Wall Street and Washington Don’t Listen to Bible as Debt Continues to Build

Usually coffee shop talk on Monday mornings this time of year is focused on the weekend’s football results.  “Hey!  How ‘bout dem Cowboys?” is, at least occasionally, overheard in many Texas coffee shops.


But, not these past two Monday mornings.  It’s been more along the lines of “Hey!  Did you see what the stock market is doing?”  Or, “Hey!  What are those Wall Street jerks and idiots in Washington up to now piling on this huge new debt?  “Or, “Hey!  I guess I owe more on my house than it’s worth!  Just like the rest of the country.”  Now what?


In an effort to do my senior citizen due diligence as I prepare to enter the twilight zone of presidential ballot casting next month, I continued this week to watch, ponder and study the latest presidential debate with genuine hope that just maybe one of the two candidates being showcased would somehow be able to free himself from the mud-like, Washington-as-usual, who-cares-about-financial-debt philosophical mire.  No luck!


Since specific references by either major party’s presidential candidate to our founding fathers’ Declaration of Independence or to the Bible’s commanding financial guidance is noticeably absent from their debate and campaign rhetoric, one can only assume that for at least for the next four years this country will continue to falter economically and morally by following along the path of unbridled national and personal debt.


These two so-called learned potential presidents and their say-it-for-the-liberal-press-regardless-of-truthfulness disciples continue to preach a sermon that “debt” keeps our country afloat when they know “It ain’t so, Joe!”


Our founding fathers along with each of our deceased grandparents must be turning in their non-mortgaged graves listening to the recent financial political drivel.


Even our “Haaavard” graduate presidential candidate from Chicago fails to recall the instructive words of Shakespeare’s character, Polonius in the play Hamlet where he declares “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”


Good advice for a country with about $53 trillion in combined national and personal debt of which about 80-percent has been created since 1980.


In 1957, when many of our grandparents were still alive living in mostly “paid for” homes, the actual total debt per capita for each American citizen was about $4,000.  Today, that amount per capita has grown to in excess of $175,000—and growing!


Somehow, the mortgage markets have managed to seduce a risk-taking public into single-family home mortgages which now have average balances of around $200,000.  Add to that consumer credit card balances for families nearing $8,000 plus other consumer debt for cars and other consumer goods at around $20,000.  Even senior citizens now carry unpaid mortgages into retirement with averages reported at between $60,000 – $85,000.


Frankly, we have become a nation drunk on credit.  Our national leaders attempted to hide from this truth by recently passing the so-called “Economic Stabilization/Bail-Out Bill”–which quickly grew from $700 billion to $850 billion in one week in true Washington legislative style.


It is doubtful that even a handful of those voting on the final bill both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives actually read the bills which also grew in length during a one-week time period prior to final passage from 106 pages to over 400 pages in the final version.


Within our largely Judeo-Christian society in America, it would seem only reasonable for our political leaders to consult occasionally for financial guidance with the person referenced on our legal tender—namely God.  After all, it is on our financial currency where we testify to “In God we trust.”  Let’s see what God has to say about America’s financial debt.


For those with more than seven years remaining on your home mortgage or other debt the message found in the Old Testament’s Deuteronomy Chapter 15, Verses 1-2 reads “At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.  And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord’s release.”  Maybe those mortgage balloon payments are actually meant to be biblical!


And, if you’ve ever felt like a slave to your loan keeper … you’re absolutely right!

Staying in the Old Testament, in Proverbs Chapter 22 Verse 7 we discover that God has revealed “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”


Not a good relationship if you believe your Creator has also provided you with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 


The New Testament’s Epistle of Paul to the Romans goes so far as to teach in Romans Chapter 13, Verse 8 “Owe no man anything …”


At great peril, our founding fathers wrote “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”


One specific reason our founding fathers made their Declaration of Independence was “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.”  Congress and the President “blew it” big this time! 


Now is the time for us all to get out of and to stay out of debt … not to take on new debt!


© Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on October 9, 2008.

Media Editorial Boards Buy Up Presidential Votes – But At What Cost?

True to form, senior citizens turned out in full force on the first day of early voting in Texas in what has been billed as an “historic” election with the presidential battle between McCain and Obama at the top of the ballot. 


