Archive for August, 2013

157 “Where the heart is…”

Friday, August 16th, 2013

By Hetty Gray

# 157

August 13, 2013

“Where the heart is…”

I admit it. I’m a real pushover for a movie with a plot that wraps around faith and family. Recently, we have been watching a cable channel with the acronym of PIXL. Evidently, the producers remember what the world once saw as the America of opportunity, hard work, perseverance neighborliness, and basic hometown values.

That America still exists, but media moguls rarely use it as a centerpiece for their multi-million dollar spectacles of greed, speed, and bleed. Yes, our children are exposed to violence, heinous plots and fast-moving action heroes who defy any interpretation of military or law enforcement personnel. Death has no real impact, because the movie heroes and villains resurface in their next films.

And what has this spawned? Well, the recent beating on a Florida school bus is the most recent of countless wake-up calls over the past decades. Have we reached the tipping point? Who knows? Desensitizing children to violence has no good end.

Parents who actually monitor what their children watch must do all they can to block the channels that air inappropriate films, but it doesn’t stop there.
If you begin to really listen to the commercials these days and really pay attention, you may hear more than you want. A recent one of note is peppered with “Don’t tell Mom” and “Don’t tell Dad.” Now isn’t that nice?

Sins of omission are sins nonetheless. Several years ago I wrote to McDonald Corporation complaining about an ad that had children blackmailing Dad over a broken item belonging to Mom.

It doesn’t end there, either. Consider billboards, magazine advertisements, store windows, and clothing. The messages are not subtle. Sex and infidelity is out there in the open for all to see, whether they really comprehend what they see or not. I shudder to think what modern parents must try to explain after their children see or hear unsuitable advertisements. You don’t see ads affirming commitment and the merits of marriage.

Throw in the “…if you have taken this drug, call us” or “if you had this operation and experienced any of these complications, call us” genre coupled with the pharmaceutical ads touting remedies for incontinence, impotence, and depression, and the mix is toxic. The blatant lying and cheating is awful.

Years ago, parents and the school worked for the child. Today, in far too many instances, the tables have turned and it is the parent and child against the school. Not a pretty picture, is it? The kids know it, and they taunt teachers and administrators and threaten lawsuits. Nice, huh?

When you see one of these objectionable commercials, jot down the name of the company advertised. Tell them you will not patronize their businesses or buy their products. Talk is cheap, but money shouts. Don’t let them get away with their poison. It may be chic in their eyes, but it is disgusting to a great many of us. The messages influence the children who watch these ads. Don’t allow it.

Like any institutions, schools do better when they compete against one another. School uniforms do wonders. Studies show that behavior problems drop precipitously within weeks of adopting uniforms. Rules bring security to children. Setting limits tells a child that he or she has value.

Curriculum doesn’t need to be dumbed down, either. Consider West Side Prep, Marva Collins’ marvelous school in Chicago. It has awed people for decades. She has elementary school children reading the classics and taking Latin. The children are enthusiastic. They can hardly wait to get to school. They learn that education is the key to success and a real future.

It makes me sick to think what the future may hold. Too many children fall through the cracks, especially in poor neighborhoods. Parents of children in failing schools clamor for vouchers. They are desperate to give their children a chance. And what do we hear from the mass media? School choice is bad. You must go to cable and really listen to the nuts and bolts of the situation to realize the wisdom of vouchers and the stupidity of the anti-voucher arguments.

Well, it might be bad, but not for the families who value education more than victimization. We need to go after the merchants of evil — the rap music industry, the violence video-game companies, and the moviemakers who flaunt violence and wrap it in fast-paced action to attract our youth.

We have fewer people working today than in decades. The workforce is small, and the job openings for qualified workers go begging. It is not a secret that many of our children graduate from high school and can hardly read. Their math skills are abysmal. We cannot rebuild this nation without reliable, qualified workers. The situation cannot be changed immediately, but we can push for change — meaningful, real change in our schools.

