Thursday, December 19, 2002


Here's second day coverage from Delaware's paper of record:

Holly Berry, the reindeer, led pursuers on a merry chase through central Kent County Wednesday before giving her would-be captors the slip.

Holly Berry, who escaped Tuesday from her pen at a Woodside-area Christmas shop, trotted across fields, woods and busy U.S. 13 during a daylong chase.

She finally disappeared into deep woods just before sunset on the privately owned South Fork Hunting Preserve west of Canterbury.

"At one point she was running down the middle of Route 13," said Cheryl Epps, co-owner of both Holly Berry and the Loblolly Treasures Christmas Shop, as she watched the reindeer disappear into a wooded area.

When Holly Berry headed east of the highway shortly before noon, she had a caravan of pickup trucks, cars, television reporters and an all-terrain vehicle in hot pursuit.

This has the makings of a really bad B.O.A.T.S. made-for-TV Christmas movie ...
posted by Fred Clark 10:39 PM


David Duke is back in the news today. The man who was once kicked out of the Ku Klux Klan for "conduct unbecoming a racist" has pleaded guilty to felony charges of fraud and tax evasion. This has several felicitous corollaries (among them: that the people he defrauded were those who responded to a direct mail appeal from David Duke, that a felony conviction means he can never again put his racist self up for public office).

David Duke was not a Republican -- but the GOP apparently coveted his cracker voting base:

The Justice Department also investigated Duke for possible income tax violations involving the $100,000 sale of a list of Duke supporters to Gov. Mike Foster in 1995. But Letten said there was no evidence of a crime, and the investigation has been closed.

That's right, Mike Foster, the Republican governor of Louisiana, spent $100,000 -- not a small amount of money -- for a mailing list of David Duke's supporters. Apparently, this list of racists and white supremacists was viewed as a valuable resource for a Republican candidate seeking to energize his party's core voters.

Scary sidenote: Despite this, other Republicans and other governors are still willing to be seen in the same room as Mike Foster.

(They shouldn't. If David Duke -- or his beneficiary Mike Foster -- or a Jeff Sessions walks into a room, you are under no obligation to be civil. You should immediately stop all conversation, stop whatever you're doing, freeze, and point at Duke/Sessions/Foster with a fully extended arm, shouting -- like Owen Meany at the end of the Christmas pageant -- "YOU DON'T BELONG HERE!")

Scary sidenote #2: After spending $100,000 for a mailing list of David Duke supporters, Mike Foster won.

posted by Fred Clark 12:45 AM


Here's an AP rundown of various "racially insensitive" remarks.

("Racially insensitive" is a wussy euphemism, isn't it?)


Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) told a newspaper editor about a rancher who had asked him, "Conrad, how can you live back there with all those" blacks in Washington -- using a pejorative term. ... When the editor asked how he responded, Burns replied with a chuckle, "I said, 'It's a hell of a challenge.'"

Three years earlier, Burns had startled lobbyists outside the Senate chamber by remarking after passage of a civil rights bill that he was going to an auction of "slaves."

Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) joked to reporters in 1993 about African leaders who attend trade conferences in Switzerland: "Rather than eat each other, they'd just come up (to Switzerland) and get a good square meal."

Sen.-elect Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) apologized during his campaign last summer for joking that the best way to combat terrorism was to turn a Georgia sheriff loose to "arrest every Muslim that comes across the state line."

Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) drew fire from Democrats and black leaders in 1999 when he told an editorial board that George W. Bush would win the Republican nomination unless "some black woman comes forward with an illegitimate child that he fathered within the last 18 months."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) during his 1986 confirmation hearings for a federal judgeship was accused of calling a black assistant prosecutor "boy"; of describing church and civil rights groups as "un-American"; of agreeing with a statement that a white civil rights lawyer was "a disgrace to his race"; and of stating that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was all right until he learned they smoked marijuana.

posted by Fred Clark 12:21 AM


Bill Clinton pretty much nails it here:

"I think that the way the Republicans have treated Senator Lott is pretty hypocritical, since right now their policy is, in my view, inimical to everything this country stands for," Clinton said while attending an event for the European Travel Commission. ...

