Bryan Burwell’s Litmus Test for NFL Ownership

To own an NFL team, you should think like he does:

    I know how those words play out in Idiot America. They are embraced as gospel. But inside the locker rooms of the NFL, where the overwhelming majority of the players are descendants of slaves, Limbaugh’s ignorant ramblings resonate with entirely different emotions.

    His money might be green, but his words are colored with hate and intolerance.

Got that? According to Bryan Burwell, if you listen to Rush Limbaugh, you are an idiot-American. But it’s Rush Limbaugh whose intemperate words are colored with hate and intolerance.

Perhaps Burwell’s career in sportswriting has left him incapable of addressing Rush Limbaugh’s views instead of dumping on Rush Limbaugh as though he were a slumping left fielder. Or maybe he never had that intellectual acumen to begin with. However, make no mistake, trying to bar someone from a profession or from acquiring property based upon his views is not the American way.

Not the old American way, anyway.

It Might Be About Race

Obama’s approval rating drops among whites:

    After a summer of health care battles and sliding approval ratings for President Barack Obama, the White House is facing a troubling new trend: The voters losing faith in the president are the ones he had worked hardest to attract.

    New surveys show steep declines in Obama’s approval ratings among whites, including Democrats and independents, who were crucial elements of the diverse coalition that helped elect the country’s first black president.

The article poses its own push-poll style point, that whites are abandoning Obama–because of race? However, it would be just as sound to ask, “Are blacks sticking with Obama because he’s black?”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Investigates Election Fraud

What, polls kept open extra hours to pour in extra Democratic votes? ACORN-backed fake voter registrations? Problems purging voter rolls of duplicates? No, silly. Election fraud in the 1876 election that split the city from the county:

    Prominent promoters cried foul and rushed to court. Hearings found such likely fraud as a rural precinct that recorded 132 votes against and two in favor, with 128 ballots showing eraser marks. A Butler minion, pressed in court about irregularities, blurted: “I deny the facts.”

    The Missouri Court of Appeals, including the vigorously pro-city Judge Thomas Gantt, eventually affirmed the tossing of 5,068 ballots, most of them “no” votes, for an overall victory margin of 1,253. The city declared itself independent in March 1877, and the courthouse crowd conceded.

No doubt, back in the old days, the St. Louis Post and the St. Louis Dispatch both favored the plan, but now that it’s a hundred and thirty years later, the city and its cheerleading section (the Post-Dispatch) want to cast a pall over an election to delegitimize it.

Don’t worry, the city tells the county. For all the bad things the county has done, the city will take it and its tax base back.

Joe Williams Catches The Essence Of A Republican Party Meeting

In his review for the film Observe and Report:

History will attest that the most frequently occurring character in the comedies of this decade has been the self-inflated blowhard who is actually a pinhead, but in the hands of man-child Rogen, Ronnie is several degrees to the right of a blustering Ben Stiller or Will Ferrell.

We watch in shock as this wannabe cop engages in date rape, hard-drug abuse and vigilante mayhem that seems derived from repeated viewings of “Taxi Driver.” Some of the slapstick is brutally funny, but the laughs are like involuntary confessions elicited by a taser.

Date rape, hard drug abuse, and vigilante mayhem. That pretty much identifies what conservative thought is. If you’re an unthoughtful film critic.

Right-Wing Polemic Books Are Pornography; Left-Wing Polemics Are Michelangelo’s David

Broad-minded St. Louis Post-Dispatch blogger compares Obama Nation and Unfit Command to pornography, building a facile syllogism to support his metaphor.

No comment on McCain or Bush hatchet jobs, and the author says he doesn’t read the books because he doesn’t like peep shows, either.

Except that, of course, the books offer ideas instead of naked pictures. But the Post-Dispatch intelligentsia doesn’t need to actually read books to tut-tut the wrong thinking within them, doesn’t need to actually answer arguments when –hey! Look! Straw man!

I don’t care for the books myself because they tend to be facile and unconvincing. Kind of like Post-Dispatch analysis.

