Huckabee and the Huge Disservice to Molestation Victims

capture-20150524-045906For 15 seasons, fans of the TLC reality show, 19 Kids and Counting, have watched a large family grow, because, well, apparently, there’s a fascination with seeing large families on television. In all fairness, I realize there’s probably more to that fascination than simply witnessing an unrealistic determination of a southern family continuing their efforts of growing in modern society; I have never seen even one episode. My sister has and it was our topic of choice over dinner. For her, the creep factor inched up during one of the first seasons, so she too abandoned the notion of finding anything wholesome or even realistic that served as a foundation for the family. Now, her creep factor makes sense.

Our conversation then moved on to Mike Huckabee, mega conservative candidate for the Republican presidential ticket. He’s another one who annoys me, even when I can quite define that annoying feature. But at least he’s standing up for what he believes with this whole molestation scandal surrounding the Duggar family. Got to appreciate that, right? God love him, he’s had a history of shoving his judgmental foot down his own throat.

Here’s the thing: this molestation brouhaha isn’t adding up. There are too many denials, redacted documents, timing issues (including destroying all of the records the moment an Arkansas law enforcement agency received a FOIA request from the media) and a disgusting number of “hiding behind God” comments from the family, which they believe, no doubt, should put the entire scandal to rest. “We rely on God. He’s saved us, so we really don’t need anything else” types of comments are leaving a bad taste in even their most avid supporters’ mouths.

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m vehemently faithful, but religious? Not so much. This family is the epitome of the self-righteousness that has overtaken American churches. This family’s religion is what they believe elevates them higher than homosexuals, unwed mothers and the rest of the sinners. Now, though, child molesters are OK because, well, one of their family members is indeed a child molester. And Huckabee supports that. Perfect.

But let’s get back to the heart of the matter: the molestation admission. Everyone has closed ranks around this family’s eldest son, Josh Duggar. Now we learn that at least a few of his victims include his sisters. The operative word is sisterS – as in plural. While Mom and Dad are building their walls around him and themselves, there are real victims who are witnessing this and a few who are now behind that proverbial wall. I’m not suggesting this family made their daughters second class citizens, but what I am saying is that they have no idea what this looks like to these girls – whether they’re relatives or family friends.

Not only must they live with the betrayal, but in a way, they’re being victimized again. Their story’s out there, whether they want it to be or not. I’ve heard nothing – and I mean nothing – about the repercussions for them. We’ve read the statements, but really, what do you think is happening this very minute? Is there someone dismissing their feelings and saying, “God will handle it”? “God forgives”? While it’s true that God forgives, for most victims, it takes them awhile to get to the forgiveness stage. I don’t think God becomes angry at us when we try to tell someone how hurt we are or how angry we are or how betrayed we are and that we don’t want to hear how God will fix it for us.

Sometimes, the answer is, “Yes, I know you’re hurt. We’ll get through it. I don’t know how yet, but we will.” Other times, the answer is, “Let it out. Tell me. Throw something. Get mad! Just get it out. I’m right here to help you.” The thought of someone whose go-to answer is, “There, there. God will handle it,” is infuriating, patronizing and dismissive, especially when the criminal is also hearing the very same nugget of wisdom from the same people. Essentially, the victims’ parents are protecting the molester who forever changed their life trajectories.

Because of this abuse, these girls (whether they’re his sisters or family friends) are now at a higher risk of those “sins” Huckabee is determined to eradicate, including addiction, unplanned pregnancy and a lifetime of poor self-esteem. They say the higher the pedestal, the harder the fall. Mike Huckabee is about to learn that lesson, courtesy of his support for almost everyone in the Duggar family. It must feel like a kick in the teeth for the victims.

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So, with Huckabee closing ranks with the Duggar family, he’s in essence saying he supports this criminal behavior. He’s forgiving of child molesters, but really, is anyone surprised? He did, after all, play a pivotal role in having a rapist released from prison, only to have that criminal rape again, though this time, Wayne Dumond killed the woman he raped.  Read that story (and a copy of the letter Huckabee sent Dumond in prison) here. He also happened to agree with the vulgar statement made by Todd Akin, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

I think we’re seeing a pattern with Huckabee and it doesn’t look good for women.

