Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A little love to, and from, the White House

One of the cool things about editing a newspaper is that when you see a beautiful new portrait of your country's beautiful First Family, you can display it loud and proud on the front page in full color.

So long as the publisher agrees. And I knew our publisher, Doc, would agree. Here is a pdf of our front page tomorrow for The St. Louis American:

Page A1, Oct. 29, 2009

I don't usually have a pdf of the front page the night we go to press; usually, I'm there with the rest of our little newsroom and the publisher, proofing black & white printouts as they roll out of our ancient printer.

But today, I am home with a sick kid, and stayed away even when my wife came home to relieve me, since the girl has H1N1. She is doing fine, and her parents don't seem to be getting sick, but I have been exposed and don't want to communicate the virus to anyone else while I may be contagious.

Having proofed the front-page design by pdf (and corrected a few errors on this version that won't appear in tomorrow's paper, multiplied by 70,000), I had the idea of sending it to our contact at the White House.

Barack Obama set a new standard for outreach to the minority press; I've actually had a far easier time communicating with the Obama campaign and administration than the Slay for Mayor campaign or administration.

Anyway, I emailed this front page to our man in Washington, with the note, "Thought you'd appreciate how we played your peeps."

And he wrote right back in moments:

Chris, you guys are too good for your own good. That made my day.
Hope the kid feel better. Thanks much.
Well, hell. Approval from the White House, and the paper isn't even at the printer? I think I deserve a beer. I think I'm going to go get one now.

p.s. If you want to continue reading the stories that start on 1A, here are the jump pages:

Page A6, Oct. 29, 2009

Page A7, Oct. 29, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Call him sperm whale poop

I understand from a report in The Telegraph that a British broadcast medium will try reporting news and issues of the day using impersonators for literary figures of the past:

Dr Samuel Johnson will be interpreted by the broadcaster David Stafford, John Ruskin, the critic, will be played by Professor Bernard Richards, a Ruskin expert at Brasenose College Oxford, and Jane Austen will be performed by Rebecca Vaughan, who wrote and performed in 'Austen's Women' at this year's Edinburgh festival.
I like it - if only because I dislike so much what so many broadcasters do when they don't impersonate anybody.

We are told, further, that "Dr Johnson will examine the knowledge economy and learn how to use the internet" and "Jane Austen,will consider modern courtship and the waning popularity of marriage," while left to guess what faux Ruskin will natter on about.

This made me imagine dead American writers we might bring back to talk about the news and issues of our day.

This deserves to be an occasional series, rather than a hurried roundup. So let me start by bringing back one dead American scribe - Herman Melville - to report on climate change.

Herman, of course, was the great poet of the sperm whale. As his news director, I would have him interview Trish J. Lavery of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, who just busted out some fresh research about Melville's species of choice.

Turns out since Hermie kicked, sperm whales have been getting a bum rap for allegedly breathing out skads of carbon that contributes to greenhouse gas buildup, and thereby global warming. Bad sperm whale! Bad, bad!

According to Science News, Trish is putting the kebosh on that slander. A whale whose name is associated with a bodily fluid is actually rehabilitating its reputation through a bodily solid. It's all about diving to the depth and bringing up iron that, returned to the surface of the ocean, nourishes plankton that scarfs on - y'all guessed it - carbon.

Using numbers from studies of feeding and nutrition, Lavery and her colleagues calculate that each whale brings up about 10 grams of iron a day from the depths
and then defecates it at the surface. The beauty of this sperm whale output is that it takes the form of drifting liquid plumes that can feed life in the upper ocean, Lavery says. She notes that experiments with iron have struggled with iron fertilizers that clump and sink before upper-water plankton can eat all of the goodies. Yet, she says, those experiments document measurable carbon trapping with even less iron fertilizer than sperm whales contribute.
I know, I know, I know: this clip talks of "the beauty of this sperm whale output," when said output is sperm whale poop. Bad Branson dinner theater joke in there somewhere. How many scientists does it take to see beauty in sperm whale poop? Just one I guess.

