Monthly Archives: November 2015

Corruption’s the thing in cover-up of Laquan McDonald killing

Water’s been so damn muddied by the Ferguson and other recent cases, when hysteria and misinformation were the order of the day, that a body can be fooled into somehow underestimating the pervasive corruption that typifies the Laquan-Chicago killing and cover-up attempts.

Chi Trib’s story about the Burger King video and witnesses’ accounts of police and other mal- and mis-feasance in the matter does much to disperse that misunderstanding.

For instance, police on the scene spent two hours studying the Burger King video which later turned up 86 minutes’ short, apparently erased by someone.

That’s bad enough. But consider also the police on hand telling witnesses of the shooting to go home.

In addition to the missing footage, lawyers for McDonald’s family have questioned the actions of other officers at the scene moments after the shooting.

Police apparently told witnesses to go home, according to a family lawyer, Michael Robbins.

Robbins said several citizens who witnessed McDonald’s shooting reported that officers ordered them to leave the scene under threat of arrest without ever interviewing them. Other witnesses reported that detectives later badgered them for insisting that McDonald hadn’t threatened officers before he was shot, Robbins said.
Robbins said one man who was stuck in traffic with his son saw the shooting unfold right in front of him. He followed police orders to leave, but when a police union spokesman later described in television news reports that McDonald had purportedly lunged at Van Dyke with a knife, the man came forward to challenge the account, Robbins said.
“To tell an occurrence witness who observed a fatal shooting to leave and not even ask them to identify themselves is incomprehensible,” Robbins said.

These interactions with police would have been on the missing Burger King video, Robbins said.

Responses to the Burger King video apparent erasure by state’s attorney and police chief were limp indeed.


Sermon one, Hector at Mickey D’s. Sermon two . . .

Hector’s bicycle had a flat — tricycle rather, with baby trailer containing I don’t know what, maybe spare clothes, etc. I’ve seen him tooling down Clark Street, fedora hat on tight, making his way as to getting from one place to another, but also as to getting on in the world.

 $10 It would cost him, money he didn’t have. In the ’70s, a flat was fixable for a buck, he said. So there he is now, without the necessary, a victim of inflation.

 Victim of a lot of things, apparently. Caught in an “ambush” in Iraq as a Marine, he got his leg and hip shot up and now has titanium, he told me, plus a plastic knee-area replacement, all of which gives him a lot of pain. He ran out of meds once and lifted some, spent five years in prison, he also told me, the two of us sitting side by side on separate stools at separate high tables at McDonald’s on Clark Street on Sunday morning, 8 a.m. or so, three days after Thanksgiving.

 He’d left the tricycle locked up at the White Castle to the north, he indicated with a shrug in that direction.

 He laid out coins on his table at one point. Quick glance said less than a dollar’s worth. When the bedraggled and unshaven young man came across the sparsely customered McD’s asking me for something (I declined), he did not also ask Hector, which Hector noticed, commenting briefly.

 Hector was a Marine for 13 years, he said, was discharged honorably for medical reasons. In a wheelchair at one time, he currently managed on his own. VA had offered him a place in a nursing home, which he’d have jumped at when wheelchair-bound. Not how, when he can walk around and ride his bike, and he said nuts to that. Nursing home no way to live, he said. I agreed.

 He was born in Tijuana of a Puerto Rican mother and a Chicano father, he said. How’d that happen? I asked, meaning the Tijuana birth place. He didn’t know. Was raised in Alabama, in due time fathered eight daughters and four sons, all but four of the 12 in Chicago, he said, and answering my question about it, said he’s in touch with them all, including a Chicago daughter who helps him out.

 I found in Hector — I got his name by asking, at end of our conversation as I prepared to leave for mass — a very good conversation, which he’d started when I once looked over at him, having kept my counsel for ten minutes or so, busy with my Wall St. Journal week in review.

 One thing, he had a ready narrative, which I paid attention to. That’s half of it, I’d long ago decided: just look at people and take them seriously. He was easy to take seriously, with his tale of woe told matter-of-factly without a sign of self-pity and never asking my help, which I offered at the end as I stood zipping up for the 35-degree outside walk the few blocks to St. Gregory.

