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Of Bushies and bad knees

Of Bushies and bad knees I owe you an apology. Some time ago, near the beginning of the Iraq War, I wrote that the Bushies were going to war for one reason only -- to keep Saddam from getting nuclear weapons. And immediately after 9/11, I marveled at the transformation of George W. Bush from an amiable, clueless, golf-playing slacker to a stern, decisive wartime president.

I was wrong. I was lazy and credulous, and I got scammed by the Bushies. As Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 makes perfectly clear, George W. remained a clueless slacker before, during and after the terrorist attacks. Infused with a lazy country club conservativism, he just thought that it'd be a good idea to invade Iraq and kick some ass. And so his minions -- Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Don Rumsfeld -- simply invented the rationale for doing so.

I talked to a friend, a small-business owner, who had just seen the movie. He was literally shaking with rage. "You know," he said, "I never much liked Bush, but now I think that we've got to get him out of office. And not just that -- I think that he's a criminal, a crook -- he should be in jail."

Fahrenheit 9/11 is that powerful. Not so much because of the allegations of sweetheart deals between the Bush dynasty and the Saudis, not because of the stolen election in 2000. It's incandescent because Moore makes us look at things we'd just as soon not think about: the bodies of children killed by our weapons; the prolonged anguish of two mothers, one Iraqi, one American, mourning the deaths of their loved ones; and the sleek, self-satisfied, deeply cynical men who now control the destiny of our nation.

Big media edits, reduces, sanitizes and sucks up; truth disappears. But Moore, like Dorothy's little dog Toto, rips open the curtain and shows us the Wizard of Ooze, George W., in white tie, addressing a ballroom full of fat cats, saying, "It's a pleasure to be here with the Haves and the Have-Mores. Some people call you the Elite -- I call you My Base!"

Sure, Moore's film isn't exactly a documentary; it's a partisan propaganda film. But unlike, say, Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, it's firmly based in fact. Don't think so? If it's as outrageously false as some critics allege, I guess that we can expect a lot of lawsuits from the folks that Moore so viciously libeled ... funny that they're all so quiet, isn't it?

Meanwhile, the other day in Denver the leading senatorial candidates shared their ideas about healthcare. Pete Coors and Bob Schaffer seem to feel that healthcare would once again be affordable if we'd protect our kindly neighborhood insurance companies by limiting awards in malpractice suits. Ken Salazar suggested some minor fixes, and Mike Miles actually had the nerve to support the creation of a taxpayer-funded national healthcare system.

If you spend any time browsing in antique stores, you might notice a popular collectible: canes. That's because our forebears needed canes; arthritis ravaged their knees and hips, and broken bones often didn't heal properly. Nowadays, canes are rare; the same 60-year-olds who were hobbling around with a cane in 1904 are off running marathons in 2004. So if you want to understand why healthcare is so expensive, and why there are no easy solutions, let's consider the history of a certain 63-year-old knee: mine.

In 1997, my right knee gave out on a mountain trail. I managed to hobble back to the trailhead, and eventually to an orthopedic surgeon. He operated, did a great job, and I ran a half-marathon a year later. A couple of months ago, the knee started to act up, and now I'm taking a very expensive anti-inflammatory. I'll probably have to get cut again.

So far, the knee has accounted for two MRIs, one outpatient procedure, a dozen doctor visits, multiple prescription medications. Total cost? Probably low five figures. Actually, I'm not sure -- insurance paid for most of it. And am I happy? You bet -- exercise and physical activity are at the center of my life. And how much do I pay for health insurance? An outrageous $900 per month! But wait -- in a couple of years, I'll be eligible for Medicare, and then I can get the taxpayers to foot the bill for ever-more-expensive knee repairs!

So candidates: Show me why your ideas are going to make the slightest dent in knee-care costs, for my poor ol' right knee, and millions of other geezer joints across our great nation.

And come to think of it, my left knee's a little creaky too ...

-- johnhazlehurst@earthlink.net

  • Of Bushies and bad knees

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