Archive for September, 2012

“Second Story Man”

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

# 125

By Hetty Gray

September 26, 2012

“Second Story Man”

When you hear this term, most of you think of a home burglary and access over a roof, but there is another, more ominous meaning currently.

Reminisce a bit and return to early 2009. We faced an economic mess with a new occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. More and more people were losing their jobs and the answer we received? “Pour federal money” into the situation and it will improve.

The first story we got was wrong. The second story — as Paul Harvey would have put it, the rest of the story, although never properly acknowledged as truth — was that things became worse. The claims made are hollow. Drilling has been on private land, not federal land. Executive orders and regulations are the order of the day. It doesn’t work, folks. It is a pipe dream.

You cannot resolve debt by incurring more of it. It just doesn’t work, no matter how much someone pushes it as the proper thing to do. Jobs do not appear magically when federal dollars flow. Personally, I found the term used comical: “shovel ready”.

Consider the plethora of signs that attribute public projects to the Recovery Act. One might ask, “Just how much those signs cost?” The project is the goal, so why an expensive road sign? If the sign had said, “This sign cost hundreds of dollars to inform you that your federal government has no common sense at all when it comes to money!” It reminds me of an alleged philanthropist who insists on putting his or her name on anything donated. Identity is everything to those people, as it is to this administration.

Since brevity is the soul of wit, I give you a second, and most recent, instance and then you can mull over the information and come to your own conclusion.

The first story of September 11, 2012, is that the torture and murder of our Ambassador to Libya and three other brave Americans is chalked up to a very amateur video that originated, ostensibly, from California. Even after Secretary of State Clinton said that the attack was terrorism, Obama continued to cite an ongoing “investigation.” The video story was trumpeted by the administration until it could not ignore the facts. Oh, how inconvenient — facts. They are lethal to those with an agenda based on disinformation. The truth is that the consulate attack was premeditated and perpetrated by Islamic terrorists and planned to fall on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The President of Libya stated the facts while our president blamed a video and the supposed insult to Muslims.

It’s too bad that the Muslims don’t adopt that policy when it teaches its small children that Jews are pigs and deserved to be slaughtered. Their animosity toward Christians isn’t lost on me, either. Try building a church in the Middle East today and you will ignite a firestorm — and riots.

Well, I am tired of the “second story man.”

Give me someone who acts on principle and facts — not on feelings. I will never apologize for the fact that untold numbers of Americans have fought and died to give others the opportunity to live as free people. I will never question the Founding Fathers’ wisdom when they wrote the U.S. Constitution to protect us and bless us with a gem of a republic.

It’s time for us to take the high road. State the facts. If they hurt, so be it. Act on facts. Judge people by their actions. If you can’t trust your leaders to speak the truth, you can’t trust them at all. I don’t want to have to worry about the first story I hear. I don’t want that lingering dread that a second story looms — a story that cannot be ignored because it IS the truth.

A second story doesn’t deserve a second chance. Think about it.

“Poll Cats”

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

# 124

By Hetty Gray

September 19, 2012

“Poll Cats”

Well, if you are like me, you tire of all the latest “poll” results. When in a doctoral program at IU Bloomington, I took a class on crafting polls. It was more than an eye-opener. It was an education in itself. My Ecuadorian professor was very intent on teaching his students that it wasn’t so much the tenor of the poll — or the meat of it, for that matter — but it was the way in which the question was asked and the sample of respondents. He was aghast at the way polls were cited as actual reflections of current opinion. He said that they were a reflection the sample and the wording of the questions themselves.

It is well known that voter registrations are imbalanced across the nation. Traditionally, more Democrats are oversampled in the statistics – far more so than Republicans, Independents, or Libertarians. Given that, you cannot trust polls the way you might believe.

Recently, the longest sitting Senator (from Indiana) was unseated in what was deemed a close race. Pollsters did forecast Mourdock victory over Richard Lugar. But the spread was 22%, 17% higher than the pollsters 5% estimate.

So much for the poll cats… If you are dissatisfied with the current leadership and ache for a change, don’t be dispirited by the supposedly accurate poll results. They are misleading at best.

Many researchers cite that the Democrats are oversampled at thirteen percent. That’s huge, folks. I haven’t received a call yet, and I doubt if any of you has either. Remember, polls cannot accurately forecast turnout, especially this year if the baseline is drawn from 2008. That year a unique candidacy evoked as much as a celebrity response as a political one.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a celebrity who jokes around with his sleeves rolled up that he would wash an opposition member of Congress’ car to get cooperation. I want a leader who projects bold ideas in the face of financial collapse.