35 Years and the Original Urban Cowgirl Gets the Last Line

For most of us, and certainly for those of us in the south, there are names that are synonymous with Texas: cowboys, oil, George Bush, Gilley’s and of course, Urban Cowboy. Hard to believe, but it’s been 35 years since the film’s release. Urban Cowboy was ambitious; let’s be honest – what are the odds of a Jersey boy morphing into a believable cowboy out of small town Texas – and one who could actually two-step and waltz? See, that’s the thing about odds: once proven, they matter little. I was always sure it was the influence of the true Texans, especially those we get to know in the film, that really pulled out John Travolta’s inner cowboy – and boy did they!

Debra Winger (l), Jessie La Rive (c), John Travolta (r)

Debra Winger (l), Jessie La Rive (c), John Travolta (r)

One of those influences was Jessie La Rive Mapes, who played Debra Winger’s best friend throughout the film. This Texas girl’s character was a spitfire and as I’ve learned over the past few days, it most certainly comes natural. Jessie was gracious and was willing to spend a little time with me on memory lane, and as I learned (and always suspected), the authenticity of a film often comes down to director’s leap of faith and trusting the talent of his actors.

Jessie had worked at Gilley’s prior to filming. She ran the bull and worked in the kitchen when she wasn’t working at her “regular job”. She said, “I was driving a wrecker at the time we started filming so they thought it would be fun if Sissy was the one driving the wrecker. It all worked out.”

There are people in life who you look at and you just know that each knows all the dirt on the other – and it’s OK because of the deep loyalty between the two, especially when it comes to women. Lord knows I have a couple of

Photo Courtesy: Jessie La Rive Mapes

Jessie’s 21st birthday gift: her first plane ride with John Travolta as her pilot. (Photo Courtesy: Jessie La Rive Mapes)

friends who know where the bodies are hidden. Those friends are rare and when we find them, we just know the treasures that they are. Jessie (Jessie LaRive Mapes) and Sissy (Debra Winger) were so seamless in their interactions with one another that you wonder if maybe they didn’t grow up as school girl friends.

I asked Jessie, “I’ve always noticed how Jessie and Sissy really meshed throughout the film. The two characters really complemented one another. Was it like that with Jessie and Debra offset, that made it believable in your roles onscreen?”

Jessie: “Debra and I hit it off immediately, so we were really good friends on the set and hung out after filming would finish. We had a lot of fun between scenes and would usually go to lunch together when we had time.”

She then goes on to tell me about their “fight”.

Jessie: “…in fact, we had to actually get into a fight to get mad enough to film the scene at Stoney’s when Bud and Wes were fighting in the parking lot.  We couldn’t stop laughing, so we went out back and literally started a cat fight just to pull the scene off.”

Fans of the film saw how Jessie went to bat for her best friend when Bud (Travolta) wouldn’t “allow” Sissy (Winger) to ride the bull. Her “Bud, I think you oughta let her ride it” line is so typical of what we women say; it’s not so much of a suggestion, but more of a, “Get the hell out of her way and let her do her thing.” When I asked her about that and whether it’s something she’d really say to her best friend’s husband, she made it clear how much she values her friends.

Jessie: “I am loyal to a fault and will always stand up for my friends. So yes, when I defended Sissy that is a “me” thing. 

Here’s a really fascinating truth: all of Jessie’s lines were adlibbed. She said, “They would give me an idea of what they wanted and I just played off that.” Unfortunately, the line where she tells Bud to kiss her ass was cut. She said there was careful editing because of some of the language.

What she told me next still has me in awe. I’d asked her about her favorite “behind the scenes” moment. She said it was the scene at Stoney’s when Bud and Wes found themselves in a fight in the parking lot.

Jessie: “I had just given birth to my son the day before and had to come back for the shoot that next night. When we talk about how sore I was (from riding the bull that day) I was being truthful. The Director, Jim Bridges, had a motor home in the back and hired a nanny to watch my son while we shot scenes.  In between each scene I would go out to the motor home and be with him until it was time for the next shot.”

I remember that scene well: The Eagles playing on the jukebox, Bud yelling at the waitress and a hamburger hurled towards Wes (played by Scott Glenn). The next thing we see is Jessie physically restraining Sissy so that she’s out of the line of fire coming from the parking lot brawl. And Jessie had just given birth to her son hours earlier.