You Only Hurt The Ones Who Are Loyal Customers

In an era of shrinking newspaper circulation, it’s good to see that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks so little of its loyal readers and its delivered circulation, which helps with its ad rates donchaknow, that it’s taken to helping part them with some extra money because they can. Notice the cutesy line at the bottom of this subscription card?

Shipping and handling extra
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The line is: Subscribers may pick up the newspaper to avoid delivery costs. That would seem to indicate that the Post-Dispatch adds shipping and handling to its home subscribers who make up the bulk of its audience. Does it really?

Here’s a bill:

Shipping and handling exhorbitant
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Fifteen cents on a daily delivery and forty cents for Sunday? That’s 30% markup over the daily cover price of 50 cents and 27% over the Sunday cover price. But if you want to avoid that surcharge, you can subscribe so the paper gets its recurring revenue and circulation numbers and then you can drive every morning to a place where you can pick it up.

Or, I suppose, you can do like the subscriber noted above and cancel your subscription, picking up a paper once in a while at the grocery. Or not at all.

Well-played, circulation department. Your earnest pursuit of zero subscriber base is noteworthy and efficient.

A Positive Spin on a Recession

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch front page headline on Sunday put a positive spin on any potential recession or economic slowing:


Recessions cause belt-tightening

That is: A recession would have a positive impact on the obesity epidemic in America! I mean, if you’re tightening your belt, you’re losing weight, am I right?

Apparently, the Post-Dispatch thought it over and didn’t want any positive spin on it at all, which is why the story is entitled As the economy slips, consumer face tough choices.

Still, a recession or, even better, a depression, would get Americans back down to sustenance level calories, which would no doubt prepare us for a post-Kyotoesque-treaty economy.

At Least They Didn’t Make Up The Language, Like Tolkien

Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a cover story on Easter about how it symbolizes rebirth amongst Christians. You can read it via Google cache because it has disappeared from the paper’s Web site. Why?

Well, it seems that the vivid, meaningful anecdote about a woman who symbolizes a modern rebirth–a Christlike figure that the paper could savor–was sort of completely made up. The Post-Dispatch offers a note to its readers:

On the front page of last Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, we published the story of a woman identified as Virginia Gillis. She was featured in an Easter story in which she described in detail a past of victimization, homelessness and despair followed by recovery and repair.

We have since learned that a number of the details in that story were inaccurate. Further, our verification procedures were not followed during the reporting and editing process. In short, this story did not meet our standards for publication.

We apologize for this journalistic breakdown. We value the trust you place in us every time you pick up the Post-Dispatch or log onto STLtoday.com, and we understand that incidents such as this put that trust at risk.

Last Monday morning, we were contacted by someone who told us that information provided by the woman in the story was inaccurate.

The note goes on to identify all of the facts that were wrong in the anecdote, including the woman’s name and everything she told an enraptured journalist.

Of course, the paper doesn’t really explain missing the theological explanation of Easter, choosing instead to cast Christ and the meaning of Easter as an Adonis figure, ignoring the interpretation that Christ died to cleanse the world of sin, and that Christ’s death means capital punishment is wrong.

Perhaps newspapers should learn to avoid the common template, particularly in policy pieces but also used in this case, that requires a human interest anecdote in the lead position to humanize the sweeping pronouncements and paper-based interpretations that follow and should instead focus on actual reporting. They could shunt these pieces off to the human interest pages or editorial pages where they belong instead of casting them as news. However, that would probably require more effort and less creative writing on the parts of newspaper staffs.

So I don’t expect it. But at least the Post Dispatch acknowledged this systemic failure on its part.

But they’re the ones who will frame the elections this year for a good portion of the St. Louis area, and I don’t look forward to a number of pieces in the middle of April and November saying, “Whoops! Our story presented our agenda, but might have been inaccurate.”

Headline Words Tilt

I know it’s no surprise, but let me point out the obvious. This St. Louis Post-Dispatch headline indicates its lack of objectivity: Ashcroft defends Bush on spying

Spying? Well, I guess that’s one way to put surveillance. If you’re against it.

Don’t you hate how the cops on the side of the road spy on your speed with radar “guns”? Me, too.

How about your municipality spying on you with red light cameras or with cameras downtown or microphones designed to pinpoint gunshots? What, Post-Dispatch, it’s not spying unless you can hang it on Bush?

