politics, Republicans, Uncategorized

Dance with Me, James

First of all, this blog title has nothing to do with what I’m writing about. I can honestly blame it on my Inner Fangirl.

The title should be “Why This Country Needs an Independent Investigator.”

In the last week, our current president has fired the Director of the FBI, and admitted in a television interview with Lester Holt that one of the reasons he did it was because the Director was investigating the president’s alleged ties to Russia (a country, you may recall, who has never had America’s interests at heart). This current president is very good at declaring what is true or not true according to his own barometer, and he declared that these alleged ties are not true (despite that about 6 of his campaign, transition, and cabinet team members have been shown to have done some ….questionable …. things). Now, not only is the current president trolling the man he fired via his Twitterfinger, the same current president has met high-ranking Russians in the Oval Office behind closed doors, without American press, or apparently any others as witnesses.

This has been an exhausting week.

We, the American People, need a special, independent prosecutor to fully investigate these allegations for one simple reason: Confidence.

Right now, confidence in our elected officials of any party, and confidence in our rules of law, are taking hit after hit.

The current president is thumbing his nose at both houses of Congress, and the Judiciary, daring them to do something. Congress has shown it is all words and no action. Both House and Senate Republicans have shown that they will allow ideology to trump country (no pun intended), the Republic be damned. None of them is a patriot, and every one of them has violated his/her oath to protect and defend the Constitution. The Democrats are gumming the bone. The Attorney General of the United States, the chief law enforcer of this country, has had to recuse — recuse!! — himself from this investigation.

As of today, 20 state Attorneys General have

Regardless of whether or not the Republicans’ ultimate plan is to convene a Constitutional Convention and suspend or revoke items in our founding documents, as of today, the Constitution of the United States is the law of the land, and the president is not — and cannot be — above Congress or the Judiciary.

A thorough investigation is called for to either indict or exonerate the current president and any accomplices he may have had.

The confidence of the People demand it.

 

Democrats, Elections, politics, Republicans, Uncategorized

Why Does It Matter?

I read an article today that said that the Secretary of the State of Georgia, Brian Kemp (R), wants to keep newly-registered voters from exercising their Constitutional right to vote in the June 20th run-off election in District 6.

He has declared that these voters are only eligible if they registered by March 20, which is 92 days before the 6/20 election. His justification is that the run-off is simply a continuation of special election to replace Tom Price, who was appointed to the President’s cabinet

However, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 says clearly that the deadline for voter registration for a Federal election is 60 days, whether it be general, special, primary or run-off.

Why does this matter?

I believe this matters because most of us were raised to believe in fairness — that the process by which a result is produced is as important as the result itself. More and more I’m seeing that our Republican leaders are willing to manipulate the processes to produce the desired result.

Why does this matter?

I believe this matters because each of us has been Constitutionally guaranteed the right to vote our conscience to choose the best candidate for an elected position. By manipulating the system so blatantly, those in powerful offices are negating our ability to choose and stifling our voices. They’re saying they know better, and we don’t know what we’re doing.

Why does this matter?

I believe this matters because even though most of us don’t want a lot of government interference in our lives, by voiding our rights to vote, government is interfering and controlling our lives. We as citizens will lose our right to dissent. Already, there are attempts to curtail our rights to assemble (and protest), speak freely, and have a free press.

Why does this matter?

I believe this matters because there is a systematic eroding of our Constitutional rights, with the end result being that our liberties to gather together, to criticize our government, our freedom to determine our own paths, will be taken away from us by an elitist few who think they are better than us. If Republicans continue to change the rules arbitrarily to manipulate the outcome to suit themselves, I can see them trying to avoid free and open elections completely.

Why does this matter?

This matters because this is not strictly a Democrat issue. Just because you’re a registered Republican doesn’t mean that your freedoms won’t be curtailed too.

We all need to step up and say no.

You need to step up and say no.

We all need to step up and say stop this.

You need to step up and say stop this.

