# 250 – “Cultural Change: Deadly”

February 15th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 250

February 15, 2018

“Cultural Change: Deadly”

It’s a given. I am a senior citizen. As such, on many occasions I have seen more of life than I needed to see.

Yesterday is a prime example. I remember Columbine. All of us do. I remember the Hoosier native, a teacher, who gave his life to protect his students. I remember it all.

Since that time, we have witnessed twenty-four more school shootings. How has this happened? It is a question many of us ask.

Well, turn back the clock — culturally. I am a child of the 1940s. Our parents’ generation fought and won World War II. Our grandparents endured World War I. The world they bequeathed to us gave my generation a stable start in life. Their sacrifice and hard work rubbed off on us. They knew the value of human life. They had seen too much of it destroyed. We learned respect for our elders, a strong work ethic, and the value of a good education, whether in the trades or via a college or university.

Our main entertainment was radio, and even today Radio Spirits, and similar companies, broadcast the old shows much to my delight. Movies featured violence, but it was quick and far less vivid than today. True, Edward G. Robinson was a gangster and his movies had guns involved; but there was a difference. The good won out over the bad. Bad was seen as bad.

And then there were the westerns, or “oaters.” Directors like legendary John Ford captivated America with his western movies. We watched Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Tom Mix, Allen “Rocky” Lane, Andy Devine, and Chill Wills. One handsome actor reminded me of our neighbor across the street, local surgeon Norm Richard. That actor? Swashbuckling Glenn Ford.

Good guys wore white hats. They valued liberty and stood for truth. They used their guns to defend the weak and enforce the law. The bad guys, attired in dark colors, earned their names: bad guys.

My memories of those days flash vividly. We watched the “shoot ‘em up” films, but none of us took them too seriously. But, then again, we were not bombarded with violence from every corner. Our games were Monopoly, card games, and checkers. A few of our brighter peers played chess.

Guns were a fact of life for rural kids. Townspeople kept guns at home. In fact, it was not unusual to see guns in the back windows of pickup trucks in high school parking lots. In the 1930s high schools had shooting clubs around the state. Students brought their rifles to school and kept them in their lockers until they went to the shooting range with an instructor.

Yes, our high school experience was far different from today, but a gentler one in many ways. The occasional fight might break out among a few crude teenagers, but those were very rare. Discipline was not questioned. It was reality.

When Principal Jim Sharp walked down the hall of our high school, he parted the students like Moses did the waters. A swish and a clunk in the hallway meant that a cantankerous student was held, feet off the floor, up against a locker. He had rules. He enforced them. None of us got angry and went home for a gun either. And plenty of our houses had guns. I know mine did.

I graduated in 1961 before the hippie era. Our generation saw no drugs. We only read about “opium dens,” and that was in world history. We didn’t see illegal drugs or anyone that might have frequented them. We took drugs (medicines) only when we were sick. To do otherwise was unknown.

Once the specter of drugs, love children, and open sexuality hit the streets, the game was all but over. The transformation of entertainment nailed the coffin of American teenage innocent shut with a bang — no gun pun intended. When our youth became obsessed with games lionizing death and crime, seeds were sown more widely than a thunderstorm dumping Canadian thistle on an Indiana cornfield — easily sown, a constant battle to eradicate.

The evolution of movies from wholesome to insulting only added to the problem. Thugs wreaking havoc and carnage on city streets replaced strong male role models in actors like Robert Young, Ray Milland, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, and Joseph Cotton. The number of youngsters living in single-family homes began to skyrocket. None of us is better for that.

In the wake of Broward County Florida’s terrible events of Valentine’s Day, some will scream “gun control!” Well, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. A gun left alone in a room is harmless. In the hands of an evil person, a gun is a weapon of unimaginable damage. And so what do we do? Well, why not adopt the Israeli system?

Israel’s schools remain secure. Building security is high, and unidentified teachers carry concealed weapons. Despite the Palestinian rocket attacks on innocents that have gone on for decades, no school is Israel recorded a live shooting incident. True, Israel is a tiny country, and their culture is homogeneous; but their basic plan is solid.

Try to get into a courthouse or federal building in the United States. If you carry legally, your weapon will remain at the entrance under guard. You may be frisked or go through a metal detector. If we keep political and administrative offices safe, shouldn’t we do the same for our schools?

Just how much are our kids’ lives worth anyway? Are they worth a secure building with only limited entry? Are they worth anonymous conceal carry teachers? It’s only common sense, but — then again — that is nearly nonexistent today. Would that it were different….

