My New Year's resolutions:
I resolve to worry more about Pakistan's 75-weapon nuclear stockpile than about global warming. I am more worried about being incinerated by a loose nuke than I am about the water table rising a few feet.
Yet, I also resolve to worry more about global warming than about democracy in Pakistan. Democracy is wonderful, but only for people who want it and who are willing to play by its rules. Democracy without self-discipline is a formula for, well, Pakistan.
I further resolve to focus more on who gets into America from scary countries - such as Pakistan. And I wish the federal government would do so, too, although I am not confident. For example, four months after 9/11, in January 2002, a Pakistani by the name of Shabbir Ahmed, holding a long record of pro-terrorist/anti-American statements, was given a "religious worker" visa and allowed to come to the United States and lead a mosque in Lodi, Calif.
Was that such a good idea? Apparently not. In 2005, Ahmed, suspected of keeping up his terrorist ties, was arrested and finally deported.
So maybe the Department of Homeland Security can have its own resolution: to err on the side of caution on behalf of protecting Americans, not on the side of free expression for jihadis.
I have more resolutions, specifically for this election year:
I resolve to support candidates in 2008 who take seriously what the preamble of the Constitution sets forth: "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense." Speaking of which, I resolve to vote for people who understand that it's idiotic to send hundreds of billions of dollars a year in oil money to countries that alternate between disliking us and wanting to kill us. It's hard to find any nonlobbyist American who thinks that our current energy "policy" is a good idea, but it's hard to find a politician who speaks credibly of an alternative.
In addition, I resolve to support candidates who understand that there are two kinds of competitiveness: economic and military. And if I had to choose one, I'd choose the latter - military. I can deal with a recession, and so can you. But none of us can afford to lose a war.
If we need to spend more money on defense, so be it. But more to the point, we need to mobilize our technological and industrial base - and concentrate on keeping both here at home. Do you think it matters that Honda has built a robot that can play the violin? Do you think there's a military application to such niftyness? I do, and so do the Japanese. Imagine if we had 'bots on the ground in Iraq, as opposed to boots on the ground.
Finally, I resolve to love my country all the more, and to remember that freedom isn't free, that liberty isn't license, that democracy means keeping the fools out of power.