Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011 Thoughts …

Peaceful Christmas VillageOne of my favorite Christmas songs is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. For me the lyrics capture  life’s bittersweet moments and the hope we all carry for a better tomorrow. The words were written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1864 and later set to music by John Baptiste Calkin.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

James Allen – Inspired Author, Gentle Soul

James AllenJames Allen (1864-1912) was a gifted writer and philosopher who lived the type of life he wrote about (a complete list of his works and links to them are listed at the end of this post). His wife said he was “a good man who lived every word he wrote” (preface to Book of Meditations) and that “he never wrote theories, or for the sake of writing, or to add another to his many books; but he wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he had lived it out in his own life, and knew that it was good. Thus he wrote facts, which he had proven by practice.” (preface to Foundation Stones to Happiness and Success).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Coloured Picture Bible for Children – Part 4 of 4

03 Title Page - Emblems of the EvangelistsThe “Coloured Picture Bible for Children” is divided into into 4 sections (I. “Creation of the World to the Death of Moses”, II. “Judges, Ruth & Kings”, III. “Hezekiah to the end of the Old Testament”, and IV. “The Holy Gospels”). The table below contains artwork from Section IV The Holy Gospels.

At the end of the post I’ve included links to download all pictures and a scanned version of the children's Bible.

Friday, December 9, 2011

“The Coloured Picture Bible for Children” Part 3 of 4

03Title Page Hezekiah to MalachiThe “Coloured Picture Bible for Children” is divided into into 4 sections (I. “Creation of the World to the Death of Moses”, II. “Judges, Ruth & Kings”, III. “Hezekiah to the end of the Old Testament”, and IV. “The Holy Gospels”). The table below contains artwork from Section III Hezekiah to the end of the Old Testament.

At the end of the post I’ve included links to download all pictures and a scanned version of the children's Bible.

Monday, December 5, 2011

“The Coloured Picture Bible for Children” Part 2 of 4

Title Judges, Ruth and KingsThe “Coloured Picture Bible for Children” is divided into into 4 sections (I. “Creation of the World to the Death of Moses”, II. “Judges, Ruth & Kings”, III. “Hezekiah to the end of the Old Testament”, and IV. “The Holy Gospels”). The table below contains artwork from Section II Judges, Ruth & Kings.

At the end of the post I’ve included links to download all the pictures and a a scanned version of the children's Bible.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

“The Road to Emmaus”

"Abide with us."

In Luke 24:13-32 we read of two of Christ’s disciples who journeyed from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus on the third day following the crucifixion of Christ. As they walked and talked of all that had recently transpired a fellow traveler joined in their conversation. He asked what they were talking about and if they were sad.

They recounted to him all that had occurred. When they related that had expected Christ to redeem Israel and that although it was the third day they had not seen him, the stranger chastened them a bit for their unbelief and then clarified the scriptures for them.

As the disciples approached their destination the stranger “made as though he would have gone further.” However, they insisted that since it was late in the day that he stay with them. Later as “he took bread, and blessed it” they realized that it was Christ whom they had journeyed with.

It is interesting that although Christ joined his disciples on the road He would not have stayed with them without their invitation. This is an analogy for how He operates today. So the question for the day is what have we done to invite Him to be with us. Have we sought after His views, have we followed His advice? Have we visited the sick or fed the hungry (Matthew 25:34-40). If we’ve lost sight of Him, this is the season for renewing our commitment to follow the two great commandments “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 25:34-40). In these difficult times there are many opportunities to serve others and bring the spirit of Christmas into our lives.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"The Coloured Picture Bible for Children" Part 1 of 4

03 Title Creation to MosesMy Christmas gift this year  to you, dear readers, are scanned copies of pictures from The Coloured Picture Bible for Children [1] which was published in London in 1884. These can be used for family home evening lessons or other teaching opportunities.

I first found these online when I was looking for images to use in earlier blog posts that covered biblical topics [2]. I recently purchased my own copy of the children’s Bible. It’s a small book (6”x7”x1”) and while the illustrations are great the writing could be better.

The picture bible is divided into into 4 sections. I’ve create a blog entry for each one (“I. Creation of the World to the Death of Moses”, II. “Judges, Ruth & Kings”, III. “Hezekiah to the end of the Old Testament”, and IV. “The Holy Gospels”) where the illustrations are shown in the order they appear.

