Well, it's that strange time of year yet again, that weird interval between Christmas and New Year's, where not much gets discussed except to look back at the previous year/decade/century. I hope you're expecting that here, because that's what I'm going to write about.
Looking back at 2009, I can't say that the successes have overwhelmingly outweighed the disappointments. Well, except of course when I imagine what it would be like if John McCain was president and Sarah Barracuda was sitting in the VP's seat. If that came about (and we only missed that happening by a very few points), thing would likely be significantly different today.
So I'm not going to say that this year was terribly disappointing. Yet, when I look back on the enthusiasm and anticipation with which we greeted the new year, I have to admit that we haven't gotten as much accomplished as I wanted.
2008 ended with President Bush signing the TARP bill, which bailed out Wall St. banks to the tune of $700 million.
2009 began with President Obama taking office in an unprecedented celebration, and began work immediately on the many pressing problems he inherited.
In February, President Obama signed the stimulus package, which invested hundreds of billions of dollars in economic recovery projects, as well as several hundred billion in tax reductions. The package was highly unpopular with Republicans, and a curious phenomenon soon after manifested itself; the faux-grassroots "Tea Party" movement.
Disgruntled conservatives found a way to express their disdain of anything constructive that Presidend Obama had to offer through these corporate- and conservative-think tank sponsored Tea Parties. Fox News enthusiastically pushed for increasing the level of dissent by publicizing and encouraging the more radical elements to take part, and arch-conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck helped fuel that discontent to an hysterical pitch. As the rallies became more and more radical, the corporate shills fanned the flames even higher, and the latent racism in many of the participants became very overt.
It's ridiculous how they can casually compare the president to a monkey, but if you call them "tea baggers" they act so terribly offended.
Sen. Chris Dodd found himself on the defensive for much of the year, due in part to his clumsy handling of the AIG bonus imbroglio and allegations of improprieties with a mortgage. A slew of Republicans have declared their intent to challenge him for his Senate seat this coming year, and we expect not only a difficult fight for the senator, but also a Republican brawl for the party's nomination. It amazes me how in 2006 the Republican Party actively discouraged anyone from running against Joe Lieberman, but this year they're crawling out of the woodwork to take a stab at Chris Dodd. (Actually, it doesn't amaze me in the least.)
Sen. Dodd's tireless work for health care reform paid off recently as the Senate finally passed a version of the bill that reached the minimum 60 votes required. There is still much to be done, and now the House bill will need to be reconciled with the Senate version early in the new year. I still have some hope that reconciliation will bring a bill before the president that includes many of the points that the Senate bill currently lacks.
Rep. Jim Himes completed the Democratic sweep for Connecticut's Congressional delegation last year, and just this week he was recognized for his superb constituent service by the Greenwich Time. Himes also hosted many "town hall meetings" this year to exchange ideas with citizens and hear their opinions. As the video below illustrates, sometimes those opinions were extremely vocal:
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan grind on. President Obama has set a timeline for withdrawal, but there is definitely some wiggle room to keep troops in place beyond that if he chooses. Many progressives are disappointed that things aren't happening faster, but again, if McCain was in the White House we could likely expect a permanent state of war to exist in the region. Not to mention a possible attack on Iran. So while I'm not happy about the escalation in Afghanistan, I'm willing to give President Obama a grudging benefit of a doubt for the time being.
We got creamed in the local elections this year. This is something beyond mere personalities or qualifications; some extremely dedicated and gifted local legislators were replaced by dilettantes and amateurs due to some kind of a freakish Democratic backlash. When a city successfully posts the first tax decrease in it's history in a year when the Republican mayor proposed a 6.7% increase and we STILL get trounced, you have to suspect there is something strange going on here. The Democrats had better get to work on their messaging, or we'll possibly see a similar debacle in the 2010 midterms.
As for me, I'm looking forward to next year. I'm proud that I've accomplished all my New Year's resolutions for this year, and now I've got to work on some new ones.
I still don't believe in texting, and I steadfastly refuse to allow my phone to receive texts. If it's important enough, you can call me. If it's not, then it can wait. I've seen too many dipshits swerving all over the road while steering with a knee because they simply have to reply to whatever insipid message they'd just received.
(Me, cross-country skiing last week)
Anyways, that's about it for now. I'm sure I'll have more stuff to add but I need to get going for now. All things considered, it's been a hell of a year!