245 – “Heads to tails”

September 15th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

#245

September 15, 2017

“Heads to tails”

The world is awash with violence today. Perhaps it’s time for a bit of levity aimed at something endemic to all our households across the nation. Agree? Then read along….

If you become aggravated (or insulted) by today’s commercials, you join with throngs of others who feel the same way. It’s been a long time since the images of Bufferin and “Brand X” appeared on television screens.

Ah, yes. Brand X. Well, that could apply quite nicely to some of the ads we are seeing today. I use the term “seeing,” because I am sure that we are not the only household to MUTE commercial sound.

Then there was the Alka Seltzer ad with the jaunty little character that danced and sang to encourage us to assuage our indigestion using his product. Cartoon characters and animals make great ambassadors for commercial advertising and the practice holds true today. I cite the Geico gecko. It’s amazing how a tiny lizard impacts a major corporation’s sales.

Early on, commercials were geared toward homemaking, since most women stayed home and reared their children. Over time, the workplace changed profoundly as more and more women began to work and assume full-time careers outside the home. Note the change in advertising. TV dinners came to the fore. As I look back, I wonder if that product hinted at the demise of the family dinner table and began to erode the center of family life.

There is, of course, no way to know this. Because of my vintage, personal opinion for me merely heralds an earlier view of mother at home that has diminished markedly over the last thirty years.

Moving along in time, automobile companies hit the airwaves in an earnest effort to lure customers into dealerships across the country. The introduction of the “station wagon” in the 1950s set the stage for Chrysler’s mini-van decades later. Amid those years was the full size van, with some models customized to luxury travel vehicles. Oh, they fell short of motorhomes, but hinted at the future of the smaller RVs we see on the roads today. As more and more people moved to the suburbs, lawn care products hit the scene. Lawn mowers, fertilizers and all manner of specialty hand tools marketed on television boosted sales of many American companies.

As the old Bufferin ads became dim memories, pharmaceutical companies began to advertise their wares. At first the ads were intriguing and informative. Most folks were accustomed to their family doctor packaging pills and cough syrup right in the office. Drug stores were for specialty medications, and some featured soda fountains and ice cream counters that inspire smiles from those of us lucky enough to have sat on a high stool and enjoyed a cool treat on a hot day!

I ignore the thirty second sales pitches for those products that save you time and effort in cleaning and cooking — let alone that wonderful concoction that can glue together a boat and skim across the water in complete safety.
If I concentrated on those ads, the column would be too long to read.

So, I focus on the carefully scripted ads for a wide variety of prescription drugs. Launched with flair and choreographed as well as any movie, these commercials have an element of education, to be sure. However, the cost of all this is passed on to the consumer. Few people ever consider that.

Considering the side effects given as these commercials end, it’s surprising that you would want to take any of them. One aside, however, is the value of the warnings stated within the ads. For example, it was only with this information in hand that I was able to understand what had happened to our puppy earlier this year. He had been given medication meant for older dogs and he was very sick.

The veterinary practice made good on all my expense, but the puppy could have been seriously harmed had I not heard the age range of the medication. It did not stop with the canine member of the family either.

Not too much before the incident with the dog, I had been given samples of a drug after a bout with a digestive problem. With my medical records in hand, clearly stating that I had had my gall bladder removed two years prior to the appointment, the prescriber sent me home with a medicine not meant for a patient lacking a gall bladder. Sadly, I did not view the commercial until much later. I had taken it for over a month and the sole reason I did not fill prescription was cost — over $1100 per month! That’s another axe to grind. Do medical professionals who write these prescriptions have any idea of the cost? I wonder. Even with insurance, many are not covered.

Well, we began with headache medications, yet today’s commercials boast a distinctively different flair. What began with the head clearly did not end there. No, indeed….

You must live under a rock if you haven’t taken note of the plethora of ads featuring the bathroom products. From the home test for colon cancer to the bears pushing using less tissue, we are immersed (poor term) in toilet paper. And then, of all things, here comes the ad for VI-Poo. Egad. Not only are we peppered with the “politically correct” tack on life itself, now we are urged (another bad term) to be “toiletry correct.”

Well, it only goes to show that there are highs and lows in advertising. By design, we remain the targeted audience for all of it. Ever wonder what could be around the corner? Leave it to the ad men to give us another chapter.

We’ve come a long way. In essence — heads to tails.

244 – Americans at their best

August 29th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 244

“Americans At Their Best”

August 28, 2017

Sadly, this President is hit from all sides on all issues. Never mind the job numbers that are growing rapidly or the lessening of stifling regulations imposed on business over the past eight years that cost American workers their livelihoods. Never mind that illegal immigration is down 70%. Why? Illegals now know they will be sent back.

How sad.

And what is the genesis of this? I claim the over forty years of education that preached the evils of capitalism. Oh, yes. Capitalism. It’s at fault! Sure, it is….

Facts are facts. Capitalism has fueled more fulfilled dreams that you can count. Socialism, on the other hand, dilutes the population to one size fits all and completely destroys incentive.

If our young people only see how they have been deceived. Where, I ask, is the discussion of history as it happened? Had it not been for Republicans, the slaves would not be free, and integration would never have happened. It was the Democrat Governor who stood on the steps of the high school in Little Rock and ranted against integration. Democrats voted against integration, and only Republican votes carried the day. Jim Crow laws were another gift from the Democratic Party.

