Customer disservice from the Chicago Tribune

photo from Wikipedia

photo from Wikipedia

The Chicago Tribune wants to dump its print-delivery customers, but doesn’t want to say so.

It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

Or maybe they only want to dump Northwest Indiana, typically treated as the unwanted bastard child of the region.

For months, papers for Tribune subscribers here have arrived very late, then not at all.  Local retail outlets such as Walgreens would be allocated only one or two copies.

Sometimes I’d find a Wall Street Journal or a Post-Tribune in the driveway, neither of which I subscribe to, with these words scrawled on the plastic bag: “Sorry ran out of Tribunes.”

I finally cornered a carrier on one of the occasions he showed up with a Tribune, about 11 a.m. He said the Tribune had transferred its delivery duties in this area to the Northwest Indiana Times, headquartered in Munster. He said some carriers had quit. Those remaining, accustomed to having 500 papers to deliver, found themselves trying to deliver 1,000 papers. Since that many won’t fit into a carrier’s personal vehicle, they’d run out and have to drive back to the distribution point in Portage for more, then drive back to their customers in Lake County.

The Tribune’s customer-service phone number rang unanswered this morning before disconnecting itself. The message at the NWI Times customer-service number was, “Due to delivery challenges in recent days, your wait time may exceed 15 to 20 minutes.”

As in other crumbling relationships, the Tribune has been behaving badly for a while, probably hoping that its print-delivery customers would give up and go away because the paper lacks the courage to tell us it’s over.

Things probably aren’t much better in the newsroom, where many jobs have been axed and others outsourced. The remaining reporters continue to produce first-class journalism, but their heroic efforts are undermined by a system so shoddy it can’t deliver their work to customers. We’re being herded to the online version, kicking and screaming.

I’ll ask a few people at both papers if they’d like to comment on this. Maybe someone actually will.


Another new low at the NY Times: Imagine what news is true

The top news editor at the New York Times has revealed an alarming new standard for what now passes as news in that paper.

The Public Editor’s Journal of Oct. 27 quotes him explaining why a news story containing an error should not be thought mistaken: The Times, he said, was only reporting what was common knowledge and that “It’s hard to imagine some version of this is not true.”

Just not the version reported.

Previously, the basic standard for publishing news required reporters to confirm facts. Specific, concrete, verifiable facts. Only talking heads and bloggers spouting fringe opinions relied on assumptions about what is common knowledge or the comforting excuse that surely some version of the events in question must be true.

Every old-school journalist has heard the saying, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

From now on, readers of the Times will have to do their own fact-checking before relying on news that’s printed whether it’s fit or not.

Women’s lives don’t matter enough

Once again, the story of a man killing a woman he was dating has made front-page news, and for a familiar reason – police and judges failed to do their duty.handgun

The day he shot Dena Seymour dead, the offender had racked up three orders of protection, was on probation for aggravated assault, had violated probation with an arrest for soliciting sex, had failed to show up in court, had failed to attend a court-ordered class in anger management and had just been charged with rape.

Felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors (allowing him to legally keep his gun) and he was released without bail despite the pending rape charge.

This happens over and over because men simply don’t value women. Instead, they operate from the often unarticulated but bone-deep belief that they must control women or risk being seen as emasculated.

This is especially true among police officers. Rates of domestic violence among their families is three times higher than in civilian families – 40 percent compared to 10 percent.

“Victims of police family violence typically fear that the responding officers will side with their abuser and fail to properly investigate or document the crime. …most departments across the country typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report…,” according to the National Center for Women and Policing.  But this isn’t limited to police families.

After my sister separated from her soon-to-be-ex-husband, she met him at his office for a talk. His employees heard her scream when he tried to yank her out of a chair by her long hair. She called the police. But they spoke to her husband first, who told them that they were going through a divorce. They examined her neck and found no bruises. They dismissed her accusation as a “civil matter” that didn’t warrant their intervention and wouldn’t even take a report. She had to call the police station and insist on filing one. Now she’s getting treatment for the whiplash injury that showed up not long after he manhandled her.

Even her lawyer and her marriage counselor, both women, discouraged her from filing for an order of protection because there were no bruises and no witnesses. Shamefully, they even suggested he hadn’t really hurt her. This shows how deep and pervasive is the attitude that devalues women.

Her husband has subjected her to angry outbursts, extreme verbal abuse and constant belittlement, has a history of drug addiction and owns several handguns. Even if she had an order of protection,  she could still be attacked because he has no reason to think he’d be punished.

The Chicago Tribune article “Red flags before woman’s shooting death” describes how authorities caused Dena Seymour’s murder by failing to take violence against women seriously. One judge had dismissed a fourth woman’s request for an order of protection against the man because she came across in court as too excitable, while he maintained calm composure.

Easy to do when you know the charges won’t be taken seriously.





To silence a jerk, whose name will not be published here, ignore him

If someone bullies you with insults and mockery, as did a rival to Carly Fiorina – “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” –  you should:

A) call him on it using the words “sexism” or “offensive,” thereby demonstrating your weak, feminized, grievance-based victimhood;

B) get over it, toughen up and refuse to be an oversensitive ninny or a loser.

