Three Lessons Learned on the Red Clay of Kay County

September 8th, 2017

Many moons ago, my grandpa and I would go fishing in our downtime. We were fishing when I was not mowing his yard, cleaning gutters, helping move an antique dresser, eating breakfast at McDonald’s with him and buddies, or cleaning out one of his buildings. Growing up, we spent a lot of time together. In August of 1999 I moved from Oklahoma to Minnesota. It’s a decision I am thankful for but losing the proximity to family and friends did make it challenging, especially early on.

Every young person needs a mentor; for me that person was Robert K. Smith. He joined the Army in October 1946 and served in the 32nd infantry regiment in Seoul, Korea. He remained there for 15 months. He was a light truck driver and hauled supplies across the 38th parallel. The decorations he obtained were the Bronze Star Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Honorable Service Lapel button WWII, and the Sharpshooter Badge with rifle bar.

In March 1948 he was honorably discharged and returned to the plains where he met Mildred (my grandma). At the time he worked for his aunt and uncle building mattresses. In 1953 he opened a furniture restoration shop and in 1974 purchased a furniture store. This was the birth of the family business Smith Home Furnishings.

The frequency of fishing increased when I would return from Minnesota to Oklahoma. Purposeful conversation took place on the banks of the Chikaskia River, Lake Ponca, and Kaw Lake. It seems like yesterday that he would offer advice about popping the school bully between the eyes on the playground, how work never hurt a person, and if a cup of coffee cost more than $.50 it was too much. He has been gone for nearly 7 years but the wisdom bestowed has been archived.

There is one August day I will never forget. On this steamy morning we decided to catfish in a pond owned by cousins (mom’s side) outside Tonkawa, OK. We drove 20 minutes west on the back roads of Kay County. An approaching vehicle ahead would make a red hued smog that would make driving virtually impossible until we passed. When we arrived, we opened a steel gate and drove down to the pond. We got out of his F-150, walked to the pond, and sat our tackle on the south side of the water. After getting our rigs set we began hitting nice sized catfish (5-10 lbs). Then we moved to the west side of the pond which required walking through cattails. Soon after, a cottonmouth water moccasin slithered by us. We acknowledged it’s presence and continued fishing. About a minute later we noticed big snakes, small snakes, fat snakes, and skinny snakes swimming towards shore. We had encroached a snake nest on the banks of the pond. He found this episode comical but I had requested to leave. We only had one problem; we had to get the tackle on the south side. This required walking through knee high cattails which coincidentally was the snake nest. His preferred method to “scare” the snakes was to take his fishing pole and swish it through the brush and briskly walk through. Needless to say, he carried the tackle back to the truck.

He passed away in 2010; it was a sad time for our family. We knew he was in an awesome place but selfishly knew his absence would leave a void in our lives. I miss our conversations and he was always my phone a friend when I was in a bind. For today’s post I have decided to write about the three most valuable pieces of advice he provided to me during our 30 years together.

Marry someone who shares a similar value system and life goals

Marriage is not temporary! It is important to spend the rest of your life with someone who shares the same concept of life. I am no expert but have been married 11 years. Regardless of how much you love your spouse there will be occasional disagreements.

Honesty, hard work, and discipline were three values I learned from grandpa. I believe his faith in God and acting it out is why those three values were most apparent in him. Have you stepped in Barnes and Noble and seen the self-help section? It. Is. Huge! How to win friends, 7 habits of highly effective people, the power of positive living, Women who love too much, I could go on forever. Our philosophy has always been to rely on one self-help book which instructs on raising children, contentment, confusion, discipline, excuses, failure, fear, setting goals, gratitude, grief, hope, integrity, occupation, justice, lying, money, marriage, rejection, sex, and temptation. This book can be purchased for $20 and the title is simple: Bible.

Religion, giving, saving, budgeting, kids, retirement, intimacy, politics, and the past can be relationship killers. I am not advocating you spend the rest of your life with someone who views each of these just like you but you better be on the same page and accept each others thoughts and feelings. The key is communication.

Spend less than you make

The fictional character Wilkins M. from the Dicken’s novel David Copperfield said the following, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery”. Grandpa said it this way, “Make sure to spend less than you earn.”

