot wash your hands of that blood.
And let me say to Republican leadership [boos from crowd]…. Well, hold on. “I come not to bury Caesar but to praise him.”  I want to give a path forward. There are two men in Washington, DC, who can defeat this deal. Their names are Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner. Under the terms of the Corker-Cardin review legislation, the clock does not begin ticking until the president hands over the entire deal—and he has not handed over the side agreements. What that means is that all that has to happen is for Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to say, “The Congressional review period has not started. Under federal law it is illegal for Obama to lift sanctions.”
Now, this is a lawless president. So the odds are significant even if Congress did that, this president would ignore the law and try to lift sanctions. But I want in particular to speak to the CEO and the board of directors and the general counsel of every financial institution, every bank that is holding frozen Iranian money. If this president behaves illegally and decrees you can hand that money over to Iran, let me tell you now that does not exempt you from the legal obligation to follow the law. And any bank that listens to this president and releases billions to an international terrorist like the Ayatollah Khamenei will face billions of dollars in civil liability and litigation. And there will come a president who is not named Barack Obama.
Mitch McConnell and John Boehner can stop this deal if they simply enforce—if they simply enforce federal law.
If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, the single greatest risk is that they would take that nuclear weapon, they would put it on a ship anywhere in the Atlantic, and they would fire it up straight into the air, into the atmosphere. They would set off what’s called an EMP, an electromagnetic pulse. It would take down the electrical grid on the entire Eastern Seaboard and kill tens of millions of Americans. We can stop that.
But if Senate Democrats decide that party loyalty matters more than national security, and if Republican leadership decides that a show vote is more important than stopping this deal, then the single most important issue in 2016 will be stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
And any commander in chief worthy of defending this nation should be prepared to stand up on January 20th, 2017, and rip to shreds this catastrophic deal. Any commander-in-chief worthy of defending this nation should be prepared in January 2017 to look in the eyes of the Ayatollah Khamenei and say, “Under no circumstances does Iran led by a theocratic ayatollah who chants ‘Death to America’—under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. And if Iran will not stop its nuclear program, we will stop it for you.”
I want to thank everyone here for this rally. I want to thank Tea Party Patriots. I want to thank the Pro-Israel groups, the national security groups. I want to thank my friend Donald Trump for joining us today. I want to thank the leaders of Congress who are here. And I want to thank the American people. Let’s rise up and tell every elected official in Washington, “No more talk. No more show votes. Get it done. Stop this deal.”
Thank you. And God bless you!
Today I came across a piece by Andrew McCarthy explaining the Corker review, worth reading.

Cruz finishes speaking, just before Trump speaks
photo by Susan Walsh/AP, found here

Trump’s speech lasted only five minutes. But I did learn a couple of things from him, if he’s accurate. One was that the $150 B goes to Iran regardless, just because they came to the table. I had understood that was the result of the lifting of sanctions, so, if we follow Cruz’s plan, that would keep the sanctions from being lifted, maybe indefinitely. Clearly I don't know enough to run for president.

Also, Trump quoted tweets from the Ayatollah Khamenei just hours before the speech. He said the ayatollah said Iran was now done interacting with the United States—which means that they have no intention of “reporting” on their “promise” not to be developing nuclear weapons. So we got nothing positive out of the deal—absolutely nothing. Also, he tweeted that Israel would not exist 25 years from now. While it’s a horrible thing to say, I’m surprised the predicted timeline was so far into the future.

Trump said he guaranteed that, before his first day in office, those four hostages would be freed. Just by power of personality, and the fear, I guess, that he puts into the hearts of murderous terrorists? He didn’t say how he would accomplish that. The remaining half of his speech was a presidential stump speech about making jobs, and brightening the future—again by power of personality, rather than detailed plans.

But what was important was that as many people as possible heard Cruz’s speech. And Trumps presence adds numbers. So for that we thank him, as Cruz did.

I spent the time earlier today to contact my congressman, senators (thanking Ted Cruz and supporting him, since there’s no need to direct him), and also Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner. Senator Cruz has given them a way out from infamy. If only they take it.

