Stuff or Time?

            I used to truly believe that whoever coined the phrase “money can’t buy you happiness” was a real jerk, someone who was obviously born into great wealth and never had to toil in the coal mines like the rest of us, stressing and worrying about keeping up with the Jones’s, putting food on our kids plates, money into our retirement, and paying off a bigger mortgage every few years.

And then I paid attention to my kids. It’s funny, we always think that we have all the answers as the adults, the educated, the learned ones who have grown wiser throughout our years and learned from past mistakes.

But it’s amazing the life lessons that we adults can sometimes learn from our kids and their childhood innocence, if we’re smart and patient enough to just pay attention every once in awhile.

This year I celebrated Christmas with my kids early, last weekend to be exact, and I was so spun up and stressed out throughout the week planning and preparing that I felt as if I was back in the Middle East gearing up for a mission.

Even shopping a week early was met with long lines and crazed masses trying to get to the stores early enough to buy the perfect gift for their kids, the required meal for Christmas day, and the right wrapping paper and Christmas tree decorations.

Even picking my kids up on Friday I was pre-planning distractions and diversions to keep them away from the tree, worried about how I could fill their little heads with activities so as not to be pressured constantly to open the presents before the perfect time, that crescendo of Christmas craziness after which parents can finally relax and take a deep breath.

But it never came. They saw the tree upon entering my home, and didn’t give it a second notice until it was time to open gifts. Instead, they wanted something from me that didn’t come wrapped in shiny wrappers, require batteries, or cost me a single penny. They just wanted my time.

In their minds, the stuff under the tree was of no real importance…I realized the only person who had worked themselves into a frenzy about making sure everything was perfect was me.

The greatest gift I gave my kids this Christmas, and the one I now realize was the one they cherished the most, was time with dad. And when the wrapping paper was thrown away and batteries were installed in all of the toys, it was the only gift that they will remember, and the only one that really matters.

Please take that to heart, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve found myself over the past year pushing my schedule to the absolute limits working on the various projects I’m involved in, which in my mind was all for my kids, so I can one day send them to the best colleges and ensure they never want for anything.

But they don’t care about that; all they care about is our time, and that’s the gift that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

Merry Christmas everyone, give your kids an extra hug for me this year, and I promise it will do you much better than any material gift on any store shelf.

 

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Too Broke to Stop Spending

What made you the most upset about the recent passing of our $1 trillion spending bill?  It seems the only thing that can be agreed upon by everyone is that it’s unliked and a very bad idea.  Interestingly enough, it seems to be hated equally from both sides of the political aisle, as well as the American public….you know, the people whose money is actually paying for the  thing.

 The part that struck me as the most odd and quite frankly made me upset was the defense appropriation.  The lobbyists, I mean politicians (is there any difference at this point) decided to give the Pentagon twice as much as they asked for in the defense budget.

 Here’s why this makes me very upset.

 Yes, I am a combat veteran, and yes I’m saying giving the DoD too much money, especially more than the Generals and staff who know better than the politicians what the military needs, is a very bad idea.

 But why would I want to keep money from the Pentagon and leave our nations finest and bravest without the funds to buy hot meals for the troops, bullets, body armor and adequate housing?

 I had the benefit of finishing my undergraduate business degree before entering the military, so I looked at many of the processes I witnessed during my service through that lens.  The absolute waste ingrained into the system made me furious, and this is exactly why.

 For those of you without any governmental budgeting experience, here’s a quick tutorial; I hope it makes you as upset as it does me.  My experience was on the military side of the house, but many sources from other governmental agencies tell me it’s the same all around.

 Let’s say I’m the commander of Unit X (sounds like a cool unit, doesn’t it?).  My unit is given a budget of $1,000,000 this year to spend on things that I need.  If i’m smart I’ll even ask for more, because one of the bullet points on my military resume is how much money I commanded while in charge.

 Throughout the course of the year I buy the things my unit needs: MRE’s, training, gear, etc.  But when the end of the fiscal year comes around, I find that I have $250,000 left over.  In private industry I’d be commended for keeping overhead low, but in government that is considered a very bad thing.

 You see, if I have money left over in a military unit, the budgeting overlords look at it as if I was given too much, and they’ll decrease my budget next year.  So what am I to do?  I do an “end of the year buy.”

 This is where most soldiers and units get their warehouse full of sunglasses, new boots, knives or things they don’t really need (or already have), but the logistical soldiers know can be purchased quickly and used to ensure that no money is left at the end of the year.

 On top of this culture of waste and punishing commanders who spend efficiently, we have programs with massive waste like the F-35.  The Pentagon is already planning to spend almost a trillion dollars on these fighters (purchasing 2,443 for $382 billion with an operation and maintenance estimate of $650 billion).

 These are the same fighters, mind you, that Canada refused to buy because they “add no edge over other fighters” for their forecast of planned engagements.