Yet, all our young people have heard is a pitiful, fact-devoid rant against conservative Americans. Republicans want to throw grandma off the cliff and only favor the rich. In essence, bias is on overload. The high regard that mainstream media places on Democratic candidates is more than sad. It is dangerous.

My age group witnessed the devastating losses on our parents’ generation from World War II through Korea. My classmates fought in Viet Nam. A neighbor boy died. Yet, today’s high school history textbooks lack so much that one column cannot adequately address their shortfall.

Hurricane Harvey provides the latest fodder for the left. Even if there is nothing amiss, they parse their words to cast aspersions on the response from President Trump. In their eyes, the man can do nothing right.

And the self-proclaimed, trumpeted “resistance” of the Democratic Party? Well, they certainly qualify to recognize inaction. They are experts at doing nothing. It’s their long suit. The other side of this coin is that when they do something, it does not bode well for the majority of working Americans.

So what DID they do when left to their own devices? They passed healthcare legislation in the middle of the night — a complicated, convoluted law that stifled job growth and impacted 1/6 of the national economy. And their explanation: they were “helping people.” Sure they did….

Tell that to each worker who lost a full-time job when employers to hired two or three part-timers for every dismissed employee. With that arrangement, employers did not have to pay benefits — a crippling blow to countless families.

Over the remaining years of the previous administration, reported unemployment numbers did not reflect workers dropped out the job search or workers that were under-employed. Estimates would have soared into the 20% -plus range if those people had been included. Nice, huh? Is that their definition of success?

So, now, with the first natural disaster of this administration, all the left and its minions can do is search for something — however trivial — to paint this president in a bad light.

Does he couch his words a bit differently from the political movers and shakers? You bet he does. He talks to the people in a way that they understand. He does not talk down to people he talks TO them. My hope is that Americans see the media for what they are. This strikes fear into the elites who “know best” what we, the average Americans, need. Yeah….

One would think that in the face of the problems caused by Mother Nature in Texas, the left and its complicit media would suck it up and think about the people affected by the storm instead of trying to find fault. Fat chance….

I have written very few columns the last two months. In the face of what has been an onslaught of media-driven divisiveness, I felt that a series of columns targeting that nonsense would have collapsed my already well-worn soapbox. Facts are inconvenient. Facts are lost on the media. Instead of reporting news, they create “news.”

Most, if not all, of these media types have virtually no business experience. In my book, they are not fit to carry Donald Trump’s water. How many jobs did they create? How many of them understand the underpinnings of running a successful enterprise?

In truth, the fourth estate did a better job in the past when a president used colorful language. Those days are gone, and we are not better for that loss.

Do what you can for the folks in Texas. Don’t look for planeloads of supplies to arrive from all the foreign countries we have helped over decades when they faced disasters. It seems that Americans are the only ones the world can count on in the wake of a natural calamity. And we can count on each other in these dire circumstances.

If you can, donate money. If you are available, volunteer to go to Texas to help in person. Support relief organizations and faith-based groups like Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. This crisis will not be over quickly. The damage is wrenching and will last for years. The lack of insurance will doom the finances of many a family. And, if the situation mirrors that of Hurricane Sandy, many insurance companies will look for any little reason to deny coverage or greatly decrease monies due homeowners.

Did you see the men and women who took to the bayous in boats to help their neighbors? They reflect what this nation is all about. One reporter called them “The Red Neck Navy.” Well, bully for them. They reflect what is best in all of us. And, by the way, it was those “Red Necks” — and millions of others of like mind — who elected this president. He knows them and they know him.

In the end, we are Americans. When in a tough spot, Americans pull together to help each other. You and I know that. What’s more, President Trump and his administration know it all too well.

My classic column challenge is to “think about it.” This time, I am changing gears. This time, don’t just think, do something —anything you can. Every little bit helps.

243- “A legacy lost?” July 2, 2017

July 3rd, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 243

July 2, 2017

“A legacy lost?”

In a little more than two days America pauses to honor her founding. The Fourth of July rings forth with fireworks, parades, and cookouts from coast to coast. Bunting hangs from countless balconies, fences and railings. The “red white and blue” flies proudly over homes, ranches, farms, businesses and, in some cases, vehicles.

My thoughts meander back to my childhood. Why? Because a recent survey found that 45% of those polled were not proud of their country. What would have shocked me as a teenager or new mother now just adds to the angst I feel at the apathy and lack of respect for the greatest country on the planet.

Had that survey been done on those 60 and over, the results would have been far different. It is not hard to figure that out.

Let’s roll back the clock to the 1940s. War raged across Europe and the Pacific theaters in valiant battles to dislodge and defeat tyrants, one of whom thought of himself as a god and the other whose people considered him one. Those of us in grade school were very aware of the war. Our folks had ration books and vehicle fuel was limited. The radio was our main source of entertainment and newspapers actually reported news.
Hollywood sent its stars to raise money for War Bonds. Movies reinforced patriotism and extolled the strength of our values.

Everyone got into the act. It was not unusual to see a small boy pulling a wagon in an effort to gather up metals that could be used for the war effort. Trains passing through small hamlets and urban centers were crowded with soldiers. Every American felt he or she had a part to play.