You cannot out earn your stupidity and it is critical to live below your means. Have you ever wondered why so many professional athletes or friends who pull large incomes struggle with finances? It is because they do not budget, cannot out earn their stupidity, and are unable to delay gratification! They want what mom and dad have and they want it right now even if it took mom and dad 60 years to get it. They also want what all their broke friends have; status symbols.

One of my favorite personal finance books is written by the late Dr. Thomas Stanley called The Millionaire Next Door. The book is a summary of his study on traits of PAWs (Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth) and UAWs (Under Accumulators of Wealth). Stanley’s main point was PAWs did (3) things:

- Spend less than you earn

- Avoid buying status objects

- Take risk if it bears reward

It is not how much you make, it is how much you spend!

Help others

Grandpa was always willing to help people. Throughout my life I watched as he gave money, time, loaned his van to a friend who needed it for a medical appointment, and how selfless he was volunteering at the Lions Club, funeral dinner committee at church, and Tippers Club.

Billy Graham says, “Give me five minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is.” Get In the Green was not created to boost your status. It is not about showing people up. Rather, it is about strengthening relationships, career autonomy (i.e. not being married to your job because you are broke), and making a difference in the world. If your income is transferred to Visa, ACS, Wells Fargo, BMW Financial, and Chase then how can you make an impact?

Now I will get a little political. I have heard the argument that federal, state, and local governments are designed to care for their own. My rebuttal is the federal government is $20 trillion in debt, there are 15 states slated for budget deficits in 2016 and 2017, and local government does not have the robust financial architecture to make the full impact. My point is there is no more efficient way to direct resources than by your doing.

We are all complex beings, having complex pasts, with causes and organizations that resonate with our being. Would you consider trying to do a little more this year to help others? This could be donating money, time, or simply saying a prayer for someone or something who needs help.

This article could have stirred up memories about someone special in your life. Maybe you have fond memories of a grandparent like Robert K. Smith. We would love to hear about the individuals who have molded you and the wisdom you have learned from them.

Sedition, Treason and Threatening the President

September 8th, 2017

The application of America’s laws that protect our country and its leaders has vanished. We have a long history in the law protecting our way of life. The crime of sedition originated in English law in the 1700 and 1800′s. In 1940, the Alien Registration Act, or “Smith Act,” was passed, which made it a federal crime to advocate or to teach the overthrow of our Government, or to be a member of any organization which does the same.

Think about what the Smith Act says and consider the words of Robert Reich, Labor Secretary under President Clinton and present day Democratic activist. The Washington Examiner reports Mr. Reich sent emails to supporters of MoveOn.org, a Democratic activist group.

According to the Examiner, the emails read, “The path to winning in 2018 and thereafter, begins with Democrats in Congress showing the American people that they have the courage and backbone necessary to take back our nation. It means calling for the impeachment of Trump and holding politically accountable, every single person in his administration and in the House and Senate who have enabled his disgrace of a presidency,” he wrote.

His money line: “I know that impeachment won’t happen quickly. It’s going to take a strategic, painstakingly executed campaign-hallmarks of MoveOn’s excellent organizing. Will you join me by making a donation of $5 a month to MoveOn to make this happen? It’s time to go on impeachment.” On the surface that could just be ‘politics as usual.’ Take a trip to MoveOn.org’s website, and you’ll see what he is supporting. A very organized effort to disrupt our elected government.

Outgoing President Barack Obama established his new organization, redirecting it to continue his legacy. It’s called Organizing for Action. They are training thousands of people to take to the streets and ‘organize,’ whatever that means? There is change in the air, change we have not seen since the Civil War.

Not convinced, let’s look at the crime of Treason. Title 18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason reads, “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States”. Interesting.

Think of this law when you think of the Fort Hood massacre and Major Nidal Hasan. The Army Officer and Psychiatrist fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others. The shooting was the worst mass shooting on an American military base. The Obama Administration called it ‘workplace violence’ in spite of the fact Major Hasan admitted he did it for religious reasons. Does that cause you to wonder?

