12 February 2020

cry the lost republic

Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have told a lady as he left the Constitutional Convention that the new government is a republic, "if you can keep it." It is sobering to realize we are failing that test.

One of the common phrases in our republic was, "no one is above the law." And yet of a morning we have Mr. Trump celebrating his, "exoneration," which simply does not exist.  Senate Republicans abandoned their oath to, "do impartial justice "(Rule XXV of the Senate Rules in Impeachment Trials.) Only Mitt Romney who actually is a man of honor voted for a guilty decision.

Now comes the news that Mr. Trump is talking openly about refusing to leave the White House after a second term.

.....at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT),,,,,

Trump, Donald J. quoted by USA , Saturday edition 2/8/20 at "https://www.usatoday.com/story/" (excerpted)

There are a number of things wrong with this. Does Mr. Trump actually not know that 4 + 4 = 8? One does not leave the White House after six years, barring a second impeachment trial. Is he that far down the dementia road? If either answer is yes, Heaven help us.

Beyond the math error, this is Trump actually talking about not handing the presidency to an elected successor. And he is doing this in the context of an outright assault on the professionals in the State and Justice departments. Various Republican politicians are suggesting that Mr. Trump was joking. The problem is that there is no record of his ever joking, and the acts against the professionals are real.

The bastion against a would be dictator is of course, Congress. We have just seen that the Senate is not even a paper tiger.

Growing up I was taught to pledge allegiance to the republic for which the flag stands. I taught my sons and a number Cub and Boy Scouts to pledge the same. Now that republic might be dying before our eyes. Cry for the Republic.

04 September 2019

Dear Senator Cruz

Those of us who live near or in Chicago were surprised by the sheer nerve and lack of substance you displayed recently in claiming that the real gun problem is the laws we have here in Illinois, which in your fevered mind cause shootings. I suppose we should not be surprised. You are after all among the least respected members of the Senate. But nonetheless.

The Chicago superintendent of police has noted publically that forty percent (40%) of the firearms recovered by his officers investigating shootings come from Indiana gun shows. If you want to reduce ,shootings in Illinois, and it appears perhaps Texas, support efforts to close the gun show loophole.

The last year for which I have numbers is 2015. That year, Illinois experienced 3.4 gun murders per 100,000 people. Texas had 3.3. One tenth of one murder per 100,000 people is trivial.

Chicago, including major suburbs, ranks 10th of the ten most violent areas in the US in 2015. We experience an unacceptible number:8.1 murders per 100,000 people. New Orleans, the most violent, has more than double, a whopping 16.4 per 100,000 population. Memphis and Birmingham both Southern cities with relatively easy legal gun ownership, were also in double digits.

No one who lives here would argue that we have the problem controlled. There are too many gangs, too many shootings, and too many deaths. In spite of the Indiana gun shows, however, we were tenth in the ten most violent cities. I submit you should turn your silly comments somewhere else.

I am not a fan of mayor Lightfoot. Living as I do just outside of the city,  I pay attention. It is clear that our legal problems, and we have them, have much to do with Missouri and Indiana. The mayor cannot help that. Cheap shot comments from uninformed incompetents such as yourself, do not help.

When trying to send the spotlight away from Texas problems, a classic 4-year-old technique, using the completely discredited, "what about" fallacy is simply immature. We see it here. Is the NRA arm everyone approach failing? It is. What about Chicago?

We understand. Our schools teach critical thinking skills. You are not fooling anyone here. As a Senator, intellect, and man, you make us proud to be Illinoisans.


30 August 2019

Mr. Pence's time may be here

I have been at the very least a consistent impeachment skeptic. I fear I have annoyed a number of my progressive friends by my refusal to join the call. Even more, I have been and remain skeptical of the idea of a twenty fifth amendment action to remove Mr. Trump.

One of the reasons that I have been skeptical is frankly Mike Pence. The vice-president is a doctrinaire ultra conservative protestant.

In general I am willing to defend the absolute right of anyone to believe just about anything. The vice-president is entitled to that defense. He has the prerogative to be a member of any faith community he choses and believe whatever doctrines that body teaches.

