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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

Weekly Muse
My humble opinion on current events

December 30, 2001

Good Riddance to 2001

I like to think I'm a writer. I write this column and book reviews. I've published a few short stories, majored in English Composition in college, and am wrapping up a first draft of a novel. I work as a technical writer. I certainly do not consider myself a wordsmith like Bill Safire or Bill Buckley, but I enjoy using words and sentences in unique and interesting ways. 

But try as I might, I really can't come up with any other way to describe this past year. The year of our Lord 2001 sucked. And, as Dick Cheney might say, big time.

Did anything good happen in 2001? Maybe a few things, but the bad clearly dominated. Terrorist attacks, recession, layoffs - that was 2001 in a nutshell.

But, since I try to be an optimist, I'll concentrate on the few bright spots before discussing the horrible. 

  • On the personal level, my wife and I are still gainfully employed, which is wonderful, since Arizona's unemployment rate shot up to 5.4% in 2001 (the jobless rate was 5.7% for the nation). Job growth in the state declined by 1.1%, and retail sales growth in Maricopa County, one of the largest counties in the nation, grew a meager 1.9%. Sure, we each got piddling raises and Mary missed out on a promotion opportunity, but considering the dismal economic conditions, keeping a job is quite the accomplishment.

  • Also on the personal side, Mary and I adopted another wonderful golden retriever named Trooper in February, and he has proved an excellent companion for us and our other golden, Brandon. 

  • The Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series, beating the mighty Yankees in the ninth inning of Game 7. Nothing so galvanized and united the state quite like the first major championship in state history (with due respect toward the University of Arizona's basketball championship in 1997). It gave us all something to cheer about at a time we desperately needed it.

  • Nationally, thanks to President Dubya, we got to keep a smidgen more of our money in the form of a $1.35 trillion tax cut, spread out over ten years. It's not as big as it sounds, though. During that same ten years, the government is expected to collect about $20 trillion. But it did reinforce the morally and economically sound principal that what the American people earn is theirs and not the government's. The surplus, which is now history, belonged to us, because it was our money. Shame on those who tried their best to get their grubby hands on it to spend on their own pet projects.

  • Finally, there was the execution of Timothy McVeigh. May he burn in hell for all eternity.

That's all the good news I can come up with. Please let me know if I've missed any. In the meantime, the bad news in 2001 kept on coming.

  • Bill Clinton left office in much the same fashion he conducted it while President - disgracefully. From pardoning terrorists and a wealthy and well-connected fugitive, to stealing the furniture to furnish their new multi-million dollar home, and not to mention shaking down donors and friends for cash despite their wealth, the Clintons proved conservatives correct. They are shallow, immaterial, political hacks, venal liars, greedy, abusers of power, and just downright rotten individuals. 

  • California nearly ran out of power, due to a half-hearted and incomplete attempt to deregulate electricity and the state's unwillingness to meet the demand for new power. Rather than learn their lesson and complete deregulation, it re-regulated, thus reverting back to the system which prompted deregulation in the first place.

  • An earthquake with a 7.7 magnitude in India killed at least 20,000 people, underscoring the vital need for Western-like capitalism and wealth, so India and other countries can construct buildings to withstand these quakes.

  • A U.S. Navy submarine rammed and sunk a harmless Japanese fishing vessel, causing much embarrassment here at home. 

  • Race car driver Dale Earnhardt died in the last lap at the Daytona 500, and it now takes one less bullet to re-unite the Beatles.

  • Federal government intern Chandra Levy disappeared, raising suspicions that her boss, California Congressman Gary Condit, did away with her to conceal an illicit affair. Condit maintained his innocence, not to mention that ghastly death-like grin, through it all, and bravely evaded Connie Chung's questions on TV. The only news story that seemed to matter all summer.

  • A veteran FBI agent, 57-year-old Robert Hanssen, was indicted for spying for Moscow. Hanssen received about $1.4 million total for his efforts, and also allowed a friend to watch he and his wife make love. A handful of U.S. agents were caught and killed thanks to Hanssen, who deserves to die a long and painful death.

  • Jumpin' Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party to become an independent, just a few months after Vermont voters sent him back to the Senate as a Republican. The spineless switch placed the Senate under the iron fist of Tom Daschle, who used his illegitimately gained post as Majority Leader to block several proposals supported by a majority of Republicans and Democrats. Jeffords said he switched because President Dubya was too conservative, though Jeffords showed no qualms in serving in Congress under President Reagan, who was just a tad more conservative than Dubya.

  • Five people on the East Coast died of anthrax, and anthrax-laced letters were sent to various media outlets and government offices, including the office of Tom Daschle. No one knows who did this or why.

  • The Middle East exploded into a fresh round of violence, proving that the Oslo accords and the idea behind it - Israel trading land and territory for worthless Arafat assurances of peace - were a disaster. Palestinian terrorists use the Gaza Strip as launching pads for attacks. Arafat is either unable or unwilling to stop the attacks. I'm not into the prediction business, but I think next year will be much worse.

  • Finally, September 11 was not only the worst event in 2001, but in American history. However, it must be mentioned that some good has come from the terrorist attacks. America is now a stronger, more resolute, and much more serious country. 

Those were the lowlights of 2001. So, let us close the door on that dismal year, in fact, let's slam the door in its ugly face, and welcome 2002 with a fresh spirit of hope and renewal. 

Happy New Year, everyone.

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