I do not speak without experience. A 73-year-old grandmother with a lifetime permit to carry, I received my gun training at the FOP firing range by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department when I worked for then Prosecuting Attorney Jim Lisher in the early 1980s. Once in a great while mainstream news will air a story of a person carrying a gun who thwarts a robbery or worse or a mother who defends her home, but — sadly — the news usually concentrates on gun criminals, not citizens defending themselves.

The five million plus members of the NRA stand for personal protection guaranteed by the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment is sacrosanct to them, and to me. It should be to you, too.

The Florida school shooting will bring out slings and arrows from both sides of the gun control issue. However, we do need to remember that the once widespread system of mental health hospitals so common in the United States was dismantled decades ago. Moreover, child rearing became a sporting event for litigious parents who threatened lawsuit if a child was reprimanded.

Once a strong social triangle existed, and it forged an important relationship key to a child’s success. As you know the triangle is the strongest form in geometry. The best example is a pyramid. Think Egypt….

That once strong triangle consisted of the school and the parents for the child. It has morphed, much to society’s loss, to the parent and the child against the school. With the school leg gone, the triangle collapsed — and with it the once strong bond that held the whole relationship together.

However, we cannot ignore the violence to which our children have been exposed. I shudder to calculate the number of murders and violent scenes today’s elementary school children have seen. Now extrapolate those numbers they have seen by the time they reach high school. Constant exposure to violence desensitizes. Empathy and sympathy evaporate. Jaded attitudes reign. Reality falls by the wayside. Everything begins again after the lights go up in the theatre or the commercial ends the episode on TV.

And what of the responsibility legitimately shouldered by video game manufacturers and Hollywood? Oh, celebrities are right up there on their pedestals when it comes to telling us how to live; yet, their medium erodes the very foundation upon which this nation was founded.

Oh, dear. God is the first in line here.

Talk show hosts and anchors mock faith in God as a weakness or as if it is a dread disease. Far from it, faith anchors your life when all else around you collapses. Trace the school violence back to the time when we took God out of the schools.

Exposure breeds mimicry. Undoubtedly, superhero movies will remain popular, but they are pure fantasy. In contrast, gang movies and gratuitous violence offer absolutely no redeeming social value.

Without moral guidance and authority, anarchy looms. When you add the problem of edited textbooks and leftist instructors who paint America as the pariah of the world, the recipe is nothing short of disaster. We teeter on the edge of just such a disaster today.

Prayerfully remember the families of students and staff murdered on February 14th. Each of the murdered went to school yesterday morning expecting to go home. They did not. Each of you has a local school board. Make your concerns known. Insist on security. Every school, large or small, is at risk. Big cities are not alone in their vulnerability. Sad, but true….

Think about Israel. Israelis are determined to keep their freedom and they are prepared to defend it. They safeguard their children and tell them the truth about the world around them. We sugarcoat it here. While it does take away a part of innocence that should be inherent in growing up, informing children about dangers around them is critical.

Every technology has within it an element of danger. The Internet we view as a wonderful tool, the criminal sees as a fast method of communicating evil. For all its good points, it harbors evil within.

Leadership does not end in the home. It extends to the federal level, or one would hope…. I fear that we have become a nation without moral clarity and respect for law. Cities and states that refuse to obey the law are criminal entities and should be treated as such. This bent view of authority must be nipped in the bud, to quote Deputy Barney Fife. Press your elected officials to support federal law. Don’t just sit in the kitchen and complain about it to one another. Voters have impact. Make yours known.

How much are 17 lives worth? Locked doors? Full time security guards? Contrast these costs with school athletic budgets. Today, speaking to a group of Sheriffs from around the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made this statement: “The right to remain safe is the number one right of every American and the responsibility of every one of you.” (Audience was made up of law enforcement officials.) He is right.

A lack of safety costs precious lives, lives to be forever unfulfilled, we must face a sobering fact. School safety is the seminal issue of our time. As a parent and grandparent, I want to see something done to assure that children are safe. Do you? All politics is local. Every locality has a school. Starting small is still a start.

Think about it.

248 – “Letter Grades”

January 29th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 246 – December 13, 2017

“Letter Grades”

I attribute the huge hiatus in my columns over the past months to both necessity and choice. The necessity surfaced as the result of major shoulder surgery the last day of October. A sling and immobility of my left arm made typing a chore and physical therapy sessions interrupted my otherwise normal weekly schedules. Choice surfaced due to a prolonged frustration with the state of affairs at the national level. To avoid cracking and collapsing my soapbox, I simply held off on columns.