There is a line in m view, and that line is where a faith community or adherent claims that their doctrine means that another's must be suppressed. My perception is that the vice-president crosses that line. None-the-less, Mr. Pense is sane. In addition he actually understands how to administer a government.

Given the profiteering of the family and the inability to learn, I think it is time to consider impeachment. I remain skeptical about the 25th amendment approach for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the murky legal process.

We know how impeachment works. I think it is time to at least open an inquiry. I think the 2020 election is probably the best answer.

05 July 2019

And the bands played on

At the 2016 Republican Convention Donald Trump delivered what I consider is the worst acceptance speech in American history.  I suppose he may tonight (4 July 2019) sink even below his established level.

The simple fact that he is speaking lowers the cultural content of the country. The excessive military presence he has ordered makes the exercise not merely dark, but also menacing.

As I type, I do not know where this all ends. When I hear this idiot claim he should receive an extended term because he has been subject of successful investigations, and seriously suggests delaying the constitutionally mandated census; my notorious optimism falters.

The republic with all its flaws, especially racism, and slavery, has never been perfect. But it has been an evolving experiment in Western Liberal Democracy. We perhaps have not always gotten it right, but we have kept trying. Winston Churchill famously said that, "America can always be counted on to do the right thing; after trying everything else." Historically, the republic sometimes takes a while, consider the distance between Plessy and Brown.

But now the really hate filled are increasingly emboldened. The white supremacists are so willing to be public that the newspaper of the klan has endorsed Trump for the 2020 election.

So this 4th of July I am not feeling celebratory: I am afraid. Perhaps the institutions will hold, I hope so, but the one clear reality is the attack.

03 May 2019


Easter 2018

This is the season the church Catholic celebrates those first shown the empty tomb and the risen Christ. Most prominent are the three Marys. Three woman, walked to the tomb, concerned as the tale goes, about the large stone blocking access. Carrying myrrh, spices and oil, they planned to anoint the body of Jesus. Things did not exactly work out.

When they saw the tomb entrance, the guards were gone, and the stone was moved aside. Looking into the tomb, they saw empty space. Two ran back to tell the disciples. But Magdalene stayed, weeping and trying to understand what had happened. Through her tears, she saw a man approaching, and assumed he was one who tended the area. She begged him to tell her where the body of Jesus was laid. The dialog which follows is remarkable.
  • Magdalene: Sir please tell me where he was laid.
  • Jesus: Mary
  • Magdalene: Teacher!

The dialog continues but this is key. Magdalene, who followed Jesus for years, who was close enough to him to be included in the embalming party, who sobed at his grave site, that Mary did not recognize him until he said her name. Either she was blind, not competent, or he had changed, a lot. What happened here?

I have heard some really bad teaching suggesting that her tears blinded her. But what is our experience? Sobbing is something many can relate to but a single blink clears vision at least enough to identify a beloved leader and teacher! I think we must look elsewhere for an answer.

In the collection we refer to as First Corinthians, St. Paul attempts to explain resurreccion. His audience is converted Jews and former pagan Greeks. A good pharisee, he teaches by analogy. I must note I have been dismissed or denigrate for sharing this teaching style, most recently by a priest in my parish, but Paul here, succeeds: brilliantly. He says we will have different, spiritual, and beautiful bodies. So what is a spiritual body? His answer ia an analogy. Flower seeds are buried, The plant dies. But in Spring, the seed puts forth new,life, a beautified flower that is the former plant, beautiful, and sometimes even more beautiful.

Here Paul teaches is the Gospel, the good news, Jesus came back, transformed, we will come back transformed. The earth, when Jesus comes again and we are raised, will be transformed. Corinthians, written before Mark is in my view, the first Gospel. Paul is announcing resurrection. But this is first century parable teaching. Paul is doing more. He is calling those who will be seeds to be flowers NOW. We are called to be new blooms in this world.

Paul doesn't tell his readers how to transform the world by magic. He calls them to lives of heroic love, virtue, and proclamation.

