Frankentrump’s monster: It’s alive!

 

The Republican Party has created the most oafish presidential nominee ever as surely as Dr. Frankenstein created his monster.

Start with dead ideas and keep digging them up, no matter how rotten: tax breaks for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor;  unlimited campaign funding for corporations, voting restrictions for people. Cobble together with beliefs, not facts.

Stoke the anger of voters by blaming the powerless. Deny reality. Refuse to leave the isolated echo-chamber of angry old white men. Expel those who sound warnings.

Zap the campaign with high-voltage fearmongering and watch this give life to an unnatural creation who appalls and frightens. It’s alive!

Voters naïve enough to go along with this are, like Little Maria, putting themselves in peril. The rest of us hope to kill the monster at the ballot box.

Failing that, we’ll see angry villagers storming the White House, and every other Trump property, with clubs and torches.

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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.

Up in smoke: The New York Times lowers its standard for the front page

No less an institution than the New York Times has begun violating the traditional separation between news and advertising on what used to be considered sacrosanct space – the front page.

It isn’t the first to do that, but following the herd isn’t what made the Times into one of the world’s best newspapers.

“Stories from our advertisers” now appear on the Times’ digital front page. These are not news stories, which are researched, written and edited by professionally impartial journalists, in which facts are laid out as accurately as possible regardless of whose ox may be gored.  These front-page entries are advertisements, meant to manipulate consumers into buying products they may or may not need.

Thus, they skew information to be convincing. One of today’s “stories” is from a maker of digital home devices that purport to turn your lights on or off, adjust the thermostat and lock or unlock your front door with the touch of a button on your smart phone.

“In a Flash” weaves impressive graphics of raging flames and quotes from expert, supposedly neutral sources into a story about how internet-connected smoke detectors are critical to saving the lives of you and your loved ones if a fire breaks out in your home. Its use of scare tactics is like that often seen in political campaigns, an overwrought insistence that disaster will surely befall anyone unwise enough to vote for the other candidate or chose a different brand of smoke detector.

The Times, of course, is paid for shilling this product to its readers. What used to be the premier newspaper in the United States has chosen to compete for advertising dollars by mixing the slickest ads into space once reserved for the most important news. The front page was the last place where Times readers could be assured that their interest in being informed of the facts – “impartially, without fear or favor,” as its founder put it – came first. Now they’re just another commodity to be shilled to advertisers.

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.

 

Religion kills again

In Kabul, a mob of men killed a woman accused of having burned pages from the Koran. In Brooklyn, seven children burned to death after a hot plate malfunctioned and sent flames racing through the house. Their mother had left it on all night so she could warm food for them the next day. It was a way to circumvent religious restrictions on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

Those children and the woman in Afghanistan, along with countless millions during human history, died because people confused obedience to rules of religion with moral behavior. Mindless adherence to arcane, arbitrary dictates never elevated anyone. But it does let those men in Kabul believe the murder they committed was sanctified, while the grieving parents in Brooklyn try to convince themselves that their loss was “God’s will,” instead of a choice that gave the physical hazard of a hot plate left on too long less importance than the perceived spiritual peril of cooking a meal.

In all cases of religious-based violence and suffering, the perpetrators thrust responsibility for the mayhem on the demands of obedience to rules or the failure of others to obey. It’s the victim’s fault, or part of a deity’s mysterious plan. In truth, we kill each other by our own choices in the here-and-now.

The way we treat others is the best measure of morality. And by that measure, religions have failed.

(This links to a 2-minutes video showing the Afghan victim being beaten and stomped: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6SjE9EslKA)