And I know just how I'll coach old Herman to start his every stand-up on camera: "Call me Ishmael!" And, then, in this instance, "Or, call me sperm whale poop! Reporting from the Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in Quebec City, Canada ..."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Antonio French responds to Rainford's 'Katrina' insult

Alderman Antonio D. French hand-delivered this letter to the Mayor' Office around noon today.

Dear Mayor Slay,

I would like to call to your attention comments made yesterday by your chief of staff, Jeff Rainford. On the 10:00 PM broadcast of KMOV Channel 4 News, Mr. Rainford compared north St. Louis City to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

While it is certainly true that parts of the City of St. Louis have suffered greatly from decades of population loss and benign neglect under past administrations, to have the chief of staff of the Mayor make such a broad characterization of half of our city completely undermines the efforts many of us are making to improve the quality of life in our wards.

As I work daily to attract the interest of rehabbers, developers and entrepreneurs who can help us rebuild the 21st Ward house-by-house, block-by-block, I definitely do not need to have an official City spokesperson on television painting a negative picture of my northside

Furthermore, if it is truly the opinion of Room 200 that sections of north St. Louis are similar to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, then I welcome a proportional response from your office in terms of a true commitment of attention and resources to those sections of our city that present both the biggest challenges and the greatest opportunity for the City of St. Louis.

I would also like to invite Mr. Rainford on a personal tour of the Penrose and O’Fallon neighborhoods to show him the beautiful and wellmaintained blocks that make these some of the finest places to live in the City of St. Louis and not at all like an area destroyed by a natural disaster.
Alderman Antonio D. French
City of St. Louis, Ward 21

Missouri man indicted for threatening Obama

Josh Randall McCallum was indicted on federal charges of making a threat to kill the President of the United States, Acting United States Attorney Michael W. Reap announced today.

According to the indictment, on August 3, 2009, McCallum mailed a letter threatening to kill the President of the United States. At the time he mailed the letter he was an inmate at the Northeast Correctional Center.

McCallum, 32, Bowling Green, MO, was indicted by a federal grand jury October 8, 2009, on one felony count of threatening the President of the United States. He is expected to appear in federal court later this week.

If convicted, this charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.

Reap commended the work on the case by the United States Secret Service; and Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Rea, who is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Monday, October 12, 2009

‘An affirmation of American leadership’

One peculiar experience I get as editor of The St. Louis American at this historic juncture is on a regular basis to edit a speech given by the president for publication. I know his flow, and that of his speechwriters, pretty well by now. We will run this in the paper this week.


President Obama responds to Nobel Peace Prize award

By Barack Obama
U.S. President

Washington, D.C.
– Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning.

After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, "Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo's birthday!" And then Sasha added, "Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up." So it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize – men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build – a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action – a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.

These challenges can’t be met by any one leader or any one nation. And that's why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek.

We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people. And that's why we’ve begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

We can't allow the differences between peoples to determine the way that we see one another, and that's why we must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.

And we must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years, and that effort must include an unwavering commitment that finally realizes that the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own.

And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today.

I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that's responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies. I'm also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work. These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people.

Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency. Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration – it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world.

And that's why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity – for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace.

That has always been the cause of America. That's why the world has always looked to America. And that's why I believe America will continue to lead.

Edited from remarks delivered in the White House Rose Garden on Oct. 9, 2009.


President Barack Obama and his daugher Malia read an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence at the Jefferson Memorial, Sept. 27, 2009. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Osama, Obama, and the Nobel Prize for Peace

I'll have to admit some good-faith understanding of the Americans who loathe President Barack Obama and oppose every last thing he says or does without regard for our country.

I felt much the same way about President George W. Bush and his father, President Geoge H.W. Bush. During both Bush presidencies, things got so bad for me that I quit watching national television news because the sound of the president's voice immediately pitched me into a towering rage.

I have never killed anyone, don't plan to kill anyone, and would never kill a president, but I hated both of these men with a quality and quantity of rage that could fairly be described as "murderous".

I get all that. And I would never let anyone convince me that I hated the Bushes because I hate rich white men. I hated them because I hated their rhetoric and policies and what I thought they were doing to our country.

So, I think it is possible to hate Barack Obama for his rhetoric and policies and what he is perceived to be doing to our country - without being a racist. I think much hatred of Obama is, in fact, entangled with racism and outraged white privilege, but I don't think all of it is.

