Gun Control. Gun Safety, Gun Something!!

My brother sent me a group of articles on guns. I am not fact checking, most are from sane responsible sources although they may be accused of bias. I am now biased. As a gun owner and concealed gun carrier, I am biased. I think it is time to examine seriously the corruption of America by the NRA. I am biased against the lies disseminated by groups like the NRA which lie, twist and bend the constitution to an audience that honestly believes the bullshit. I know many people who pontificate about the rights granted in the second amendment and none of them can intelligently discuss the responsibilities that all public policies and legislation represent. If you do not understand the underpinnings of the law then you are quite ill-prepared to analyze it. Like the doctors who saw lung cancer but never understood the relationship to carcinogens. Or sees a damaged liver but never bothers to explain the effects of alcohol on that liver. And worse yet, refuse to look at the scientific research that would explain the linkage. So here goes.

There have been more than 2,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook -includes not just shootings in which four or more people were murdered, but shootings in which four or more people were shot.
Mass shootings make up less than 2 percent portion of America’s firearm deaths, which totaled nearly 40,000 in 2017 alone.
On average, there is around one mass shooting for each day in America

states with more guns tend to have more gun deaths

the US does not, contrary to the old conventional wisdom, have more crime in general than other Western industrial nations. Instead, the US appears to have more lethal violence

“A preference for crimes of personal force and the willingness and ability to use guns in robbery make similar levels of property crime 54 times as deadly in New York City as in London.”

other social indicators in 2011,… found that higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness didn’t correlate with more gun deaths. But he did find one telling correlation: States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths

http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

one theory that researchers have widely debunked is the idea that more guns have deterred crime

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/

The problem with much gun violence research is that the Congress forbids the federal government including the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence. So the best we can do is extrapolate from FBI statistics.

Whichever side of the debate you stand, your ideology or your love or disdain of firearms, the truth is that we kill a lot of innocents. The law has a term, reckless disregard for the life of others, to act without regard to the risk of death or great bodily harm to others. Recklessness means the person knew (or should have known) that his or her action were likely to cause harm.

A failure to do something; a neglect of a duty, is an omission which can be the foundation of liability. We all know the lethality of guns. We know that gun violence in the hands of gun possessors causes harm to innocents. And we are guilty by omission everyday we do not explore and implement changes in our society to protect innocents!. Universal background checks on all firearm sales is the beginning and can and should be implemented tomorrow upon an act of a united congress. I know that is never happening but I write because saying nothing is just more omission, negligence and a betrayal to every innocent who will die because we did nothing.

GUN CONTROL!

As many of you know. I owned the DFW Gun Range in Dallas TX for several years. I have been licensed to carry a firearm since 1993 and have done so. I have many friends from my participation in the gun industry, but none have ever openly supported my advocacy of universal background checks and none has ever published in social media that I have seen, of advocacy of any gun limitations.

I have been interviewed in the news, many times on gun ownership and openly stood against most gun restrictions and argued passionately that the problem is more about mental illness and poverty than guns. I am right about that but those problems are much more difficult to address than simply putting restrictions on buying guns.

I do not believe that the safety of my community must rely upon my ability to carry a gun. It certainly should not rely upon folks who are precluded by law from getting guns but can buy one privately without limitation. We are asked throughout history to make compromises and sacrifices for the safety and welfare of the common good. Hitler and Mao may have instituted gun control in their countries before persecuting folks. But is it better to be shot at the grocery store or in your first grade class than in a gulag or prison camp?
Don’t be ridiculous. It was useful to have a gun when men tried to commit violence against me or break into my home. I have never needed a rifle, ever. My handguns were just fine.

We are dying as a democracy but it is not liberals killing it. I have said this repeatedly…I know more about gun rights than any of the pontificators who continue to assert some absolute right to have guns. I know more about gun laws, the constitution and history. Your zealousness arguing in any absolute right to guns is wrong as has been determined by every governmental authority, legislators, courts and executive branch. You continue to misinterpret the law, believe propaganda and stand on ground which you can only hold through obstinacy not morality or legality.

Wash your hands of my input. Put no weight on my experience, education and training. I guess the blood will have to flow through your living rooms to bring change.

To the rest of you, there are too many guns already in private hands to confiscate, eliminate or buy back. There are many actions which can be taken to help but if you advocate confiscation, you will fail, miserably. Safe storage, background checks and a thorough examination and study of the causes of gun violence. And please stop pontificating about gun owners unless you have insights rather than prejudices. We are as afraid of being victims as you are. Our reaction to violence has been to prepare ourselves to defend ourselves and our families. We never lived in a country that had gun control and an absence of violence. We know this country which has made blood an integral part of our history, anthem and flag. In our world where we do not harm anyone, we do not practice callousness towards others. We intend on being good citizens, helping our communities and loving our neighbors. The carnage you see was not initiated but the average gun owner. It is precipitated by hate mongers, gang members and mentally ill persons.

We gun owners sure do need to broaden our perspective, initiate, investigate and advocate for reasonable limitations on gun access and its use in murders and mayhem. Shit happens. Shit changes. We learn. Now we need to act. Let me be clear. I have used a gun to prevent felonious assaults intended against my person. How badly I would have been hurt without a gun I do not know. But when I weigh my safety against those many victims of gun violence, I submit to the better good. (I do not believe the government is my biggest threat and necessitates my owning guns. I think it is white supremacists.)