Demand to see textbooks. Demand that standards be raised. Demand that passing children from one grade level to the next is only done when achievement merits promotion.

Help struggling parents. They need a forum. They, too, need training.
Home is where the heart is… and the home is suffering. God bless those single parents who struggle to rear good kids. Judgment on those who not only condone, but also encourage, sex before marriage and having children out of wedlock. It is no secret that if a couple gets an education, waits to have children until after they are married and avoid drugs have an excellent chance at the American dream.

Now, too many face the American nightmare — poor schools, little emphasis put on math and science, and history edited to the point that nobody could recognize a dangerous political situation if it were right in front of them.

I wish I had a better attitude about what may be coming, but we have turned out more than two generations of people who are dependent upon the government, put little or no value on getting a good education, and view drug use as normal.

Who knows how many scientists and engineers we lose when these budding professionals have never known what it feels like to be loved, to dream, to strive, and to succeed. A nation that graduates more lawyers than engineers is in trouble. America is there.

America launched the world into industrial manufacturing. But, as the rest of the planet caught up, instead of upgrading and building anew, America sat back on her backside, pocketed profits and let everything else slide. You can see this driving by abandoned or razed mills and factories across the nation
— especially in the eastern region.

Let’s face it; had Edison and Tesla faced folks like those against tapping our own energy when they were bringing power to America, electricity would have been labeled far too dangerous. There might be a fire. Someone might be hurt. It would have doomed the spark that built this country, the same spark that is sputtering today.

Surely you see just how nonsensical these “ban everything promising” groups are today.

Common sense is a rare quality today. Sad, but true…. And what of our country? It took a long time to disintegrate to this point, and it will take years to regain its former glory. That resurgence requires patriotism, loyalty, honesty, determination, and the good old-fashioned work ethic that built her in the first place. Demand leaders that exemplify all, not just some of these qualities. They fuel passion to rebuild America.

Don’t settle for the viewpoint that the government is the answer to all problems. In truth, it is the cause of most of them.

Home is where the heart is… Our American home is in trouble. The heart of America is in peril. Think about it.

“Crying Wolf”

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

By Hetty Gray

# 156

“Crying Wolf”

August 5, 2013

We’ve all heard the story — a little boy cried, “Wolf!” just to get attention. Then, when a real wolf came, nobody paid any attention to the boy.

There is no way to know what the current threat from Al-Qaeda means. I wonder, however, if it is a new rendition of the “test pattern” aired by early television networks. You remember it if you are over 60. A target shape, in black and white of course, aired with no sound just to discern if a station signal was being broadcast.

What better way to (1) assess just how many of your cohorts are being monitored by the message uncovered by your enemy and (2) to judge the level of reaction to the purported threat deliberately “leaked” through known channels.

Ah, yes. There was chatter before the onslaught of terrorists on September 11, 2001. Men like FBI Special Agent John O’Neill saw the danger, but he left the FBI. Known as a “maverick”, he didn’t toe the line of his establishment supervisors. A “Front Line” piece run shortly after 9/11 explained the whole situation in detail. O’Neill’s superiors made sure he would not be promoted to a position he clearly had earned. One of the people quoted was Fran Townsend, who worked for several administrations. During some of John O’Neill’s travails, she worked closely with Attorney General Janet Reno.

Townsend works for the current administration bringing a lot of experience to an undoubtedly thankless job. John O’Neill and Townsend were good friends and understood the underpinnings of the FBI as an organization.

O’Neill knew that something was up. He knew something “big” was coming and mentioned it to a friend the night of September 10th. The next morning he went back to work at his new job — a job he took after leaving the FBI during the summer of 2001. The job? Chief of Security at The World Trade Center. He died in the South Tower on 9/11, and all his knowledge and expertise died with him.