God, country and family were the strong triangle that anchored our lives. Schools taught history. Churches were packed on Sundays. Charity began at home. We saw it firsthand. Many households were absent a husband and father. Parents set children a fine example by instilling a high respect for America. Sadly, you see little of that today. It seems that criticizing America is the “in thing” among a lot of younger people.

The first songs I learned at school were the service hymns. “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli,” “Up We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder,” “The Caisson Song,” and “Anchors Aweigh” resounded in music rooms across the nation. Art classes also played a part. We made Poppy Posters. I remember drawing pictures of an army helmet hung atop a cemetery marker. Military cemeteries were lined with plain white tombstones engraved with a Christian Cross or the Jewish Star of David and — yes — The Star and Crescent. One nation under God….

We listened to our teachers explain how the war was a noble effort to free millions of people from desperate circumstances. The local National Guard unit met downtown and on a Friday night when the stores were all open, it was not unusual to see scores of young men milling around mid-evening during a break from scheduled activities.

Servicemen and women were afforded great respect. The Gold Stars that hung in windows were a grim reminder of the cost of that war. My grandparents lived along the busiest street in town. I heard many a story of how Totty would come to the curb to serve lemonade to soldiers riding in open trucks. My grandparents were good folks. They had little money, but they understood the sacrifice those soldiers would be called upon to make. Preparing those cool glasses of lemonade was their way of saying “Thank you.” I am so proud to know that story. It means a lot to me.

We are a nation founded under God. The famous painting of George Washington praying near Valley Forge says it all. He asked for guidance and protection for his ragged, freezing men in an all out effort to oust the British and bring forth a nation equals what the Bible described — repeated in Ronald Wilson Reagan’s words — a shining city on a hill. General Patton prayed before the Battle of the Bulge. He loved his men.

To keep that shining city we need to foster a new love of country in our children. Move for your local schools to reinstate those long honored service hymns to the music curricula. Carefully assess the content of history texts. Many are absent critical facts. Some are opinion pieces.

As you watch the glow and burst of the fireworks cascading in the air, take a moment to say a prayer for all those who gave their last measure of devotion.

There is a lovely series of statements that you will see on posters and proudly displayed in public. The piece speaks volumes.

The Soldier

It is the soldier not the reporter who has given freedom of the press.
It is the soldier not the poet who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier not the campus organizer who has given
us the right to demonstrate.
It is the soldier not the lawyer who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves under the flag, and whose
body is draped with the flag who allows the protestor to burn the flag.

And yes, it is that same flag that homeowners’ associations refuse members to fly in their residential areas. It is that flag that student protestors cavalierly stomp on and burn. Yes, it is that flag….

Please do what you can to instill love of country in the youngest of America’s children. Teach them hand over heart and hats off when they hear the National Anthem.

Their future depends on a strong America. Without the support of its children, that future is in jeopardy. Do not allow this legacy to be lost.

Happy Birthday America!

242 – “What price knowledge?”

June 23rd, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 242

June 20, 2017

“What price knowledge?”

Talk abounds about the costs of college these days. Where once students could actually work their way through school — even medical school — with part time jobs, graduates find themselves stifled by exorbitant debt.

The base line is the student loan system. Once privately funded, the switch to the federal student loan system brought jobs — but not for the graduates — the jobs were office jobs overseeing and managing the student loans.

Historically speaking, early college loans were rare. Funding sponsored by churches was limited, but churches did offer financial support for those entering the ministry. The government steered clear of funding, but in 1862 President Lincoln signed the Morrill-Wade Land Grant College Act establishing agricultural schools on land that was endowed to the states. The stigma of college education only for the elite was beginning to change. This remained little changed over the next 100 years. Beginning in the early 20th century, John Dewey championed education echoing Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts — that education promoted both social progress for the individual as well as economic progress for the nation.

After World War II, The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act (better known as the G.I. Bill) provided grants to cover the costs of education for returning veterans. At that time its three-year stipend was sufficient to cover a college degree. Many of the 4.4 million men and women would not have been considered “college material” before the war.

The changing electorate prompted Congress, and it responded with the broad opportunity for those coming home from overseas military duty. The year 1954 saw the formation of The College Scholarship Service, a board of private institutions designed to remove the individual student’s financial considerations when selecting where to attend in favor of providing aid commensurate with need. Moreover, financial aid would be provided based on academic prowess, a predecessor to today’s politically popular, state-sponsored merit-based scholarships.

The system remained static until the late 1950s with the passage of The National Defense Act of 1958. Loans of this type were deemed Perkins Loans. With the Soviets making strides in aerospace science and technology, leaders saw the urgent need to spur students in science and engineering.

The next major step was The Higher Education Act of 1965 comprised of four parts, three of which were designated to aid the institutions themselves. Only Title IV applied to student loans. Guaranteed student loans to middle income students came with loan subsidies. Details were that the government paid interest accrued during the student’s collegiate career and paid the difference between a set low interest rate and the market rate after graduation. (Random History.com)

However, the form we see today in student loans dates to 1972 when Congress reauthorized The Higher Education Act. It offered matching funds to the states’ need-based programs. Within three years, all fifty states participated in the program. Expansion now included junior colleges, trade and career schools. This was done via changing the applicable terminology from higher education to “post secondary education.”

