Saturday, May 31, 2003

O.K. Folks. I'm moving to a new site. I may maintain this for a few days, but I'm putting stuff into boxes and notifying the post office.

The new site is Late Final.

Hope to see you over there.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean just sent out an email saying, among other things, "With the President's proposed budget and the $350 billion tax cut package he signed yesterday, it has become clear what this President is attempting to do, and why we must repeal the entire package of cuts: both those signed today and those passed in 2001."

Bob Herbert in The Times takes his shots at the federal tax cuts this way: "The enormous tax-cut package (which is coupled with budget deficits that are lunging toward infinity) is a stunning example of Mr. Bush's indifference to the deepening plight of working people."

The Gallup people also say that recent polling suggests the public is "ambivalent" about the tax cuts.

Here's the thing: While the usual critics are jerking their knees to criticize the tax cuts, nobody has an alternative plan. Howard Dean calls the tax cut plans "fiscal irresponsibility." Well, what would be responsible? More taxes? Spending cuts? What kind of spending cuts? Which programs? Defense? Education? Health? Local aid? Higher taxes on corporations? And if you tax corporations more, how does the U.S. compete in a job market with Singapore, which charges almost no taxes on corporations?

There's a difference between sniping for the sake of sniping, and debating. If you want to debate, you have to have ideas. So far, all we've heard is sniping. And so far, the only person who's left me with any extra money in my pocket over the past three years is President Bush.

So all those hours I spent in front of the T.V. playing "Pong" as a child weren't a waste, after all.

A note with no links because I heard this last night, and I found it bothersome.
Listening to the radio broadcast of the game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, Yankee Centerfielder Hideki Matsui took his turn at bat. After he hit, the radio announcers paused and did a commercial for Benihana restaurant. Matsui is Japanese. Benihana is a Japanese restaurant. Now, it's apparent that Benihana bought the mini-ad specifically for Matsui's at-bat, but still. I know it's just an innocent bit of commerce, but it rubs me the wrong way.

Potentially good news in the fight against diseases afflicting minature poodles, as Meryl Yourish explains.
Andrew Sullivan provides the color commentary on the present flair-up at The New York Times, the resignation of Rick Bragg and fury of other reporters who say they shouldn't be painted with the same brush as he or Jayson Blair. Sullivan notes this quote from Times reporter Tim Egan: "What will come of this infighting, cannibalism, and soul-searching? Hopefully, we'll go back to valuing what we have: people who care about the drift of this country, and are given the time and respect to tell it right."

Responds Sullivan: "Hmmm. What does he mean, 'the drift of this country'? I think we know - it's headed rightward. And the job of the Times is not to give us all the news that's fit to print, but to haul it to the left."

The Blair and Bragg matters will be history within a month or two. But the Egan quote will bubble to the surface every time someone reads a news story about the Bush Administration as a sort of "See! Their bias is showing again."

I think it's a safe bet there are a fair number of reasonable-minded journalists today who look at advances in medicine, technology and society and see anything but drift. There are reasonable-minded journalists who look at our leadership, and the battle against terrorists, and see anything but drift. And there are reasonable-minded journalists who see these things, and see anything but drift, and keep their opinions out of their reporting.

This Date in Nixon, 1972 - Detente formally begins, with the Nixon and Brezhnev signing the "Basic Principals of Relations Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." The Cold War would last another 17 years.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

The good guys have captured two more members of the Deck of Cards:

MACDILL AFB, FL – Sayf al-Din al-Mashhadani (#46), Ba’ath Party Regional Chairman for al-Muthanna and Sad Abd al-Majid al-Faysal (#55), Ba’ath Party Regional Chairman for Salah al-Din were captured by Coalition Forces on Saturday.

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam.
Police have finally caught the man they suspect is the Baton Rouge Serial Killer, according to reports. Derrick Todd Lee is 34, and they arrested him in Atlanta. Good.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Mickey Kaus continues pounding home some of the real issues behind the various New York Times controversies.

People at The Times seem to forget that the reason you have named bylines and named sources is to provide accountability. Without them, you could have unnamed reporters quoting unnamed sources about important issues. Rick Bragg is in trouble for using unnamed stringers. Jayson Blair got himself into trouble while using unnamed sources. In both cases, the reporters were simply acting out "routine" or "standard operating procedure."

One could get the sense that if you work at The Times, you come to think that there's one set of rules for working journalists at other organizations and a different set of rules for Times journalists.

Monday, May 26, 2003

The Baton Rouge Serial Killer task force has a suspect in the case, and they've put out an APB. They've also cautioned that he's dangerous. Derrick Todd Lee, 34, is wanted in connection with the murder of Carrie Lynn Yoder, the fifth and most recent of the women linked by DNA to the same killer.

UPDATE: Seems that DNA taken from Lee on May 5 matches DNA taken in connection with the Yoder case, according to this report from The Advocate.

This date in Nixon, 1969: "He will be the youngest member of the Cabinet, but one very experienced in all the responsibilities he will have." -- RN, commenting on the swearing in of Donald Rumsfeld as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity.

