Mary Richards Wasn’t Alone…

Mary Richards Wasn’t Alone…

Actress Mary Tyler Moore passed away on January 25th at age 80. Moore was synonymous with two character roles that cemented her place into television history: Laura Petrie from “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, and the iconic fictional WJM-TV producer Mary Richards in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (MTMS), both were on CBS.

Moore’s role as Mary Richards has been lauded for opening doors for women during a very important era in American history. The role of women in the 1970’s was starting to evolve from housewife to living independently, taking on non-stereotypical careers, and having a larger role in society.

As important as she was, whether on television or in real life as a role model, Mary Richards wasn’t alone during the era of the 70’s as it relates to influential and groundbreaking TV female characters.

Ever heard of Alice Hyatt, Maude Findlay, or Julia Baker?

You should.

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Cloris Leachman, the late Mary Tyler Moore, and Valerie Harper.

Let’s start with the supporting cast on MTMS. Des Moines, Iowa’s own Cloris Leachman was Phyllis Lindstrom, Mary’s snobbish landlady, Valerie Harper played Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary’s best friend and neighbor, the amazing Betty White as the sharp-tongued man-hungry Sue Ann Nivins, and Georgia Engel as Georgette Franklin, the loyal girlfriend (and later wife) of dim-witted and vain weatherman Ted Baxter.

MTMS made Harper, Leachman, Engel, McLeod, Anser, and Ted Knight superstars. MTMS was one of the first television series with an ensemble cast that was as talented as they come, and was one  of the first series to create successful spin-offs series for Rhoda, Phyllis, and Lou Grant (character played by Ed Anser).

MTMS wasn’t the only show that featured a female as a star and living a life that was unconventional during that time.

“Early to rise, early to bed, and in between I’ve cook and cleaned and went out of my head, going through life with blinders on is tough to see, I had to get up, get out from under and look for me…” – lyric to “Alice”(version 1) sung by Linda Lavin

“Alice” was another significant series, in my mind, as it relates to the changing roles of women.

Linda Lavin played Alice Hyatt, a widowed mother who moves from New Jersey to Phoenix to start her life over again with her son while she pursues a singing career.

She takes a job as a waitress at Mel’s Diner, working for Mel (Vic Tayback), a grouchy bombastic owner and cook. She works alongside shy and awkward Vera (Beth Howland), and Polly Holliday as the sassy whip-smart Flo (of “Kiss my grits!” fame). Diane Ladd later joined the cast as Belle Dupree and Cecila Watson played Jolene Hunnicutt. Alice produced a spin-off for Holliday, titled (of course) “Flo”.

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How do you keep Mel in line?  Flo had the answer:  “Kiss my grits!”

“Alice” was important because she was “starting over” after a tragedy by moving away from home to pursue her dreams and a better life for her son Tommy and her. Along the way, Flo, Belle, and Alice helped Vera grow from an awkward and less-confident person to one who could stand up for herself during one of Mel’s put-downs and then falling in love and getting married to police officer Elliott. They met when Elliott gave Vera a ticket for jaywalking.

If Mary Tyler Moore was the gold standard, then “Maude” was not far behind. Bea Arthur played the “uncompromising, enterprising, anything but tranquilizer” Maude Findlay, an older woman who was never shy to speak her mind, much to the consternation and admiration of her fourth husband Walter (Bill Macy). “Maude”  was groundbreaking in several ways. The series tackled topics such as “women’s lib”, abortion, and the clash of cultures.

The abortion episode is worth watching (Part I and Part II) if you want to see how Maude and Walter handled Maude’s pregancy.

Maude” was spun off from “All in the Family” where Maude clashed with Archie Bunker and driving her conservative neighbors the Harmons (Conrad Bain and Rue McClanahan) crazy with her liberal viewpoint. Arthur and McClanahan would reunite nearly a decade later, with Betty White, to do “The Golden Girls”.

Her relationship with African-American housekeeper Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) was insightful in that she clumsily tries to show how liberal and open-minded she is when interacting with Florida, to which Florida usually gets the last laugh at Maude’s expense.

maude
As progressive as Maude Findlay was, Florida Evans suffered no fools and got the last laugh at the expense of Maude.

Florida ended up having a spin-off series of her own:  “Good Times”.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. There are other shows below that, along with “MTMS”, “Alice”, and “Maude”, were shows, in my opinion, that showed women in starring roles and in turn becoming role models during the 70’s for women through television.

