As I write this article, 2006 is about 35 hours away. Its time to wrap up the old and ring in the new; time to put finishing flourishes and touches on that most indelible of human conventions, the New Year's resolution. And while I do have a fairly lengthy list of resolutions -- the "dos," "don'ts," and "you bloody well better nots" for the coming 52 weeks, they are things best kept between me, my wife Annie, and our family. Hope you understand . . . discretion, valor . . . the gentleman's code . . . all that sort of thing.
What I do wish to make public is my New Year's Wish List; things I would give a lung, a liver and a pancreas gland to see happen. In an order that is only fathomable to myself and my nearest and dearest:
- I long to see my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series. Its been far, far too long between sips of champagne, and they owe that supreme victory to me, my late father Henry, my fellow Dodger fanatic Mel Levine, and all of us who have been "bleeding" tribal blue for the past 48 (!) seasons.
- I look forward to attending the swearing in of Harry Reid as the new Senate Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House of Representatives. In order for this wish to occur, of course, that will mean that we Democrats will once again have a majority in Congress. And toward this end, I pledge time, tenacity and whatever talent I may have.
- It would thrill be no end to wake up one day in this new year and discover that there are less than a handful of American troops remaining in Iraq, that Saddam Hussein has been drawn and quartered, and that Osama bin Laden is in American custody -- thanks, perhaps, to the Israeli Mossad.
- Speaking of Israel: nothing could bring greater gladness to my heart than to hear that the rest of the world has finally come to understand that all humanity benefits by having a safe, secure Jewish State. How so? Well, given the opportunity to live their lives with peace and hope, Israel could get back to doing what it does best: mastering new technologies, discovering new cures for age-old diseases, and acting as the world's intellectual main-frame.
- I'm anxious to pick up my morning newspaper and read that Congress has raised the federal minimum wage to at least $8.50 -- if not $10.00 -- an hour. Yes, yes, I can just hear all the moaning and groaning from the business community and their Republican cheerleaders: "But raising the minimum wage will eliminate jobs!!" Guess again Groucho. Right now, a day-and-a-half before the fireworks go off, twenty-one of the fifty states have already established a minimum wage that exceeds that of the feds. And you know what? In all twenty-one states, they report a significant gain in overall job growth.
- I pray that the words "liberal" and "conservative" will stop being used as surrogates for, respectively, "demonic, atheistic, latte-sipping libertines" and "bigoted, mean-spirited, troglodytic elitists." I look forward to what is essentially a return to the past; a past when political discourse actually involved the reasoned exchange of ideas and points of view. I long to get away from political discourse as a "take-no-prisoners" bloodsport. I also sincerely hope and pray that conservatives will start acting more like conservatives [i.e., favoring balanced budgets and responsible management] and that liberals will, likewise, start acting more like liberals [namely, doing their utmost to help secure America's vast bounty for all citizens, and not just those who are already in the top 1%.]
- I truly yearn to see the time when a handful with incredibly loud, truculent voices are no longer able to drown out the voices of the many. Then, perhaps, we will be get back on the road to progress, where scientists can do their stem-cell research in peace and explore the bounds of human history, and we are no longer waylaid with debates over whether the expression "Happy Holidays" is really just code for "the death of Christianity."
- I hunger for an America that rejects both plutocracy and theocracy; an America in which religion spurs us on to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and provide for the orphan and widow. I thirst for an America in which we no longer hear that God is a Republican, that Jesus favors an end to the Capital Gains Tax, or that the Gates of Heaven are off limits to those who neither believe nor practice in a particular way.
- Along the same lines, I fervently wish that in this coming year, America's moral watchdogs will finally start showing some consistency in their sense of moral outrage. How so? To wit: how is it that those who bang the gong against a president who has an illicit relationship with a woman not his wife [a blatant moral wrong that is between him, his wife and God] and thereby seek to have him removed from office, remain oddly passive and mute when it comes to a president who lies about why the nation is at war and permits private citizens to be spied upon illegally [both of which are legal torts that, although they might not get one thrown out of Heaven, can easily send one to Leavenworth]? My outrage at the inconsistency in the level of our moral watchdogs outrage is as old as time. Indeed, it was Juvenal, the 2nd century Roman satirist who had both the first and the last word on the subject: quis custodiet ipsos custodes? -- namely, "Who will guard the guards themselves?"
- In the coming year, I of course pray for the health, welfare, prosperity and progress of the greatest country on earth. And may we so live our lives, as to be truly worthy of all the manifold -- and manifest -- blessings which have been granted to us.
Best wishes for a sane and successful 2006!
Kurt F, Stone
[P.S. And Mel, let's make plans for the World Series. I mean, with the addition of Garciaparra, Kent, Furcal, Mueller Lofton, Tomko, et al, how can the Dodgers lose? Perhaps by keeping the same ownership!]