And the threat against China launched by our incumbent president only AFTER Mitt Romney hammered down on the abuses of currency manipulation???? In light of the current, serious Chinese threat against the Japanese bond market, what would keep them from going after our markets and destroying what’s left of our financial base? The answer is nothing.

We now fund most of the Chinese military. Even Ancient Rome, at its zenith, didn’t do anything as stupid as funding the Visigoths. Folks, that’s like feeding the tiger poised to eat you. Forget about the manipulated polls voiced in sync from the mainstream media to discourage conservative voters. Don’t be discouraged! Be ready and urge anyone with whom you speak to do the same!

Israel sits as prey to Iran, our Ambassador to Libya is raped and murdered, American flags are burning around the world, and our esteemed leader is busy fundraising, then appearing on Letterman and rubbing elbows with Hollywood and entertainment stars. Meanwhile, The White House tells Israeli Prime Minister that nobody has time to see him.

I recall one inane comment from the earliest days of this administration. A critical presidential advisor quipped, (sic) “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Well, this group IS a crisis in itself and has let the country go to waste. What’s more, they have had a determined, inexperienced president complicit in this effort. Perceived weakness is quickly becoming actual weakness.

Paraphrasing Clint Eastwood, if someone doesn’t do the job, let him go. In this case, it’s not hard to figure out who that is. Think about it.

“Anger Management and Other Politically Correct Drivel”

Friday, September 14th, 2012

I purposefully do not write on 9/11 if it falls on a column day as it did earlier this week. I was nervous at the 11th anniversary of the attacks on America, and I cannot — for the life of me — figure out how the U. S. State Department and the military contingents assigned to protect our overseas embassies and consulates did not heighten alerts and strengthen defenses.

All that aside, we have four Americans dead for no good reason at all. These men served their country and tried to help a beleaguered, Third World nation attempt to right itself and assume responsibilities in the family of nations.

On 9/11, as has been my habit, I defer from writing. Instead, I put that time aside for sober reflection on the events of that day and say prayers for the survivors. The deaths of the thousands on that day include people of virtually every ethnicity, religion, and origin known on this planet. Peacefully going to work was their doom.

Television stations aired the images of the planes hitting those buildings and the smoking hole near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, for a little less than two weeks. We saw the threat and felt the warning for a time, but then we seemed to put all that aside and go on as if nothing happened.

The echoes of The Alamo and Pearl Harbor faded as fast as a summer-achieved tan in the fall. In the wake of the events of THIS 9/11, what did we hear from our government??? An apology for possibly offending Muslims. Oh, please. Give me air.

These same folks at the helm of our government were decrying Christians faced with a Crucifix suspended in jar full of urine. Where was the defense of Christians? Absent, as usual.

So what if someone doesn’t believe in God? How does a blessing from God hurt someone? If they are right and there is no God, the blessing is benign. If they are wrong and The Deity DOES exist, they are blessed in spite of themselves.

I have had it up to my ears with apologies to dissident or splinter groups. If same sex marriages were the norm, the human race would have become extinct at its beginning. These folks don’t reproduce. They recruit.

Schools are for learning. Schools are for inspiration. Schools are not for indoctrination. Books on why a child has “two mommies” should be read in a home of that description, not to a classroom full of impressionable children.

What was once unacceptable has moved beyond the tolerated to near normalcy at a rate that should scare the pants off of any thinking person. That, readers, is the crux of it. People who are ripe for these ridiculous positions of “political correctness” don’t think. Listen to their words. You seldom hear the statement, “I know.” Instead, you hear, “ I feel.”

Well feelings are fine if you hand is on a hot stove, but useless if you are expected to logically assess a dangerous situation and need to base your decision on facts!

Our Secretary of State has heralded herself a champion of women’s interests for as long as I can remember her in a public life. Yet, the most heinous crimes against women are routinely done by Muslims.

Forced circumcision, birkas, small girls forced back into a burning school because they lacked proper headdress, relegation to property status, and the list goes on….

Where is Clinton’s outrage at the treatment of Muslim women? Sadly, the appointment of three recent women Secretaries of State might have fueled an even higher fervor to hate Americans, given the fact that Muslims have no respect for women whatsoever. What we consider accomplishment, our enemies in the Muslim world see as an insult and an abomination.

At what point will the American people see this threat for what it is?  Where are the peaceful, hard-working Muslim-Americans in all this? Why don’t we hear their voices? I fear that they are so severely threatened by the Islamic fanatics in their mosques that they fear for their own lives.

The time has come for us to stand for our values. You don’t negotiate with an enemy that rapes women as sport and beheads Western journalists and airs the video like a soccer game.