The Liver Birds: British series about two single women living on their own in Liverpool, England during the 70’s. Carla Lane and Myra Taylor, two Liverpool housewives created and wrote the series. (Sidenote: the alternative theme song is catchy.

 

“Julia”: Diahann Carroll stars as a widowed nurse Julia Baker. The series was one of the first to cast an African-American in a white-collar professional role.

 

“Laverne and Shirley”: We all know about these two. They were the American version of “The Liver Birds”. Schlemiel! Schlimazel!

“The Partridge Family”: Shirley Jones is persuaded by her five children to quit as a bank teller to form a band. Yes, we have the theme song.

Who’s Running This City Anyway??

Who’s Running This City Anyway??

Two stories over the past two weeks have called into question over “who really runs the city.”

An anonymous source leaked to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier of a heated email exchange between Mayor Quentin Hart and councilman Tim Lind over the process of hiring a part-time communications director. By all accounts, Hart followed the rules, and had authority, to hire a part-time position…without seeking the city council’s approval.

While that was going on, the city of Muscatine has themselves a soap opera brewing. Their city council has filed impeachment charges against their mayor, Diane Broderson. Broderson filed suit against the city council for attempting to strip her powers as mayor over a similar situation: the appointment of board and commission members.

Yes, Hart and Broderson are facing elements of racial and gender factors (Hart is black, Broderson is female), but the crux of this is usually a long-running issue: who has more power…the mayor, the city council, or the city manager/administrator.

When I moved to Davenport in 2015, it’s city administrator Craig Malin resigned as former mayor Bill Gluba was canvassing votes for Malin’s ouster over the planned move of Rhythm City Casino to a location near the intersection of Interstate 80 and 74. The fiasco cost Gluba dearly, as he lost to Frank Klipsch in the mayoral election that fall.

This is not a surprise. Nor should it be.

Local governments, much like Congress, can turn citizens into power hungry egomaniacs hell-bent on forcing their own personal “Manifest Destiny” once they get elected.

I don’t much know about Muscatine (only what I have read), but I do know Waterloo. It’s my hometown.

qhart
Mayor Quentin Hart of Waterloo, Iowa. (Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier)

From what I can gauge with Waterloo (and I could be wrong), there is a city councilman, Steve Schmitt, that has ran for mayor several times and have lost each time. Hart was a city councilman until he ran and was elected mayor. The problem is that Schmitt has a reputation of questioning the mayor’s office and the competency of Hart and his predecessor, Tim Hurley, That has only intensified with Hart now in the mayor’s office.

Last summer, Schmitt engineered a council vote to reject footing the bill for Hart to attend a mayor’s conference in Washington, D.C.. Hart had to pay for the trip out of his own pockets, along with a little help from a Kickstarter campaign from several of his supporters.

This isn’t the only time Schmitt has placed himself as a “wannabe” mayor. He acts like a mayor, talks like a mayor, tries to do business as a mayor….but he isn’t the mayor. The mayor has authority, and that authority is being undermined. The email flap between Hart and councilman Tim Lind has exacerbated matters.

dbroderson
Mayor Diane Broderson of Muscatine, Iowa (Quad City Times)

In the Broderson matter, the Muscatine city council has worked feverishly to strip all of Broderson’s authority as mayor, citing “habitual neglect” of her “fiduciary duties.” This stems from last August when the city council began the process to change the appointment authority for boards and commissions to a nominating committee, and the ability to appoint and remove the fire and police chiefs to the city administrator, subject to the approval of the city council.

A nominating committee comprised of two council members, the mayor, and the city administrator or appointed staff member was created to review applications for boards and commissions and bring recommendations to the city council for approval. Previously, the mayor held appointment and removal powers, subject to the approval of the council.

A letter was sent to Muscatine citing that the changes could be in violation of the Iowa Code. According to the Code, a city with a population of 8,000 or more should appoint three civil service commissioners to handle the appointments if there is a paid fire and/or police department.

Upon learning of the city council’s attempt to strip her powers as mayor, Broderson filed a suit against the city council to block them from moving forward with their plans.

And all we care about is what is going on in Washington, and there is trouble in our own backyards. 

As Strother Martin said in “Cool Hand Luke” “What we got here is failure to communicate.” Since when do city councils, school boards, or any other elected forms of council decided that they know how to run a city better than a mayor, city administrator, or a city manager?

Quentin Hart and Diane Broderson has to be thinking to themselves what Bill Parcells famously said about coaching and running a football team:

If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.

These are power play moves in politics. When voters keep re-electing people, the less likely those incumbents are willing to upset the status quo. When someone new arrives and attempts to change the culture, there will always be pushback.