 

 

 

Democrats, Elections, politics, Republicans, Uncategorized, Unionism, Unions

Union is not a dirty word

I went to a union meeting Tuesday night, at the IBEW Local #1 hall. I was one of 400 people in attendance, probably one of a handful of people who were not union members. We met to understand how petition signatures should be collected. The goal is to suspend enactment of Missouri’s “Right-to-Work” law and place it on the November 2018 ballot.

In a nutshell, the law allows for non-union workers to work in union businesses and not have to pay union dues — and on the surface, so what? So what is that the people who don’t want to pay union dues are still protected by and will still enjoy the collectively-bargained benefits negotiated by the unions on behalf of their members.

Missouri’s legislators believe that this will attract new business to relocate to our state, even though a Washington University professor who has studied the matter, says that in other states, the law doesn’t make much impact.

As of August 3, 2015, Business Insider ranked Missouri 47 out of  51 (states and District of Columbia) for condition of the local economy. Add this to wages that have remained relatively flat for over a decade, one realizes that in order to grow the Missouri economy, “Right-to-Work” isn’t even a Band-Aid on a severed artery.

Instead of figuring out ways to get workers to produce more work for fewer wages, both our state and Federal governments ought to be developing ways to modernize infrastructure and develop training centers to produce the highest skilled people on the planet.

As long as businesses engage in “activities” like wage theft, Unions and collective bargaining are still needed. While I would love to believe that businesses and employers can be trusted to do what’s right (this is something that a supervisor once told me — with a straight face), the fact that pro-business is actively lobbying to repeal the prevailing wage law, tells me that they want to keep wages as depressed as possible for as long as possible.

Perhaps unions could also re-examine their message and dues structure. I remember when I came to St. Louis, I was working part-time at a grocery store, a union shop, and was required to pay full dues. On part-time wages, that was a bitter, and hurtful, bite. For a while, it turned me off of the whole union idea. I’m sure others with part-time hours and low wages have felt the same sting I did. I, at least, had grown up with knowing union history. Today things are different — young people aren’t being taught union history and what unions have done to help transform this country..

Unions could develop a sliding scale so that workers making less than a journeyman’s wages would not feel the pinch as much, and their dues responsibilities would be commensurate with any advancement in wages. [If this is already a thing, I would appreciate for a member brother or sister to chime in and correct me.]

As Congressperson for District 1, here in Missouri, I pledge to work for the working people of this area, and develop programs that will benefit not only this district but Missouri as a whole. I have friends all across this state, and my one goal is to make life better for everyone. I need your contributions and support to make this so. Please donate at ActBlue.com.

Elections, politics, Uncategorized

Lift Me Higher

america-repairsimg_3978

In less than two weeks, the United States has bombed both Syria (59 Tomahawk Missiles) and Afghanistan (1 MOAB “Mother of All Bombs”).

Currently, a large part of the Pacific Fleet is moving within firing range of North Korea, to intercept any missiles or nuclear test missiles they may fire during their upcoming anniversary celebration.

If we, the United States, intercept anything lobbed by North Korea, I cannot say for certain we’ll be here next Saturday to enjoy sunshine and soccer games.

North Korea is a desperate country. A large part of their population lives in abject poverty and is unelectrified. Money, what there is of it, goes into the military infrastructure.

Kim Jong-Un, the current leader of North Korea, is only 33 years old, and largely untested. He has been brought up to be revered as a god, as were his father and grandfather before him. He has purged his circle of anyone who might be threat to him, including relatives.

What we here in the west don’t really understand is that if Kim feels that he is being backed into a corner, in order to not be shamed in front of his generals and population, he will destroy South Korea and as much of Japan as he can before he is destroyed. North Korea has nothing to lose.

Most of us here in the United States, because we are oceans away from Asia, really don’t understand the Asian cultures. We’ve never had to deal with anyone even on our own soil who has nothing to lose. Our military intelligence concerning North Korea is sketchy; we don’t know how much weaponry or what types they truly have — do we risk destroying half of Asia to stop them from showing off a test rocket?

