Journalistic Alchemy

Headline: Editorial: Former free-market defenders, state GOP turns to overregulation as the answer.

First paragraph:

The Missouri House insists on being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Local governments that want to impose rules requiring installation of electric-vehicle charging stations in new construction projects could be prohibited from doing so because the Republican-controlled Legislature thinks such rules are too burdensome on business. The House has advanced a bill to limit local government powers to require charging stations in new construction of apartment buildings and workplaces.

So the overregulation at the state level is banning regulation at the local level that compels charging stations in new construction. So that the market would decide when building whether to include the expensive and troublesome tchotchkes.

Truly, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and its writers have a dizzying intellect.

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Is Our Headline Writers Metaphoring?

St. Louis Post-Dispatch headline sez: 1969: A wild night on the Mississippi as the Becky Thatcher breaks free, and the Santa Maria sinks like a tub:

To be honest, I cannot conceive of how a tub sinks. Perhaps the headline writer is a fan of the 1986 film The Money Pit:

Just kidding. The headline writer was probably not even born in 1986.

But it’s just as well that the Santa Maria replica sank in 1969. Otherwise, in 2020, someone would have to sink it for hatred and indigenous genocide donchaknow.

In other news, I probably saw The Money Pit once in the 1980s. How I can remember that the tub sank through the floor is a miracle of teenaged neuroscience.

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That’s What I Get For Trying To Read A Video Game Review

Over at, I saw a headline for a video game review that I thought I might to look at because it’s more interesting than the Web-based training I was taking concurrently.

The headline: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus’ (PS4) review: Extreme prejudice

How far did I make it into the review?

When “Wolfenstein” returned in May 2014 with reboot “The New Order,” the seminal first-person shooter series felt retro. But in the time since then, it has — sadly — become relevant.

That’s because “Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus” arrives as the series’ longtime cannon fodder, Nazis, reassert their contemptible selves in American society. Emboldened months after “The New Order” by the reactionary fervor of GamerGate, they metastasized into one of the more vocal parts of the alt-right coalition that helped elect President Donald Trump last year. And after they shouted that “Jews will not replace us!” in Charlottesville this summer, Trump’s description of them as “very fine people” sanctioned their hateful rhetoric to a degree once unthinkable.

Not very far.

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Was This In The St. Louis Post-Dispatch?

St. Louis doesn’t need an MLS team to be a ‘major league’ town:

St. Louis is far from perfect, but the issues that might make you wonder about the town have nothing to do with what we cover in the sports pages. The surging crime and infrastructure issues are much greater concerns in the community than our sports franchises.

What? He is right.

What can this world be coming to when sports journalists in the only paper in St. Louis conclude that governments should handle government duties instead of dabbling in being moguls of some sort or another by “investing” tax dollars in private businesses?

Of course, as government officials have learned, repairing bridges and roads come with no luxury boxes, and keeping the streets clean and safe does not allow you to rub elbows with celebrities from time to time. So it must be sexy projects at the expense of actual duties as much as possible.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch Uncovers A Mystery

Number of veterans in Congress has fallen drastically since post-Vietnam years:

As the federal government struggles with problems at the Veterans Administration amid thousands returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it does so with a Congress that has only a fourth of the number of veterans it had after Vietnam.

It’s not a mystery, actually. Some seventeen paragraphs down, the article mentions the end of the draft.

The intervening paragraphs try to tie the declining number of veterans in Congress to the VA scandal. As though only veterans can represent veterans. You know, the same thinking that brings gender quotas to parliamentary systems and tribal counting to government.

No word in the article about the recent presidents who did not serve, which include Clinton and Obama. That’s a strange omission, ainna?

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The Two Commercial Interests, Hey?

Normally, David Nicklaus is pretty reasonable in his columns for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But in his latest, In heavyweight fight over card fees, consumers are the likely losers, he underemphasizes an important point:

When two big commercial interests start a fight, consumers would be wise to watch their wallets.

So it is with the dispute between banks and retailers over swipe fees, which the store incurs every time you pay with plastic. The fees average about 2 percent of each transaction and have risen over time.

Congress capped the swipe fee on debit card transactions, costing banks an estimated $8 billion a year.

So whose fault is it that you’re going to have to pay a premium, maybe, at certain shops to use a credit card?

Congress. Or, more to the point, the former Democrat-controlled national legislature that gave us Dodd-Frank.

I’ve given a stray thought to the impact of this settlement. Will retail establishments start charging a 5% premium (or giving a 5% discount) to people who pay with cash? Maybe.

