Sunday, January 01, 2006

Looking Back

Like it or not, you have to admit that 2005 was a remarkable year. The tsunami devastation, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the ongoing Iraq war, terror attacks in London, riots in Paris, global warming, the housing bubble and warrant-less wiretaps could make one think that it was a bad year indeed.

However, on closer inspection, one finds a distinct silver lining around that dismal news.

It is impossible to overemphasize the destruction and hardship wrought by the natural disasters, but the events brought out the best in humanity. Thousands of volunteers and millions of dollars in relief aid were poured into the disaster areas from every country, and American government and private sources did more than their fair share. The part played by the amazing US military was particularly heroic.

However, the hurricanes also exposed the man-made disaster of the welfare state. After decades of liberal Democratic control of all the layers of state government, the people of New Orleans were unable to rely on themselves and their neighbors in their time of greatest danger.

The progress in Iraq was impressive. The Iraqis held three nationwide votes with higher levels of participation than at American presidential elections. Our military leaders are so confident about the situation that they believe we can reduce our troop levels significantly in 2006. Army and Marine veterans of Iraq have been re-enlisting in startlingly high numbers, knowing they'll be sent back to Iraq.

And at home, a large majority of Americans support using any intelligence means necessary to get the terrorists before they get us.

The international community became much more supportive of the new Iraq, forgiving Saddam-era debts while increasing aid and loans to the government. The Middle East is changing, thanks to our removal of Saddam and our military presence. Syrian troops are out of Lebanon. Elections were held in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Egypt. Freedom House noted that the advance of liberty in the Middle East was the most significant development in 2005. None of this would have happened were it not for American bravery.

The terror attacks in England and the Muslim riots in France forced the European community to face up to the fact that Islamic terrorism is a genuine threat. The Europeans now see that the danger cannot be alleviated by passive means. The revelations of the oil-for-food scandal led the US to forcefully call for UN reform and put the Europeans, Russians and Chinese on notice that corrupt dealings with dictators will no longer be tolerated.

In spite of the war spending, natural disasters and high energy prices, the US economy performed magnificently. Former GE chairman Jack Welsh calls it "an incredible accomplishment" and thinks that President Bush "ought to be standing on a soapbox" ticking off the salutary results of his tax cuts: low unemployment and robust growth. With 4.5 million new jobs in the last 2 1/2 years, GDP growth over 4% and a 5% unemployment rate, it’s no surprise that Americans say 2005 was better than 2004 — and a huge majority (79%) expect things to improve again in 2006.

Once again the US pessimists have been thwarted while the sclerotic economic conditions in many European states persist due to high taxation and excessive government regulation. America continues to provide the economic model for the rest of the world.

As we begin a new year, it is important to remember that all we achieve at home and abroad is fundamentally reliant on the security of America and the world. Thus I’m going to adopt the new year’s resolution suggested by the brilliant Ben Stein: “to keep in mind the guys in whose shadows we all walk, behind whose shields we all live, the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, and God bless them and their families in 2006 and forever.”


Duncan Currie, "2005: A Tipping Point," The Weekly Standard (1/1/06)
Austin Bay, "The Big Story of 2005," Tech Central Station (12/29/05)
Ralph Peters, "the Truth About Iraq," New York Post (1/1/06)
Ben Stein, "Good Morning 2006," American Spectator (1/1/06)
Editorial, "Better and Better," Investor's Business Daily (1/1/06)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"After decades of liberal Democratic control of all the layers of state government..."

Yep, that was the problem. The Bush guys did a fantastic job for the people that were devastated.


12:24 PM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

Many have criticized the federal government response to Katrina, and some of it is warranted. But that misses the point completely.

The first responder in a local disaster is the local government. Louisiana and New Orleans had plenty of time to get all the people out of there before the levees broke. The governor and the mayor are the primary culprits.

But worse than that is the social welfare system that allows people to become too dependent on government. Fifty years ago the poor men of New Orleans would have taken things into their own hands and made sure the women and children got to safety. They would have driven the busses before they were flooded. Today, the poor men are paralized by the system that supports them.

It is the great crime perpetrated by liberals on the poor people in this country.

In my humble opinion.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Stalin the Shark said...

Ah, nothing like a disaster to bring out the peddlers of discredited wares - in this case, blaming Michael Brown and the failure of the coordinating federal agency, FEMA, on the welfare system. I'll have to admit a certain awe at the sheer audacity of this.

As to the NSA spying scandal, presumably, you're referncing the Rasmussen poll, which was, if we're going to be dealing in the empirical arena, somewhat flawed. If the question reads - and it did - "Is it good for El Supremo to listen in on Al Qaeda phone calls without a warrant" - you'll get these results. If the question is "Does it concern you that Dear Leader can tap your phone without a warrant, no judicial recourse, no oversight and no explanation", you'll find 88% concerned - which is what the NYT found this Sunday.

The larger issue is that of checks and balances, which is why honest conservatives - that shrinking, despised minority within the right-wing universe - are deeply concerned about this. It's also no small matter that Dear Leader is violating the law as written. If he disagrees with the law, fine - let him go to court. Congress certainly seems displeased at this novel interpretation of the constitution, safe to say, which is why there will be hearings and, likely, a raher strict law soon forthcoming.

In my humble opinion.

:-), StS

11:19 PM  

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