I was in my local Whole Foods yesterday morning picking up some things I can only get there, and the Beatles’ recording of “Good Day Sunshine” was playing in the background. It made me smile.
Not just because it’s an upbeat song that reminds me of a pretty upbeat time in my life, but because it also made me realize the upbeat things about life right now, despite our current worldwide financial mess and the rightwing influence on the media in this country and their triumph in continuing to control a lot of the rhetoric as well as perspective on important issues.
For instance, in 1966 we’d already lost more people in Viet Nam, soldiers and civilians, and it hadn’t even reached it’s peak yet, than we’ve lost in the more than six years we’ve been in Iraq.
In fact there were more deaths from war and starvation and disease, per capita, in the world in ’66 than in ’08 or ’09 so far (the exception as far as areas or nations goes is The Congo, which is a war torn humanitarian catastrophe that should be on the top of the world agenda for addressing major problems, not just because of the extent of the human misery caused by the ongoing war(s) there but also because it is one of the most resource rich places on earth as well as one of the most naturally rich (e.g. mountain gorillas and their terrain etc.)).
1966, despite Viet Nam and the ongoing struggle for Civil Rights (it would be another year before race-based laws against “mixed marriages” would finally be struck down by the Supreme Court) as well as unrest in various spots around the world and the continuing Cold War with the Soviet Bloc, felt like an optimistic time because it felt like change was in the air.
The rightwing of the Republican party was dormant at the time, having gone down in the ’64 presidential election to a huge defeat under Barry Goldwater, who was, by today’s rightwing Republican standards almost a moderate in comparison (or in other words he was more a true “conservative” than the current rightwing which uses the term but is far from it on most of the issues).
Anyway, as always, reality contains good and bad, because, as my old friend Selby used to point out, each term is inherent in the other. You can’t have good without bad, and vice versa, just as you can’t have pleasure without pain, success without failure, etc. they’re contained in each other, each implies the existence of the other.
So like any other time, this one is both good and bad. But that song in the Whole Foods yesterday helped me recognize the good and the feeling I and I know a lot of you had after Obama was elected. Which was the feeling that change was in the air.
It still is. The naysayers on the right are trying to (and doing a good job of it with the help of their corporate sponsors and media cowardice, afraid to “speak truth to stupid” as Bill Maher put it on his last show, a terrific one by the way) dominate the discussion with their fearmongering, but the reality is, Obama has already brought about some major changes not just in the USA but in the world.
The right seemed obsessed with the stock market, especially It’s continued decline after the last administration failed to reverse the trend and it kept descending in Obama’s first few months in office, but yesterday it rose above the level it was at when he took the oath and became our president.
In other words in only six months he lead not only an avoidance of another Great Depression, which most economists were predicting when he took office, but an actual turn around in the market from its low of around 6000 (when many economists predicted it would bottom out at 3 or even 2 thousand (and some still think it might if those in charge aren’t careful).
That’s an enormous change for the better. Of course no rightwinger is crediting Obama with that or his policies, at least no one at the public media level is doing it. They’re too busy trying to distract us all from the good that has occurred since January and get us to focus on the bad which is usually bogus, like the whole “birther” bit or now the charge that the public option in the healthcare reform efforts has a hidden agenda aimed at actually murdering senior citizens!
(Ever notice how the rightwing Senators and Congess people don’t offer to give up their government run healthcare plans? They seem awfully satisfied with the government running theirs but keep yelling about how if we were to get the same it would be disastrous, hmmmm. For the best take on the ways the health industry has bought almost all Republicans in the Congress and a bunch of Dems as well, check out Keither Olberman’s beautiful rant from last night on Huffington post here. [Thanks to Robert Slater for the link])
The cash for clunkers has also been a great success, a government run program that worked so well and so fast rightwingers became incensed that the government had created a program that was so successful it helped reverse the downward spiral of the automakers and actually made Ford profitable for the first time in a year, and besides helping the autmakers helped clear the roads of older more polluting vehicles and made it possible for a lot of folks to buy a new car and thus contributed an enormous amount of wealth to the economy in general which in turn will generate more tax revenue for the government and end up more than paying for the program. A win-win-win-win-win-situation, which as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, really makes the right angry.
Because they thrive on failure and fear, the government can’t do anything well and if you let them try we’ll all die!
No, actually we haven’t lost hardly any military in Iraq since Obama got in, and as he promised, we are drawing down there rapidly. And the new G.I. Bill that went into effect yesterday will make it possible for veterans who fought there to get a college education which will also contribute to the economy as well as honor those who served (interesting that it's always the Dems who end up doing the most for veterans, but then more Democratic Senators and Congress people are veterans than Republicans).
And the stock market is better than it was when he came in with the trend generally upward while it was precipitously downward when he took office. The jobless rate has slowed. Corporate profits are up in many areas, etc. etc.
Around the world, things haven’t become ideal, but our relationships with other countries is much better and with the Islamic world in general have improved radically so that the fighting now is amongst their own rightwingers (the government in Iran for instance) and their more liberal or moderate elements, rather than with them unified against us.
Change IS in the air, even if as always there is good and bad out there and in here, but I still say “Good day sunshine!”