By the time I got ready to post this, there was a vote on whether to disapprove of the deal, which was defeated because 42 the Senate Democrats voted against it, making it we short of the 2/3 needed to move forward. I’m confused about the process, because the original vote should have required only a simple majority.  An eventual veto would require 2/3 to overcome. This, I think, was a procedural vote to end debate without an up or down vote. Meanwhile, the House went ahead—after the Senate vote—and passed a resolution, along party lines, based on Senator Cruz’s claim that the president failed to provide Congress with details on the “side deals” and therefore has not complied with the law. It was a non-binding measure, but it could set up a future challenge. We can hope.

Obama owns this atrocity. And the Democrats are complicit.

Enjoy the anniversary of 9/11.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Duty to Resist

I’ve been thinking about what to write on this issue, because there may not be a single right path, and I’m in disagreement with a lot of good rule-of-law people. I’m watching with interest what the county clerk in Kentucky does. And I’m glad she’s taking a stand.

Rowan County, KY, Clerk Kim Davis goes to jail
photo made available by 
Carter County Detention CenterZUMA Press/Newscom, found here

Both sides can be right. I’m looking historically at Helmuth Hübener and friends, in WWII. I wrote about their moral dilemma in December 2013.

It was not policy for Mormons to be encouraged to rebel against their government, even under tyranny. But still they were taught the value of freedom and God-given rights. So it was a dilemma.
German Mormons were not condemned for fighting in the war, even if they believed their country was in the wrong; they were obliged to do as directed, and the blame would be on the hands of the nation’s leaders. However, if they could find ways to do good to their fellow man, or to find nonviolent ways to seek freedom, they were not forbidden by the Church. In other words, they were taught the principles and allowed to make their best decisions—just the same as today.
Hübener and friends didn’t have to do what they did. They could have been justified in just going along with the coercive government. But they chose to resist the evil. I admire them for that. I wrote,

The boys were right to act as they did, because the tyranny surrounding them was wrong. Nevertheless, they did commit treason in the eyes of the law, such as it was, and they acted with the full knowledge that they would face punishment if caught. It would not have been sinful to them to have followed their leaders’ advice, keep their heads down, and make no waves. It would not be a dilemma if there weren’t two competing positions. But since they were old enough to know their own conscience, and know what God was personally leading them to do, it was right for them to act.
Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk, in Kentucky, has refused to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. That was the same-sex “marriage” ruling, which resulted in the slim majority of unelected US Supreme Court justices throwing out the millennia-old definition of marriage and replacing it with something of their invention.

I am a supporter of the rule of law. That creates a dilemma when the “law” is created unjustly and illegally, and additionally goes against God’s law. In theory (actually, in the written Constitution, so in reality), only the legislative branch can create law. The judicial branch has no such power. So when SCOTUS invents a new definition of marriage and imposes it as law in all 50 states, the very idea is ridiculous. Except that it is happening.

However, government receives power from the consent of the governed. So if the people do not consent, the government lacks the power. I was hoping, in the wake of the erroneous decision, that many states would simply refuse to comply. As Douglas Wilson wrote,

If just ten governors treated Obergefell the same way Kim Davis is treating it, that entire unrighteous and despotic imposition would collapse and fall to the ground. And if they did so, they would not be sinning against the United States. Rather, they would be preventing the United States from sinning.
The end game here is not armed revolution. The end game is simply a refusal to cooperate with their revolution.
Every state that has a constitutional amendment defining marriage pitted state sovereignty against federal government overreach. The 10th Amendment guarantees that state sovereignty is supreme on any issue not enumerated as a federal power.

In Ryan Anderson’s book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Liberty, his first step in the battle we’re now in is to point out, clearly and consistently, that the ruling was a bad decision, with no relation to the actual Constitution. This was the approach taken by pro-life activists following the badly decided Roe v. Wade, which is showing progress in the direction of life more and more.

Quoting Ted Cruz this week: “In dissent, Chief Justice Roberts rightly observed that the Court’s marriage opinion has nothing to do with the Constitution. Justice Scalia observed that the Court’s opinion was so contrary to law that state and local officials would choose to defy it.”

There were temporary, brief refusals in various states, including Texas. But, with this singular exception of Kim Davis, everyone else seems to have succumbed to judges at various levels saying, “You have to do what I say.”

If we’re going to live in a country in which unlawful laws can be imposed by non-lawmaking branches of government, and abide by those laws, then what are we going to do to accommodate those who find those laws unrighteous?