Note, At the end of the post I’ve included links to download all pictures for each section and a scanned version of the entire children's Bible.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ron Mann's "Freedom" Reading List

Below are a list of great books, recommended by my father (Ron Mann), and me that will help you discover your American heritage and how to protect it. They are organized by category.

Some of these books can be downloaded or viewed online. I've added links to connect you to the appropriate sites. For most books I've linked the title to its entry in which has links to where the book can be purchased and often has a description and reviews. Should you be looking for additional information on American History, The Constitution, or current events contact Ron at He has one of the most extensive libraries on George Washington around and loves to share his thoughts about the Constitution and our Founding Fathers. While working for President Reagan he helped formulate the legislation to create a The Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution and was later named Deputy Director of the Commission. In his Challenge to the readers of The 5,000 Year Leap he says:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The First “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation”

Below is the first national Thanksgiving Day proclamation written by President George Washington. It affirms that those who participated in the founding of America acknowledged the hand of Providence, both in winning the Revolutionary War and establishing the Constitution. You’ll find humility grace and a recognition of the hand of God along with a sense of our obligation to serve others and promote “the knowledge and practice of true religion”. Contrast these words with those emanating from Washington today and you’ll see why a change is needed. Unfortunately, the words from our political leaders usually reflect what we want to hear. The change we need to make starts with ourselves and for that I’m grateful. Grateful that we live in a country where that is still possible.

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

George Washington's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation 3 Oct 1789Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reform Utah Politics?

Over the last 18 months I’ve seen a growing number of articles in newspapers promoting the idea that Utah’s caucus system is flawed and must be revised to prevent a variety of ills. I read another such article Saturday morning in editorial section of the Deseret News.

2010 Utah County Republican Nominating ConventionBefore I go over the assertions made in this article let’s quickly review how the caucus system functions in Utah. The state is divided into ~2,200 precincts. In March of each election year precinct meetings are held throughout the state for each political party in which precinct officers (chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer) and delegates (county and state) are elected for 2 year terms.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Answers from Candidates – Dan Liljenquist

imageA couple of weeks ago I posted a set of questions I would seek to answer for candidates looking for my vote. Thursday evening I attended an event where state Senator Dan Liljenquist spoke about fiscal responsibility. From what I understand there is a good chance that Dan will run against Hatch to be the Republican nominee for the US Senate. I’d like to share with you what I was able to glean from this event and some time spent afterwards relative to my list of questions.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Everyday Miracles

Of late my life seems full of happy coincidences (miracles as I choose to view them). For example, today at church as we began to sing one of the hymns I wished that we would sing more than the first four verses of this particular hymn (99.9% of the time we only sing those verses that are written between the lines of music – typically 4 verses – and not the additional verses written out at the end of the music).

Well guess what? The chorister had us sing one of the two extra verses. Not a big deal. Well maybe but for me it was important as the additional verse carried for me extra import and I really thought about the words we sang. Then I took the time to read and ponder the last verse which I would normally not do. This last verse stayed with me throughout the day.

How great, how glorious, how complete
Redemption’ grand design,
where justice love and mercy meet
In harmony divine!

How Great the Wisdom and the Love, Eliza R. Snow, verse 6.

You can listen to this hymn by playing the following YouTube video. Probably sounds better than we did at church :).

Happy coincidence or miracle. Here’s the definition of miracle:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Family Faith - A Road Trip to Louisville

The following story is illustrative of stories that get lost over time unless they become part of a family’s history by recording it in family journal and it is shared from time to time. I was recently asked to share a story about our family that no one would know. Sadly I don’t think our most of our children would remember hearing it and they certainly couldn’t have read about it (as it hadn’t been written down).

1971 CorollaWe had been married about a year when we left Provo for Louisville, KY in August of 1981. I had gotten an 8 month internship with GE at their Appliance Park facility. Our car was a 1973 Toyota Corolla hatchback (similar to the one on the right)  that I was somehow able to keep running in spite of my mechanical ineptitude. When it comes to trying to fix mechanical items I instinctively do the wrong thing . I finally gave up trying to work on cars around 1988 after I figured out that it was costing me more money to fix it myself than to take it to a shop. Now, refilling the washer fluid, checking the oil and changing wiper blades is the extent of my repertoire. But I digress so let’s get back to the story.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Questions for Candidates

Election season is fast approaching and as we begin to decide who to support for various offices I’d like to share some of my thoughts on that topic.