Option B is what one columnist urges Fiorina to choose when she faces that loudmouth tonight in the debate of Republican candidates for the party’s presidential nomination. According to the columnist, the loudmouth’s supporters like him because he has the balls to offend people. Those who object to being accosted by a jerk, whom the columnist describes as “walking testosterone,” simply invite further abuse and weary those who aren’t oversensitive losers.

What a great way to collude with abusers while burdening their targets with a phony stigma.

This view associates being a rude jerk with manliness, or at least with testosterone. Are there any men out there brave enough to dispute that, despite the risk of being jeered by rude jerks?

The best way for anyone to respond to such boorish behavior, writes the columnist, is to avoid using terms sneeringly deemed as “politically correct,” since that will only spur jerks on. But instead of hobbling one’s vocabulary, I suggest a different course: regal silence. Do not deign to acknowledge jerks.

Attention of any kind fuels them. Their greatest fear is to be ignored. Deal with them as you would a bad smell from someone deliberately and delightedly farting in a crowd. Ignore him until he and the smell go away.


Fairness? Not our job.

Benjamin Franklin probably never imagined a United States of I've-got-mine.

Benjamin Franklin probably never imagined a United States of I’ve-got-mine.


Here’s how Chief Justice John Roberts explained the Supreme Court’s decision to let rich people give up to $3.6 million every two years to candidates and political parties they want to influence: “No matter how desirable it may seem, it is not an acceptable government objective to ‘level the playing field.'”

Really? Removing artificial, unfair barriers to citizenship, voting, education, jobs and health care is not an acceptable government objective? In fact, the job of a democratic government is precisely to ensure that all citizens enjoy an equal chance of influencing the policies that govern their pursuits of life, liberty and happiness.

In the ceaseless struggle by the many against rigged rules that favor the wealthy and powerful few, Roberts and his court cronies are on the wrong side. For now, that side appears to have the upper hand. But as the history of every revolution demonstrates, there’ll come a time when the structure of entrenched privilege collapses, crushed between the weight of unsustainable injustice and the pressure of popular uprising.

And don’t you know that Roberts and his ilk will be shocked, shocked, at the notion that their actions could have played any part in the uproar.




Is it something in the water? Has heat addled their brains, or petrochemical pollution poisoned their perceptions? Instead of the strong, brave, hero types of Texan legend, we’re seeing two examples this week of Lone Star paranoia run amok.

texas secedes

First, we have the pathetic sight of Capitol security guards confiscating tampons and maxi-pads from the purses of women wanting to attend legislative debate on the state’s proposed abortion restrictions (which passed). Supposedly, guards had been tipped off that “proaborts” might fling feminine hygiene products at lawmakers.

Next, we learn that an anonymous donor paid the $500,000 bond set for 19-year-old Justin Carter after cops arrested him for a sarcastic Facebook post. When a fellow “League of Legends” gamer called Carter insane, Carter unwisely replied, “Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still-beating hearts.”

For this, he was jailed for months after being charged with making a terroristic threat. He’s due in court for a hearing on Tuesday, July 16th.

No sir, Texans don’t cotton to sarcasm or assault with female unmentionables.

Now stupid remarks (ala Gov. Rick Perry) and letting gun-toting Texans exercise their Second Amendment rights with as few restrictions as possible, that’s different.

Let Texas go, as 100,000 people already have urged in a petition to the White House. And make it take Florida with it.




When is it okay to say nigger?

Paula DeenAs we all know now, Paula Deen, the doyenne of deep-fried cooking, has turned her career into toast. Blackened it, one might say, with a series of scorching admissions about her use of the word “nigger” and her proposal to throw a plantation-themed party with African Americans portraying slaves.

Amid the uproar, pundits, newscasters and bloggers routinely used the prettified phrase “N-word” when referring to the racist slur Deen slung around. The cautious resort to a euphemism isn’t the most effective teaching tool for conveying how objectionable the term is. If we’re too delicate to even say the word, how can we possibly educate the unenlightened?

Imagine trying to teach sex education using only “the I-word.”

As distasteful as Ms. Deen’s bigotry is, the rabid reactions of her defenders are downright astounding. To those who insist they “don’t understand” why Deen’s attitudes are so harmful, try this little exercise.

Imagine she was accused of disparaging fat people. She goes on TV to protest her innocence. Instead of saying (as she did) that one of her employees is black and asking him to come on out even though he might be hard to see because he’s as dark as the background of the stage set, let’s say she told him “Come on out here, if you can get through the door, and show people how fat you are.”

Or, let’s take the plantation-party plan a step further. Why didn’t it occur to Ms. Deen to suggest including some light-skinned slaves who look an awful lot like Ol’ Massa, played by her brother Bubba and some relatives with spray-on tans? And an overseer with a big whip? And a pack of baying bloodhounds?

Guess that didn’t fit into the happy slaves theme, and unhappy slaves would be no fun at all, y’all.