And no one who hated the Bush presidents as much as I did can, with good faith, deny a fellow American the right to hate the president. (Just, please, don't kill him.)

Here is how much I have hated the recent Republican presidential administrations.

I am married to a woman from West Africa, and we own a postage stamp of land in Ghana. We looked at John McCain and, especially, Sarah Palin (who is, at least, easy to look at, at least for me), and we agreed that if our fellow Americans (my wife is now a citizen) wanted these people to run the country, that we would leave it. I was fully prepared to abandon my country and repatriate to Ghana if John McCain and Sarah Palin had won the White House.

So, I get it - I get the hating. I really do.

I wish the haters were as ready to repatriate as my wife and I were (angry conservative white people are welcome in many places, though fewer and fewer, every day). But it's their country, too, and they have every right to stay right here and hate it and everything about it, including the president. (Just don't kill him with those guns that you have every right to bear.)

I have been thinking a lot about Ghana, lately, after the surprising announcement that Barack Obama had won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Let me say, first, that I report for and edit an African American-owned newspaper that worked hard to elect Obama, through the powers of the press, and remains committed to supporting him and helping him to succeed. As our owner and publisher, Donald M. Suggs, said to me once, when he was privately criticizing a piece of public adulation of Obama, "Look - no one loves Obama more than we do".

No one loves Obama more than we do, but that doesn't mean we can't be puzzled by certain things and offer criticisms.

So, yeah, I was among those - and I am fairly certain Barack Obama himself was among those - who was puzzled by his receiving this high honor at this time in his life and career. However, come with me to Ghana for a moment. Maybe that will help us to understand this thing.

I first started visiting Ghana after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, when George W. Bush was the American president. Ghana is a stong, proud nation of strong, proud people, quite preoccupied with their own challenges and initiatives. It is a democracy highly engaged with its own internal politics.

On the roadside and in the streets, one sees and hears mostly about Ghanaians. However, when one saw a depiction of someone who was not Ghanaian, more likely than not the bearded face one would see would be that of Osama bin Laden. One saw a symbol of the desire to destroy our country, the United States, and all it stood for in the world.

We went home to Ghana this past summer to bury my wife's father. It was our first visit home since the election of Obama. I was thinking more about the father we had lost than the president we had elected, but I was immediately struck by the omnipresence of Barack Obama's smiling face on the streets of Ghana.

True, Obama had recently visited the country, in his historic first visit to West Africa as president, and given one of his stirring speeches. And true, too, that Ghana was doing some of its own political soul-searching, with a torpor in its local politics, no local star to hold onto.

But, still, it was striking to see so many publicly displayed images of an American - the president of the United States, no less - in this proud West African nation.

I think this amazing and abrupt transformation is the only way to understand Barack Obama winning the Nobel Prize for Peace when he hasn't ended any wars or closed any torture camps or discontinued any nucleaur programs or even served as president for a complete year.

Yesterday, the most common international image on the streets of Ghana was of a man who wanted to destroy our country. Today, that face has been replaced by the president of our country, the man elected to lead it.

Can you imagine anything more remarkable - or hopeful - than that? Oslo is a long way from Accra, but I think the decision made by the Nobel committee can be traced to this change on the streets of Ghana.

Remember, this is not so much about Barack Obama or our country. It's about the rest of the world.

They look at us, and they fear us. They have very good reason to fear us. For starters, the United States is the only nation that has ever dropped an atomic bomb (two, in fact, when one would have ended the war) on another country. Our nation is powerful and dangerous and people are terrified of us - we, too, strike terror - and the rest of the world has every good reason to be terrified of the most heavily armed nation on Earth.

When George W. Bush ran this nation and its military, the world fantasized about a man who lives in a cave who wanted to destroy our country. With Barack Obama running this nation and its military, the world is fantasizing about our president and where he says he wants to lead us.

It may only be a fantasy, but I like this fantasy a whole lot better than the one that it replaced.

God bless America, and Ghana, and Norway, and you. Just don't kill anybody! Especially our president.

Friday, October 9, 2009

STL coppers indicted for stealing stolen electronics


Ronald Jackson and Christian Brezill have been indicted on charges of theft of government property, after allegedly stealing stolen merchandise after an arrest, Acting United States Attorney Michael W. Reap announced today.