Now, I abandon that odd position and go for what I consider the federal jugular. To that end, I assign letter grades to those who undergird the Congress and the undergirding and unelected bureaucracy that, in essence, wields far more power than the ordinary American realizes.

Instead of pursuing every letter, I focus on the top and the bottom. The “A” section consists of three genres: ambivalence, alienation, and abrogation.

First, ambivalence…. I am worn out with those in leadership who go about the nation’s business with the cavalier attitude bordering on the inane. Truly important issues fall to the side while insignificant ones command undue, and largely unearned, positions. An example would be the odd juxtaposition of national security concerns and human failings.

I lay this one at the feet of establishment politicians more interested in their own power than the fate of the American people. The current international situation in Iran and North Korea should hold sway over personal shortcomings of people on both sides of the aisle. Yet, our news media target prurient stories and ignore the big picture. Take this past week for example. A disgusting sexual harassment discussion topped that of a failed terrorist attack in New York City. Now, using what is left of common sense, which one merits the most attention?

Next is alienation…. If there is one movement that describes the last decade or so, it is the constant drumbeat of those who seek to divide us from one another. As I listened to a caller on a major syndicated radio show this week, this particular specter of our societal condition really struck me as critical.
The caller, a young man (in his 40s), described himself as an American and only as an American. Black, he refused to use the hyphenated African-American. In his words, he was not from Africa, claimed no heritage from that region of the world, and attributed his success in life solely to America’s freedom of opportunity. He lamented the fact that far too many of his people voted year in and year out for those who claimed to work for them even though results were few and far between.

There are those who would have us dislike one another for a myriad of reasons, but the main one is race. Instead of celebrating the fact that, even in light of difficulties, Americans have the best chance of any people on earth to achieve a happy, fulfilled life, we see a determined effort to portray every social problem in the light of race — especially white versus black. How sad to see our nation squandering the chance to uplift all our people for a unending movement promoting hatred and distrust.

Others among us seek to divide us by gender. Again, sad….

Each of us knows a man or woman who falls short. For example, women not only have the right to vote in this country, but they also hold high positions in business and politics. It seems that whenever something goes awry, instead of self-examination, we see another chapter of the blame game. Nobody is perfect, but we cannot allow ourselves to be warped to the point that everything is viewed through the lens of gender.

So we come to abrogation…. Duty is job one, whether it applies to our personal lives or our jobs. When voters elect someone to a national office, those same voters have every right to expect their elected officials to put duty to country first. Oh, would that were the case. Not so in many cases.

I am not sure what kind of rarified air hovers within the beltway, but it fogs what should be clear minds to every one of us at risk. Far too often someone enters the Congress as with what is assumed an average level of wealth only to leave office a millionaire. That does not happen by accident.

When personal ambition and financial gain tops duty, the government is hobbled. We see this more and more. How do we end this? Not easily, I can say. Yet, we have a president today who sees the “swamp” for what it is and is determined to make changes. We can only hope that he has some measure of success in his efforts. Entrenched bureaucracy and ego-fueled politicians make for a toxic mix. This is not new. When someone threatens to put a lid on their financial “cookie jar,” the resultant backlash should be expected.

Old as the nation itself, these problems date back to the founding. However, our Founding Fathers never foresaw a professional political class. Instead, they expected citizens to run for office, serve, and then to home to assume their former careers. That, my friends, is rare today.

Abrogation of duty threatens our freedom, but you would never know that by listening to the talking heads in both the political arena and what passes for the majority of the “news” media today.

And now I come to bottom of the grade scale, the “F.” These three genres pose a truly existential threat to America. The proof of this is the fact that over the last fifty years, attacks have whittled away at each of them.

“F” number one: family. If one goes about the task of dismantling a society, there is no better place to begin than the family unit. Before integration, it was rare to see divorce or unwed mothers among black families. Contrast that with today. The high percentage of single mothers among our black population is scary. The ones hurt most by this are the children, and the lack of a father as the solid family male role model contributes mightily to the crime problem. This is not to dismiss those mothers who work very hard to keep their kids on “the straight and narrow” and away from gang evils that lurk about them. For far too many youngsters, a gang becomes their family.

Once shattered, the family unit portends a grim future for a nation.

“F” number two: faith. Once a nation founded on God turns its back on that God, the result is dim indeed. Removing prayer from school did nothing to improve the lives of our children. When I was in high school, a group called “High Y” began each day with a prayer over the PA system. It didn’t hurt one of us. In some cases, it was the only exposure some of our classmates had to religion. Love, sharing, and respect were hallmarks of those prayers. My, those personality traits are lethal to a good life, aren’t they?

