Uh oh

Do you ever get the feeling that people aren't telling you the entire truth and it's going to hurt you in some way? I call this feeling Uh Oh, as in "Uh oh."

This all start-ed for me what seems like one hundred years or so ago when I was a tyke. I hated getting up early on Sunday morning to go to church. Once there, I had to sit quietly, not talking, not fidgeting, and listen to the pastor, Father James Lunn, talk about how most humans were bad, needed God's help to save themselves from themselves, and even so, would probably go to hell.

"Why do we go and suffer this every Sunday, Ma?" Little Denny asked.

"Because we have to," Ma would answer.

"Who says so?"

"God," she would say.

"Quit asking questions," she would add.

"You'll thank me later," she would say in conclusion.

Uh oh, I remember thinking.

Father Lunn is long gone. I am about the age he was then when he spent every Sunday morning alternately boring and scaring the hell out of the little Denny who has grown, aged and yet, remains that little questioner. The little boy who cried, "Uh oh."

So recently, when I heard that the President who has driven the economy into a doldrums that all the bogus talk of recovery can't seem to shake - never in 30-plus years of working have I had so many friends without jobs, or taking jobs they are overqualified for - was "fixing" Medicare, I thought, Uh oh.

So I guess I wasn't surprised to read the other day that under the new Medicare, many retirees covered by the private companies they slaved for for an entire lifetime (uh oh) are likely to be forced into the new federal plan, saving money for not themselves, but the corporations they slaved for.

Now whether this is good for retirees remains to be seen, but it is good for corporations and the men (mostly) running them, and anyone who isn't deaf, dumb, blind and partisan knows that's who the current Bush cares about.

So the other morning when I opened my front door, bent down, and opened my Seattle Times, I was saying "Uh oh" before I straightened back up. "Restructuring Social Security is next target for President," the front-page, above-the-fold headline screamed.

Anyone over 50 who isn't independently wealthy better start practicing the phrase: "Stick 'em up. I don't wanna hurt ya. Just give me all the money in the register. I gotta buy aspirin for my aches and pains and dog food for dinner."

For the second year in a row the number of Americans living in pov-erty has risen, according to the govern-ment's own numbers. Yet instead of helping our own poor, we are spending billions of dollars on the occupation of a foreign state we invaded despite not being asked in by the population on the ground there.

More than 2,300 Americans have now been killed or wounded in Iraq. The emotional and financial cost is staggering, and yet our grandstanding president, who now that he can't be forced to fight loves wearing uniforms, spent thousands more dollars to fly in, smile for the camera, and fly back home. He was on the ground in Iraq for less time than Sean Penn spent there.

We are in trouble. The average American has less money than a decade ago. The average American kid coming out of college has less opportunity - unless they have some specialized form of knowledge, usually technical in nature. Under the current leadership, we have, in less than two years, squandered the world's good feelings about us - after Sept. 11, 2001, there was hardly a peep when we invaded Afghanistan because we were the good guys. Despite all the propaganda, that's not how we are perceived today. If you don't believe me, read a European newspaper.

And yet, if we as a country were doing great here on the home shores, I guess I could more easily live with this rich man's war in a faraway country. A war, by the way, that employs people who aren't rich to do the fighting - only one of a hundred current U.S. Senators has seen a close relative deployed to Iraq since we invaded earlier this year. One.

I love all the responses to this column, good and bad, if they are thought out and considered. But I am tired of being called a partisan. (I'll say it again: despite the opinion of my friends, I thought Old Man Bush was a good president, and Eisenhower may have been a great one.)

I sat out the 2000 election. I didn't vote for Gore or Bush. I am just a guy who wants to be proud to be an American because we are implementing policies which build consensus and are good for lots of folks, not just a cartel of rich, bloated corporate pirates and their political lackeys.

I am a guy who can no longer read the daily newspapers (something the current president reportedly doesn't even bother to do; one of many things he doesn't do) without saying two words over and over: "Uh oh. Uh oh. Uh oh."

All together now, you'll feel better for it, I promise.



Freelance writer Dennis Wilken resides in Lower Queen Anne. Get e-mail to him via qanews@nwlink.com

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