But these pushbacks that are being waged at Hart and Broderson looks like a Sunday School picnic where everyone wants to hand out a slice of pound cake, but they’re unwilling to slice an equal amount of cake to share.

But, what do I know? No one is going to read this blog. I talk about topics no one cares about…unless if it’s about protest marches and building walls.

Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions
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“Duuuude, I have an unpopular opinion. Is it cool to say it here?”

It is a scary proposition when you offer an unpopular opinion (or UPO on this blog going forward). For one, you worry about the instant reaction of people (who don’t read the “why”), and two you worry about how your interaction with people will go moving forward.

There are far too many folks carrying grudges, past and present, that will ultimately kill them. Karma has a way of doing that.

There are those who, agree or disagree with you, who are willing to let you offer your opinion and your rationale, without getting pissy about it. For me, I will give an opinion and I drop it after that. I said what I needed to say and I move on.

It’s called civil discourse. Sadly, way too many people doesn’t think that being civil does anything. I disagree with that. It depends on the individual and how they respond to it.

If you interact with an overly emotional person, they will talk with their hearts. With an irrational person, they will be all over place. A person who will think about it without haste and offer a salient observation, might offer some points that you may not think of.

As a way to get back into my writing mode (and start rebuilding content), I will offer some unpopular opinions and a reason for them.

Remember, you don’t have to read them, if you don’t like them. There are plenty of other blogs and written materials you can read. Or, you can write your own blog.

UPO #1: Pseduo-celebrities like Mr. Sulu (George Takei), Matt Walsh, D.L. Hughley, Henry Rollins , Shaun King, and other who feel the need to offer an opinion on everything. Chill with the Facebook posts, fellas. It’s alright to take a “topic” off once in awhile…or maybe a few more.

UPO #2: I’ve never watched Jon Stewart, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann (post-ESPN) or Stephen Colbert. It doesn’t make me a conservative nor a liberal. I was never interested in them, just as much as I was not interested in “Friends”, reality television shows, and various people and things.

An observation came to mind: are there viewers like me that are tired of hearing middle-aged white men (on both sides of the ideological aisles) bloviating to no end about how the world should look like in their own eyes?

UPO #3: Award shows for entertainers. It has become social media troll fodder for people who aspire to be Siskel and Ebert, but they tweet more like Waldorf and Stadler.

UPO #4: Barack Obama isn’t the greatest President we ever had, and I’m not a fan of the incessant lovefest.  Each president is just a guy who was elected to keep us from being one step closer to going nuts as a nation. History will determine Obama’s tenure in about a decade. To add, the presidents, in my view, are just humans. Not perfect, not completely flawed. I only vote for the person who I view can do the best job, not who’s more “presidential” based on looks and presence.

Best Presidents: Washington (he was the first, so he had to set a precedent), Lincoln (for the Civil War, freedom of slaves), Franklin D. Roosevelt (WWII, WPA, and Great Depression), and John F. Kennedy (NASA, and introducing a new generation to public service).

UPO #5: This isn’t “Trump’s America” Cut that shit out. This is AMERICA. We’ve been through wars, tragedies, bad decisions, and everything else since our existence.

We will get through this. If you doubt that, then you doubt yourself.

I feel better now. Okay, on to other stuff that isn’t political, divisive, and tiresome.

Wait…I sort of lied. I need to get this off of my topic pile.

Colin Cowherd, who is notorious for “hot sports takes”, from time to time will offer something about his profession that can be considered as “ugly truth”. He laid out something that most Americans are too lazy to figure out, especially when it comes to political and sports shows: it’s not about information. It’s about being “interesting”. Saying something outrageous turns more heads than a sabermetrics geek talking baseball numbers and a policy wonk explaining nuances of a bill. Viewers only care to see what you will say next, and if it’s more outlandish than the next.

The idea of substantive and nuanced discussion with subject matter experts certainly exists, but doesn’t work as well as selling certainty and hot takes to a droll mainstream audience clamoring for more buffoonery.

Clemson being a fraud (or any team getting that label) is what the audience wants to hear. People tweet it, post it on message boards, and talk about it in their social circles and on talk radio. It reverberates. Agree or disagree, it’s something to talk about, and regardless if he’s wrong, you’re going to keep coming back if you like this particular flavor of hot take.

The idea of him (Cowherd) and others saying something like “Clemson has had an up and down and year and I think they’re going to have problems against Ohio State or Alabama. I don’t know, we’ll see……should be a good game”, does not payoff in the sports media world. – Ben Koo, Awful Announcing, Jan 10, 2017

As Koo pointed out, sports isn’t the only place where this tactic takes place.