According to the indictment, Ronald Jackson and Christian Brezill were uniformed patrol officers assigned to work in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Sixth District out of the North Patrol Division. They were responsible for collecting, preserving and inventorying evidence; interviewing witnesses; making lawful arrests; conducting lawful searches; and making truthful and accurate reports of their official activities.

The indictment alleges that on July 27, 2009, Jackson was on duty when he received information from an individual that Jane Doe was in possession of electronics equipment stolen from the retailer Best Buy, and was in a vehicle on the parking lot of the Phillips 66 station at 5728 West Florissant Avenue. Jackson agreed with the individual that he would find Jane Doe, seize the stolen electronics equipment from her vehicle, and split some of the stolen electronics equipment with that individual.

Jackson then shared that information with Christian Brezill, who was also on duty and they both drove their police vehicles to the Phillips 66 station to meet Jane Doe. Jackson and Brezill did a computer check on Doe, discovered that she had outstanding minor traffic warrants, arrested her on those traffic warrants, and placed her handcuffed into Brezill’s police vehicle.

They searched the trunk of Doe’s vehicle and discovered electronics equipment, in original boxes and in Best Buy store bags, including a Sony speaker system, a Phillips I-Pod docking system, speaker cable, a Wii gaming system, an X-Box gaming system, a Logitech computer speaker system, a Dell Inspiron laptop computer, and a Dynex LCD flat screen television.

Jackson and Brezill removed all of the electronics equipment from Doe’s vehicle, and placed the items into the trunk of Brezell’s police vehicle. They then conveyed Jane Doe to the North Patrol Division where she was booked on the outstanding minor traffic warrants. Doe was neither arrested nor charged relative to her possession of the electronics equipment. According to the indictment, Jackson and Brezill failed to report to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, either verbally or in writing, their seizure of the electronics equipment from Jane Doe’s vehicle.

After their work shift ended during the early morning hours of July 27, 2009, Jackson and Brezill met at a residential location and split up the seized electronics equipment between themselves.

Jackson kept the Sony speaker system, the speaker cable, the X-Box gaming system, and the Dynex LCD flat screen television; he later gave the Sony speaker system and the speaker cable to the individual who had originally provided him the information regarding Jane Doe, and sold the Dynex LCD flat screen television to another individual for cash.

Brezill kept the Phillips I-Pod docking system, the Wii gaming system, the Logitech computer speaker system, and the Dell Inspiron laptop computer; he later sold the Phillips I-Pod docking system and the Logitech computer speaker system to an individual for cash.

Unbeknownst to Jackson and Brezill, Jane Doe was cooperating with federal law enforcement, and the electronics equipment seized from her and stolen by the defendants was the property of the United States of America.

Jackson, 57, St. Louis City; and Brezill, 25, St. Louis City, were each indicted by a federal grand jury on one felony count of theft of United States Property. They surrendered to authorities this morning have made their appearance in federal court and were released on bond. They are presently scheduled to be arraigned next Friday, October 16, 2009.

If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of 10 years and/or fines up to $250,000.
Reap commended the work on the case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith, who is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Drugs, bribes, conspiracy and corruption in St. Louis

The feds’ greatest hits: 2009

I see incipient signs of a backlash, from some quarters, suggesting that public corruption in St. Louis has been getting too much attention. But when you look at this - partial - list of major indictments and plea agreements from basically only one quarter of this year, I think it's clear that corruption has not been getting nearly enough coverage in our mainstream media.

I am talking about actual, documented, prosecuted corruption, not the "swirling whispers" kind.


October 9, 2009 – St. Louis Metropolitan Police Detective Vincent Carr is scheduled to be sentenced regarding his guilty plea to conspiracy, wire fraud, making false statements and theft of government funds relative to making drug busts.

Sept. 24, 2009 – State Rep. Talibdin El-Amin pleads guilty to federal bribery charges.

Sept. 17, 2009 – STLPD Detective Leo Liston is sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay $8,000 restitution for misappropriation of government funds relative to making drug busts.