So here our challenge: how are we doing? In the face of rising fascism, anti-semitism, violence, and racism, how are we doing? Like Paul, I do not have an answer, only questions.

01 March 2019

Property rights v. Safety

So the mope who killed five co-workers and wounded four police officers, briefly had an Illinois Firearms Owner ID (FOID for short.) His FOID was revoked when he submitted finger prints in an application for a Concealed Carry Permit (CCP.) In Illinois, we recognize that some people might want to own or use firearms but not carry a weapon in our clothes, purse, etc, so the two, ownership and concealed carry, are separated.

In investigating the CCP application, the State Police found a felony conviction. When he was rejected for the CCP he also was told his FOID was revoked.

Now when a revocation issues, the person is told they have a short period: 48 hours, to dispose of any firearms they own, and return the card to the State Police. The letter notes that they cannot transfer guns to someone who does not have a FOID, and that they may take unloaded firearms to a police station to surrender them.

The DuPage County Sheriff's office has announced they will be enforcing the 48 hour rule. What could possibly go wrong? Lots! First, I am not the only FOID holder who does not own a firearm. There can be any number of reasons for this. I rent guns for range shooting, it is simply easier that transporting guns, storing them in a safe and secure way, and having them around the house. So I can easily see some wasted effort for deputies chasing guns that simply do not exist. Beyond that, a revoked gun owner has some options, selling them to a friend, family member, or putting them on consignment in a gun shop are all possibilities. And as the putative guns are the revoked owner's property, I can see again a lot of wasted chasing. When a person owns a gun and does not obey the law, the deputies may be in some danger.

I am not suggesting here the law should not be enforced. I am saying that some caution and preparedness might be a good idea. This needs to be handled carefully; especially as a person whose FOID has been revoked may have anger issues. I want the law enforced, but I do not want any injured deputies. As the king said in the King and I: it is a puzzlement.

20 February 2019


As the terrible events in Aurora, five employees killed and four police officers shot, another injured, became ever clearer, some news items crossed my view. One in particular really stuck. If one uses the definition offered by an activist group, five or more gunshot deaths constitutes a mass killing.

By that standard, the Pratt plant in Aurora, IL. was the forty-third mass killing in the United States in 2019! 2019 is a young year. Last week when the five murders and the five attempted murders took place in Aurora, only six weeks in 2019 had been counted.

At this point, the math is disturbingly simple: 43 * 5 = 215. 215 dead Americans, to which we should add most of the forty-three offenders. Police quite correctly, "neutralize" the shooters. But I don't know how many died, or how many broke through the 5 killed minimum. Remember that is the minimum to qualify as a, "mass shooting." I also do not know how many complete failures only killed three.

Meanwhile the president thinks a 43 year low in unlawful border crossings is a, "national emergency." I would never accuse the president of significant reasoning ability, but given another number, illegals commit crimes at about half the rate of our upstanding citizens, it would be interesting to hear how he explains what he thinks constitutes a crises. I think I know the answer, if he wants something and does not get it; that is a crises.

At least two hundred and fifteen dead Americans, and what do we do? We send our thoughts and prayers. I am a prayerful person, a self-described lay mystic. But I am embarrassed to think that, "thoughts and prayers" are what we think we can apply to this disaster.

Please understand that regardless of what the chronically stupid scream (most recently ending a Christmas event in my family) I am not anti-gun ownership. I have a valid Illinois FOID card. That is under Illinois law I can legally own firearms. I periodically rent a booth at a local gun range and enjoy target shooting. I hope to hunt again someday if my damaged back heals. I have even considered taking the class for the concealed carry permit, if for no other reason because it facilitates moving a gun from one place to another.

None-the-less, this has to stop. We have to decide that in America, gun ownership is valid when and only when the citizen is trained and vetted. Either that, or we have to disarm everyone except law enforcement staffs. We need an honest (excludes the NRA) conversation on what vetting standards should apply. The idiot NRA to the contrary, we simply cannot kill ourselves at a rate over 100 month in mass shootings, and claim to be civilized. 8,000 gun deaths a year excluding suicides and police action. That is what we do. We must stop.
St Laika's

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