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And so another year scuttles by. Like almost all years, this one is so checkered and mottled and diverse, it’s hard to really evaluate. All the many hopeful signs of progress and achievement have been greatly offset by troubles, ominous signs and tragedies. Is the world a better place than it seemed 12 months ago? Your answer, like mine, may depend greatly on your place in this world – and whether you’ve moved forward, lost ground or simply held your own.

Among hopeful indicators, I list the apparent growing success of “the surge” in Iraq, and the lessening of the body count, particularly American bodies. Sadly, a lot of the violence continues, as Iraqis slaughter other Iraqis in senseless, random detonations and suicide explosions – and our fine young patriots still live in constant danger as they try their utmost to secure a peaceful democracy for that long-plagued people. But al-Qaida has been beaten back, discredited, exposed for the brutal malignancy it is, and both Sunni and Shiite factions have had more than enough of that doomed movement.

I’m neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I predict,: Gen. Petraeus and our military will prevail and gain the respect of the majority of Iraqis, with a major lessening of American presence there in the coming months, and a grudging acknowledgement that the Middle East is indeed safer, somewhat saner, and overall a bloody, but worthwhile, success of U.S. foreign policy, against seemingly insurmountable odds and opposition. President Bush, when he retires to Crawford, Texas, may not be given universal credit or acclaim, but history will chalk up the campaign and its results as an American benefit to the world.

Insane, hate-filled jihadist terrorism is still, and will continue to be, a very serious and growing worldwide threat. But it has been challenged, exposed and, in places, even checkmated, at least for now, and that should be hopeful to the rest of the sane world.

Illegal immigration carries over into the new year as one of our most serious societal and political problems. It’s spotlighted and put near the top of the list in the roiling election cycle, as economists, educators, medical experts – and, not least, an aroused American citizenry – finally sound the alarm, saying “We’ve got to fix this, now, or our ship will sink!” It wasn’t political opponents in the Democratic Congress that scrapped the president’s amnesty bill; it was rank-and-file citizens across the nation who commanded their representatives to scrap it! Increasingly, our nation (including a majority of naturalized citizens) realized no other country in the world – certainly including Mexico – would allow 12 to 14 million aliens to pour over its borders, set up residency and start demanding health care, education, jobs and other privileges of citizenship without even registering or bothering to learn the native language.

And so, in the coming year, I predict: As informed and reasoning Americans demand that laws be enforced, and demand that candidates for our presidency be explicit on what they’d do to solve this massive, out of control dilemma, both political parties will have to nominate law-and-order candidates who will promise to register every resident, legal or illegal, and send illegal aliens back to the end of the line where they belong. Those who don’t comply will be sent packing, while those who do will have a chance to gain citizenship legally, though most will have to return to their country of origin while the process takes its course. And every employer who doesn’t check on the legality of employees will pay a serious price, even jail for repeated refusal or neglect. The invasion must be stopped, reversed and made unprofitable for all who would continue it. Laws that are not enforced are no laws at all.


So – while I’m at it – what about the election itself?

Well, only a fool would venture specific predictions right on the brink of all the traffic jam of caucuses and primaries, with so many candidates still jostling and jockeying for position. But I’ll rush in anyway, perhaps solidifying my credentials as a fool. I predict: The Democrats will finally realize they’re not the only ones voting, and that Hillary is quite simply unelectable, with rock-solid negatives that rule her out. They’ll nominate Obama and Edwards, one for prez and the other for veep; toss a coin.

Republicans will do the same with Huckabee and Romney – at this point, I think in the reverse because of Romney’s proven managerial and administrative expertise. They will together pledge to cut spending, enforce the laws already prescribed by our Constitution, keep our military strong and the economy righting itself, plug up the holes in our borders and immigration policy, set a new tone of morality and traditional patriotism – and will be elected. How’s that for going out on a limb?

And while I’m out here on this tenuous perch, here’s a strong hunch, not a prophecy: Sometime in the coming 12 months, a dramatic breakthrough will occur in the source and development of alternative energy, likely hydrogen, freeing us from dependence on oil and its larcenous suppliers. It will take time to change over, but it will start relentlessly in 2008.

I believe the economy will start shrugging off its confusion and anxiety, with our realization that other countries believe in us more than we currently believe in ourselves, as they rush in to buy up pieces of American industry at bargain prices. Somehow, our economy always seems to flourish in election years, and I don’t think this new year will be an exception.

I think the seditious ACLU will have its pointed ears beaten back by conservative legal groups who are mounting real constitutional opposition to its incessant campaign to remove any mention of God or vestige of our religious heritage from public life. This ridiculously misnamed group has overplayed its hand and been exposed as a very well-funded organization that not only doesn’t defend the civil liberties of most Americans, but actually undermines them, at virtually every turn. The ACLU and like groups won’t go away, but they’ll have to return to less obvious ploys.

And, as a concurrent development, I feel a Reaganesque groundswell forming out there in the hinterlands, a yearning for a more truly American society, one that honors morality and neighborliness and family values. Like the long-nosed puppet in the tale of Pinocchio who ventured onto Pleasure Island, we’ve gotten our bellies full of frothy, unhealthy, normally forbidden junk food – of an endless media-mad, forced diet of spoiled little girls, drunken car crashes and drug rehabs, TV and movie regurgitations of every foul activity humans can dream up, defamation of religion and real patriotism, cynicism and atheism and outright hatred – and we’re looking for a new diet of healthy, nourishing and truly satisfying substance, things that promise and promote life worth living.

That’s what I’m looking for – and predicting hopefully that we’ll find – in the year ahead.

May God bless us everyone.

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