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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year! New Year's Wishes for 2008

I'm back from a whirlwind Brady-bunch style vacation in Hawaii and in between being on the beach in Waikiki at 4:30 AM to grab prime towel space and the long flight times I'm exhausted. Still, I did have time to think about some New Year's hopes and dreams.

1) Let's elect one of these people above.The New Yorker this week aptly describes the Democratic front-runners as The Mod Squad (here's a pic for you youngsters who don't get the reference): (Clockwise from top, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama) and I'll take any one of these three. Looking at the parade of has-beens, hacks, and fanatics of both the religious and secular stripe running on the Republican side it's almost enough to make an agnostic pray.

2) Get our brave men and women out of Iraq! The United States looks more and more like a paper tiger as long as we are pinned down in an intractable civil war.

3) No more movie threesomes (or foursomes). In the film world good things come in twos...maybe. Godfather III, Spiderman 3, Shrek The Third, Smokey and the Bandit 3: Smokey is The Bandit... need I go on? The Bourne Ultimatum is the exception that proves the rule.

4) While we're at it, resolve the writers' strike Hollywood! For the peanuts (or walnuts in head writer Rob Petrie's case above) the writers are asking for the producers could get back to business -- especially as the networks bleed viewers and the next humongo-budgeted abominable remake is greenlit (perhaps The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Movie starring Jim Carrey as Rob and Renee Zellweger as Laura.)

5) Enough already with Abe Foxman (above)! As leader of the Anti-Defamation League he theoretically does a service by publicly rooting out anti-Semitism in its myriad forms. However, like the Pope's denunciation of The Golden Compass (a film our erstwhile correspondent Cletus described to me today as incomprehensible), Foxman seems to be more interested in rooting out publicity for himself. Case in point: The ridiculous mini-fracas over Will Smith's perfectly innocent and quite sensible comments about Adolf Hitler. Smith said: "Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today.' I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good.'" Only a moron could interpret that as somehow condoning Hitler. The real crime here was the lousy writing of the staff writer for Scotland's Daily Record newspaper who set up Smith's thoughtful observation with the line "Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good." Actually, what Will Smith was saying is that everyone has the capacity for self-deception, something Abe Foxman and others should have thought about before forcing Smith to issue a totally unnecessary apology.

6) Cherish our right to make choices. Especially for minorities, the right to have an active say and to vote in the political process of the United States and in many countries around the world is a precious thing. Some, like Benazir Bhutto, have given their lives for that right. My grandmother was born into a world in which her mother didn't have the right to vote. It's a simplification of what was a complex political life but for me Benazir Bhutto stands for the idea of the secular democratic rule of law -- one which sees no boundaries of gender and race.

7) Energy independence. Firstly it will save us from the sanctimony of people who buy full-sized hybrid SUVs (like the Chevy Tahoe pulling up to New York's Chelsea Piers above). Now of course the Bush/Cheney cronies in the oil and gas lobby think this means drilling all over the United States but we need to break the oil habit for good and come up with entirely new, clean energy sources on our own here. The government could spend even a fraction of what they have on Iraq and reap greater benefits to the environment and to national security.

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