236 – “No Surprise!”

February 8th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 236

February 7, 2017

“No surprise here!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Psalm Before The Storm

January 6th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 235

January 6, 2017

“The Psalm Before the Storm”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Short and Sweet

January 6th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 234

“Short, but sweet…”

November 9, 2016

For the first time in nearly 15 years, the title of this column has real clout. “In Defense of Common Sense” Americans took it to heart. They defended it. They voted it.

Common Sense won!

God Bless America and God’s speed to Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Hetty

Do as I Say…

January 6th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 233

October 9, 2016
8PM EST

“Do as I do, not as I say….”

In my book, deeds top rhetoric any day of the week. Let me begin by explaining that I have been around men all of my life. As a child, my father had a large shop full of working men. Growing up I was exposed to construction crews, plumbing crews, electricians and their helpers and a variety of others.

Men talk. They talk to one another. Often, they are full of braggadocio and tend to exaggerate when it comes to the opposite sex. Be honest. You and I both know that almost every man alive today has uttered terms far worse than the one attributed to Donald Trump in a brash release last Friday.

Why I do deem the release brash? You have heard the term “He talks a good game.” Guys stretch the truth when bantering back and forth among themselves. Getting down to brass tacks, just how many RVers have a live microphone on all the time? We certainly do not have recording equipment in our travel trailer; and, other than a computer, we have not seen that kind of equipment in anyone else’s trailer or motorhome either.

It is almost as if this Billy Bush was out to record his visitors on purpose. Why else would he have kept a recording that is eleven years old? Give me air. Do you smell something here?

So “The Donald” is crude. So what? I’ve known a lot of people who talk crudely, but they are not bad people. They just have a bad habit. Bragging. What is worse, folks, talking in trashy terms or breaking the law?

So Hillary is throwing rocks. Well, you know what they say about people who live in glass houses…. She claims to be such a champion for women, but it is she who tried to destroy the women who charged her husband with sexual assaults and rapes. As I recall, she called them “bimbos.” Rare term, huh? Add to that remarks made by those around her citing her cursing on a regular basis. Not the image she wants aired, no doubt.

She says that she is for equal pay for equal work when it comes to women, yet it is widely claimed that she does not pay the women who work for her equal to the men on her staff. How cost efficient for her….

Trump, on the other hand, hired the very first woman project manager in the city of New York. The first one! Over the years, he continued to hire women for high profile jobs and to promote many others to better jobs — with high pay. Words vs. actions yet again….

How does crude talk equate with the deliberate smearing of women wronged by Bill Clinton? It does not. Those groped, grabbed and raped by Bill Clinton were dragged through the mud. Their reputations were maligned their lives became a living hell thanks to the Great Enabler, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Face it folks, Donald may have insulted women, he may have engaged in wild and brash “man talk” with Billy Bush, but he falls far short of the record of one William Jefferson Clinton.

Clinton is known to have flown all over the world with a child molester known to have very young girls aboard for “entertainment.” Worse than talk? Yes.

Trump may have ruffled some feathers with the talk in that RV, but he did not break any laws. She signed a paper pledging she would abide by those rules, yet she did not. Hillary broke federal law by ignoring the rules of the State Department regarding her emails and the devices she carried with her. Yet she goes unpunished while a sailor who took a small photo inside a nuclear submarine languishes in jail.

Which crime is more dangerous, a photo in the hands of a girlfriend who might never show it to anyone or messages labeled Top Secret vulnerable to attack by a foreign government that would endanger our troops and put our nation at risk? Messages kept in someone’s closet in Colorado? Ask yourself that when those “holier than thou” GOP members come on TV and demand that Trump withdraw.

You think that no one among the men who are lambasting Trump has ever said a dirty word? You think that they haven’t said something as crude as that in jest among other men? Likely they have, but in a country steeped in political correctness that defies common sense, they crawl out from under their rocks and attack “The Donald” with zest. Rocks and glass houses again.

Building a great company certainly tops breaking rules. Oh, I forgot. Rules don’t apply to the Clintons.

I question the national polls as a whole. They are only as good as the questions asked and those asking the questions. I learned that in Doctoral Political Science classes at Indiana University.