When I was young!

The photo above shows a storefront on what was always referred to as 57th Street on the south side of Chicago. The photo itself slightly predates the events described in this narrative.

I started running away from home when I was 15. This was the first place I ran to because I heard that I could find people here to steer me to a “crash pad”, a place to sleep or live temporarily and at no cost.
It was this alley and on this block where I was taken into police custody on a few occasions. My most serious criminal charges arose out of actions taken in this vicinity. The alley seen adjacent to the store was also the heart of an adolescent social community which I became a part of.

I would eventually be arrested on this very block for disorderly conduct, loitering, resisting arrest, possession of a controlled substance and possession of stolen or mislaid property. I was probably stopped and searched here by CPD at least 20 times.
The storefront in the photo was a bookstore and coffeehouse. I was banned from this business at an early age and as a result I retaliated and escalated my activities in and around there which resulted in a manager putting a gun to my forehead, bouncers removing me and Chicago police escorting me to the local precinct station.

That alley was possibly the epicenter of the cultural revolution for dozens of teens like myself. Many days and nights, multiple squad cars would arrive and harass the gathered long-haired hippie teens. Here is where many a drug deal went down, the revolution planned and consciousness was expanded via intellectual discourse and LSD.

Next door to this corner building you can see the Christian Science Reading Room. The Room was the location of my least productive commercial burglary. About $3.65.

4 storefronts down was Ahmad’s Persian restaurant where I could be found in the evenings selling pot. My friend Abby Bardi worked at Ahmad’s and depicted it in her great novel, Double Take. This is also where my fence, (a much older criminal also depicted in the novel) met me in the evenings to take possession of my stolen-goods for safe keeping. It was Ahmad’s where the CPD arrived, in what is generally described as dragnet (a network of measures for apprehension), looking to place me in custody for innumerable burglaries . Fortunately, I had escaped out the back door just in the nick of time and fled the jurisdiction (not depicted in the novel). Days later you would have found me safely ensconced in San Francisco. In a time before cell phones there were 2 ways to communicate with me when I was a youth. Come to 57th or call the pay phone inside Ahmad’s.

Very few of my pals from those days survived. Those that did are still friends of mine. Drugs and violence took so many so young. I was shaped by the many youths who crossed my path here. All colors, sexual preferences and intellect. Kids whose parents were janitors and some whose parents were nuclear physicist or molecular biologists and such at the nearby University of Chicago. The first artificial nuclear chain reaction took place 5 blocks from here in 1942.

I am a productive member of society now. I was just simply lucky that I was spared death and prison. The massive amounts of hallucinogens, barbiturates and amphetamine I consumed could probably have caused my death even in the absence of other violent forces. But, my heart and soul and concern for the welfare of others was shaped and concretized here. It may be a paradox that I could have had such a flexible moral code while simultaneously being shaped into the very progressive, liberal stalwart that I remain today.

It is hard for me to have seen this photo online today and not get nostalgic. Try as I might, I will never feel I can do justice describing the place where I was at my craziest, slickest and most evasive. That street introduced me to some of the smartest, craziest, stoned but cool kids ever. In my own way I am proud to have been here to mingle and play a role when the cultural revolution we associate with the hippie culture was at its peak.

If you know me to be visiting Chicago, you can bet that I will take a stroll down 57th or as I now call it, Memory Lane.

Not out of the woods yet.

The following may be too intellectual for some users of social media, but Trump grips his power over his supporters by being the nationalistic, forceful leader with religious and aggressive/violent supporters who keep talking about killing liberals, BLM and Jews. Just read below and think this through with Putin instead of Chinese, communism from Christianity and pandemic for famine etc. This is our time we live in.

What follows is derived from Wikipedia and the University of Minnesota Center of Holocaust and Genocide Studies Taking power in Cambodia at the height of Marxism–Leninism’s global impact, Pol Pot proved divisive among the international communist movement. Many claimed he deviated from orthodox Marxism–Leninism, but China backed his government as a bulwark against Soviet influence in Southeast Asia. To his supporters, he was a champion of Cambodian sovereignty in the face of Vietnamese imperialism and stood against the Marxist revisionism of the Soviet Union. Conversely, he has been internationally denounced for his role in the Cambodian genocide and is regarded as a totalitarian dictator who was guilty of crimes against humanity.

Those that Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regarded as enemies were killed. These mass killings, coupled with malnutrition and poor medical care, killed between 1.5 and 2 million people, approximately a quarter of Cambodia’s population, a period later termed the Cambodian genocide.

Because the Khmer Rouge placed a heavy emphasis on the rural peasant population, anyone considered an intellectual was targeted for special treatment. This meant teachers, lawyers, doctors, and clergy were the targets of the regime. Even people wearing glasses were the target of Pol Pot’s reign of terror. Muslims suffered great loss of life. Khmer Rouge militia regularly killed those they deemed to be “bad elements”. A common statement used by the Khmer Rouge to those they executed was that “to keep you is no profit, to destroy you is no loss.

Polarization and victimization and scapegoating are the essential elements which have been infused into our society/country which is in retreat from itself and its values. Trump supporters are angry and trump hopes to use that fire, add gasoline and then scorch his political opponents. If an international tribunal were to have the power to investigate, I have not a bit of doubt that they would discover that trump committed multiple crimes against the US. Historically when evil loses power, the void is filled with reformers and patriots. But this government is filled with fat cat politicians who have thrived in this environment and are now populist heroes of the Right. They find no value or cache in reform and lament the loss of their corrupt Pol Pot.