If Amazon doesn’t do it, small businesses (or larger businesses) that charge 5% extra will lose business to Amazon and larger businesses that don’t charge the premium. That business decision will cause more smaller businesses to leave the field. Thanks, Congress! Of course, this will get blamed on large banks and credit card companies who need to maintain their product margin and additional costs of compliance with Dodd-Frank and its Frankenagency’s whims (what, doesn’t the Secretary of Health and Human Services get to arbitrarily impose anything with this legislation? How did she get left out of something passed between 2009 and 2011?).

Hey, let’s travel on a tangent: Why, this very week, I ate at a small business that had a sign offering a 5% discount for cash. When I paid for the bill with cash, the discount was not applied. I didn’t quibble with it. That 5% just came out of the tip. But whenever I see all those twee signs, pictures-with-words that pass for insight on Facebook, and whatnot that says “Buy from a small business” as though a small business is inherently more moral than a large business, I can’t help but think of the times when I’ve been rooked, overcharged, or otherwise immorally treated by a small business. Caveat emptor, I know, but still, the sentiment is twee. I buy from whomever is convenient, least expensive, best quality, and whatnot. Sometimes I like to buy from a small business because I like to support small business. But there’s no moral compulsion to do so, and some small business people are only limited in their immorality by the fact that Bank of America or Unilever have not bought them out and brought them into the executive ranks of a large business.

Where was I? Oh, yes. To sum up: Dodd-Frank sucks, and Congressional action has made things more expensive for consumers, but again in a fashion where they can frame capitalism for it.

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Former St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sports Editor Carries Class Warfare Pitchfork

Kevin Horrigan, former sports editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has moved over to writing commentary (What happened to that other guy, the former television critic they had manning their editorial desk? Who cares?) Today, Horrigan tells people that they’ve made too much money and have too big of homes:

The size of the average newly constructed home in the United States fell to 2,392 square feet in 2010. The Journal was writing about homes that are 10 to 20 times that size and feature amenities like shooting ranges, bowling lanes, saltwater “plunge pools” and — my personal favorite — the 15-bathroom (plus powder rooms) home being built in Connecticut for Lee Weinstein, founder of Xand, a data storage company.

Fifteen bathrooms? I’m not sure how much is enough, but I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere south of 15 bathrooms.

The people who are building these homes are folks like you and me, except they’ve inherited a billion dollars or they are Saudi princes or NFL quarterbacks married to supermodels or they’ve built tech companies. Their wealth permits them to dream big when it comes to dream houses.

Got that? They have too much. Claro!

Note how Horrigan characterizes these people: Sarcastically, he says they’re like you and me, but they’re:

  • they’ve inherited a billion dollars
  • they are Saudi princes
  • they’re NFL quarterbacks married to supermodels
  • they’ve built tech companies

Got that? They’re lucky or lucky or, just maybe, they’ve worked hard for their money.

Horrigan’s piece mentions the Wall Street Journal piece appearing last weekend, but it doesn’t link to it. Allow me. Now, let’s run down the list of people mentioned in the article and what they do:

  • Anthony Pritzker, heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune. The article also mentions that he founded a private equity firm.
  • Cliff Asness, hedge fund manager.
  • Lee Weinstein, founder of Xand, a tech company.
  • Melissa and Doug Bernstein, founders of an educational toy company.
  • Jim Ellis, founder of a cell phone insurance provider.
  • Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle.
  • Gene Pretti, manager of an investment firm.
  • An unnamed Dallas businessman.
  • Tom Brady and his wife.
  • Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud.
  • wife of Bruce Karsh, founder of Oaktree Capital Management.

That’s one heir, one quarterback, and one Saudi prince. And eight people identified by their occupations, of which three founded tech companies. The others founded other kinds of companies or worked in finance.

Maybe Horrigan just looked at the pictures, the five of which more closely aligned with his characterization.

You know, I’m getting to that age where I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be mega-wealthy, and this realization comes with some sadness on my part, too. But I don’t actively resent people who do succeed or people who inherit wealth or a better position in life than I did. I mean, really. Let them have their fun. And if I strike the lottery, I’ll join them briefly until I blow all my winnings and declare bankruptcy.

Sometimes I think this class warfare resentment is just a comfortable way to translate bitterness and disappointment into personal superiority. I’d say I don’t understand it, but I think I do. I just can’t tolerate it.

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Post-Dispatch Asks: Should Slavery Be Legal?

That’s not how they phrase it, of course. They say Should government order companies to make certain drugs?

That is, does the government have the moral right to compel labor?

