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?

#237 “When did you…?”

February 28th, 2017

By Hetty Gray

February 28, 2017

“When did you….?”

Most of us who recall readily old truisms recognize the catastrophic damage of an unsubstantiated accusation. Once launched at a person, even when disproved, it is immensely difficult to repair or restore one’s good reputation. In a total reversal of the basis for our U.S. system of justice, the accused is guilty until proven innocent.

Slurs and mud stick like glue and denials on the part of the accused rarely dampen the flames lit by detractors. When facts do not work, smears do their dirty jobs to mask the venom and animosity most often fueled by a warped ideology.

It’s the old scenario yet again. Yes, again….

We see this now. For more than seven decades our government began a disappointing moral and ethical decline. Eisenhower warned of it…. Few paid attention to his prophecy. The last time America was on the winning end of a conflict was World War II. That was 1945 — using my head and not a computer device, that is seventy-two years this summer.

ETO’s General George S. Patton saw Russia for what it was — a real threat to freedom and liberty. But, before he could move toward countering the spread of Communism that would encase Eastern Europe over forty years, he died in a car driven by someone other than his regular driver. Verdict? A very brilliant soldier’s vision of reality tabled forever. Likely no accident….

My father’s generation fought World War II. He worked in a defense plant. A pilot, he wore glasses, and that alone rendered him unacceptable to the then U. S. Army Air Corps (later to become the U.S. Air Force). An overlapping of two generations fought in Korea, but it was my generation fought in Vietnam. I lost a classmate in that. He was a very good person.

The Vietnam War lined the pockets of determined, unscrupulous Americans among the military, political and business ranks across this nation. Not quite the testament to respect for our soldiers…. The conflict was the continuation of the old boys’ network where payoffs in office were in the form of appointments or financial gain. Let’s look at the wide picture. Lots of money changed hands at the expense of tens of thousands of lives.

Today, we have elected a man who owes nothing to the establishment or the entrenched politicians. That is enough to put them on their own war footing. The accusations against President Trump will continue ad nauseum. Because the establishment and the undergirding bureaucracy cannot control President Trump, they must disgrace him. While he is the elites’ worst nightmare, he is the average American’s brightest hope. Someone who operates on common sense as a knowledge of what the bottom line is when it comes to money.

This past week I heard Retired General Jack Keane say that there are no better military minds those in the Pentagon, but they are not businessmen and women. They do not see at the world in terms on dollars and cents. They see the world in terms of strategy and the means to achieve goals.

Pentagon spending is legend. For years, The Golden Fleece Awards have highlighted some of the most inane examples. Remember the high dollar toilet seats? The coffee makers? Egad! Budgets are easily appropriated, but budgets must be cost effective. When we remove graft and corruption from the contract process, we can leverage at its highest efficiency.

For example, is it better to award a contract because of “connections” or “friends” or to do so with a business mindset — getting the best product or service at the lowest cost?

I am reminded of a line uttered by Frank Gilbreth. Sr. (portrayed by Clifton Webb) in the 1950 movie “Cheaper by the Dozen.” In the true story of an amazing man for his time, Frank and his wife Lilly (Myrna Loy) reared a family of twelve children. Accustomed to running the household with a family meeting, Frank decided that the chores were a bit too much for the live in- help, housekeeper Mrs. Monahan and handyman Jim Bracken.

The back fence of their Montclair, New Jersey, home needed whitewashing. Bill, one of the boys, said he would do it for $10.00. Frank, astonished, replied, “You must think this is a government job!”

Isn’t it amazing how things change so little over the years? The plot was set in the 1920s. Here we are nearly in the 2020s — a hundred years later — and government expenditures are still seen as ridiculous.

Let’s give this businessman a chance. Accusing him of racism, bias, and anti-everything is akin to the old question, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

The query alone taints the targeted person. It was never fair in the past and it is not fair today. A refreshing change would be to see the government operate well and give us the most bang for our tax bucks.

There is nothing more frightening to career politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists than to have the lid placed on their cookie jar. Think about it.

236 – “No Surprise!”

February 8th, 2017

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

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

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.


Do as I Say…

January 6th, 2017

By Hetty Gray

# 233

October 9, 2016

“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

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

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

Killed 92,134

Killed 58,209
Wounded 153,303

Killed 4,488
Wounded 32, 222

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

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.