The 1980s saw a shift to more loans spending than grant spending. A continuation of such change came in programs that increased borrowing limits and brought about unsubsidized loans for middle-income students. Essentially, more students were made eligible for aid and, as more students entered into postsecondary education of all kinds, tuition naturally increased, Unfortunately, this happened at a rate higher than the rate of inflation, outpacing the average family income throughout the 1990s. (Random History.com)

In 1997 tax credits for college expenses became law, and this was the first instance of non-need-based federal financial aid. In its present state, the system of federal financial aid is “an amalgam of state programs, federal programs and tax credits, practices of private institutions, and programs of some private foundations and charities. (Random History.com)

There is a plethora of ideas for reform, but the most widely supported is closing the gap between loan spending and grant spending. Today students rely on loans rather than grants. The old Pell Grant system cannot keep pace with the costs. College costs today outstrip the maximum allowed for the Pell Grants.

One factor that troubles reformers is that students of smaller, less expensive schools often graduate with degrees that garner lesser incomes and it is much harder for them to repay their student loans.
It is impossible to predict what will become of the present system, but there is one statistic that should really gall any parent or student seeking a loan today. Estimates were that direct loans made by the Education Department would yield $58 billion between 2010 and 2019.
All federal money is fungible, but with such a large pot of money suddenly (theoretically) available, Congress wanted to spend it on other things. Here’s the breakdown of where the money went:
$36 billion on increases in Pell college grants for low-income students.
$10.3 billion for deficit reduction.
$8.7 billion to support the health care law.
$3 billion for historically black colleges and minority-serving institutions.
Yes, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, nearly $8 billion (yes, with a “B”) dollars has gone to fund health care.

To burden parents of students between the ages of 19 and 24 with the cost of government health care is an pathetic exercise, an indictment of fiscal impropriety of the first order. The government exists to protect the people, but the people are the government’s employers. To see their money go toward a social program that younger workers have a hard time affording and many step aside from enrolling to join is a travesty.

The media puts out the message that repeal and reform is a fantasy. Well, give me the fantasy instead of the facts. The facts are dismal and do not speak well for the administration that passed the bill in the dead of night and then stood smiling as their Speaker of the House said that “you have to read the bill to know what is in it.” If we looked at contracts that way, we would all be bankrupt. And without repeal and reform, the health care system is a heartbeat away from bankruptcy.

What price education? Salty to say the least, but we should demand a mandate stating that all proceeds stay within education. It seems as if the student loan largess is falling victim to the same dismal fate as Social Security. It is the new version of that all too familiar — and unconscionable — cookie jar for lawmakers with no sense of ethics. It’s your money after all. Think about it.

241- “Freedom of Speech – Collegiate Edition”

April 28th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 241 – April 27, 2017

“Freedom of Speech – Collegiate Edition”

Anne Coulter was to have spoken this evening at UC Berkeley. Once the bastion of all free speech, the assembly of students who throw bottles, set fires, and attack those of different persuasions is at it yet again.

This is not new — the sanctimonious venom of the left, but it has reached a point where no thinking (consider that adjective) American can turn away from its consequences.

Once spring was the harbinger of flowers and love. However, despite that reputation, it is engendering angst among those of us who cherish the freedoms afforded us by our beloved U.S. Constitution. And, in my opinion, this disgusting theme serves higher education right.

I am a proud and loyal alumna of Butler University. For years, I was a regular donor, but that ended on April 6, 2007, when noted speaker David Horowitz was hit with a pie thrown by a Butler University student. In response, Horowitz wanted the student expelled, but that never happened. That ended my financial support of a school I revere to this day.

Horowitz grew up the son of Communist parents. Over time, he saw communism and socialism for what it was and morphed into the passionate conservative we hear today. He founded Students for Academic Freedom, a nation-wide coalition of student groups dedicated to promoting intellectual diversity and academic freedom at America’s colleges and universities. He speaks widely and has appeared before student audiences at 150 colleges and universities.

When I first went to college at age 16, there was a smattering of leftist professors. Over the past fifty years the scales tilted to the point that a conservative faculty member is as rare as a July iceberg on the sidewalk in Phoenix.
College, in my view, should be a place where faculty leads students to discuss and debate different points of view. The students, in response, come to their own conclusions — often learning a lot in the process.

This, sadly, is not the case today. We have come to the point where young people who are old enough to act like adults need a “safe space” to protect them from those who do not agree with them.

Yikes! I hope the nation never needs to call upon these wussies to step up to fight for the freedom that they so cavalierly flaunt. Evidently, throwing Molotov cocktails and zealously beating supporters of our president is their new normal.

God help us. Oh, I forgot, most of them lack God in their lives, too. After all, faith and religion are crutches — along with weapons for personal protection. We not see these thugs using social media to threaten anyone of opposing viewpoints.

And, the law enforcement in Berkeley? It claims it cannot protect a speaker like Anne Coulter. With no protection for freedom of speech, America is lost. Yet it is reminiscent of 1930s Germany when similar bands of thugs held sway and gave rise to fascism at its worst.

Unless and until this intolerant atmosphere ends, lost our freedom of speech is lost. Instead, we launch “freedom to screech.” If you love this country, you need to take this seriously. This is dangerous.

Think about it. Better than that? Do something about it. Demand that colleges and universities decry, condemn, and punish those under their supervision who act more like criminals than students. Fascists are dangerous.