As I stood in line to cast my “secret” ballot (voters on both sides could easily view each other’s voting push-screen if they so desired), I couldn’t help but notice that those around me were of mostly middle to senior citizen age.


Statistically, senior citizens vote at a rate of about 60 percent more than young voters and about 10 percentage points higher than the national average.  They vote regularly and they take their right to vote very seriously.


Most voters who showed up “early” for early voting seemed to have an air of calculated deliberation about them as they prepared to enter the not so private voting non-booths.  It was obvious that at least this group had no doubt who they came to cast their vote for.  They approached their push-screen with confidence taking little time to mark their ballots.  They were obviously not the 14-percent or so remaining “undecided” voters.


As they left the early voting location they were each offered a sticker that read “My Vote Counted” back-dropped with a picture of an American flag.  Well, they at least left there with “hope” that their vote counted. 


In an earlier time when voters had to color in those little bubbles or punch out those annoying punch-card chads, at least you had a visual assurance that you had actually voted.  Something physical that could actually be counted or re-counted and tied back to a real human voter who cast the ballot. 


With today’s push-screen technology, the only evidence that I actually voted is the remnant of my right index finger tip “print” left on the screen—only to be scrambled by thousands of other finger tip prints—and my reassuring lapel sticker reminding me and others that I voted.


Frankly, questionable push-screen technology aside, I’m glad that I have already voted knowing full-well that there is still time for that oft-threatened “October surprise” that in theory could have changed my voting decisions had I waited until election day to actually cast my vote.  Not this year!


Haven’t we already had enough October surprises?  How about those economic surprises in September and August … and the variety of other campaign surprises during the previous 16 months before that!


Perhaps the biggest so-called “surprise” might be the amount of money spent to elect our country’s new president.  Campaign expense estimates for the two remaining presidential candidates on the ballot are expected to be near the easily record-breaking $1 billion mark—with one candidate spending multiple times more than the other.


How much media advertising can you purchase with $1 billion?  After all, that is what the bulk of the campaign budgets are dedicated to—those pesky and sometimes controversial mass-media advertisements.


You don’t suppose that the amount of advertising money spent with certain media groups influences how their “independent” news reporting is actually reported … do you? 


Certainly, senior citizens for good reason have placed their faith and trust for decades in certain news outlets to get to “the truth” when it comes to reporting facts about presidential candidates and information about other important issues … haven’t we?    


These news agencies seem to all have highly educated and unbiased “editorial boards” that frequently pass judgment on what is to be reported to the public and what is not to be reported.  By the way, who are the members of these so-called editorial boards and what are their personal qualifications when it comes to such acts as political endorsements?


And, of course, those national political pollsters all have ethics beyond reproach when reporting their findings … especially during October.  Don’t they?


If senior citizens can’t trust media editorial boards and national political pollsters to provide accurate and honest information … who can we trust?


For those who have not already voted, there is still time to do independent research about all of the candidates and propositions on this year’s ballot.  A few hours spent at the local library and on the Internet should provide enough information to help each voter make an “informed” decision. 


This election may in fact be recorded as “historic” by future political historians.  But not because the first African-American won or because the oldest presidential candidate won.  The election may be very historic because of the direction the new president took the country in terms of the economy, energy, ethics and eternal moral principles.


Once investigated the voting choices are made clear in this potentially historic election for the senior citizen and others alike.


© Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on Thursday, October 23, 2008.

Retirement + Grandchildren = One Great Life

Caution.  This column may not be appropriate for reading by wives of “too busy” retiree husbands who don’t have time for the grandchildren.


For many male senior citizens today, their earlier vision of “retirement” hasn’t quite worked out the way it was expected to.


In the long run, that may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.


The stereotypical male retiree supposedly plays golf in the morning, has a few martinis in the evening, pays little attention to stock dividends that are set on direct deposit to ever-increasing mutual funds, and takes several obesity-promoting cruises each year.


By following that typical schedule, the male retiree avoids many, if not most, of the “responsibilities” associated with his pre-retirement days.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Besides, isn’t the male senior citizen retiree suppose to just relax and have fun?  You worked all your life for it … right?


That is what the senior citizen retirement marketing “hype” would like for you to fall hook, line and sinker for.


My recommendation:  Don’t … at least don’t in moderation!