If you repeat something often enough people will believe it. When it comes to the polls, that is what the media hopes. Trump does well face to face with people. Tonight will be interesting, three against one. One candidate and two biased media so called “moderators.” If nothing else, they are not moderate.

Do I care that Donald lacks decorum? Nope! Do I care that he may be a bit sold on himself? Nope. I wouldn’t give a fig for someone who lacks confidence. What’s more he exudes ability. Your vote underscores what you support. I support the Trump’s vision — an America with strong borders, known for good schools… a safe America where law enforcement receives the respect it is due… a resilient America, trustworthy to allies, feared by enemies, and put on a track to economic health and a solid future.

I will vote for Trump. And what about you? Will you vote for Donald’s VISION or Hillary’s VICE? God help us if is the latter.

Think about it.

232 – The Power We Need

January 6th, 2017

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 232

August 24, 2016

“The Power We Need”

Just the other evening, my husband settled down in front of the television to watch a movie roundly heralded as well worth the time. It was.

Entitled “The War Room,” this film comes from the producers of “Courageous” and other inspirational films aimed at both the stable Christian audience as well as non-believers.

Watching it, we found that it did not take long to recognize the power of this movie. Far too often individuals rely on material objects or possessions to define self — a car, jewelry, a house, season tickets to major sporting events — all empty, insufficient substitutions for what is really needed.

The genius of this film centers on a deeper level. No one of us exists in isolation. Oh, we interact with other people from birth, but we need more. Each of us needs to recognize that a higher power is in control. As much as we would like to feel that we are the masters of our own little universe, we are not. God created us. He sent his Son to die for us. He forgives us and He will receive us unto Himself if we live according to His word.

Seems like an easy plan, but it is not. Temptations abound and greed tops need as it has for millennia. Picking up the phone or using hand held computer technology does nothing to connect us to God.

There is only to reach him: prayer. Many of us have witnessed the power of prayer. Still more of us pray on a regular basis, not only at night before going to sleep but before meals to express thanks for the food that sustains us. We do so in restaurants. Even though it seems so normal to the two of us, we are a little taken back by the stares of other diners. It’s as if they had never even though of doing it.

Turning away from God is more than risky. It is deadly.

Over the past fifty years, our society has weakened and cracked — sliding toward an abyss of secular thought. Faith, labeled as a weakness and judged farcical by many in positions of authority, finds itself under constant attack.

When America took God out of the front door of its schools, Satan sprang in the back door with both feet flying. Criticism is so easy to sell. Commitment and self-sacrifice are not. Excuses eclipse responsibility and our youth despair of a better life.

Today, things have disintegrated to the degree that we teeter on the brink of losing all that our Founding Fathers sought to secure for us. The battle looms this coming November. The central question is a clear one, yet it comes with a price. Do we do for ourselves or depend on others to do for us?

Corruption at the highest levels is not new, but perhaps no time in history has it reared its ugly head as it does now. Mainstream media has an agenda, and the average voter suffers because of it. There is no objective reportage these days. There is only editorial opinion. And they use an old standard when it comes to ruining this country. Divide and conquer.

As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Those words are seven in number, but far from lucky.

Basically, politicians hold citizenry in check by two methods. First, they mislead poor people, offering empty promises and handcuffing them with just enough financial support to strip them of their dignity and ambition. Add to that five decades of curricula taught in our failing schools deliberately edited and poisoned by a glaring lack of history, and the recipe heat up. Now the pot is ready to boil over.

The power we need is The Almighty, but He has not interceded to this point. What has He done? He armed us with free will. It is high time we used it. Pray for America. Pray we arm ourselves to take back our country and its honor, won by the blood sacrificed bravely over more than two hundred years. Beyond Prayer, is there an answer? Yes, there is.

The answer springs from the same four letters — an anagram of sorts — and it hinges on a single question. A sobering question to be sure, but the answer will not only determine our national character but also the future of generations unborn.

Do we vote for lies or VETO lies? Think about it.

