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

 

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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

Way to Go, Kentucky…You Just Shot Yourself in the Foot

On Nov. 3, 2015 the state of Kentucky held a gubernatorial election. Republican Matt Bevin, who ran a campaign based on the promise to destroy Medicaid expansion in his state, was elected the new governor of Kentucky.

The Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, covers the poor, uninsured Americans who didn’t before qualify for Medicaid, but do under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. According to Kentucky.gov, as of 2013, over 300,000 Kentuckians became insured under the expanded Federal Medicaid health insurance program.

But on Nov. 3 the people of Kentucky voted. And Bevin won.

Now, the people of Kentucky, including the ones who voted for him, are worried they will lose their healthcare.

But, wait a minute. Didn’t I just write that the guy ran on a platform to destroy Medicaid expansion, thus taking insurance away from people?

Yes, I wrote that. And yes, making people uninsured was his promise. And yes, he still won.

I read an article, written by MSNBC journalist Steve Benen, about a male and female Kentuckian, who are currently insured through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion,  yet voted for the politician who vowed to take it away.

Here’s what the man had to say:

“[I]t doesn’t look to me as if [Bevin] understands,” the man said, struggling with the consequences of his own vote. “Without this little bit of help these people are giving me, I could probably die.”

Here’s what the woman had to say:

“If anything changed with our insurance to make it more expensive for us, that would be a big problem,” Botner, a community college student, said…”Just with the blood tests, you’re talking maybe $1,000 a year without insurance.

Why the hell did these people vote for a man who clearly wasn’t looking out for their best interest?

“I’m just a die-hard Republican,” the woman said.

Those are choice words because sick people do ‘die hard’ when their health care is taken away from them.

The article goes on to state that in one specific county in Kentucky, where most people are signed up for Medicaid, the majority of those people also voted for the guy who openly shared his plans to take it all away.

As I read this article, I had a real hard time understanding why people would make themselves vulnerable like that, and risk losing their health insurance, especially if they’re sick. And then I read a quote from an Owsley County judge, and it became oh so clear.

The judge said:

“To be honest with you, a lot of folks in Owsley County went to the polls and voted against gay marriage and abortion, and as a result, I’m afraid they voted away their health insurance.”

Okay. Got it. But still.

Gay marriage doesn’t directly affect anyone’s life, but the people getting married. Abortion is a personal choice a woman makes for her own body. But that too, doesn’t directly affect anyone else’s life.

Yet, the risk of losing one’s health insurance took a backseat to gay marriage and abortion.  And why shouldn’t it? It’s not like health insurance directly affects one’s own life….oh wait.

I want to empathize with the Kentuckians who voted for Bevin, I really do, because I hate seeing people suffer. But it’s so hard to feel sympathy for them because all I want to ask is, “How can you guys be so stupid?” and “Was standing up against gay marriage and abortion worth compromising your health?”

It’s really simple, people.

Stop voting against your own self-interest.

Bevin takes office on Dec. 8 and Kentuckians will find out if their newly elected governor will make good on a promise many hope he will not keep.

Until then, Kentuckians will just have to hold their breath and pray for the best. But don’t hold your breath for too long, your oxygen levels will go down and your carbon monoxide levels will go up, and soon, you may not have the insurance to cover that.

You can only blame yourself, as well as the heartless politician threatening to take it all away.

 

If you’d like to read he full article by Steve Benen, please click the link below.

 

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/kentucky-voters-create-big-problem-themselves

If Trump Isn’t Embarrassed, You Shouldn’t be Either.

A Facebook friend recently posted that she doesn’t have health insurance through her job, and had to pay a couple hundred dollars for medication. She can’t afford individual insurance, so one person suggested she may qualify for Medicaid. She agreed she would no doubt qualify, but would never go on Medicaid, or accept any kind of public aid.

I, along with quite a few others, commented that this was ridiculous. Programs like Medicaid were set up to protect people who can’t afford their own insurance, or, for people employed at jobs that either don’t offer benefits, or the person doesn’t meet company insurance eligibility requirements.

Whatever the scenario, if you don’t have insurance, and you qualify for Medicaid, i think you would be foolish not to take it. To walk around this country without health insurance, knowing how exuberant medical costs are, is just plain reckless. A trip to the doctor’s office alone can cost hundreds of dollars. Not to mention a freak accident that sends a person to the hospital, now we’re talking thousands of dollars. Easy.

So why would a person risk that? Is being on Medicaid shameful enough that a person would rather go without any type of coverage, and just take a deep breath and wish for the best?

Swallow your pride, people.

I blame a certain political party out there who love to bash people who need government assistance as “takers.” That somehow, they are always to blame for not being self-sufficient, regardless if said person had been working what they thought was a steady job, until that job was abruptly moved overseas, as so many of American jobs have gone.

People who are reluctant to apply for help, when they desperately need it, don’t want to be the kind of people some politicians put down publicly. The freeloaders. The irresponsible ones who need others to take care of them. The ones driving this country down.

I believe everyone, at some point in their life, will need help. Maybe it won’t always be financial, maybe emotional, but regardless, help will be needed because it’s tough to get through life on our own, alone.

It seems it’s more acceptable for certain people to take advantage of the system, than it may be for others. I was reminded of this as I watched the third Republican debate a couple weeks ago when the front-runner Republican candidate, Donald Trump, stated, in an unapologetic tone, (i’m paraphrasing) that in filing for four business bankruptcies he was merely taking advantage of the laws of the land.

This is true. Donald Trump did what corporate bankruptcy laws allowed him to do. When his companies racked up too much debt, he filed for bankruptcy. In 2004, according to CNN Money, Trump’s Hotel and Casino Resorts went through the bankruptcy court and shed over 500 million dollars in debt. Just like that. 500 million. Gone.

Although he lost majority control of the company, Mr. Trump was still able to retain control of his casinos.

This made me think of a scene from Goodfellas where mobsters assumed business interest over a bar, and the first thing they did was rack up the credit card bill. Then they took all that booze bought on credit and sold it out the back door for 100% profit. Then, once the credit ran dry, they torched the place. Never paying one penny back to the creditors.

This is what I think of when I listen to Trump talk about the “successful” bankruptcies that saved his businesses. How many companies didn’t did he pay when 500 million dollars was wiped out? It was a fresh start for Trump’s businesses, but what about the businesses he owed money to? The ones that never got paid.

If Trump can speak so blatantly about taking advantage of the laws that he could benefit from, then why are average people so ashamed of doing the same thing? Why does a person of modest means feel disgraced if they use the system to help them when they need it?

Why is it accepted as being advantageous for a business man to file bankruptcy four times and come out appearing as the tactical successful business man? When, If a regular person filed for bankruptcy four times he/she would be deemed as an irresponsible loser who doesn’t know how to handle their own finances.

But not Trump. Trump is leading his party in a run for the presidency. The highest office in the country, and, probably, the most powerful position in the world.

I worry about the prospect of a business man as a president. The notion that a country should be run as a business frightens me. But I’ll tackle that in another blog.

For now, I leave you with this, take the help that’s available for you when you need it. If Donald Trump isn’t embarrassed by all that he’s taken so far, then you shouldn’t be either.

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I don’t own this picture. I believe it is public domain, but if not, I will take it down.