Hitler is a fair analogy for trump as is the Third Reich for trump’s administration but his never reached fruition. We successfully slowed his authoritarian gestures and resisted his attempts to marginalize, demonize and harm his opponents which were largely liberals. Sadly liberals suck at politics and our shaky reprieve will be short-lived if our leaders do not wake up to the precarious nature of our victory.

They still do not understand immigration hostile Mexicans-Americans. The liberal politicians fail to actualize the promises made repeatedly to people of color. Liberals/democrats eat their own. Even as I write this Joe Biden is under attack from almost every special interest group in the democratic umbrella. His appointee is gay but not black. His appointment is a black male, why is it a male. And on and on ad nauseum. We are dodging a bullet and should be celebrating that we freaking survived. But instead, all day long pundits are taking to the airwaves to chastise the proposed Biden administration for every secretary appointment and policy maker. I am a progressive. Dear Joe Biden, take your time and do not worry about me. I just want you to move us away from this nightmare, this depravity of a spiritual, psychological and emotional nature of the USA.

God bless the real US.

For reference. https://cla.umn.edu/chgs/holocaust-genocide-education/resource-guides/cambodia#:~:text=Because%20the%20Khmer%20Rouge%20placed,Pol%20Pot’s%20reign%20of%20terror.

The Uprising is not complete!

Watching the statistics of the presidential election. I am glad to see a shift because it is time for the democratic party to recognize that young white black and Latin women are saving the party. They recognized the threat of trump, they organized and they showed up. It is not the Pelosi, Feinstein, Perez or Schumer that won this election. Give it up for WOMEN! Transfer the power. AND it is fucking time to find solutions to poverty and the epidemic of incarceration of men of color.
Democrats have given lip service to the problems without substantive solutions. Yes the republicans could care less and block bills. The bills they blocked were not remedies, they were band aids. Fuck that.

Put America to work with the biggest infrastructure repair ever and hire every ex-con and able-bodied person to help. Put Black and White men together on road crews, forest maintenance and waterway rehab. They will find a way to get along….or else. Nothing like working alongside another man to learn about him. Ask people who served in a military that was flush with conscripts that did not want to be there but fought alongside each other in Nam.

The hate for liberals is acute and dangerous. Part of it is irrational and part of it is our continued neglect of the health, safety and welfare of the dying middle class. Fucking politicians, fat fucks who linger in office because we the people do not know enough about our political systems to show up and vote the fat fucks out.

Political correctness sucks too. Worrying about some right-wing speaker on campus, insisting as readily as the Right that people must agree with us, and throwing gun owners under the bus while there are 300 million guns in circulation are just vote subtractors.

I would have to think hard to find a single long-term democratic (or republican) politician that I trust. Maybe Bernie and Elizabeth but they are moving past their expiration dates as politicians also. In what fantasy do any of my friends see Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer leading the way? Biden is a necessary accommodation to transition from trump. Like one political yard sign said, “Any Functional Adult 2020.”

Don’t get me wrong. I like and admire Biden and his presence of late has been impressive and comforting. But I am tired of being ruled over by old white men (of which I am one). My children’s futures are hinging on what happens next. Thus it is time for Mayor Pete and the like to move up and move in. I do not care that you do not agree with The Squad, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. I do not care that they are not super-supportive of Israel. I do not support the Far Right Wing government of Israel or any other Far Right or religious fundamentalist government. They are and deserve to be a significant part of our political future

My head can often be found up my ass when it comes to the digital world and pop culture. But I am not stupid. We will never get term limits passed. We need to look to smart young women and men who hold humanistic values and are not beholden to a political machine. We need to groom them, elect them and follow them into a brave new world….soon….now.

The heart should not be a lonely hunter.

I did not intend to craft a bummer blog today but I write what I write and share what I share. I let the market place decide worthiness.

Thai Buddhist monks (Theravada) are not vegetarian. In large measure they cannot choose their diet as they are expected to eat what is offered by lay people whether it be meat or fish head in oil. But the expectation is that neither lay persons or monks will cause harm unnecessarily. My sensitivity to my environment in conjunction with the concept of “engaged Buddhism” has led me to work that much harder on behalf of the earth and all its occupants.

In my Buddhist practice, we send blessings and compassion to all sentient beings (metta). If you ever had a pet, you know sentience. Sentience is defined as “able to experience feelings,” “responsive to or conscious of sense impressions,” and “capable of feeling things through physical senses.” Sentient beings experience wanted emotions like happiness, joy, and gratitude, and unwanted emotions in the form of pain, suffering, and grief. Do not be someone who hurts sentient beings through ignorance, neglect, intention or negligence.

Every time I eat meat or fowl I recognize there is a food chain that I am part of but my participation is multiplied by the indifference of our society and its marketing of food products. So I minimize my non-vegetable consumption, which by the way always pays off in better health, less expense and enhanced awareness of my environment. Most of you think that is bullshit which probably means like me, you do not want to be inconvenienced or are unwilling to disrupt your taste buds. Equally disturbing to me are persons who own animals but are indifferent to their animals’ discomfort or suffering. Show up for life being the best sentient being you can be and have empathy for all other sentient beings.