And what about guidance at the highest level? CBN News reports as follows: Members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet gather for prayer weekly. Vice President Mike Pence and eight cabinet secretaries sponsor the sessions, which occur weekly in Washington.

It’s led by the founder of Capitol Ministries, Ralph Drollinger, who started working on arranging the Bible study during the Trump team’s transition to the White House.
Sponsors include Vice President Pence; Secretaries Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Sonny Perdue, Rick Perry, Tom Price and Jeff Sessions; EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
These are some of the most influential people in the U.S. government gathering weekly to grow themselves spiritually.

Like Nationwide Insurance claims in their ads, you are in good hands.

240 “Um … er…”

April 3rd, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 240

April 3, 2017

“Um…. Er…”

Ah, yes, the sounds of linguistic hesitation. You, no doubt, recall the adage, “He who hesitates is lost.” Well, it doesn’t take much more than looking back on the last eight years to see how that works at the federal level of our government. Base line? That tenure was a lost cause. And we are the worse for it in so many ways.

Let’s review how hesitation paints a clear picture of the eight tumultuous years that ended — thankfully — on January 20th of this year: Hesitation to be proud of one’s country… hesitation to support law enforcement… hesitation to stand back until facts are known before commenting on national media… hesitation to name an enemy… hesitation to call to account departments that act as rogues and target Americans who share opposing views to those of the governing administration… hesitation to crack down on facilities and personnel charged with caring for our veterans… hesitation to criticize splinter groups who use violence as a public relations tool and pit themselves against the wider society… hesitation to govern with an even hand…. No hesitation to take a personally biased viewpoint despite the topic.

Recognize the person at the helm? I am sure that you do.

Hesitation is much more than a pause, and its seminal sounds of “um” and “er” surface frequently in political speak. We’ve heard them. What’s more, most, if not all, of us have uttered them ourselves.

However, two other letter pairs need to be faced with good old-fashioned common sense. They total just four letters, yet those four characters have put us at risk perhaps more than any others in my memory. And I’m no spring chicken, folks! Let me put them forth and then offer my take on their application: “il” and “un.”

Do something illegal and it’s a hefty fine or jail. The bottom line is something is either legal or it is not. “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime” sure rings hollow today.
Now, let’s get to the second pair: “un.”

If I am unfit, I cannot get a job. If I am under water, I’m either drowning or deeply in debt. But if I am undocumented, I am in real trouble. Do I cite the immigration here? Not necessarily, but I do think you can see where this leads as I go along.

If I am an undocumented driver, I go to jail. If I am an undocumented teacher, I lose my job and could face legal consequences. God forbid if I am an undocumented professional.

Face it. Would you go to an undocumented physician? Dentist? Lawyer? . Hardly. Yet the bleeding hearts on the left try to put a guilt trip on those of us who see undocumented as a bland term that softens the real name: illegal.

Nomenclature aside. Illegal is illegal. California finds itself in dire financial straits these days and — to a great degree — the blame can go to the high cost of illegals among its populace.

Oh, they cry foul when someone says that, but look at how bad things are in the hospitals. No money. No problem. No payment? Big problem. Get it?

We are a nation blended into one from among many nationalities, but those who came and built this grand experiment in democracy and freedom came with their work gloves on and ready to work. They did not ask the government to take care of them. They struggled to learn English as quickly as possible because they knew that their success would depend on how well they could integrate their families into the America they saw as their future.

When a country has no border, it ceases to be a country. Borders, like doors, are security. If walls don’t work, take down the one at the White House. How about the one at the Vatican? Before Israel built its wall, suicide bombers numbered in the thousands. After the wall? Zero. Walls work. The only manmade structure visible from outer space is the Great Wall of China.

The wall promised by President Trump won’t take centuries to build. His wall will work. He owes us security and he vows to give it to us. Amen to that, brothers and sisters!

I have lost all patience in people making excuses for why others should not have to obey our laws. Enclaves sheltering illegals, some heinous criminals, are an anathema to me. They should not exist in a nation ruled by law. But they do. It’s time to call a halt to inane behavior among those whose chronological age should make them adults.

I don’t know about you, but I did not vote for Kindergarten. I voted for the Wharton School of Business. I am “ILL-tempered” these days. What’s more, I am UNhappy with things as they are going right now. Are YOU?

Think about it.

239 – “And the song played on….”

March 10th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 239

March 10, 2017

“And the song played on….”

My family knows my penchant for classical music and opera. I well remember moniker given me by my three then teenage sons. They dubbed me a “long hair.” Well, I admit that my hair was long now and then, but they assigned the name for my tastes in music.

I was reminded of that a few nights ago. We bid adieu to our beloved Newfoundland fourteen months ago. After waiting what we considered “enough time,” we welcomed another little black bundle of fur to our household this past Sunday. And his name? For us, that could not change. It fit much too well. And so, he is Bear, 2nd Edition, though he will never hear the second part aloud.

All went flawlessly, at least for that first night. Since we did not pick him up until mid-afternoon, it was strange enough be in a strange house. No crate for him! To our surprise, he slept from 9:45 to 5:45. Man, we had it made…

Or so we thought….

The second night we carried the crate back and placed it at the foot of our bed. He was quiet for a while, but then he launched into his own aria.