"How can they jump on him when they're out there repressing, trying to run black voters away from the polls and running under the Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina? ... I mean, look at their whole record. He just embarrassed them by saying in Washington what they do on the backroads every day."

"They've tried to suppress black voting, they've ran on the Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina. And from top to bottom, the Republicans supported it. So I don't see what they're jumping on Trent Lott about."

UPDATE: Josh Marshall has the complete transcript of Clinton's remarks up at Talking Points Memo.

posted by Fred Clark 12:07 AM

Wednesday, December 18, 2002


Came across this Michael Kelly piece via Eric Alterman.

Mr. Kelly cites the amount of negative coverage for a particular figure (in this case, President Bush) as evidence of media bias against that figure. This doesn't follow. What Mr. Kelly would need to present is information about the amount of undeserved negative coverage.

In other words, if media coverage about you is overwhelmingly negative, there are two possible reasons:

A. The leftist press is biased against you; or

B. You're an a-moral idiot whose contradictory policies are cobbled together from focus-groups conducted by the Mayberry Machiavellis.

Regardless of which of these is correct, Mr. Kelly should at least acknowledge that both are logical possibilities.

posted by Fred Clark 11:52 PM


A reindeer escaped from its pen at a Woodside area Christmas shop Tuesday, spurring a string of 911 calls from bewildered residents who saw the 150-pound pregnant animal in their back yards.

Read the whole story.

More to come ...

posted by Fred Clark 11:10 PM


Here's most of what I know about Venezuela:

1. It's part of OPEC. Venezuela is (the NYT reports) "the world's fifth-largest supplier, which provides 14 percent of the oil used in the United States."

2. It's president, Hugo Chavez is a former paratrooper who likes to rankle Western nations by cozying up with pariah nations like Libya, Iraq, Cuba and China (a political pariah, if not an economic one). Chavez is, however, undeniably the legitimate, democratically elected leader of the country, chosen by the majority of the people of Venezuela. His "1998 election ended 40 years of alternation between two U.S.-aligned -- and corrupt -- political parties" (AP, 12/16/02).

3. The majority of Venezuelan people are poor. This has been true for centuries longer than Hugo Chavez' two-years in office. Mr. Chavez' inability to eradicate his nation's pervasive, intractable poverty during the past two years is repeatedly cited by journalists and other opposition leaders as a major failure on his part and a primary reason he should resign, turning rule of the country back over to the oligarchs of the ruling class. The poor majority seem willing to give Mr. Chavez more than two years to address their problems.

4. The Bush administration embarrassed itself in April, 2002, by initially praising a military coup in Venezuela that briefly displaced Chavez, then flip-flopping when the coup was reversed days later. The Bush White House "belatedly condemned the coup" (AP, 12/15/02) and eventually stumbled back to reasserting its devotion to democracy and the rule of law, yet making it clear that this devotion was flexible provided it's our preferred corrupt military junta.

5. The "general strike" currently paralyzing Venezuela and crippling its economy is a bizarre spectacle -- the "Brooks Brothers riot" writ large. The paper I work for ran this AP photo the other day, showing opposition protesters rallying in private yachts for goodness' sake.

Through the Looking Glass has an excellent post on the Venezuelan debacle and this "general strike" led by Preppistas (militant, revolutionary preppies):

The media of record in the U.S. are routinely describing the event as a "general strike".

But a strike is an action of labor against management ... [yet] the owners and managers of shuttered dry cleaners, caf├ęs and furniture shops turn out to be strike supporters, who have chosen to shut down the businesses themselves, and speak as if it is entirely their own choice when to reopen -- which would mean that their own employees aren't striking, but have rather been locked out. ...