Running for OfficeWhen we elect someone to public office we are entrusting them to make decisions on our behalf using information to which we often don’t have access. That being the case I’m more interested in the quality of their character than a specific policy position that may change as an office holder gets access to additional information.

Here are 5 questions that will not be asked of candidates in public debate, but which I seek answers to when evaluating candidates. Some of these are best answered (e.g. #2) by people who know the candidate rather than the candidate:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Three-Fifths Clause–Did it institutionalize the notion that slaves were less than fully human?

Last week I had a spirited discussion with friends at work regarding the three-fifths clause and whether or not it was written to devalue the humanity of slaves (thanks D.S. for providing a great topic for my blog).

Here’s the text from Article I section 2 paragraph 3 of the Constitution.

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within the Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

Notice that the formula was applied to representation and taxes. This context (representation and taxation) from my perspective sets up an interesting debate. Do you diminish the power of slave holding states by not counting slaves when apportioning congressional representation while at the same time reducing their burden with respect to direct taxes or do you maximize their representation and increase their tax burden (thus imposing a financial penalty on them). The three-fifths compromise was just that a compromise that diminished the potential representation of slave holding states and yet did not eliminate the direct tax burden associated with slaves. The clause was not about the humanity of slaves nor in any way intended as an affront to them.

FredericDouglass-1860This clause has been used to support the notion that the Constitution promoted slavery. Frederic Douglass, who was born a slave, escaped and became a leading abolitionist, initially subscribed to the view that the Constitution was pro-slavery. However, after much study he later changed his view as he describes in the following quote from a lecture entitled “Unconstitutionality of Slavery” given in Glasgow, Scotland on March 26, 1860.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Jonah – A Positive Example?

Jonah is Thrown OverboardA while back I was asked to substitute for a Sunday school teacher at church. The lesson was on Jonah. While I try to look for the positive in most situations and look for hidden lessons I wasn’t sure that I would be able to find much in the way of either. Jonah’s story provided me with more than I would have originally thought. The more reading I did the more questions I had about what I thought was a pretty simple subject. It started with, where in the heck is Nineveh anyways. The answer: Across the river from Mosul, Iraq and about 560 miles as the crow flies from the port of Joppa (now surrounded by Tel Aviv), which is where he departed from. Then other questions followed:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Of Freedom, God, and Christ #2

Rembrandt's "Apostle Paul"In his letter to the Galatians Paul tries to dissuade Jewish members of the Church from following the strict practices of their former faith (the Mosaic Law)  and insisting that other gentile (non-Jewish) members do the same.  Towards the end of his letter he makes a very bold statement “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not entangled with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). The Mosaic law with its emphasis on obedience and sacrifice was a preparatory law that laid the foundation for the higher law and pointed to Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

If God had a Computer …

I have traveled quite a bit over the last 25 years as a part of the various jobs I’ve held in the high tech/software industry. Before there were iPods or iPads to occupy my mind while in the air I  would occasionally let my imagination run wild as I pictured how today’s technology might be applied or have been applied to managing all of creation. I’ve kept these thoughts largely to myself but will risk sharing some of them with you today.

For example, imagine the pained look on the face of the angel in training charged with managing the climate control computers as he told his supervisor that he had accidently reset the system.  His boss, after informing the big guy makes a quick call to Noah letting him know what is going down. You know the rest of the story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Little Problems of Married Life by William George Jordan

LPoML 1A Springtime of Married LifeI recently finished reading an excellent treatise on the issues and problems common to most marriages by William George Jordan. He applies the keen insight on human nature he demonstrated in his earlier books (The Kingship of Self-Control, The Majesty of Calmness, The Power of Truth and The Crownship of Individuality) to the challenges of marriage. I now have two favorite books on marriage, this one and Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, by John Gray.
Although this book was published in 1910 and some of the societal norms were different than today, his discussion on the kinds of issues that arise in marriage and how they can be remedied are as a valid today as they were yesterday.
The book contains 23 chapters, each of which discuss a specific issue. They are relatively short can be read in 5 to 10 minutes but you will likely want to think about them for much longer. Reading a chapter a night with your spouse would be an excellent way to spend quality time with your loved one and can’t help but spark discussions that will improve the quality of your marriage.
Below is a list of the quotes from some of the chapters  which give you a sense of the content:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Of Freedom, God and Christ

