The last time someone built a wall…

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ — Robert Frost, Mending Wall

Yes, there’s been a lot of talk about walls lately. Specifically, there’s been a lot of talk about President Donald J. Trump’s wall. You know. The one he wants to build along the border with Mexico. Yeah. That wall.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

According to published reports, it wouldn’t actually be a “wall.” It would be “a series of fences and walls.” Depending on what you choose to believe, it would cost anywhere from $12 billion (the figure given by Trump before he was elected) to more than $21 billion (the figure quoted in a “U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report”). Then again, it might only cost $15 billion (the figure provided by Republican leaders).

As proposed, Trump’s wall would also:

  • Take more than three years to build
  • Cover more than 1,200 miles
  • Supplement existing border barriers (covering approximately 650 miles)
  • Extend “almost the length of the entire border”

Here’s what happened the last time someone built a wall…

But everyone is getting ahead of themselves. Before anyone starts building anything, maybe they should stop and take a breath — and more importantly, take a good hard look at what happened the last time someone built a wall.

After all, it didn’t happen all that long ago. In fact, construction on what we came to know as the Berlin Wall began in August 1961. And, according to the blurb on, its official purpose was to “keep Western ‘fascists’ from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state.” But the fact of the matter was that it was also built to halt a refugee crisis — of sorts.

You see, the West Germans didn’t build it to keep people out of their country. With the Soviet Union’s blessing, the East Germans built it to keep people from leaving theirs. (For some reason, hardcore socialists and Communists didn’t like people fleeing from their warped version of paradise. Maybe 21st century leftists should take note — but that’s another blog topic for another time.)

The fact remains that in the summer of 1961, more than 67,000 people “defected” from East Germany by escaping through Berlin before the East Germans built their wall. By the time they finished building — and reinforcing — it, the wall was 12 feet tall and 4 feet wide. It was topped with an obstacle that was also designed to thwart escape by anyone brave or lucky enough to get that far.

Some who tried to escape after the wall was erected didn’t live to tell the story. But over the years, thousands of people (approximately 5,000 in all) were successful.

As we all know, (or as we should all know) the Berlin Wall — the wall that divided east and west throughout the Cold War — “fell” in 1989.

Now, less than 30 years later, there’s a lot of talk about another wall. Trump’s wall…

“And before I built a wall, I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offence…”

Just saying.

So long, Mr. President…

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

It’s happening. Whether we like it or not.

On Friday, Donald J. Trump — (alleged) scumbag, misogynist, bully, and world-class suck up to Vladimir Putin — will become President of the United States, and by default, “leader of the free world.”

For a lot of Americans — and a lot of people around the world — it is a sad and scary thought.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I must admit, I’m not a fan. But personally, I have always respected the Office of the President even if I haven’t always respected the man in office. So as soon as he is officially inaugurated, I will try to afford Mr. Trump the courtesy owed to a man in his new position, and I will try to give him the benefit of the doubt.

It is only right. After all, I did the same for the outgoing president — and for the record, I’m not a huge fan of his, either.

But, if nothing else, President Obama (or more accurately, someone from his public relations staff) was nice enough to respond to my letter. In December 2014, I wrote to Mr. Obama in order to “express my profound disappointment” in his “ongoing lack of support and respect for American law enforcement officers.”

Yes, I am quoting from my own letter.

I also said, in pertinent part:

The fact that some officers engage in reprehensible conduct cannot and should not be denied. Those who in any way violate the laws they are sworn to uphold should be held fully accountable, and anger and frustration when that fails to occur is understandable.

Yet what you willingly fail to realize is that those officers are the exception to the rule. The truth is the vast majority of American police officers are decent, honest, dedicated, hard-working men and women.

The truth is that these officers put their lives on the line every single day. Targeted by killers, drug dealers and gangs, they go to work knowing they may not come home. Undermined by agenda-driven politicians and activists, they nevertheless put themselves in harm’s way to ensure that citizens can exercise their right to engage in civil disobedience.

Furthermore, as long as our youth are allowed, if not encouraged, to believe the tragic loss of lives in New York City, Ferguson, and elsewhere is simply about race, that’s all it will ever be about. The divisiveness currently being fomented by professional agitators and activists will prevail. We will never make any meaningful progress; we will never learn to understand and respect each other’s differences; our country will never heal.

Four months later I received a response (form letter) from the White House “signed” by President Obama. Here’s an excerpt:

“Law enforcement officials have incredibly difficult jobs and put their lives at risk to protect us. And they are most effective when people have confidence in the system. That is why my Administration is working to enhance community policing, and also to strengthen trust and accountability between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

I am deeply committed to the promise of what our Nation can be, and my Administration will keep pushing for progress through ongoing initiatives, continued engagement with communities and other targeted efforts.”

But sadly, nearly two years later, nothing has changed.

Here’s hoping it will.

Note to Donald J. Trump: Stop playing the victim

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Sexual violence: term used to describe “a specific constellation of crimes including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.” — National Institute of Justice

It is something countless Americans endure each year.