And speaking of Wes Hightower (Glenn), he is the epitome of the bad boy that breaks hearts as he goes, each woman more convinced than the one before that she can “fix” him. This brings us to my next question for Jessie. I’d ask her if there was a favorite scene that stood out for her.

Jessie and best friend Betty, the real life Sissy who married the real Bud, Dew Westbrook

Jessie and best friend Betty, the real life Sissy who married the real Bud, Dew Westbrook (Photo Courtesy of Jessie La Rive Mapes)

Jessie: “My favorite scene has to be the shot in the trailer when Wes drinks to worm in the Mescal.  Debra and I sat back and watched him do about ten takes on that scene and for every worm he ate, we drank a shot to cheer him on. That was a long day.  There also was a scene that Debra and I shot just the two of us, playing on the bull with a beer in our hands.  It turned into an all-out beer fight, we were spraying beer everywhere on anyone that got close to us!  I wish they had left that scene in.”

That tiny trailer. A lot went on in that space. From the scene Jessie describes above to Wes owning up to the fact that Sissy was expecting too much, “You can’t expect a man like me to be faithful to any woman,” it was a great contrast to the vast space that defined Gilley’s

I asked Jessie, “Crazy as this sounds, I’ve always wanted to know if there was really a small trailer behind Gilley’s. Real trailer or Hollywood creativity?”

Jessie: “There was never a trailer behind the club. That was something that the director decided would work well with the plot. Also, watch the scenes that were shot at the trailer park. There are no mountains in Deer Park, Texas.  We shot those scenes in California along with the last scenes at the club where Wes robbed the office. Those scenes were shot on a sound stage at Paramount Pictures.”

These days, Jessie is recording a CD and she’s hoping to have it ready in time for the Urban Cowboy reunion in June (be sure to follow her on Twitter @urbancwgirl). She and Debra didn’t keep in touch after the film wrapped, but I get the sense that those amazing souls who made Urban Cowboy the incredible film that it is are as loyal as the day is long. Sometimes, actors can be led into creating believable work. Other times, it just falls into place.

Once you’ve seen it unfold and fall into place, from the opening scenes in Bud’s hometown to the marriage waltz across Gilley’s dance floor to Pam’s view of her Houston proper, it becomes a favorite. I won’t say I’ve kept my copy of Urban Cowboy updated with changing technology. I mean, it’s not like I had the beta tape, the VHS tape, DVD and blu ray. But maybe I did. I also happen to know you can see it on demand on Netflix. Hell, who am I kidding, anyone who knows me knows that’s true. Below is the official Paramount Movies trailer. You can see Jessie in the trailer and also Bud’s (Travolta) amazing hoedown.

I am so grateful Jessie La Rive Mapes was willing to share some of her stories and photos with me. For me, this is far more than just a column for the 35th anniversary of Urban Cowboy.

As for Jessie, the Original Urban Cowgirl, she gets the last line and even then, she’s the true best friend. Sissy’s worried about her car getting home. As Bud and Sissy begin their “happily ever after”, Jessie hollers across the parking lot:

“Don’t worry about it, Sissy!”

How’s This for an Ethical Entanglement?

For a while now, we’ve been hearing about Americans who are stranded and abandoned in Yemen. We’ve heard how they feel as though they’re forgotten and have lost faith that help would come in time to evacuate them to safety. Indeed, O & Co made it clear that there were no plans to rescue them. It seems like a no-brainer: the drunk monkeys in Washington should evacuate Americans pronto, right? Not so fast.

On Friday, our favorite State Department clueless robot, Marie Harf was asked why efforts weren’t being made to rescue these American citizens. At one point, a journalist at the presser asked her, “What do you encourage those Americans to do, swim?” Leave it to Harf to stand with an empty stare as she struggles to find an answer, even as stranded Americans were hiring small motorboats to pick them up and make a dangerous trek through the Red Sea to safety. The State Department even emailed the 400-plus Americans and told them to find their own way out of the country via boats to Djibouti. It quickly rescinded that suggestion since it was a wide open invitation for terrorists to attack.

So why hasn’t the U.S. stepped up to the plate? There have been adamant warnings from the State Department regarding travel to Yemen for 15 years – yes, FIFTEEN YEARS.

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As if that weren’t enough of a red flag, even after the State Department closed our embassy in Yemen in February, they still chose to stay, even though they were warned of the growing “terrorist activities and civil unrest”.