Among the more than a thousand mosques in the United States may dwell the next wave of terrorists and yet leadership are want to call the threat for what it is. Never before the last three-and-a-half years did  I fear for my country. Undoubtedly, I am not alone in this, yet the press ignores the situation and puts it under the rug.

When I was young, news reports were just that: news reports. Reporters and news agencies put forth the facts. The public stayed informed. Today, other than one particular cable network, televised news is rife with a push to keep one party in power and sully the reputations and opinions of anyone who dares to disagree with the current administration’s position.

If this keeps up, we are lost. After about forty years of university faculties full of left-leaning professors, we can’t expect much, can we?

I’m waiting for the press conference with hard questions requiring informed answers backed with facts. I’m tired of the “Alice in Wonderland” attitude displayed by the majority of the press corps entrusted with the responsibility of bringing actual news to Americans.

These attacks Tuesday 9/11 are likely just the beginning of what we can expect here on our own soil. I keep remembering the way that our president kept bragging that he took out Osama Bin Laden. Think that might have offended the Muslim fanatics both here and overseas. Duh!

The blame placed on a film made in California is nonsensical. It’s time to stand for freedom — of speech and of action. America has always come to the defense of those who struggle against dictators. Today, while Syria is slaughtering its own people (and Clinton hailed Assad as a reformer, by the way) and Iran threatens to wipe Israel off the map, what are we doing?

We’re going through the United Nations (better spelled Untied Nations) and talking the game that needs to have force behind it. My husband is a Purdue economy grad, but he had ROTC as a student. A military history professors told his class that if they remembered nothing else, there is a mantra among soldiers. “There is not such thing as a partial victory.” The enemy we face may not have a uniform, but it has an ideology bent on destroying us.

Our military must be so strong that nobody would dare provoke America into a confrontation. The only thing that the terrorists understand is force — unrelenting, overpowering force — in a word, defeat.

Anger management? Oh, give me oxygen. We don’t need to manage our anger. We need to fuel it. You don’t negotiate with murderers. You take them out and make it clear that if they threaten you, they lose.

Unless and until we face the worldwide threat from Muslim fanatics for what it is, we remain vulnerable. And, as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said (sic), “Weakness is provocative.”

War on women? Not here America. War on America worldwide? Amen. Oh, dear, I referenced God. Think about it.


Wednesday, September 5th, 2012


By Hetty Gray

September 5, 2012

“Sin of Omission”

Do you shake your head when you read about government regulations these days? They are endemic and intrude into even the most mundane of our everyday activities.

Forget about warning labels. Almost any tool has a danger, but spelling out every conceivable mishap and putting it on a product is stupid with a capital “S”.

The smallest category of workers in America is probably farmers. At two percent of the population or less, these hardy individuals not only place their very lives on the line because of the dangers inherent to the machinery itself, but they also qualify as the biggest gamblers. Farm families invest huge amounts of money every spring when they plant the crops and hope that the weather cooperates to reward their effort at harvest.

Most media spokespeople focus on farm subsidies, yet they ignore the bulk of the Agriculture budget by failing to mention the key expenditure for the entire department.

This year that doesn’t hold true and the poor yields due to the drought will rebound in food prices nationwide. The slings and arrows aimed the annual Farm Bill fail to tell Americans that 80% of the annual Farm Bill is allocated for food stamps,  allied welfare programs and foreign aid.

To say that welfare fraud is absent is to be blind to the situation. When you calculate the high percentage of the American population that receives some sort of government aid, you should shake in your boots. Moreover, many of us have been behind a well-dressed person checking out of the grocery store with food stamps only to walk out to a late model car and stop to use a cell phone. Please…. There are people who need these monies, but there are those who take advantage of the system and use it with zest.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that many of us do need help. The question is why does our government put so many stumbling blocks in front of business to discourage hiring? Why did our Congress pass a bill that they never read that will cripple the wider economy and put us on an equal footing with countries where people clamor to come to the USA for medical care? In Canada, you would be lucky to be seen in 18 hours in an emergency room. This bit of information came to us from fellow campers this summer, residents of Ontario. They say they are lucky to be well and hope that good health will last and they are not involved in an accident.

Unless, and until, government steps out of the driver’s seat and allows the people to drive the economy, this will not improve. When push comes to shove, people react.

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is actually proud of the fact it is distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever!

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, issues this decree: “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.”

Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.

This ends today’s lesson. Think about it.

“Today’s Fairy Tale”

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

# 121

“Today’s Fairy Tale”

By Hetty Gray

August 28, 2012

If you had the choice, would you encourage someone? Would you discourage someone? Of course, you would encourage another. Yet, today there abounds a fairy tale that robs the younger ones of us of their ambition, their drive, their aspirations, their very lives.