Be On The Lookout For Albino With Dreadlocks

When I lived in Jefferson County, I always assumed that the suspects in a gas station holdup were rednecks in flannel and pickup trucks. However, this description makes me wonder:

One man is described as heavy set and between 5’6″ and 5’9″ tall wearing a dark hooded jacket with black baggie pants and a sock cap. The other has a lighter complexion with dread locks or a pony tail wearing a light gray hooded jacket.

The inclusion of a lighter complexion makes me wonder if, perhaps, the high-minded St. Louis Post-Dispatch has left out a vital part of the description: the race of the perpetrators.

Because if they were white rednecks, that would mean that the lighter complexion refers to an albino or a mere pink neck.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Endorses Criminal Retribution on Law Enforcement Officials

Lawbreaking St. Louis Post-Dispatch “investigators” name a member of the state execution staff. Why? Well, they rely on his misdemeanor criminal past–which does not render him ineligible to perform his duty according to state law–to justify it, but it’s really a way to limit capital punishment in the state, something that hasn’t yet been done legislatively or through the normal end-run means, the courts.

Instead, the Post-Dispatch searches its corporate heart and determines that it is compelled, compelled to put this fellow at risk. It’s against state laws to name these individuals for their safety, so the family, friends, or criminal associates of a condemned and executed party don’t get revenge on the executioners.

But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch doesn’t mind one or two executioners dying if it can A.) sell newspapers, B.) win valuable journalism prizes, or C.) impede the lawful performance of capital punishment through any means necessary.

It remains to be seen if Attorney General Jay Nixon, a candidate for governor and the preordained endorsed candidate of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, will seek putative measures against the paper so that it might enjoy the consequences of its civil disobedience or whether its benefactor will come to its rescue, much like its inspiration Henry David Thoreau, received when he flouted the law to make a point and got out of jail through a deus ex maquina.

Post-Dispatch Headline Writers Fail Spelling Saving Throws

What, don’t these guys even care anymore? Perhaps they’re not reflected in the paper itself, but here are two egregious errors today:


Aggrevation, indeed
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Electronic payments can save you $150 a year, lots of aggrevation

Accussed?
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Man accussed of 29 counts of child sex abuse in custody

Aggrevation? Accussed? Can’t they even afford spell-checkers down there on Tucker?

From Downtown, It’s All High Ridge

Aged woman pulled from High Ridge fire:

An elderly woman who could be heard screaming Friday from inside her burning mobile home moments before firefighters arrived, has died.

High Ridge Fire District Chief Mike Arnhart said a neighbor called 911 and said she could hear the woman, who was in her 80s, screaming from inside the structure in the Brookside Estates trailer park in Fenton. Firefighters arrived around 2:21 a.m. and found the woman near a side door, Arnhart said.

Word to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Brookside Estates is not in either High Ridge nor Fenton. The region between Valley Dell Road or perhaps even Sugar Creek Road to the west and the St. Louis County Line is Murphy, or as my mother got into her head sometime Murphy Flats, although the area is not very flat at all.

The town of High Ridge is several miles to the west, although the border was generally considered Little Brennan or Sugar Creek Roads. Fenton, on the other hand, is a town inside St. Louis County and not in Jefferson County. It is, however, just over the hills from Brookside Estates.

And how do I know these things? Because for a number of years, I lived in Siesta Manor Mobile Home Park across Delores Drive from where this woman died, and in those years, that little mobile home park was my whole world.

A Priori

Art review, St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Unless, like Rip van Winkle, you’ve just awakened from a 20-year nap, you know that the planet is ailing. Even deniers, such as those who put profits before people, have come around to admitting that human activity is responsible for most of the decline in planetary well-being.

Sometimes, it just takes an art critic to settle scientific debates once and for all.

A real shame, though, that the first paragraph put me into a 20 year fit of apoplexy and made me unable to read the rest of the review.

Sylvester Brown Wants His Barbara Ehrenreich Merit Badge

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Sylvester Brown wants an authenticity merit badge, since he’s gone slumming with the plebes:

Sometimes I forget that I’m a 50-year-old fuddy-duddy who should give more thought before doing things on a whim.

