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Works and Days

We’ve All Metamorphosized to a Higher Plane

June 23rd, 2009 - 4:50 pm

Recollections On a New Age Begun

Think of the hope and change of just the last six months that have changed all our lives. It was, I remember, around the beginning of February when the understandable liberal angst about the Bush deficit simply disappeared. Gone. Vanished. No more haranguing about red ink and shorting our grandchildren.

For the last eight years, I had some admiration-albeit along with plenty of bewilderment-at the newly fiscally mature Congressional Democrats and their impassioned attacks on Bush’s fiscal irresponsibility.

But then suddenly their principled opposition paid off. Deficits disappeared-at least the multibillion species. Yes, borrowing was replaced by kinder, gentler multi-trillion dollar “stimuli.” This was our moment, this was our time when a crushing debt of the last eight years was at last alleviated, and with the New Math we can be so stimulated as to grow our way out any shortfall the naysayers claim follows.

The other Bush nightmare immediately went as well-the primitive way of counting joblessness by the percentage of unemployed workers. Gone too was the Neanderthal idea that the silly Congressional Budget Office knows anything about the projected growth in GDP. And who can accurately project the likely size of deficits (and especially the arcane idea that you can’t save money on health care by borrowing another $2 trillion first to get the needed economies in place)?

So who said the government couldn’t run GM, or teach Chrysler a thing or two? All gone, those worries. Now I just read the New York Times columnists or listen to geniuses like Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner, and have discovered just how light, breezy, sunny things are becoming.

At about the same time we all awoke from our eight-year trance, the energy crisis ended. Flat out was gone. Solar, wind, geo, and bio swept the country. The old anxieties-nuclear this, coal that, ‘drill, baby, drill’, shale, tar sands, and that wolf in sheep’s clothing, natural gas-all went back to Texas with Bush’s  oil cabal. Now in the age of alternative energy, I know you share my relief that we have both plentiful power and a green planet, once Cheney’s old friends also slid back into the shadows and Palin “got over” her fetishes about ANWR.

I once worried that a Civic was too small, and now see that it is far too big. I just drove over the passes of the California coastal range and for the first time realized that I once used to be bored silly with those bleak untouched “natural” landscapes. Instead, in the ‘age of wind’ now I just absorb the manmade beauty of a far better horizon of hundreds of swishing windmills-2-, 3-, 4 propellered varieties, some white, others grey, with beautiful dirt roads carved out from the once ugly natural hillsides to each one-all unobtrusively churning, churning so that I can have air conditioning this summer without a carbon imprint.

I think it was around early spring when we could relax that Bush’s godawful “war on terror” was won. Finally, the Bush/Cheney hysteria ended, and we got instead the much preferable “overseas contingency operations.” These well-planned humanitarian efforts dispensed with any lingering “man-made catastrophes.” I used to shudder when I heard “Guantanamo” and braced for the “Stalag” and “Gulag” invective that followed. But then mysteriously that went away too in late winter. In place of those icky “enemy unlawful combatants,” there were suddenly misunderstood “detainees,” replete with personal stories about like our own.

Better yet, Guantanamo was almost, nearly, about to be closed as well, at least we knew sometime it would be gone and that was just as good as if it already was. Who knows, I thought at the time, maybe the innocent once released may at last turn up on a beach on some Caribbean island, as we make long overdue amends to these framed “terrorists”?

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