A very knowledgeable figure, O’Neill had studied Osama Bin Laden in depth over years and knew more about the “Saudi terrorist financier” than any other person in the FBI. O’Neill, in the FBI’s New York Office under James Kalstrom, headed the investigative unit that probed the bombing of the USS Kohl in Yemen. When he wanted to return to Yemen after a brief trip home for Thanksgiving, Ambassador Barbara Bodine refused his Visa. Why? She said his presence might have upset some of the Yemeni politicians.

So, let’s get that one straight. The feelings of foreign nationals in a country where terrorists attacked a US Naval Vessel and killed servicemen took precedence over lives lost and the possibility of uncovering plots yet unhatched. “Front Line” explained that O’Neill earned the respect of locals. They called him “the brother”. “Front Line” intimated that O’Neill was determined to see if there was more afoot in the area than bombing the Kohl. Those close to him knew he would have been relentless in that effort.

And what of his intense devotion to duty? It was thwarted. To take “Front Line’s view, it looked as if woman put her own job as an ambassador ahead of her country’s security. While she denied the claim in a newspaper article, she would not grant “Front Line” an interview.

If you have followed my column over the years, you know that I’m no fan of woman’s liberation. If you are a woman, you’re a woman — not a man. There are differences, despite what some wish you to believe. More than physical or mental gender differences, there are cultural considerations. I’ve never understood why any administration, Republican or Democrat, would appoint a woman as either a Secretary or State or a Middle Eastern Ambassador. It flies in the face of common sense.

Those cultures have no respect for women. What’s more, I’m not so sure that the leaders in the Middle East don’t consider the appointment of a woman to either of these slots as an insult. If they cannot respect a woman in any equal role within their own culture, how can they respect a Western woman in a position of authority?

And just where did the current threat information originate? Did it come from “our” official sources, or theirs?

Forewarned is forearmed. You can take that for a fact, but what if this is simply a trial run to see if they have a leak on their end that is not plugged? If this is a true leak from the terrorists, woe be it to the person responsible. I’m sure they will be read their rights and provided ethnically or religiously appropriate meals while awaiting trial. Right….

Only time will tell if we slip through unscathed. Remember, it only took 19 men to wreak havoc on the USA when they flew those planes into The World Trade Center and The Pentagon. Folks on Flight 93 spared some other target in the nation’s capitol and gave their lives in the process. The fact that several Middle Eastern men scurried from other grounded flights without being questioned should prompt some reflection, too. Just how many planes WERE highjacked that day? The sad answer is that we will never know.

Ingest this. (InSerbia News – July 22, 2013):
“Hakim Abbas Mousa al-Zamili, member of the security committee in Iraqi parliament, said at the press conference in Baghdad on Monday that between 500 to 1000 prisoners escaped the Baghdad Central Prison after gunmen opened fire at the facility on Sunday night (July 21, 2013).
Most of the escaped were al-Qaeda linked detainees, Zamili said.
Gunmen attacked two prisons near Baghdad – Taji and Baghdad Central Prison, killing at least 25 members of the security forces.
The prison attacks were launched at about 9:30 pm local time (1830 GMT) on Sunday night. Gunmen fired mortar rounds at Taji prison, 20 km north of Baghdad, and a suicide car bomber then attacked the main gate. Similar attack was made on the Central Prison in Baghdad.
Fighting continued throughout the night, and the military deployed aircraft around the two prisons.”
We know what 19 did. What could hundreds do?
It will be interesting to see how time sorts out the serious, specific threat that closed our embassies and consulates. Meanwhile, we are left to mull over precisely how this administration continues to omit the words Muslim terrorist from its vocabulary. How can we fight an undefined enemy?
The answer, far from a moot point, is not in sight. The leaked information regarding this imminent threat may be “crying wolf” or it may be a very well orchestrated test of terrorist communication channels and our foreign intelligence capabilities.
As for me, I have a real problem with the constant reportage of anything discovered just to get a headline. That could cost more than getting “one up on the competition,” it could cost us our heads. This threat may be the “dry run.” If it is, we had better prepared for the real thing. Think about it.