Politics is loaded with this. Koo finished with this line in his column, “Until people opt to tune out personalities and shows that make noise for the sake of making noise, this is what you get.”

Several years ago, I wrote suggesting that people “tune out” Iowa congressional representative Steve King. A good number of Democrats thought my suggestion was dumb. “WE HAVE TO MAKE PEOPLE NOTICE ABOUT  HIM!!”

How’s that going, Democrats, RAYGUN, and everyone else?  He’s still in Congress, so your efforts to “bring light” about his antics backfired.

It’s Psychology 101: the less attention you give to an attention-seeker, the less relevant that person becomes, because people will stop listening.

If the story of Senator Joe McCarthy doesn’t ring a bell….Google it up. Read what happens when attorney Joseph Welch calls McCarthy out over the Communism “blacklist” hearings. No one paid attention to McCarthy after that.

That’s how you handle an attention-seeker. Not printing t-shirts with catchy slogans, jumping on social media and retweeting statements.

But telling that to a Democrat or a Republican is like talking to a…ahem…wall. They’re too obsessed to let go from a mental aspect.

But, what do I know? No one’s going to read this blog post anyway. I write about topics that no one is “interested” in.

Pretty much the case with any blogs.

 

Being A Voter Doesn’t Give You The Civic Duty to Be A Jerk

Being A Voter Doesn’t Give You The Civic Duty to Be A Jerk

Being “a self-important clown” isn’t something that most people will like to hear, but as someone who spends time observing and evolving, your views do shift.

As in the case of the election last week. One of the common themes about voting is that if you don’t vote, then you should not have a voice or an avenue to talk about the issues.

This is a clown. A "self-important clown" is someone who think and act like they're better than anyone else. When it comes to voters, we tend to act like elite jerks, all in the name of "civic duty."
This is a clown. A “self-important clown” is someone who think and act like they’re better than anyone else. When it comes to voters, we tend to act like elite jerks, all in the name of “civic duty.”

I used to be one of those people, as this post in 2010 can attest to.

Therefore, I am a “self-important clown”, and I deserved it.

Here is my “mea culpa”.

Over the past 10 months, my view has changed with regards to how we treat and dismiss people who are do not follow politics and do not vote, and when they speak out about issues that are important, voters dismiss them for not doing their “civic duty.”

This took shape over the past week when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (Kaep for short) announced that he did not vote because he had deep reservations about both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, alluding to the “systemic oppression” that continues to be prevalent in the United States with respects to African-Americans.

Kaepernick has been critical of both candidates for months. “You have Hillary [Clinton], who has called black teens or black kids super predators,” he said in August. “You have Donald Trump, who is openly racist.”

“I’ve been very disconnected from the systematic oppression as a whole,” he told reporters. “So, for me, it’s another face that’s going to be the face of that system of oppression.

“And to me, it didn’t really matter who went in there (to be elected), the system still remains intact that oppresses people of color,” he added.

-Michael Sebastian, Esquire Magazine, November 10, 2016

Colin Kaepernick. (Jake Roth, USA Today)
Colin Kaepernick. (Jake Roth, USA Today)

The reaction, no surprise, was one of furor…by voters.

Stephen A. Smith, ESPN’s resident loud-mouthed “hot take” troll, spent nearly 13 minutes calling Kaepernick a ‘hypocrite”, because he did not vote. Ironically, Kaepernick is on the forefront of speaking about the escalating and long-running issue of race and police brutality.

That is when it struck me. Here is a dude who felt compelled to take a knee to protest and elicit conversation about the current treatment of African-Americans in this country, and the people who supported him are admonish him for not voting.

Several days later, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Mike Evans sat down during the national anthem to protest the election of Trump.  When asked if he voted, Evans said no, citing that he is not a political person. On the following day, he apologized for sitting down and offered to find another way to address the situation.

Evans received the same vitriol that Kaepernick received.

Evans and Kaepernick are individuals who are not political or follow politics by any means. And yet, they were chastised for not voting by people who did vote.

“If you don’t vote, don’t complain.” 

That is the stupidest line ever uttered.

Voters, including me, are the ultimate hypocrites.

I’ve written this in the past about my perspective on politics and viewpoints: I don’t tell people how or who to vote for. Anyone who does that, isn’t a very confident person and uses bullying to get their way.

I will amend this with the following: if someone is not interested in politics, they should not have to vote for the sake of voting.