“How is that?” you ask. The answer is before our eyes, yet too few of us recognize the portent of it. Promised help is tempting, and addicting. If you doubt it, take a hard look at what has happened since the 1960s. The once close-knit black American families have fractured into a shattered mosaic of single mothers and absent fathers. Pre-marital sex and living together without the benefit of marriage, once labeled unacceptable, now beckons young people and is flaunted by their idols in entertainment and sports.

It’s as if the conjugal act is just that, an act — devoid of any commitment. Any competent observer will tell you that the basic building blocks of any civilization consist of three elements, and a fourth if the people are especially fortunate. The first three are family, faith and language. We have seen family attacked from every quarter and aberrant behavior lauded as something to copy. Faith, when viewed by the liberal portions of our society, is seen as a weakness — not for the strength believers draw from it. Language is threatened in a myriad of ways.

Proper speaking is not exalted in our schools and profanity heard in the hallways today would never have been tolerated in the generations that brought us “the greatest generation.” I cannot begin to calculate how much money we spend on children who cannot speak English. It is an anathema, since moneyed folk send their children abroad to be “immersed” in a foreign tongue. But what do our schools do? They invest millions upon millions of dollars across this nation teaching bi-lingual classes and try to convince the general population to do less is some sort of discrimination.

Someone needs to ask these so-called educators why the only language spoken among planes and controllers worldwide is English. I can imagine the answers. You see as long as twenty years ago, I spent a fair amount of time as an adult student in university master’s classes taught by instructors who put forth a stilted “politically correct” approach to schoolwork and students. I could see the forest for the trees, since I had reared three sons, one of whom was an undergraduate at the time I was getting my master’s degree.

Speaking up as an adult gets you nowhere, because professors often view you as a threat. Furthermore, since the only things you can salvage from classes like that are your grades; you shake your head (mentally), bite your lip, and count the days until the term ends.

Now, when I see the results of all this “correctness”, I wince. Standards are so much lower than when I went to school. I had a better education in the eighth grade— except for higher math — than seniors do today. History is shortchanged, and so are the students.

Without recognizing the red flags for warning signs of what might be just “down the road”, young people are hobbled and rendered unable to fend for themselves politically or economically.

I titled this column “The Fairy Tale” for a reason. I firmly believe that our young people are in danger, not because of America’s values, but in spite of them. Told they are “discriminated against, “minorities”, or “at risk”, they see themselves catapulted into a hostile world where — with encouragement — they would have succeeded. Entrepreneurship is alive and well; but, for the most part, the younger generation doesn’t know that.

If they are poor, they are promised support. If they are uneducated, they see no improvement in public (in truth, government) schools. Nobody demands excellence. What makes that such a travesty is simple. If you expect nothing, that’s precisely what you will get.

If people are discouraged and despondent, they are coddled. The once-proud movements among the churches in our cities are crowded out by gang violence. Sadly, far too many of our youngsters are in cemeteries long before their time.

Outreach is alive in the inner cities, but the media seldom focus on it. Instead, anchors count the bodies and describe the latest murders on the nightly news and seldom challenge to the community at large to bring pressure to bear on the thugs that ruin lives and devastate futures. In short, threats and violence work.

When young people feel lost and lack goals, some element of the government offers to reinforce their angst and provide some sort of “help” to assuage their plight.

Is this the America built by the blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers, their wives and children? I think not. If you want a picture of what happens when government takes over and individual incentive dies, study Russia from 1917 until the fall of the Soviet Union.

Unless one has — for want of a better term — skin in the game, it’s a lost cause. Working and saving for something instills pride and a sense of accomplishment unsurpassed by any form of assistance. Contrast the stability of neighborhoods with property owners with areas designated as “public housing.”

Upward mobility is still possible, but if you believe what the media spouts, everyone is stuck and cannot rise to a higher level. What’s more, the envy and enmity now launched against very successful people is inexcusable. This is robbery and strikes at the heart of the American Dream.

Undoubtedly, you will hear people decry what many term “American Exceptionalism”. They term it a fantasy. If it is, then let them explain why hordes of people from around the world — downtrodden to the highly educated — yearn to come to America.

We have been that “shining city” of which President Reagan so eloquently spoke for generations. That light has dimmed over the past few years, but the spark is still alive. We need only to fuel it by abandoning government regulations and embrace freedom.

Demand politicians from the local to the federal level get their heads on straight and stand for what we are in danger of losing: precious freedom.

Insist on excellence in all areas, from school to the workplace. Demand English as the primary language of America. Reject economic robbery by illegals. If that is acceptable, then burglary victims need to post signs asking the burglars to come back and get what they missed. Don’t allow our young people to be misled by the Fairy Tale that the government is the be-all end-all of everything. It isn’t.