Here’s the moral and ethical question: Should the U.S. attempt an evacuation/rescue at this point, even though they chose to stay?

Turns out, it’s a question that doesn’t need an answer because Russia….yes, Russia…just rescued not only the American citizens, but several British citizens as well.

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This is just a guess, but I’m pretty sure that’s going to cost us big in the near future:

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The One Thing it Always Comes Back to

capture-20150329-204841Weeks ago, people were dismissing the possibility of the real reason behind the complicated nuclear talks with Iran. No one quite believed it was as much about oil as it was nukes. But let’s be honest – the U.S. can annihilate Iran in a Heaven’s heartbeat – no nukes required. We have the best military in the world – the best. The truth is, this entire Iran nuclear nonsense has been going on far longer than many realize. In fact, this little gem from the National Security Archive is like a page ripped from today:

U.S.-Iran Nuclear Negotiations in 1970s Featured Shah’s Nationalism and U.S. Weapons Worries

You can see the actual DoD unclassified document here.

It’s from the mid-1970s, declassified in 2009. No, seriously, I promise – the mid-70s. Don’t feel bad if you get bored reading it because it’s so similar to what we’re seeing today, with a few distinctions. Some of the language is verbatim. Note too that there are links to more than this one document on the NSA page, all having to do with Iran’s need/desire/demand for nuclear weapons. More importantly, it’s indicative of just how long this nice little waltz has been going on, especially between the U.S. and Iran.

Keep in mind, too, it goes even further back, but the Carter Administration is especially notable for a particularly dark time in American and Iranian relations, which is why I focused on this time period.

So, then, if this isn’t a new song and dance, why the strong focus right now? Remember, we can drop kick Iran in two seconds. It comes back to oil. It always comes back to oil.

The big oil companies have been storing the surplus of oil in huge barges, keeping it safe, ready to sell it at higher prices once the market rebounds. This is one reason why we didn’t hear much complaining from the big players early on, when the price of oil began its freefall. I don’t think anyone believed it would continue for as long as it did. The U.S. has placed sanctions on what seems like the entire world, so it’s not like these oil conglomerates were worried about Iranian oil (or anyone else for that matter). They, along with the Obama Administration, thought they could wait out the OPEC stubbornness. And then Iran popped up.

Turns out, Iran has its own surplus stored in its own barges. They’ve been hoarding their oil ever since we put sanctions on them a few years ago, just waiting for the golden opportunity to say, “Hey, U,S., lift those sanctions and buy our oil.” The U.S. is dealing with job losses in energy – with more to follow and Obama has, frankly, alienated nearly every ally we have, not to mention his remarkable failure as this nation’s leader. Iran knows it may not get other countries on its side, but having our allies turn their backs on us? That works out beautifully, even if it was unintentional. Here are a few of those Obama failures:

Chechen leader threatens to send weapons to Mexico if U.S. arms Ukraine Fox News

Obama to ‘reassess’ Israel relationship CNN

Barack Obama, the Iranian Candidate Washington Times

Obama-Netanyahu Rift Threatens US-Israel Bond Defense News

Yemen crisis threatens Obama Iran nuclear talks, further clouds Middle East policy Washington Times

So, we have PM Netanyahu wondering why Obama declassified his country’s documents, we have James Jeffrey, who served as Obama’s ambassador to Iraq and was a top national security aide in the George W. Bush White House, exclaiming “We’re in a goddamn free fall here,” in reference to the U.S. and the collective Middle East and we have the rest of our allies, including the UK, Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands joining China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the past two days alone. In fact, the media in the UK says it like this: US isolated as Australia and Russia join China’s development bank.

Did I leave any allies out?

Meanwhile, we have the Republicans who are so angry and worried about the oil crisis that comes if Obama lifts Iran’s oil sanctions, they’re not even considering the big picture and we have Obama who’s in his own world that makes sense only to him. Remember, 47 Republican leaders sent Iran that nice little love letter a few weeks ago.

And, then, of course – there’s Russia.

But speaking of the oil – because again, it always comes back to the oil – here’s what Miswin Mahesh, an analyst at Barclays in London told Bloomberg a few hours ago:

“The first wave to look out for when these sanctions are removed is that stored oil coming back into the market”

He’s referring to the Iranian oil, of course.