Rich people love good scandal. I mean, really love it. If you don't believe me, read David Patrick Columbia's account of the Rudy Giuliani-Judith Nathan wedding at Gracie Mansion.

Some members of the Ku Klux Klan go on to be elected United States Senator. Others don't go that far.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

President Bush has a 66 percent approval rating across the country, according to the latest Gallup numbers. While his ratings have declined slightly since the Iraq war has ended, they're still higher than before the war.

Ironically, Bush's recent approval ratings reached their highest point when the anti-Bush and anti-war rhetoric also reached their highest point. (The rhetoric has cooled down a tad since the Saddam statue came tumbling down.) In a very good book, The Age of Reagan, author Steven Hayward painstakingly recounts how when anti-war and anti-establishment protests reached a fever pitch in the late '60s and early '70s, ironically, Richard Nixon's and Ronald Reagan's approval numbers climbed. The louder the liberal catcalls, the higher their approval ratings.

It might appear the same dynamic is at play with President Bush.

This date in Nixon, 1973 - Nixon presides over the swearing-in of Attorney General Elliot Richardson, saying he expected Richardson to be one of the finest attorney generals. Five months later, Nixon fires Richardson for refusing to sack Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Coalition soldiers have taken $500 million worth (or thereabouts) of gold bars off a couple of guys in a Mercedes in Iraq. More evidence of what a smashing success the U.N. oil-for-food program was.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Richard Johnson in the New York Post has this item (which I found via Drudge) on more problems at The Times. In any event, a public portrait is being painted of very important things being treated in a very cavalier way at a very important newspaper.

It's bad enough having to flip the dial past those annoying Matthew Lesko commercials on cable. Now I'm getting his spam three or four times a month. Enough already. If I want money from the government, I'll file a mental health disability claim.

Another New York Times' "Editor's Note" of interest in today's edition. Basically, the paper reported a U.S. reconstruction official in Iraq was leaving his post, but its reporters never bothered to call, or try to call, the official. The reconstruction offical says he's staying on for his full, 90-day term, which is under contract.
We introduce a new feature at Red Meat, "This Date In Nixon."

On this date in Nixon, 1972: In a message read by Under Secretary of State John Irwin to the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on the 25th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan, Nixon said:

Now, on this anniversary, we face a new world and new tasks. With restored strength in Europe and Japan comes the need to redefine those early post-war responsibilities. Together we must erect a new international monetary system and make renewed progress toward a free and fair system of trade. We must deal too with the problems of our environment and with the need to assure that continued economic growth will lead to actual improvements in the quality of life. And we must extend the spirit of internatinoal cooperation - the spirit of the Marshall Plan - by assisting the developing nations through an adequately funded aid effort and responsive trade polices.

The tasks ahead will not be easy, but surely if we could rebuild from the ashes of war, we can succeed now in rebuilding a new era of growth and prosperity in the service of peace."

On this date in Nixon, 1973: At a reception honoring returning prisoners of war, Nixon said:
I will...speak quite bluntly about our foreign policy and our defense policy. I will try to tell you as much as I can without divulging any classified information, and I hope that you will take to hear some of the things that I say and, particularly, pick up the challenge that I am going to give you at the conlcusion of my remarks today.

I begin with the question: Was it worth it? And I look over this group, and I remember having talked to a half dozen of you in my office. I think of what you went through, and I think of what you have come back to. And when you ask that question, was it worth it, you can think in personal terms, or you can think in much broader terms.

You could say, oh yes, it was worth it because we proved that we could tough it through. And thank God you did, because your faith meant a great deal to us.

But I would like to put it in the larger scene. Your sacrifice and the sacrifice of all of your colleagues and comrades who died in Vietnam, and the sacrifice of all who have served in Vietnam, will have been worth it only if we build a world of peace now. That is what it was all about.

We didn't go to Vietnam for the purpose of conquering North Vietnam. We didn't begin this war. We haven't begun any war in this century, as you know. That is the greatness of U.S. foreign policy. We make our mistakes, but we always have our motives defending peace, not breaking it, defending freedom, not destroying it."

Police in the Baton Rouge Serial Killer case released a sketch yesteday of a new "person of interest" in their investigation. The New Orleans Times Picayune says it could be "a break" in the case.

Some cautionary notes: Police sketches in high-profile cases are notoriously off on many occasions. (Son of Sam, The Oklahoma City bombing case, to name two.) Also, this latest "person of interest" is being matched to a late-model sedan, while an earlier "person of interest" was linked to a white pickup truck. ("Vehicles of interest" can be a bit of a distraction, too, if you remember what happened in the Washington sniper case.)

Meanwhile, the multi-agency task for still has DNA to check from 3,100 uninvestigated rape kits from the area (that's three thousand, one hundred rapes that weren't fully investigated) to see if the DNA in those cases match that taken from the five homicide victims linked to the Baton Rouge Serial Killer.