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.