Weekly Comments: End of a Nation, Then… and Now?

Illegal immigration is the top issue in Washington, for both Republicans and Democrats. Rumors from Senate leaders indicate an agreement is pending that would allow up to 5000 per day to walk or swim across our border LEGALLY. That would be 1.8 million in 2024, added to the more than 8 million already here since Joe Biden was elected President.

Is this any way to run a civilized country? Perhaps a look back at history would provide a clue. Let me tell you a true story. It is the absolute truth, and nothing but the truth. After you read it, do you think history might repeat itself?

Once upon a time, a nation prospered in peace and affluence for many years. But trouble lay just across the border. The neighboring land was over populated and the people eyed the vast inviting lands with envy. For a few years small numbers of “intruders” would sneak across the boundary, and the government would catch them and kick them out. But many avoided detection, sort of blending in, and many more intruders followed.

Before long the intruders were pouring into the nation. Some were there legitimately as employees, but others sneaked in and each claimed a piece of the foreign land as their own. They didn’t pay for it, just squatted on it. Many of the intruders were armed criminals who crossed the border to avoid going to prison.

Finally, a prominent local citizen got so annoyed he wrote a letter to his national leader. ‘Are we powerless to enforce our own laws? Are we to submit to such great wrongs by these men who are not citizens? Our laws are not enforced. How in the world can we hold up as a nation when our officers don’t respect the law and the oath they have taken to uphold the law.’

About two years later a small portion of the nation relented and sold, for a pittance, a substantial section of land that got turned over to the intruders. Do you think that satisfied the intruder population? Not on your life. It just created more pressure on the nation to open its borders.

The biggest business in the nation lobbied relentlessly to allow even more intruders. They claimed an expanding intruder population was essential to economic growth in the nation.

Well, folks, any idea yet where this ‘nation’ is? Here’s a hint. Seeing the looming conflict in this particular nation, the U. S. Congress jumped into the fray, led by a Senator from Massachusetts. After much debate Congress made a decision: they came down firmly on the side of …. the Intruders.

How could this be? Even the Senator from Massachusetts admitted the nation was prosperous, ‘Although a tiny number of individuals control about one-seventh of the nation’s wealth there is not a family in the entire nation without a home. There is not a pauper in the nation, and it does not owe a single dollar.’

Now who could ask for more than that? But this prosperity was not good enough to satisfy the U.S. Congress and keep this nation intact and protected from Intruders. Congress created a Commission to negotiate with a delegation of representatives from the nation. One of those representatives was the ‘prominent local citizen’ quoted above. He soon became peeved at the delegation’s inability to agree on what their position should be.

Five years after the U.S. government got involved, and all the negotiating was over with, Congress passed a bill abolishing the laws of this nation and mandating that all land be divided up equally among its citizens, but only ones who agreed to become U.S. citizens. Much of the land was seized by the U.S.

The end of a nation as we knew it occurred in 1898. The Senator from Massachusetts was Henry Dawes, head of the Dawes Commission. The bill passed by Congress was the Curtis Act. The Intruders were mainly from Kansas and Arkansas. The big business encouraging the Intruders was the Missouri Pacific Railroad, which built a line through the nation in 1889.

Have you guessed it yet?

The ‘nation’ was the Cherokee Nation. It was part of Indian Territory which in 1907 became the state of Oklahoma.

The ‘prominent local citizen’ (who also helped write the state constitution for Oklahoma), was Clem Rogers, father of…. Will Rogers.

(I wrote this story in 2006 based mainly on information in “Will Rogers: A Biography” by Ben Yagoda, published in 1993.)

In football, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Baltimore Ravens 17-10 and the San Francisco 49ers beat the Detroit Lions 34-31. The Chiefs and 49ers will meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 11, thrilling fans of Taylor Swift.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

 “They sent the Indians to Oklahoma. They had a treaty that said, ‘You shall have this land as long as grass grows and water flows.’ It looked like a good treaty, and it was till they struck oil. Then the Government took it away from us again. They said the treaty only refers to ‘Water and Grass; it don’t say anything about oil.’” WA #267, Feb. 5, 1928

Weekly Comments: Don’t Laugh While Driving. Is President Biden Scared?

Federal government agencies have no sense of humor. We already knew the IRS, TSA, and FBI don’t like jokes. Now the Federal Highway Administration has joined in.

