A painful decade comes to an end

The first decade of the new century began with so much hope, so much optimism, so much good fortune.

Jan. 1, 2000 dawned with a healthy economy, relative peace in the world and a bright future on the horizon.

The peace ended 22 months and 11 days later when terrorists seized control of four airliners, crashing two into the World Trade Center twin towers and one into the Pentagon. The fourth, headed for either the White House or the Capitol in Washington, hurtled into the ground at high speed after passengers stormed the cockpit.

Wars followed in Afghanistan and Iraq and both continue as the decade ended. More Americans have died in those conflicts than on that bloody day on Sept. 11, 2001 while the mastermind of that attack remains at large.

George W. Bush gained the presidency not at the ballot box but through a painful legal battle that ended at the Supreme Court more than a month after the election. He lost the popular vote, won in the court but remains forever a President who lost in the court of public opinion.

Many feel Osama bin Laden’s goal was to destroy the American way of life. If so, he won that battle with the help of a despotic President and a willing Congress where Republicans and Democrats joined together to strip away American freedoms with the USA Patriot Act and creation of the Department of Homeland Security, a monolithic bureaucracy that fails to provide either security or freedom to the nation it fails to serve.

Bush left office eight years later as one of the most unpopular Presidents in American history. He left behind a nation mired in war, saddled with debt and staggering under the weight of a sick economy.

Barack Obama rode onto the political scene as a symbol of a new America, a black man who could become a nation’s white knight, offering the rhetoric of hope to a country willing to take a chance on an unproven leader. But hope quickly turned to despair as the new President found governing more difficult than campaigning and rhetoric difficult to reconcile with reality.

Some say Obama, in time, will prove to be a great President but he ends the decade with promises of true health care reform unfilled while willing to sign a bill written by the very lobbyists he promised to purge from control of our government. With wars still raging, the economy still faltering, unemployment in double digits and the deficit on a seemingly unstoppable rise to even more record heights Obama and the moribund Democratic leadership of Congress face the next decade of the new century with a skeptical public and waning support from angry voters who turned over the keys to government and now feel betrayed.

Yet a poll released on New Year’s Eve shows Americans believe 2010 will be better even as they acknowledge that their finances will get worse and their problems will increase.

Somehow, even in the face of the worst recession since the Great Depression, even with wars with no real end in sight and even with an unsafe nation where strip searches and body scanners cannot stop a lone fanatic from bringing explosives onto a plane, Americans have hope for the future.

That is our nature, our way and our salvation. America the beautiful may have grey hair, wrinkles and stretch marks but she is till sweetheart of our youth, our lifelong love and the woman we go home to at night.

Like all life-long affairs, we sometimes question the wisdom of the relationship but — in the end — America is the one we love.

‘Til death does us part.


  1. griff

    America the beautiful is suffering a tortured death from a thousand cuts, horribly disfigured and crushed under the burden of the timeless, tireless pursuit of man’s dominion over others.

    Betrayed by those entrusted with its safekeeping and enticed into apathy with trinkets and toys, like so many wide-eyed Christmas children. Most have no idea what we’ve given up. Not yet, anyway.

    As is most always the case, the Founders foresaw the pitfalls we would face, and offered stern warnings against their trappings…

    The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.

    The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.” – George Washington

    “Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.” – James Wilson

    Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue” – John Witherspoon

    Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.”  – Joseph Story

    Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.”  – Thomas Jefferson

    “That advice should be taken where example has failed, or precept be regarded where warning is ridiculed, is like a picture of hope resting on despair.” – Thomas Paine



  2. Hoggy

    Happy New Year Doug,

    That decade sort of reminds me what its like to lay the scoot down at speed. I’m still gonna get up, fix my mess, and get it back in the wind just as determined to leave the BS behind. Hang tough, and don’t let the bastards get you down. Get it in the wind instead.



  3. Senegoid

    Will Americans reclaim their nation?

    In the 2000 presidential election the Supreme Court stopped the count and declared Bush (probably the loser) the winner. A stake was put through the heart of American democracy.

    Few gave a shit, not even most democrats.

    Although the event passed like a whimper, it was probably the most significant indication of American apathy in relation to their fragile democracy.

    I think it will be safe to assume, the powers that be, can rest safe in the knowledge they have done a fine job on the minds, imaginations and wallets of the desensitised and poorly informed plebs.

    Like sheep to the slaughter…

    It was all tooo easy.

    2010 will chronicle America’s continued intimate relationship between government and chosen corporations that will in turn control the masses and continue to have them believe that up is down, and war is peace.

    “Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” John Adams.

    On December 12, 2000 American democracy committed suicide, its corpse now carries that nasty stench of fascism.

    If hope is going to be the panacea of America’s salvation then hope, which alone, is nothing more than benign psychological energy of the individual and collective conscious, must be mobilised;  partnered with courage and tempered by justice and humility, otherwise hope will become nothing more than an elusive mirage upon shifting sands.

    “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” Nietzsche.

    Of course Nietzche, as a man of words, was far more courageous than Nietzsche the human being – a weak and sensitive soul who longed (hoped) to be that which he could never be – a real man.

    Happy new year America.

  4. Sandra Price

    The decade of the last 10 years has shown many of us free thinkers that we Americans gave up on the Constitution due to the pressure of the political action groups and then by the foreign pressure of terrorism.  I gave up politics for a focus on free thinking and I regret that Americans and other nations believe that our Government should supply the needs of the citizens as seen in other countries.

    The American voters are now lined up to have the federal government supply what we demand; removing the core of individual freedoms.  It was a fight that increased the Republican Party until 1988.  The GOP simply increased the federal authority to include what they call family values. 

    American has a lot of work to do bring back the rights of the individual over the power of the government.  We no longer have a Party or a movement who can stand up to this desire for Big Daddy to remove our Bill of Rights. 

    I saw the best of America and now am seeing worst.  I saw a glimmer of hope only to see it trashed. 

    Happy New Year, Chief.