231 Memorial Day 2016

May 30th, 2016

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 231 “Memorial Day 2016”

May 30, 2016

When I was a child, Decoration Day was a very big deal. Our art teachers looked forward to spring, because it was poster time. You see, we made “Poppy Posters,” and nearly every one of us could draw a War World War II helmet nestled among flowers. These familiar blossoms are inextricably linked to The American Legion.

I wish I could understand why the service hymns and the traditions have disappeared from our classrooms…why a weapon is more associated with an action movie than as a symbol of the brave men and women who have fought and died — in many cases to free strangers in foreign lands — to assure us the freedom we experience every day.

As a testament to the educators and leaders who saw to it that my generation learned to respect and love the armed services, I offer the story of a little red flower. It is a bittersweet story, but one that bears repeating.

World War I was to be known as “The War to end all wars.” Sadly, it did not.
It was trench warfare, widely remembered for the mustard gas and hand-to- hand, close-fire combat that mowed down soldiers by the tens of thousands.
Consider that American casualties in World War I numbered 116,516. The wounded numbered 204,002. Among those injuries were lost limbs, blindness and a myriad of neurological maladies caused by the mustard gas.

A backdrop of the trench warfare was a landscape of blackened soil and razed buildings. Men fell, often buried in hastily dug graves. The stench of death was hard to forget. Yet, in the midst of the carnage was a touch of color. Across the bits of grass left on the hills, even on the edges of the ragged trenches, soldiers spotted the little red flower. The poppy. It was odd to see a dainty flower amid all that death, but the very sight of it gave some element of hope to the men who fought for their lives in the worst possible circumstances.

There was a special place…. Sacred plots of land in the French countryside…. Flanders Field…. And among those graves bloomed those little sturdy flowers. The sight stuck with our boys and they brought the memory of the little flowers back home with them after the war was over.

At the 1921 American Legion National Convention, members chose the poppy as the Legion’s memorial flower, in honor and memory of those men— many of them really just boys — who lost their lives in World War I.

It draws upon the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, a Canadian artillery officer during the war. Its first line, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row.”

Today, when we witness such cavalier attitudes among younger people, it worries us. For our generation, it is hard to fathom their apathy when it comes to the US military. Clearly, we need to reassess the policy of removing our proud armed services — their songs, their history and their importance — from our schools.

Superheroes aside, the true heroes wear the uniform of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. And we cannot forget our National Guard Troops.

It is hard for me to express the pride my parents and grandparents had for military personnel. Those men and women stood as the true role models for all of us. The loss of that level respect is a price too high for a nation to pay.

This 148th Memorial Day is priceless, not purely as a holiday we have become accustomed to celebrating, but most importantly because its genesis lies in the graves of those who lost their lives in service to our country. Their sacrifice has no price. They gave their all for us, nameless countrymen back at home. And so, now their dreams become ours. We can never forget.

What’s more, we cannot squander the freedom they bequeathed us. It is sobering to ponder the costs in terms of numbers. A complete list of war casualties and deaths in every conflict since the founding of this nation is more than one column’s topic. So, I list main conflicts between World War I and Afghanistan.

World War I
Killed 116,516
Wounded 204,002

World War II
Killed 405,399
Wounded 670,846

Korea
Killed 92,134
Wounded
128,650

Vietnam
Killed 58,209
Wounded 153,303

Iraq
Killed 4,488
Wounded 32, 222

Afghanistan
Killed 2,229
Wounded 18,675

These numbers, if held to the mathematical, loom cold. Yet, truly immeasurable loss in human terms, they equate to broken hearts and dashed dreams. In the aftermath of all wars, commanding officers wrestle with the “what ifs” of battle, parents try to deal with the death of a child (or children), wives step up to fill both roles when husbands never come home, children learn to know their fathers from photos and the memories of those family members who love them and knew them best.

Of course, it is fitting to set one day aside to remember these fallen heroes, but I challenge each one of you to another task. Take some time and approach your local school board and your state leaders to see that our schools restore the armed service hymns to our schools, teach American military history with age-appropriate details — instilling the patriotism for the armed services in our youth, the patriotism that we see dissolving more and more each day.

God bless all those who died for us. God bless America.

