I see that this time last year, I was much more upbeat than I am now. Maybe it was like finding a shiny new penny... so exciting, until you realize that it has no buying power. Or perhaps it was like embarking on that long-awaited vacation, before the unpleasant reality that "it may be fun while it lasts (or perhaps it won't be), but in any event it's not really going to change anything once you get back to the usual humdrum or pain or whatever it is that defines your life." But it proved to be something like that.
And so, it seems, we have encountered 2009. Obviously, the year still started with the dominant figure of the decade, Dubya, a man best known by a mispronunciation of the first letter of his middle name (which is "Walker," btw) sitting in the big chair, doubtless counting down the days until he left Washington with the same gusto as the rest of us. And after him, we would finally have someone whose very name deviated so dramatically from the monchromatic Anglo-ness of Presidents past coalesced with his twin nebulous campaign promises of "hope" and "change" (the latter properly pronounced in the French and rhyming with the last syllable of "duck l'orange").
But it's clear that by the end of 2009, we are not merely disappointed (say, our anticipated week of Caribbean sunshine was, instead, met with a solid week of rain, in which case, we could at least have the good sense to chug pina-coladas and head for the casino), but affirmatively disillusioned, or more accurately, devastated. WTF happened?
Things foreshadowed badly in a political sense pretty early-- maybe a week into the presidency-- as it appeared that the President was pursuing "bipartisanship" as if it were some kind of good in its own right,
even as the most popular tune in much of America was "Barack the Magic Negro"... and if the Republicans would not play ball on a comparatively easy economic stimulus package at a time when Obama's stock was at apex, it seemed clear that wasting time trying to get their support-- any of their support at all-- was nuts, when the expedient of budget reconciliation and its mere 51-votes-in-the-Senate needed-- i.e., how Dubya governed-- was the way to go. So... the foreshadowing of political incompetence was set. But then...
Not even a fortnight in, "extraordinary rendition" was retained "as a policy option." The Obama Administration continued the mean-spirited appeal to bar cleared Uighur Guantanamo detainees whose only crime was hostility to Communist China from entry into the United States. And, this is the one that tipped most of us that "change" was, at best, going to be of the "pocket change" variety, the Obama Administration was hellbent on maintaining "state secrets" as an overarching legal position designed to evade accountability-- not just of itself, but of its predecessor and their contractors.
The following month saw the kind of "change" we would actually get: change in nomenclature. A bit later, we saw some more stonewalling on release of photographic depictions of abuse, and by mid-May, we knew that nothing at all had changed when the Administration announced that it was going back to the use of military commissions that candidate Obama had railed against so eloquently. While it was good to see the nomination of the nation's first Latina Supreme Court justice, this is more atmospherics than substance, which is pretty much all one can say about the Obama Administration. Any doubts that we had, in fact, evidently voted for a third term of George W.. Bush were disabused when the Obama Administration began touting its own version of "preventive detention."
And we had an inkling last summer that "health care reform" wasn't exactly on track; ultimately, what we got amounted to a government fiat that millions of people who can't afford private health insurance pay for it anyway. And we were going to get months of dithering on "what to do with Afghanistan" (followed ultimately by "more of same.")
We then got more stonewalling; more stupidity; and of course... more stonewalling. To interrupt the stonewalling and stupidity, the Supreme Court took Kiyemba, for the proposition that habeas corpus might mean something... maybe.
And speaking of stonewalling, by November, for the first time in over eight years of blogging, most of them during the despised Bush Administration, I found myself the subject of government censorship at the hands of my college classmate's Administration; it being the subject of censorship... I can't really explain further.
Unsurprisingly, a much vaunted climate change summit went nowhere, coupled with the President espousing the virtues of war while accepting a peace prize.
That's the year that was, in macro- terms. At least in micro-terms, things here at Stately Dog Manor progress along; we're all a year older but still together and still mostly there (even as I fear the ravages of time are ravaging my intermediate term memory)... we traveled to new and exciting places... we're still gainfully employed even in these troubled economic times... and now we even have two bouncy kittens... and maybe those are the only things that truly matter? Hey, we have our health, right? This has been, "Alas, another New Year's Eve." Happy new year, everybody! May next year be a healthy, happy, fulfilling and productive one.
How did I miss that act of information consolidation by my fellow alum's government? That's what happens when you take a couple of days off around Thanksgiving..
In any case, Ouroborous has his tail firmly in his mouth, and the wheel continues to turn unchangingly. Except the part about getting older.
Happy New Year to your whole pack. May your year be full of health and joy.
Posted by Michael L at December 31, 2009 8:48 AM