The Republican’s HealthScare Plan

It’s been three weeks since the U.S Presidential election gave us Donald Trump as President. The shock that a man with no military or government experience will be leading the most powerful country in the world, hasn’t subsided much. And the sting of having such a hateful anti-gay man become the country’s Vice President-Elect, hurts as much today as it did the morning of Nov 9.

The last few weeks of hearing the announcements of Trump’s cabinet has been horrifying. I’m not going to run through them right now, rather, I think each person deserves their own blog devoted to them, because that’s how terrifying they are. A lot of space is needed to show just how scary these appointments are. So I’m not going to talk about Steve Bannon…yet.

The man I want to concentrate on right now is Tom Price. Trump has selected Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Price has been wanting to dismantle Obamacare since 2010, when the law was signed. Donald Trump talked a lot about getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, and it looks like he found the man to do it.

If you are sick, old, or poor you should be very afraid. I know I am. Although I am fairly young, I am also very-fairly sick. I undergo treatments that stabilize me, and they work very well, but they are expensive. I know I am not alone. Many people (too many) suffer from diseases and illnesses they need to rely on medicine/treatment to get along each day. That’s why, when our leaders talk about healthcare, I listen very carefully. And every word that has come out of a Republican’s mouth about healthcare has scared the shit out of me.

An article (click on link below) on http://www.msn.com about Price and the changes he wants to make to Obamacare is frightening. After reading this, I have to ask, why do Republicans hate old, sick, and poor people so much? Is it all Republicans, or just the politicians? I know many Republicans personally, and most are not like this, but this is the party they vote for.

Here are some pieces of the article:

“Just as is the case under Obamacare, people with pre-existing medical conditions or chronic illnesses couldn’t be denied coverage under Price’s approach — provided they had continuous insurance for 18 months before choosing a new policy.”

So Price will keep the no denial for pre-existing conditions because he, and most Republicans, know that people really like that. (Which bears noting we wouldn’t have that clause if not for Obama.) Why do we like that? Because we don’t want to fucking die!!!! If we get cancer or Parkinson’s or a fucking tumor, we want to know that an insurance company can’t deny us or charge us extra because they’re a bunch of dicks. (Pardon the explosion of curses. It’s what happens when you have a disease and politicians with cushy government-provided healthcare start talking about gutting healthcare for us minions.)

I have a huge problem with for-profit healthcare, but unfortunately with Republicans at the helm, restrictions Obama had placed with insurance companies are going to be void, which means less protections for the common people. You know, the ones Republicans don’t give a shit about.

Under Obamacare, it was pretty straight-forward that one could sign up for insurance, during open enrollment, and pick a plan, whether you had cancer or a hole in your head, you were covered without prejudice. But under Price’s plan, insurance companies will be able to deny you coverage, if you had no prior health coverage for the previous 18 months.

Get that? The continuous coverage clause bullshit. Lost your job and could only afford two of the three: rent, food, or insurance. And you choose to eat and have a bed to sleep in every night, but three months later you develop cancer, and now really need insurance. Screw you, Buddy. Pray away your cancer because Republicans just denied you access to healthcare because your insurance lapsed.

“In one of the biggest blows to poor and low-income Americans, Price would repeal the expanded Medicaid coverage in 32 states and the District of Columbia for able-bodied single people and leave those current beneficiaries to fend for themselves on the open market, using other tax credits and benefits.”

Yep, they really hate them poor people. But if that’s not enough:

“Finally, the Price proposals would foster an insurance market very welcoming to young, healthy and financially self-sufficient people but hostile to sicker and older people. For one thing, it would eliminate Obamacare-style mandates for insurers to include a standard package of benefits such as maternity services and pediatric care and allow them to offer cheaper, less comprehensive policies to younger people who are looking for a bargain.”

Price, like most Republican policies, favor wealthy people and big corporations over the working poor or middle class – no matter how much they try to spin being otherwise in their speeches. With Obamacare, insurance companies were mandated to offer basic services stated above for free or very little cost. Price will do away with that and give insurance companies the freedom to charge as they want without a mandate to offer even the basics of service.