We are a larger, wealthier nation and as such, it is up to us to, pardon the expression, be the bigger man.

Diplomacy is still a better course of action instead of belligerence. North Korea needs food. It needs medicine. It needs the things we can provide through diplomacy, but we have to invest in understanding the Korean culture, and allow for deviation from isolation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democrats, Elections, politics, Uncategorized

The Enemy is Us

Today, I read a Facebook post by a Missouri State Representative, Randy D. Dunn, in which he said that “The House was preparing to pass a bill honoring a man who’s [sic] wife, upon his encouragement wrote a book with the language below in dedication to him. Following my reading of the excerpt from the book on the House floor the bill was laid over.”

The man was Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, whom I had not heard of, so, of course, when I got home from work I consulted the oracle, Google, to gain more knowledge.

Schoolcraft was born in New York state, lived from 1793 to 1864, and did a few things, like publish a six-volume commissioned study called Indian Tribes of the United States. He was a geographer, a geologist, and an ethnologist. His first wife was of mixed-race — Scots-Irish and Ojibwe. She died in 1842.

Schoolcraft remarried in 1847 – this time to a slave-owning woman from South Carolina. Apparently, she spoke a lot about her life on the plantation, and he suggested she write about it. She did, publishing the novel, The Black Gauntlet: A Tale of Plantation Life in South Carolina in 1860. The linked excerpt above is from her dedication to her husband for encouraging her to write her memories, and in this whole dedication, while she thanks him the encouragement, she’s really talking about herself.

Are her words ugly? To my ears, to my eyes, to my mind, yes. But I cannot condemn a man’s life of achievement for the prejudice and bigotry of his second wife.

I’m not defending the words of an antebellum slave-owner; this happened to be a good example of a legislator taking something out of context to illustrate guilt by association: Schoolcraft the explorer must have harbored the same pro-slavery sentiment since he married a slave-owning woman.

Her words, her book’s dedication to him, surely proves it, because we instinctively understand the power of words.

We use words to build people up, we use them to tear people down. Once spoken, they cannot be unspoken. Once written, once printed, once published, they cannot be brought back to the barn — they belong to the universe.

Words taken out of context have been used over and over to smear, ridicule, and destroy. Few of us take the time to find the original quote or interview. Many of us simply accept what’s told to us, possibly because we trust the person providing the quote.

We are now living in a culture of “fake news” and “alternate facts,” and it’s become vitally important that we look beneath the shimmer and gloss to what lies beneath.

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” — Pogo

 

 

 

 

Democrats, Elections, Health insurance, politics, Single Payer, Uncategorized

Requiem

For Pat from Paducah, who left too soon.

A few years ago I met a man who lived down in Paducah — it took us a long time to get to know each other. He felt I was too high strung and wound up, and I felt he was just another pompous ass; but we stayed in touch nonetheless.

I visited him just this past Martin Luther King day. He was upbeat and funny, between jobs, but still keeping up with his various contacts. He limped a little and said that his leg was swollen… but if he slept with it propped up, the swelling went down.

We got along great this time, he felt I was more relaxed and I found out he had a wicked sense of humor.

Life being what it is, some weeks went by and we didn’t chat, so I reached out to him.

And reached out.

And reached out.

Finally, I called, and his number was not working (okay, maybe he lost his phone again). The only thing left that I could do at this point was message his daughter via Facebook.

Pat died in his home February 25.

I can’t help but think that if we were a single payer health insurance nation, he might have gone into a doctor or urgent care, and had that leg looked at, but being between jobs, he was without insurance.

I’ve been “between jobs” and without insurance — you walk on eggshells because if you become sick or injured, you could incur doctor or hospital bills that could take years to pay down.

It’s time to seriously look at single payer health insurance for the United States. Physicians for a National Health Program defines single payer as “a single public or quasi-public agency [that] organizes health care financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands.”

Additionally, “all residents of the U.S. would be covered for all medically necessary services, including doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.”

What this means is that even if you’re between jobs, or working part-time, you can still go to the doctor, or the hospital, or get new glasses. You don’t have to risk your life because you don’t have health insurance.

