2018 Couldn’t Come Fast Enough

It’s a week into the new year and gyms no doubt crowd with people making good on their ambitious fitness resolutions.  I do my (occasional) workouts at home, so I won’t be bothered by this sudden burst of energy from the masses.  But I have a friend who is a gym rat, and I asked him to be nice to the newbies and refrain from rolling his eyes while he waits for his favorite machines that just a couple weeks ago used to be empty.

I didn’t swear to any major resolutions this year. I’ll just piggyback on last year’s resolutions I failed to accomplish. At the start of every year, my goal is always to read more books than I had the year before. In 2017, I read eleven books. Pathetic, I know. The year before I clocked in at thirty-two books. Why the dramatic fall in books read this year? I’d like to say it was because I was too busy writing books, but that wasn’t the case. I did write some, but not as much as I had intended.

I got distracted. Distracted by politics. Distracted by the threat of healthcare being taking away from millions of people. Distracted by environmental protections being rolled back. Distracted by a crazy, unhinged president whose reckless tweets and idiotic speech damage the image of our country.

So far this year I have backed off my political breaking news obsession. The TV is turned off. No more stressing over Twitter and monitoring the moron’s feed. I’m backing off this year, but I won’t bury my head in the sand. I’ll keep up with the day to day news, and I’m sure there will be plenty to keep up with. But I won’t lose myself in the worry, the stress, in the “how much worse can it get” horrifying thoughts.

2018 is about writing. Reading. Yoga. Meditation. Shelter animals. My sanity. And Robert Mueller’s investigation that will end with Trump in handcuffs.

So looking forward to 2018.

 

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Everyone Deserves Health Insurance

There’s a video of a heartfelt exchange from The View going viral between former Vice-President Joe Biden and co-host Meghan McCain regarding her father’s, Senator John McCain, brain cancer diagnosis. McCain is suffering from the same cancer that took the life of Biden’s son.

Biden sat beside Meghan, took her hand, and reminded her what a fighter her father is and was hopeful about the new medical innovations that were too late to save his own son.

I felt for Meghan as she broke down because I know how devastating it is to watch a loved one go through a debilitating illness, while struggling to stay hopeful. But as I watched this emotional moment unfold between Biden and McCain I thought about the tax reform bill that Republicans are trying to ram through Congress.

A bill, if passed, will take health insurance away from 13 million people.* Those are not faceless people. Those are real people–people with lives and loved ones and purpose. Yet, Senator McCain voted two weeks ago for a Senate version of the bill that would take insurance away from millions.

With cancer and disease rates as high as they are, we have to assume a good portion of those 13 million people are suffering from something–maybe even the same cancer John McCain has. As McCain receives treatment for his own cancer, will he vote next week for a bill that takes insurance away from millions of people?

It seems so, because he already did, and I think there’s a special hell for people who think they deserve to live while others deserve to die. That’s what happens when sick people no longer have insurance and they can’t afford the treatment that keeps them living – – they die.

Meghan McCain isn’t the only daughter right now crying through sleepless nights while worrying about an ailing father, but at least she can rest assure that her father’s top-of-the-line insurance won’t be yanked from underneath him because of this tax bill. However, thirteen million people won’t be able to say the same thing if this bill passes.

I wish John McCain well. He’s a person with an illness, and I hope he votes to protect other people with illnesses. Please, Senator McCain, don’t be a “I got mine, screw you on getting yours” politician. We have too many of those in Congress as it is.

 

*Source – Congressional Budget Office

 

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Trying to Stay Sane During Insane Times

I’ve been working on a story for a while, and for a while I’ve been making some good progress. But lately I’ve been distracted, and the usual culprits of previous distractions–Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram–are innocent in this go-around.

My writing time has been severely hampered because I can’t turn off my television to the everyday breaking news drama of this chaotic and dysfunctional administration that is the Donald Trump presidency.  But what really traps my attention are the constant revelations of the Russian investigation, run by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, that leaves me hopeful that someday (hopefully very soon) justice will prevail.

But until that time, my days are spent stressing over what will come of the country I love because the people in charge are trying to pass policies that will hurt the most vulnerable, while benefiting the most privileged.

A few months ago, the Republicans in Congress made me sweat-out a healthcare vote that would have kicked 30 million people off insurance, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Three Republican senators were the difference between life and death for a lot of sick people because the Republicans had no viable replacement plan to ensure their care.

This is sick, but luckily, they didn’t get the vote.

But late last Friday night, the Senate Republicans had me geeking out and watching CSPAN 2 as they got the votes to pass their tax reform bill that according to independent reports, including the CBO, will knock 13 million people off insurance, and raise taxes for everyone making less than $75,000. The tax plan will also add 1.5 trillion dollars to the deficit, which will segue into rhetoric by the Right to attack Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid (all programs they hate because non-rich people depend on them) to offset the deficit.

This is sick, too.

I’m not a perfect person. I’ve done things I regret, but I would never work to cripple programs that I know benefits children, the disabled, the elderly, veterans, and the working poor. This tax plan, designed to give relief to big corporations and wealthy individuals, at the expense of the middle and working-class, is devastating.

 

The Republicans are trying to play the ‘trickle-down’ theory game again. We saw this movie in 2000 under Bush. It ended badly. Seriously, only Rosemary’s Baby that ends with a woman finding out her newborn baby she thought was dead is actually the spawn of Satan, had a worse ending than the result of Bush economics.