That is what nearly 47% of the nation did….not vote. They’re fed up with the state of affairs in this country. That was their protest vote, if that’s how you want to spin it.

Mike Evans of Tampa Bay. Evans didn't get the attention that Kaepernick received, but it didn't go unnoticed with some, like ESPN's Bomani Jones. (Athletes Speakers)
Mike Evans of Tampa Bay. Evans didn’t get the attention that Kaepernick received, but it didn’t go unnoticed with some, like ESPN’s Bomani Jones. (Athletes Speakers)

Clinton and Trump had way too much baggage and their actions speak for themselves.

 

But, of course, what do I know? No one wants to read what I’m writing. And I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. Both groups are grandstanding jackasses.

What Kaep said drove home the point: it didn’t matter who was elected, it was going to be business as usual, and neither Clinton or Trump was going to seriously address racial relations.

Bomani Jones of ESPN talked about the Evans story on Monday afternoon and debunked the so-called narrative about the importance of voting as it relates to someone having an opinion.

The monologue begins around the 10:20 mark.

Voting gives people the false sense that they are making a difference, when they are really not, as Jones pointed out (and rightfully so). Putting on a “I Voted!” sticker, to show people how “patriotic” we are and our obligation to perform a civic duty, and then flaunting in the face of others reeks of elitism and hubris.

When did having a “vote” gives you the authority to tell people who didn’t vote that they shouldn’t complain or say anything that they see as an issue?  

It is not a civic duty. It is a choice.

If it is such a civic duty, then why do we vote, if we have no interest to vote for two candidates that America was unhappy about?

So we can get a sticker and feel individually empowered without any guilt? Does voting empower us to act like raving lunatics and lose our shit over an election?

If that is the case, then all of us are fear mongers.

What does that prove?

If you had a choice, who would you not see vote? A conspiracy theorist, a racist, a misogynist, someone who leans toward a third party candidates, or someone who is not well-informed about the issues and yet have an opinion?

Many of you would prefer that all of them don’t vote.

Bomani Jones of ESPN. An underrated rational voice of reason. (ESPN)
Bomani Jones of ESPN. An underrated rational voice of reason. (ESPN)

But…they do vote. If you try to keep them from voting, you are in fact suppressing them from voting. Jones’ argument is that voters go out of their way to dismiss the view of those who are not political, by using the “did you vote?” rationale as an excuse.

There is a lot of places around in America that are trying to suppress voters these days. You will talk about that, but we ignore our level of suppression towards those who may vote for someone who you oppose, or doesn’t vote at all.

Just because we vote, it does not and should not make us feel entitled and privileged to tell those who chose not to vote that their opinion and their causes do not matter.

We, the voters, are suppressing people’s voices, all in the name of a “civic duty” that we are “obligated” to do.

That’s being a hypocrite.

We live in America, where we are free to make choices. Third world citizens would do anything to live here and be free to live however they choose.

To tell them that they have to vote for the sake of voting, is hollow.

If people do not see any reason to be politically active or take part in something they are not crazy about, then they are free to do what they want.

They pay taxes too.

I will no longer dismiss anyone who are interested and concern about the issues that are important to them, without holding a pithy obligation to perform a civic duty over their heads.

Oh, and voters, stop being assholes (including me).

But what do I know…no one is going to read this anyway.

 

An Identity Crisis

An Identity Crisis
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Horses don’t vote, but they do watch television, like Mr. Ed.

I didn’t watch a second of the election night coverage. I watched a Mid-American Conference football game, listened to a hockey game and the Lakers on my SiriusXM radio app.

I was in no mood to read the instant whining from losers and the obnoxious gloating from winners. Neither of them serves any purpose.

Social media are inundated with people who spent all week ranting and finding new complaints to rant about. No wonder why people “detox” from social media, namely those who are still butthurt and upset over the results.

Here is my suggestion: create and write a blog. No one wants to spend their time on Facebook reading a 1,000+ word blog. No one cares, except for those who are interested in reading your thoughts.

Or hit up Medium and Huffington Post, where pretty much anyone can write for them (I would advice Medium. I hear that Huff Post has a reputation of not paying their bloggers).

With that in mind, since I do have a blog, and 1300 words to hammer out…

…there are several observations that stood out to me during the last two  election cycles (2014 and 2016): disgruntled voters, lack of quality candidates, and an identity crisis.

Let me preface: I’m not a political analyst or some campaign insider, nor am I a Democrat, Republican, or a  Communist.