August 28, 2009 – STLPD Detective Bobby Garrett pleads guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud, making false statements and theft of government funds relative to making drug busts.

August 25, 2009 – State Sen. Jeff Smith, State Rep. Steve Brown and Smith’s former campaign treasurer Nick Adams plead guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice relative to Smith’s 2004 congressional campaign. Smith and Adams also plead guilty to obstructing a federal grand jury investigation during 2009, in addition to obstructing the Federal Election Commission investigation going back to the 2004 campaign.

August 14, 2009 – St. Louis City Corrections Officer Peggy O’Neal pleads guilty to attempted distribution of heroin to inmates at the St. Louis City Justice Center.

August 12, 2009 – St. Louis City Corrections Officer James Moore pleads guilty to attempted distribution of heroin to inmates at the St. Louis City Justice Center.

August 10, 2009 – STLPD Detective Kevin Shade pleads guilty to mail fraud in connection with falsifying inspections for S&H Parking Systems, which held a lucrative contract with the city police.

June 25, 2009 – Former STLPD detective and manager of S&H Parking Systems Gregory P. Shepard is indicted on multiple charges including mail fraud, wire fraud and bribery; these are only accusations.

June 3, 2009 – St. Louis City Corrections Officers James Moore, Peggy O’Neal and Marilyn Brown are indicted for attempted distribution of heroin to inmates at the St. Louis City Justice Center. Moore and O’Neal would eventually plea guilty; Brown is set for trial December 7, 2009 and remains innocent until proven guilty. The Corrections Division is part of the Department of Public Safety, directed by Charles Bryson, an appointee of Mayor Francis G. Slay.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice


This timeline appears today in The St. Louis American as a sidebar to my lengthy interview with Roland J. Corvington, returning Special Agent in Charge of FBI St. Louis, who has a reputation among local federal prosecutors as a solid team player.

Since last week we ran with an even longer interview with outgoing Special Agent in Charge John Gillies, we may be open to the charge of overplaying the role of the FBI in this impressive string of investigations and prosecutions.

That is not intentional. It so happens that Gillies left office when these stories were hot, and both he and the new guy (who also is the old guy, having been in St. Louis just before Gillies) consented to interviews.

I am hoping when the U.S. Senate confirms Richard Callahan as the new U.S. Attorney in St. Louis, that both he and Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Reap will sit down with me and talk.

I will add that it gives me no pleasure to report on dirty cops when cops are struggling for their lives in the hospital, having been shot on the street; but the mainstream media tends to do a good job of covering the noble defender aspect of police work, especially when a man is down.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Appointments would diversity federal appeals bench

Obama nominates Thompson, Chin to U.S. Court of Appeals

St. Louis American staff

The federal bench will be significantly more diverse if two appointments announced Tuesday by President Barack Obama are confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Obama nominated Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and Judge Denny Chin for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Judge Thompson, an African-American woman, currently serves as an Associate Justice on the Rhode Island Superior Court. Judge Chin, an Asian-American man, currently serves as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York.

"Judges Chin and Thompson have displayed exceptional dedication to public service throughout their careers," President Obama said.

"They have served on the bench with distinction in New York and Rhode Island, and I am honored to nominate them today to serve the American people on the United States Court of Appeals."

In 1988, Judge Thompson became the first African-American woman to be nominated to the Rhode Island District Court, where she presided over state law criminal misdemeanors, civil actions with damages up to $10,000, and tax appeals.

In 1997, she was elevated to the Rhode Island Superior Court, where she currently serves. She was the first African-American woman on that court. As an Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court, Judge Thompson has original jurisdiction over all felony cases and civil actions, including those sounding in equity.

While on the bench, Judge Thompson chaired the Court’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Limited English Speaking Litigants, which was instrumental in the Superior Court establishing an Office of Court Interpreters to ensure that all limited English-speaking litigants have a fuller understanding of judicial proceedings. Judge Thompson is active in a wide variety of community and educational organizations. She is a Trustee of Brown University and of Bryant College.

In 1994, Judge Chin was nominated and confirmed to the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York, where he currently serves. He was the first Asian-American appointed as a U.S. District Court Judge outside of the Ninth Circuit.