It reminds me of a joke I once heard: an astronaut and cosmonaut are on the space station together.  The astronaut is bragging about his pen, which NASA developed for $20 million and can write underwater, in zero gravity, upside down, rightside up, and every which way.  The cosmonaut listens intently, laughs, and says that Russia gave him something that can do all of the cool tricks his $20 million pen can: a pencil.


Our culture and education system do an abysmal job of teaching our children anything about money.  It falls on us as parents to do everything we can to teach our kids fiscal responsibility, but when they see our politicians doing the exact opposite and spending their future away right in front of their eyes, what lesson do you think they are learning?

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Outrage, anger…wait look over there (political misdirection)

When I was interviewed last week on the radio by my friends John and Doug I was asked a question that I cannot say that I enjoyed answering, but was a very important question (and answer) that I wish more Americans had a chance to hear.

I am not the first person to be asked that question, and I’m not the first to give the answer that I did, but judging by social media and the news today it seems as if not too many people are paying attention, or they just can’t seem to see the big picture.

The simple question that Doug asked me was “what do you think will happen next?” He was asking in reference to the executive action President Obama enacted to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, and he was asking if the Republicans in office would take any of the actions their harsh words were alluding to.

As someone who not only has an undergraduate degree and MBA emphasis on marketing but who also pays attention to local, national and global politics on a daily basis with an extremely cynical eye, I knew that one of the oldest PR moves in the playbook would be the response when I answered along the lines of “something else will come up, either a scandal or new media blurb that will re-direct the attention of Americans.”

Sure enough, while our interview was live on Friday, today is Tuesday and already every media outlet, social media contributor and PR office have spent the day blanketing every single outlet with the Ferguson riots, whether it be phony outrage and buzz words from celebrities (well, their PR representatives) or media using classic advertising words to catch your attention and ensure that you either click the link to their story online or stay glued to their station (and, of course, advertising partners).

I’m not writing this as a conspiracy theorist and asking you to don tinfoil hats and barricade yourselves in the basement, but I am hoping that maybe you’ll take a moment to reflect on the sheer number of scandals and media events in this administration that have had the uncanny timing of always taking your mind away from pondering anything that would make you question it.

Anyone remember Fast and Furious? Benghazi? The IRS and Lois Lerner scandal? Executive Action on Amnesty? Net neutrality? China and Russia going away from the dollar as reserve currency?

Of course not, who could be bothered to think about those things when we have images of stores burning, rioting and looting in a town most of us had never heard of a year ago.

I’m not saying that any of this is staged, but I am saying that other people with marketing, advertising and political backgrounds understand very well just how fickle the American people have become with their attention spans, and that all it takes is an ability to see a chain of events unfolding and having a camera in the right place at the right time.

Pay attention, America. Important things are happening to change your country while you fall victim to the classic magician trick of misdirection.

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And to The Republic, for which it stands

It seems our society has misrepresented and outright forgotten some very basic principles of our history, and none is more apparent than the most basic of our founding principles: that which our entire nation was founded upon.

As the greatest social experiment known to the history of man, The United States of America was created as a true beacon of freedom and certain inalienable rights for all the world to see, yet it seems like a misconception of that very purpose has been taught to the people through various media outlets, buzz words and disinformation.

I have heard time and time again people claiming that something in the United States of America is done a certain way or operates in a certain way because we live in a democracy. This is not true, in that we actually live in a Republic, and the very definition of a Republic versus a democracy is what separates us from the rest of the world, although some would rather you not know or understand that basic fact.

So what exactly is the difference between a Republic and a democracy? There are multiple differences between the two, but a few which I see as the most important, and which are not surprisingly the most violated of late.

As a conservative, the most fundamental key of a Republic is the limit set on government by law. In a Republic those limits are set by a charter, or Constitution, which sets out certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away, even by elected officials.

Sound familiar?

A democracy views the rights of the people as a group, meaning they impose the will of the majority over the rights of a minority or individual. The Republic, on the other hand, views rights as granted to the individual, meaning the majority cannot take away certain inalienable rights.

While many people mistakenly believe that we live in a democracy and the government has power to create laws, take away and give rights as long as the majority of the electorate supports it, they are dreadfully wrong.

When you hear the media and the left skewer “constitutionalists” and talk about repealing or changing that document, they are both misguided and ignorant of what this country was actually founded upon, or worse, diabolical individuals who know exactly what treasonous acts they are suggesting.

This is why the oath which every one of our men and women entering the military swears to uphold and defend the Constitution, not the politicians or majority. By swearing to uphold the Constitution we swear to uphold the very foundation and bedrock of this country: the inalienable rights of the individual, not the majority.

And while there is a vocal minority and many politicians who would like to chip away at our foundation by doing away with the document which founded us and those principles which guide us, this is why the words to the Pledge of Allegiance speak to those very fundamentals:

“I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of The United States of America,
and to The Republic, for which it stands,
one Nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty, and Justice for all.”

