2008 has been a big year. It saw the advent of this blog, for instance, the end of the Bush fiasco, the rise of Sarah Palin, the publication of my friend’s novel, the financial collapse, and, what is worse for me, the collapse of the MTA’s budget. This year also saw the rise of a bright new star on the burlesque scene, and I am not talking about Trixie Little’s hate monkey. I’m talking about J. D. Oxblood, the star reporter for this blog, who in his first six months as a cub reporter has earned the love — if not the respect — of a sizable percentage of women in New York City between the ages of 32 and 35. Seriously, read the comments appended to his post on Jo Boobs’ school of burlesque graduation show. He has more hot, female Facebook friends than you. No doubt.

Some things are the same from year to year. Israel is still using asymetrical force as its core domestic policy. Americans are still addicted to cars, reality TV, and idiots. But an air of hope, the first one felt blowing in this new century, came on November 4th. It is my passionate hope that the man will rise to the urgency of our unprecedented historical situation and put America — the greatest country in the world — back on the path of greatness. For too long self-righteous selfishness and cruel egotism have been called “conservative” and a political good. The boomers started life with the mantra “if it feels good do it” and they spent their adult years saying “if you can get away with it, do it.” It’s time we rise above the narrow self interest characteristic of the late 20th century and regain what was lost with the rise of Goldwater and Reagan: a commitment to the public weal.

I am going to make a confession, right now, right here that may surprise many of you who know me personally. 2008 made me reevaluate what I call myself. I always thought I was a big city liberal. But between the Big Three bailout and Eliot Spitzer I no longer feel comfortable calling myself “liberal”. Of course, I would never call myself “conservative” because in my mind that means anti-intellectual, self-righteous, and perverse. But true conservative values — modest self-esteem, intellectual curiosity, self-knowledge, self-reliance, love of community and love of liberty — look more and more attractive everyday. To me that means graduated taxes so that those who benefit most from the community pay back into it their fair share, linking the privilege of owning a private vehicle with the responsibility of maintaining public transportation, and teaching children that the greatest learning is to acquire faith, virtue, patience, temperance, and the soul of all the rest, love. And the greatest knowledge is how to make your deeds answer to what you have learned. That is what I believe in.

This is my wishlist for 2009:

  1. An Obama stimulus package that requires one dollar spent on public transport — including a national high speed, light rail system — for every dollar spent on highways. In the same vein, federal money for GM and Ford must be used to retool their plants to make train carriages, trolley cars, and fully electric cars.
  2. Much tighter environmental regulation. I’m all for putting the coal companies out of business. From Matewan to the Emory River spill, coal companies have been a public menace. The government must shut them down and move us to non-carbon based energy creation now, in the next year, before Big Coal can rally the fear and ignorance of their supporters — that is the people whose very lives they impoverish and endanger.
  3. Much tighter financial regulation. Reagonomics has reached the end of its life. Put it to sleep.
  4. Completely revamp the tax code. Take out loopholes, make the top 1% give back half to pay for their children’s future, and show the people that we’re all in this together. Of course, to do that the Congress and the President must show that …
  5. Pork will be stripped from the Federal budget. I know this sounds like a pipe dream. Our leaders are as venal and corrupt as they can be. But we have no one to blame but ourselves. We elected them, and they gave us what we deserve. Obama is our leader. Let him follow Krugman’s advice and be the first one to show fiscal responsibility. No unsupervised spending.

Let 2009 be truly new year. Please Santa, we need these gifts more than ever.