FANS of the long-running television series "MASH" must...

Salmagundi

January 18, 1994

FANS of the long-running television series "MASH" must feel a jolt of deja vu whenever Iran-contra lawbreaker and Virginia senatorial hopeful Oliver North makes one of his stump speeches attacking Reader's Digest as an organ of liberalism.

(Mr. North has had it in for the the Digest -- which is almost as politically conservative as he is -- ever since the magazine ran an article a few years back citing sundry false statements of his.)

"MASH" loyalists ought to recall a recurring character on the show, the paranoid military-intelligence officer known as Colonel Flagg, who in one episode accused conservative Maj. Frank Burns of being a communist sympathizer because he was reading the Digest.

"But, sir," the cowering Major Burns said to the colonel, "it's Reader's Digest."

"Sure," Colonel Flagg replied with a menacing stare at the major. "It looks like Reader's Digest. But take away an 'a,' an 'e' and an 'r' and you've got Red's Digest, comrade!"

We always thought Colonel Flagg was funny as a fictional character. Somehow, though, he seems a lot scarier as a potential actual member of the U.S. Senate.

...* * *

AMERICANS are still on the move. A recent Census Bureau report notes that between March 1991 and March 1992, 42.8 million people in the United States -- 17.3 percent of the total U.S. population 1 year old and over -- moved from residence to another. That's a lot of packing crates, boxes and heavy lifting.

Most moves are local, however. More than half of those movers -- 26.6 million people, or 10.7 percent of the total population -- moved within the same county.

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