Sunday, January 23, 2000

Some news you can lose

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        I spent New Year's Eve filling the bathtub to prepare for Y2K water shortages, even though I had enough bottled water in the basement to float the Titanic. I'm also the guy you've seen at Kroger's, buying truckloads of bread whenever a TV weatherman says the “snow” word.

        I still have canned goods boxed away in a fallout shelter from the Cuban Missile Crisis, and spend sleepless nights wondering when O.J. will catch the one-armed guy who killed his wife.

        And I am not alone.

        Millions of Americans just like me suffer from the tragic symptoms of hypermedia dementia, caused by a toxic overdose of 24-hour CNN hysteria that used to be called news. It can happen to anyone. These days you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a media personality right in his furrowed brow, while he's trying to scare the liver out of us with a report on the biohazards of used chewing gum lurking under tables in restaurants. Film at 11.

        Hardball. Crossfire. Larry King. I can't quit — even cheap rotgut like Dick Morris and James Carville.

        News junkies like me cannot be cured. It's a lifelong addiction, like Jon Benet Ramsey disease. But it's possible to recover by giving up harmful media that has no nutritional value.

        Just ask yourself: Does it mean war in my area code? Disease epidemics in my office? Higher taxes deducted from my paycheck? A sudden change in the number of items allowed in the express checkout lane, while I am waiting in line with “16 or fewer” loaves of bread and flurries are possible?

        Stories that qualify for none of the above, I've found, can safely be ignored. That way I avoid media fatigue and save precious attention for things that matter, like two-for-one Whoppers at Burger King and the Super Bowl half-time show.

        To keep my mental hard-drive from crashing, I drag several stories to the trash bin every day:

        • The Mid-East Peace Process. I have finally figured out that “peace process” is to peace what “processed cheese” is to cheddar. Pure Velveeta. The government can't give it away, because everyone knows it's mouse bait. There will be peace in the Middle East when PLO stands for Peace Loving Optimists. Until then, it's nacho concern.

        • Campaign finance. This is actually a well orchestrated conspiracy by Democrats and their many allies in the media, to replace old laws that are not enforced (see “Clinton Chinagate” and “Gore Buddhist nuns”) with new laws that won't work.

        Republicans are too stupid or wimpy to say so, but the campaign finance laws that are supposed to “get money out of politics” only get Republican money out of politics, doing nothing to curb union money that Democrats feed on.

        That's about as fair as disarming Israel, while selling tanks to the PLO (see “peace process”).

        • The Cuban boy Elian. Last time I checked, Castro had no missiles that could reach Miami, much less Loveland, Ohio. His armored division is a 1952 Chevrolet Biscayne and a 1947 Mercury — and trust me, those don't float or fly.

        Apparently, one child's liberty is more of a threat to Castro than all of Cuba is to us.

        • The also-rans. I think it is safe to say that we can now gratefully ignore all of the undercooked ideas and pompous pronouncements from Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, Orrin Hatch and Allen Keyes. Each is more likely to appear in one of those “Do you know me?” American Express ads than in a State of the Union address.

        • Ditto for the Reform Party. Compared to Pat Buchanan, Jesse Ventura and Donald Trump, I'd rather vote for Ross Perot's monkey paw that did so well pointing out our national debt in the 1992 debates.

        • The Thomas Edison Gore Museum. Unless you need a good laugh, hit the mute button on your remote whenever Al Gore says, “I invented...”

        So far, he has claimed that he invented the Internet, the Love Canal and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Unless he also invented the Wayback Machine on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, he wasn't around when any of those things were discovered. He didn't reinvent government, either. And I'm beginning to wonder who invented Al Gore.

        • Globaloney: I think Al Gore actually did invent global warming, which is caused by long lines of SUVs circling Kroger's to load up with bread. If it means no more snow, bring it on.

        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.