And when all of the dust settles, when all of the feelings have been hurt, the promises have been broken and the truths come out, where do you think that leaves Americans? What do you think that does for an already-rickety economy? How will the Obama Administration explain, first, that it’s been doctoring the unemployment numbers, and second, how will it explain to the thousands more in the collective energy sector, why they no longer have jobs in an industry that should have been a sure thing? Because even after then, the truth remains: This is not about Iran’s nuclear dream; it’s about oil.

How -and Why -the 47 Senators Blew It

What possessed the forty-seven Republican senators to strike out in a move, specifically that letter to Iran, that would surely further divide the politics in this nation is beyond comprehension. Maybe they were trying to send a big “we’ll get even” with O & Co. over the poor manners and behavior shown to Prime Minister Netanyahu during his recent visit. Maybe they’re concerned about a successful deal and what it might mean for the future of oil. Who knows? Either way, surely they knew as soon as they did it, they’d likely made a mistake (at least, I hope they did). Now, though, they’re coming full circle on just how disastrous that letter has truly become. Worse, they’re also beginning to see the divide they’ve created, not only on a national, but an international level.

Reuters is reporting exclusively that there are now secret talks taking place that would end the Iranian sanctions. Sounds good, right? Not if you’re one of those 47 senators. Had they kept their pride in check and their mouths closed, they might could have prevented what’s now going down. The five senior members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. – are looking for ways to ensure any incoming U.S. president won’t be able to undo whatever it ultimately becomes, something those Pubs touted in their letter. They stated, “The next president could revoke such as executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”  Turns out, a Security Council resolution indeed can prevent that from happening and it’s legally binding.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter, because this is where it’s going to sting.

First, let’s look at the list of 47 signatures:

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Now, let’s look at who benefits from oil. The top Republicans who benefited financially from oil and gas companies, in order of the amount received and according to Open Secrets (You can see the entire list here). There are four who did not sign the letter in the top ten – three of them are Democrats and the one lone Republican who did not sign the letter is from Mississippi, Thad Cochran.

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In other words, the Republicans who benefited most from the oil industry were more than happy to sign the letter. If you’re wondering why, consider this:

The announcement alone of an agreement with Iran that removes international sanctions would accelerate the current steady downward trend of the global oil price. Thus, the oil price would be affected even before increased physical supplies of Iranian oil reached the market. And more oil would gradually return to the market, helping keep global oil prices low and perhaps depressing them even further. Burdened by sanctions, Tehran has offered discounts to regular buyers such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. The end of sanctions would most likely mean that such consumers would pay a price more in line with global prices. Accordingly, this could create an opportunity for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf producers to increase their market share. The Washington Institute

One final point about Senator Cochran:

Thad Cochran’s biggest thorn (and the state’s as a whole) wasted no time in jumping on that and saying Cochran hasn’t taken a “principled stand in years”. This is exactly why voters chose experience over one who’s done little more than whined about his loss. You can read more about Senator Cochran’s decision here.

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Biden’s Twisted Financial Priorities

capture-20150311-005351Several months ago, in a rare talk about politics with my mother, she said, “You know, they can find a way for Obama to serve a third term.” I couldn’t tell if she was trying to get me riled up or if there was something she knew that I didn’t. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I saw this headline earlier:

Biden: 2016 is battle for third Obama term

Of course, the article’s about the potential run by our esteemed Vice President. God help us all. But then, yesterday, I’d run by my parents’ house, only to get into another conversation with Mom about why I have the cameras covered on my phone. She thought my reason was as crazy as I thought her insistence was on the possibility of a third term for the current administration. She laughed in that typical, I’m-the-Mom-and-I-can-laugh-all-I-want manner and said, “Oh, Donna, you provide such fodder for our entertainment.” We laughed some more and then I told her I’d be forwarding her a few links on how easily the NSA can flip our phones and computers into camera mode. If only our concerns stopped there…

The Biden Plea

Vice President Joe Biden published an op ed this week on The Hill. He’s asking us to fork over $1 billion so that we can save Central America from itself. Here are the reasons he provides as to why we should cave on yet another waste of taxpayer money.