Do not merely “not kill needlessly” but to the best of your ability, protect all beings. Hold in your heart that we are fortunate to be able to actively express our discomfort and suffering. If we get hit by a vehicle they will send an ambulance to help us. Not so for the thousands of critters struck last night for whom only death will bring an end to their suffering.

My bubble is crowded with the suffering of others. Empathy is an attribute that I value but it is the foundation of so much of my discomfort and suffering. It is why I do not practice law. I could not handle watching my clients sentenced to confinement in a system which only held the promise of punishment without the offer of rehabilitation, education or reformation.

Like we say in Alcoholics Anonymous, No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. … We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

“Why, if it weren’t for this ‘internal illumination’ [i.e., sentience] the world would be nothing but a pile of dirt!”
― Albert Einstein

Wake Up!!!

Dear Outraged Liberals,

Please let me explain this from my perspective. When trump the candidate began his campaign back in 2015, many of us tried to be heard that it was the beginning of a call to violence.
Now there is some righteous indignation about the claim that he did not denounce white supremacists. May I suggest that you may have no idea what is happening,

I know these white supremacists. I went to gun training with them when I attended various gun schools. I was always the sole liberal in these environments.

They are well-armed and have been practicing for the apocalyptic civil war. They are not great in number but they are much more dangerous than you seem to realize. They believe that POC are mud people. They believe that Jews control the media and the money. They believe that the president of the United States is on their side and that their is a liberal dark state that is trying to illegally overthrow their hero and he is the best hope for a whiter America. Homosexuals are an aberration and Islam is a bunch of sand-niggers.

The women can be equal to the violence but they are not allowed to lead. They can train with guns but generally they stick to supporting roles. They will rip your eyes out just as readily as the men.

You saw them marching in Michigan, Portland and elsewhere. You have seen them on display. They typically carried AR 15s, a semi-auto military style rifle. In addition they carry a handgun and at least one tactical knife. They often train in rural environments in anticipation of a violent encounter with the government. They believe that a New World Order is a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda that is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government. They believe that Clinton and/or Obama was intending to allow the United Nations to send in troops to confiscate firearms. They believe that democrats have supported and planned for the mass incarceration of gun-owners in large internment camps around the country.

The hundreds of these cells are communicating and operating on the Internet to share extensive support/info in activities including bomb making. They relish the idea that they are being given support to actually act out. I mean they are excited that all this training and preparation is finally coming in handy.

Can you imagine these mother fuckers foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs? These are not advocates of a fair fight. They must absorb pain without tears because machismo is everything!!

These are not your average trump supporters. These are a special brand of men and women who number in the tens of thousands and are located in every state. (You might want to move to Wyoming if you want the state with the least number of identified hate groups)

Trump told them during the debate to stand by!!!!!!!

Perchance a trump supporter reads this. You are either tone deaf to the language of hate or you do not care what cost the defeat of Roe vs Wade or Gun Control. You do not intend for any innocents to get hurt but you are not sure there are any Black or liberal innocents. BLM stands for usurpation of law and order to you. But you never had a mob pour a milkshake over your head as you sat at a lunch counter because you asked to be served. Your mother never made news because she refused to give up her seat in the front of the bus. You never watched your family and friends gassed, beaten and bit by police dogs because they protested their deprivation of civil rights. These things are not “historical” events which are being dredged up like slavery. These are events in our time.

Lyrics from Ball of Confusion Published in 1970

Well, the only person talkin’ ’bout love thy brother is the preacher
And it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacher
Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation,
humiliation, obligation to our nation
Ball Of Confusion that’s what the world is today (yeah, yeah)
The sale of pills is at an all time high
young folks walkin’ ’round with their heads in the sky
Cities aflame in the summer time, and oh the beat goes on
Eve of destruction, tax deduction,
City inspectors, bill collectors,
Evolution, revolution, gun control, the sound of soul,
Shootin’ rockets to the moon, kids growin’ up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will solve ev’rything, and the band played on.
Round and round and around we go, where the world’s headed nobody knows.

You could hear that song 50 years later and it will sound fresh. How is that progress?

This is now. Meanwhile as you read this, Donald Trump will be the first president since Richard Nixon to go a full first term without selecting a Black nominee for a federal appeals court. In 2020! BLM does not stand for Burn Loot and Murder. It stands for an end to police violence and while it has turned into riots and looting, that is not the intention. The intention is to bring attention to years of criminal police behavior aimed at people of color. As Martin Luther King Jr told us, “Riots are the language of the unheard”.

So my dear, dear liberal friends. Your outrage is warranted but do not rest in your rage. You should be guarded for the trump call to arms emanating from the entire trump family. I wish I had confidence that the government will protect us. I don’t. Many white cops think we deserve what we get when their fellow whites attack us to honor the blue. The irony is no one hates cops more than the white supremacists, until the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The debate moment being talked about is the refusal of trump to denounce white supremacy. Really? He is way past that and onto signaling his eagerness for their intervention in saving his ass from a fair election. Bullies may be weak….until they surround themselves with other bullies. They feed off each other and then when the first bullet is fired, it will be followed by a volley.

I may be writing quite inartfully but it is early the morning after the debate. I am tired of watching the previously emasculated white power movement grow in numbers, confidence and support.

And there is a good reason the FBI has been trying to warn about Right Wing extremists groups including their infiltration of police departments.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/extremists-pose-a-violent-threat-fbi-and-dhs-officials-say-11600998139

Hate group intel. https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map

God bless America, land of the broke.

