Oliver North
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WASHINGTON -- It's "Auld Lang Syne" time again. Robert Burns is credited with "collecting" the lyrics for the old Scottish drinking and dancing ballad that's become a traditional part of New Year's festivities. The most memorable verses -- "should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind" and the chorus, "for auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup o' kindness yet for auld lang syne" -- are often described as reminders of "the good old times" amid new beginnings. That's a tough task this year. Saying goodbye to 2012 won't be hard. But looking forward with hope for a better year in 2013 is a real challenge.

Peering into a chasm from the edge of the "fiscal cliff" isn't the way most of us wanted to end the first dozen years of the 21st century. We all know it's the nature of government to grow in size, power and expense. But how many of us really expected that the fools in Washington would drown our progeny in a sea of deficits, debt and ever-higher taxes? Nobody I know expected the Internal Revenue Service to become the dominant fixture in our lives.

As 2012 began, did anyone anticipate it would become "The Year of the Cover-up"? Who believed the year would end with more emphasis on banning personally owned firearms than deterring our adversaries from acquiring nuclear weapons? Did anyone anticipate that our constitutionally protected freedoms would fall under the purview of the United Nations? A year ago, who among us expected we still would face the prospect of prolonged global recession, radical Islamic chaos in the Middle East, and endless genocide in Syria?

But as we ring out 2012 and welcome 2013, that's where we are. So as we "take a cup o' kindness yet for auld lang syne," what should we expect in the new year ahead -- apprehension or anticipation? Frequent readers of this column know I suffer from a severe case of chronic optimism. Clip and save this column until next year so you can rate my powers of prognostication:

--Fiscal cliff. The potentates of pork on the Potomac will kick the can down the road without breaking their toes. Taxes will go up for all of us, and Warren Buffett will pronounce it to be a good thing. The incredibly selfish baby boomers will demand that their "entitlements" and "benefits" not be cut -- but they will be anyway. Small businesses, the engine of our economy, will sputter -- and find new ways to survive but not prosper. Washington's political class will be glad 2013 is not an election year. Many will regret not following Sen. Jim DeMint into more productive endeavors.

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Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.