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.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Democratic National Committee, Democrats, politics, Uncategorized

Where To?

“Susan’s strength and integrity are essential parts of her being — currently working at a low-income, Section 8 subsidized apartment community, she connects with her residents by having an ‘open door’ policy: whatever they share with her, stays with her, and she will work to help them within the means allowed to her. She is compassionate, passionate, and understanding. She listens. She has friends and supporters already — in the LGBTQ community, the Union communities, law enforcement, low income — her appeal is broad. She doesn’t talk down to people – she’s able to take complex ideas and simplify them for better understanding. She’s approachable.”

That was the biography that was submitted on my behalf to Brand New Congress, a grassroots organization recruiting people to run for Congress.

I can’t sugar-coat things: we’re a mess, but alienating each other is no longer the way to go. The Democratic Party will continue to be progressive, but for some it won’t be as progressive as fast as they would want, and, by that same token, others people want more moderately paced change.

You can’t please everyone all the time.

To renew the Democratic Party, I think we should first try to define what our values are — are “our” values that much different from “their” values, after all?

People are still poor. Jobs are still underpaid. Education is still needed. Training is still necessary. Can we trust business to “do the right thing”? Is it enough to leave it to each of us to donate what money we can spare to help those who have less?

The other night, I was “interviewed” by several ladies in a Senior Center, and, while their questions were all over the board, I had to take the time to really wonder if running for the 1st Congressional District of Missouri is something I want to undertake. After a bout with a cold, laryngitis, and  major/minor crisis of faith, I can honestly say, “Yes, I do.”

There is no other candidate like me.

Other candidates may have more education, the incumbent may have more connections, but no one has spent time like I have getting to know people in different social strata: Low-income, elderly, disabled. Furry. Kinky. Union. Non-union. Salaried. Hourly. Vegetarians. Barbeque aficionados.

I love getting to know people, and I want to know how I can help you  reach your American dream. I want you to contact me and tell me your concerns — what do you see that needs fixing? Perhaps that’s the crux here — the political elite that is currently in Washington has forgotten that they’re there to serve the people — all of the people, the minority as well as the majority; that their raison d’etre is to make life better for us, not harder…

Let me know what you think —

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democrats, politics, Uncategorized

Show Me the Money

The Chicago Tribune published an article about the estimated cost of protecting the President and his various family members. http://preview.tinyurl.com/hvkkt2w 

It is estimated that protecting Mrs. Trump costs New York City $500,000 per day. Half a million.

Now, as a you might know, I grew up in New York City, in Queens, and went to high school in Manhattan. The Atrium at Trump Tower opened in 1983, and I remember my friends and I hanging out there, drinking coffee and people watching amid the pink marble. The tower’s neighbors include Rockefeller Center, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the fabled Tiffany & Co. jewelry store.

I’m sure that the Secret Service and NYPD are feeling the stress of trying to protect a tower from other rooftops. And Fifth Avenue traffic, insane at the best of times, now has to be more tightly controlled and routed. I haven’t heard yet what kind of protests are occurring, but let’s add the cost of crowd control. If the Secret Service has to rent in the Tower, that could cost up to $1.5 million a year (which, of course, will go into the President’s coffers).

Mr. Trump, who has spent the last two weeks at his estate/club in Florida (and is on his way to a third consecutive weekend there, utilizing Air Force, of course), is racking up the bills as well.

The boys are traveling abroad, opening properties in Dubai (yes, one of the countries, whose immigrants were not banned from travel into the United States), the Dominican Republic, and Vancouver. Protection hotel bills for the boys’ Uruguay trip topped $100,000.

All of this, of course, is on our dime — yours and mine — via our taxes. Is this the best use of our taxes. I thought Republicans were the party of fiscal conservatism.

Should any of this money be funneling back into the President’s own pockets?

What’s interesting to me is the quiet from Capitol Hill. Since it’s a Republican President, and a Republican-controlled Congress, there’s no call for diversification from businesses, etc.

I suspect that the President’s days are numbered; that Congress is biding its time until they finish slashing and burning the programs they feel are entitling and wasteful, and fast-track whatever regressive bills require the President’s signature. Once his liabilities outweigh his usefulness, they will quickly impeach and convict him — I figure around March or April 2018, just before the mid-term elections. My guess is by then, if not before, Congressional Republicans will suddenly become aware of the President’s detrimental behavior and it will be a center-ring circus to showcase their collective horror and mea culpa to restore the nation’s dignity.

