Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I admire Michael Moore. He is a controversial fellow and inspires a lot of criticism, but one can admire his courage. He waded into the fray, speaking out against George Bush, the Iraq War and other inequities when the only others speaking publicly were those who were powerful and wealthy. Moore wasn't.

He comes from a town near Flint, this industrial city that now sports what most American cities shamefully display, blocks filled with empty factories that look like aging old warehouses, vacant and despairing and haunted by the ghosts of the workers now without jobs. Flint was once a prosperous town and, unlike many industrial cities, paid a great deal of attention to the Arts, providing its citizens with concerts and operas and other shows highlighting dance and theater presentations. Unfortunately, those golden days of years ago have faded. Flint is just another struggling city now, gray like old cracked cement, filled with racial problems, its minorities huddled mid-city in dire poverty, many of its once busy factories closed, despair looming over the city like the pall of drugs sold on the street.

Somehow, I don't know how, Moore raised the money to film Roger and Me, a very amusing film about this nondescript man who decided to ask Roger Smith, head of General Motors, about the automobile layoffs. This was our first glimpse of Michael Moore and he has been raising a ruckus ever since. He is such a frumpy looking fellow, almost rotund, his head balanced on his shoulders as though the good Lord forgot his neck. He usually sports a little stubble and a baseball cap, but even on those rare occasions when he cleans up a little, he appears to be wrinkled and carelessly tossed together. I have seen better dressed homeless people.

I began admiring Moore when I saw Fahrenhein 911. When I first decided to see a documentary, especially on the subject of politics, I despaired. I don't like documentaries to begin with, because they are usually lifeless and the background drone is intolerable. But this one was like a bolt of lightening! Michael Moore spoke his piece, illustrating each point with statistics, with humor, and with a genius for illustrating his intent. ..and his intent was to expose the blatant untruths presented to the American public about the need for invading Iraq.

There is a genius buried in that ungainly flesh, a man unafraid to speak his mind and illustrate his ideas with fact. His enemies lambaste him with contempt and ridicule, but somehow he emerges with his dignity intact. This, one has to admit, is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind, an American free to air his views, put them on film, sell them, and make the world take notice. Michael Moore certainly has done that.

I haven't seen his new film, "Sicko." I feel the same way about Sicko as I did about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. I don't like bloody violence, which Gibson's movie was filled with, religious or not, and I don't like to be reminded of the millions of people in the United States who cannot afford the expense of health insurance.

I can say truthfully that I hate insurance companies, even as they pay my medical bills. I hate them because they rule our lives, making decisions upon whether or not we live or die, have enough money to pay our bills or fade into bankruptcy trying to pay for a major illness. I hate calling insurance mavens, voice quavering, feeling as though I should get on my knees and beseech them for a few Alms, even though I have paid the high premiums and, truthfully, it should be them that beseeches me.

Look at it this way. A working man with a sore throat and no health insurance cannot afford a single doctor's visit, let alone pay for the prescriptions he might have to purchase. It costs more than a week's salary from a low level job to pay one visit to the doctor. And, chances are, that doctor's future is bright. He is driving around in a luxury car, while the working man is rattling along in a used piece of junk, getting stopped by troopers for a broken taillight and just trying to keep his head above water.

We direly need national health coverage and, if Michael Moore dares say it, the cacophony of dissident voices will make up a huge orchestra sending rumbles of dismay through the country, a growling thunderstorm of those fearful of the tax money it would take to cover every citizen in every corner of this land. Because of this fear, they bring up every minute criticism of National Health Care they can dredge up, from accusations of socialism to the old argument about Canadians waiting in line until they are simply tossed into their coffins without seeing a doctor.

Michael Moore will make short work of the critics, I am sure, and he will do it with aplomb, because here is a true patriot, a man of the people, speaking for people even as some people resent his words and ridicule his intent. He has become a millionaire, they say....and why not? There is no rule that a patriot has to be poor, which Moore certainly was at one time. If our presidents can be millionaires, certainly our patriots ought to be able to be the same.

So, I will go see Sicko, even though the subject matter makes me cringe. I know poverty, know it well, slept with it and lived with it for many years. I know what it is to have a throat so sore you can't breathe and you can't swallow, yet there's no money for a doctor. I know what it is to be in a County Hospital, and go home with half of your hearing gone. I know what it is to have the rotting teeth of the penniless group, when a tube of toothpaste is beyond your reach, let alone the cost of a dentist.

I will happily put out the few dollars it will take to make sure each one of us can afford that trip to a doctor. I raise my hat to Michael Moore for saying the things that need to be said, even though sometimes it hurts to hear it. He has the kind of courage I lack, the kind that keeps on speaking the truth, despite the anger aimed at him. While I might be hiding under my desk in the same situation, Michael Moore is facing those cameras and telling it like it is!