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Real health care reform ... 19th century style ...


Since everybody’s talking about health care reform, I wanted to be as trendy as possible, though I concede the link to sports memorabilia may be a bit tenuous in this case. Best I could do was show a 1952 Topps Look ’n See card of the famed Apache chief Cochise.

So I am reading the acclaimed 1970 book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, or more accurately listening to the audio book on CD, and about midway through, author Dee Brown offers the account of Cochise’s father-in-law, Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves) who had been horribly injured while being held captive by the soldiers.

Cochise fled with his father-in-law to Mexico, taking the dying Mangas to a famed surgeon in a tiny village over the border. Cochise’s demand of the surgeon: “Save my father-in-law or everyone in the village will die.”

With that kind of incentive, the surgeon’s efforts were such that Mangas Coloradas ultimately made a miraculous recovery. I’m not really suggesting that kind of solution for our health care woes, though I’m not so squeamish about anybody who might want to threaten a bit of mayhem to the 535 or so knuckleheads inside the beltway who will end up deciding the question. OK, not mayhem really, but how about one of those demeaning slaps to the back of the head that used to be politically correct 50 years ago?

And just so nobody accuses me of portraying Cochise in the same distorted fashion that Hollywood employed for so many years, I should point out that Cochise and nearly every other Native American mentioned in the book comes off a damn site better than the soldiers and bureaucrats who dealt with them, up to and including the various “Great Fathers” in Washington, D.C.

In fact, I felt so bad about the way my forefathers had essentially annihilated a whole race of people that I headed off to one of a half dozen or so Indian reservations to make a donation at the casino. Only a bit of dumb luck late in the session kept my contribution from being much more than the cost of a roast beef dinner, but my heart had been in the right place.