Well, it’s December 31, 2009, and as a social commentator I am required by law to weigh in on the decade we’re preparing to exit, fondly known as “the Aughts.” All things considered, I think the first 10 years of the 21st century have been a smashing success. Come, reminisce with me about all we have achieved.
In 2000, we kicked off this tremendous decade by letting some activist judges on the Supreme Court appoint our President. This was a bit of a change of pace for us election-wise, and some have argued that it pierced the very heart of our claims to “liberty” and “freedom” and other patriotic words that everyone knows only Republicans really believe in. If we had been more uncivilized – like those rabble-rousers in Iran – we might have made a bigger stink about it, but we’re Americans, so we pretty much just rolled with it. Thus, we were blessed with the extraordinary presidency of George W. Bush.
It wasn’t long before we found out just how great things were going to be. On September 11, 2001, George W. Bush proved his dedication to early childhood literacy by refusing to prematurely end a reading of the delightful children’s tale, “My Pet Goat,” just because our country was under attack. That’s because reading is fundamental. Sure, he could have passed that message on to his National Security Advisor, Condaleeza Rice, so that when she got a memo stating: “Osama Bin Ladin determined to attack the United States” she would have not only read it, but also fully comprehended it’s significance. But then W. wouldn’t have gotten to stand atop some rubble with a fireman and a bullhorn. The nation wouldn’t have come together to support a man who up until that moment had plummeting poll numbers. We wouldn’t have been able to prove how badass we are by going to war with not only the country that attacked us, but also with a country that didn’t. When you consider how awesome the fallout was, can you seriously say you wish George Bush had done more to prevent 9/11?
Moving on, early in the decade Enron collapsed after faking an energy crisis and stealing money from old ladies. Ken Lay then faked his own death, and George Bush spoke kind words about him at his fake funeral. Who cares? Business was booming elsewhere as banks merged with insurance companies, hedge-fund managers and Wall Street brokers created securities and derivatives that would baffle Stephen Hawking, home values skyrocketed for no apparent reason, and we all knew that the party would never ever end. Well, the top 1% knew that anyway. I mean, for most Americans, median income was falling for the first time in over 70 years, scores of families were joining the poverty ranks, and the shit was inching precariously closer to the fan each day. But we felt good. We felt rich, and that’s what matters.
Of course, hurricane Katrina proved to be a bit of a downer. Kanye West tried to say that George Bush let a city drown, starve, die of heat stoke and get shot at because he doesn’t care about black people, but that is so not true. George Bush doesn’t care about poor people. It doesn’t matter what color they are! That was pretty unfair, Kanye, and we’re all still waiting for an apology.
The aughts were a decade when journalists finally started realizing who butters their bread, and stopped asking all those pesky, probing questions. They left that to late night comediennes, because they knew nobody would take Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert seriously. And we didn’t. We were too busy worrying about the disastrous effects of seeing Janet Jackson’s nipple, or being riveted to the news about whichever over-breeding woman was currently making headlines, or recovering from the 6000 side effects of the 200 drugs we started taking after constantly seeing their ads on TV.
This was also a decade in which internet news, fact-checked or otherwise, became the new mainstream media. (Well, technically, since Fox News has been the most popular news channel for like 100 months straight, they’re the mainstream media – and boy are they hard on themselves!) This new media finally made it possible to seek out only that which reinforced what we already believed. Thank goodness. Having to consider all sides had been making my brain hurt!
We wrapped up the decade by expressing our sadness over the departure of the great George W. with a global economic meltdown, matched in scale only by our global climate crisis, just to show how much we cared. Then we went all affirmative action on the White House and elected Barack Obama, presidential quota filler. And just like everybody else who gts a job because of his race, he’s done nothing so far.
Well, okay, he has done a couple of things, like:
- Reversed restrictions on stem cell research
- Appointed an assistant to the president for science and technology policy
- Created a foreclosure prevention fund for homeowners
- Expanded loan programs for small businesses
- Extended and indexed the 2007 Alternative Minimum Tax patch
- Expanded eligibility for State Children’s Health Insurance Fund (SCHIP)
- Expanded funding to train primary care providers and public health practitioners
- Directed military leaders to end war in Iraq
- Sent two additional brigades to Afghanistan
- Granted Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send money to Cuba
- Restored funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) program
- Released presidential records
- Now requires new hires to sign a form affirming their hiring was not due to political affiliation or contributions
- Pushed for enactment of Matthew Shepard Act, which expands hate crime law to include sexual orientation and other factors
- Created a White House Office on Urban Policy
- Supported increased funding for the NEA
- Funded a major expansion of AmeriCorps
- Worked to overturn Ledbetter vs. Goodyear
- Banned lobbyist gifts to executive employees
- Pledged to weatherize 1 million homes per year
- Invested in all types of alternative energy
- Enacted tax credit for consumers for plug-in hybrid cars
- Provided grants to encourage energy-efficient building codes
- Signed a bill granting equal pay to women for equal work
- Extended unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspended taxes on these benefits…
…and gotten congress as close as it’s ever been to health care reform. In other words, he’s pushed a socialist agenda that makes me want “my America” back. And does he even know how “My Pet Goat” ends? I thought not.
So, goodbye, aughts. It seems like maybe the goal of this decade has been to fling America into the 21st Century with some sort of wake-up call about our priorities, our values and our behavior at home and in the world. Well, I say, Mission Accomplished! (Which as we all know, may or may not mean that the mission is actually accomplished.) We’ll just have to wait and see.
Happy 2010, everybody!
- The FunPie