Mi Casa, Es Su Casa

Biden has a ridiculous justification for his efforts. He and his boss created a financial, legal, moral and societal crisis by opening the borders last summer, no questions asked, with a big “welcome home” declaration. Now they want us to fix it. Biden wants to prevent a repeat of last summer’s rush at our southern border, which brings to mind one simple explanation: 2016 election.

He explains, “The president and I are determined to address conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and help these countries on their path to economic prosperity.”

Here’s what he intends to do with our cool billion for these countries:

  • Reform the police systems
  • Expand community centers to “prevent migration”
  • Put into place measures to reduce poverty
  • Create opportunities for foreign investment
  • Target smuggling networks

These are all noble and important reasons to justify support, but why are we suddenly going to fix this region of the world when some of our nation’s biggest problems center on those very issues? Shouldn’t we become the global example before we become the world’s bank? Before we “fix” these three nations, maybe we should first address them right here at home:

Reforming Policing Policies

Reforming police systems across the country is something that is very much in the political and societal spotlights these days. Whether it’s the Justice Department’s determinations that came together in a red-hot report that’s resulted in several resignations of city and county leaders in Ferguson or the ongoing cyber-attacks that are hitting Madison, Wisconsin in retaliation for the police shooting of an unarmed black teen last weekend, the unrest in many cities is palpable. Referring to the cyber-attacks, Paul Kronberger, Madison’s chief information officer, told Reuters today, “There is not a lot we can do about it. The people who do this kind of attack are very skilled.” A stronger budget could put the proper training in place so that city and state leaders can gain those skills that would translate into formidable moves against a determined hacker.

Community Centers

It’s not entirely clear as to what Biden believes community center expansions will do to prevent migration in the region, but some of the biggest budget hits in cities across the U.S. began with closing various community centers. Many remain closed today, years after the recession was declared a has-been.

Poverty

Next Biden wants to reduce poverty in Central America. What he doesn’t mention is the poverty rate fell from 41.7% to 25.3% between 2000 and 2012. This, according to the United Nations Development Program, means more than 56 million people moved out of the grips of poverty during that period. The U.S. has nearly 50 million (and growing) who live in poverty and child poverty is one of the worst in the world. In fact, only five countries have higher poverty rates: Greece, Latvia, Spain, Israel and Mexico.

Foreign Investments

Let’s not forget Biden’s interest in increasing foreign investment for the region. In fact, let’s take a look at just one of the sanctions the U.S. has in place and how that country is now handling the absence of U.S. support (read: financial support). This provides much needed perspective against Biden’s financial investment goals for the countries and maybe a glimpse into how our image is being affected on a global stage:

This week, Obama used an executive order to sanction Venezuela due to its “acts of violence or abuse of human rights, were involved in prohibiting or penalizing freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption”. Of course, our government officials would never stoop that low to become involved in “public corruption” and as far as freedom of speech goes in the U.S., three words come to mind: National Security Administration (which, by the way, is now being sued).

A few months ago, in another “I’ll go it alone” move made by Obama, and after a year of “secret discussions”, efforts are being made to strengthen the ties between Cuba and the U.S. Five hours after the sanctions against Venezuela were announced this week, Cuba made it clear its loyalties are with Venezuela and not the U.S. 

Reducing Smuggling

Finally, Biden wants to help rid and prevent smuggling networks from going into the region. That’s noble, but we’re hardly the example for border security. Illegal drugs are a billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. In 2013, there were more than 30,000 arrests made along the southern border and all were attempting to cross the border with heroin, meth, cocaine and more; however, Mexican cartels are becoming even more violent, which jeopardizes the safety of our nation’s law enforcement. Couple that with the open borders and it’s clear that we’re woefully lacking in both budgets and tools to finally rein these cartels in.

Let’s take a look at what these countries have managed without the benefit of the U.S. and in Biden’s own words:

“Even before my recent visit, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras had quickly taken steps to start implementing the Alliance for Prosperity. Honduras signed an agreement with an international nongovernmental organization to increase governmental transparency. Guatemala has added new law enforcement officers and reassigned others to areas most in need, helping to reduce Guatemala’s murder rate by one-third. El Salvador passed a law providing new protections for investors.

