Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Take This Sticker Off Your Car If You Voted For Bush

Do you have one of these on your car?

If so, and you voted for George W. Bush, you need to take it off. Now.

Why? Because whether you realize it or not, it is hypocritical to sport that sticker on your vehicle while supporting a man who has consistently worked against our Veterans and those currently serving on active duty.

The Bush administration's true disregard for military people was never illustrated better than when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited our soldiers in the Middle East earlier this year and had this exchange with Army Specialist Thomas Wilson:

Wilson: "A lot of us are getting ready to move north [into Iraq] relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We're digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat."

Rumsfeld: "You go to war with the Army you have ... not the Army you might want to wish to have at a later time. If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can still be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up."

Well done, Don.

As a Veteran, it's not surprising to me that Rumsfeld so callously dismisses Specialist Wilson's concerns given that Donald is a proud member of Bush's Chickenhawk Brigade and has never served a day in uniform, much less in combat.

Said Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq War Vet who is now with the soldiers' advocacy group, Operation Truth: "Having the armor increases your survivability much more than not having it. For [Rumsfeld] to say that is an indication of how little he understands the dangers of the battlefield."

In 2003, the Bush administration attempted to cut combat pay for troops deployed in Iraq but dropped the idea after intense public pressure brought on by Veteran's groups and by Howard Dean, the leading Democrat for the presidential nomination at the time.

This Bush idea would have cut "imminent danger pay" by $75 a month and "family separation allowances" for the American forces by $150 a month. Having failed to do that, they did manage to triple the Vets' co-pays for prescription drugs that year.

You can cover your car in patriotic stickers, but if you support Bush, you most assuredly do not support the troops.

Let's talk about the current federal budget proposed by the Bush team.

- One budget item includes a $350 million cut in Veteran homes' funding, wiping out at least 5,000 Veterans nursing home beds.

- The president proposes a doubling of Veterans' prescription drug co-pays that were just increased in 2003.

- The Bush budget also proposes an annual $250 fee to be paid by every Veteran wishing to participate in the Veteran's Administration (VA) health care program.

The VA is also being forced to implement new rules that exclude hundreds of thousands of Vets whose incomes are now considered too high to qualify for benefits. The income threshold depends on where a Vet lives, but ranges between about $26,000 and $40,000 per year. To add insult to injury, this is happening while tax breaks are being given to the wealthiest Americans.

And let's not forget the obvious. If you voted for George W. Bush, you helped elect a man who put our bravest young men and women in harm's way in Iraq for nothing. Over 1,500 of them have been killed, 10,000 have been wounded and tens of thousands will suffer emotional stress for years to come.

Finally, most Veterans will never forget that it is this president's Republican party that showed exactly what they think of all Veterans when they donned purple heart Band-aids on the floor of their last convention to further minimize and mock John Kerry's heroic war service.
(See No More Reaching Across The Damn Aisle: Reason Number 171 for more information.)

If none of this matters to you, at least stop lying and claiming you support the troops. Get the damn sticker off your car. This president is literally killing our soldiers, hurting their families and giving a middle finger to Veterans who have previously risked their lives in service to our country.

And no number of patriotic stickers on your car can make that go away.