  • When faced with deciding between two unpopular candidates, nearly half (roughly 47%) of the eligible electorate said “screw this” or “no thanks” and did three things…
  1. …either they voted for a third-party presidential candidate…
  2. …they did not mark a presidential candidate on their ballot. They voted for everyone else, but they were not going to be pressured to vote for two of the unpopular candidates in American history to date…
  3. …or they didn’t vote at all.

There is no such thing as the lesser of two evils. In the eyes of many voters, both of them were unfit to run the United States.

Rebuffed for President for a 2nd time, Hillary Clinton will have to figure out her next chapter.
Rebuffed for President for a 2nd time, Hillary Clinton will have to figure out her next chapter.

This is the candidate’s fault for not doing enough to prove to those voters that they best represent those voters’ views. It was clear that a sizable number of the electorate did not feel that both Clinton and Trump represented their views.

You want more voters to support your candidate?  Tell your candidate to do better next time. Check that, demand it. Tell your candidate not to be a disconnected jerk to potential voters. Voters are not stupid. They can see through bullcrap. After all, they are the ones who voted for that person.

It is an indictment on both Democrats and Republicans: they only cater to certain groups and shut out those that they really need. Mind you, some Democrats, notably Sanders supporters, bail on the Dems and supported Jill Stein. Some Republicans bailed out and supported Gary Johnson.

Time and time again, voters’ displeasure of the dog-and-pony show in Washington have built up to a boiling point. Continued gridlock, “politic-speak”, posturing, and egos have been the norm. It also doesn’t help that there is more distrust of the political infrastructure as it relates to how much money and power is permeated within both political parties.

Straight cash, homie. 

  • 2014 should have been a wake-up call, but 2016 provided a harsh reality:  the talent pool of elected officials are weak, crappy, and awful. There’s no way to sugarcoat it.

Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg was the leading Democratic candidate to go up against Chuck Grassley in the U.S. Senate race. Then, out of nowhere, the powers that be at the DNC endorsed former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge to run for the Senate seat. Maybe it was Judge’s name brand over a lesser known Hogg.

Hogg never had a chance as Judge defeated him in the primary, and was the Democratic candidate against Grassley.

Everyone knew she had no chance.  The cows in the pasture knew she had no chance.

Judge got clobbered in the general election.

Hogg would have been a new face and possibly brought a new line of thinking and opportunity. The DNC didn’t see it that way, for whatever odd reason.

Here in Iowa, the Congressional delegation was re-elected. Very typical of Iowa voters: we keep sending incumbents back. That’s what we do.

  • Which leads into this observation: today’s Democratic Party and Republican Parties are at a crossroads.

They have an identity crisis.

The old-school establishment of both parties got “trumped” by a loose cannon with a brand who was not going to play their game. He played his own game…and won. The biggest losers were the Republicans and the Democrats.

"They laugh alike, they walk alike, and sometimes they even talk alike..." The Republicans and Democrats are both identical in that they have some rebuilding to do in their organization and with those who support them.
“They laugh alike, they walk alike, and sometimes they even talk alike…” The Republicans and Democrats are both identical in that they have some rebuilding to do in their organizations and with those who support them, after getting cold-cocked by Donald Trump.

Voters have no faith in government to operate and do things in the best interest of the public. Secondly, the attack against the media is fair, but let this famous story about Leslie Stahl and the Reagan White House teach you that no matter how much the media tries to tell a story, campaigns and viewers will see another story.

Mass chaos was bound to happen…but this wasn’t the  candidate or the perfect storm everyone expected.

Or was it??

It’s time for both political parties to seriously look at themselves in the mirror and figure out how to change with the times and the evolving world, because whatever they are doing, it’s not working, and last week it showed.

The Dems went through that in ’68, and the GOP did the same after Watergate. It takes something pretty big to make organizations, people, and entities to refocus and shift priorities to keep up.

Both Dems and GOP had internal fighting and strife among their ranks. GOP members distancing themselves from Trump on one end, and Bernie Sanders supporters who steadfastly refused to trust and support Clinton and her campaign.

As Strother Martin said in “Cool Hand Luke”

No, enhancing social media, pushing more absentee voting, or getting on MTV to do town halls isn’t going to entice voters to come back to the fold. And no, running out celebrities to tell people to vote isn’t going to work either…unless you’re gullible enough to listen to people who live in mansions in California and have little interaction with you unless you’re paying money to see them perform.

Who are the Democrats? Who are the Republicans? What do they stand for?

