Archive for January, 2013

One Eighty

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

By Hetty Gray

On line Column # 138

January 28, 2013

“One Hundred Eighty Degrees of Difference”

Last week’s decision to allow women in combat positions prompted a lot of discussion among civilians and military alike. Since American history lost its prominence in our schools and most Americans know little of it, I am not surprised that ignorance rules.

Among the Revolutionary, Civil War, and Mexican War troops were women, disguised as men and using aliases.

During World War I, more than 20,000 women served and 400 died. World War II saw the numbers climb to 350,000. Of those more than 60,000 served as Army nurses and over 4,000 as Navy nurses. The WAACs, formed in 1942, served overseas in England, France, Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines.

Research confirms that 67 Army nurses captured in the Philippines were held as Japanese POWs for nearly three years. The Japanese also captured some Navy nurses during the war.

Nurses served in every conflict, often wounded or killed in action. The impressive Washington, D.C. memorial to nurses speaks volumes and complements the Vietnam and World War II Memorials to honor those who gave their lives to defend America and freedom for all people.

The Army wasn’t alone either. Alongside the Navy, the Marines and Coast Guard also formed reserve units for women. Further strides were made over the years and in 2012, more than 14% of the military was made up of women. Over 165,000 are enlisted personnel and well over 35,000 serve as officers. The recent Panetta decision reverses the 1994 ban on combat assignments for women.

While discussion, undoubtedly, will continue ad nauseum, there is a valid point to one argument. It is a stretch to imagine a woman pulling a 200-pound-plus comrade from harm’s way. In addition, the specter of torture for a female outstrips that of a male when dealing with militant Islam.

I seldom reflect on past columns, but one written in 2004, a few years after the outbreak of the Gulf War, is germane at this point. Entitled, “Does Alma Matter?” (a take off on Alma Mater), the text is self-explanatory.

The Shelbyville News
By Hetty Gray

“Does Alma Matter?”

Published 02-26-04

Word Count: 745

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m as far from what society terms a “feminist” as one can be. I enjoy being a woman, to be truthful; I have earned the moniker of “Doris Domestic.” I adore sewing and knitting, and among my favorite household chores are washing windows and ironing. Are you beginning to get the picture? Good. I want you to understand my perspective before I launch into this column.

Have you ever wondered precisely what propels civilization to greatness? Is it raw power? How about ideology? Maybe it’s strategic location or natural resources. Perhaps, but despite the fact that political scientists cite these factors as seminal, I offer another slant to the picture — a slant that should make you stop and think.

History illustrates that when a civilization relegates women solely to child bearing, manual labor, and a social status on par with livestock, true progress escapes its grasp. Oh, a country may prosper for a time, but without true respect between the sexes, progress is close to nil.

From early beginnings, nations rose and fell — many times on their own swords. Military might pushed groups forward until others developed a better weapon or amassed a larger army. Some societies isolated boys from their families and trained them as soldiers. Want to guess what kind of husbands THEY made once they returned home?

Asian societies placed some women in high station and ignored others. Consider the Geisha and the wife in pre-World War II Japan. After the war, women flooded universities and their talents helped to fuel the virtual rebirth of the Japanese economy. Today, Japan boasts women scientist, physicians, and engineers who compete with the best men in the world.

It is rare to see a Japanese woman walking behind her husband today. Yet, such a change came over centuries, not decades — and only after the introduction of Western culture.

Poverty is the key in underdeveloped nations. In these often forgotten places, few people muse over the division of labor. Simply staying alive poses daunting challenges to struggling people, and countless children die before the age of five. In the real Third World, to draw comparisons between men and women is futile.

Military dictatorships illustrate distinctly different situations. Africa finds itself plagued with such governments. Genocide is not uncommon, and worldwide media pay little attention to what goes inside the borders. Merely traveling within such countries exposes reporters to mortal danger. Charities that focus on human rights abuses in such countries find it hard to estimate the human costs of guns over butter — as if butter were a food choice anyway!

Consider Afghanistan under the Taliban. Government stripped widows of their husbands’ property and relegated them to beg in the streets. Sadly, many resorted to selling their own bodies. Covered from head to toe, these desperate women peered at the world through tiny mesh screens in heavy birkas. Any hope for dignity died with their husbands.

When the Taliban came to power, women government officials, as well as women doctors and engineers, lost their jobs. The society began to disintegrate from within. By the time US forces helped to liberate the Afghani people from the clutches of the religious extremists, infrastructure had crumbled and business had suffered mightily.

In The Middle East, “female castration” remains a common right of passage for girls. Often done with no medical training and with not anesthetic, the horrific procedure deprives women of the ability to enjoy a sexual physical relationship with a partner. Some claim that the practice stems from men’s fears that wives will stray from marital bonds. Even if that is true, the act itself brands the people who condone it as well as those who perform it. I find it hard to put an adjective to their inhumanity.

