Sherwood's Notebook: 'Grumpy New Year!' | NBC4 Washington
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Sherwood's Notebook: 'Grumpy New Year!'

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    Somewhere around 3 o'clock on New Year's Day, your Notebook stopped with the greeting that by then had become all too grating.

    "Happy New Year" apparently is the legally required conversational dollop starting a day or so after we've run "Merry Christmas" into the ground.

    Now, we're about a week after New Year's. You're probably already starting to rethink that new gym membership you gave yourself. The gym is too crowded and three times a week is starting to feel like a slog, not a self-improvement campaign.

    The only good news here is that those gym "newbies" will burn out by the end of February. The cardio equipment won't be so crowded. That means you won't need that extra sweat wipe-down that you should be doing for germs but aren't.

    And we've got an old country song lyric — "another day older and deeper in debt" — that could be our anthem for 2016. If you follow reporting in the national media, old-line pensions are dead,

    Social Security is suspect for future generations and private savings accounts like 401(k)s are less than adequate for the coming retirement boom. That's in part because too many people dip into them early at great damage to long-term, dollar-cost-averaging benefits.

    (History note: The debt lyric above comes from the 1946 tune "Sixteen Tons." This past March, the Library of Congress added the 1955 version by Tennessee Ernie Ford to its annual collection of culturally important songs in the National Recording Registry. The registry is only 15 years old. About 425 recordings have been selected so far. You can see the list of last year's additions online here. Also on that list is the first album by Joan Baez, who happens to turn 75 this weekend. And just to pile on, Elvis would have been 80 this Friday.)

    But out with all this old, and back to the all-new 2016.

    Have you started, or abandoned, your new diet for 2016?

    The Notebook has a few political diets for 2016 we want to share. None has approval from the FDA, the FTC, the CPSC, the FSIS or anyone of dozens of government agencies.

    Here they are:

    ■ "Racine's no-praise-for-you" diet. At year's end, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine issued a press release, effusively praising Ward 5 D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie for the new law requiring police to wear body cameras and the liberal rules for making that video public.

    "Councilmember McDuffie was the indispensable intellectual and political force behind ensuring that the District would set a national standard for police body cameras," the glowing release declared.

    But what about Mayor Muriel Bowser, who pushed the cameras begun under former Mayor Vincent Gray and compromised a lot to accept McDuffie's version of public disclosure? Racine barely cited Bowser, noting only in passing that she signed the law.

    Many believe it was just another indication of the two deepening their political disrespect toward Bowser, portending future clashes.

    ■ "I'm-not-a-politician" diet. As we begin the 2016 campaign for six council seats and assorted other elections, keep this one, slimming thing in mind. If any candidate announces he or she is running because they're "not a politician," you can be sure that's their first lie. They may not be a veteran politician. They may not be a corrupt one, or a good one. But by signing up to run they've become a politician. If they don't recognize that reality, what other games will they play?

    ■ "Kinda-environment-friendly" diet. The District had done a good thing to impose a five-cent fee on plastic bags. Just a casual observation of carryouts, food stores and our rivers shows a significant reduction in their use. And as of a week ago, the city has taken the next step with a ban on polystyrene, better known by the brand name Styrofoam.

    But most environmentalists will tell you the city really will be serious about reducing its trash problems when and if it enacts a bottle/can bill with mandatory deposits for the tens of thousands of bottles and cans that end up in our trash stream and rivers. Only 10 states have such laws. Hawaii was the last to adopt one years ago.

    The beverage industry helped kill a bottle bill vote here in 1987.

    ■ A final word. January really is a diet and fitness month for us at NBC4. This weekend is the 23rd annual NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Yours truly will be at the NBC4 booth from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Come join us.


    Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.