230 – “…from nothing…”

May 18th, 2016

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 230

May 17, 2016

“…from nothing…”

Warning: This is an op-ed piece. I seldom write one; but after a number of weeks literally seething over the coverage of the current election, I have no choice but to put words out there to convey what I believe. What might have been several short columns is now one long one. Read on….

I often use history to introduce a column. With a background in history and political science, I refer to facts on a regular basis. However, in tandem with citing history as a foundation, this column offers something different. It breaks the mold of never taking sides.

Why? The stakes are too high. I am taking my side and holding firm.

When I reflect on graduate classes on presidential races characterized not only by candidate personalities but also with animus, those of Andrew Jackson come to mind. A consummate soldier and war hero, “Old Hickory” inspired many men in his command and earned the respect of his fellow citizens. He stood for the average American in more than rhetoric. He did so in action. What’s more, he didn’t mince words when opposed to something or someone. Colorful would be a mild way to describe his vocabulary when aggravated or annoyed.

In the words of The White House Website, “More nearly than any of his predecessors, Andrew Jackson was elected by popular vote; as President he sought to act as the direct representative of the common man.”

During his first campaign for president, he married Rachel Robards, the love of his life. Communication was slow, and Rachel’s final divorce papers had not arrived by the day she married Andrew. Opponents pushed this news to such a degree that Jackson blamed her untimely death on their ugly charges.

Jackson stood for the military. He knew the importance of security for the American people. He valued work, and he took on any challenge with all the zest he could muster. As our seventh president, his personality literally gave birth to the Democratic Party. A testament to that are the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners held around the nation to this day. It is said that he was the most consequential president between Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Such is his legacy and reputation.

I wonder what Jackson would think if he were to stand back today and listen to the two Democratic candidates for the highest office in the land. He held for hard work. I can find so indication that he was in favor of the government supporting families, save the fact that he valued veterans’ widows and children. He had seen the toll war had taken on his men and their loved ones.

Research confirms that the Spoils System Jackson implemented fortified the party structure by providing federal appointments to ordinary working people. Gone were the days of filling vacancies with political cronies. Well, at least gone for his time in office….

By the time of Jackson’s presidency the voting franchise had been extended to virtually all white males and Jackson’s Democratic Party positioned itself as the heir of Jefferson and the party of the common man. To think that his ideals have been warped to include socialism and “free everything” at taxpayer expense is astonishing.

As the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville famously observed of Jackson’s America, “The people reign in the American political world as the Deity does in the universe. They are the cause and the aim of all things; everything comes from them, and everything is absorbed in them.”

Do not think for one moment that this column aims at just one political party. It does not. Going back to de Tocqueville’s wisdom and acumen in discerning the political climate in America, we seem to have forgotten that the power rests in the people. In the primary, the people spoke. Sadly, their judgment is lost on Republican elitists and they are bent out of shape — to put it mildly.

Take, for instance, the current posture of some self-acclaimed “conservatives” like Bill Crystal who are rumored to be considering a third party candidate this year. My, isn’t that special?

So, here we have it: one party with a duo of flawed candidates in terms of ideology and honesty and the other faced with the top dogs refusing to honor the will of the people.

Exit polls affirm that voters are unhappy with career politicians. Given a mandate with both the House and Senate, the elected men and women failed to do one thing promised. The few who did fight were nearly ostracized.

Failure breeds firing. Well, a political firing squad uses a ballot not a bullet. Odd. Two letters can make such a difference. What scares these electioneering snobs most is that someone is going to cut off their money train. The presumptive nominee owes them nothing, and that is precisely what they can expect — in terms of favors. He promises action, not goodies.

Flash back to the epic scene in the 1977 movie, “Network” when Peter Finch leans out a window and utters this now-famous quote, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

That, in essence, mirrors the mood of today’s voters. Just change “I” to “we” and you see what is happening. The America of the 1940s and 1950s is gone. Those whom our parents viewed as the 1960s radicals are in positions of authority and seek to impose their aberrant lifestyles on all of us.

There is a meaning to right and wrong. There are limits to what people will accept when it comes to social issues and personal relationships. What people do in private is just that, private. The White House mandate to every American school and university or college that it opens bathroom access to choice and not bodily design crosses more than one line.