Wow, that sounds really great for the people! (Shaking my head in disgust) I’m betting many of those who voted for Trump will soon realize they voted against their own self-interest. If you don’t have millions of dollars in the bank, you voted against yourself. If you’re sick, you voted against yourself. If you rely on any form of government assistance, or government programs, then yes, the fuck you did vote against yourself.

Big time.

The sad thing is, those of us who did vote for our own self-interest is going to suffer along with you because you guys didn’t do your homework. You believed the fake news sites that were overwhelmingly pro-Trump, because most people like their news spoon-fed to them. No one wants to look up facts anymore.

The only thing that gives me some solace is Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote by over 2.4 millions votes so far. That’s unheard of in modern times.  I hope if Republicans, even with their new governmental powers, try to pass policy that hurt the most vulnerable of people, that we stand together and make a lot of noise.

Remember, there are more of us than there are of them.

Power to the People.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/healthcare/8-big-changes-under-tom-price%E2%80%99s-obamacare-replacement-plan/ar-AAkXhse?li=BBnb7Kz

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

What Now for the Gay Community?

The only part of my body that seems to agree with a Trump presidency is my waistline. My waist is finally doing what I’ve been struggling to get the darn thing to do for months now. It’s getting smaller.  But it’s not happening the way I had planned. I’m not exercising more than usual, nor am I restricting myself from high-calorie foods that aren’t healthy.

The pounds are peeling off because since Wednesday morning I don’t have much of an appetite.

I went to bed on election night before the final results were tallied, but the writing was on the wall. I woke up to texts asking how I was doing. And then the frantic calls came in from friends concerned what a Trump presidency means, not only for gay and lesbian people, but people of color, Muslims, women, the sick, and the poor. I just finished reading an article about how Republicans want to get rid of Medicaid and replace it with vouchers, not to mention their desire to privatize Social Security and Medicare. What could possible go wrong?

I am scared for all people who are not rich, have health conditions, or fit into a minority group because those are the ones who are most vulnerable to a Trump presidency. The protests in the streets following Trump’s election night win aren’t a bunch of babies acting out because their side lost. They’re out there because they’re afraid that hate won Tuesday night. (I’m not defending those who caused property damage and spray painted A’s all over buildings. You are anarchists and most likely didn’t even vote. You are NOT what the heart of these protests are about.)

The protesters are afraid of the divisive and hateful rhetoric Trump’s campaign was built around. And the fear is real, and it is valid. If any other Republican from the party’s long list of candidates had won, there may have been frustration, but not this kind of fear. People wouldn’t have taken to the streets, in the thousands, to protests across the country if John Kasich had become the president-elect.

But he didn’t win. Donald Trump did, and now many groups across the country are wondering what this means for them.  I’m a lesbian. And I’m wondering what this means for me.

On the morning after the election, I was lying in bed, reading an article about gay rights and a Trump/Pence presidency. It wasn’t pretty.

Here is a link to that article:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/11/09/here-is-what-president-trump-means-for-lgbt-rights/

Below is a quote from the above article:

“His running mate Mike Pence has confirmed a plan to dismantle Barack Obama’s protections for LGBT people, as part of an ‘immediate’ review of executive orders issued by President Obama…Also significantly, President-elect Trump has pledged to sign the Republican-backed First Amendment Defence Act, a law that would permit forms of anti-LGBT discrimination on the grounds of religion.”

Is it any wonder that when my mother saw me that morning, and was about to gloat how Trump had won, that I burst into tears so uncontrollably that I couldn’t even talk? There is nothing subtle or more frightening than to hear words, so blatantly filled with hate, directed right at you.

Now is the time for every community threatened by a Donald Trump presidency to come together. History tells us we have been through much worse. We must do all we can to not go back there ever again.  In the meantime, call a trusted friend. Surround yourself with people who make you feel protected.

We’ll get through this together.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

Election 2016 – Let’s Make Herstory

 

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So this is the day the past year has been leading me to. From the moment I watched the first (out of way too many) Republican primary debate, to the Hillary and Bernie showdown, through Hillary’s emails and every racist, misogynist, xenophobic, and otherwise completely insane statements that spewed from Trump’s mouth. Through all of that, here we are.