And the demands of the "strike's" leaders have nothing to do with labor conditions, but are entirely political -- specifically, they want early elections, even if the country's Constitution has to be amended to provide for them.

TTLG's point is borne out in loopy, self-refuting paragraphs like this one (from a 12/17/02 AP story):

"The overall sentiment among workers is: Strike until he leaves," said Gonzalo Feijoo, a planning adviser for Venezuela's state-owned oil monopoly, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., where top management is in open rebellion.

That's a manager, asserting that workers are in favor of the lockout organized by management.

6. Press coverage of the unraveling situation in Venezuela has been less than helpful. It could be summed up as: "Here in Caracas, a whole bunch of people want the president to resign, while a whole bunch of other people don't. I haven't a clue what's motivating any of this, these people barely speak English. Back to you, Peter ..."

7. President Hugo Chavez has a weekly television address that can go as long as five hours (we can all pray such a forum is never adopted in this country). Highlights from last Sunday's show (via this 12/15/02 AP story):

"Pressure from a group of managers, a group of coup-plotters, won't push me out," he said in his weekly television program Sunday. "I'm here at the will of the great majority of Venezuelans."

... Chavez held up a small blue copy of Venezuela's constitution, which doesn't allow early elections until midway through a president's term -- in his case, August 2003.

"I recommend that governments of the world ... read this constitution. We've published it in several languages -- English, German, French, even Russian," he said. "We can send it to whoever wants it by e-mail ... so that those who came out looking bad in the past don't come out looking bad again."

8. While his brother was running successive energy companies into the ground in Texas, Jeb Bush cut his teeth making bank loans in Caracas.

9. The Mets should have resigned Edgardo Alfonzo. During his injury-plagued "off-year" last season, he led the team in batting. Still upset about that one.

UPDATE: Seeing the Forest has a series of good posts on Venezuela up, providing much more context about the whole sordid history of U.S. meddling in Latin and South America ...

posted by Fred Clark 12:19 PM

Tuesday, December 17, 2002


After reading Garrison Keillor's scorched-earth diatribe against Minnesota's new junior senator, I was, like many people not from the Twin Cities, curious about the details behind this particular section:

Norm got a free ride from the press. St. Paul is a small town and anybody who hangs around the St. Paul Grill knows about Norm's habits. Everyone knows that his family situation is, shall we say, very interesting, but nobody bothered to ask about it, least of all the religious people in the Republican Party. They made their peace with hypocrisy long ago.

Hmm. Consequent googling turned up this piece from the Twin Cities' alternative newspaper. The relevant sections:

Laurie Coleman, wife of St. Paul mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Norm Coleman, starred in a local version of The Vagina Monologues. ...

Coleman on the Vagina Monologues production starring his wife: "It's cutting. It's raw," he opines to the Strib's C.J. "I don't agree with the message. If you're a heterosexual male, it's not lifting you up."

This sort of thing is really better handled by TBogg or Roger Ailes, but let's all give it a try:

Compose your own joke, incorporating at least three (3) of these terms from the City Pages item: Norm Coleman, his wife, vagina, monologues, cutting, raw, heterosexual, "not lifting you up."

posted by Fred Clark 11:05 PM


Outside the door to my apartment are three buzzers, one for each of the apartments off of the stairwell inside the door. The buzzers are not numbered or labeled.

I live in Apartment #2. So: Which buzzer button would you guess is most likely to sound in my apartment (#2)?

a. the TOP button
b. the MIDDLE button
c. the BOTTOM button

If you guessed "b. the MIDDLE button," you are of course correct. The middle button is #2 no matter which way you count. It doesn't take Martin Gardner to solve this one.

If you guessed either "a" or "c" then you probably work for UPS, whose personnel are consistently baffled by the unnumbered buzzers and insist on leaving annoying little post-it notes informing me that they were here but, for incomprehensible reasons, decided not to leave the package that they're charging me a goodly sum to deliver here.


posted by Fred Clark 3:01 AM

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