Dear Trump supporters. Our country is on its way to bankruptcy. Whoops. But who better to lead us than trump. He has already done it 4 times. ha ha ha, tee hee tee hee. Suckers and losers in abundance. Just kidding. No I’m not. Yes I am. Not, am, not. Why would I bring this up when we all know I could not change anyone’s mind? Because our children must pay back all the deficit spending costs. We are breaking their financial backs with our lack of fiscal prudence and corrupt leadership. So I am not appealing for myself but for our kids and grandkids. Take a moment….think….a country once the economic powerhouse will be financially broken. Me and you laying in our graves, safe and sound. Them, can hardly afford food and housing because we sat by while the country borrowed its way through each day.

Bankruptcy 1: The Trump Taj Mahal, 1991
The first bankruptcy associated with Trump was perhaps the most significant in terms of his personal finances, according to news reports at the time. He funded the construction of the $1 billion Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, which opened in 1990. By 1991, the casino was nearly $3 billion in debt, while Trump had racked up nearly $900 million in personal liabilities, so the business decided to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, according to the New York Times. As a result, Trump gave up half his personal stake in the casino and sold his yacht and airline, according to the Washington Post.

Bankruptcy 2: Trump Plaza Hotel, 1992
Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in New York for $390 million in 1988. By 1992, the hotel had accumulated $550 million in debt. As a result of the bankruptcy, in exchange for easier terms on which to pay off the debts, Trump relinquished a 49 percent stake in the Plaza to a total of six lenders, according to ABC News. Trump remained the hotel’s CEO, but it was merely a gesture — he didn’t earn a salary and had no say in the hotel’s day-to-day operations, according to the New York Times.

Bankruptcy 3: Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts, 2004
Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for bankruptcy again in 2004 when his casinos — including the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Marina and Trump Plaza casinos in Atlantic City and a riverboat casino in Indiana — had accrued an estimated $1.8 billion in debt, according to the Associated Press. Trump agreed to reduce his share in the company from 47 to 27 percent in a restructuring plan, but he was still the company’s largest single shareholder and remained in charge of its operations. Trump told the Associated Press at the time that the company represented less than 1 percent of his net worth.

Bankruptcy 4: Trump Entertainment Resorts, 2009
Trump Entertainment Resorts — formerly Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts — was hit hard by the 2008 economic recession and missed a $53.1 million bond interest payment in December 2008, according to ABC News. After debating with the company’s board of directors, Trump resigned as the company’s chairman and had his corporate stake in the company reduced to 10 percent. The company continued to use Trump’s name in licensing.

God bless the real America! Not the one of trumpian nightmares.

Adios mother fuckers

If trump is re-elected I am exploring moving to another country. Congratulations trump supporters, you succeeded in supporting the total and complete corruption of my birthplace. It is uninhabitable to persons who actually read and absorb facts, believe videos and scientists and value honesty and integrity. Fuck trump. Every lie he tells about Covid 19 is a death sentence for untold Americans. Every dictator he snuggles up to brings us closer to war. Every ally he offends brings us closer to a war without friends. Me, I am going to go relax somewhere they do not house alien kids in cages, believe in women’s right to choose and do not attempt inflame the populace and thus to purge judges, government administrators and opposition politicians, i.e.those considered enemies of the president. In other words I will not be moving to the Philippines or some such banana republic.
My family fled Russia for a reason. My parents raised me to hear the sound of injustice and fascism. And I needed no help to hear the sound of racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

Did I say Fuck trump? I am sorry. I meant to say, double fuck him. Did I mention he is a worthless twit void of ideology? I mean to. I need a gun because I live in the US. You do not need a gun everywhere but you do here. We are the best country? Drink that kool ade.

It is great that we have free access to so much information unlike a dictatorship. But what good is it if you limit yourself to Fox News and Breitbart and other propaganda used to prop up this Far right government. What good is access to information if you do not listen to the wealth of scientific information available or listen and then choose to exercise ignorance and ignore it.

What good are your rights as a citizen if you use your status to deprive anyone of affordable education or health care or housing. You think taxes are your money? Your taxes are a drop in the bucket of what it takes to support the country. You want to pay less taxes and get better infrastructure? You do not deserve the level of service you get for the amount you pay. You only got to enjoy much of your public services because others pay their share. But now fewer people and companies of wealth contribute so the country sinks economically and financially. And you grin and think you got over on the system like a fat rat in a cheese factory. The system got you. You did not get it.

A rich guy pissed on your head and told you it was raining and you believe it. Smelled like piss. Looked like piss. Expert analysis says it is piss, but trump said it was rain. Damn.

I been to Europe and Asia and never had a gun there and I yet I was safe. Guns do not make us safe. People make us safe. Guns make us safe from bad people with guns. I walked into neighborhoods in Asian and Europe that were rough. Poor! People of color! And no one bothered me and I did not need a gun. Want America great again. Be the example of the person who does not tolerate hate. Does not treat the stranger with hate and suspicion. Choose leaders that do not make me feel I need a gun because your leader praises white supremacists and mocks Jews, calls Mexicans rapists and protesters, terrorists. Oh, and advocate for an end to the unregulated firearms market and the demonization and incarceration of drug addicts. I did not day give up your guns but we should never again sell one of our guns to anyone who has not passed a verified minimal background check.