The Highway Administration is planning to ban any humorous messages on the electronic information signs you often see over 4-lane roads. They only want bad news posted, such as “Crash ahead 4 miles. Expect 90-minute delay.”  If there’s no bad news, the signs will probably be blank. Anything funny won’t be allowed, such as “Visiting in-laws? Slow down, get there late.”

Do you remember the Burma-Shave signs? They added humor to otherwise boring road trips, printed on five consecutive signs. Here are two: “SAID FARMER BROWN. WHO’S BALD ON TOP. WISH I COULD. ROTATE THE CROP. Burma-Shave.” “SPRING HAS SPRUNG. THE GRASS HAS RIZ. WHERE LAST YEAR’S. CARELESS DRIVER IS. Burma-Shave.”

This federal ban on funny lines will be described in a 1000-page manual. It will have one page of acceptable messages and 999 pages listing banned messages.

The government is giving us two more years to enjoy the humor. It’ll take that long for officials to read the whole book. And it gives the joke writers time to practice for a new career entertaining in comedy clubs.

This is no laughing matter. Why is President Biden scared of Iran? Iran has attacked our soldiers in Iraq and Syria over a hundred times. Iran surrogates are firing rockets at ships in the Red Sea. Iran-backed terrorists in Lebanon continue to threaten northern Israel. Of course, Iran funded and trained the Hamas terrorists for the October 7 attack on Israel. Why is President Biden reluctant to take any meaningful action against Iran or any of the terrorists doing their dirty work? Is he blind to the hatred that Iran’s leaders hold for the U.S., Israel, and other allies? Not only is Biden refusing to take any meaningful action, he is insisting that Israel stop fighting Hamas and give them a recognized nation of Palestine to rule over.

Appeasing Iran by giving their radical leaders billions of dollars and allowing them to sell oil to get even more money makes no sense. And now Iran is completing their goal of having a nuclear weapon.

Iran leaders (as separate from the average Iranian) are like rattlesnakes. A friend sent me a story about a West Texas rancher who described his treatment of rattlesnakes, “I do not try to reason with a rattlesnake or have a ‘meaningful dialogue’ with it.  I just kill it.  I do not try to get to know the rattlesnake better so I can find a way to live with the rattlesnakes and convince them not to bite me.  I just kill them.”

To most Americans, Iran is a rattlesnake. To President Biden, Iran is a garter snake. And that’s no joke.

The National Football League has narrowed the playoff teams down to four. Next Sunday, Kansas City plays at Baltimore, and Detroit plays at San Francisco. These teams showed they can win in January weather (except Detroit, which has a dome). The winners will meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 11.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“[Men in government] can do more funny things naturally than I can think of to do purposely.” WA #57, Jan. 13, 1924

I appreciate replies to my Weekly Comments. Last week I received several compliments about Howard Buffett. Also, a comment about President Biden, “General George Washington crossed the Delaware and won our independence from Britain. And Delaware gave us a Senator Biden who quashed our independence and sold himself and us to China.

Weekly Comments: The Smart Way to Farm. China’s Bet on Biden.

This week I attended the annual National No-Tillage Conference for the thirty-second time, in Indianapolis. About 800 to 1000 attend every year. We listen and learn from successful farmers, university professors, and industry experts. I was privileged to be the moderator for two panels with outstanding no-till farmers and researchers.

Let me tell you about one of the successful no-till farmers who spoke. Howard started farming almost 40 years ago in Nebraska. (He later moved to Illinois.) He learned about the newly introduced John Deere 750 no-till drill that meant he could plant soybeans without plowing in the fall and disking once or twice in the spring before planting. Howard decided that planting a field with one trip would save money compared to making 3 or 4 trips. He has been no-tilling ever since.

Howard is like a lot of farmers who want to minimize the cost of buying and operating tractors and equipment when they start farming. They need to pinch pennies because there’s not much profit growing soybeans and corn.

Howard continues to farm without plowing or disking although he could easily afford the extra expenses. See, he is Howard Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

He, like other no-till farmers, knows this is the smart way to grow crops. Our federal government, through the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, has a program called “Climate Smart.” The goal is to reduce global warming and make farmland more resilient to weather extremes. It’s no secret that no-till farming with cover crops (to protect the soil and provide live roots most of the year to enrich the soil) is the #1 way to achieve that goal. What’s #2? For cropland, there is no #2.

