SYNDICATED COLUMN: No News Is Bad News

The American Newspaper Goes Bye-Bye If you’re reading this in a daily newspaper, chances are that you haven’t been out much lately. You likely haven’t gotten pierced, tattooed, shoved around a mosh pit or submerged by student loans. To be precise, you’re probably about 50 years old. In 20 years, if this column is reprinted for some as-yet-unfathomable reason, the odds are that you’ll be about 70. In 30—well, that depends on advances in medical research. The American big-city daily, a grand institution of the 20th century, seems about to go the way of the era itself, but no one’s paying much attention. Just last week, the Phoenix Gazette, an afternoon paper that has appeared for 116 years, printed its last issue, its demise apparently caused by an old ailment: Americans prefer their written news in the morning. After toiling all day for Disney, Microsoft, Nike or whoever owns what’s left of the country these days, they seemingly can’t absorb…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: You Kill Me, They Kill You

Our Love Affair with Official Mass Murder On the evening of Wednesday, January 8, while most Americans were trying to choose between “Wings” and “Beverly Hills, 90210,” Kirt Wainwright lay strapped to a metal gurney, both of his arms stretched out like a man awaiting crucifixion, as a small group of witnesses gawked at him through a one-way mirror from an adjoining room. Nurses employed by the taxpayers of the State of Arkansas stuck needles into each arm and prepared to release poison—a mixture of sodium pentothal, Pavulon and potassium chloride, if you want to try this at home—into his veins. At the last minute, Justice Clarence Thomas, a letch who rose to the Supreme Court thanks to the affirmative action programs he opposes, requested a temporary postponement of the execution while he analyzed a potential conflict of interest (Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who rejected Wainwright’s request for a stay, knew both of his victims). Meanwhile, Wainwright remained splayed across…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Unhip To Be Square

America Deserves a Cool First Family We live in a square world We all got square eyes We live in square high-rises We read from square books —Thee Headcoats, 1990 The other day a C-SPAN interviewer asked Hillary Clinton how the First Family spends the time it has away from the glare of the klieg lights. First of all, it turns out that the Big Three have a lot more time on their manicured hands than do most other Americans. According to Hillary, it’s rare that any official duties are scheduled between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. Since Bill & Hill & Chelsea don’t have to worry about patching the roof, trimming the hedges or even shopping for groceries, they have their whole weekends to themselves. There’s just not that much for leaders-of-the-free-world to do these days, what with all of the good wars already fought and corporate executives doing such a swell job running the economy. Two years of…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Just Because You’re Oblivious Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Out to Get You

Conspiracy Logic and TWA Flight 800 Pierre Salinger says that he has an August 22nd Secret Service report that proves that TWA Flight 800 was shot down accidentally by the U.S. Navy. According to the former Kennedy Administration press secretary, Navy ships testing missiles off the coast of Eastern Long Island in July assumed that all flights in the area were flying at 21,000 feet, so they used 13,000 feet as their test altitude. Flight 800, however, had taken off late from JFK Airport, and was flying lower than previously scheduled in order to avoid another plane. Air traffic controllers, in “a tragic error,” neglected to advise the Navy, Salinger said, and a Navy missile blew up the plane. This scenario jibes with dozens of calls to the FBI from witnesses who claimed to have seen a streak of light heading towards the plane just before the blast. Salinger acknowledged that the alleged Secret Service memo has been posted to…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: United We Fall

The Melting Pot Boils Over Driving west across New Jersey recently, I was relieved to see the mile markers drop to single digits, and finally to zero. I was struck by a sign posted at the state border that read: “Welcome to Pennsylvania: America Starts Here.” As someone who grew up in Ohio, that seemed to make perfect sense. New Jersey is, perhaps, more “America” than Manhattan; nothing in America is less American than New York. Still, New Jersey isn’t really “America.” Continuing my trip—I was traveling to visit my mom in Dayton—I wound westward through a 15-mile-wide sliver of West Virginia that serves as a de facto DMZ between the mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. As I crossed the bridge in Wheeling, Ohio’s welcome sign declared “Ohio—The Heart of it All.” Indeed, the media had yakked a lot last year about the sweet irony of forcing the warring nations of the former Yugoslavia to sign their peace treaty in the…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: So Much for Democracy