  “Can I give you a buck?” I asked. “It’s all I can spare.” This latter was a stretch, but it came to me, as did the request to give.

 He said sure, I picked the buck out, not the ten-spot next to it. Last I saw him, he’d gone up to the counter, maybe to get coffee at $1.10.

He had rewarded me unwittingly with my first sermon of the morning, about hanging in there and not giving up. He applied it to his own situation, bicycle left at White Castle down the street and the rest. Exact words not significant, but he pronounced them tellingly.

 I got a lot out of talking to him. Asked his name, gave mine. I didn’t bullshit him, nor he me, I don’t think.

 Down the cross street a few blocks, I had my second sermon, a sleeper in that I am a hard sell and often enough disappointed to be surprised by a quite good one. Fr. John told about watching “HGTV” (with a smile, as if knowing what he was doing), as soporific after an “intense” day that called for a winding-down. The show featured the Property Brothers who list a cruddy-home for sale vs. the restorer, each to do something for the home-owing couple whose house is a mess.

 It was about “getting your house in order,” Father said, like the preparation for the end time as depicted in the St. Luke passage for this First Sunday of Advent.

 He so much enjoyed talking up his HGTV end-of-day show as to make his easy-going talk easy listening. (He had it written out, by the way — preparation, thine is the name for good sermons.)

 So get your house in order with Madame Designer’s help? How about getting your own interior (life) in order with Holy Spirit’s help. Difference there: Designing lady will do it all for you, Spirit helps you do it for yourself.

Question: What’s in your life that a re-do will make livable, lovable, loving, joyous in the Spirit?

You can do it. Get ready for your own end time, so you don’t get trapped. A clever, useful adaptation of the Gospel pitch. So went my second sermon.

Why faith matters

George Eliot in defense of evangelicalism, 1854:

No man can begin to mould himself on a faith or an idea
without rising to a higher order of experience: a principle of
subordination, of self-mastery, has been introduced into his nature;

How does that work?

he is no longer a mere bundle of impressions, desires, and impulses.

But these people put me off.

Whatever might be the weaknesses of the ladies who pruned the luxuriance of their lace and ribbons, cut out garments for the poor, distributed tracts, quoted Scripture, and defined the true Gospel, they had learned this–that there was a divine work to be done in life, a rule of goodness higher than the opinion of their neighbours; and if the notion of a heaven in reserve for themselves was a little too prominent, yet the theory of fitness for that heaven consisted in purity of heart, in Christ-like compassion, in the subduing of selfish desires.

Well, when you put it that way . . .  I still don’t like them . . .

They might give the name of piety to much that was only puritanic egoism; they might call many things sin that were not sin; but they had at least the feeling that sin was to be avoided and resisted, and colour-blindness, which may mistake drab for scarlet, is better than total blindness, which sees no distinction of colour at all.

Oh. Nobody’s perfect, but consider what they have that overwhelmingly matters. I think I get it.

Yes, Ms. Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), a fallen-away Evangelical, kept her wits about her and had to be honest about her former fellow church-goers.

I say, read her. She may be the best of the Victorians.


What ISIS Really Wants

GRAEME WOOD in the Atlantic:

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

Read More

Witness protection in Chi-town a paper tiger

Reports Mark Konkol in his “My Chiicago.”

White faggot they said. Who, me?

I dreamt I wrote a column 8 years ago for the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest.

It went this way:

A WALK IN THE PARK: I think I was a hate-crime victim. Guy called me a white faggot as I walked through Scoville Park in the gloaming a few weeks ago. I didn’t stop. He and his friends were irritated at my not stopping. They were desperate for my attention, and I refused it. This was my offense, and so I got victimized. Or was I?
All the guy did was toss out a “white faggot” to an unassuming white fellow trying hard to mind his own business. I had passed them earlier. One was jawing at another, three or four others stood chatting each other up. It’s a free country, I thought, go ahead and jaw. I got a few steps past them and heard, “Hi, brother.” Who, me? I’m not a brother, I thought — except to an octogenarian in Gurnee and a septuagenarian in Arlington, Va. — and kept walking.
Again the call: “Brother.” I’ll bet it’s me, I mused. But out of 40-year-old misty memory came a guy yelling, “Hey, you with the collar!” in an open field at 13th and Loomis on a midsummer night in 1966, as helmeted police gathered all down Roosevelt Road. The caller had me cold, I wore the clerical collar. I ignored his cry for attention. Twenty-something and intent on mischief, he had an audience of five or six teen-aged boys, to whom he would have given a lesson in how to deal with the likes of me. No, thanks, I muttered, continuing my way towards the Baptist church at the other end of the project, where do-gooders were gathering ineffectually.
Ignoring this Scoville Park greeting came easy, therefore. But my response rankled, and when I returned 15 minutes later heading the other way, I was accused incontinently of being “a snob” who “wouldn’t talk” to them. I was “Sherlock Holmes” in my floppy hat (heh). I was told to commit an indecent if not impossible act. These were truly disgruntled youth. Later on Lake Street, I ran into them again. This time they tossed the N-word at a fellow African American, who was also told to commit an indecent if not impossible act. Now I ask you, were we all victims of hate crimes?

I awoke in a sweat, then drowsed off again, dreaming of more from the same column.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSION: You hear a lot about the school achievement gap, but what about the basketball gap? White kids can’t jump, but so what? So they don’t suit up or if they do, they warm the bench. That’s what happens to the American dream in a dog-eat-dog society. Look, white kids are grossly underrepresented on basketball teams not just in Oak Park and River Forest but nationally. I say enough. Let’s train our sights on this gap too. And nuts to this can’t-jump stuff, which is transparently racist. It’s environment, folks. How many white fathers shoot hoops with their sons?

THROUGH A PRISM DARKLY: The Oak Park District 97 strategic plan draft calls schools “the educational prism through which students realize meaning and purpose in their lives.” It says they are “to guarantee that each student achieves optimal intellectual growth while developing socially, emotionally and physically.” That’s all?
How about the prism through which students realize how to read, write, and do long division, not to mention shut up when teacher is talking and otherwise cooperate for the more or less common good? And who says schools are a prism in the first place? In what respect are they “a transparent optical element with flat, polished surfaces that refract light, the exact angles between whose surfaces depend on the application”? Beats me.
As for “realizing” — learning? achieving? both, splitting the difference? — the meaning and purpose in life, oh my. Are these schools or houses of worship? And there’s a guarantee of optimal growth? Listen to that carnival barker. Maybe we would all pay more attention to a plan that made more sense. Or did not belabor the obvious, favoring “a culture of inclusion that respects and promotes diversity.” This deftly undercuts the powerful exclusion and uniformity lobby, but it’s also grand language, impossible to disagree with, reeking of group-think and lack of imagination, cobbled together in meetings. The good news is, it’s a draft. So hello Baby, give us rewrite.

I woke from that with a grin on my face. And I’m grinning even as I write this.

Later: I submitted the white-faggot story and got a call from my friend the publisher, who told me two words were verboten for the paper: nigger and fuck, which explains my work-arounds both of these terms. I didn’t quarrel with him. He’s running a newspaper for a mostly progressive-democrat audience and knows the trouble one sees when one violates their norms. So it goes in blue Oak Park, Cook County, the state of Illinois, and many, many parts of the U.S. — in the Western world, for that matter.

Not that I’m dying to use either forbidden word. But I do not want to shy away from it when describing an experience. I am committed to clarity and essence-capture, which are hobbled by undue restraint.

ACT scores reflect deeper inequities at OPRF | Articles | News |

Excellent article on a report about racial disparities intepreted by the headline-writer as “inequities,” which is accurate in so far as it mirrors the mind of the report-writers as shown in their conclusion:

“Racial disparity in student experiences and outcomes is an adaptive challenge, requiring us to think differently and to change values, beliefs, roles, relationships, and approaches to the problem,” the report said.

Which means keep tweaking the program — “change values, beliefs, roles, relationships, and approaches” — until we get different results. Hmm.

Huckabee Explains the FAIRtax on Fox Business |

He’s so good.

Oh that boyish grin: Obama lookin’ at Putin

He really likes that guy, I can tell.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin and President Obama in Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 16.

Tickled pink he is. So happy to be there. Like when he meets a senator or congressman. Not quite.

You want a feel-good story? Have you heard about the black nun?

She made it after many decades.

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