The recent assault of an 8-year-old girl by an adult male in a women’s restroom in Chicago serves as a light in this darkness. School administrators should decide what to do on a case-by-case basis. Such a directive puts every child at risk, no matter the age. Can you imagine an elementary school student fearing security in a restroom? And what about teenage girls in a locker room when a male identifying as female wants to come into the shower area? Egad. I would claim that we are living in “Twilight Zone,” but that would be a blatant insult to Rod Serling.

It’s about time Americans stiffened their backs, Democrats and Republicans alike. No party affiliation should top common sense values and love of country. I was taught there is an order to loyalty: God, country, and family.

Inch by inch, we witness America abandoning God, pandering to splinter groups, and serving up the farce of “social justice” (there is no such tenet). Using these current events as a backdrop, is there any wonder that those of us who can really think are worried? Country? It’s considered passé to laud one’s country. Criticizing it is more acceptable. Family? The disintegration of the American family fuels the very fractured society in which we live.

In the words of my grandparents, “It’s high time” to do something. Freedom is not free. Yet we see more and more of our freedoms bending to the whims of high officeholders and/or unelected bureaucrats who delight in regulating nearly every segment of our daily lives, at work and at home.

America rests on solid elements of free thought and action. More and more freedom is at risk today. Turn, once again, to movie dialogue — in this case, song lyrics. The singers are Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film, “The Sound of Music.” The year, 1965. The song: “Something good.”
Andrews as Maria von Trapp: “…somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good.
Andrews and Plummer as Captain von Trapp: “Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.”
The scene ends with Maria and the Captain trading phrases, “something in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.”
What have you seen accomplished under the past three presidents? Anything of real substance reflecting the Founding Fathers?
“Nothing…” And that just affirms those old song lyrics, “Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.” Nothing ever will, either.
When it comes to national security and economic growth, inaction is deadly. It will destroy — if we allow it to continue.
How does this relate? Perfectly. America rests on her youth, when the firm foundation for this unparalleled experiment in freedom claims its genesis. The basics of that “good” goes widely unheralded and ignored today. Patriotism is labeled old fashioned and rarely seen among many of our youth. To that end, our schools teach edited history for decades and those of us in our senior years see the results.
American youth takes center stage here. Why? Their world has never been threatened, at least not in their view. But their world is threatened, and now is the time to face those threats — both military and economic. Consider the choice. If our government had been run like a business, it would not be nearly $20 trillion in debt.
More than anything, we need management and talent. We have that today in one private citizen, who — like Ronald Reagan — was once a Democrat. Forget the donation history. Businesses routinely donate to both parties. It is standard operating procedure.
Consider that Donald Trump made the same leap that Ronald Reagan made. I wouldn’t give a fig for someone who does not learn over time and change opinions accordingly. Trump has employed more than 200,000 people over his career, and he values the many women in high positions among his companies — a fact roundly ignored by the mainstream media. His opponents, on the other hand, have hired staff members. What a contrast! I would take his business rating over television ratings any day of the week.
Do you have flaws? Undoubtedly. Does Donald Trump? Sure. He is human. But, in contrast to either candidate who might face him in the general election, Trump speaks in terms the general public understands. More importantly, he echoes the disgruntled conversations voiced around kitchen tables, water coolers, and lunch counters across America. He boils the nation’s problems down and calls them out for what they are — challenges we must face quickly and with strength and resolve. It’s time to fight. We need a fighter. The time is gone for polite words and no action.
Another warning: it took decades to get into this mess, and it could take decades to get out of it. The sad thing is that today’s media-driven society wants instant results. Leadership must convince the public that there is no quick fix. Like an athlete recovering from a severe injury, American economic recovery will not only take years, but it will also take calculated, deliberate actions held for the long term. We know what happens with inaction. Isn’t it time we saw the opposite? It’s time those in office placed country above self — a welcome change!
Remember, we’ve had nothing for a quarter century and it’s brought us only decline. Now, it’s time we had something planned to achieve a secure, safe tomorrow for generations unborn. More than any other time in our history, the future is in our hands. Think about it.
Columnist Note: Am I biased? Sure. Just as you are… I find I cannot keep silent any longer.