Don’t give up the golf (or other enjoyed) activity entirely if you really enjoy golf.  But, don’t make your wife a golf “widow” either or ignore other life-long responsibilities.


Enjoy what you consume, both food and beverage, keeping good health information close at hand as an “over the limit” reminder.  Pay attention to what your wife has to say about health issues.  She probably has forgotten more about health matters than you have learned!  Besides, deep down you know that she has your bests interests in mind.


And, as for those stock dividends that have shrunk dramatically during the past two months—don’t count on them in the future either!  In fact, just playing the “numbers” reality game, taking current estimates of longevity into account, suggests that male senior citizens would probably do better during their actual remaining life-time by being invested in much safer investments such as insured certificates of deposit or government-backed securities.  Free up some time and sanity by not having to watch your “stocks” implode.


Also, keep in mind that one person’s “cruise” is another person’s short-term jail sentence.  There are very few places in a free society, such as on a cruise ship to “somewhere,” where you are confined in a relatively small space for a period of time with hundreds of people you do not know and from which setting you are not permitted to leave at a time of your choosing.  As for the food offerings, “gorge” is standard fare with the ship’s doctor on-call.


What does any of this have to do with grandchildren?  Everything!


This is about recognizing and setting our personal senior citizen retiree time and activity priorities.


The problem is recognizing that little of what the “world” presents as a model retirement for senior citizen male retirees results in any manner of joy that can come close to the true joy received from spending time … yes, real time … with your grandchildren.


Ideally that relationship bonding begins when the grandchild is born and continues on throughout life.  Even with our modern-day travel distances between family members, it certainly is possible to include visits every few months.  The cost of the average ocean cruise for two would cover much if not all of the incidental land travel costs to spend time with grandchildren … and with their parents!


Even with my example of “golf” becoming too time consuming for the retiree, that can be turned into a fun experience for grandchildren.  The game of golf is generally not played alone.  If you have “young” older grandchildren, what a wonderful game to share with a grandchild.  Just let the “others” play through … they’ll understand and appreciate what you’re doing!


And, I’m sure you’ve noticed that grandchildren (and your own children) are very observant of most of what you do … and, they tend to copy much of it.  A grandparent can often set the nutritional and health standard for an observant grandchild.  Make sure the standard is set high enough. 


They also take notice of how much time you spend in their lives.  Sometimes that may be long-distant communications rather than personal visits.  A card of remembrance here, an email message there, an occasional telephone call … or just a surprise visit to that Saturday Little League game.  They notice!


And, if you have the chance to have the grandchildren come to your home for an extended visit (giving their parents a rest), shuffle your schedule to make room to just focus on them.  With a little effort on your part, the time together will be cherished by all.


As we seniors live in retirement, we get to know the meaning and the limit of time better than at any other period in our lives.  The time to build a lasting and loving relationship with grandchildren is now. 


You can always let the cruise ship leave port without you.  The same does not hold true for time spent with those special grandchildren.


Now, for you wives who did not heed my caution above and peeked at this column anyway, be sure to place the column page in near proximity to your husband’s special reading place.


© Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on November 6, 2008

Pearl Harbor Day Remembered in Seguin, Texas

Do you recall the 1325 Crow Creek Massacre in present-day South Dakota?  How about the 1565 Spanish Massacre of French Huguenots at Fort Caroline in Florida?  Maybe the King William’s War from 1689 to 1697?  Perhaps the 1739 to 1748 War of Jenkins’ Ear with Spain? 


You don’t recall those?  Then, how about the American Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783?  Certainly you recall the war of 1812.  And, of course you remember the 1835 to 1836 Texas Revolution?  Right?


There’s also the 1846 to 1848 Mexican-American War and the 1861 to 1865 American Civil War.  And, don’t forget the 1898 Spanish-American War.  And, we can’t forget World War I which began in 1914 when a Japanese fleet captured the Mariana Islands from Germany without any loss of life.  This is notable as the only action fought during World War I that took place on what is now U.S. soil (Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands).


What is interesting to note is that all of these events (along with dozens of other designated wars or conflicts during the same time period) all took place on then present or future American soil.


Just curious.  What significant military event happened next on American soil?  It was 67 years ago two Sundays back.  Does anyone remember?  There was hardly any mention of it in any media sources.  Who cares what happened that far back anyway!  Right?  These are busy times.


