Wednesday, December 31, 2003

HAPPY 2004

2003 has, if nothing else, been a hectic year, on many levels.

For the US it has been a remarkable year.

It's painful for me to hear pundits who talk about the "recession" (what recession?), the "quagmire in Iraq" (really? how do you define quagmire?) and the "grass roots success of Howard Dean" (who still loses about 3 to 2 in a head-to-head against Bush).

Those three points of view couldn't be more wrong.

The stock market has roared back, businesses are operating at historically high productivity levels, growth is astounding, our presence in Iraq (compared to the real "quagmire" everyone remembers -- Viet Nam) is a true success story as our forces have morphed from Patton-like armor and air-led assault forces to urban guerilla/counter-terror forces in just a few months. And, compared to Viet Nam, the quantity and quality of intelligence and our ability (and willingness) to act on it is amazing. And as for Howard Dean, I'm guessing that he might be remembered a few years from now as a somewhat more pragmatic Michael Dukakis, or a somewhat more forceful Ed Muskie.

It truly disgusts me that many Americans are both so hateful of the current administration and so guilty that they live so well that they seem to have adopted their own form of jihad. I've read many posts on websites that go along the lines of "we only have Israel to blame for 9/11" and "Saddam Hussein was a despot, but no more so than George Bush" and even one who applauded the death of Michael Kelly, the journalist who was killed in the first few days of the Iraqi invasion. I remember the anger and hatred that spewed forth from the left during Viet Nam, but I don't remember it being this personalized. At least Jane Fonda didn't pose for pictures with the Saddam Fedayeen.

It was also encouraging (and often personally frustrating) to fly a lot this year because the flights were much more crowded than last year. The "fear" factor has disappeared. Sure, some people still won't fly, but most of them never flew that much to begin with. Frequent flyers are back.

2004 will probably be not much different than 2003, except that it has the potential to be uglier on the policital home front. Whomever the Democrats nominate, you can expect the negative campaign ads to be more prevalent and, despite supposed finance reform, more money will be spent this coming year by political parties than ever before. The power shift continues to move from the "back office" to the "single interest group". No longer can deals be cut in the "smoke-filled room" to determine political fortune. The guy or gal who can mobilize the largest war chest is the new "800 pound gorilla". Not an improvement.

In any event, it's time to say adios to blogging for this year. See you in 2004.


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