229 – “The Lid”

March 30th, 2016

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 229

“The Lid”

It’s always more comfortable to feel in control. This goes for all aspects of life, but the emphasis here expands far beyond the personal.

Business today, especially for the small businessperson, centers on regulations and how they hamper everyday operations. Not so long ago, I came across the actual number of regulations passed during the past year. The total was staggering.

If you are in business, or help to manage one, and you encounter the EPA or the IRS, you are “SOL.” For those of us over fifty, the letters are clear. I will let the younger crowd explore the explanation independently.

How many of you wish that you could put a lid on government rules and regulations? What about federal spending? Now, there’s a bottomless pit, folks. More often that we realize, many of us tend to relate to sports metaphors. Here I resort to team names.

Some of the NBA team names are logical. Take, for example, the Detroit Pistons. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. Miami and Phoenix team names denote climate — the Miami Heat and the Phoenix Suns. Then we come to the Washington Wizards….

Well, that opens up a whole new conversation. A wizard depends on illusion. Audience reaction hinges on what the people think they see instead of what is really happening. I don’t know how any illustration could be any better.
Like a wizard, a government insider operates with guile, keeping the average American focused on small things — all the time doing really large things that defy rational thought.

Over twelve years ago, I wrote a column titled, “Ghost Riders in the Pie.” Since I majored in history and political science and wrote my Master’s Thesis on American presidential elections, I claim legitimate background in discussing the inane policy of adding an item or items to a congressional bill that have nothing at all to do with the bill’s actual content.

This is precisely how the pork machine works. To a bill in process, a legislator adds an item that benefits either his constituency or a large donor. In order to pass, congress goes along with the rider. So, now the bill comes not only with “strings,” but also with a very heavy rope. That rope, readers, costs taxpayers real dollars.

Since these riders would never fly on their own, congressmen or senators push them through attached to important legislation. Some of the most egregious defy common sense. True, some end up as public works projects named for high-level politicians. I am reminded of the many locales in West Virginia named for Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. This can be replicated in other states, but considering the longevity of his service, Byrd seems an apt example of such largess. Yet, most are tailored to a specific area or industry holding little interest for the nation at large.

This practice is commonly applied to defense bills or highway bills. After all, how can you stand in the way of national security or safe roads? See how it works? It is disgusting.

Today, we are in the midst of an election where someone from outside the Washington “establishment” threatens to put a lid on a lot of things: the border, federal spending, indiscriminate and business hampering regulations, funneling monies to large corporate donors or private, wealthy individuals, accepting immigrants without fully investigating their background, funding foreign wars with little help from nations directly affected by those wars
and fully capable of contributing both manpower and money….

It is incredibly hard for an outsider to make inroads in politics. Run by a media focused more on the prurient than the factual and populated by hordes of people who see their positions as “privileged,” politics is a nasty cesspool of characters.

Like wizards, professional politicians are big talkers. Speeches sound good, but more often than not are simply well crafted talks. Some of the most junior among the politicians came to office with high ideals and commitment to changing how Washington operates; but, all too often, that enthusiasm soon finds itself shackled by the entrenched older office holders. Committee chairs come with years of “toeing the line,” so newly elected members cannot begin to voice their demands for change with any measure of clout.

Something must change. Nearly twenty trillion dollars of debt will bankrupt this nation and bear down heavily on our young people. The ultimate drug in Washington, D. C. is “OPM” –– Other People’s Money — a drum that this columnist has beaten for decades. Uncontrolled, indiscriminate spending continues, and with little focus on what really matters.

Border security, military readiness and equipment, domestic manufacturing, and less federal control should command the highest response from our federal government, but they do not. Rules are only good if the feds institute them. What’s more, when those rules are “inconvenient” or stand in the way of special interests, leadership just changes them to suit its purposes. How sad….

It’s time for a lid. The person who puts that lid in place must gather together really capable men and women — people of accomplishment, people who have actually have met payrolls, delayed expansion without proper funding, people who know how to prioritize for the best possible result, people who understand foreign leaders and will make sure that America comes out on the long end of the stick for a change. It is abundantly clear that we have not seen that kind of action from either party — or any administration in particular — since Calvin Coolidge, a man who accomplished a great deal with small government.