And that brings to mind the actions of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Sergeant Bergdahl first enlisted in the US Coast Guard and was quickly discharged for psychological reasons after less than a month. He then enlisted in the Army where in one year he somehow gained the rank of Sergeant. Deployed to Afghanistan, and walked off his combat base and deserted. He joined the enemy. Many members of his unit have testified of the fellow soldiers who died trying to save Bergdahl, all the while he was safe and sound. They also testified of his intent to join the enemy. His writings spoke of his hatred for America. Is that not treason? Apparently not, he is still on active duty in the United States Army.

And do not forget Ms. Manning. Bradley Manning leaked classified, highly confidential information to Wikileaks and was convicted of treason and sentenced to 35 years in prison. That’s the way the law is designed to work. Good job! Not so fast. While in Leavenworth military prison Mr. Manning became Ms. Manning, at taxpayer expense I might add. And then our outgoing President, Mr. Obama, commuted his sentence to time served, which was seven years. He was permitted to remain in the Army. Isn’t that special?

In spite of the evidence regarding sedition and treason, there are many unbelievers out there. So let’s look at another law – threatening the President of the United States. Threatening the President is a Class E felony under the United States Code Title 18, Section 871. The offense is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a $250,000 maximum fine, a $100 special assessment, and three years of supervised release. Is anyone ever charged under this statute? Let’s take a look.

During the Presidency of Barack Obama, one Johnny Logan Spencer Jr. found out what US Code Title 18, Section 871 meant. In Louisville, Kentucky he was sentenced to 33 months in prison for posting a poem entitled “The Sniper” about the President’s assassination on a white supremacist website. Ouch!

Then there was Brian Dean Miller. He was sentenced in Texas to 27 months in prison for posting the following on Craigslist: “People, the time has come for revolution. It is time for Obama to die. I am dedicating my life to the death of Obama and every employee of the federal government. As I promised in a previous post, if the health care reform bill passed I would become a terrorist. Today I become a terrorist”.

And there was Purdue University teaching assistant, Vikram Buddhi who was convicted of posting messages to Yahoo Finance criticizing the Iraq War and stating, “Call for the assassination of GW Bush and Rape and Kill Laura Bush.” We could go on and on; the Secret Service takes this stuff seriously. Well, they sometimes do.

Everyone around the world knows about comedienne Kathy Griffin’s tasteless ‘joke’ holding the head of ‘Donald Trump.’ What was the reaction from her peers? Jim Carrey, comedienne and want to be Actor. He described a dream he’d had in which he fantasized about beating Trump to death with a golf club: “I had a dream the other night I was playing golf with Donald Trump,” he recalled. “I was standing beside him with a club in my hand, and I was considering my options when I suddenly woke up. It was one of those dreams where you just want to get back to sleep so you can finish it, you know?” Very nice Jim.

And we wouldn’t want to miss Alec Baldwin. He came to the defense of Ms. Griffin. He told her to ‘ignore’ her critics, especially that ‘senile idiot’ Donald Trump. He added a profane laced rant on Twitter. Are Entertainers exempt under the law?

But threatening President Trump has become the newest game in town. Take the words of one Michael Chabon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist who recently said his ‘hope’ was that President Donald Trump would have a ‘massive stroke’ and be ‘carted out of the White House on a gurney.’ Or the case of New Jersey Democratic strategist James Devine, who tweeted a hashtag about hunting Republican members of Congress. It read, “We are in a war with selfish, foolish & narcissistic rich people. Why is it a shock when things turn violent? #HuntRepublicanCongressmen.”

Did you know that incitement to riot is illegal under U.S. federal law? And so is an incitement to violence. Title 18 U.S.C. § 2332b(c)(1)(g) makes it a class C felony, punishable by 10 years imprisonment, for someone to willfully threaten to commit a crime that will result in death or great bodily harm; the threat is made with the specific intent that it be taken as a threat; the threat is so unequivocal, unconditional, and specific as to convey a gravity of purpose and immediate prospect of execution; the threat actually causes fear in the victim; and the fear is reasonable. Where are our Prosecutors?

Consider Syracuse University Professor Dana Cloud. There was an anti-Sharia event taking place with Antifa protesting. Professor Cloud tweeted, “We almost have the fascists in on the run. Syracuse people come down to the federal building to finish them off.” Nice, eh? Then there’s more Hollywood when the creator of HBO’s famed crime drama The Wire, David Simon, called for political violence if President Trump fires Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He said, “If Donald Trump fires Robert Mueller and is allowed to do so, pick up a goddamn brick,” Simon tweeted. “That’s all that’s left to you.” Sure sounds like incitement to riot and threats to me.

