Getting back to abnormal

The end of the year. A good time for a sunshine-lollipop-happy face spin on the state of the U.S.A. in the aftermath of the Bummer in the Summer. Such a spin is possible when you consider these six points:

1) The only new terrorist attack since 9-11 has been this X-Files-like anthrax episode, a seriously annoying and genuinely frightening development that probably was the work of opportunistic domestic sociopaths, as opposed to al-Qaidans.

2) There was an outpouring of charitable donations in the aftermath of 9-11, the likes of which have never been seen in the history of people giving away money.

3) October was the greatest month ever in the history of U.S. car and truck sales, thanks to aggressive incentive strategies combined with the public’s desire to support.

4) Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq indexes have bounced back to be higher than their marks on Sept. 10 and could well be higher than 10,000 and 2,000 respectively, by the time you read this.

5) The unarguably corrupt and brutal Taliban regime, a government that we now know was blatantly manipulated by the Osamists, has been toppled and scattered, with a new government for Afghanistan ready to take charge, one that will be dramatically more attuned to the world community.

6) Our military losses have been ridiculously tiny—a couple of choppers down, a B-1 ditched in the ocean (although there’s nothing tiny about that plane’s $280 million price tag) and only a handful of deaths, most of those due to friendly fire.

Really, things aren’t goin’ too bad. Yes, Mr. Ashcroft has shown a certain zeal that has forced millions to say “Down, boy,” but that stuff is nippable and correctable if people continue to pay attention and squeal loudly.

The main point being that when you take into account the considerable doom and gloom that was floating around in our part of the world a scant three months ago, the ole U.S.A. is showing some very rubbery resiliency. As a macho bonus, we’ve also erased, for at least a few years, any zany notions other nations may have recently talked themselves into believing about our armed forces being gutless, soft, vulnerable and trembly. If anything, our military has shown itself to be … scary. They better be, for the money they’re getting out of us.

As it has turned out, the general flow of life now seems very close to the norm we took for granted during those good ole days before 9-11. It appears the American gyroscope, which seemed extremely wobbly on, say, 9-13, is spinning again with a reassuring tightness and speed. Yes, there’s no getting around the reality that our security factor (or insecurity factor) now vibrates at a different, slightly more malevolent frequency.

But overall, December 2001 felt a whole lot like December 2000, especially out here in the West. Which, if you stopped to notice, was just fine.