It was if I were transported back to Europe to sit enthralled in one of those resplendent opera houses to enjoy one of my favorites, “Der Fliedermaus.” For those of you who do not recognize the title, it is “the bat.” I don’t enjoy those critters in the house, but I always loved the music attributed to their species by two brilliant composers.

Die Fledermaus is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Karl Haffner (de) and Richard Genee. First performed on April 5, 1874, it boasts over 233 years on the stage. My hope is that the pup has a far shorter record of performance

In opera, the human voice reaches its apex. Although I favor the contralto with the ladies, the bass voices among the men are truly worthy of my admiration.

Bear — no matter how he tried the other night — only managed to reach the lower limits of a tenor. Although he, I must admit he did exhibit a talent for belting out a moderate vibrato.

Such is the life among those of us who choose to share our lives with dogs — those amazing animals of varying breeds and sizes whose unquestioned loyalty crosses all bounds. No matter what our shortcomings, dogs see human owners as heroes. In truth, they actually keep us young. People with dogs have lower blood pressure and much less stress than those who live alone. And, as my husband puts it, canine conversations sure beat those that revolve around every illness, medication, and doctors’ visits.

I guess the bottom line is that when you have a dog that depends on you and gives so much, the amount of time you spend dissolves in the wake of what you reap as a dog owner.

Here’s to the dog, recounted in verse, portrayed on screen, and welcomed into uncounted homes around the world. From the ragged little ones who saunter with the homeless, to the farm dogs who work alongside their owners, to military and law enforcement dogs who not only find protect the public and locate the lost, but also recover the contraband all the way to the pampered pooches of Beverly Hills who live ridiculously lavish lives, hail to you, oh dog. I salute you.

My hope is that our overnight serenades will morph into the soft snores of contentment as our growing Newfoundland discovers the nuances of living with a pair of seniors.

If you have ever had a dog, you can relate to this commentary. Not to dismiss the feline folks, if you favor cats, pet companionship is priceless. If you have been considering seeking out a breeder, rescuing a dog or adopting a dog from the shelter, there is a little fur person waiting for you. Go for it. You only live once. Why not share it with someone special?

#237 “When did you…?”

February 28th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

#
February 28, 2017

“When did you….?”

Most of us who recall readily old truisms recognize the catastrophic damage of an unsubstantiated accusation. Once launched at a person, even when disproved, it is immensely difficult to repair or restore one’s good reputation. In a total reversal of the basis for our U.S. system of justice, the accused is guilty until proven innocent.

Slurs and mud stick like glue and denials on the part of the accused rarely dampen the flames lit by detractors. When facts do not work, smears do their dirty jobs to mask the venom and animosity most often fueled by a warped ideology.

It’s the old scenario yet again. Yes, again….

We see this now. For more than seven decades our government began a disappointing moral and ethical decline. Eisenhower warned of it…. Few paid attention to his prophecy. The last time America was on the winning end of a conflict was World War II. That was 1945 — using my head and not a computer device, that is seventy-two years this summer.

ETO’s General George S. Patton saw Russia for what it was — a real threat to freedom and liberty. But, before he could move toward countering the spread of Communism that would encase Eastern Europe over forty years, he died in a car driven by someone other than his regular driver. Verdict? A very brilliant soldier’s vision of reality tabled forever. Likely no accident….

My father’s generation fought World War II. He worked in a defense plant. A pilot, he wore glasses, and that alone rendered him unacceptable to the then U. S. Army Air Corps (later to become the U.S. Air Force). An overlapping of two generations fought in Korea, but it was my generation fought in Vietnam. I lost a classmate in that. He was a very good person.

The Vietnam War lined the pockets of determined, unscrupulous Americans among the military, political and business ranks across this nation. Not quite the testament to respect for our soldiers…. The conflict was the continuation of the old boys’ network where payoffs in office were in the form of appointments or financial gain. Let’s look at the wide picture. Lots of money changed hands at the expense of tens of thousands of lives.

Today, we have elected a man who owes nothing to the establishment or the entrenched politicians. That is enough to put them on their own war footing. The accusations against President Trump will continue ad nauseum. Because the establishment and the undergirding bureaucracy cannot control President Trump, they must disgrace him. While he is the elites’ worst nightmare, he is the average American’s brightest hope. Someone who operates on common sense as a knowledge of what the bottom line is when it comes to money.

This past week I heard Retired General Jack Keane say that there are no better military minds those in the Pentagon, but they are not businessmen and women. They do not see at the world in terms on dollars and cents. They see the world in terms of strategy and the means to achieve goals.

Pentagon spending is legend. For years, The Golden Fleece Awards have highlighted some of the most inane examples. Remember the high dollar toilet seats? The coffee makers? Egad! Budgets are easily appropriated, but budgets must be cost effective. When we remove graft and corruption from the contract process, we can leverage at its highest efficiency.

For example, is it better to award a contract because of “connections” or “friends” or to do so with a business mindset — getting the best product or service at the lowest cost?

I am reminded of a line uttered by Frank Gilbreth. Sr. (portrayed by Clifton Webb) in the 1950 movie “Cheaper by the Dozen.” In the true story of an amazing man for his time, Frank and his wife Lilly (Myrna Loy) reared a family of twelve children. Accustomed to running the household with a family meeting, Frank decided that the chores were a bit too much for the live in- help, housekeeper Mrs. Monahan and handyman Jim Bracken.

