2018 was bad on many fronts

TRAVERSE CITY — If I’m 2019, I’d be feeling pretty cocky right about now. 2018 was so bad on so many fronts — politics, journalism, human rights, environment, climate change, weather, stocks, Michigan sports, pop culture (here I’m specifically thinking of Snoop Dogg totally ruining Joker’s Wild, one of my favorite game shows from back in the day, and the fact that Anderson Cooper continues to embarrass himself and CNN with a New Year’s eve show) etc. — that 2019 can flat-out suck and still seem like a vast improvement.

– Wait. Sorry. Scratch all that. The lovely yet formidable Marcia, who gets tired of all my grousing, just reminded me (via a cuff upside the head) that my New Year’s resolution was to be more “positive” and “upbeat” this year and less sarcastic. So let me rephrase that last sentence: I’m “positive” 2019 is going to be better than 2018. Which totally sucked! (An explanation point makes it upbeat, right?)

– I’m not making any other resolutions this year. But I did take part in my #3words, which is a Twitter thing where you pick three words to serve as personal guideposts for the year. Mine are “Habits matter, dummy.” I need the reminder since I’m not terribly disciplined. So developing the habits of regular exercise, better eating, stretching, mindfulness, and thinking bigger are important. How about you?

– Does any politician ever mean it when he/she says, “We need to reach across the aisle and learn to compromise”? Maybe in the past but not today. Today, if a politician reaches across the aisle it’s to throttle an opponent.

– By the way, I know it’s hard to believe but politics is actually a lot more polite and genteel these days compared to almost any time in American history. For instance, in 1856 a Congressman named Preston Brooks savagely beat Sen. Charles Sumner with a cane over Sumner’s opposition to slavery. Afterward, Brooks was unapologetic: “Every lick went where I intended. For about the first five of six licks he offered to make flight but I plied him so rapidly that he did not touch me. Towards the last he bellowed like a calf.” Pelosi and Mitch McConnell don’t like each other much but it’s hard to see something like that happening, right?

– You didn’t ask but here are my predictions for Detroit’s pro sports teams: Tigers (worst team in baseball – they’re so bad, in fact, that the entire franchise is demoted to AAA); Lions (win the division, followed immediately by squadrons of flying pigs burying Michigan cities in poo); Pistons (trade away Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond and begin another rebuild); Red Wings (miss the playoffs). By the way, I’m never wrong about these things.

– Has anyone noticed that gas prices have been so relatively low since they spiked to $4 a gallon in 2008-2009 that no one is really noticing that a gallon is now below two bucks?

– Speaking of those loathsome years, I figure whether we have another stock market collapse and recession, despite the strong economy, is going to hinge in part on whether people with 401ks feel like Wall Street is going to do to them in 2019 what they did to them in 2009. I know I’m nervous about that and ready to put everything in my retirement account into money market funds. And if I’m feeling that way, others are, too.

“The four most dangerous words in investing are: “This time it’s different.” – Sir John Templeton.

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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him via email at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com.

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