On Monday, I decided that I would ride the bus to work. It might be interesting to hang out with the nondrivers.

Oh, for Pete’s sake. I would fisk the rest of the column, but why waste the mental energy when I could be reading to come up with material for the book reports you don’t bother to read, gentle reader?

Oh, but I must.

I had to be at Ranken Technical College on Finney Avenue, a bit north of the Central West End. Kingshighway is close to the area and runs near my home. A reasonable person might have checked the routes before leaving. Not me. I just trekked toward Kingshighway.

Real people have places to go; columnists on self-directed assignment can just wander in and out and be authentic, hanging out with the non-drivers on the buses.

I guess the bus driver, who grunted her answers, wasn’t used to newbies holding up her line to ask about fares.

Neither were the passengers on the bus.

I was a bit dismayed after she told me a “multiuse transfer” ticket that I could use for another connecting bus, if need be, cost almost 3 bucks.

No doubt, multiuse transfers like the one he used are expensive; they’re tourist traps. Real commuters buy the monthly or weekly passes and can ride whenever they want. If you’re plunking down that much in change for the right to take one or two more buses in the next couple of hours, you’re a tourist, or you’re having an emergency. In any case, the quasi-government thinks that’s a good time to charge you a premium. Not gouge you; that’s what evil businesses do.

Heck, double that amount and I could buy a couple of gallons of gas. Isn’t public transportation supposed to be cheaper than driving?

Ah, therein Mr. Brown fails his roll to understand the economics of the situation. $60 a month for a bus pass means you have to come up with $60 once a month. Buying a car means coming up with a larger sum, several hundred dollars probably, all at once and then come up with probably more than $60 a month for gas and maintenance (usually, a lot of maintenance if you’ve only paid a couple hundred dollars). Plus licensing and whatnot, if you do it legally.

Bus transportation is inexpensive, and it’s pay as you go.

Monthly or weekly, though, not trip by trip.

Back when I was a daily bus rider, the bus pass was the first thing I did when I cashed my paycheck at work (which also sold bus passes) because that way I was guaranteed transportation even if I spent every last nickel in my pocket, or just enough so I didn’t have the buck for the white and green limousine.

Still, I highly recommend riding the bus. There’s something energizing about total strangers, scrunched together, engaging in random conversations.

Brother, when I was riding the bus, the last thing I wanted was to be energized by stranger engaged in a random conversation. Because he was drunk, stoned, and/or insane.

The writer in me saw potential stories — the already tired-looking woman in the blue worker’s uniform; the bicycle rider in Spandex, who hoisted his bike on the front end of the bus; the woman in the electric wheelchair, scooped into the bus by a powerful mechanical lift.

Brother, I don’t see stories; I see garments and handicaps. A blue worker’s uniform? Do all proletariat wear the same uniform, unlike the Intellectuals who ride the buses whenever they’re running dry on column ideas?

Then there’s the story of Mattie, a missing dog. Among the ads on the bus encouraging prenatal and diabetes care, there was a posting that offered a $25,000 reward for anyone who found Mattie, a little, fluffy white dog who disappeared in 2006 after someone stole the out-of-town owner’s car with the dog inside.

The best part of the story, because that is what a bus rider thinks about.

Fearing that it would take me miles from my destination, I got off. Luckily, a friend saw me walking and offered a ride.

That’s almost how real bus riders do it, too; all except the not knowing where you’re going part. But if someone offers you a lift, you take it.

After work, the reasonable me called Metro to find the best route from downtown to my home in south St. Louis.

Real bus riders get the schedules and route tracts and use them as a guideline. Metro even puts out a big guide that lists all routes and they give them away to the public, so you could consult one of these to plot where you need to go.

Unless you’re a newspaper columnist and are used to getting people on the phone.

If I caught #94/Page bus at 7:43 p.m., then transferred to #90/Hampton at 8:15 p.m., “I’d be just fine,” the operator explained.

Why would I head north to go back south, I asked.

“That’s what I have here, sir,” she said cheerfully. “Good luck.”

There you have it. A functionary who knows she only has to make an effort, and the fool who follows her.

