Only six of our grandchildren made the trek south, because so many of them had this year's version of Spanish influenza, bubonic plague or both. The kickoff for 2013 didn't turn out much better for the rest of our countrymen. The new year is now under way -- and if the next 51 weeks go anything like the first episode, this 13th annum of the 21st century is going to be a doozy.
As we kissed off 2012 with a sip of Champagne, the U.S. Congress was in the process of raising our taxes. Politicians from both parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate told us they were making "Bush-era tax cuts permanent" for "99 percent of Americans" while increasing taxes on "the top 1 percent." Within hours of 2013's beginning, the potentates of pork on the Potomac were congratulating themselves on how they had "taken care of our revenue problem" and saved us from plunging over the "fiscal cliff." At this point, you should insert the word that farmers use for what comes out of the back end of a male bovine.
Indeed, taxes will go up for Americans making more than $400,000 per year. They also will rise for all the rest of us who work and pay taxes. Federal spending likewise will continue to increase. The geniuses in our Congress also found ways in the same bill to hand government money to Hollywood movie producers, "green" motorcycle enthusiasts, windmill-makers and the distillers of Puerto Rican rum. Nothing was done to address the catastrophic federal deficit, the tsunami of debt that will drown our children or the looming collapse of the U.S. dollar when it becomes impossible for our government to pay for its unfunded liabilities. According to the Obama White House and the solons on Capitol Hill, we will deal with all those things in the future. In other words, they kicked that can down the road.
Unfortunately, the new year has given us a highway covered with cans, many the size of anvils -- and about as easy to kick. Without mixing too many metaphors, our fiscal calamity is just the tip of the 2013 iceberg; we're all aboard the Titanic, and it's the ninth inning of the Super Bowl.
While Washington's political and media elites were whining about doing their duty in D.C. and beating their gums about snake oil remedies for our financial maladies, radical Islamists were turning up the heat under the Middle East cauldron. If the first few days of January are any indication, this is going to be a very exciting year:
The ayatollahs in Tehran, Iran, celebrated the infidel new year by firing off several dozen missiles, rockets and torpedoes in the Strait of Hormuz -- and successfully distracted attention from planeloads of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force "volunteers" and munitions being flown to Damascus, Syria, via Iraq. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin received more media attention in banning Americans from adopting Russian orphans than he did for reinforcing his Mediterranean naval base at Tartus, Syria -- Bashar Assad's last refuge.
In Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated regime celebrated New Year's and Egypt's new Shariah constitution by locking up journalists and newspaper editors for "insulting" President Mohammed Morsi. Instead of condemning this abuse -- and the outrage of destroying Coptic churches, businesses, schools and homes -- the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was busy figuring out who is going to lead the committee after Sen. John Kerry heads to the State Department.
Holiday revelry and fiscal cliff fatigue also buried the Dec. 30 Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee report on the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The committee's title says it all: "Flashing Red." The 31-page report, containing 10 findings and 11 recommendations, is replete with unambiguous examples of incompetence and misfeasance that led to the death of four Americans. Despite pleas from Joe Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins, the report will be widely ignored -- even as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula offers a $160,000 bounty in gold to any jihadi who murders Gerald M. Feierstein, the U.S. ambassador in Yemen.
Apparently, none of the issues above warrants immediate attention by the legislative and executive branches of our government. But when President Barack Obama and Congress return to Washington, they promise to take aim at a really pressing issue: the Second Amendment of our Constitution.
They call it "gun control." It's not. The Second Amendment isn't negotiable. It isn't something to be handed over to the United Nations. It's not a can to be kicked down the road. It's a cornerstone. Kick it at your peril.
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.