(Salon.com) While I'm loath to write a top-10 list, if only for fear of falling
short of Dave Letterman's legendary bit, I'm making an exception in
this first week of 2010 -- a moment when we get to not only make New
Year's resolutions, but resolutions for the new decade. As we make
those prospective pledges, let's take a moment to look back at the top
10 quotations from the last 10 years -- the ones telling us some
painful truths about our country, society and worldview; the ones that
might inform us of what we need to do as we move forward.
"They frankly own the place." -- Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., in 2009
admitting the taboo about banks' influence in Congress.
"Haven't we already given money to rich people ... Shouldn't we be
giving money to the middle?" -- President George W. Bush in November
2002, acknowledging to advisors that he knew his tax cuts were
giveaways to the super-wealthy.
8. "Keep your
government hands off my Medicare." -- Anti-healthcare protester at an
August 2009 congressional town hall meeting in South Carolina -- the
single most succinct sign that our country has become an idiocracy.
"We did this for the show." -- Falcon Heene on Oct. 15, 2009, telling
CNN that the Balloon Boy chase was a hoax. The declaration demonstrated
that the media's 24-7 knee-jerk sensationalism is irresponsible and
proved that America's culture of celebrity aspiration is completely out
6. "As we know, there are known knowns.
There are things we know we know. We also know there are known
unknowns. That is to say, we know they're some things we do not know.
But there're also unknown unknowns; the ones we don't know we don't
know." -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Feb. 12, 2002,
effectively telling us that the government had no idea what it was
doing by invading Iraq.
5. "Bring 'em on." --
President George Bush on July 2, 2003, daring al-Qaida to attack U.S.
troops -- yet more proof that the elite defines "toughness" as
politicians flippantly sacrificing young American lives for
Washington's hubristic ideologies.
investment community feels very put-upon. They feel there is no reason
why they shouldn't earn $1 million to $200 million a year, and they
don't want to be held responsible for the global financial meltdown."
-- Daniel Fass, chairman of Obama's financial-industry fundraising
party on Oct. 19, 2009, insisting that despite wrecking the economy and
then being handed trillions of bailout dollars, Wall Street is a victim.
"$500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus." --
Wall Street compensation consultant James Reda on Feb. 3, 2009, giving
the New York Times a good example of just how totally out of touch the
super-rich really are.
2. "I didn't campaign on the
public option." -- President Obama on Dec. 22, 2009, expecting the
public to forget that his presidential campaign platform explicitly
promised to pass healthcare legislation giving all Americans "the
opportunity to enroll in (a) new public plan."
"It doesn't matter." -- Vice President Dick Cheney on Nov. 5, 2006,
referring to polls repeatedly showing the majority of Americans oppose
the Iraq war -- a sign the ruling class truly does not care about the
demands of the public.
These epigrams expose a
nation that has internalized and accepted the forces of avarice,
corruption, dishonesty, incompetence and insensitivity. Some of them
are darkly funny, some of them are gut-wrenchingly sad -- but all of
them are warnings. Whether we listen to them or not will be the
difference between repeating the last decade's folly or learning from
Here's to resolutions for the new decade that finally choose the latter.