Call it Judgement Day.

Call it the Day of Reckoning.

In America, we call it Election Day.

And thank God it’s almost over because my jeans can’t take anymore of the anxiety-fueled binge-eating episodes triggered by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency.  For a while, I was cool about the election, thinking no way could Trump ever win, but then the numbers coming in suggesting a close race. And it’s hard to keep one’s sanity when a man who puts down a former POW for getting caught, stereotypes an entire ethnic group as rapists, brags about sexually assaulting women, fights with a Gold Star family while he had been granted five deferments during the Vietnam War, promises to implement a ban on Muslims, if elected, and mocks a disabled reporter, is in a close race for the US Presidency.

The first of U.S voting centers will be closing in approximately less than four hours. The early polls solidly show Hillary Clinton has the lead, as well as more paths to the needed 270 electoral votes needed to win than her opposition does. I’m anxious to hear the results, as most Americans probably are, but I’m not binge-eating today. I am confident, but not cocky, that my candidate, Hillary Clinton, will be voted as the first woman U.S President.

I live in a divided house. The sooner this election is over, the better.  But the hope that the end results of this crazy election will bring a peaceful transition to this country, with Donald Trump gracefully conceding the race(if he should lose), is a long-shot.

I’m going to do some yoga, with a concentration on deep breathing, before I plant myself in front of my TV to watch the coverage of the intense election. Hopefully, Hillary Clinton gets an early victory because I can’t take much more of this anticipation.

 

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

 

This Election is Different

I drove to the ballot boxes yesterday to cast my early vote. My mother beside me. Her for Trump, me reciting out loud the words “Madame President.” The car ride lasted about ten minutes, with each of us making our last arguments. Neither did it to try to change the mind of the other, we’ve both come too far for that.  Rather, I suppose, just to get under the other’s skin a bit. A little heckling before the big game.

I know that’s the reason I ran my mouth, because ever since I was a little girl, nothing amused me more than to aggravate my mother enough to get her to drop the F-bomb. And she did.

Mission accomplished.

Flashback four years ago. My mother and I were having a very different kind of car ride. We were driving to one of my niece’s softball games. The election between President Obama and Mitt Romney was fast approaching. My mother is mostly conservative. She had spent most of that campaign talking up Romney and regurgitating every email and posts her like-minded Republican friends shared on Facebook.

If you recall, it was that election when the president came out in support of gay marriage. I’m gay. My mother knows this.

So four years ago, I was driving with my mother when she turned to me and said, “I want you to have equal rights. I want the law to protect you as much as it protects me. So, for you, I’m voting for Obama…but don’t tell anyone.”

And with that I almost drove the car into someone’s front lawn.

It was wonderful to have had my mother’s support. I know I still do today, just not in her vote because this is a different election.

Way different.

I can’t say for sure that if Trump’s campaign promised to not only take away all gay rights, but to chop off the feet of every gay person in the process, just because, would be enough for my mother to select the X beside Hillary Clinton’s name.

“Rights are over-rated,” she’d say. “And they do such wonders with prosthetics these days. You’ll be fine.”

Not to mention that the Vice President candidate on Trump’s ticket, Mike Pence, signed a bill last year as Governor of Indiana that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay people based on “religious” convictions.

“It’s a nice day out,” my mother would say. “It won’t hurt you to eat in the car.”

Yep. This election is way different.

It’s uglier. And talks of election day violence should Hillary win (which seems likely) brings out the worst of this country.

The world is watching.

Vote this election. But vote in peace.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I am Scared…..Tremendously

I don’t work in the healthcare field. I’m not an expert in healthcare issues, but I am a person with health issues, and the way the healthcare system is set up in this country scares me – tremendously.

It was ten years ago when I became a “no longer healthy person”. Before that time, I went to doctors for mild reasons, in search of quick fixes to temporary, benign illnesses. I usually walked out of my doctor’s office with a prescription and 5-7 days later, I’d be back to normal. Healthy again. Living my life with the expectation I wouldn’t see my doctor again until another bug was caught, and another antibiotic prescribed.

