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Tuesday, October 12, 1999

Peggy McCracken


By Peggy McCracken

Granddaughter brings joy

and lots of energy

Jasmine came to town last week and taught me something about priorities.

My 3-year-old great-granddaughter, Jasmine Lee Bejarano, is a bundle of energy and a non-stop talker who doesn't take a grunt for an answer. For two days I ignored all the "must do" jobs visible on every hand and gave her my undivided attention. And the world didn't stop turning.

We ate, played basketball and football in the back yard, shopped for groceries, visited the monkeys at Maxey Park Zoo (and the bear, mountain lions, kangaroo, llama and other exotic animals), climbed and slid at Kiddie Park, ate, watched Veggie Tales, played the organ, sang, "read" all my photo albums, picked veggies out of my garden and pomegranates from the backyard tree, watered the grass, visited the newspaper office, federal and state courthouses, ate, napped, operated the typewriters and computers, ate, picked up mail, get the idea.

This was my first one-on-one experience with Jasmine, and I didn't quite know what to expect. She has dozens of abuelos y abuelas, tios y tias, primos y primas who adore her, and I suspect let her have her way at every turn. So I told her mother, Amanda, to clue her in that this abuela believes in spanking little girls who don't mind. Amanda well knows the power of the switch, because I used it to get her attention many times.

We were not yet halfway home from Midland when I had to use the "s" word because Jasmine had moved into the back seat and wouldn't buckle her seatbelt. I pulled into the handy little rest stop to cut a switch and help her buckle up. She was buckled up before the car stopped. "You don't have to spank me, great-grandma," she said. "I have my seatbelt on." Repeatedly.

I didn't spank her, of course, but it didn't take much more than a frown to get her in line after that. And we got along famously.

Reading the albums was a special treat, because I got to point out her mother, from diaper days on; her uncle Jason, Pawpaw David when he was a little guy, Grandma Helen and all the rest. She recognized herself with her parents and her baby photos. But when we came to Amanda at age 3, Jasmine insisted, "That's me!" Nothing I could say would convince her that she did not attend her Pawpaw's wedding nor swim nude in my backyard. Truly, she is the spitting image of her mother at that age, and anyone could have made the same mistake.

That's the beauty of grandchildren. They erase lines between past and present, infusing tired old minds and bodies with new energy just as springtime renews all of Mother Nature's offspring. I saw myself in her sparkling eyes, relived the wondrous childhood experiences, marveled that time changes nothing.

I am still me, the little girl who consumed books like a thirsty deer consumes water; the rough-and-tumble tomboy who could catch a pass on the tips of her fingers; the wannabe cowboy astride a loyal horse; the young mother learning what real love is, the grandmother who just thought she knew something about love.

Yes, my computer is still out of commission, the carpet hasn't been vaccumed in three weeks, Bermuda grass is heading out in the backyard, mending piles higher and higher beside the sewing machine, okra in the garden grows too tough to cut, much less eat; dirt has turned my white car brown. Not to mention five desks covered with work I may never get to.

Jasmine's in town!

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Eccl. 3:1

Editor's Note: Peggy McCracken is an Enterprise reporter and webmaster whose column appears monthly. Her e-mail address is

Your View

President leave millions trapped in poverty

While most of the country enjoys unprecedented economic prosperity, there are millions of Americans who live in distressed inner cities and rural communities, still trapped in hopelessness and poverty. They have become the America that the President has left behind.

While the President and liberal Democrats have argued over the last few months against the Republican tax relief bill, saying that only wealthy Americans would benefit, the President's recent veto keeps millions shut out of America's current prosperity.

The proposed Republican tax relief plan would have designated 20 `renewal communities,' receiving $2.2 billion in relief. These areas would have provided tax and regulatory relief to existing businesses, the promise of new investment, and created an environment for growth and opportunity.

It would have extended the Work Opportunity and Welfare-to-Work tax credits and helped struggling Americans get jobs, support their families and create independence and self-respect. It would have allowed poorer Americans to save more, invest more time and money in their children and their education, and made homeownership more of a reality.

These proposed provisions in the tax relief bill were parts of the `American Community Renewal Act,' legislation that I first introduced with Reps. Jim Talent, Floyd Flake and Danny Davis more than five years ago.

Since becoming president, Bill Clinton has talked a good game, but has done nothing to repair distressed inner cities and rural communities. He continues to discriminate against churches and faith-based organizations by denying them the financial support to address social ills within their communities. For the last seven years of his presidency, rural and inner city schools continue to lag behind schools in wealthier suburbs, leaving millions trapped in poverty with few opportunities to pursue the American dream.

Since 1969, we've spent over $5 trillion on anti-poverty programs, and I ask: Are we any closer to ending poverty today? Helping distressed inner cities and rural communities will require meaningful reform and incentive-driven ideas like the American Community Renewal Act, rather than the standard liberal mantra of throwing more money at the problem.

President Clinton had an opportunity by signing the tax relief bill and helping America's poorer communities now, yet he turned his back on them and decided to put policies before principal once again. Next time, I hope he will not make the same mistake.

Chairman, House Republican Conference

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