In the end, we are a nation whose government is “of the people, by the people and by the people.” Think about it.

In case you missed this…

Monday, September 3rd, 2012


“Just in case you missed this…”

By Hetty Gray

August 21, 2012

Nothing pleases me more than finding a memorable quote. In this case, it is an
entire talk — given incidentally — on a television program hosted by Tom Brokaw recently. The words are those of one Dennis Prager, an incoming high school principal in Colorado. Heed him. What we need are thousands more like him!

A professor friend of mine sent this along — oddly enough, a conservative professor!

“I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

“I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas
that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

“First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity—your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American.

“This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values—e pluribus Unum, “from many, one.” And this school will be guided by America’s values. This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.
Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism—an unhealthy preoccupation with the self—while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

“Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America ‘s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here—it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English—but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

“Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning’s elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

“Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school’s property—whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you
can’t speak without using the f-word, you can’t speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus
epithets such as “Nigger,” even when used by one black student to address another black, or “bitch,” even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend.
It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the
degraded, the holy and the obscene.

“Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way—the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago—by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

“Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you
about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately fortunate—to be alive and to be an American.

“Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand
them to you.”

Not to avoid being correct in my mind, and you may quote ME: “Amen to that!”

“No Surprise Here!”

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

# 119

“No surprise here!”

By Hetty Gray

August 13, 2012

How many times have you said this or heard someone else say it: “If our business operated like the government, we would go broke.” Well, guess what. The government is broke.

The scary part of all this is that I fear the nation lacks the patience to live through any kind of a real adjustment. In this day of instant gratification, everyone wants news in tiny sound bites, tons of information at their fingertips, and rosy outlooks for everything.

Those ideas, though technologically applicable in the first two cases, are not feasible today. A rosy outlook is only possible if you are wearing rose-colored glasses. We are at the end of our financial rope and the end is tightening around the bottom line.

Red is a great color for clothing, but terrible when in ink. Instead of instilling the concept of thrift in grade-school children, we thrill them with video games, computer generated images and cellular phones. Yep! I’ve even seen small children with cell phones.

The combination of no time to use an imagination and constant stimulation does not bode well. Oh, we will have youngsters who are very quick with the mouse click, but not swift on the up tick — when applied to real work and the effort it takes to achieve economic security.

The very idea that 40cents of every dollar is borrowed should strike fear in the hearts of every American. Sadly, it does not. Instead, we plod ahead through a sea of red ink and ignore the fact that everything will implode.

Analysts tell us that Social Security and Medicare cannot sustain themselves under the present system and that by 2030 they will fail. That’s only 18 years, folks. Paul Ryan authored a plan that does not affect anyone over 55 — giving time to change the format for younger workers to be under a newer, more streamlined system.

I’ve watched elections for decades and I’m weary of the scare tactics aimed at the elderly. Many of our seniors depend on Social Security for their retirement income in its entirety. Never mind that the system was designed for “supplemental” income. That’s water under the bridge.

In the 1950s, a retiree received up to seven times what he or she had paid into the system. Those were the glory days of Social Security. Now the ratio has dropped and the numbers of working Americans simply will not support those due to retire in the next decades.

Manufacturers constantly change their designs to attract new buyers. Consumer choices rule in any other realm of our economy. Yet, we are still slipping into 1930s garb when it comes to our retirement.

The concept that there was a “lock box” for the monies paid is ludicrous. It didn’t take long for those in Washington, D.C. to see all that cash as a great prize and they raided it. If that money had been invested, we would be in great shape. Even in light of ups and downs in the stock market, returns would have been very good for older Americans.

If you wouldn’t climb into an 80-year-old automobile or expect an operator at the other end of a wired-to-the-wall black telephone when you need to make a call, then why would you settle for a system that is not only outmoded, but also outdated? Few items in everyday are the “latest” for long. Buy an item today and in three months, a new version will hit the shelves.

I harken back to President Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961. “Ask not,” he stated, “what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Well, it’s time we followed that suggestion.

We need to do three things and do them right away: (1) Demand that the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid systems be overhauled so that those 55 and under can expect some sort of retirement benefits, (2) Put a time limit on government aid to able-bodied people and expect work as the number one prerequisite for receiving such aid, and (3) Clean house when it comes to drugs and resolve to instill the work ethic, honesty, and incentive in our children so that they can experience pride in accomplishment and look forward to a brighter future.

Face it. If you work for something, you appreciate it more. If you expect nothing, that’s just what you will get. To take a title from an English work, “Great Expectations” is what we need more than anything else. When 9/11 shook America to its core, people came together as one to face danger.