Currently, there are those in the wider society who seek nothing less than labeling faith a weakness. Instead of seeing faith as the bulwark of a steady and virtuous life, these venomous people view it as a target for their anger. It is much easier to incite hatred than love. Love demands sacrifice and attention. Oh, goodness…. That is really too much to ask of us, isn’t it?

When we lose faith, we lose our moral compass. Sound familiar? Just what has commanded so much attention recently than human failing in the moral department? If each of us began to live a life according to The Ten Commandments, problems that imperil us would evaporate. Sadly, free will enters into the picture. Sadly, society wide — and not unexpectedly — greed tops need. Need I say more?

Foundation is the third “F,” and it is two-fold. First, I cite the written foundation most critical to our republic, our U.S. Constitution. Written by men of faith, who recognized themselves as sinners before God, this succinct document spanning two hundred forty-one years is priceless in terms of what it guarantees each American and how it sets limits on the three branches of government. Burdensome British rule compelled the Founding Fathers to put into writing the freedoms we take for granted each day.

I feel sure that no man involved in crafting the Constitution would believe today’s practice of judges legislating “from the bench.” The Founders’ firm belief in the separation of powers would never approve anything close to it. It threatens the foundation itself. We see it consistently. If lawmakers fall short of a faction’s wishes, then a sympathetic judge simply steps in to “correct” the situation. This is judicial activism, and it is very dangerous.

Part two of what I deem foundation is our shared history. History stands forth as a series of warning signs. Ignored, history repeats itself. History is the ultimate teacher. If we do not learn from history, we are at great peril. We cannot change history by removing statues from our public places, changing names of entities to be more in line with political correctness, or editing our textbooks to a bias that should scare anyone with a decent background in both American and world history.

If you doubt me, pick up a current textbook and read it. What is within the pages is shocking. The missing history will make you shudder. Ask many young people even the most basic question about history and a blank stare serves as your answer. When we do not know our history, we are at great risk. That should concern all of us. We need to hold textbook editors accountable for their omissions. It is not surprising that many of the younger generation have no respect for flag and country. With no real background in history, it is easy to sell students a bill of goods in place of facts. My, that’s convenient for those who want to paint America as imperialist and evil. America has never won a war and taken over a country. We have defended countries such as Germany and Japan, but we have never taken their territory. So, charges of imperialism are fallacious.

Ambivalence, alienation and, abrogration (of duty) bode ill for us. Alone, you cannot fix all that ails us as a nation. But there are things you can do.

Extol family life and marriage as priceless. Praise parenthood as the finest of human efforts. Live your faith and serve as a role model for others. Find out what passes for history in your district’s schools. Be an informed voter. Base your vote on facts not feelings.

As a teacher with a Master’s Degree in History, I bypass A and go for we all grew up recognizing as the lowest letter grade. I go for F.

We recognize F as academic failure. Yet these three Fs function as a trio of what should be paramount for every American: family, faith, and foundation.

Think about it.

#246 – “Dawn’s early light…”

December 31st, 2017

By Hetty Gray

#247 – “Dawn’s early light…”

December 31, 2017

With each New Year’s Eve celebration comes a plethora of resolutions amid a waft of memories. Someone, somewhere, must have initiated this custom. Among the more popular aims are losing weight, doing better at a relationship, and coming to terms with what life really has to offer.

Reality is a hard taskmaster. Few of us can say that acceptance is automatic, or pleasant for that matter. If I could put a priceless stamp on any one human attribute it would be aging gracefully.

As you pass into 2018, vow to be very thankful for another year. Oh, it might not be the best year of your life, but it is a gift nonetheless.

As the days grow to weeks and months, most of us merely go about our business in a routine manner. But, life itself is anything but routine. Just consider what a miracle it is that you breathe. Life is its own miracle.

As the ball drops in Times Square tonight, millions of people will look on with zest. Among them, many will celebrate more than a traditional party in the heart of New York City.

Consider the pursuits that might come to mind among the celebrants. With little fanfare but considerable thought, many will resolve to achieve a personal goal. Perhaps it is a chance to do better, to earn more, to come to terms with a burdensome problem or to just be kind.

At dawn’s early light on Monday, January 1, 2018, consider the 364 days that remain. Think beyond the countdown.

Beyond all the bright lights, the confetti, the glasses raised in toasts, and the familiar singing of “Auld Lang Syne” we reflect on our unique opportunity to make it a better year. Whether each change to come is a result of individual endeavor or of a joint effort, I hope for positive achievements. May this be so…..

245 – “Heads to tails”

September 15th, 2017

By Hetty Gray


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

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

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

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

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

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

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?