A couple of months ago I participated in a conversation on religion with some business colleagues. One of my co-workers made the statement that he cannot believe in a God because of the tragedies he had personally witnessed in Africa. If there was a god how could he allow such things to happen. This is not an original concept but when we are the personal witnesses to tragic events and injustice, as was my friend,  the point becomes very real.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

“Now is the Time to Make a Difference” by Ron Mann

imageOn April 19th, 2008, Ron Mann, former Deputy Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Director of The Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, delivered the following address to a political gathering in Salt Lake City.  It is as relevant today as it was then. It is filled with excellent quotes and serves as a reminder of the civic responsibilities that each of us carry. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In the Absence of Religion, Morality and God by Ron Mann

Below is an excellent discourse by my father on the necessity of religion to sustain our republic. Enjoy RWM.

ChurchThe Founders of our Republic repeatedly warned of the need to uphold morality, religion and God in our society or suffer the loss of our freedom. During the formation and early years of our republic the leaders and citizens in general read from a well spring of knowledge; scriptures and writing of the founders, in the process ensuring that their freedom would remain.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Liberty Lost by Ron Mann

My father, Ron Mann, wrote this speech a number of years ago. It is somewhat long but well worth the read as it is still pertinent today, perhaps even more than when he wrote it.

Liberty Lost

Several years ago a young naval officer was promoted to captain and given command of a new destroyer. He was awed with his promotion and his new assignment. One day during initial sea trials of his ship he ran into a dense fog. While standing on the bridge of his ship his communications officer, a young Lt. Commander came running in and said: “Sir there is a ship’s light heading directly in our path.” “Signal him to change his course five degrees!” The new caption said. In a few minutes the young officer returned with another message from the other commander. “You change your course!” Signed Lt. Smith. The hair of the back of the captain’s neck bristled. “Send him another message to change his course immediately!”

The Hand of Providence: Boston Freed and Other Miracles

On July 4, 2010 Ron Mann (my father) was the keynote speaker at the Milestones of Freedom event in Orem, Utah. He discusses the Hand of God in the founding of our nation with a focus on the battle of Boston which concluded in March of 1776. The video below is 53 minutes long but well worth watching.

"When in the Course ..." Part I by Ron Mann

Here's another excellent article by my father on our nation's founding.

The book of Joshua in the Old Testament provides a wonderful introduction for this article on the Declaration of Independence. As you will recall Joshua was allowed to lead the Israelites into Israel and one of the first obstacles was the crossing of the river Jordan.

Joshua passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant, by Benjamin West 180014 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priest bearing the ark of the covenant before the people.

15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priest that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvests).Joshua 3:14-15

Then the Lord caused the Jordan to be divided even as he had the Red Sea for Moses:

"When in the Course ..." Part II by Ron Mann

Portait of George Mason, author of the initial draft of the Virginia Delcaration of Independence, by Albert Rosenthal, 1888The article below is the 2nd half of an article by my father (see "When in the Course ..." Part I).

No free government or the blessings of liberty can be reserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue.
Virginia Declaration of Rights

In the last article we covered some of the background history associated with the Declaration of Independence as well as a few of the trials of some of the signers. Part II will cover some of the doctrine of the Declaration of Independence as well as the intentions of the founders relative to it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Protecting Your Family from Pornography

About a year ago I was asked by my local church to write a short note on how to filter Internet content for parents. I thought I’d share these tips since exposure to and use of pornography is undeniable harmful to individuals, families, and society in general. Numerous groups such as Fight the New Drug and Morality in Media are great sources for information on the impact of pornography.