If H.R. 676 is not passed by the time I get to Congress, I’m going to re-introduce it. We have been world leaders before, but we’ve fallen sadly behind. It’s time to be a kinder nation, starting at home.

There’s plenty for all of us.

Democrats, Elections, politics, Uncategorized

Bolhafner: More of Me

In my previous post, I spoke a bit of my heritage.

Of course, blood heritage is only part of my history.

Life experiences play a huge part in making us who we are, and it’s of course up to each of us to determine how those experiences will shape us.

I was raped when I was fifteen years old.

A stranger got access into my apartment building, took me to the rooftop, and raped me.

It’s a type of psychic scar that follows you forever, even when you have recognized the trauma, and the fear, that has lived with you for almost forty years. Some people choose to let the trauma decide the course of their lives, others take the trauma and deal with it.

Sometimes, there’s more trauma — like the alcoholic lover who went on a binge and beat the crap out of me; yet I went on with life, even got married.

Which brings me to choice.

I got into a discussion about choice with a guy I met once, and I learned then how immensely difficult it is to talk about this subject dispassionately. While I still remember how I terrified I was at fifteen — not knowing if I was pregnant or what would I do if I was pregnant, he feels that if abortion had been available to his mother back in the day, he would not be here today.

I understood what he was talking about and he understood what I was talking about, but the emotional component was something neither of us could really set aside. And while we may have rationally understood each other’s point of view, that emotionally charged element would always get in the way.

Ultimately, however, I am female. I have been raped by a stranger; I was molested by my father’s adopted father. I do not believe legislators who have no experienced some of the things I’ve lived through should be able to tell me what I can do with my body, especially if, on the other hand, they say we need less government in our lives.

 

 

 

 

Democrats, Elections, politics, Uncategorized

Bolhafner: Tough to Say, Easy to Know

I always invite people to ask questions: What would you like to know about me?

GrandmaNina284
Great-grandma Nina was born in Sicily.

My great-grandparents one my dad’s side came from Sicily by way of Naples. My mom immigrated from Korea in 1961. Her growing up years involved parts of WWII and the Korean War — she doesn’t talk much about it.

MeMomSanta2
Mom & me, circa 1964

My first job was as a cashier at my local A&P grocery store, and I’ve continued to work hourly-paying jobs all my life.

Currently I work at a low-income, HUD-subsidized apartment community where, if the tenants are able to work at all, their wages are often $8 or $9 an hour. The program, and the programs attached to low-income housing, seem to be stacked against a person trying to get out of the program and into self-sufficiency (a topic I’ll cover at another time).

Seeing my tenants struggling to meet rent and other responsibilities, I started to think about other people around me — the police officers who monitor the security desk at the building, the maintenance staff, and the people who live around me.

All of us want to live our lives – comfortably, freely, and with dignity.

As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share, but it becomes a strain and a burden when we’re asked to pay more than our fair share so that corporations can reduce their taxes on profits. A 12/12/2016 New York Times opinion piece points out that United Technologies (the parent company of Carrier who was/wasn’t sending jobs to Mexico) paid an effective Federal tax rate of 10.3% over a 15-year-period from 2000 through 2014. United Technologies reported sales of $57.2 billion for 2016. (Which may have resulted in a tax bill of $5.9 billion — if we went with the straight math of $57.2 * .103.)

United Technologies, however, is a big, big company. A blog I found, from February 2016, points out that this company has moved $29 billion in profits abroad, where it cannot be taxed by the United States, thereby leaving the shortfall on the backs of people like you and me. For a company that enjoys over $6 billion a year in government contracts, this seems highly un-American.

The people we have elected to represent us in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are no longer connected to us. Doctors. Lawyers. Good professions, yes, but hardly part of the mainstream after a while — especially if they’re re-elected several times.

I have no connections to big business. I have not scratched anyone’s back nor have they scratched mine. I have a passion to serve, and to serve as many people as possible in the time I have left.

