The First Face of Janus
The year began with an outpouring of help for the victims of the tsunami late in 2004. For the first time, the United States had a chance to help the Muslim nations in the Pacific, and good work was done there, with former Presidents Bush and Clinton leading the appeal.
After a bizarre DNA sweep of the Town of Truro, District Attorney Mike O’Keefe was able to find the murderer of Christa Worthington, her garbage man, who will stand trial shortly. Whether this will be enough to dismiss images of him presented by a rubbishy book will be known next year.
Cape Cod was blanketed in an unprecedented snowfall, requiring the National Guard to dig out streets in some outer Cape communities. This was excellent rehearsal for the freak windstorm that hit us at the end of the year, upending our most ancient trees from their tenuous hold on our sand spit.
Indeed, the year had a bizarre variety of natural disasters, from the Florida hurricanes to the Gulf Coast disasters. For the first time, the Weather Service ran out of names, and began using the Greek alphabet to name storms. Despite the various scandals and finger pointing, there was minor loss of life compared to the scale of the catastrophes, and we were able to help our own people as well as we had helped those abroad, with Gov. Romney opening a refugee center at Camp Edwards for evacuees.
Victory was snatched from the jaws of BRAC defeat, and the Otis Base will remain open – in what capacity remains to be seen.
There were three successful elections held in Iraq, spelling the beginning of the end of the US military effort there. Each election had a better turnout, with the December elections having participation of almost 80% of the registered voters. Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurd all voted, and a coalition government will be formed as a result. The ongoing trial of Saddam Hussein by his Iraqi peers strengthens the fledgling government.
Rep. Demetrius Atsalis repaid the Cape Cod Time’s endorsement of him on the grounds that he had ‘grown in his office’ by staging a golf party and giving the money to a not-quite-existent charity. The Times has not pursued this, perhaps hoping that he may grow up some more before they will be forced to report on him again.
With the death of Pope Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI, US Catholics lost hope for a liberalization of their Church. At the same time, growing friction between rigid secular humanists and emotional religious conservatives saw the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance and Evolution all drawn through the Courts, culminating in a virtual battle over the proper name for the 25th of December.
The Cape Cod fishing community was devastated by the most virulent red tide for many years, and was helped out primarily through the good offices of Lower/Outer Cape Outreach and the Interfaith Council, whose relief efforts proved far superior to government help.
The first year of George Bush’s four year term saw an increasing unwillingness on the part of Congressional Democrats to admit that he is President and will remain so for three more years. John Roberts was confirmed as the new Chief Justice, and Samuel Alito was nominated for a vacancy, but only after tremendous wrangling. While Scooter Libby has been dismissed over the Valerie Plame scandal, Karl Rove is still a Presidential advisor, and Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.
The first, and foremost, District Attorney for the Cape & Islands, Phillip Rollins, died at the end of the year, leaving behind colleagues of both parties, reaching far beyond the legal community he helped to found and define.
Massachusetts, by virtue of legislative shenanigans, continued as the first state in the nation to recognize gay marriage. Like a vampire, the issue is not dead, and may spring to life again in 2006 and 2008, cannibalizing those legislative sessions.
The Assembly of Delegates flexed its muscles in preparation for Tom Bernardo’s County Commissioner run by creating a new Wastewater Authority and a new Human Rights Commission. It remains to be seen if these will enhance or detract from Mr. Bernardo’s popularity, but he will certainly take credit for them.
The subway bombings in London and the riots in the French Muslim slums surrounding Paris made Europe realize that international jihad was not an exclusively American problem.
In retrospect, the watchword for 2005 is dissention. One of Porcupine’s favorite memories of the year is arguing with Jack Coleman about the Terry Schiavo matter. Jack felt that the husband was untrustworthy, and the parents should be given custody to care for their daughter if they chose, and her life support should be sustained. Porcupine felt that there was a clear statute that gave the legal authority to the husband, and that the infringement of the state and Federal governments into a private family matter was a matter of gross intrusion. After arguing all through dinner, and driving Jack to a train station, we still continued to argue for another half hour in the car, until a security guard began to give us the fish eye, and we realized it was time to quit. I didn’t change his mind, and he didn’t change mine – but at least our disagreement remained respectful and thoughtful. Looking back over the year, I wish that all the divergence of opinion that runs through the year like veins through marble had only been as honest as our dispute. May 2006 allow us to disagree like ladies and gentlemen, and devil take the hindmost!