I say “countless Americans” because the experience is not unique to women. Men are targeted, too.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

In a recent media fact sheet, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center cited a survey in which nearly half the number of women who self-identified as lesbians and half the number of women who self-identified as heterosexual “reported sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes.” Nearly 75 percent of women who self-identified as bisexual reported the same.

In the same survey, roughly 40 percent of men who self-identified as gay, nearly 50 percent who self-identified as bisexual and approximately 20 percent of those who self-identified as heterosexual said they too experienced sexual violence other than rape.

Another report cited in the same fact sheet indicates that “one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.”

And then there are the most heartbreaking statistics of all — those pertaining to the American children preyed upon by sexual predators each year. According to one estimate, one in four girls and one in every six boys will be “sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.”

These are the victims.

U.S. presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, who was caught on tape bragging about and making light of behavior that can definitely be characterized as sexual violence, is decidedly not a victim of anything.

Oh, he says he is. After the 2005 tape in which he bragged about and made light of behavior that could definitely be characterized as sexual violence became public, several women accused him of sexual assault. And he’s been whining and crying about it for days. To hear him tell it, he’s a victim of a media conspiracy, a victim of character assassination, a victim of a slur campaign… and on, and on, and on.

Perhaps his accusers are lying. Or exaggerating.  Or perhaps not.  Perhaps it is a political ploy dreamed up by the Clinton camp and the mainstream media. Or perhaps not. That all remains to be seen.

Hey Donald, There Is No Excuse

What is indisputable is that Donald J. Trump’s “locker room talk” (his words, not mine) was disgusting, reprehensible, vile, inexcusable and indefensible.

In fairness, the Clintons’ conduct (actual and alleged) is also vile, inexcusable and indefensible. But that’s another subject for another blog. For now I’m sticking to the topic at hand.

That Melania Trump said her husband was “egged on” would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic. To hear Donald J. Trump tell it, he’s a big, tough businessman who doesn’t take c–p from anyone. He does what he wants, when he wants. No one can intimidate him, and so on and so forth…

But we’re supposed to believe that he only engaged in this “locker room talk” because  someone (presumably Billy Bush) pressured him into it? Or because he wanted to be accepted? Or because he wanted to be one of the guys? Come, come now. What a load of garbage. It’s the kind of lame, pitiful, excuse you’d expect from a teenager. As far as I know, Mr. Trump was an adult back in 2005.

Today he is an adult who wants to become president. So my question is this: Should someone who could be so easily influenced and use such poor judgment become the leader of the free world?

Donald J. Trump had an opportunity to exercise true leadership and strength of character 11 years ago. Instead of going along with the “boy talk,” as Melania Trump claims, he had the chance to say, “Hey, man. You know what — that really isn’t cool. Women should be treated with respect. You wouldn’t want someone talking about your mom or sister, or daughter or girlfriend that way. Knock it off…”

But he didn’t.

An open letter to young girls and women everywhere

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Dear Sisters,

I am writing to you as someone who is finally comfortable in her own skin.

It has been a long and difficult journey.

From what I’ve been told (and what I remember) I was a precocious little girl, with a vivid imagination and a flair for the dramatic. But as a little girl and teenager, I also experienced verbal and emotional abuse. At home, my father constantly put me down. At school, my classmates bullied me.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I suppose I was an easy target. I was always a little bit overweight. I had eczema and asthma. I wore a patch and/or glasses to correct my “lazy” eyes. I wasn’t athletic. I wasn’t stupid, but I was never the smartest kid in class. I wasn’t a gifted musician or a dancer or an artist… The things that seemed to come so easily to other kids were always harder for me

I lacked self-confidence and experienced low self-esteem. I was afraid of being laughed at and I was afraid to fail. I am sure some of you can relate.

In high school, things finally changed for the better. A teacher helped me discover a hidden talent. I discovered that I could write. My confidence blossomed. But it was fragile. And I was still young.

In the ensuing years came the joys and sorrows of college, college romance, entry into “the real world,” engagement, marriage and divorce. At 30, I moved back “home” to recover from the bitter blow that ended my marriage to the man I planned on being with forever. At 34, I moved to Virginia for a new job and a much-needed change of scenery.

Alone in a new place, I made my share of mistakes. I trusted the wrong people. I misjudged alleged friends. After eight-and-a-half years, I lost my job. But by the time I returned home for the second time, I’d written a book — and I’d found myself.

Today I am hardly perfect. But I am happy being me. Finally.

And if there’s anything I hope you can learn from my story, it is the following:

  • Each of you is unique.
  • Each of you matters.
  • Each of you deserves to be loved.
  • Each of you deserves respect.
  • Each of you has something meaningful to share with the rest of the world.

Ultimately your worth is defined not by your physical appearance, but by the choices you make and the values you hold. You can allow others to govern your emotions, or you can take control of them yourself.  You can live up to other people’s expectations or set your own. You can measure your beauty by “conventional” and societal standards, or ignore them and live by your own. You can measure your success by your material possessions or by the difference you’ve made. You can let the world beat you down. Or you can summon the courage to hold your head up high. No matter what.

It’s all up to you.



Author’s note: The preceding was written in response to recent news accounts about U.S. presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s lewd, sexist and misogynist comments caught on tape in 2005.