Democrats, politics, Uncategorized

Let’s Talk

The other day, when I realized I really, really do want to run for the US House of Representatives, an old schoolmate asked me how popular am I?

I don’t know.

I’ve never been the person who got invited to the “cool” parties. I wasn’t in the “cool” cliques. I didn’t matter to me then. It doesn’t matter to me now.

What does matter to me is that this election cycle, like no other in my lifetime, overwhelmed my feelings —  I’ve felt frustrated, I’ve felt frightened, I’ve felt powerless. Worst of all, I’ve felt hopeless and helpless. I know I’m not the only one who’s felt this way — regardless whom you voted for.

I don’t understand feeling hopeless and helpless, even though I have felt these emotions, and my way of dealing with these particular feelings is action. I have to do something.

I readily admit I’m a novice at politics, but I’m a quick study. I’ve been working with low-income people for the last few years (and frankly, most of us are dangerously close to meeting the area median income). I work for an hourly wage, I’m taxed, and I live paycheck-to-paycheck.

I have a car note. A couple of credit cards. A personal loan. I’ve been married. I’ve been divorced. I like ice cream and road trips.

I’m a lot like you.

The American middle-class is the lifeblood of this country, and yet it has been deliberately and methodically, exsanguinated. My goal is to stop the bleeding.

My action plan right now, is to meet with people, in coffee shops, small groups, book clubs, wherever, and fact-find.

What do you need that your current representatives are not providing? Do you feel that the billions of dollars in tax money collected are mismanaged? Do you feel that tax collecting is done under implied threat of violence?

I want to hear from you!

Let’s talk!

 

 

 

Democratic National Committee, Democrats, politics, Uncategorized

What’s in a Word?

Last week, I attended a meeting of the Hadley-Lincoln Township Democratic Club.

One of the speakers was Stephen Webber, who was recently elected to head up the Missouri Democratic Party. Stephen served two tours in Iraq as a Marine, and represented the 46th District in the Missouri House of Representatives for 4 terms. He is 34 years old, which means I was out of high school for two years when he was born.

His task is to bring the national Democratic message to Missouri and disseminate that message to the committees and clubs throughout the state.

What is the Democratic message?

I wish for the life of me I knew — because we’re “for” lots of different things, and our lots of things have us running in different directions.

One word I’ve heard associated with Democrats is “progressive,” and, frankly, that word feels mildly uncomfortable to me; it feels too fast, even though the definition is that of a gradual change. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t like change to come as quickly as it used to, but do I want change so the lives of my step-daughter and her sons will be better.

Despite an obstructionist Republican House and Senate,  it was progressive thinking of the Democrats to implement the ACA, so that more Americans are covered by health insurance and eligible to receive care than ever before in our history.  While it is not a perfect system, the imperfections can be worked on and corrected without gutting the whole thing

It would be a huge step backward to take it away from us without a replacement.

It would be — dare I say it?? — regressive.

Oh, sure we could go back to paying cash-out-of-pocket for services, but who has $80 or $90 sitting around for blood tests to find out what’s wrong? “Yeah, sure, Doc, whatever you need to do, as long as it doesn’t cost $125.00. That’s all I have in my bank account.”

So maybe being progressive isn’t such a bad thing and we could be like Hill Valley’s Mayor Goldie Wilson — “Progress is his middle name.”

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politics, Uncategorized

Swamp Thing, You Make My Heart Sting

My dear Mr. Trump:

Your administration leaks like a sieve.

But it leaks because the people who are leaking are true patriots — they value our Democratic Republic, as imperfect as it is, and recognize that Russia is not our friend. Russia may be *your* friend, but it is no friend to the United States.
People are leaking because your swamp — the one you vowed to drain — is now stocked with crooks and traitors.
Traitor is a strong word, a visceral word, but in this case, because Mr. Flynn, as a private citizen, allegedly tried to broker a deal with Russia before your Inauguration, the word fits. The only question that remains is if he did it at your behest.
Be under no illusion — you may be President, but you have no history with these people. They don’t owe you any allegiance, and will throw you under the bus in a New York minute.
You may have won votes with your talk of patriotism and making America great again. You may have convinced the Bible Belt and the Corn Belt that you know what patriotism is about, but you can’t fool me. Your behavior in the wake of all of this Russian garbage shows me you don’t understand patriotism, and, in all likelihood, don’t feel it.

Like it or not, you’re in over your head, my dear Mr. Trump.