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Are You Paying Attention?

As our country shifts back into another lame duck Congress after the mid-term elections, I see quite a few things surfacing and going on in the world that both make me worried about what is in store and wonder if Americans are paying attention.

As I got to speak with Doug and John about on KHTS last week, Obamacare “architect” Jonathan Gruber was caught on camera essentially calling the American people stupid for buying the story they were sold on the Affordable Care Act. It seems the only thing stupid to me is that the Obama administration and main stream media could try to downplay and distance themselves from Gruber, with even Pelosi coming out and saying she had no idea who he was, and Obama saying he was “just some adviser who was never on staff.”

But anyone who has had any media coaching or spent time in the public eye knows that once it goes out in media, it’s impossible to take back. Thankfully while the media tried to sweep the story under the rug, people across the country found videos of other instances where Gruber bragged about the lack of transparency and outright falsities used to pass the ACA, as well as video of Pelosi talking about and praising Gruber, the same man she claimed not to know anything about when this story surfaced.

Outside of the political arena, the same country which Obama used to openly mock Mitt Romney in the 2012 electoral debates saying, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because…the Cold War’s been over for 20 years” has been proving just how little attention Obama paid during his global intelligence briefs.

            While the man who the American people naively believed was the better choice to run the country was making jokes, mother Russia has been getting pretty frisky and outright defiant.

We all know about their provocation and lack of care for the UN and NATO crying foul when Russia started taunting the Ukraine, but have you been paying attention to what the country which Romney accurately called “our greatest threat” has been doing to the US?

This is part of the premise of my new book, “The Pact,” and it’s downright scary that the chess pieces I’ve been seeing put into place over the past few years are being set up for what I see as a terrifying outcome.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there are several instances of Russian provocations towards the United States in recent months. First, a few weeks ago Russia announced that they would be not only increasing the frequency of their bomber flights near the US, but also that they would be decreasing the proximity. The Washington Times even reported back in August that Russian bombers had actually penetrated US airspace 16 times over the previous 10 days.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/7/russian-bombers-penetrated-us-airspace-least-16-ti/

And just last week a US warship, the USS Donald Cook was reportedly buzzed a dozen times by a Russian fighter in the Black Sea. Accounts differ widely on what exactly transpired in that instance, with some saying the fighter was equipped with technology which rendered all defensive and offensive technology useless on the US warship, while the Navy made an official claim that it was a harmless incursion.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/04/14/302981124/russian-attack-aircraft-buzzes-u-s-warship-in-black-sea

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ukraine-crisis/russian-fighter-jet-buzzed-u-s-ship-officials-n79971

There are strange things going on in the world ladies and gentlemen, and while the US has been caught up in reality TV and news about celebrities, our old enemy seems to have been moving the chess pieces around the board while we weren’t looking. If our own Commander in Chief had no idea of who our greatest threats are, I have to ask: are you paying attention?

 

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Poor Life Lessons from Santa Monica

As a loving and devoted father, I spend a good portion of my day consciously thinking of how I can relate my life experiences to my children in order to help them learn about and succeed in life from an early age.

Although my purpose is to try and find the most positive life lessons I can for my children, there is a scary and negative life-lesson that I see not being learned in the future for children growing up in the nanny-state Liberal conclaves of Santa Monica and West Los Angeles.

After leaving the Army and discovering we were pregnant with my first son, I gave up my dream to be a doctor and opted for the more family-friendly occupation of hospital administration. As per my position at Santa Monica UCLA I would travel from Santa Monica to our Westwood location quite frequently throughout the week, and loved to partake in a little people watching on Wilshire Blvd as I rode along in the shuttle.

Now I know that pedestrians have the right of way in California, but the absolute arrogance and entitlement mentality of people crossing the extremely busy Wilshire Blvd in the middle of the day in Santa Monica always struck me as very odd, yet a perfect representation of the Liberal west-side mindset, and the poor life lessons it teaches children.

Where I grew up, one of the first lessons you learned from your parents was “look both ways before you cross the street.” It’s a lesson that seems so simple, yet I see as a lesson that goes far beyond preventing physical injury. I’ve seen many people get hit as they blindly set out across Wilshire in afternoon traffic, seeing oncoming traffic but just expecting everything in the world to stop because they want to cross the street.

I put this in the context of life, and the mentality about life and the world that the Liberal nanny-state mindset represents. It basically teaches children that everything in the world should revolve around you, and it’s not your job to look out for oncoming traffic, but instead that it’s traffics job to stop for you, because after all you’re a snowflake and the world revolves around you.

As a man who’s had quite a few life experiences, has traveled the globe and worked with people of all types in many industries, I see it as an important example to teach my kids the exact opposite. While yes, traffic is SUPPOSED to stop for you, life doesn’t always work out like that. If you don’t pay attention to the warning signs that life sends your way (like oncoming traffic), you can very easily get run over by it if you’re not paying attention.

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