Economic collapse is the danger today. Are we up to facing it? Can we put aside partisan biases and decide to band together as Americans and return our fiscal house to order?

I hope so — for my grandchildren’s sake. We owe the children more than the mess that looms over us now. Think about it.


Monday, September 3rd, 2012

# 118


By Hetty Gray

July 31, 2012

With the problems attendant to the drought, there is little to boost my sense of humor, but the silver lining may — nonetheless — be alive and well. Every modicum of nature has its own rhythm. Life itself has a rhythm undeterred and undefeated by time.

The weather patterns that three or four generations consider “normal” are but a reflection of anything to which we become accustomed. In 1995 my husband and I were privy to a wonderful speaker whose expertise was western hemisphere weather.

He set forth a set of facts that amazed me and I wish I knew where to find them so I could put them down for you to read.

In short, he explained that the weather from about 1900 until 1995 had held incredibly constant. Any constancy over that amount of time becomes so rooted in the human psyche that an aberration from that constancy is alarming. He told us that the extremes experienced by the pioneers constitute “normal weather” for this area of the world.

Although dry years do occur over time, he saw a distinct pattern in the seeming chaos of meteorology.

What’s more, he cited a precise cycle. He told us that, beginning in 1936, severe drought strikes every nineteen years. His research found that major US droughts occurred in 1936, 1955, 1974, and 1993.

Add another nineteen — and VOILA! — you get 2012.

If nothing else, the time frame gives me hope that next year bodes far better for those of us in agriculture to lessen harsh burdens of the rapid food price rises that certainly face Americans in short order. Oh, I know that forecasters claim prices will go up after the first of the year; but there’s a good chance your grocery bills will rise much sooner than that.

Ranchers and farmers are forced to sell off their animals at lower weights because feed costs will be very high. Cattle, chickens and hogs thrive on corn. Because drought impacts corn yields to a high degree, you can count on our talented and resourceful farmers and ranchers to do amazing things aided by modern technology. Yet these folks operate at the caprice of Mother Nature, and she can be less than kind.

If that climatologist’s pattern continues to hold, we can breathe a bit easier
— at least for nineteen years.

“Travels With Bear”

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

# 117

“Travels with Bear”

By Hetty Gray

July 21, 2012

As a camper, you must have one prerequisite or you’re lost — a sense of humor. I don’t care if you tent, a pop-up, tow a trailer or a fifth wheel or drive sumptuous motor home, the parts within are man-made. Ergo, they break.

We have been extremely lucky during our most recent camping trips. Oh, I towed a pop-up when my sons were small, but that was about forty years ago. And, as time would have it, memories do fade. What once was critical becomes laughable. That is, if you vow to take it in stride.

This summer, we coordinated camping schedules with a young family we met three years ago. The five of us met along the North Shore of Minnesota north of Duluth. A pair of talented people the age of our grown children, he is a computer systems engineer and she is a nurse practitioner. To our eyes, their five-year-old son had suddenly morphed into a lean, tall, beaming eight-year-old on in-line skates or astride a mountain bike. It’s understandable. After all, we hadn’t seen him for three summers.

His parents’ hobby of diving the shallow shipwrecks in the Great Lakes with occasional trips to the Caribbean was a highlight for us. From them and other members of their SCUBA club, we not only learned more about diving equipment and underwater cameras than we had expected, but we also came to appreciate the odd mix of exploration and danger so familiar to anyone with a hobby that involves personal risk. Bringing their son into the mix first involved snorkeling. They tell us that he is so adept at it now that they plan to enroll him into various levels of SCUBA training at ten and twelve.

One day the “big lake” rolled with high waves, a situation incompatible with diving from one of the two boats accompanying the diving club to the campground. Their other option was diving off the shore and one site was not only perfect, but in a very unique area.

The ship Madeira lies offshore near one of Minnesota’s treasured sites, Split Rock Lighthouse. Perched atop steep cliffs overlooking Lake Superior, the lighthouse is a real gem. Immaculate grounds and many learning opportunities draw more than a million visitors in any given year. If you choose, you may watch a 22-minute film on the lighthouse and its history, tour the light keeper’s cottage, hike the trails surrounding the light house, or simply relax and picnic in one of the park’s picturesque glens overlooking the water or nestled deep in the woods.

Traveling RV style affords folks very singular experiences. What other vacation accommodation offers you the chance to sit around a campfire with Americans, Canadians, Swiss, Germans, and Japanese — none of whom you had known even hours before? Oh, hotels are both hospitable and lovely, but seldom does a mix of complete strangers gather on the grounds around to roast marshmallows at twilight.