Like many people who develop significant diseases spontaneously in the midst of their life, my pattern of going to doctors has changed. I no longer wait until my perfect health is temporarily hijacked by a nuisance bug to see a doctor. I am now on a schedule with my doctor. Every three to six months. Sooner, if I need. But no longer than six months. Got to be kept tabs on when your health is compromised in a, more than likely, permanent way.

Although I didn’t have much experience with doctors, and hospitals, and medical procedures when I was given my diagnosis, I was, however, very much aware of the term pre-existing conditions and its implication.

And it scared me – tremendously.

Luckily, I was working and had insurance. But I knew my disease was complicated enough that it may interfere with work. As doctors told me the treatment plan for my disease, the medications I must take, and all the procedures that were needed, I called my insurance company with a panicked heartbeat, praying everything I had to do was covered.

This scared me – tremendously.

Lucky for me, everything was covered. But that didn’t end my worry. What if I lost my job because I couldn’t do my work at the same level? I could never afford insurance on my own, and besides, no insurance would touch me because I now had a pre-existing condition.

I worried about  one day being without insurance, but having insurance didn’t stop my worry, either. Multiple hospital stays in the ICU for over two weeks each visit, racked up huge bills. My insurance paid everything minus the deductible, but I had a lifetime limit on my insurance of about five million dollars.

To a healthy person, that may seem like a lot. But when you’ve already spent over three hundred thousand dollars from hospital stays, and monthly treatment costs over twenty-thousand dollars, those millions go by fast. According to CNBC, in 2013 bankruptcies from unpaid medical bills was the number one cause of such filings. They also found “15 million people will deplete their savings to cover medical bills.” (CNBC) 

When Obamacare came out and ruled that insurance companies would no longer be able to discriminate against people with illnesses, and offer them coverage, I was morbidly relieved. I was assured that even if I lost my job for whatever reason, as well as the insurance benefits that came with it, I could be picked up by another insurer, despite my illness.

This was huge. I was no longer tremendously scared.

Not only did I no longer have to worry about being denied health coverage, thereby being left to die in the streets with no insurance, but President Obama also eliminated the lifetime limit. That was huge too, because hospitals charges are unfairly astronomical.

But now, insurance companies are pulling out of Obamacare because it seems covering sick people is just too darn expensive, and since the United States, the most powerful and developed country in the world, has a for-profit health industry, profit is the bottom line. Sick people be damned.

I’ve heard regular people, people who don’t work fancy jobs for insurance companies, talk about the situation as if it is perfectly normal. “Of course the insurance companies had to get out. They were losing hundreds of millions of dollars!”

Yes, let’s feel sorry for the insurance companies making billions of dollars in profit, as well as their CEO’s with their tens of millions in annual salary. These companies that are pulling out of Obamacare are still going to make billions of dollars in profit at the end of the year, but they may not make as much as they did back in the days when they only insured healthy people, while leaving the sick ones to fend for themselves or die.

For the first time insurance companies had to cover sick people and it cost them too much money, so now they’re out.

We should be outraged. Covering sick people in healthcare should be the norm. Where’s the healthcare in denying sick people coverage? The people at the top, filled with their greed, are laughing their asses off at the sheep we have become. Profit over people is a horribly immoral way to run a healthcare system.

I am, once again, scared – tremendously.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

The Fraud Behind the Cry of Voter Fraud

 

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During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Pennsylvania Republican Majority Leader Mike Turzai was caught on tape speaking to committee members lauding the accomplishments of his Republican-led legislature. “Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

Thankfully, Romney didn’t win Pennsylvania. But it is clear that a certain political party (Republican) is dead set on passing laws, ostensibly to stop voter fraud, but the law’s real objective is to prevent a specific demographic (poor minorities) from exercising their Constitutional right to vote, as was clearly stated by Turzai. And why? Because statistically poor minorities tend to vote Democratic.

The Republican party, without contrition, is attempting to rig the election in their favor by oppressing the votes of tax-paying, law-abiding citizens.