Because making certain drugs is making things more abstractly. Rregardless of whether it’s a particularly politically expedient opponent (Pharmaceutical Companies, according to the AP Stylebook, are always bad), compelling someone, somewhere to work because the government wills it, not because the compelled corporation gets something out of it, is morally wrong.

They call that slavery sometimes. When it’s not for the children or the sick, I suppose. But if they need shelter, should the goverment compel builders to provide them shelter?

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I Go To The Sports Columnists For Provocative Political/Cultural Insight

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist compares Albert Pujols to Derek Jeter. A keen insight, but is that what I remember? No, it’s the gratuitous shot at Fox News:

To all of you who have written to offer your kind (and not so kind) opinions on my opinion, let me clear a few things up. While I appreciate the fact that some of you don’t agree with my viewpoint, you are missing a critical point. I am not paid to make sure that every opinion I write aligns perfectly with yours. Neither am I paid to be fair and balanced. You want that, turn on Fox News (pause for the laugh track).

I’d write him a letter, but 1, I’m lazy, and 2, he would groove on it. It would ratify his worldview and his perception that he’s a speaker of truth-to-power.

Instead, I’ll go back to ignoring him as usual.

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Their Motives Are Suspect

Martin concedes but is still worried about voter integrity:

Still, Martin offered criticism for Russ’ sister, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, whose office maintains a voter database that went offline during part of Election Day.

Martin also questioned why the St. Louis Board of Election — of which he was once chairman — hired a private security firm that had once done work for Russ Carnahan’s campaign. (The firm, Special Services, is hired frequently to provide protection at political events.)

Though the election is over, Martin said he will continue to “in the coming weeks and days…to highlight the importantce of protecting our voting system.”

Martin did not impugn nor question the integrity of voters. He questioned the integrity of voter rolls.

Words mean things. It’s sad to see professional journalists–or bloggers who blog for newspaper Web sites–show the same precision with words as you normally get out of Nigerians writing e-mails in an Internet cafe in Lagos.

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Sports Reporter, Moral Equivalenciator

Bryan Burwell, writing about the sudden, terse disenrollment of two basketball players after allegations of some sort of sexual misconduct, penneth:

Or is it closer to resembling the botched investigation and rush-to-judgment mess in the Duke lacrosse scandal, where no one involved was exactly a pure innocent, but assigning absolute guilt was a convoluted riddle?

Ah, yes, the lacrosse players who hired strippers for a party, and one of the strippers accused the players of raping her, but those charges were proven to be untrue (see Duke University’s own statement exonerating the three charged).

Indeed, assigning complex guilt was tough in the Duke case because everyone in the media was trying to convict and punish the innocent.

I’d applaud Burwell’s call to avoid a rush for judgment if his own judgment were not questionable in his characterization of the Duke case.

Also, I’d be remiss if I did not mention that the SLU students, who are part of “another unclear and uncomfortable, but extremely complicated, sexually charged, he-said, she-said mess in the world of sports”, are black as is Burwell. The Duke lacrosse players, those not innocent guys who were, in fact, innocent of the charges against them, are not. I hate to bring it up, since I might be called a racist for noticing.

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Good News For Employers

You can tell I don’t work for a newspaper. This story is bad news: Job-seekers swamping employers who are hiring:

Restaurateur Charlie Gitto Jr. thought he knew what lay ahead when the local eatery put out notice for 150 employees to work at its newest location in Chesterfield.

Drawing on 30 years in the business, a tenure that includes the opening of three other restaurants, Gitto figured he would see 200 applications, at most.

“Ten years ago, it was a struggle to find people,” the owner recalled.

Gitto’s lesson in the new era of employment economics began the instant his staff posted “Now Hiring” advertisements online for his Chesterfield restaurant, scheduled to open at the end of this month.

Within the first two weeks, Gitto’s staff was swamped with more than 500 applications. The number soon swelled to 700 and continues to rise.

The good news:

  • Some businesses are hiring.
  • Businesses that are hiring can choose from a large pool, ensuring they have fitting employees.
  • This restaurant, at least, won’t have to hire the dregs of society that don’t care about your service.

Still, to be a real newspaperman, I’d have to highlight how traumatizing this is for businesses and to dampen the morale of job seekers. If I could work Bush into the story, I’d be a superhero of journalism.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch Can’t Spot The Difference. Can You?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is wetting itself over another tax money sink, a trolley running through part of the Delmar loop:

Four decades after they died off like transportation dinosaurs, streetcars took a big step toward returning on Friday as details emerged of a plan for a trolley line from the Delmar Loop to Forest Park.

The $44 million St. Louis Loop Trolley Project, backed by $25 million in federal funding, will feature hybrid-electric trolleys running from the Loop to the Missouri History Museum.

