It’s A Wrap

As the Year of the Fire Dog prepares to trot off, wagging its oblivious tail and bearing its friendly, sloppy grin for another twelve year jaunt through the cosmos, I am making a note to leave 2018 open. Should I be graced with life the next time a Year of the Dog comes bounding into view, I believe I’ll find it far more bearable with nothing too important on the schedule, as opposed to this waning year, when I’ve been stymied at every turn. So, goodbye Dog, and good luck.

On February 17 we welcome the Fire Pig. And, according to my favorite astrologer, the Pig wants to party.

2006 will go down as the worst year in my memory. I think back to the last Dog year, 1994, and recall certain difficulties; it was, after all, the year the Republican party took control of Congress. And the Dog year prior to that was 1982, when the madness ushered in by Ronald Reagan was just picking up steam.

But this past year has been a horrible one for me personally and, I daresay, for my country and my planet as well.

History will remember this as the year the Commander in Chief of the United States could not recall — or decide — his course in the prosecution of the so-called War on Terror; the year in which the Executive branch of government openly proclaimed its refusal to adhere to laws regarding warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, in which the centuries-old right of habeas corpus was repudiated, in which science, and the environment, and truth were stifled, ignored, and manipulated — to the benefit of wealthy industrial interests who carted off billions in ill-gotten gains, laughing all the way to the bank.

We’ll remember 2006 as the year a “blue ribbon” panel of dignified civil servants declared the situation in Iraq “grave and deteriorating,” an assessment received by the President as a call for the commitment of additional U.S. fighting forces to the fray.

And, as of 6:00 a.m. Baghdad time on Dec. 30, we’ll recall the final act in the brutal life of Saddam Hussein.

Perhaps historians will one day ponder the bitter ironies of Saddam’s swift, quiet execution. A man reviled the world over as one of the most vicious tyrants to ever walk the earth, a catalyst for the expenditure of countless billions of dollars and the wasting of uncounted thousands of lives by the U.S. government, was hanged for the killing of 148 people who were detained after an attempt to assassinate him in the northern Iraqi city of Dujail in 1982. No trial or conviction on the allegations of his having gassed Iraqi Kurds, no execution on a conviction of his having been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of his countrymen.

Such an airing of Saddam’s atrocities would have proved far too embarrassing to the Americans who made, and in the end, broke him.

As the Middle East scholar Juan Cole notes in a poignant analysis, Saddam — funded and protected by the United States when it served our leaders’ interests — has thus been transformed from villain to martyr, and he may well serve as a symbol for increasing sectarian violence in the devolving chaos that now engulfs the land once known as the Cradle of Civilization.

Things could be worse.

The American electorate could have failed to wrest control of Congress from the Republican party in November’s elections. A much larger piece of the Arctic Shelf could have come undone from Ellesmere Island in the north of Canada. Osama bin Laden could still be at large. Oh, wait. He is still at large. But it could still be worse: it could matter.

Despite personal trials and tribulations this year, I’m grateful for much. Most importantly, I reversed a nearly two-year slide into torpor and poor diet, and I am now six months into a rigorous routine of kickboxing; I’ve begun to renew my meditation practice; and I’m playing and writing music again. My wife and my son are both healthy and joyful, and our family is loving and close-knit. I have a small circle of supportive and generous friends, and I feel no matter how dark things may seem in the world or how desperate, I have hope and confidence in better days to come.

Happy New Year.


  1. dave margulies - December 30, 2006 @ 11:51 pm

    Amen, brother, Amen. And make sure you put a little bit o’ voodoo and a whole lotta love into those black eyed peas. Is “I JUST HAVE TO SAY” not the appropriate place to honor and bid adeiu to one of the Great Ones in Brett Favre, or will the chants in his head of “one more year” be enough to bring him back for one more shot at glory in 07?

  2. Butler Crittenden - December 31, 2006 @ 12:02 am

    Lonnie, you’re a joy. I’m working on a not-sure-what titled: “I Am Sick and F___ing Tired . . .
    . . . of people who are stupid, ignorant, fatalistic, greedy, corrupt, without hope, in-denial, religious nuts, and/or apathetic.” I very happy to say you don’t fall in this rather large group.

    Best to you in the New Year. Cross your fingers for the Dems, the nation, the globe, and the winds of sanity pouring out of the melting poles.

  3. lonbud - December 31, 2006 @ 12:45 pm

    Thank you, Butler. Your participation in the conversation here at IJHTS is always welcome. Your frank, clear-eyed, cut-to-the-chase commentary is refreshing in a time of such mealy-mouthed obfuscation by so many.

    Yes, let’s cross our fingers for the Dems, but also resolve to hold their feet to the fire. Should we fail in the effort to demand our leaders — regardless of party affiliation — do the right thing, in years hence we’ll just be reading more stories of graft, corruption, and self-dealing from the other side of an increasingly irrelevant aisle.

    Remember the words of the XIV Dalai Lama:

    “No matter what is going on, never give up.”

  4. lonbud - January 1, 2007 @ 10:11 am

    Dave, I couldn’t very well comment on your thoughts until after last night’s Packers vs. Bears finale. If the Great One’s performance there, indeed, if his performance over most of the second half of this season is any indication, he’s still got plenty of gas in the tank.

    It’s too bad a fading Giants team won out over the resurgent Packers in the NFL’s arcane tie-breaking system for the final wild card spot (though I’m happy for you and Doc, Dave Neibart, and Adam Wiener, my favorite Giants fans), because a more just result would have given Brett a platform of sufficient gravity on which to take his final bows, if that’s what he’ll have done last night in Chicago.

    I guess we’ll go through another off-season of speculation on Favre’s intentions. Based on what I saw in the second half this year, I hope he comes back for one more shot at the big dance and the chance to obliterate every QB record in the NFL book.

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