While there is no perfect solution for eliminating the chance to be exposed to unwanted content on the Internet there are steps that can be taken to reduce the chance of “accidental” exposure. Below is a brief description of two free Internet filtering solutions that may be used to help protect your family. You can use one or both but when used together they offer a more complete solution.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pictures of William George Jordan

William George Jordan - 1910-07 - The CraftsmanWhen I first started researching William George Jordan (1864-1928), a very gifted writer with incredible insights into human nature, I was only able to find one picture of him online that was most likely not this WGJ. I’ve been able to locate the following pictures since then from magazines, newspapers, books, and family members with whom I’ve had the privilege of connecting (great niece and nephew). The Wikipedia entry for WGJ now contains the first portrait I located (I rewrote the earlier entry on him).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The First Tailor

From The Tailor and the Crow, 1911,  Illustrated  by L. Leslie BrookIn 1902 The Tailor (published by the Journeymen Tailors’ Union) republished an article by William George Jordan, one of my favorite writers and a personal hero, entitled “The First Tailor”. I chuckled as I read the article and thought I’d share it with you.

William George Jordan, late managing editor Ladies' Home Journal and editor-in-chief Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, writes to the Fashioner.

The first industry in the world was tailoring. The first maker of clothes and the first wearer was Adam. Of this strange character who appears on the pages of history in the dual role of the first tailor and the first customer we have but a brief biography. The meagre details require sympathetic interpretation to make up a complete story. Of his father and mother no mention is made, but the record shows he was destined to be a clothier of some sort, for he was put into Eden to “dress” the garden. We do not know if he obeyed this command, as his biographers do not so state, for, it seems, instead of “dressing” the garden he “dressed”' himself.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Articles that Reference William George Jordan

William George Jordan (author, editor, lecturer) was a well known figure in the US during the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was the editor of several popular magazines of the day including: Current Literature, The Ladies Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post. He authored a number of well thought of books who's focus was self-improvement. He was also interested in the role of government and for a time had significant influence on national politics.

William George Jordan 1911 2b

Friday, April 22, 2011

Articles by William George Jordan

William George Jordan 1918 2

William George Jordan was a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines. Many (if not all) of the chapters in his books were published previously as articles in magazines such as the Ladies Home Journal, New Science Review, and Cosmopolitan. His articles covered subjects such as marriage, politics, education and history. Local newspapers often republished, all or a portion of, articles that were published in major magazines and newspapers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Value of a Forgiving Heart

I was recently asked to speak at church on the subject of forgiveness. I had two weeks to prepare this talk. During the course of this preparation I was struck by the story of Joseph the son of Jacob, he who was  sold into slavery by jealous brothers.

Joseph being Sold into Egypt by Ted HenningerHis story, as most of your probably know, goes like this. After being purchased by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, he was eventually made the overseer of Potiphar’s household. At some point in time Potiphar’s wife made advances toward Joseph which he continually rejected until such time as he was forced to flee her presence. Afterwards she falsely accused him of trying to take advantage of her and had him thrown into prison.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Books by William George Jordan

Ad for Mental Training by Analysis, Law and AnalogyThe following is a list of the books and pamphlets (some were also published as articles or series of articles in magazines) authored by William George Jordan. It is complete as far as I can determine. If an online version is available I’ve linked the title to it. For ones that I’ve created shareable versions I’ve put links to them after the title indicating the format of the content (e.g. PDF).

William George Jordan is one of my favorite authors and one that I’ve done considerable research on. All of his books are on my must read list (I think everyone should read at least one). You can read about him in my post entitled William George Jordan – Author Extraordinaire as well as by looking at my other posts on the author and his books:

Books by Thornton W. Burgess

The following is a partial list of books written by Thornton W. Burgess (He wrote a total of 172), one of my favorite children’s book authors. Please refer to my other posts under the label/category Thornton W Burgess for information about the author and his stories.
Booklet Cover
Note, I’ve included links to where these books can be found online. In cases where I’ve created booklet versions I’ve put a link to the Word files as well. The booklet versions are designed to be printed on both sides of 8 1/2 x 11 paper then folded in half and stapled in the middle  or cut in half and spiral bound as shown in the adjacent picture.
Bedtime Story-Books

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Timely Lesson from Mr. Squirrel

The downturn in the economy, government debt, conflicts abroad and natural disasters are forcing many Americans relearn many of the lessons taught to their grandparents and great-grandparents during the great depression and subsequent war.