When I recently voted in my State’s primary, I didn’t need to show any ID. I gave my name and was given a form with a copy of my signature on the bottom that had been signed by me when I registered to vote. I was then told to sign my name to match the signature already on the page. The process took less than thirty seconds. My signature matched completely. There was no doubt I was the person stated on that piece of paper.

The idea that it is easy to  duplicate someone else’s John Hancock baffles me. I have two nephews whose dream it is to play in the Major League. They’ve been scribbling their signatures for years all over my notebooks and notepads, practicing their autograph for when they are famous ball players. I recently attempted to copy their signatures and sign their name perfectly to match their own. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t even come close, even though they were signatures that I’ve become very familiar with through the years.

Some people may think being required to show ID to vote is reasonable, but being elderly or too unwell to drive, thus not needing a driver’s licence, should not be a crime in this country. Being disabled or handicapped , thus not able to go to the DMV for a photo ID, should not be a crime in this country. Being too poor to afford a ride, or to pay for a photo ID, should not be a crime in this country.

The right for disabled people, including our veterans and elderly, without an ID should not be taken away.

If it is agreed that these circumstances should not be crimes, then let’s not treat this demographic as criminals, and take away their right to vote.  If there were any verity behind the claims of voter fraud, I may reconsider my stance. But because we know the over-zealous cries from Republican lawmakers about the veracity of election fraud is mendacious, I stand by my opinion that no state should force their constituents to present ID’s  when casting their vote, a Constitutional right.

According to voterfraudfacts.com, between 2000 and 2010 there were “649 million votes cast in general election, 47,000 UFO sightings, 441 Americans killed by lightening, [and] 13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation.”

Thirteen credible cases of in-person voter fraud. Thirteen! In ten years! And Republicans are so scared, acting like drama queens, over 13 possible voter fraud cases in ten years that they are willing to prevent hundreds of thousand Americans from exercising their Constitutional right?

Oh wait…that’s right…It’s not about the 13 cases of fraud. Even if there were 13,000 cases of fraud, their objective wouldn’t be about those either. The Republican party’s ambition – intention- is to institute voter ID laws to disenfranchise a demographic of people, who generally don’t vote for them, from casting a vote because they know their party can’t win without cheating.

Kinda like Florida in 2000.

God Bless America. Cuz we’re gonna need many blessings if the Republicans get in the White House.

 

 

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* Another interesting statistic: Between 2002 and 2005, 197 million votes were cast for federal candidates, and 26 cases (both in-person and absentee ballot) were convicted of voter fraud. That comes to .00000013 percent of the vote.

Please get out there and vote, and help those who may need assistance in getting to the polls.

Thank you!!

 

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

Patriots Act

Max Cleland is a Vietnam veteran who came back from the war a triple amputee. Cleland, who prefers to go simply by “Max”, spent eight months at Walter Reed Hospital. In his autobiography, Strong at the Broken Places, Max writes that he felt like “a discarded warrior who’d been warehoused as a long-term patient.” He recalls being transferred to a local VA hospital and feeling left behind, tormented and lonely. He was bitter. Afraid. And he wanted to die.

This, from a man who courageously fought for the country he loved.

When Max returned to his home state of Georgia, an interest in politics saved him from immersing into a deeper depression. At the age of twenty-eight he won a seat in the Senate. Later, Max was appointed to run the Veteran’s Administration. Years later, he would win the Georgia election for secretary of state. He held the position for twelve years until he won the election as US Senator in 1996.

He would lose his re-election bid to retain his seat in 2002 when his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, played dirty by meshing Max alongside Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in attack ads because Max had voted against President Bush’s homeland security bill. He was criticized for this even though he supported a Democratic version of legislation that was very similar to Bush’s.

But that fact was never considered, and Max lost his Senate seat because he was lumped up with two evil men. Max Cleland fought for his country and suffered physical injuries plain to the human eye, as well as invisible injuries his mind will never recover from, yet he lost his seat to an opponent who never stepped foot in Vietnam, citing a bad knee.

