Comet, Heal Thyself
Too bad about Comet ISON, no? Goddamned Obamacare.
Zero From The ‘Aughts
Perhaps this is obvious to everybody else, but it just occurred to me this morning as I washed the dishes that the first decade of this 21st Century really and truly sucked.
Dig: The decade/century/millennium began with a double whammy of slam. The great tech bubble blew up, costing countless entitled middle- and upper-middle class white computer geeks their previously privileged spots atop the human pyramid. And a lot of middle class investors lost their little all after betting that tech stocks would carry them through their dotage. Then there was the non-election election of George W. Bush, a putsch pushed along by Supreme Court justices installed by his daddy-o and their patron saint, Ronald Reagan.
The next year, our holy land’s spies and spooks fell asleep at their CCTV security consoles and allowed a couple of dozen lunatic fundamentalist religionists to stage the scariest disaster movie scenes ever seen in New York City and Washington, DC.
What followed, natch, was an overreaction of monumental proportions as this holy land turned into a fighting, spying, hating-on-ragheads military machine. Now, I’d bet more money is spent on making sure American air travelers don’t sneak bottles of mouthwash onto airplanes than is earmarked for useless things like school libraries.
Meanwhile, Americans were urged by their popularly un-elected president to go back to shopping, chop-chop, just to show the world how much we love, love, love freedom. And Americans fell into line, buying anything and everything, including TV screens wide enough to display the entirety of the Grand Canyon. We Americans got so giddy pissing our hard-earned dough away that we began looking upon our happy homes not as safe harbors from the cruel world and anchors of our communities but as ostentatious, in-your-face ATMs-slash-McMansions. We bought and sold houses the way teenaged boys trafficked in baseball cards in the 1980s.
And then that bubble popped, leading to the greatest economic collapse since the Greatest Economic Collapse.
But wait — before that, the president, who, I might remind you, had been elected by a minority of voters, told us Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was perhaps a half hour away from decorating the skies above our greatest cities with pretty and colorful mushroom clouds. To prove his assertion, he sent out his minions and assistants to tell us and the world blah, blah, blah, blah — none of which had a whit to do with Iraq’s capacity to build nuclear weapons, and so we promptly fell into line and gave the Prez the go-ahead to commit our nation to a decade-long pointless war. We did get to see Saddam Hussein’s tonsils, though.
Anyway, back to the housing bubble. Wall Street banksters, quants, and fellow travelers discovered fascinating new ways to fleece investors with mortgage-backed securities and, while they were at it, make scads upon scads of dough for themselves no matter whether their financial instruments were successful or not, preferably unsuccessful because…, well, it’s pretty much impossible to explain why, but the banksters and quants and the rest are sitting pretty right now while the rest of us are still dusting ourselves off.
The banksters and quants and the others were punished by being named to high-level economic advisory positions in the Obama White House and as regulators of the operations they’d transformed into casino games. That’ll show ’em.
“This Is A Sound Investment, Sir.”
So, today, municipalities that had invested in their crooked schemes are broke, school budgets are being slashed, social service agencies are closing their doors, and the poor are being blamed for all of it. The fiends.
As this was all going on, there arose in this great nation a grass-roots political movement dedicated to the age-old ideals of selfishness, savage competition, refusal to share any wealth whatsoever, anti-intellectualism, and reactionary demagoguery with a sprinkling of racism and misogyny thrown in. They called themselves the Tea Party, which seemed rather euphemistic. I might have suggested they call themselves a Bunch of Big Pricks.
Apple Pie Americanism
Working feverishly behind the scenes, this nation’s spies and spooks, embarrassed by their failure to nab the 9/11 plotters before they struck, expanded their capabilities to eavesdrop on your Thanksgiving email exchanges with your aunt in Kokomo. By the way, you might want to let her know that three cups of sugar in her cranberry orange sauce is a tad much.
And, hey, here are two unforgettable names from the -zeroes: Joe the Plumber and Terry Schiavo.
So, kiddies, that was the ‘Aughts in a nutshell.
You might think I’m being pessimistic but, honest, the future actually looks brighter to me. Things couldn’t possibly get any worse.
I don’t know whether I’m more depressed or a bit pleased that you so strongly put in words what I’ve been thinking. I will try to go with the “it has to get better, right?” approach…I’ll try.
Mike, that was a mighty fine rant.
The perfect post-mortem of a very bleak period in American history. It contained almost enough insanity to make this aging Boomer abandon her cheerful idealism and dedicated activism. But I’m still here fighting the good fight, and what goes down must go up!