If these countries are doing that well, maybe Biden could spend some time there and let them teach him a thing or two. Since that won’t happen, how about we keep our $1 billion and invest it in our own country. Let’s add new law enforcement on city, state and federal levels and take advantage of training opportunities so that our nation is safer. Homicide is increasing right here in the U.S., even as Guatemala’s rate has been cut and for the love of God, how about we find a way to make our own government more transparent?

If we have a billion dollar budget set aside for other countries, then surely, we have it for our own nation’s safety and economic growth.

Don’t Even Bother Labeling Women

capture-20150308-084602It’s International Women’s Day (March is Women’s History Month) and plundering through all of the gazillion articles, claims, promises, defeats and rhetoric, there’s one thing that no one seems to understand: you can’t box a woman into a single label. Ask any woman – she’ll tell you it’s so. Of course, there’s one description that most women say they identify most with, whether it’s feminist or mother or determined or traditional or independent or weak, and that’s OK. But every woman on the planet will identify with nearly ever label at some point, even if only briefly. If there are any of those labels that tend to flounder in our modern day, it’s traditional. That’s too bad, because for those of us who do feel we’re more traditional in this aggressive, contemporary society, it seems like the word “traditional” equates to repressed or left behind or even weak. So, with that in mind, to balance out those who are roaring “feminists rule”, I thought it’s about time to show how even we traditional women still possess a few feminist tendencies.

Don’t Sweat the Laundry Hamper – I Got This

In my house, the traditional roles rule. It’s all about image. With a few exceptions (no one’s perfect), you’ll find everything tidy. Everything has a place. Clothes are folded and color coordinated before they go into the closets or dressers. The sink’s clean and dishes are put away (and no, I’ve never owned a dishwasher). You’ll find vacuum marks in the rugs, the shower curtains are color coordinated (even if it means changing the curtains on the windows). Baseboards are cleaned on Mondays, floors are mopped on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Dusting and bed linens changed on Saturdays. It’s organized. It’s neat. It’s where I feel safest. I always wanted the girl my son married to take care of him. I figured if I fixed his plate, refilled his tea glasses, then any girl he chose should do the same. Turns out, they take care of each other. I reckon he took it to heart because I see that common respect between the two of them. It’s sweet and it’s authentic.

Here’s the kicker: I live alone. Keeping that tidy house is a breeze. And I like it. I know, too, that whatever’s meant to be is going to happen. We are always right where we are supposed to be. If I fall in love tomorrow, good on me. My point is I don’t need to be married. I don’t need anything to complete me – even a marriage license or a Facebook status of “engaged” or “married”. I mean, really…no one does, right? My point is: no woman should settle. No woman should choose to marry or even agree to “date” a man she’s not feeling. Make your own rules and then live by them. Period. How’s that for being a feminist?

Money, Money, Money

Here’s the truth: I don’t care what you earn. I think there’s something that strikes the basic core of a man that demands he be the primary wage earner. And that’s OK. And it’s OK if he doesn’t. I care little about what the neighbors earn and I don’t care what my best friend’s husband earns. In fact, I hate nothing more than handling the finances. I do it because I have to, but that’s the only reason. I’ll go so far as to say there was a time when women knew little about what her husband earned, how much money was in the bank and what the retirement account held. I know that is probably the most horrifying statement for anyone – especially a woman – to say in this day and age, but there was a trust decades ago that solidified a marriage: the missus had supper cooked and her Mr. Wonderful made sure there were groceries in the cupboard so she could cook.

Here’s the kicker: I do what I want, when I want. I earn a good living. If I want to blow Wal Mart wide open at 3 a.m. (which I’m prone to do), then that’s exactly what happens. If I want to disappear for the day, there’s no one I have to ask or tell or notify or whatever you want to call it. I do what I want. Period. Hey, if Hillary Clinton can use her own email server while giving a big “screw you” to the world, I can too.

Remember last season, in House of Cards, there was this strange and fascinating dynamic between Frank and Claire? Weird as it sounds, it was almost sweet. The world beat him up, called him friendless and worthless and evil. Claire was always right there next to him, reminding him of all the good he did. It was enough, right? It was almost like she was the one source of strength between the two of them.

Now, though, this season, we see the tables turned. Frank dropped the ball and if you’ve seen the finale, you know how that ends. No matter that she is the epitome of fiery feminism, the rest of us know there’s a deeply entrenched ribbon of tradition running through her core. See? You can’t even box a fictional woman into a tidy little box.