The whole point of claiming this was the best country was the perception that it was democratic, tolerant and helped the rest of a world in need. That shit went out the window while you cheered. Damn.

I could not burst your bubble about the US. You are not concerned that prisoners and immigrant detainees are held in private prisons. Kids in cages. I wish your Facebook pages were plastered with how upset you are that bbout 44 million people in this country have no health insurance, and another 38 million have inadequate health insurance. Fuck em. (Texas has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result, Texas, has an estimated 761,000 residents ineligible for Medicaid and are also ineligible for premium subsidies to offset the cost of private coverage in the health care exchange.)

The greatest country? Best at what? Largest military budget. World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of the total. U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined.

Highest murder rate? Highest cost of college education? Least amount of training time for law enforcement officers. (16-18 weeks versus 2-3 years)

You do not trust big government or the US government. You believe a deep state is undermining our democracy. If you mindlessly bought the story that we are the greatest and/or will be great again, how great can it be if there are FBI, Department of Justice lawyers, ex-presidents and the Democratic party all working to destroy our country? Wake the fuck up.

Man I have to watch news, read crap propaganda and listen to everyone’s opinion to get to the truth. You mock my conclusions. But you just wanna skim the Fox headlines, listen to Judge Jeanine and smile while they blow smoke up your ass. I’m working my ass off to preserve democracy and you are wallowing in the misinformation fed you because someone convinced you that everyone else is telling fake news. So you believe your country news media lies all the time? Great country. What the fuck.

You will thank God for all God has given you but who did he send to deliver it. His angels earn your scorn daily. Your fellow Christians show up looking for work and toil in the hot sun to harvest your food, cover your roofs and build your roads. Look as you go by on a hot summer day and see who is manning that road crew! What a shame. God sent you salvation from labor by giving you the hardest working, cheapest work force and you kick them, take their children and turn away as they beg for access to health care and education and citizenship.

The president of the United States is a whoremonger, admitted sexual predator and one of the most sued entities in the history of the country including judgments for cheating charities, students and contractors. He is presiding over the biggest kill off of our population in its history

How low can you go? Apparently there is no bottom. MAGA for the win? I suggest you get a good umbrella because trump is not done pissing on us.

reference

https://www.healthinsurance.org/texas-medicaid/

https://www.wbtv.com/2020/06/13/some-us-police-train-just-few-weeks-some-countries-they-train-years/

https://thelastweekends.org/?utm_source=tlw_patinkin

Throw the bums out.

When you listen to Rand Paul, Chuck Grassley, Chuck Schumer, et al in these hearings, you get an overwhelming sensation that we are long, long, long past the time for term limits. This men’s club is corrupt beyond measure. They are partisan, politically or financially corrupt and out of touch. I do not agree with everything Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says or supports, but clearly she is more plugged in to the reality of our everyday difficulties. Whether or not she has the solutions is unimportant because until you grasp the problem you cannot craft the solution. (Kinda like a pandemic)


I never feared a sole political leader in the past because I was raised with the notion of checks and balances. Now I have learned what can happen when the entire government capitulates to the president. Now we are seeing the complete surrender of obligations by the ruling party and how much it resembles foreign authoritarian governments. Especially where the “strong man” consistently and persistently derides the opposition and encourages violence against his own citizens who oppose his rule.

Time to revisit life in the USA. Politics in the USA and the allowance of bought and paid for politicians being allowed to rule over us for years on end. I am okay with the suppression of the political parties especially to the degree that governance returns to the governed. I favor rule by coalition allowing for more political parties. I do not believe in social engineering by legislation. I do not believe that items beyond the scope of national concern can be subject to the whims of the party in power. I abhor the drug laws which criminalize and demonize addiction. I support the right to choose but I believe we have never spent enough money and time curbing unwanted pregnancies.
I love my guns but I also support the right to life as pertains to the health safety and welfare of school children, concert-goers and worshippers. If I must compromise my gun rights, so be it if it will help make it more difficult for the mentally-ill and prohibited possessors in securing a firearm. And every fucking gun owner with half a brain knows that there is an open market in Texas and other states which allows free access to guns by persons who would not be allowed to purchase under federal law from any licensed seller.

So no one is going to compromise or bend in today’s environment of which trump remains the pivotal figure from both sides. So it is clearly time to start over with a government that works for both (many) sides. Many repel at the idea of compromise and cling to the illusion of God Given rights and obligations. I also repel at certain compromises such as caging children, even illegal children. I believe in the sanctity of school children and their right to be free from men with AR-15s who are set to slaughter them.

So I hope we can agree on just this one item. Term limits. Run out the rascals. Then we can sit at the table across from each other via young, smart partisan legislators who will be unable to legally take lobbyists dollars and will know how to craft legislation which addresses the needs of the greatest good.
The Congress was invented to find compromise in legislating. That concept has been abandoned. So I am good with the destruction of the republican party. I never would have advocated that before but recent events over the past 12 years have convinced me that our government is more fragile than I knew. I do not have to advocate the elimination of the democratic party, the republicans are already well on their way to that. But we must not let the victor have the spoils. Deprive both sides of a stranglehold/foothold over our government.

I am and always have been a citizen of the USA. I have and always will support the health, safety and welfare of our military, especially our combat veterans. I do not support rioting and looting but I absolutely support a transformation in policing. Change the training paradigm, the caliber of recruits and the policies around use of force especially as pertains to the mentally-ill.