I had to catch the first bus behind St. Patrick Center, an agency that serves the homeless. As I walked, a young man sidled next to me. I slowed, he slowed. I quickened my step, so did he.

Ah, there you go, one of the noble people whom you meet while waiting at bus stops. I’ve met a few and have many stories to tell, but then again, I rode the bus more than once for a column.

The ride on #94 wasn’t as comforting as my morning commute. Most of the riders seemed tired and kept to themselves. An elderly man got off the bus in his wheelchair and quietly rolled down a dark and eerie street. It wondered if his journey home would be as depressing as his surroundings.

This matches my experience on buses running through the city. The expresses buses that run you right out to the suburbs have shiny people on them, shiny suburbanites. But people who don’t ride their buses to get to the park and ride lots–that is, people who have to ride the bus–tend not to be chipper. Or maybe that’s just me.

When I got off at my transfer point, the poorly lighted intersection of Page Avenue and Goodfellow Boulevard, an alarming question crossed my mind: “Don’t people get shot around here?”

Because Sylvester Brown is black, he can ask that question in print. If a white columnist had asked that, he would greet a firestorm of racism charges for equating crime with a black neighborhood. Even a black neighborhood that has a lot of crime.

The ride home on #90 again stirred my imagination. For most of the ride, it was just me and the driver, a broad-shouldered, friendly man with a big, black Bible positioned within reach on his dashboard. I rode through Forest Park, my hands cupped to the tinted windows, glancing at the grassy hills and spouting fountains.

I might have missed this beauty in my car.

Brother, I have driven through the Central West End and parts of Forest Park during rush hour. You don’t have to miss the beauty because the traffic backs up at all the stoplights throughout the park. You actually get more time driving during rush hour to enjoy the beauty than you would riding a bus at street speeds later at night.

It was after 9 p.m.. I would have been home hours earlier in my car. But I have no regrets. I moved through the city and met some interesting and engaging riders and drivers. I learned that riders should always know their routes and that Metro bus #94 can be a bit intimidating at night.

And he got a column out of it, a condescending bit of hanging with the real people kind of stuff that grates on my nerves. Fortunately, the next day, he drove to work no doubt to get started on his next column back in his normal grounds, black people are shortchanged by white people.

Dan O’Neill Offers News Analysis In Sports Column

Hey, coach, let’s play, too:

The Rick Ankiel story has put a little life into this otherwise lackluster baseball summer in St. Louis.

Where the latter topic is concerned, the Cardinals lost Chris Carpenter on opening day and things never have gotten a whole lot better. While the recent “surge” may have been slightly more encouraging than the surge in Iraq, it may not be any more effective.

Considering that the eighteen remaining subscribers to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch only get it for the sports pages, maybe writing the sports pages like the rest of the paper isn’t a good idea.

Crap, Sylvester Brown and I Agree

Recently, a couple left a child in a car in the summer heat here in St. Louis and the child died. Because the woman was a pediatrician and the father a researcher at Washington University, I told my beautiful wife and my child’s wonderful mother that, they probably wouldn’t face charges because they were doctors. Had they been less, they would be going to jail for child something-or-other, the charges society dishes out when it’s shocked and appalled how the lower classes treat their kids.

Sylvester Brown of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expresses the same sentiments.

I think our prosecutors like to come down like a hammer on crimes of negligence without tempering their “justice” (enforcement of laws) with a little mercy because it’s easier to up conviction rates on “crimes” that shock society/juries/defense attorneys into seeking plea deals. And it’s not so tedious or dangerous for law enforcement to shackle these poor souls than to go out and get people who intentionally harm one another because those who intend harm tend to be better armed and more dangerous.

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

Apparently, the reporter is ignorant of that place of business:

The Overland Police Department this afternoon sent out a plea for help in solving an armed robbery that happened at a toy store last Wednesday by sending out a photograph and video of the gunman.

An armed robber held up Priscilla’s Toy Box at 10210 Page Avenue in the city at 8:55 p.m. on Aug. 15, according to police.

Friends, that’s not a children’s toy store. So I hear.

UPDATE: Well, I guess someone at the paper noticed, as the word “toy” has gone down the memory hole.