Hey, we’re getting ready for door-trampling Christmas sales, bail-out year-end give-aways and it’s Super Bowl time.  Gasoline is heading towards a buck-a-gallon and the new team in the White House has the federal currency presses all greased up and ready to roll—just in time to help us all borrow more money than we can afford to from banks that are in near bankruptcy to help our economy along!


Hold it right there.  Just stop!  Take a deep breath.


Fortunately, local folks like the members of the Kiwanis Club of Seguin were out in force before sunrise a couple of Sundays back setting out American flags surrounding the Guadalupe County Courthouse, Central Park and the general downtown Seguin area. 


Thanks guys.  You remembered.


Have the rest of us forgotten who we are?  If we don’t understand our own country’s history how can we possibly understand our present or our future?


How could we just pass over December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, without acknowledging the real debt of gratitude we owe to those brave Americans who gave their lives in defense of our freedom. 


It was at 7:48 a.m. on December 7, 1941 at the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii when the Japanese began their attack, killing 2,403 Americans and drawing the United States into World War II.  Was then President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrong when he declared “This is a day that will live in infamy.”


He wasn’t wrong at all.  But unless the stewards of our history are not alert, our history may be quietly rewritten—maybe just to be politically correct.


Pearl Harbor Day is a good reminder for us to not forget all of those remaining World War II veterans who sacrificed on our behalf in a successful effort to protect and defend our country and the United States Constitution.  Statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs report that there are only about 15-percent of the original World War II veterans alive today—and that they are dying at a rate of more than 1,000 per day.


Seguin and Guadalupe County is privileged to have several World War II veterans living in its midst.  To name a few, they include: Frankie Faldik, Clyde Kitchen, Basil Karm, Duke Brossman, Dewitt Odom, Sonny Schievelbein and Ted Henderson.  I’m sure there are others who I am unaware of—but let these seven heroes represent the unnamed World War II veterans still living in our community.


Several years ago, veteran Basil Karm together with other veterans and local leaders set out to provide an appropriate local monument to commemorate all United States military veterans.  That monument now exists on the grounds of the Guadalupe County Courthouse in Seguin. 


Recently, veteran Don Larsen completed an Historic Album of the Guadalupe County Veterans Memorial.  The album includes the original enabling documents that permitted the memorial, historic photographs of the monument, other historical data, and an alphabetical index containing the names and on-the-ground locations of veterans’ commemorative bricks that provide the entryway into the monument area.


The album together with an accompanying CD were donated by Don Larsen to the Heritage Museum located at 114 N. River Street in Seguin where they are on public display.  Many World War II veterans are mentioned by name in the documentation.


It would be fitting for all of us to recognize the courage and duty to God and country exemplified by all United States military veterans; but especially to recognize and thank our World War II veterans for their service to our country—that could make a very special Christmas remembrance for many veterans who certainly deserve to be remembered and thanked.


© Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on December 18, 2008.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

The Family:  A Proclamation to the World

The Family: A Proclamation to the World,  788943600000

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

© 1995, 2008 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
English approval: 5/08. 35602

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah

Alaskan Bush Country Thanksgiving Feast

It was about one month before Thanksgiving in the late 1960s.  I was living in a one-room cabin with sleeping loft on Kodiak Island, Alaska and I was wondering how my “sourdough” (long-time Alaskan) friend, Jon Tollefson, was doing at his two-and-a-half-room cabin along Question Lake near Talkeetna some 439 miles to the north. 


Jon was in his early 70s when we first met.  He was a long-retired Alaska Railroad worker who had settled in Talkeetna’s outskirts after raising two sons and after the loss of his wife.  I was still a wet-behind-the-ears Cheechako (relatively new Alaskan) and nearly 50 years his junior.


We had met a couple of years earlier at Question Lake—a lake sort of shaped like a question mark—hence the name.  Jon lived off a small pension and trapped the surrounding miles of mostly federal and state lands primarily for mink, marten and beaver to earn a little extra cash.


His cabin was situated about seven miles out of town on the Talkeetna Turnoff Road.  We met by chance one day as I was a bit lost attempting to find the abandoned (off-the-road) homestead (that had not been “proved up” as required for ownership) that I had recently agreed to purchase from the State of Alaska.  Jon guided me around the fairly large lake to a place in the dense tree-line where he pointed at and said “Through there about a quarter mile.”