Is a Clinton Victory Worth the Cost? My involvement with the Democratic Party started at age 9, when my mom took me along to pass out McGovern-Shriver leaflets door-to-door in our solidly Republican neighborhood. “The Democrats,” my mother explained, “are the party of the people. Republicans only care about rich big-shots.” Nothing I have seen since 1972 has contradicted the latter part of that summary of our two-party system. Watching my mom’s enthusiasm while she tried to reason with our neighbors and dialed number after number in the dingy campaign headquarters in downtown Dayton convinced me that there really was a chance of ousting President Nixon—a man, who all attempts at historical revisionism notwithstanding, was the devil. My fourth-grade class held a mock election that fall. There were 32 little Nixonites to my one Democratic vote. I quickly learned that, in America, Democrats usually lose, even when they win. Jimmy Carter squeaked by Ford in 1976—an astonishing fact when you…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: A Divine Strategy

Ancient Deities Adapt to a Brave New World Until recently, God it had it all—omnipotence, ubiquity and benevolence. As the leading beneficiary of the current global trend towards monotheism, the guy who made everything and ran it all didn’t have to do much to attract popular support. Then, in 1993, God’s pollsters came to him with some bad news: his numbers were slipping. “I was down to 43 points, and falling fast,” God recalled at a recent interview. “In New Jersey it was like they’d never even heard of me. I had to do something fast.” Polls revealed that many people felt that God was out of touch with their concerns. “I prayed for my boss to be slowly gummed to death by sea cucumbers,” said one respondent, “but he’s still here, counting how long I take to go to the restroom. So much for the power of prayer.” Furthermore, God’s existence had in the past been justified by the…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: ‘Civil’ Democrats Defend Kemp, Dole on Morals

‘NEW YORK, August 32—In an active demonstration of his convention speech call for a new era of “civility,” yesterday President Bill Clinton (D-AK) took the unusual step of coming to the defense of his Republican opponents on moral issues. “I have come under fire over so-called moral issues myself,” said Clinton, who survived the Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones scandals and now leads the polls by twenty points. “This isn’t about partisan politics—I know how painful it is to have one’s private life overshadow one’s accomplishments in the public arena.” Clinton then turned his conciliatory remarks to vice-presidential candidate Jack Kemp, who has been dogged by rumors that he attended a gay orgy in California ever since columnist Drew Pearson wrote about the incident in 1967. The episode became public when then-Governor Ronald Reagan fired a staffer who also attended the orgy in a remote cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It has come up several times during this year’s…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Standard Deviation

America as Cost-Benefit Analysis As if our country didn’t already have enough to worry about—advancing technology, downsizing, Pamela Anderson—here come the economics of rape. An exciting new Justice Department study, “Victim Costs and Consequences: A New Look,” reveals that the “average rape” costs its victim $5,100. This sum is based on such out-of-pocket expenses as medical bills and visits to counselors. So, locking up a rapist at the cost of $20,000 a year—the average annual cost of housing an inmate—obviously doesn’t make good economic sense, the authors say, until you factor in “the effect on the victim’s quality of life,” which then brings the total average rape cost to $87,000. Therefore it may be a good idea to lock up rapists——assuming, of course, that the average rapist would otherwise have performed at least one average rape every 4.35 years. The Justice Department plans to attach tracking devices to a random sampling of 1,200 average rapists to determine the average rate…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Our Great Mixing Bowl

American History for High School Students (September 2053 Edition) As difficult as it may be to believe today, white Americans—now virtually extinct—were once the dominant ethnic majority in our country. Until as recently as the late 20th century, every President and 99 percent of all Congresspersons were Caucasian! What happened to these fascinating people? After four centuries of cultural and political dominance, such famous white Americans as Thomas Jefferson, Ernest Hemingway and Martha Stewart helped build a rich and vibrant civilization that peaked during the late 1900s. White people were responsible for such important inventions as the penknife and airplane. They built computer games, composed music like disco and techno and made contributions to postmodern architecture. White Americans were deeply spiritual. They worshipped a male god with blond hair and blue eyes who lived in a “church,” a large auditorium ringed with benches where money was collected. In addition, they felt a strong kinship with the land, which they believed…
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