I’m asking you to think of me. Remember me. Tell your friends about me. Contribute to the campaign, any way you can, even if it’s $5.00 a month.

I cannot do this without you.

Uncategorized

What’s Mine is Mine, What’s Yours is Mine

The forces in a capitalist society, if left unchecked, tend to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.” — Jawaharlal Nehru

“We each protect our own, that’s how it’s done,” said the woman on CSI.

I understand it now, what our current administration is doing, gutting everything in its wake. It’s not about building a wall, it never has been — though the idea is appealing like a good privacy fence is appealing.

But unlike a privacy fence between me and Mr. McGee next door, President Trump wants an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” that is envisioned to be almost 2000 miles long running from California to Texas.

This land ain’t gonna be flat.

This land ain’t gonna be free — most of it is owned privately, and would have to be purchased.

So… what I’m seeing is that we’re going to start the wall, and there will be construction jobs in the southwest — surveying, excavating, engineering, concrete pouring — until it becomes a boondoggle.

And then it will be abandoned.

But I digress.

Repeal/”replacement” of the Affordable Care Act is estimated to bring $157 billion in tax cuts over ten years for those making over a million dollars a year. How many people do you know that make over a million dollars a year? The New York Times also says “sizable” tax cuts would be in store for those making $200,000 to $999,999 a year.

Nobody I know makes that kind of gelt.

Additionally, with this bill, the healthcare insurance companies, which recently raised their premiums, will be able to deduct from their companies’ taxes up to $1 million in CEO compensation. The Affordable Care Act had capped that limit at $500,000. so this is another way for corporations to duck taxes, and it will be up to what’s left of the working class to make up the shortfall.

On Tuesday, 3/14, while we were laughing about photo-taking microwave ovens, and fussing about the 54 million people who will lose their health insurance through 2026, a new Executive Order was signed ordering the heads of Executive Branch departments (HUD, Education, EPA, etc.) to basically see if they can eliminate their departments if services are “redundant,” and can be left to the states.

If these departments vanish in 180 days, where does the money which ran them go?

 

 

 

Democratic National Committee, Democrats, Elections, politics, Uncategorized

Brand New Congress

 

I joined an online group called “Brand New Congress” whose premise is to literally elect new people to Congress. I had decided to run for 1st Congressional Missouri before I joined them, but I thought it would be an interesting adjunct in my quest for knowledge.

I was nominated.

I was not chosen.

The woman Brand New Congress wants to “draft” has an interesting biography that I’ve been thinking about. She’s a mental health nurse, a minister, a mother, and an activist; she primaried against Jason Kander in the 2016 state senate race.

I posted on Brand New Congress’s page that I wish her the best of luck because that’s the seat I’m going to campaign for, and a woman asked what my background was. I answered, “I work in a HUD subsidized low income community; my dad was third generation printer, second generation Union; my mother is an immigrant; lifelong wage-slave; rape survivor.” The woman answered, “Oh wow.”

The “draftee” says, “I am the people I represent,” which is a kind of cool slogan, but what does it mean?

My curiosity led me to Google “What is the average salary for a mental health nurse?”, to which Google quoted NurseJournal.org that said mental health nurses can make in excess of $94,000.00 per year.

Now I know, the possibility of making $94k a year doesn’t mean she actually makes $94k a year, but $43 per hour wages is a hell of a lot more than my $16.71 an hour, which is closer to the wages my tenants make. Even police officers don’t make close to $43 an hour.

That brings me to my next question: Who do you really want to represent you in Congress?

In my last blog, I pointed out that if I’m elected to Congress to represent my neighbors, it will be my only job.

I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a nurse, I’m not a minister — if I fail to do the work my neighbors send me to do, I’m out of a job when I come home.

Regardless of where you live, all 425 seats of the US House of Representatives are up for election in November 2018. Start looking now, start questioning now. This link will take you to the entire 2017 Congressional Calendar, so you can see when your Representative is supposed to be be back in your district.

Call him or her up, meet with them. See what they have to say — they work for you!