Labor Day marks the official end of summer. Schools and colleges are all open. Temperatures drop, and days grow shorter. Seasons are changing, and so, too, are we. If you think about it, Labor Day, not Jan.1, in the middle of winter, is the real New Year's — which means resolutions.
Here are a few of my "New Year's resolutions":
I resolve to never again speak to private-equity billionaire Steve Schwarzman — whom I have never met. Schwarzman compared President Obama's threat to raise his and his colleagues' taxes from a special rate of 15 percent to the 35 percent paid by people earning one-hundredth he does to war: "It's like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939." Anybody who compares somebody — other than Pol Pot — to Adolf Hitler deserves the cold shoulder in perpetuity.
I resolve to settle on one place to leave my keys.
I resolve to try to find out why during Bill Clinton's presidency, when the individual tax rate for the highest earners was 39.6 percent, the number of private-sector jobs increased by 21,844,000, but after eight White House years of George W. Bush, when those tax rates on the highest earners were cut dramatically, there were 673,000 fewer Americans employed in the private sector.
I resolve to meet that married couple whose previously solid marriage broke up after a lesbian couple moved into the neighborhood.
I resolve to put on my car the bumper-sticker of the candidate who is honest and courageous enough to meet the challenge of the respected, late Republican economist Herb Stein, who said: "We either have to get rid of the federal budget deficit or we have to get rid of the idea that we have to get rid of the federal budget deficit."
I resolve not to summarily dismiss as a total intellectual lightweight anyone who uses his or her Twitter account to tweet what a great yogurt he or she had for breakfast.
I will find and interview the 2010 candidate audacious enough to challenge the press to "ask my mud-slinging opponent one question: Have you been faithful to that unsightly toad you married?"
I resolve to find out who, other than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Rosie O'Donnell, graduated from the charm school founded and operated by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell
I promise to be more considerate and compassionate toward political candidates, who do very publicly face the voters' final judgment on Nov. 2. After all, as the late college basketball coach Abe Lemon, a veteran of another profession where people see you publicly lose, used to observe: "You know what they call the guy who finishes last in his class in medical school, don't you? They call him 'doctor.'"
I will remember that "close" only counts in horseshoes, dancing and hand grenades, and the difference between cannibals and liberals is that cannibals do not devour their friends.
I will forgive the wise-guy stranger who said to me, "Shields, you have the body of a god — Buddha!"
I resolve to identify and give credit to the genuinely wise man who said if Newt Gingrich in 2012 really is the answer to the Democrats' prayers, then that is a very serious indictment of either politics or religion.
I resolve to use the revolving door and not to talk to the driver while the bus is in motion. Happy New Year's.
To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.