Now I realize that the Loop is called the Loop because it used to be where the streetcars turned around, and I admit I haven’t been to the Loop in years (and the last time was for a job interview and not shopping or night life), but I do remember that Delmar was a two lane street with parking. I’m not entirely sure how they’re going to run a trolley right down the middle of it without…. oh, wait, they will kill the street parking. Which might kill some visits by people who drive cars to the Loop, i.e., people who have money to spend. Maybe the Loop will get a CID or a TDD to build a new parking garage.

However, in an effort to rah-rah trolleys, the St. Louis paper of declining revenue finds a thriving trolley system to trumpet:

When the call of the grape leads you to Missouri’s wine regions, having someone to drive for you is a vintage idea. The recent addition of a trolley service in Hermann makes this idea more convenient.

The Hermann Trolley Co. picks passengers up at the Amtrak station for the trains’ four daily stops and at all of the bed-and-breakfasts in the area. Then it makes stops at all of the area wineries. The company has two trolley cars running and plans to add a third by fall.

Can you, gentle reader, spot the difference between the two where the Post-Dispatch could not (or would not)?

One is a millions of dollars of tax money (and by tax money, I of course mean “money borrowed from the Chinese) boondoggle in the making that will ultimately be underutilized and require constant infusions of tax money (hey, you St. Louisians who loved the 2010 Metro Tax ballot issue: how eager are you for one in 2013, too? And 2015? And 2018?).

The other is a private enterprise targeted to a place where customers naturally would not want to drive (wineries).

Because small private enterprises thrive, the government should be able to do it bigger and better with more sunk costs and administrative waste.

Bonus kudos to the hard-hitting investigative reporters at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who failed to uncover this important and relevant bit of information:

When is a bus a trolley?  When the Post-Dispatch is trying to convince you of how successful trolleys are.

The successful trolley in Hermann is not a trolley at all. It’s a bus.

(Cross-posted at 24th State.)

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Post-Dispatch Blogger Knows Evil When He Sees It

When the blogger puts in a headline like this, you know he wants you to understand the evil nature of the subject: Bush backer, also a Cards owner, steps to the plate for Martin (emphasis added).

Why does Jake Wagman put the name of George W. Bush in the headline? So you’ll respond as you’ve been conditioned: vapors or pitchforks, whatever you do when you hear Bush’s name.

I’m not sure how relevant it is to whether this person supported a president from history, two years gone almost, but the newspaperblogmen think you should know.

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Why Do The Rubes Fear The Terminal G?

By that, I mean why do they all drop the Gs at the end of their gerunds and present participles? Or is that just something that happens in newspaper stories like this one: Gun totin’ women teach firearm safety at church.

Note the first quote, too:

” Packin’ heat in the choir loft. I love it! “

So, by dropping those Gs and going with things like gun-totin’, I guess we’re supposed to not respect the women, The Other who carries guns for protection. Unfortunately, the tactic makes me respect the newspapermen less.

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The Bright Side of Salary Decline

In 2005, this would have been bad news: Talented employees now affordable:

Don Carroll, a former financial analyst with a master’s degree in business administration from a top university, was clearly overqualified for the job running the claims department for Cartwright International, a small, family-owned moving company south of Kansas City, Mo.

But he had been out of work for six months, and the department badly needed modernization after several decades of benign neglect. It turned out to be a perfect match.

In the year 2OE, however, this is good news.

If G.J. Meyer was reduced to being a Wal-Mart greeter, this would now be a great networking opportunity

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Conservative Tips Hand At Suburban Journals

A conservative has tipped his hand in this crime report story in the Suburban Journals:

The handgun appeared to be a black semiautomatic.

Not a military-grade pistol? Not an assault weapon? A semiautomatic? Someone in the paper that can tell his firearms apart.

That can only mean one thing: a conservative NRA-lovin’ Republican, or worse, teabagger mole. The editors had better ferret this mole out immediately. Or Spackler it out immediately. Before it bites someone and turns that poor soul into a lunatic.

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Heckuva Sample, Brownie

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is trumpeting a survey on its Web site’s front page: Over half of St. Louis small businesses plan to hire in early ‘10.

Really, over half of all St. Louis small businesses?

No, turns out that it’s from a smaller sample size than that:

A poll released this week by the St. Louis branch of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) reveals that over half of small business owners in the area intend to add payroll in the first three months of this year.

Of the 46 companies responding to the survey, 57 percent said they expect to add employees between now and March. The local EO branch has approximately 100 members.

That’s about 57% of 46%, or 26%, of the members of a single networking group in St. Louis. How rosy is that?

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