I don’t want to hear Republicans lecture us about why the country’s most wealthy deserve tax breaks first, and why we, the peasants, deserve only what trickles down. Why not give the money to the middle and working-class people first, and then let whatever is left over trickle to the top 1%?

If you haven’t grabbed a poster and stood outside your representative’s office or made phone calls, then you are doing exactly what these incredulous politicians want – nothing.

This plan hasn’t passed yet, and it’s not too late to stop it. But action needs to be taken now. Grab a sign. Make a phone call or two…or fifteen…if that’s what it takes.

But note to self, turn off the TV for a little while and get back to writing. Your sanity and writing career depend on it.

 

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Just Don’t Get Us Nuked

I recently got into a tiny argument with my mother about her Xanax prescription. I don’t have my own script. I used to have one and could easily get a new order from my doctor, but I stopped needing the medication daily a few years ago, so I let the prescription expire and never asked for a new one.

My mother used to get 90 pills a month, but now her refills are at 30 and she won’t call her doctor to ask for more. She thinks he will be upset if she tells him she needs more for the month. She also doesn’t want the pharmacist to think she’s taking all of these drugs (as if they care, and I’m sure they’ve seen harder drugs prescribed than .25 mg pills of Xanax).

Surely, if the doctor should ask her why she is feeling so anxious that she needs more pills and she simply responds, “Trump”, the doctor would understand, right? Even if he voted for Trump, the doctor would understand a person’s high anxiety during these fuckingly crazy and terrifying moments when a reckless wacko president taunts another reckless wacko leader of  a country with nuclear weapons.

Yesterday, North Korea shot another missile that is said to be capable of reaching the US. Wonderful. Yes, please, Mr. Trump, keep up your taunts of “Little Rocket Man” and all the other adolescent bullshit you tweet about. I’m sure it makes every American proud knowing that your Twitter feed, filled with calling people losers and American journalists liars, will be archived for all the world to see for many, many years.

The stress is nonstop with this guy. If he’s not making us sweat-out three horrible Republican healthcare bills that would have knocked 30 million people off insurance, he’s starting a nuclear war over Twitter or trying to pass a tax reform bill that the Congressional Budget Office reported would hurt poor Americans the most. Awesome. Let’s take from the poor and give to the rich. Nothing can possibly go wrong with that. (Big f*cking sigh.)

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.  I know. The stock market is up at record levels. Trump ran on deregulation and tax cuts for the rich and big corporations. Wall Street is responding with a lot of love, but how does it help the middle class — the true testament of a strong economy?

In my basement, there is a room we used to call “Jewel”, named after a local grocery store near my house, because it was the place we stored extra supplies of whatever wouldn’t fit in our pantry and cupboards. Recently, I’ve been buying canned foods and cases of water specifically for that room, and I’ve changed the name from “Jewel” to “Trump’s Gonna F*ck Us Room.” Because be prepared. Always be prepared.

I have yelled so many harsh words as Trump’s orange face glistened across my TV screen and have had many imaginary conversations with him that would get me arrested, but at this point I’m tired and if I were standing in front of him all I’d be able to muster would be, “Please don’t get us nuked.”

Wow. What a presidency, and it’s only been eleven months.

 

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Trump and the LGBTQ Community

Months ago, Donald Trump decided transgender children will no longer be protected under federal law. They will no longer be allowed to choose the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Instead, they will be forced to use the bathroom that matches the sex they were born. Even though with all their souls, and everything they believe in, these children feel they were born in the wrong body.

I’ve heard the argument that not allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice is to protect children, even though there has never been a record of a pattern of child sexual abuse by transgender people. Too bad the same can’t be said for Catholic priests, yet no one has ever suggested banning them from public restrooms.

Now Trump wants to ban transgender people from the military. A five-time draft dodger, who once claimed Sen. John McCain wasn’t a war hero because McCain was captured, and Trump likes war heroes who weren’t captured, wants to prevent a group of people, who are ready, willing, and able to fight for their country, from serving their country.

How poetic.

I say anyone who supports banning a capable person from the military better put on a uniform and take their place. If you’re too old, then offer your children.

It’s disappointing when people you know exert what you think are bigoted sentiments. Before the presidential election last year, I had a conversation with a woman I’d known for years. She had always seemed pretty liberal, but that day she was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, while attempting to reassure me that Donald Trump had no plans to take away the rights of the LGBTQ community.

If there is such a thing as white privilege (and there is), then there is such a thing as straight privilege because this woman very casually urged me not to worry because Trump didn’t want to take away the right for gay people to marry, he just wanted to leave it up to the states to decide.

“But we live in a blue state,” she said. “People here won’t vote against it.”

I’m not a selfish person. Whatever rights I have as a gay person in my state, I want my gay counterparts in every state to have those same rights. Whether you live in Kentucky, Illinois, Alabama, Mississippi, or California, gay people should be protected by the same equal rights. Marriage Equality gave every gay person in this country the federal right to marry, despite any prejudice ideology that may be popular in certain states.

The ease at which my friend had suggested I should be okay with putting my rights on a ballot for any Joe Schmo to vote on, displayed a privilege she seems to take for granted. I am certain she wouldn’t be okay with strangers making decisions about anything regarding her personal life, especially one that involves who she chooses to love, but yet, she expected me to accept it.

If my friend ever considered adopting or fostering a child, I am sure she never worried about being denied because of who she loves. Straight people don’t have to concern themselves with things like that.

According to her, if gay and transgender people want rights, we simply need to cross our fingers and hope we live in a tolerant state.

 

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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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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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