Judge Chin has served as an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law teaching legal research and writing since 1986. He is currently the treasurer for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Judicial Council, and he has served as the president of the Federal Bar Council Inn of Court and the President of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.

He also currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the Fordham Law School Alumni Association and the Fordham Law School Law Review Association and as the Co-Chair for the Fordham Law School Minority Mentorship Program.

Judge Chin is a member of the Federal Bar Council Public Service Committee, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Obama said of his nominees, "I am confident that they will be judicious and esteemed additions to the First and Second Circuits."

Their appointments must be confirmed by a majority vote in the U.S. Senate.

The 94 U.S. judicial districts are organized into 12 regional circuits, each of which has a United States court of appeals. A court of appeals hears appeals from the district courts located within its circuit, as well as appeals from decisions of federal administrative agencies.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ed and beans

Did you hear the one about Ed Martin?

Yeah, that Ed Martin. Matt Blunt’s Jeff Rainford.

The guy who used to go on Mark Reardon’s show on KMOX as the red-meat Republican paired with the light-weight “Democrat” that was T.D. El-Amin - before T.D. took a bribe on the wire and took a fall.

The guy who suggested that every Mexican working on the roadside in Missouri was liable to be an illegal immigrant.

The dude who put out the Swift Boat-esque hit on Barack Obama during his presidential campaign.

Yeah, that guy. He is running for U.S. Congress! In Dick Gephardt's old district!

Yeah, we know, that’s a good one.

Martin’s campaign sent out a press release stating that he was hosting a low-rent, pork-and-beans, bring-your-own-beer fundraiser yesterday, to coincide with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi coming to town to raise funds for the incumbent Congressman Russ Carnahan.

Get it? Pork, beans and bring-your-own-beer?

Like, pork. Like, government insider favoritism.

Like, BYOB. Like, the average nobody Joe Six Pack with no money to speak of, just a steel jaw and the urge to take back his country from the slick rich people with the black president.

Like, bullshit.

When an attorney who has run a state government and participated in raising millions of political dollars tries on the hardhat of populism, we are in for some really hilarious political theater.

At least he doesn’t have to change his name from “Addison,” like Congressman Joe “You Lie!” Wilson did.

Forget the pork and beer, though. I'd like to call attention to the beans in this recipe.

We all know one notorious digestive consequence of consuming beans. The things Martin expresses in that respect after his little faux populist party are likely to be as believable and valuable as what words comes out of the man’s mouth on the other end.


Confluence City on Ed's attack on Obama: Ed Martin hopes voters get stuck on stupid

Political EYE on Ed's emails in Matt Blunt's governor's office: The obscene mind of a Missouri Republican

Fire Up! Missouri archive of emails from Martin, Blunt while in office


Image from Uncyclopedia.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Perpetuating the cattle barons' frontier myths

This week John Minkoff sent his former bandmates in Eleanor Roosevelt a link to a blog that posts up Cattle Kate: A True Western Crime Story.

He didn't have to explain the connection. Our band wrote and recorded a song, "Queen of Sweetwater," that deals with the same story.

I stumbled upon this story one summer in Cheyenne, Wyoming with Lij, who plays every folk instrument under the sun on this recording.

We stayed on the edge of Cheyenne with an old Mohawk Indian man named Al Robbins. Rather like a figment from folklore sprung to life, Al regaled us with his rather bitter take on some classic frontier tales. One touched upon Cattle Kate.

I wrote this lyric from Al's yarn, and we recorded it at Webster University with Meghan Gohil. He submitted it as his senior project, judged by Bill Porter, who recorded Elvis Presely. It won Meghan a Webbie for best student production.

We got the story all wrong, though. I later saw a book about Cattle Kate in a bookstore, copied down the author's address and sent him a copy of the recording. He sent back a notecard castigating us for writing the song without reading his book and perpetuating the folklore of Cattle Kate, rather than the facts of Ellen Watson's life.

Even though the cattle barons come off as the bad guys in our song, the song keeps alive the cattle barons' myths of her life and death, I gather - as does the comic book.


"Queen of Sweetwater"
(Matt Fuller, Chris King, Lij, John Minkoff)
Eleanor Roosevelt

From the CD Walker with his head down
Available via digital download