Perhaps it is not too late to learn from Old Mr. Squirrel’s experience “when the world was young” as told by my favorite author of children’s books. The parallels to today are surprising in the following  tale from Thornton W. Burgess’s book, Mother West Wind “How” Stories.

Monday, March 7, 2011

William George Jordan – Author Extraordinaire

William George Jordan, Americana, August 1910

William George Jordan (1864-1928) grew up in New York City the son of Irish immigrants. I’m frequently asked what religion was William George Jordan. What I can say is that according to extended family members he and his family were Episcopalian. Another indicator is that he was married in the Grace Episcopal Church of New York City in 1922. His parents also referred to their heritage as Scotch-Irish. Indicating that they were not Catholic.

His father was a printer and perhaps that contributed to his vocation as a publisher and writer. He graduated from City College of New York in 1884 and immediately joined Book Chat, a monthly magazine which published reviews of current books and news in the publishing world. In 1888 he was hired as the managing editor of Current Literature, a magazine “devoted exclusively to the literature and topics of the day.”

On July 26th of 1891 The Inter-Ocean paper of Chicago published an interview with WGJ where he discussed his thoughts about education and “Mental Training”. After the article was published he received so many requests for information that he scheduled a trip back in October to lecture on the subject. The Inter-Ocean in a September 24th article reported that:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Favorite Political Quotes

Below are some of my favorites political quotes. If you have any recommendations please feel free to share them.

“How is it that the strange idea of making the law produce what it does not contain—prosperity, in a positive sense, wealth, science, religion—should ever have gained ground in the political world? The modern politicians, particularly those of the Socialist school, found their different theories upon one common hypothesis; and surely a more strange, a more presumptuous notion, could never have entered human brain.”—Frederic Bastiat, "The Law", 1850 (PDF)

A culture obsessed with technology will come to value personal convenience above almost all else, and ours does. That has consequences we will explore. Among those consequences', however, is impatience with anything that interferes with personal convenience. Religion, morality, and law do that …”—Robert H. Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, 1996, p 9

Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”—Edmund Burke, A Letter from Mr. Burke, to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791, p 68. See also Edmund Burke,  The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. IV. (of XII), 1887, p 52

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.“—Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons, October 22, 1945

Calvin Coolidge


“Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness”

It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.”

“It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.” —“Speech on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence”, Calvin Coolidge, July 5, 1926

Friday, February 11, 2011

Their Aspirations Must Be Met!

As I listened to the news Thursday Feb 10th  and heard President Obama’s remarks regarding President Mubarak’s decision to not leave office. I was struck by his words. To better illustrate my thoughts I’ve made three substitutions to the text of his remarks shown below; Egypt to America, Egyptian to American, and United States to the administration.

image“As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of America will be determined by the American people. But this administration has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the American people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met.  … 

To Con-Con or Not

American-ConstitutionOf late in Utah there has been a bit of news surrounding a legislative initiative to recommend that the state request the holding of a constitutional convention as outlined in Article V of the US Constitution. There are two ways to propose amendments to the Constitution which must be ratified by 3/4s of the states (either by their legislatures or by their own conventions). The first is when 2/3rds “of both Houses of shall deem it necessary” and the second is when 2/3rds of the legislators of the states call a convention for proposing amendments. I’ve sent a couple of e-mails on this to my state rep and made several comments to a post by Holly on the Hill. Below is a summary of my thoughts on a convention.

It sounds good, right? Simply call for a convention, hold it, propose amendments to fix all the problems and then be done with it. Well, not so fast. Let me list a few questions we can ask ourselves:

  • At a Constitutional Convention is there any limit to the number of amendments that can be proposed?
    Answer:  It is unclear on whether a convention can be called and restricted to a single amendment. Opinions have been written by legal scholar supporting both sides of the question.

  • Is there a limit to the scope of these amendments?
    Answer: No

  • Do we think that the attendees representing the states will be anywhere near as qualified to discuss constitutional issues, theories of government … as the attendees of the original convention.
    My answer: Not likely! In my view delegates will generally be the best connected not necessarily the most qualified.

