Yesterday, there was lots of discussion on the airwaves and in newspapers on what to call the Decade. Brother Dan ran across a San Francisco Chronicle article entitled “Grim year ends the Decade of Fear.” That's funny. The decade doesn't end on December 31 st , 2009. It ends December 31 st , 2010! So, it's not too late. We have another year, so let's think about this a little more. Let's see...
We started the decade with a Supreme Court decision that essentially stopped democracy; it stopped the vote count in Florida and handed G. W. Bush the presidency. The chad vote. A panel of nine judges, we learned, have more votes than the citizens of entire state of Florida. But, that was appropriate according to Karl Rove, Bush's Brain , who essentially sold about half of the people, give or take 500 votes, in this country on Bush's electability. But, none of that bothered the “Christian Vote.” They celebrated in the streets that their man was elected. It was God's will! And, of course and as expected, G. W. immediately pushed through a tax cut for the rich “to appropriately distribute the government $1 Trillion surplus back” to the “people” that, by the way, make a lot more money than you and I in the lower 97% income class (er, another by the way in case you need help with math – that means the upper 3% got the tax break). That was the “democratic” thing to do to make government small by putting it in debt. How's that for fairness? Did you like that?
Then there was 9/11. Karl Rove, etal., sold us on the idea that 9/11 was the “War on Terror” instead of the act of a bunch of criminals. We invaded Afghanistan and Bin Laden went into hiding and G. W. said, “I don't care where he's at. I don't keep track of him.” The “War on Terror” idea, however, became a campaign to sell us on WMD and how evil Sadam Hussein was, though he was only a minor dictator of a country that was already devastated by ten years of sanctions, so we went off to kill Sadam, G. W.'s personal devil. Never-the-less, a lot of hypothetical intelligence convinced us to invade Iraq. Sadam was a boogeyman. And, our smart bombs killed several hundred thousand innocent Iraqis. In the meantime, with Iraq gone, Iran became the most powerful nation in the region. That was enough, however, for G. W. to stand on an aircraft carrier and shout, “Mission Accomplished.” G. W.'s lawyers wrote the torture memo and pushed through the Patriot Act that allowed him and his thugs to spy on American civilians without judicial oversight; another chink fell out of democracy that day. Then, pictures of Abu Ghraib torture surfaced and we sent an Army Private, Lynnde England, to jail... but the torture continued, we now know, in spite of jailing England. Hmm, maybe she was innocent? What the hell, she probably did something wrong!
Then Alan Greenspan watched while the housing bubble grew because he believed “that bankers, traders and financial barons would self regulate themselves.” Well, he said he was sorry in congressional testimony – after the economy fell apart, of course, and that makes it all better. But, right in the middle of that, while everyone was “feeling prosperity,” G. W. ran for reelection – AND WON! Man, that Karl Rove is some kind'a bullshitter. He's good.
As if we hadn't had enough, the economy melts down into a Great Recession not experienced since the Great Depression. All of the right-wing, free-market, libertarians on CNBC said, “let 'er melt. That's what a free market means,” even though a complete melt-down would, LITERALLY, kill America. So, Paulson and Bush hands over billions of tax payer money to banks and AIG with no strings attached. Of course, the banks and AIG used the money for bonuses.
Glenn Beck rises to the top of right-wing gossips and rumor mongers, and then Sarah Palin comes along. And, I guess the thing that is most astonishing, they have a following. Palin writes a book that doesn't pass even basic facts-tests, let alone having any resemblance to truth or common sense – and it sells millions of copies! And, Dick Cheney is still preaching the “Dark Side” of torture. People are still eating this stuff up.
There's more! Minnesota voters reelect Michele Bachmann! John Boehner gets 100 lobbyist together to discuss how to defeat financial regulation. “Death Panels” allegation is chosen as “Lie of the Year.” On and on. Dear God, is there no end to bullshit?
So, does the name “Decade of Fear” describe this decade? Nah. I'd say it's closer to The Decade of Idiots. I don't believe we can do anything radical enough in the coming year to fix the past nine, so we're probably stuck with that. We may not be able to fix the past nine years in fifty years.