Bush The Survey Slayer

You mean this is the worst you can come up with? There must be some sort of Bush-opinion-columnator that automatically generates this stuff:

The Bush administration has tried repeatedly to kill or shortchange government surveys. Motivated in part by pound foolishness, but also by a disdain for information that might upset partisan or ideological agendas, the attempts have had mixed results. Taken together, however, they amount to an assault on reliable data that’s necessary to judge the effectiveness of existing government programs and the need for new ones.

The most recent example of this siege is in President Bush’s latest budget, a proposal to eliminate the American Time Use Survey, the only government survey that tracks how Americans spend their time outside work. Initiated in 2003, the survey serves as a gauge of the usefulness of government policies, as well as a tool for identifying needs and challenges that confront both government and business.

How much time do people spend commuting, and what does that tell us about the need for transportation alternatives or flexible work schedules?

. . .

The American Time Use Survey is smart and, and at $4.3 million a year, affordable. Getting rid of it would be a step backward. In the days and weeks to come, as committees in Congress weigh in on the next budget, funding for the survey must be restored.

Cory Booker Watch

With the exception of a recent case on Tuesday, murders are down in Newark:

It had been 43 days without a killing in Newark: no late-night calls to rush to homicide scenes in hopes of finding witnesses before they disappeared, no new crush of paperwork. After a year that tested the squad of 11 investigators with 99 homicides, including last summer’s high-profile killings of three college students in a schoolyard, Sergeant Arroyo and his colleagues were catching their breath in the longest stretch without a killing since before the 1967 riots.

They pored over old cases and made new arrests as Lt. William Brady scheduled long-delayed out-of-town training sessions.

“People are seeing their families more,” Lieutenant Brady said. Sgt. Darnell Henry waved two unopened envelopes and said he was almost caught up with old bills.

. . .

During the lull in homicides, other measures of violent crime have also fallen, including shootings and rapes, though assaults are up, according to the Police Department. Last year, there had been 13 murders in Newark by Feb. 26; this year, Mr. Thomas’s murder is the third, officials said.

“There is hope in the city of Newark,” Mayor Cory A. Booker said at a news conference Wednesday. “Our city is one of the pace setters in our nation for turning around the violent crime problem.”

Mr. Booker, who has staked his political future on making the city safer, ticked off a list of new initiatives that he credits with reducing crime: a fugitive apprehension project, a unified narcotics squad, a hot line for tips, more police officers on the street and the renewed embrace of New York City’s Compstat system.

The police director, Garry F. McCarthy, has pointed to other factors as well, saying the drop in homicides could be tied to a sharp increase in arrests, including the arrests in January of several gang members, a result of the department’s new collaboration with federal law enforcement agencies.

“We are seeing the result of all that work, and all that activity,” Mr. Booker said. “The trend line is heading in the right direction.”

And The Whole World Has To Answer Right Now Just To Tell You Once Again Who’s Bad

One hallmark of a developed country is a responsive government that can identify a social problem and take steps to correct it:

Whatever their reason might be, a passing hearse or simple discomfort, Italy’s highest court ruled that men may not touch their genitals in public. The ruling settled an appeal by a 42-year-old worker from Como, north of Milan, who was convicted in May 2006 of “ostentatiously touching his genitals through his clothing,” though his lawyer argued it was a problem with his overalls. But the court struck against a broader practice: a tradition among some Italian men of warding off bad luck by grabbing the crotch. The court ruled that this “has to be regarded as an act contrary to public decency, a concept including that nexus of socio-ethical behavioral rules requiring everyone to abstain from conduct potentially offensive to collectively held feelings of decorum.” The judges suggested that if they need to, men can wait and do it at home.

Time Can Bring You Down

Further proof that Eric Clapton definitely has blood on his hands:

Rock icon Eric Clapton has been invited to play a concert in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, an official at the country’s UK embassy has confirmed.

If he accepts, the 62-year-old will become the first Western rock star to perform in the Communist country.

According to newspaper reports Clapton has agreed in principle to the concert, suggesting it takes place in 2009.

News of the invitation follows the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s landmark concert in the North Korean capital.

. . .

Kim Jong Chol, the son of national leader Kim Jong Il, is said to be a Clapton fan.

Matski in RIVET

The Prof, in print:

The irony is that for most of the, oh, let’s say 72,000 years we’ve been human, close contact like this has been much more normal than our modern conceit of “personal space.” In fact, we’re supposed to be highly tuned to live in groups of 50 to 150 people. The Right ripped Ms. Clinton when she wrote It Takes a Village. While I agree she missed a bit on the particulars, socio-biologically speaking, she was spot-on.

Read the whole thing.

You’re Going to Have a Time Out, No Access, and No Xbox!

The Times may have blown it by spending so much time pussy-footing around with the infidelity innuendo–the real story is the lobbyist entanglements McCain has apparently decided to lie about. Because of the shoddy sex scandal lens through which the Times has focused, McCain may not have to account for himself.

Still and all, I’m raising a glass of this week’s favored beverage hoping for some permanent damange to McCain’s previously cushy relationship with the press. I’m also loving the image of McCain’s staff sending the press to sit in the corner.

Before McCain boarded his plane, reporters were asked to sit farther back than usual on the plane.

But wait, there’s more!

Near the end of the flight, Schmidt came back to the press cabin, where, with cameras off, he railed against the New York Times for publishing its story. “The Times in a post-Jayson Blair, post-Judith Miller world… went through a painful period of self-evaluation,” Schmidt said. “That went out the window yesterday with this piece on John McCain…This is much more a story about journalism than a story about John McCain.” When reminded that the Washington Post also published a story today, Schmidt shrugged. “The Washington Post piled on (but) the Washington Post didn’t instigate the story,” Schmidt said.

Instigators? Has the McCain campaign decided on a strategy of isolating the Times from its peers? Trying, perhaps, to act as the stern authority figure to transform the Times into the [Warning: Possibly NSFW Video] Private Pyle of the press corps? Before they push this too far, McCain’s people may want to think about how well that worked out.

If McCain makes them feel less special, the press might stop fluffing his aura of Maverickness and start pursuing stories about his actual record. If we get really lucky, CNN will set up an Internet poll asking if viewers think that McCain isn’t vengeful enough.

SNL

Huckabee was funny but . . . self-referential humor is not really Presidential . . . or even Vice Presidential. And I say this as someone who is into that kind of thing. (Yeah, Adaptation was great. No, wait — brilliant.)

And, hey, Tina Fey — it’s over for Hillary. Get the fuck over it. She sucks.