I don’t say that Kim Davis’s way is the right way, or the only right way. If I understand the situation correctly, she has refused to issue any marriage licenses in her county since the SCOTUS ruling. The intent was to avoid the accusation that her office was discriminating based sexual orientation. She has also ordered her employees not to issue licenses. Her basis is that issuing the licenses violates her Christian faith. The reason she wouldn’t allow employees to issue licenses is that her name, as county clerk, is on each document, so that means she is actually approving the license, validating it.

There ought to be an accommodation for her. North Carolina pre-empted the problem. As Ryan Anderson describes it,

North Carolina provides a great example. The state legislature earlier this year passed a law that protects magistrates who object to performing solemnizing ceremonies for same-sex marriages and clerks who object to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. It also makes clear that no one can be denied a marriage license, but magistrates or clerks could recuse themselves from the process behind the scenes should they have sincere objections to same-sex marriage.
Again, it’s a win-win for everyone. No one loses anything.
Every state could act to offer such accommodations. As Illinois law professor Robin F. Wilson says, citizens may have a claim to receive certain “services from the state, but they do not necessarily have a claim to receive the service from a particular public servant.”

I can come up with a simple solution for Rowan County. Create a new document, without the clerk’s name on it, for any “marriage” to be licensed that the clerk does not want to validate. I was able to create a nice-looking diploma for my homeschooled children; I’m sure it wouldn’t be beyond the abilities of someone in the office. Allow someone else in the office to issue the license. Done. No more contempt of court. No more lines of marriage applicants being turned away.

Wait. While she’s been in jail the past few days, her office has issued licenses, and I understand they do not have her name on them (actually it's unclear whether the documents just lack her signature and approval, or whether her name was removed). Her lawyer, Mat Staver, points out that they aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, because they were issued under the county clerk's authority, which she had not granted.

He’s right that they don’t include the imprimatur of the county clerk. But they’re not necessarily invalid for getting what the couples require. I think the issue could be resolved by printing the line of authority on the document:

“By the power granted to a majority of the Supreme Court of the United States to write laws defining marriage in the state of Kentucky, in the County of Rowan, this document ….”
And, like I said, make it pretty, so everyone is satisfied. Those who believe the Supreme Court has lawmaking power have a document that says so. And those who believe it does not, they have a document that says the document is only valid if the Supreme Court has such powers, which it does not. And the clerk does not have to spend time in jail for not having the court-prescribed opinion.

Kim Davis is an elected official. If she doesn’t give in, the legislature will have to remove her, going against the voters who elected her as well as the voters who defined marriage in the state. Or they can do the simple accommodation.

I wavered in my thinking through this issue when I read that Justice Scalia said she should do her job. “Justice Scalia explained why Kim Davis should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or find a new job” was the headline. But it turned out, that was just an opinion piece quoting Scalia’s 2002 book, in which he said judges who have a belief that there should be no death penalty, when it is the law of the land, should not be judges; they should not undermine the law by ruling according to their opinion. I see that as very different from someone who has an elected position, and then after the fact, through dubious judicial lawmaking, definitions are changed, thus changing the official's duties.

Are we prepared to say that everyone who still believes in the necessity for marriage to include a man and a woman should be prevented from serving in positions in which they are otherwise fully qualified?

At least Kim Davis is making us ask the question.

There are plenty of sources saying Kim Davis is in the wrong—all the mainstream (liberal) sources, and probably a majority of more conservative opinions. (I’m hoping son Political Sphere will follow up with his opinion, which thinks Davis’s lawyers could have come up with a better defense, and better advice for her. His opinion on the Obergefell ruling is one I haven’t seen anywhere else, and I find it compelling, but he’ll explain it better than I can.)

Nevertheless, some of us stand where I do. I’ve benefitted from reading several views on this subject, which I recommend:

·         Senator Ted Cruz’s Statement on the Arrest of Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis
·         Matt Walsh’s blog post “Kim Davis Broke an Illegitimate, Evil Law, and God Bless Her for It”
·         “In Which I Paint With Some Bright Yellows,” by Douglas Wilson 
·         “Kentucky Clerk Not Issuing Gay Marriage Licenses Causes Uproar. North Carolina Shows Better Way.” by Ryan T. Anderson 
·         Mark Levin show, linked at “Mark Levin DefendsKentucky Clerk: Supreme Court Is Nullifying the Rule of Law, Not Kim Davis”