The cookie jar has been far too available for politicians. It’s time for a lid. Will we demand it? If not, as the old saying goes, (and excuse the grammatical error of ending with a preposition) “you get what you ask for.”

Hard working men and women built this country. They asked little and did for themselves. Today, we see another scenario. We see nearly half of our population on government assistance. Why work when federal, state and local programs can equal a healthy salary? This is a recipe for disaster, and the promises during a presidential campaign should be in sharp contrast to what we have seen since FDR. No more free lunch. It’s time to get to work.

Forget the recent personal attacks on presidential candidates’ wives. Such attacks are not new. Consider Rachel Jackson. Andrew Jackson’s wife died in the wake the personal abuse heaped on her when her husband ran for president. I don’t think anything you have read recently rises that level. Bear in mind that, in the 1820s, the press was far less powerful that it is today. Reporting came in time-delayed newspaper reports, not 24-hour, nonstop coverage bordering on the bizarre. Unfortunately, most of today’s news reports resemble tabloids rather than real news. More’s the pity, both for the nation and our international image.

We were promised hope and change eight years ago. Well, many Americans had hope. They got change, too, but not the change expected. There was no close working relationship between the parties. Regulations ran amok, and we slid into an abyss even deeper than the one that we wallowed in before 2008. Real change is more than talk. Real change requires action that makes America better and more secure. What’s more, moving for that change may not come in soaring rhetoric and polished speeches. Change may come in crusty, forthright, down to earth words. Basics. We are in a mess and it’s high time we did something about it. It’s our decision.

The question is, will the old boys network win and derail the votes of the people? The answer will determine the future of what has been a really great nation. I, for one, am tired of highly placed elected officials acting like spoiled children. If they don’t get their own way, they throw tantrums. That is precisely what we see right now. If the rules don’t fit the outcome, change the rules. Their message is clear.

“Threaten to take away our goodies, and we will destroy you.” If that doesn’t remind you of today’s campaign, take a breath.

Perhaps the answer will not come in a familiar package, but that’s not so bad. Traditional packaging has failed us. Don’t just think about it, vote about it.

227 – “Good”

March 24th, 2016

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 227

March 24, 2016

“Good”

One day remains until Good Friday. Given the tenor of the times, it is hard for us to label much as “good.” Whether the countless Americans who dropped out of the workforce after trying month after month to land a job or the incipient, constant terrorist attacks worldwide, good is not the word that comes to mind.

However, even given current circumstances, we must focus on the good. We have become accustomed to evil. It gets the headlines. Sad as it is, bad news always commands attention — serving as much as a warning as a dissemination of important facts.

Tomorrow, when Christian worldwide turns their hearts and minds upon the Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, take time to internalize the important lessons of his life. He faced down evil. He did not flee in the face of danger. He encouraged all who listened to his message to approach life with energy, putting their lives in the hands of God.

Difficult? You bet. Few of us have equated modern life with that of Biblical times, yet stark parallels exist. The evil we face has a different name, different faces, and different weapons. Yet both share ugly similarities — forcible takeover of territory and peoples, constant threats, cruel and inhuman treatment, and public executions — making examples of innocents in order to terrorize to quell any form of retaliation.

The Bible is replete with battles between good and evil. We are in the midst of one today. As you take time to reflect on this series of three Holy Days, give thanks for your country and the protection it affords you. Do not ignore the specter of terrorism, but pray for divine guidance to those in charge. I remember the image of George Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge. Those of you with computers can search for the image. It will hold you spellbound, as well it should.
We need leaders of that same mindset. We are not in this alone.

As you take time to reflect on this series of three Holy Days, give thanks for your country and the protection it affords you. Do not ignore the specter of terrorism, but pray for divine guidance to those in charge.

226 – “Playing with Fire…”

March 10th, 2016

IN DEFENSE OF COMMON SENSE
By Hetty Gray

# 226

March 10, 2016

“Playing with fire…”

Rules we learn as children…. Among them is “don’t play with matches. Fire is dangerous!”

