This is a season for counting one's blessings. Here is my partial list:
-- The world is rid of one of the most vile, depraved dictators in human history. His regime no longer tortures and rapes people by the thousands, nor encourages acts of murder in other nations by financing bombers, nor trains terrorists, nor encourages radicalism in the Middle East.
Because he is gone, 60,000 Iraqi children under the age of five will not die this year, as they have done for the more than 10 years since sanctions were imposed following the Gulf War (UNICEF figures), and Saddam will not be in a position to share weapons of mass destruction with his friends in Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Those ties, stretching back 10 years, are documented in The Weekly Standard magazine.
-- We can be grateful that Saddam's WMD program was not as far along as we had feared. Thought experiment: Suppose, through a well-placed phone tap, we had been able to thwart the Sept. 11 hijackers on Sept. 10, 2001. Is there any doubt that many in the chattering class would have complained that there was no hard proof that these men were planning anything? Others would have accused us of anti-Muslim bias. Still others would have complained that the ends don't justify the means: Just because we thought these guys might be planning mass murder is no excuse to trample on their civil liberties.
Well, we are in that position now. Saddam has been beaten and driven from power. Just as we would never have known for sure what Mohammad Atta had planned if we'd captured him before Sept. 11, we'll never fully know what havoc Saddam was capable of, though we have strong reason to believe it was severe. And therefore, despite the naysayers, we have reason to be grateful.
-- Adoption is thriving in America with ever-greater numbers of children finding permanence in adoptive families. The number of kids languishing in foster care has been reduced in recent years. Those wishing to open their homes to another child can find out more at www.AdoptUSKids.org .
-- The U.S. economy grew at the astounding pace of 8.2 percent in the third quarter of this year. If growth continues at 4 percent or higher for the next four quarters, George W. Bush will cruise to re-election.
-- Technology is giving us more life. Is that extreme? I don't think so. Technology frees us from drudgery and waiting. Instead of standing in line at the bank between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., we bank electronically. Instead of spending three quarters of an hour on the telephone comparing prices for airfare, we can look up all the carriers and prices online in seconds. Instead of rushing home to wait for an important phone call, we talk on a cell phone anywhere we like. Instead of driving to the library to examine the card catalogue, we log on to the library's database and check to see if the book we want is available. Instead of racking our brains and scouring our records for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe, we go to www.Epicurious.com and discover more recipes than we'll ever have time to cook.
So by freeing up our time for more important or pleasurable activities, technology gives the gift of life.
-- Advances in medical science permit my 10-year-old son, David, who has Type I diabetes, to eat pretty much the way other people do. Though he must still count carbs and take a shot before every meal or snack, he is freed from the rigidity of timed meals and carefully weighed and measured portions. This leaves him extra time to play the trumpet, zone out over the PlayStation, read "Treasure Island," become catatonic in front of the TV and memorize "I am the very model of a modern major general" (he can even carry a tune!).
-- We have the world's most wonderful neighbors.
-- Benjamin has discovered the sport of wrestling, which he fits into a schedule already packed with homework and piano. Jonathan thinks he'd like to work in a zoo.
-- We have the world's cutest and most winsome dog. Don't write and contest this. It's established fact. Teddy is a 9-month-old Keeshond who loves bananas, car rides, his Golden Retriever brother and my company. What taste!