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Stephen Gottlieb: My wishes for 2013

Since the next two Tuesdays fall on Christmas and New Year’s Day when this station will be airing special holiday programming, I need to get my New Year’s wishes in now.

So for the New Year:

I wish the appointment of many more federal judges – the confirmation process has fallen victim to an escalation of politics, with Republican senators blocking nominations at much higher rates than Democrats had during Republican presidencies. But justice delayed is often justice denied. We need more judges, and we need a judiciary that reflects America, not the Senate minority’s effort to turn the judiciary into an avatar of their political ideas.

I wish a decline in our national polarization into Red and Blue, as if we were teams of immature campers engaged in color wars and much too serious about our competition and too dismissive of each other.

I wish that people will be able finally to get back to work, and I wish some good sense in handling the economy and a recognition by the economic amateurs who have been dominating our politics that Keynes and Krugman have a great deal to say that real economists respect, and more, that ignoring their message, and Robert Reich’s too, threatens more serious consequences for this country even than a prolonged recession with millions still out of work.

I wish a mature handling of the Muslim world, that doesn’t treat tact as equivalent to surrender or assume that “they” will get our message only if we raise our voices higher and make our language more strident.

I wish the Israelis and the Palestinians and everyone else in that neighborhood will come to their senses and show the respect for peace that they each claim in their language and their scriptures, Shalom, and Salaam.

I had a sister that I never met; she died at three. But I know what that did to my parents. In the wake of the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, I wish that parents never have to experience such loss. As a colleague said to me at a wake, “Parents shouldn’t have to do this.” I pray they don’t. My heart grieves also for the adults who died – good dedicated people whose loss will leave huge holes in the lives of many. May none of us lose our loved ones, adults as well as children, to senseless killing.

My fondest wishes for my own family encompass all of you too, because for them, for my little granddaughters, and new nieces and nephews, I wish they can grow up in a hospitable environment, that the floods, hurricanes, droughts, heat and the pests that go with it, will stay away from them, and that we will somehow grow sufficiently wise and mature to stop this slide into environmental disaster that threatens to embitter their lives.

For them and for all of you, I wish Shalom and Salaam, or as Pete Seeger has put it, “Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa!”

Steve Gottlieb is Jay and Ruth Caplan Distinguished Professor of Law at Albany Law School and author of Morality Imposed: The Rehnquist Court and Liberty in America. He has served on the Board of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and in the US Peace Corps in Iran.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not reflect the views of this station or its management.