After three days of sweatshirt weather and watching the great ore boats enter and leave the Two Harbors port, our time was up and we needed to find another campground. We ended up along the South Shore of Superior close to Bayfield, Wisconsin and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

A mix of Victorian homes, small shops, restaurants, bookstores and a busy marina, Bayfield also boasts great store called Keeper of the Light. Never have I seen such a variety of lighthouse items. Want a small paperweight under ten bucks? It’s there. Yearn for a huge lighthouse model running into the thousands of dollars? You can buy that, too.

We checked into a campground on the outskirts on short notice. They had a site for us, and we jumped at it. Did I mention a sense of humor?

The shady shite was not set up for the picnic table to be on the right side of the unit featuring the awning and the entry door. However, since we only planed to stay two nights, we opted to eat outdoors at local bistros both evenings and cook breakfast and lunch at the trailer.

One step out of the truck greeted us with a hot blast. The 66-degree temperatures of Two Harbors were history. Back to reality and hot July weather. About fifteen minutes after we parked, a large truck rolled up at the end of our trailer and began to empty the septic system. I didn’t think too much about it, because sites with “full hook ups” (water, electricity, and sewer) require such attention.

Once the hitch was unfastened and everything was level within the trailer, my husband went inside to initiate the cooling system. Accustomed to what we do when we first arrive at a campground, Bear, our big Newfoundland dog was antsy — anxiously looked forward to a cool place to nap.

Not so fast, boy. No air conditioning! The trailer was new in January of 2011, so we had no reason to consider a main system failure. Were we wrong!! With temperatures approaching 90,the three of us were not the picture of “happy campers!”

After a call to the factory, we learned that the digital thermostat had lost its link to the air conditioning unit. Somewhere in all that wiring was a glitch. Well, we chose to make the best of it, unpacked the comfortable outdoor chairs, grabbed the cooler with iced beverages and put a rug under a tree for Bear.

A couple of hours later, with every awning out and every screened window open, we headed for the charming harbor area. The shady deck was perfect and the waitress even brought Bear a huge bucket of ice and water. We watched the ferry traffic alongside lovely sailboats skimming the waters in the stiff winds so familiar along Lake Superior. Madeline Island glistened in the late afternoon sun while tourists walked the streets with their purchases, boosting the local economy so dependent on the summer season.

You can snowmobile at Bayfield — even cross the ice to Madeline Island in the winter — but summer revenue rules.

A walk down the pier topped off the evening. A tall white-haired man stopped to ask about our dog. A sailboat captain who offered either three-hour or five-hour tours around the harbor, he laughed when learned the dog’s name was Bear. Then, he told us what had happened at his home just days earlier.

His erratic schedule involves coming and going from home at different times on any given day. Days earlier, he hosted an out of state sailboat captain at his home. When the visitor heard noises coming from the kitchen around noon, he assumed that his host had returned. Walking toward the kitchen, he began to talk to his friend. Imagine his reaction when cleared the doorway to see an adult black bear leisurely eating lunch from the garbage can in the corner behind the door.

Just as the man grabbed the doorframe in shock, the captain opened the kitchen door. The bear simply looked from one man to the other and continued to munch. He had no fear of humans whatsoever, so he didn’t see any good reason to interrupt his repast even if he did have visitors. In the captain’s words, this could have been a cartoon bear.

The two men eventually got the bear out of the house, and went back to their business; but I’m not sure I would have been that calm about the whole thing. He was out one screen door, but he explained that locals are accustomed to bears and their foraging about in homes or garages. It goes with the territory.

Tummies full and rehashing the bear story, we headed back to our campsite. The weather failed to cool down and trees blocked what breezes did come from the lake. Alas, we resigned ourselves to a less than comfortable night’s rest.

We made sure to walk the dog before night fell, because bears frequent the campground. The park owner maintains a huge bear trap next to the office. Made from a large metal barrel with plenty of air holes, it offers something tasty and then slams shut once the bear takes the bait. Since this type of trap doesn’t harm the animal, the park owner simply calls the DNR to come and pick up Herr Bear for a return trip to the woods.

Windows open, we knew it would be a long night. Sadly, there was more to it than the heat. When we registered that day, we noticed the owner toting a concrete septic cover with his front-end loader. There was more, of course. The storage tank next to our bedroom window put a skunk to shame and no other sites were open. In short, we were there for the duration. Closing windows was not an option.

At one point, we did muster a smile. We spied that huge Newfoundland with his paws over his nose! It was even too much for him. The double-edged sword was that our only respite was when the breeze stopped. I think that I may tell this story to the service center when we go to have the air conditioning fixed.