No society is perfect, yet America comes as close as many think possible. Law disallows discrimination on the basis of gender. Year by year, women’s wages creep upward, and that legendary “glass ceiling” has a few cracks in it. I wouldn’t trade places with the women who push to make it to the top, but neither would I purposefully hold them back. I do question the undeserved label placed on those who choose to stay home and rear their children. Motherhood merits the highest praise.

Why not use the position of women as a measure of societal progress? If Alma doesn’t matter, shouldn’t she? (End of column)

Minus the statement about homemakers, the entire subject begs one statement: The way a society or culture treats its women and children speaks volumes. Basics are basics.

We put our women on the front lines, fighting. Muslims put their women (and children!) as human shields. They know we value life. They boast that they value death. They also know we consider the lives of innocents even at the height of battle. Indeed, there is a 180º difference between America and Militant Islam.

As with any characteristic, valuing women and human life can and will be turned against us. Our high standards put us at risk. I hope that such risk doesn’t exact a terrible price on those women who volunteer to fight for us. We owe them as much respect as the men who serve alongside them. Think about it.

Closed for Business

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

By Hetty Gray

# 136

“Closed for business…”

Driving across America is not what it once was. The tiny hamlets with bustling shops are, for the most part, gone. Larger towns, once packed with active storefronts, now stand gaunt…. stores closed, sidewalks overgrown with weeds, once-proud filling stations empty with some advertising gasoline for a pittance of the current cost.

Moreover, the climate is not relegated to the small business sector. The outskirts of the great manufacturing centers of the 1940s and 1950s are idle. Rusty hulks of huge buildings cast their shadows over empty parking lots. Decrepit wire fences bear testament to once-busy enterprises where thousands labored to turn out goods proudly stamped “Made in America.”

These scenes replicate state after state. A number of years ago I wrote a column in which I claimed that the most endangered species among us is the small businessperson. I still stand by that claim.

Our media claim that the unemployment figures are around 9%. However, there is more to the story. Folks are dropped off the reported lists of unemployed after completing 52 weeks of the current 99-week unemployment period. Moreover, if you add to that number those who have dropped out of the job search, the end result is likely more than 20%.

You won’t hear that on the mainstream news channels. That’s more than sad. It’s irresponsible. When they can tout the fact that a toad is more important than Central California farmers, they could go to the trouble of figuring out just how many people are out of work. Right?

For the first time in my life I fear for the way of life that America exemplified throughout its history. We are at a crossroads. Unless, and until, voters heed the sage old saying “There is no free lunch,” we will slide down that famous slippery slope to economic oblivion.

Workers built this country. Early on, government limited the relief for the out of work and charitable organizations and churches cared for the poor. Rules allowed business to work but and benefit from progress and innovation. I’d wager that, fifty years ago, few merchants had to worry about having a broom every so many square feet. OSHA probably has rules that do make sense, but so many of them are just bunk!

Get government out of the picture! Allow business to thrive. Open up our energy reserves. Encourage America to become more energy independent. Enforce our borders and mandate all immigrants learn to speak and write the English language. Lower the corporate tax rate so our companies will not move overseas.

Late last year, AON announced a move from Chicago to London, saving the company $100 million in taxes. Well, if the tax rate were lower, entities such as AON would pay less but they would still be here TO PAY. America would benefit in the long run.

Many merchants operate on high volume at low prices. We need a flat tax minus the plethora of loopholes. All who earn also pay. All of them! Even those at the low end of the pay scale should pay some taxes. That way, they feel as if they participate in the system. It is common sense that it is more important to earn something than to have it handed to you. Personal achievement makes you a better person.

It doesn’t take rocket science. The list isn’t long, but it is meaty.
First, instill the pride of country in our youngsters… the value of freedom… a healthy respect for authority…. Second, utilize all levels and genres of education to stress that business is best that operates with the highest ethics, that honesty IS the best policy. Third, don’t expect government to solve all your problems, but rely on government to do those things you cannot do for yourself: national security, stable currency, military defense.

I wonder… how much money American business, as a whole, would save if it didn’t have to monitor for corporate sabotage, employee theft, and downright lying? There are ten rules for life, but they step across the line into the realm of religion — a step too far for the politically correct crowd.

One truth holds. Government is best that governs least. We have lost that.

If we don’t regain it, we will lose far more. It is a ghastly thought, but it will take nothing less than an economic catastrophe to awaken Americans to the impact of a growing and unrestrained government. Think about it.


Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

By Hetty Gray

# 135 – January 7, 2013


Every civilization on this planet claims a foundation. Basically, each is twofold: language and faith. Consider these. Italy: Italian, Catholicism. Spain: Spanish, Catholicism. Saudi Arabia: Arabic, Islam.

Among all nations, ours is unique. America not only boasts an amalgam of varied nationalities, but also a duality in faith. United States of America: English, Judeo-Christian.

Again, I emphasize that these two foundations are seminal to any people. Yet, today, the powers that be seem intent on dismantling both. What do you think would happen if Americans moved to Italy in great numbers and petitioned the native population to adopt English, insisting that advertising and store signage reflect the change? Fat chance.