The back fence of their Montclair, New Jersey, home needed whitewashing. Bill, one of the boys, said he would do it for $10.00. Frank, astonished, replied, “You must think this is a government job!”

Isn’t it amazing how things change so little over the years? The plot was set in the 1920s. Here we are nearly in the 2020s — a hundred years later — and government expenditures are still seen as ridiculous.

Let’s give this businessman a chance. Accusing him of racism, bias, and anti-everything is akin to the old question, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

The query alone taints the targeted person. It was never fair in the past and it is not fair today. A refreshing change would be to see the government operate well and give us the most bang for our tax bucks.

There is nothing more frightening to career politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists than to have the lid placed on their cookie jar. Think about it.

236 – “No Surprise!”

February 8th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 236

February 7, 2017

“No surprise here!”

Today, I booted up the computer to read the latest news via WTHR 13 in Indianapolis. It puts forth news at a good pace and boasts excellent coverage of Indiana happenings.

The article that caught my eye was this: Crisis in the Classroom. No — not behavioral problems among children lacking discipline — that theme would take up several columns. The topic cited hits far closer to home for me. What’s more, it awakens vivid personal memories.

It’s been over twenty years since I took the licensing exams for the State of Indiana. I scored in four areas. My lowest score was 97 and the others were 98. I was pleased as punch, but being the competitive being I am, I wondered what I had missed on those tests.

When I left, I was aghast at what I learned were the “passing scores.” Needless to say, had any of my students scored thusly I would have been recommending tutoring and questioning whether or not they would pass my class. To be blunt, I was not only shocked, but I was dumbfounded. It did not make any sense to assign a teacher’s license to anyone so unprepared.

I am not sure what the passing scores are today, but given the tenor of this article, the scores may be the same or worse. This should worry you. My teachers in the 1950s and 1960s were more than prepared. Not only did they know their subjects, but they also took time to know their students. Preparation went far beyond the classroom. Oh, I know, it was a different time. Few students fell behind because their parents took no interest. Teachers and students often interacted with one another in neighborhoods as well as church. Parents weren’t distracted. They worked, went to church, and attended school activities. Television was in its infancy. People read.

I do not know what is going on among the colleges and universities that they are turning out graduates who cannot pass basic exams. Given the fact that so much social engineering happens at the collegiate level today, it’s anybody’s guess really. Few institutions of higher learning have a both sides out there attitude. For the most part, colleges and universities are grossly liberal in their teachings. Over decades, this impacts how students think.

The bottom line is that we must educate aspiring teachers to know their subject or subjects and to know them well. Can you look back and name a particular teacher who had a profound influence on your life? I know that I can. In fact, I can name more than one — but among different disciplines. Hazel Ford was my fourth grade teacher, and I can still remember some of her phonics drills — not bad for 65 years later!

In high school Ray Hinshaw inspired a love for history fostered by my mother and Lawrence “Boots” Thompson engendered a high respect for mathematics and science. I was more of a wordsmith than a scientist, but Mr Thompson’s extra help boosted my grades to a solid A despite my trepidation. I can’t say that I retained all that information far beyond the classroom, but it did instill in me a determined study ethic that served me well — whether as an adult college student years later on as a researcher as I continues to pursue my career as an author and columnist.

There is no better way to sabotage the future than to hamper today’s students. If we are turning out education majors who are minor in achievement, we are in a really bad spot.

Don’t get me started on some of the history curricula at the college level. I routinely stop in at college bookstores and peruse history textbooks. Over the past fifteen years, content has not improved. To say that it is stilted is to understate. If this kind of edited history is replicated at the middle and high school levels, then we should not be surprised that college students buy into the political correct crowd that derides America at every available opportunity. They do not know their country’s rich heritage of freedom and the struggle to achieve it, let alone respect for those who defend us. It is rare for recruiters to gain access to campus venues. How sad.

Firm subject grounding in history is critical. I know I have preached this before, but history is a series of red flags — warning signs, if you will. The failure to recognize the danger signals dooms a people to existential threats.

When our children and grandchildren are taught to consider how they feel over what they know, and we realize that what they know is far from accurate, the problem is highlighted. We need to push for seminal teaching basics — cursive writing, mathematics without a calculator, factual history, respect for the scientific method of inquiry, and personal responsibility.

Life is a challenge for everyone. Bad things happen. To think that college of students need a “safe place” to avoid any criticism is laughable. Get with it, folks. Keep score in children’s games. Games have winners and losers. The old adage, “sticks and stones” doesn’t ring true, yet we must encourage moxie in our kids. Peers can be cruel. Words do hurt, but knowing life is not fair better prepares a child to function in today’s world.

Involve yourself with your local school officials. Insist to see curricula. Ask if teacher examination scores are available to taxpayers. If WTHR is right, Indiana faces a real problem. It is one that cannot be ignored. Think about it.

The Psalm Before The Storm

January 6th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 235

January 6, 2017

“The Psalm Before the Storm”

For the first time in twenty-plus years I have not filed a column in over eight weeks. The last column of record went on line in the days immediately following the recent Presidential Election of 2016.