I suppose that smell doesn’t outrank an animal encounter, but just “bearly”. Our air conditioning problem probably won’t be the only failure we experience, but I hope that the next one won’t involve “Uncommon Scents.”

Excuse the pun with my column title, but I just can’t resist. It’s that sense of humor thing again!

“Mourning in America”

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

# 116

“Mourning in America”

By Hetty Gray

July 10, 2012

Well, I took a hiatus. I’ve been in mourning. Ten years ago when I began this column, I entitled it — as most of you know — IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE. I knew she was ill and failing, but after the SCOTUS decision, I realized that Common Sense truly was dead. Sadly, her children logic and reason are both in critical condition and nobody seems to be stepping up to do anything about it. You can’t count on socialized medicine, that’s for sure.

When was the last time you heard of someone running to Canada or flying to England for medical care? Sure…. Here we are with the finest medical care in the world and the progressives and liberals are vaulting us into the abyss of mediocrity. There might not have been any “smoke filled rooms” in the Pelosi House of Representatives when that unwieldy, 2000-page-plus bill was pushed through in the middle of the night, but it lives up to the “back room deals” we heard about when we read about corrupt politics during the height of the immigrant period in the late 19th century.

So, what do we do now? Well, for one thing, we can get the word out to anyone and everyone to work for a landslide replacement of the White House and the Senate to throw the balance of power to the other party. Every time the House passed a budget bill, it died in the Senate. Thanks, majority! Good job! Maybe YOU should look into the benefits of the government’s much-touted unemployment insurance.

I know that my professor of Constitutional Law is wringing his hands and shaking his head. I loved his class, and at no time did I hear him point out the portion stating that the government was permitted to force anyone to buy anything! This was not just the ordinary professor, either.

He grew up in Taiwan, the son of parents who fled Mainland China just in time to escape the “Cultural Revolution” that stifled the country for decades. He revered the U.S. Constitution and held it as the ultimate standard for the world. The very reason early colonists waged The American Revolutionary War was to insure that no citizen would be subjected to a government with unlimited power.

Where are the Madisons and Jeffersons of today? We need them. Repeal is the only avenue open to us, and we had better make sure that we do everything we can to turn over this behemoth before a committee holds sway over your life or the life of your spouse, your child, your parent. You remember the camel, don’t you — the animal designed by a committee?

I wish I knew the intricacies of our Congress and its rules more thoroughly. If this health care mandate is truly a tax, then can the House reintroduce it as a tax? I can’t help but think that if it had been introduced as a tax, even the then component body would have had a hard time getting it through, day or night given constituent opposition.

All money bills must originate in the House of Representatives and it would be interesting to see just how all of this shakes out in the end. As for now, prediction is the only route left. Like an opinion, everyone has one….

Common sense held sway a mainstay of American thought until the onslaught of liberal tax and spend policies. Today, sadly, it appears to be dead in the water within The Beltway. One takes a deep breath in disbelief that “interpretation” has replaced a clear reading of any law. I think many of us have shaken heads in the wake of a SCOTUS decision, but perhaps never more than now. If, as some think, there is a silver lining in all this and a clear legislative solution will rise to erase this health care bill, we would all breathe a little easier.

With too many in the wagon and too few pulling it, only time will tell. My worry is that the wagon will mire my grandchildren in a lifestyle they didn’t ask for and require them to pay for others’ mistakes.

Words are important. Words count. At least the 10th Amendment upheld guaranteeing the states powers not specifically designated to the federal level.

Remember, the Constitution limits the powers of the federal government in order to assure freedom for the states. If that were to fall under the bus, it would be hard to fathom what would follow.

Take a hard look in Spain and Greece where more than half of their young people cannot find work. Does the length of benefits here in the USA directly link to the length of time to find a job? A current graph confirming that European unemployment benefits over the past decade proves that the shorter the benefit period, the quicker folks go out and get jobs.

One newsman visited an unemployment office in a major US city and found that there were dozens of businesses within a few blocks advertising for workers. Bottom line, if you hand out money, the incentive to take a job is low. One social worker from within that unemployment office said she thought the government was encourages people to be dependent? ‘Ya think?

Hope and pray that Americans can turn back the clock a bit and return to common sense. Defend our borders. Slash spending. Ask for sacrifice in the spirit of John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address so often quoted. That’s real sacrifice, folks, not just window dressing.

As for Common Sense, she lies buried in a potter’s field. Once held to a finite standard of worthy thought and honored as a valued elder, she reposes among the ashes of ignorance, greed, and sloth. Pray that people realize that her loss is truly theirs and vow to work to awaken her spirit once again.

Mourning in America? Yes, but let’s hope that doesn’t morph to Mourning FOR America. Think about it.