Oh my I have gone on far too long. God bless the REAL America. Not this trump perpetrated hoax and pox upon us.

Vote for me and I will set you free!

I used the title in the hopes it would more likely get readers more than the title “This is who I am”

I am a long time advocate of civil liberties and gun rights. I disdain violence against animals or humans in all forms. In contrast I will not hesitate to react violently to an immediate threat.

My liberal friends generally agree with my values such as, I support all peaceful efforts to stop police violence. I support the efforts to help small business survive the pandemic. I support masks and social distance. I do not support any rioting or looting. I do not support the confederate or Nazi flag waving. I never support hate speech whether coming from a misguided/frustrated black man or a conniving rich white man in the White House.

I advocate term limits and the elimination from congress of its life long members, including Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer. I advocate an end to Citizens United, the legal case which allows unlimited corporate cash into and to influence our elections. I would support efforts to eliminate corporate lobbyists influencing legislation.

I support Joe Biden. True he was not my choice and rather than suggesting that means he is not a good candidate, it means I am far more progressive than him. IT does not mean that I have any concern about his character or his ability to lead the country. It means that he is too far to the right, too conservative for my tastes. I am absolutely certain, he is no puppet of the far left, not going to take our guns, not mentally incapable of serving or that he will destroy the suburbs or allow our “white” women to be raped.
Joe Biden has more morality, empathy, compassion and intellect in his little finger than donald trump has in his entire body.

His choice to pick a moderate woman of color as a running mate is great. That it is Kamala Harris is great. While the right wishes to buy the idea that she is a dangerous, left wing demagogue, the reality is different. She has spent a good part of her career as an attorney general. She is conservative with a some moderate progressive views such as health care for all and police should be held accountable for unlawful violence. I admire her successes and I care not in the least that I would never have liked her law enforcement actions as a prosecutor because I never met a prosecutor I agreed with. (Well Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot would be an exception.)
Neither Biden or Kamala has ever been accused of being a devil worshiper and/or a destroyer of Christianity.

If you are a conservative you should be quite content to vote for Joe and Kamala. Yes, you lose the abortion battle temporarily. You gained a lot of ground with trump, I know. But he is buying your Christian vote at the cost of your country’s soul with his autocratic leadership. Yes your super rich friends may pay more taxes. Yes your health insurance will probably be more expansive and cheaper. Yes, we will likely repair our historical alliances and rejoin the climate accords. But you will get another Republican president soon and he will swing us back to the Right but hopefully he/she will have a moral compass and a brain.


There is value in compromise and moderation. Abortion is murder to you and non-negotiable. I have my non-negotiables also and they also involve the sanctity of life including children are never to be caged. Suspects of color are not to be murdered by police officers. (Not saying cops should not protect themselves. Saying unlawful use of force resulting in death should be, must be punished.) The murder and dismemberment of journalists and opponents, such as practiced in Russia and Saudi Arabia is not to be rewarded with our countries friendship.

So will we negotiate unifying the country or will you dig in to the polarization of the country by being a stuck on your hatred for me. Yes, me. I am everything the Right hates. But I get calls every week from friends who forget my politics when they have a legal matter. It is the adage that you would never have someone like me for a neighbor but would never want anyone else to be your lawyer. (Yes, I am that good.)

You would never negotiate abortion and there are some on the Left who would never negotiate gun ownership. These issues will never be permanently resolved in your lifetime and the fight will continue. Let the middle rule. It is not the slippery slope you imagine. It is the way countries thrive and survive peacefully. (If it helps, I will say Merry Christmas more often, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the national anthem at sporting events.)

It is time to return to the middle. I lose some, you lose some but ahhh, we both gain much, starting with the soul of our country, improved relations and respect with our historical European allies and the lessening of the heated/destructive exchanges between neighbors, family and friends over the direction of our America.
God bless the real America.

Time again to pick sides

I note that the rising tide of resentment against black athletes and there boycott of the games. Some think that a bunch of uppity prima donna black athletes are acting out and in response you will boycott the sports/leagues. I suggest, you may have missed the point.

You care for the police and the difficult job they have. You are not touched by the pain of these homicides by police officers of black people. So you shout out, where are the protests for Blue Lives Matter, these oppressed cops who are being treated so poorly, even killed in the line of duty.
But the officers the uproar is about are quite alive, dangerous and at best, poorly trained and at worst, racists. The point of all this is a large community wants this to stop. So you boycott the leagues because the athletes continue to honor victims and now demand justice. You will never get the point if you did not get it by now.

There is praise for the lost boy from hell who killed people in Kenosha because as Sean Hannity said, the boy is doing what the politicians and police were unwilling to do. Follow Hannity right to the gates of hell where civil war, fear and hate await you.

Very few adult liberals want violence committed against businesses or homes or cops. Very few of us want civil war, communist rule or the death of your suburban white communities. Most liberals are not antifa and we sure as shit are not KKK or Boogaloo Boys or any other white supremacists or Right wing hate group.
It is not now nor ever was fair that people are persecuted or prosecuted more aggressively because of their color, religion or sex. We have repeatedly offered up the evidence of discrimination, systemic racism and police brutality. You ignore it. You wave the flag at it. You denounce us as if we killed someone.