  • How long may a proposed amendment circulate before it can no longer be ratified?
    Answer: There is no time limit unless it is included in the amendment. The 27th amendment was ratified over 202 years after being proposed. Why would I be concerned about this. Let’s suppose that a during a convention in order to get one amendment passed in convention a compromise must occur to pass a second amendment. Now those accepting the compromise do so because they believe there is no way the second amendment would get ratified by the states today. That may very well be true today but how many laws are in place today that no one would have believed possible 20 years ago? This is likely my biggest concern relative to an Article 5 convention.

  • Will they be able to craft amendments to solve problems that don’t have unintended consequences? Take for example the 14th amendment. It’s primary purpose was to ensure that former slaves were citizens. However, it is now interpreted to mean that anyone born in the US, no matter the circumstances, are citizens. Or let’s look at the 17th, which sought to circumvent corruption within state legislatures and ended up diminishing the power of the states. However, It also made it easier to corrupt the Senate – no longer do the legislatures of each state need to be compromised, now only a single individual, the senator does.
    My answer: The same as my chances of winning the lottery.

  • Will expectations be raised in the public’s mind to the point that they are impossible to meet?
    My answer: Yes

  • If the high expectations are not met will more people then feel like more drastic measures are needed to fix the problems of our nation?
    My answer: Yes

  • What amendments would you propose?
    Personally I would repeal and rewrite the 14th so that it could not be interpreted that children of non-citizen born in the US are citizens. I would also repeal the 16th and 17th. And perhaps add balanced budget amendment.
  • What happens next?
    Answer: 3/4s of the States need to approve any proposed amendments. Unless like the original and only Constitution Convention the delegates change the ratification process.

James Madison 1James Madison wrote this cautionary note in November of 1788 regarding a convention for the purpose of revising the Constitution. Note, he was specifically referring to an Article 5 convention: 

"With respect to the first class, the only question is which of the two modes provided be most eligible for the discussion and adoption of them. The objections agst. a Convention which give a preference to the other mode in my judgment are the following. … 3. If a General Convention were to take place for the avowed and sole purpose of revising the Constitution, it would naturally consider itself as having a greater latitude than the Congress appointed to administer and support as well as to amend the system; it would consequently give greater agitation to the public mind; an election into it would be courted by the most violent partizans on both sides; it wd. probably consist of the most heterogeneous characters; would be the very focus of that flame which has already too much heated men of all parties; would no doubt contain individuals of insidious views, who under the mask of seeking alterations popular in some parts but inadmissible in other parts of the Union might have a dangerous opportunity of sapping the very foundations of the fabric. Under all these circumstances it seems scarcely to be presumeable that the deliberations of the body could be conducted in harmony, or terminate in the general good. Having witnessed the difficulties and dangers experienced by the first Convention which assembled under every propitious circumstance, I should tremble for the result of a Second, meeting in the present temper of America and under all the disadvantages I have mentioned.”
—James Madison, “Letter To George Lee Turberville”, 2-Nov-1788

I don’t think the core problem lies with the Constitution. Rather it lies with the acceptance on everyone’s part (the public, the congress, the judiciary) with existing statutes and practices that are in reality extra-constitutional. I don’t think that gets fixed with a con-con. Really, how much clearer does it need to be than what the 10th amendment states.

All powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

We are not abiding by that now. Why do we think that we would abide by any amendment no matter how succinct and well crafted? Better to figure out how the states can band together to assert their existing rights today. A con-con from my perspective has a much better chance of making things worse than improving them.  Moreover, if the root problem does not lie within the Constitution why would anyone seek, as a remedy, to change it.

A better solution is for the States to band together to fight a federal government that long ago exceeded the bounds placed on it by the Constitution. A good book on the subject is “Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century” by Thomas E Woods, Jr. An example of an effort by a state is HR0076, authored by Utah State Rep Ken Ivory and passed in the 2011 legislative session (see also Ken’s Where’s the Line and Are We Not A State? websites).   Hamilton, Madison, and Jefferson all made cases for this remedy.

There is an argument to be made that the states calling a con-con represents the states banding together to fight the federal government and could force congress to act. As mentioned if a convention where to be held my preference would be to repeal the 16th and 17th amendments and perhaps rewrite to 14th so that its original intent was more clearly defined. However, I think the risk of a negative long-term outcome is still significant.