When he realized that I had come only partially prepared for my adventure, with only a topography map and a compass, he handed me his .44-cal long-barrel pistol, holster and belt and said “You might need this.  It’s called bear insurance.  You do know how to use it, right?”


I avoided eye contact and said “Yes.”  I just couldn’t look him in the eye and say that.  I’m sure he knew that this young city-slicker probably hadn’t ever fired a .44-cal before.  A gun best described as a “small hand-held cannon” that will usually stop a hungry Alaska Grizzly bear in its tracks—that is with an “accurate” shot.


With no bear sightings, and without firing a round, I later made it back to Jon’s cabin where he greeted me with a cup of fresh coffee, some sourdough pancakes hot off the griddle—and a welcoming life-long friendship.


After I had moved to Kodiak Island, our face-to-face friendship evolved into a pen-pal relationship with a letter here and there back and forth every couple of months.  Jon had become sort of a grandfather figure in my life.


I was very excited that chilly October afternoon when I opened my small post office box on Kodiak Island to find a letter postmarked from Talkeetna.  I knew it had to be from Jon.


After a brief local update about how the snow was starting to gather around Talkeetna and how the lake would be freezing over soon, Jon invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with him in Talkeetna that year.  He noted that his remaining Alaska family members would all be out of state for Thanksgiving—and he knew that I was in the same boat.


Jon explained that a few people from town were getting together to have a “real” Alaskan Thanksgiving dinner—with all the “Alaska” trimmings.  I could taste the sliced caribou rump roast already!


I quickly wrote him back with a big “Yes!” response and started to make plans for the trip from Kodiak to Talkeetna.


My old Ford was in fact “old” … but very reliable.  Hopefully as reliable as the Alaska Marine Highway System’s ferry boat the M/V Tustumena.  The ferry boat would be the first leg of the trip (13+ hours) across 200+ miles of open ocean to Seward.  From there it would be easy sailing along the “sometimes” icy highway to Anchorage and then on through Wasilla and finally arriving in frequently snowy Talkeetna.


With typical Thanksgiving weather (freezing cold and snowing) closing in quickly, the trip surprisingly took only two days to complete even allowing for an over-night rest stop in Anchorage.


When I arrived at Jon’s cabin the day before Thanksgiving, I was greeted with Jon’s always warm welcome.  I stashed my back-pack and bed-roll in Jon’s “one-half” room—usually used for storage or in this case the “guest room” for the visitor from afar.


Shortly after noon the next day, Thanksgiving day, we drove into Talkeetna for a truly Alaskan Thanksgiving dinner at the community center.


The dinner began with a visiting Roman Catholic Priest offering profound thanks for our very existence and pronouncing a blessing on the food and asking for a blessing of safety for all of the visiting travelers—a reminder of just how dangerous some Alaskan travel can be during the late-fall and winter months.


There were about 50 Talkeetna “family” members now seated at large round tables and we were all about to begin the treat of a lifetime—or the “annual” treat if you were a full-time Alaskan living out in the Alaska “bush” country.


Being served by local volunteers, and eating family-style, the all-Alaskan Thanksgiving meal began.  The tables were set with baskets full of fresh “warm” sourdough French bread and cold butter ready for the taking.  We started the feeding frenzy with generous helpings of Fiddlehead (like wild asparagus) salad with a vinaigrette dressing.  Next came the cream of chives soup with sautéed “puffball” mushrooms on the side.  Choices of main entrees included baked halibut with shrimp sauce, grilled salmon, baked Ptarmigan with sourdough bread stuffing, caribou rump roast, sweet and sour black bear and chicken-fried moose steak.  If you preferred, and if you had the room, you could sample it all.

Of course, sides included an assortment of such favorites as double-baked Palmer (Alaska) potatoes, new potatoes with chives, Alaska peas in cream sauce, and goosetongue greens (like spinach).


And, if there was any room left for desserts, you had your choice of wild raspberry cake, blueberry custard, cranberry bread, or candied rose hips—or a little of each.


After thoroughly enjoying the meal, helping a bit with the clean-up, and thanking the Talkeetna “family” members for their fine hospitality, Jon and I headed back down the road towards Question Lake.