I felt very humbled by the statements of Franklin Graham last week. He was speaking about the American public and how they responded to their civic duty to vote. He said that “God spoke.”

I know that many people claim to have prayed for a change in the course of this nation, but I actually did it. Every night. I do not announce it in any measure of braggadocio, but I am very proud of my prayers.

Now, storm clouds gather. They always do when elite leadership feels threatened. We see it in the venomous response to the election of one Donald J. Trump. It’s one thing to share the height of disappointment when your side loses. It’s quite another thing to refuse to allow the winner to even have a chance to succeed.

Sadly, we see that now. Even with all the verbal assaults launched between November 6 and January 1, I fear that — as in the words of the venerable Al Jolson — “You ain’t heard nothing yet!” To have that sentence reverberate in tandem with non-stop media coverage is to only forecast what we will see and hear over the next few months.

I was among a vast number of Americans who were unhappy with the election of our current president, but I do not recall opponents going after the incoming with such abject fury.

It is a fact that the current president had seven of his nominees confirmed within the first ten days. But what we witness now is a determined minority party hell bent on delaying or stopping what may be the most qualified group of men and women nominated for decades.

Let’s assess qualifications for a moment. To be a politician, you must convince voters that you can do the job and then immerse yourself not only to your job, but also devote years (two, if you are elected to the House of Representatives, or six for Senate) continually campaigning to retain your job. What a disgusting process…. no real progress and we live in the mess.

To run a successful business, you must execute a business plan, stick to a reasonable budget, meet deadlines, and deliver a quality product on time — all the time competing with like companies who would like nothing more than to see you fail so they can succeed.

Contrast the two and the result is mind-boggling. One group must operate within financial restraints. One group makes its own way. One group cannot fail to perform and retain its position. The other muddles through and assigns blame to someone else Kind of makes you yearn to see government run like a business, doesn’t it?

If our government had been run that way, we would not be nearly twenty trillion dollars in debt. All Social Security funds paid in since the program was begun would still be on deposit and not wasted by politicians who saw them as their piggy bank. Given that, it is incumbent on each of us, despite political allegiance, to pressure our representatives in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to make sure that they do not tolerate joyful obstruction.

Obstruct with joy? You bet. There are cretins — real losers — among us who take delight in making life miserable for a winner. A real catastrophe looms if the nation does not make a turn to financial stability and national security. The stakes are too high not to demand a modicum of devotion to one’s country.

Far too many elected officials take on the mantel of office and assume the titles only to forget that they are there to “serve.” And I do not mean serve themselves either. It has been said that even those among the most ideologically committed to make profound changes lose steam.

Suddenly what had seemed a calling morphs into a stalemate. The seniority system rules, so the prospect of never getting a decent committee assignment or moving up within the ranks stops novice men and women in their tracks. Such a sad reality….

This is why so many of us have become disenchanted when our “bottle rockets” elected to Congress fizzle like wet sparklers.

To deliberately sabotage a new president is unconscionable. Do not allow this to happen. I remember the day that the soon-to-be former president was sworn into office. We had friends in Michigan to snowmobile and I was holding their baby when the ceremony was aired. I watched him standing there with his family. I prayed that nothing would happen to him, even though I had never supported him.

I see that mindset, in and of itself, as the difference between the two parties. I do not see the pernicious venom among the vast majority of Republicans. The ongoing overture to expand the party is heartwarming. Oh, yes, there are RINOS (Republicans In Name Only) and the occasional whiner; but, overall, most within the GOP are able to stand aside and see the much larger picture.

And what is that picture? It is our nation first. America First. Do not sit back and let others speak for you. Speak up. Communicate. Take action for your family.

Without national security, there is no Social Security. We need strong borders, a protected electrical grid, cyber security, and a formidable military — all fueled by an expanded job base. Undergirding these goals is education that informs — not indoctrinates. Move education to the local level.

Washington, D.C. needs to concentrate on governing. It needs to stop spending money and quit printing it. And us? We need, prayerfully, to look toward the future. Any nation that can motivate an entire generation to defeat the Axis Powers and Japan and can land a man on the moon and return him safely can muster the “moxie” to put the big D.C. big spenders in their rightful place — out of business.

America stands alone as the apex of second chances. Let’s work to confirm that accolade. We can do this, together. Do not allow your voice to go silent once you complete your ballot or push that button on the voting machine. You need to speak up and demand that the new administration be given a chance.

History stands as a great teacher, if only men would listen. The Bible tells story after story of what happens when a nation turns its back on the Creator. Reviewing the decrease of morality witnessed over the last three decades, it is frightening to contemplate how close we are to what could be a terrible judgment. We have the chance to restore God to the public square, to instill pride in our nation and its military, and to demand fiscal balance. The time is now. The actors? You and I — all Americans. Silence is the true enemy.

David is acknowledged as the penman of most of the Psalms. This is apt, because when his country was at risk, David stepped forward to lead. We may witness another of those unexpected figures who steps forward to lead. A figure that nobody envisioned…. The Psalm before the storm? Yes — Donald J. Trump.

Do your best to support his man. He speaks truth to power and that is a unique ability we see rarely. He owes nothing to politicians. What better requisite trait? When you see biased forces martialing against him, do not stay quiet. Speak up. While you are at it, pause to remember our men and women in uniform. They man the line between us and virtual chaos. God bless them, every one.