Do they represent everyone or only a few? Is it an open door policy or just the “establishment” reign supreme? Everyone knows that about the GOP, but as we learned publicly with the Sanders supporters, shutting out populist ideas in favor of the perceived “establishment” makes Democrats mirror Republicans to a “T.”

Will they continue to align themselves with the business world? Will they finally get around to addressing the African-American community and the continuous issues involving race and human treatment, or will they talk about the black community to the white audiences that they are trying to court?

Being out of touch isn’t good for both of them. Not willing to “change up” their game will make voters consider walking away from both in the future.

A quick fix isn’t going to work. Similar to 1968 and Watergate, it’s going to take several years for Dems and GOP to figure out who they really are and what direction they are going from this point forward. Disgruntled voters will seek other candidates and organizations that mirror their views. Sooner or later, that idealistic third-party will evolve and become an option.

“The Longest Week” at 35: The First Major Story I Remembered As A Kid

“The Longest Week” at 35: The First Major Story I Remembered As A Kid
Waterloo Courier headline July 13, 1981
Waterloo Courier headline July 13, 1981.

Every five years, or a quinquennial, I pull out the old newspaper clippings like clockwork.

The gravitational pull of an unsettling anniversary continues to bring new angles and perspectives that percolate.

Age and time can do that to a person.

Over the past week, a popular question was asked on social media:“What was the first major news story you were aware of as a kid?”

Many responded: the JFK assassination, the September 11th attacks (15 years coming up), Challenger (30 years ago this past January), among many. Some also had local stories that were the first big news story that they remembered.

For me, it was, and always will be July 12, 1981.

Thirty-five years ago this evening, Waterloo, Iowa police officers Michael Hoing and Wayne Rice were gunned down during a noise dispute at a home.  A manhunt followed as the suspect, James Michael “T-Bone” Taylor, was on the loose and was eventually captured.

Taylor was and will always be the first major news story I remember vividly because that week was surreal and scary.

Page A3 of the Waterloo Courier, July 13, 1981, on the story of two Waterloo police officers slain.

To write a personal account of the story reinforces the impact that the case has in my life and the history of my hometown.

Several things have happened in the past five years since I wrote “The Longest Week” on July 12, 2011.

In March 2014, Taylor and former Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Marvin Messerschmidt died within a week of each other. Messerschmidt was the officer who chased down Taylor in a bean field outside of LaPorte City. Taylor stumbled to the ground, Messerschmidt apprehended him, ending the largest manhunt in Iowa history.

On the morning after Taylor’s death, I received a phone message from Adam Amdor. Amdor formerly worked at KWWL-TV (he currently works in public relations). Everyone’s friend Paul Yeager suggested to Adam to reach out to me.

Adam wanted to link my story to KWWL’s website story on Taylor’s death.  I was caught off guard by his request. After thinking it over (quickly), it was a story that needed to be told, for educational and historical purposes. I am a strong proponent of using history as a form of education. I called Adam and left a voice mail, giving my permission to link my post.

I prepared myself for an onslaught of reaction, comments, or something trollish.

It didn’t happen.

What did happen was that people read the post to get an understand the events of that hot humid week in July 1981 in the eyes of a five-year old kid. To this day, it is the most read blog post on this site.

The Taylor story stands out as a moment that remains a permanent fixture in the Cedar Valley.

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“Hi, are you the one who wrote about T-Bone Taylor?”

The Facebook message blinked across my screen two weeks after Taylor’s death.

“Yes, I am the person who wrote it.”

Her request was simple. She was attempting to write a book about the slayings and the eventual forgiveness of Taylor and the families affected.

I consented to help, but I acknowledged to her that I did not know all of the details of what was said and done, outside of what I remembered and the recollections of my father. Remember, I was five years old. Five year old kids see everything and asks a lot questions that adults do not feel comfortable answering, especially at that time.

We traded information on what we gathered. I felt that she has some salient material to go with, especially the time period from the trial until Taylor’s death. That angle was one of great interest to me.

After a month or so, due to personal issues, she abandoned the project. I never heard from her after that. It was unfortunate, but as the cliché goes “life gets in the way” and it does.

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Once in a while, I’ll glance at the post, and the late Randy Brubaker comes to mind. Brubaker was the Des Moines Register’s news desk editor. Randy passed away from heart failure in May 2014. Bru grew up in Waterloo, and he knew all about the Taylor case.

“Bru” sent me an email days after the original post in ’11. Bru said that it would be a good idea to pitch the story to the Register’s editorial board because it was one of the biggest stories in Iowa over the last 50 years.

