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The Year of Our Discontent

by DAVE LINDORFF

You know, the year 2009 started out kind of nicely. We watched Barack Obama take the oath of office, serenaded by the awesome Aretha Franklin (wearing her awesome hat), after first hearing Pete Seeger sing the real Woody Guthrie verses to “This Land Is Your Land” on the steps of the Lincoln Monument.

And we saw Congress pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to correct a scum-sucking decision by the US Supreme Court’s conservative woman-hating, corporation-loving majority that said women (and minorities and the elderly) couldn’t sue for pay discrimination unless they acted within six months of the initiation of the violation, even if they didn’t learn about it until years later.

Great stuff.

But basically, that was it. The promise of an Obama Presidency, and of the huge new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, came and went like the puff of dust from a dessiccated puffball, leaving behind nothing but a leathery dry little husk of fungus–an apt description of Democrats in Washington today.

Since then we had the pathetic stimulus package that hasn’t stimulated, and the continuation of the Bush/Paulson bank bailout–the gift that keeps on giving to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, B of A, Wells Fargo and the other greedhead banks that created the current financial disaster that has thrown a fifth of the American workforce out of their jobs and that has put a quarter of all homeowners underwater, with mortgage balances larger than the value of their shrivelled homes. We’ve got a whole new war–actually the old mini-war in Afghanistan now ramped up by Obama and his Democratic backers into a major war–and the old war in Iraq sill chugging along, and maybe even a new one in Yemen or a bigger one in Iran. And of course we’ve got no health care reform, though they’re calling the crappy legislation working its way through Senate and House “health care reform.”

What a sorry joke.

You can’t wish anyone a Happy New Year tonight with a straight face. How can it be happy if we’re blowing up innocent people, our own young soldiers, and a couple hundred billion dollars of taxpayer money in the coming year for nothing except to allow Obama to prove how tough he is? How can it be happy if the criminal banking syndicates are having their best year ever, and if their executives are raking in obscene bonuses, while homeowners cannot even refinance their crooked mortgages while rates are being kept low? How can it be happy if what Congress and the President are calling a health reform bill is going to leave tens of millions of Americans uninsured, while it extorts hundreds of billions from the rest of us in order to subsidize crummy insurance for poor people–insurance that they too will have to pay for with money they don’t have, or face heavy fines from the IRS? This is health reform? Please.

No. Let’s face it: 2010 is going to be a terrible year. Count on it.

The only hope is that maybe we somnolent Americans will fianlly be shaken from our television-induced torpor by a further economic crash, by the complete takeover of our government by corporate interests, and by the increasing death toll of American military personnel in Afghanistan, and will finally rise up and reject it all.

Imagine millions marching on Washington to demand a public jobs program, and Medicare for All! Imagine millions of people sitting down and blocking the main entrance to the Pentagon. Imagine President Obama being shouted down when he tries to give a public address–not by one lone House representative shouting out “liar!” but by the assembled masses. Imagine the needy public and young idealistic physicians taking over hospitals and dispensing free care. Imagine voters simply turning out of office every member of Congress who voted for war funding, the health care bill or the bank bailout. That would virtually mean a clean sweep of Congress, which is what we need right now.

And that’s what we need in 2010. Not a Happy New Year, but a radical and explosive one.

So that’s my wish to one and all. Get pissed. Take action. Let’s make 2010 a year we can cheer about!

DAVE LINDORFF  is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff@mindspring.com

 

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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