On the way back to Jon’s cabin, I couldn’t help but laugh when Jon asked me how I enjoyed the special Alaskan Thanksgiving dinner.  I then described for Jon my Thanksgiving dinner from the previous year—a turkey TV dinner heated on top of my Kodiak cabin’s wood stove.


Jon’s quick response, with a knowing smile, was “Maybe you’d like to visit again next Thanksgiving?”  Like a real grandfather, he already knew the answer!


© Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on Thursday, November 27, 2008.


Election 2008 Thoughts

The last time I visited with Mrs. Rumbleheart, my fifth-grade teacher, she had already surpassed “senior citizen” age—but, she never would fess up to her birth date.


That was not uncommon half a century ago when many subjects were “never” discussed in public.  Like many personal matters, to ask a woman’s age was simply off limits.


Today, a woman’s age is still often “mis-quoted,” a man’s waste line frequently understated, and the answer to “And, how are the children doing?” typically embellished—sort of a “hope and change” approach to issues.


Had Ms. Rumbleheart been alive today (she’d probably be in her 120s) she might have had a good laugh at the current state of the country in light of the popular rally-cry of “hope and change” … especially as it pertains to the difference in political rhetoric and political reality and real cost.


Few alive today recall much about the false hope of the country’s “Roaring 20s” period followed by the abrupt change to that time of high and fast living with the stock market crash of 1929—which lasted throughout the 1930s—but, Mrs. Rumbleheart remembered it well.


Mrs. Rumbleheart, together with our remaining World War II-era senior citizens experienced first hand the country’s hope to never have to enter into a world war that was “the Europeans’ problem” only to find everything about that war changed on December 7, 1941 resulting in our country’s full involvement in the horrors of war shortly thereafter.


As World War II came to a close there was a resurgence of the possibility of a League of Nations (now the United Nations) giving new hope to the country of the possibility of a lasting world peace only to be quickly changed by the aggression of the power-hungry Soviet Union replacing peace with fear.


Mrs. Rumbleheart correctly taught us that during the 1950s our country’s economic future hope and stability was largely built around the auto industry and the housing industry.  There is no doubt that Mrs. Rumbleheart would be in total disbelief if she were here with us today to observe the total change for the worse in both industries.


And, certainly Mrs.Rumbleheart’s life-long experience with our country’s domestic and foreign political realities would give her a more realistic understanding of the current promises of “hope and change” being ballyhooed today.


There was the hope for peace with one president’s decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan only to discover the changes of a “cold” war.  There was also the hope of a holy war ending in peace by Islamic revolution-bent terrorists with the effective bombing of the World Trade Center in 2001 which quickly changed into a game of hide-and-seek throughout the Middle East and elsewhere.


There was the promise of “no new taxes” by one presidential candidate of the recent past spawning new hope throughout the nation only to be changed by the reversal of that promise.


Yesterday’s promise and hope for our economic future was literally changed over-night a few months ago into today’s economic nightmare for many in our country with Congress authorizing billions of taxpayer dollars being spent on so-called “bail-outs” primarily for the wealthiest of Wall Street’s modern-day financial barons and unindicted conspirators.


Had Mrs. Rumbleheart been around to have witnessed the disgusting greed by many of the “moneyed” people in our once-great country, she would have verbally scolded them all, smacked them with an 18-inch ruler and sent them to the cloak room for a long time-out.


Perhaps the next Congress will have Mrs. Rumbleheart’s grit and tenacity (hope) … probably not (change)!


The current presidential political promises of hope are mostly tied to increased government spending resulting in increased taxes—directly or indirectly—for everyone and their families.  Universal health care, more benefits for illegal aliens, tax decreases for 95-percent of tax-payers, a “no drilling, not now, not ever” energy attitude, increased federal bail-outs, and a “let them out early” attitude regarding our criminal justice system is going to cost—and cost the country more than it has to spend.


Mrs. Rumbleheart would probably tell the new president to “Just knock it off!”  She’d be concerned that the “hope” will quickly fade into the reality that the “change” is not what was being advertised.


Most likely my fifth-grade teacher would have done the math correctly and would have said that “hope and change” is much more like “bait and switch!”


She also would have reminded us that it takes moral courage to be a “great” country …, and, that comes at a cost greater than money can buy.



© Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on November 20, 2008.