Then comes the actual violence when Republican Representative, Steve Scalise is shot one morning on a baseball field full of his peers and others. The shooting of a member of Congress would surely touch the hearts of the Left. Now they would surely have some sympathy for Scalise? But, we rush to judgment. Actor Johnny Depp recently said at a concert, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” he asked, seeming to reference the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by actor John Wilkes Booth. “Now, I want to clarify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it has been a while, and maybe it is time.” Of course, he later said he was just kidding. Maybe Johnny Logan Spencer Jr. and Brian Dean Miller should have expressed their sorrow?

Or how about the millennial news website Fusion, when writer Anne Branigan called Scalise, who is in critical condition at this point, a ‘bigoted homophobe.’ She went on to say, “it’s a point of especially delicious irony that Scalise, who survived the attack, may owe his life to a queer black woman.” Nice.

The Hartford Courant reported on Facebook right after the shooting of Scalise that Trinity College Associate Professor of Sociology, Johnny Eric Williams, posted “it is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be ‘white’ will not do, put an end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system.” He added a hashtag, #LetThemF-ingDie.” Not finished yet he said, “I’m fed the f- up, with self-identified ‘white’s’ daily violence directed at immigrants, Muslim, and sexual and racially oppressed people. The time is now to confront these inhuman a-holes and end this now.” Those words appear incendiary to me?

Shortly after the shooting of Scalise, Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney received an email that read, “One down 216 to go. Did you NOT expect this? When you take away ordinary peoples very lives in order to pay off the wealthiest among us; your own lives are forfeit. Certainly, your souls and morality were lost long before. Good riddance.” More fuel to the fire of revolution.

It’s interesting, that according to the U.S. Attorney’s Manual, “Of the individuals who come to the Secret Service’s attention as creating a possible danger to one of their protectees approximately 75 percent are mentally ill.” Makes sense. Yet, we have once respected newsman Dan Rather, saying, “Trump is psychologically troubled.” Who are the ‘psychologically troubled’ ones?

Sedition, treason and threatening the President… is that all? Actually, no. We have a reaction to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement. A move he has the power to do. Yet, New York Governor Cuomo says, “New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions.” Cuomo’s statement conveniently comes in French, Chinese and Russian translations. And of course New York City Mayor, Bill De Blasio stated that NYC will defy Trump, stick to Climate Agreement.

On the left coast, we have Governor Brown of California saying, “It is a little bold to talk about the China-California partnership as though we were a separate nation, but we are a separate nation.” More out of California from former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a ‘Grassroots Revolution’ against Trump’s Paris Decision.

I’m no lawyer, but I do know the Constitution is very clear about this. “No state shall enter into any treaty.” We have cities declaring themselves ‘sanctuary cities’ in clear violation of federal laws. We have the Left organizing an open resistance to bring down a sitting President. America, we have a problem. The very evil so many young Americans gave their lives fighting is inside the wire as we used to say in my Vietnam days. And when they get ‘inside the wire’ the fighting, I can attest to personally, gets very ugly. It’s a fight for survival.

We live in a land that stands for free speech, and that very principle is being used to destroy our once great nation. The First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees our right to free speech. The degree to which incitement is protected speech is determined by the imminent lawless action test introduced by the 1969 Supreme Court decision in the case Brandenburg v. Ohio. The court ruled that incitement of events in the indefinite future was protected, but the encouragement of “imminent” illegal acts were not protected.

We are fast becoming a modern day ‘Banana Republic’. Complete with riots in the streets, resistance movements, an inability to control our borders and enforce our laws, topped off by the head of our own FBI, James Comey, admitting to Congress he was the source of leaked documents damaging to our President. Can chaos be far behind? I think not.

Our ‘greatest generation’ is pretty old these days. What will it take to wake us ‘baby boomers’ from our retirement? What will it take for our young, the millennials, to get off their video games and cell phones long enough to see the very liberty that enables them to live the way they do is eroding as fast as Al Gore says our glaciers are? What will it take? I don’t know but the battle has begun, and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are losing.