Add to that brush your teeth, look both ways when you cross the street, and mind your manners and our recall becomes humorous. We can almost hear the voices of our parents and grandparents teaching us valuable life lessons.

We probably don’t play with fire, but our society definitely doesn’t hold to that rule. Forget the matches, America is busy with a blowtorch.

Far from what detractors deem a “Bible thumper,” I do hold true to the teachings that have guided untold millions over millennia. Ten of them are very familiar. Constantly under attack as “offensive,” The Ten Commandments have been moved from public spaces with no thought to the value of adhering to them.

At a writers’ conference held at Ball State University, I attended a panel discussion of mystery writers. One woman was especially “pushy,” and lived up to my assessment in short order. A younger writer brought up a plot for a novel, including the fact that it centered on a pastor and his struggle to lead his flock in the wake of what he viewed moral decay. Her main point was holding to the rules Moses had on tablets given him by God.

After polite criticism and guidance from a few other panel members, Pushy began to squirm. The moderator gave her the floor and she took off like a rocket. She demanded to know why one earth anyone would want those rues posted in public. Her viewpoint was that religion was a private matter and Christians had no right to impose their beliefs on others.

This went on and on. Finally, in an effort to quash the ranting and raving, the moderator asked if anyone in the audience had a comment. Far from shy, I rose and spoke directly to Pushy. I remember those words as if I uttered them seconds ago.

“I concede your point if you can answer one question.” She puffed up as if she had just been given a major award. “Fine,” she shot back with a smirk.

I spoke slowly, emphasizing every word. “Can you name me one person that any one of those rules has hurt?”

The room erupted in laughter and her face went red. She pushed her briefcase off the table and stormed out of the room in what my grandmother would have called “a huff.”

After the moderator had given her the floor, I guess my question gave her the door! In any event, she skirted me the rest of the day and gave me a look that would wilt crisp lettuce.

Yes, this is a small story, but it links to one that looms large within a much more serious context.

Those of us in our “golden years,” witness a lot of brass in our society. Sunday shines for sporting events and even youth coaches schedule games that interfere with going to church. Media embraces aberrant behavior and victimization is a virtual industry.

Drug use slowly gains legal ground, and gender lines blur to the extent that teenagers have a very warped view of what it means to be a man or a woman. Government aid over generations eroded work ethic and benefits encourage cheating. Who pays? We do, folks.

The other day I heard someone describe how a young man found out that if he didn’t marry his girlfriend, moved her into public housing, listed his home address as that of his parents and took advantage of every possible federal and state program, the two of them would have more than $70K a year.

Not only is that a travesty, it amounts to intentional deception and theft. What can we expect when we trap lower income folks in a system that provides no safety net as they move from assistance to standing on their own two feet?

There is no easy answer after fifty to sixty years of this. Once, decades before the turbulent 1960s, the church held forth as the bastion of hope and aid for those needing temporary help. What was once temporary has morphed into an unsustainable lifestyle funded by people reared in households with parents who taught “PR” — no not, public relations —
Personal Responsibility.

Religion in America is in upheaval. The fastest growing churches are those who stand alone, isolated from the dictates of a national church. Many of us attend a church with a national affiliation, holding out hope that those in charge will refuse to bend to the demands of a growing secular movement.

History gives us stark and brutal examples of what happens to nations that turn against God, nations that put forth self above God, nations that ignore decency and embrace indecency. Governments fall, populations divide and brothers turn against brothers. These are not pretty pictures. I remember a well-known comment, “The wages of sin are death.” Odd syntax, but powerful nonetheless. … The “ME” generations are chipping away at the America that has led the world for hundreds of years.

America’s future hinges on the upcoming election. It is wise for us to listen to more than talking points. We need someone who defends the Christians being mistreated here and beheaded abroad. We need someone to speak for the working person, man or woman. We need someone who understands that debt will crush generations to come. Words can be empty. We need action. What’s more, this may be the last chance we have to save our country.

If America continues to abandon Judeo-Christian teachings and ethics, she deserves what she gets. The question today is this. Is she getting it now? Think about it.