Wait, It's When?
Newsletter fatigue, accuracy in reporting, corporate tax rates, and roast lamb.
Did you say March?
Here I was, rolling along, and then January hit. Then February. Work thankfully cranked up a bit as did other things. Suddenly, it’s March.
Which brings up two difficulties of writing a newsletter: consistency and time. Being and having, respectively.
You’ve probably heard of newsletter fatigue in the sense of everyone asking for money. “For only $50 a year, you, too, can help support this vital activity!”
Sounds like an infomercial. It’s likely necessary, if this form of publishing is your main way of making money, as is true with some of the big names that have jumped to Substack, or whatever the next Big Thing is or will be.
(Everyone on this list who’s a journalist can now bow their heads and apologize for all the mean things they ever said about the people in circulation and advertising. Think of all they have kept you from having to do.)
In the future, everyone will sound like NPR for 15 issues.
There’s fatigue in writing as well, and, as I’ve found, even in reading. I’ve subscribed to a number of newsletters, paying for a couple, and moved them to a separate email address for better time management. A count just now showed that, in the first five days of March, 42 newsletter editions have arrived.
So, I shall attribute my laxity to unconscious kindness. This experience will hopefully govern how I do this newsletter. But then, as they say in politics, we’ll see.
Praying for accuracy in reporting
This is something I had started to write a couple of months ago, except never finished or sent. Now I have.
In this tweet:
Eric Boehlert, founder and editor of PressRun.Media, a self-styled “home of fearless media commentary,” wrote about what he called “media obsession with voters who backed losing candidate” (it was on Twitter, so please ignore typos and grammatical shortcomings), and that “of course word ‘racist’ is never mentioned when dissecting Trump voters—they’re always just hard working folks.”
Except, that is absurd. Racist or racism, not mentioned? Since when? Here are some examples over the few weeks before the piece came out:
Daniel Ooi, a columnist at the Abilene Reporter News: Are Trump voters racist? Is Abilene?
Syndicated columnist Larry Elder via the Toronto Sun: Biden to 'racist' Trump voters: 'Let's heal'
Atlantic contributor John McWhorter: The Black People Who Voted for Trump Know He’s Racist
John Blake at CNN: What Trump's four years taught me about the two White Americas
Mitchell Jackson in Esquire: On Election Night, American Racism Was Quantified
Fabiola Cineas and Anna North in Vox: We need to talk about the white people who voted for Donald Trump
Kathleen Gray, Jim Rutenberg, Nick Corasaniti and Glenn Thrush in the New York Times: G.O.P. faces outcry in Michigan after refusing to certify vote: ‘You could see the racism.’
Trip Gabriel in the New York Times: In Pennsylvania, Trump Voter Fury Foretells a Nation Still Divided
Columnist Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: Trump’s racist appeals powered a White evangelical tsunami
For those in media—or who have an interest in good reporting, or just proper public discourse to support democracy—accuracy is essential. Too often writers ignore easily verified facts to make a point, whether in an opinion piece or a “news” article. Or, maybe worse, no one did the necessary work and so the people involved have no idea.
An example is when Christiane Amanpour, recently interviewing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) about the apparent $15 minimum wage legislative failure, stated that the Senate parliamentarian took the provision out of the Covid aid bill. That wasn’t the case. The person only had power to claim something wouldn’t fit the body’s rules. Kamala Harris could have ignored the ruling.
Without accurate details, you can’t start to comprehend the true dynamics. In this case, a story about Democrats being frustrated by an appointee might become a question of how much the party really wants to push a minimum wage bill. I’m not typically a big fan of top union officials, but when AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says about the minimum wage, "I don't want to hear, 'Oh my, we don't have 60 votes, woe is we.' Figure out a way to do it. Let's figure out a way to do it,” I can understand the frustration.
Politicians say one thing to get elected and then frequently tend to other interests once in office. They know how quickly people forget.
Corporate tax rates
I mentioned previously that I was working on something about effective corporate tax rates—what percentage of profits corporations actually pay to the federal government. The piece ran on Forbes late in December.
For a bit of reading efficiency, let’s do the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version. Effective corporate tax rates have been falling steadily since 1950, when there were 50%. In the third quarter of 2020, that was down to 12.2%. But, you know, they are still such a burden.
When you hear CEOs and PR reps go on about previous losses and tax credits and international competitiveness, it’s all BS. Even before the 2017 tax cuts, effective rates were around 15%.
Nice work if you can get it. And you can get it if you try—by spending lots of money to keep Congress on your side.
Done with the eggnog recipes, but I came up with something that I can recommend. Take a boneless leg of lamb and cover in a mix of za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice), garlic (minced, although I took the short step of garlic powder for this), and salt. Brown in an oven-safe pan and then switch to a preheated 450° oven.
After five minutes, take the heat down to 350° and wait until the lamb is rare. About 125° to 130° seemed about right to me, and I took it out to check a couple of times. Maybe 20-30 minutes overall in the oven.
Remove the meat from the pan and, over high heat, deglaze (wine, beer, water, stock, or what have you) for a sauce. Slice, nap, and serve.
It might be a nice change for those who celebrate Easter and serve lamb. Or those who don’t celebrate Easter but might still like lamb.