Why, then, should we — when we find ourselves buried financially under the exploding burden of providing services to illegal immigrants — be forced to provide bi-lingual education in our schools? Keep in mind that added language is not Spanish alone. Depending on the district, many other languages are added every year. Add to this the escalating medical costs (consider the indebtedness of California alone!), and it is no secret that immigration is the antithesis of the poem by Emma Lazarus.

Oh, America still beckons “… your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”. But these illegals do not come solely for opportunity. Instead, they find it “opportune” to sneak across the border and take advantage of all manner of benefits.

Just exactly what part of “illegal” do those pushing for “reform” of our immigration laws not understand? How many foreign nationals waiting to come to the USA legally are frustrated by the cavalier attitude of a federal government that ignores high numbers coming across the border illegally?

Are we to simply ignore all these legal applicants in favor of those that sneak across the border and then beg the government to stay? How sad. The Constitution outlines that the federal government provide for “the common defense,” yet it even fails to secure its own borders.

No nation can sustain such a situation indefinitely.

It’s about time that American citizens of Hispanic background stand up and demand that those coming here illegally not be afforded the same welcome as those who come through proper channels — often waiting years to do so. There is right and there is wrong. Illegal entry is wrong!

I feel as if I am living in a time warp where wrong is right and right is wrong. Some states condone same sex marriages, legalized marijuana. One paper actually had the nerve to print the names of legal gun owners, but they did not publish lists of sexual offenders or felons who committed gun crimes.

According to John Lott, less than one-tenth of one percent of gun owners link to gun crimes. Who commits the other 99.99 percent? You got it. Criminals. What makes you think that stricter gun laws will keep criminals from obtaining weapons?

Consider technology, too. A Google map of addresses where guns are located simply provides an easy guide for criminal types that either want to know where to avoid an armed homeowner or where to steal guns? Great plan, huh?

The disintegration of our justice system to the point where judges legislate from the bench instead of adjudicating cases solely based on law is appalling. Maybe you haven’t thought about it, but the 1960s hippies and radicals that worried their elders folks fifty years ago now occupy a growing number of elected offices and judgeships across the nation.

I wonder if an old adage holds. You’ve heard it. “The inmates are in charge of the asylum.” I don’t know many of these people, and I have no right to question their sanity. I do, however, question their actions. I am reminded of another truism. Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts.

Sound judgment must be based on law and on morality. Once this nation was known for both. Today, we have lost one and we watch as the other crumbles on the altar of “political correctness.”

Personally, I wish I had never heard the term. It is offensive. I judge it an excuse for poor decision-making. “If it feels good, do it” will never hold up as a basis for effective governance.

Isn’t it about time that we demanded (not requested) that those in leadership really lead? What I see is “weedership”, not leadership. While “weedership” may not be a term you have heard before; but it is my creation, and it is apt.

Consider my logic. Weeds invade a pristine field and, over time, ruin it from within. Today, we witness the fruits of several decades of the weeds among us. Their numbers have grown.

They operate by their own rules, too. When one of them is accused of moral lapses or crimes, peers laugh and look the other way — only to crucify those of the opposition party for even the smallest infraction.

Media only adds to the problem, as it regularly ignores gross dereliction of duty and moves to further demean and marginalize those of conservative viewpoint. If a politician doesn’t comport to a liberal view, he or she is ignored, criticized or, chastised publicly.

Liberals, long in charge of education, have bequeathed us a real mess. Now, due to their influence, we must live with the results of an election that — more than anything else — illustrates the danger of an uninformed and ill-educated electorate.

Celebrity should never outrank ability. Yet, it did. Nobody wanted to hear the truth. They wanted a fairy tale. Bill Clinton’s 2008 primary words to describe his wife’s opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination come back to haunt us.

Sadly, I doubt if much will change over the next four years. Yet, we can withstand a lot as a nation.

History proves it. Abraham Lincoln, had he lived, would have been far easier on the South than Johnson was considering the chasm that existed between the north and the south in the wake of t
he Civil War. Today, however, the rift is a far different one, and in many ways, even more dangerous. The present chief executive is busily dividing America by every means possible — by economic status, by ethnicity, by gender, and by age. Nice plan, huh? It takes little to inspire envy and hate.

Remember, this nation was not founded on negatives. The United States was founded on positives.

A background in political science does no good when assessing this administration. More than anything else, common sense falls on its face.

To find the term “common good,” one must only go to the works of Marx and Hegel. Am I comparing the mindset of these folks to Communists? Well, if the shoe fits, wear it.

Socialists and communists always claim to work for the “common good,” but the good seldom comes. Moreover, the poor (whom they claim to champion) suffer the most. The richest stay rich (provided they ally with the powers that be) and the poor grow even poorer.

The Bible tells us that all the governments will fall in the end times, but I had hoped it might be on someone else’s watch and not mine. Remember the house built on sand? It fell. Only a house built on rock withstands the storm. America has stood for years built on a rock of limited government. My most fervent hope is that that rock weathers the coming storm. And it IS coming.

What’s that sound? A rock cracking? Think about it.