Some people may say that we shouldn’t refrain from calling for a conference simply because we are afraid. To that I would ask, “Is it cowardice to advocate for not doing something that will most likely exacerbate the current problem?” Those who oppose a con-con think it would not be an effective means to fix a federal government that is out of control and already operating in an extra-constitutional fashion. To spend time and effort on a con-con is to re-enact the Charge of the Light Brigade. While the motives may have been laudable and the men brave, the resultant waste of lives was inexcusable. In this case no lives will be lost but time and resources will have been expended needlessly on an effort that will yield no positive results. Better to use these resources on efforts which have a more likely chance of success such as Rep. Ken Ivory’s initiative.

Other sources of information:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

“Hurry is the Counterfeit of Haste”

I spent much of the break between Christmas and New Year’s Day reading and researching one of my favorite authors, William George Jordan (1864-1928). He wrote several of motivational / self-improvement books (or rather booklets) in the early 1900s. One of his books, The Majesty of Calmness, has a chapter entitled, Hurry, the Scourge of America. He makes this interesting statement which I think is certainly applicable in our day-to-day activities, such as setting New Years goals.

Hurry is a counterfeit of haste. Haste has an ideal, a distinct aim to be realized by the quickest, direct methods. Haste has a single compass upon which it relies for direction and in harmony with which its course is determined. Hurry says: “I must move faster. I will get three compasses; I will have them different; I will be guided by all of them. One of them will probably be right.” Hurry never realizes that slow careful foundational work is the quickest in the end.

We are tempted to “hurry” when we feel impelled to achieve some goal and often take “short-cuts” that end up being “long-cuts” to the road to success. Take for example the case when we  don’t read the instructions when installing some new piece of electronic gadgetry and then after we’re all done it doesn’t work because we skipped some essential and usually simple but non-obvious step – of course I’m directing this at men, like me,  who have a genetic predisposition to avoid reading manuals.

As we make plans both personal and professional in the New Year, and then execute them let us reflect on the following (also from the same chapter in The Majesty of Calmness):

Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower is its growth, the surer is its lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full power in a night; oaks require decades. A fad lives its life in a few weeks; a philosophy lives through generations and centuries. If you are sure you are right, do no let the voice of the world, or of friends, or of family swerve you for a moment from you purpose. Accept slow growth if it must be slow, and know the results must come, as you would accept the long, lonely hours of the night,—with absolute assurance that the heavy-leaded moments must bring the morning.

The Majesty of Calmness was published in 1900 and is no longer bound by copyright restrictions. See my post Books by William George Jordan for links to all of his books.

Below is one of my favorite quotes from each of the chapters. There are dozens more waiting for you. You can randomly pick any paragraph in the book and find a great quote:

Chapter I: The Majesty of Calmness
No man in the world ever attempted to wrong another without being injured in return,—someway, somehow, sometime.

Chapter II: Hurry the Scourge of America
Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower is its growth, the surer is its lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full power in a night; oaks require decades. A fad lives its life in a few weeks; a philosophy lives through generations and centuries.

Chapter III: The Power of Personal Influence
Man’s conscious influence, when he is on dress-parade, when he is posing to impress those around him,—is woefully small. But his unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality, the effect of his words and acts, the trifles he never considers,—is tremendous.

Chapter IV: The Dignity of Self-Reliance
Man can develop his self-reliance by seeking constantly to surpass himself. We try too much to surpass others. If we seek ever to surpass ourselves, we are moving on a uniform line of progress, that gives a harmonious unifying to our growth in all its parts.

Chapter V: Failure as a Success
Life is not really what comes to us, but what we get from it.

Chapter VI: Doing Our Best at All Times
The man who has a pessimist’s doubt of all things; who demands a certified guarantee of his future; who ever fears his work will not be recognized or appreciated; or that after all, it is really not worthwhile, will never live his best. He is dulling his capacity for real progress by his hypnotic course of excuses for inactivity, instead of a strong tonic of reasons for action.

Chapter VII: The Royal Road to Happiness
Content makes the world more comfortable for the individual, but it is the death-knell of progress. Man should be content with each step of progress merely as a station, discontented with it as a destination; contented with it as a step; discontented with it as a finality. There are times when a man should be content with what he has, but never with what he is.

Happy New everyone and best wishes for a great new year, personally and professionally.

PS. More info on the author can be found in an earlier post entitled William George Jordan – Author Extraordinaire.