I sent an email to Randy Evans, who was on the editorial board until his retirement about a year ago. That idea didn’t go anywhere, but it was worth pitching a story.

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When I wrote the original story, the one thing I never did was to pull out the old clippings, take a picture of them, and post them. I decided to do it for this post. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier has several more archives of “the longest week” (front page headlines, the manhunt, and the timeline).

I don’t know why this story continues to be a major part of my life.

Maybe I do know why. I lived through that week. My grandparents and father had an indirect connection to it. I remember the weather, the sense of fear, the surrealism of the events.

The best answer for it?

It was the first major news story I remembered as a kid, and it’s the one I can never forget.

No Hall Passes for “Hot Teacher”

No Hall Passes for “Hot Teacher”

When the internet was just starting to gain a digital footprint in the world (aka I was in my late 20’s), I used to frequent a website called “Badjocks.com“. Badjocks was a site where stories of teachers or coaches getting caught having sex with students became daily fodder for those who love discussing such tawdry tales.

Stephannie Figueroa, 21, is charged with child abuse for texting nude photos to an 11-year old boy. (Orlando Sentinel)
Stephannie Figueroa, 21, is charged with child abuse for texting nude photos to an 11-year old boy. (Orlando Sentinel)

What stood out to me was the unusual number of females teachers and coaches being arrested for having sex with underage male or female students.

Most (male) readers would chuckle and say to themselves “I wished I was that kid!” The fantasy dream of shacking up with the “hot teacher” continues to be the norm.

Badjocks.com came to mind as I was driving home from treatment Wednesday morning. Miami Herald columnist and ESPN provocateur/court jester Dan Le Batard talked about two stories.

The first story was a Florida female karate instructor arrested for texting nude photos of herself to an 11-year old male student of hers. The other was a 33-year old California female physical education teacher who was sentenced to 120 days in jail and given probation for having a threesome with two young males students under the age of 18.

The "hot teacher"fantasy is what it is:a fantasy. Sadly, a troubling number of female teachers or females in general has taken that fantasy to criminal levels by messing around with underage students.
The “hot teacher”fantasy is what it is…a fantasy. Sadly, a troubling number of female teachers or females in general has taken that fantasy to criminal levels by messing around with underage students.

When reading the P.E. teacher’s story on the air, LeBatard questioned the sentence given to the P.E. teacher. Linsday Himmelspach received 4 months of jail time and had her probation extended. If both of the accused were males, a stiffer penalty would have been given.

Does that remind you of a story from a few weeks ago?  The one that everyone was up in arms about???

LeBatard asked why do females who are accused and found guilty of sexual assault receives lighter sentences and not being treated with the same disdain as their male counterparts, and how is the national media and society turns a blind eye at it?

I agree with LeBatard. With all of the firestorm about the sexual assault trial of the Stanford University male swimmer, it is disturbing that adult women who commit similar heinous acts (rape, sex with minors, etc.) are not punished the same way as men do.

The only difference is the sex of the aggressors. The idea that women are not considered to be sexual predators when breaking the law is one of mere astonishment.

When I researched Badjocks.com today to see if there were any changes to the trend of female teachers and coaches illegally having sex with minors or accused of rape in some states, I was not surprised.

Out of the first 9 stories under Badjocks’ “Naughty Coaches” section, five of them were stories about females, in an authority of power, being busted for sex acts with minors.

If it's not Debra Lafave, Mary Kay Letourneau, or a male, stories like these on sites like Badjocks.com doesn't get as much attention as it should.
If it’s not Debra Lafave, Mary Kay Letourneau, or a male, stories like these on sites like Badjocks.com doesn’t get as much attention as it should.

And yet, these stories are usually ignored unless it becomes a NBC “Dateline”exclusive featuring those like Mary Kay Letourneau and Debra Lafave, only for the lurid accounts that took place.

If Brock Turner is a rapist, so to is Stephannie Figueroa, Lindsay Himmelspach, and Letourneau, who set the gold standard for statutory rape.

To treat those cases otherwise is foolish and irresponsible.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), about 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed sexual violence in their lifetime. In a 2014 Slate report, a National Crime Victimization Survey uncovered that 38 percent of men have been sexually assaulted.

Priests and men are not the only groups that rape women and men. Women do as well, however we treat that as atypical and usually blame the male victim and his raging hormones for achieving a “fantasy”. Whether these young males want to admit it or not, they are victims. Being considered as human prey by those we place our trust in to be adults…not searching for the next “Lolita.”

Adult women should be held accountable and responsible when they commit rape or assault.  They are sex offenders.

Just like men.