Back to Howard Buffett. When you meet him, he looks and talks like any other farmer at the conference. You may know that he spends millions on farm machinery. He is a wonderful philanthropist, aiding farmers in Africa especially. He has made three trips to Ukraine recently, buying at least 50 combines, plus tractors, for farmers in the war zone. He funded a method to safely explode landmines planted all across Ukraine farmland by the Russian Army.

Meanwhile in Washington, we’ve been hearing for a couple of years about the Biden family receiving millions of dollars from Communist China. Hunter Biden and President Biden’s brother, James, received the money with no apparent service or products provided in return. And 10% was for the “Big Guy.”

This week we received a hint of why China was happy to bet on the Bidens. President Biden announced yesterday that as long as he is president, the United States will not support the independence of Taiwan. Could this be true?

At the rate Biden is allowing (encouraging?) millions of immigrants to come here illegally, including hundreds being sent by Communist China, I’m not sure he even supports our own independence.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“It’s great to be great, but its greater to be human.” DT #1122, Feb. 28, 1930

Weekly Comments: January 6, 2021 Compared to a Reimagined Fort Sumter Attack. President Biden at Valley Forge.

Since yesterday was January 6, there has been a lot of attention on the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and the crime of “insurrection or rebellion.” This amendment was ratified in 1868, 3 years after the end of the Civil War in 1865.

The section of the Amendment about “insurrection” was written to prevent officers and others who fought for the South from being eligible to run for Federal office. (A few exceptions were approved individually by Congress and those men were elected and served honorably.)

Now, I know that about half the country will applaud what I have written below. And half will condemn it. That’s pretty much how the country is divided as we ramp up the 2024 election season.

On January 6, 2021, protesters supporting President Trump stormed the Capitol, starting about 12:45. The protest turned into a riot, and ended 4 hours later when 155 National Guard members arrived to clear the Capitol. During those 4 hours, one protester was shot and killed by a Capitol policeman. No other deaths occurred that day although one Capitol policeman died the next day. Four Capitol police died by suicide in the next seven months.  About 175 police were injured defending the Capitol. No Congress members or Senators or their staff were harmed. Everybody condemns this protest-turned-riot that caused $1.5 million damage to the Capitol. Was it an insurrection?

Back to the source of the 14th Amendment. The Civil War began when Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. The war lasted 4 years and the country suffered 360,222 Union deaths and 258,000 Confederate deaths. Now I would say the Civil War definitely qualifies as an “insurrection and rebellion.”

Let’s imagine for a moment that the attack on Fort Sumter had been repelled in a few hours by Union soldiers in the fort with help from reinforcements. One attacker was killed but the others accepted defeat and went home. About a thousand of the attackers who managed to enter the fort were later arrested, tried, and many were sent to prison. The rebellion would have ended and there would have been no “War between the States.”

However, slavery would have continued as a top issue, argued over for 3 more years. And in the 1864 Presidential election, incumbent President Abraham Lincoln would have been opposed by a pro-slavery Democrat from Mississippi, Jefferson Davis. A fair election is how you solve a threat to Democracy.

Let’s return to the present… President Biden delivered a 30-minute speech near Valley Forge on Friday, evoking the heroics of George Washington. He lambasted former President Trump, naming him 44 times in the speech. I think he would have been better off if he had spoken at Gettysburg and emulated Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln spoke for less than 3 minutes, used 268 words, and not one of them referred to Jefferson Davis.

With so much attention on Jan. 6, 2021, I decided to look back a year earlier, Jan. 6, 2020 (two months before COVID shut down the country). Gasoline averaged $2.57/gal. The rate on a 30-year mortgage was 3.7%. Today it’s 7.5%. The inflation rate that month was 2.5%, and the total inflation for 4 years had raised prices 8.7%. Unemployment was 3.7% (same as today). Annual real wages had increased by about $6000 under Trump. Under President Biden, because of total accumulated inflation of about 17%, real wages have decreased.

Are you excited to see what the country will be like in a year? Or worried?

A personal note: my mom, Hazel Lowther Reeder, was born on Jan. 7, 1919. And one of her nieces is celebrating a birthday. Happy birthday to my cousin Sandra.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“On account of us being a Democracy, and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does.” DT #1116, Feb. 21, 1930