Max suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He has anxiety and fear. “And it never goes away.” (Patriots Act)

Max lost his limbs while exiting an aircraft when he had noticed a grenade at his feet that he thought was his own. He bent down and picked up the grenade. Seconds later, the grenade exploded in his hand. Max would later learn that the grenade that blew off his limbs belonged to one of his fellow soldiers. A U.S soldier, active only days from basic training had “foolishly straightened out the pins of his grenade for quick access.” (Patriots Act)

The book, Patriots Act, written by Bill Katovsky, tells the individual stories of people who have risked their career and reputation to speak out against the masses.

I could summarize Max’s story for you, but I think it’s better to hear his experience through his own words. I’ve had this book for quite a few years and each story twists my insides in such aggravated frustration every time I reread it. But Max’s story stands out the most for me because many innocent lives were taken, in a brutal way, because of the lies and deception from people elected to lead this country.

Katovsky interviews Max for Patriots Act, published in 2006, and almost immediately the dialogue turns to the comparisons between Vietnam and the Iraq war, in which Max states, “I wish I’d done more to prevent the current disaster in Iraq that’s exactly mocking the first disaster in Vietnam that I was personally a part of.

“…Seeing all these young Iraq War veterans blown up, missing arms and legs and eyes, I just can’t stand it. It triggers all of my stuff from Vietnam…Iraq is Vietnam on steroids…Anybody who understands Vietnam or went through it…sees this war in Iraq as nothing more than total folly…Bush has created a war that didn’t have to happen…Instead of going after bin Laden and all of his terrorists in the mountains, Bush transferred those resources and those men on the ground to Iraq

“…Bush has gotten young Americans killed and wounded and blown up in a shooting gallery in Iraq…What they created in Iraq is a terror haven, a civil war that has no end. We destabilized Iraq. It had a stable government. We didn’t like it. We had Saddam Hussein in a box. But this President went in and took Saddam Hussein out and thought that was gonna be the end of it…Not only didn’t he know the consequences of those decisions, Bush wanted to be macho and be better than his daddy…It will take a Democratic president to come in, make peace, extricate the American forces and replace it with an international community.

“This Republican crowd is a Trojan horse. They say one thing and do another…You have to tell the truth and seriously connect with people. Average citizens thought they were doing the right thing by voting for Bush [in 2004] and this crowd.

“…Instead of watching American Idol on TV, we ought to be focusing on the lives of these young kids coming back with injuries that would have killed them in Vietnam, like concussions to the brain, because 85 percent of the casualties in Iraq are due to explosive devices….It blows up your insides and your brain in a concussion that you won’t ever get over….But these kids are so brave and so courageous that we ought to be focusing on them: Instead, many people put a sticker on the back of their car that says, ‘We support the Troops,’ and then they put a Bush/Cheney sticker on the other side. And think that’s America.

“Meanwhile, the Democrats are trapped in a mixed message. Anytime you have troops at war, you are reluctant to criticize it. Because then you are attacked as un-American and unpatriotic. So it’s hard to stand up and speak the truth. Those who do get trashed…The price to go up against them is awful. I was on the 9/11 Commission, but I resigned after a year because we would never get access to all of those presidential daily briefs…it’s all part of this massive cover-up that somehow we are fighting the war on terrorism in Iraq.”

This book was published a decade ago, but all the stories, especially this one, are still so relevant today. People say “Never Forget 9/11” and I don’t know how anyone can, but we also can’t ever forget the lies we were told immediately after that tragedy. Our fears were preyed upon and the American people were manipulated. Hundreds of thousands of civilian and military lives were lost in Iraq, and those who survived, like Max, never completely heal.

As we head into another Presidential election year, I will vote for the candidate who is more likely to keep this country out of war. There are way too many fear-mongering politicians out there who seemingly can’t wait to activate our “beefed-up” military first chance they get.

But I wonder if George Bush would have been so quick to invade Iraq, on all those false pretenses, if it were his own children on the front lines.

The war that didn’t have to happen killed other people’s children, and husbands, and wives, and mothers, and fathers. But for so long we weren’t supposed to express our dissent against the war because we would be deemed unpatriotic.

But the people need to speak up and protest peacefully against social injustices and political lies.

Always.

Otherwise, we’re just going along with the masses, which is exactly what crooked leaders want us to do.

Let’s not do that, people.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net