Well liberals are not going anywhere so I guess if you are planning on eliminating us pursuant to the trump/pence plan, get to it. Right-wing violence represents an increasing share of terrorist activity. Terrorist violence by right-wing extremists seems to have increased from 6% of attacks in 2010 to 35% by 2016, while left-wing terrorist violence during the same period dropped from 64% of attacks to just 12%. It further appears that right-wing violence quadrupled between 2016 and 2017. As the Center for Strategic and International Studies notes, “Although violent left-wing groups and individuals also present a threat, far-right-networks appear to be better armed and larger.” You got big momentum and big guns on your side.

Over 300 right wing hate groups are identified and active at this very moment, https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map/by-state

Trump and pence are urging you to view us as lethal enemies and destroyers of your communities and country. So rise up with your fellow whites. I know you are not racist but you have chosen your side and you have the guns and the president on your side. I do not think these “uppity blacks”, and “demon liberals” are going away. So you better get busy cause there are a lot of us.

I’ll always love my momma, she’s my favorite girl.

I just texted my sister on the first anniversary of mom passing. I noted that our mom was not a stand out mom. But she was a good enough mom for me. They certainly do not do movies or write books about moms like mine. She was generally quiet and solitary throughout her last years. But she was loyal, moral and good-humored. Frugal but generous. By living 102 years she endured more losses than I can comprehend. She was not very affectionate but from what I saw of my grandmother, it would have been amazing if she was. I think my sister Karen and I taught her to say “I love you”. I say that because I do not remember her ever saying it until later in life and we had repeated it to her a thousand times.

I owed her in many ways. She was frequently called to schools to discuss my behavior. She shrugged off my being flunked in my religious classes at the synagogue. When I was ten, I vividly recall how she tried to save me from a significant beating I was getting from my dad and she paid for her intervention. I started running away at 13. She found me hours later wandering the streets. Where else was I to go. She delivered me to psychologists and psychiatrists in an attempt to keep me from completely unraveling before I could turn 16.

I owed her for getting me out of police lock-up twice, going to court, paying an attorney on my felony charges. I owed her for laughing at neighbors who complained to her about my smoking pot (long before pot was fashionable). I owed her for the many years I was a teenage runaway and those nights she spent sleepless, crying and worrying if I was dead or alive. I owed her for helping me pay for law school.

Maybe I owed her for keeping the family together when every fiber of my being cried for its end. Why do I assume that economic insecurity would have been preferable to physical safety. The beatings and terror are the ground from which many a rich and humorous anecdote have sprouted. They shaped me in ways I could not have predicted and made me the lawyer of choice for persons who did harmful things for no apparent reason.

I sucked at being her child. I was getting better at it every year and I am glad that I was a much better son in the final reel. I wish it had occurred to me sooner to be a better son but it did not! (I will credit Ajahn Panumat, a Thai Buddhist monk with starting me on the path on my 55th birthday. He told me to call my mom and thank her as but for her, I have no life.) I would be a shallow person indeed if I did not recognize the neglect and indifference I showed towards my mother’s feelings much of her life.

So to pen an homage to the departed seems to be something we do to assuage our grief and our guilt. I do not have much of either in great abundance but I have my share of both.

Ready for Change!!

You are not a racist or indifferent to the suffering of others. You are probably religious and moral and care what happens to those less fortunate. So I urge you to watch the video of George Floyd’s last moments, trying to be heard as he was suffocated, “asphyxiation from sustained pressure”.
I was almost drowned once at the age of 14. I was held underwater by a large classmate. I could not breathe. I panicked and thought I would die. My body screamed for air! I passed out. I lived in panic of drowning for about 40 more years and I reacted violently to anyone touching my throat or trying to horseplay with me in a swimming pool.


So I urge everyone to imagine that suddenly you are prevented from and so, unable to breathe and you know that you are dying. In desperation you cry out for help. You use your last breaths to beg for your life. But to no avail. The person who holds your life, your air, in his hands, ignores you and kills you. On purpose or unintentionally, he kills you. But for him, you would live to see another day.

I appreciate your doing this and giving life and breath to this story.

Or maybe you think it is okay for cops to mete out justice in the streets. You think George Floyd brought about his own death by resisting arrest and he opened the door to be killed in that moment, on that street by that cop. Maybe you think his life is worth less than yours, or your son’s or your dad. Maybe because you do not trust Black people, or criminals or because you trust cops completely. I do not know what would bring about that callous response to the 8.5 minute video of a man’s life taken from him with calm cool detachment.

I grew up in Chicago. Between 2002 and 2006, a Cook County Special Prosecutor, retired Justice Edward Egan, investigated allegations that a group of homicide detectives had tortured black suspects including attaching a car battery to suspects testicles and shocking them into confessing crimes. Special Prosecutor Egan concluded that a Lt. Burge and officers under his command had likely committed torture, but that any crimes were outside the state statute of limitations and could not be prosecuted.


On August 9, 1997, NYPD Officer Justin Volpe in Brooklyn sodomized suspect Abner Louima with a broken broom handle in a 70th Precinct bathroom. Officer Volpe eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.

5 NYPD plainclothes officers thought Amadou Diallo fit the description of a serial rapist. The officers followed him to his apartment building. When Diallo reached into his jacket, officers fired 41 rounds, 19 hitting Diallo. No gun was found on Diallo, only a wallet he pulled out to identify himself and a bag of videotapes.

The list of Black people murdered or tortured by police is lengthy and justice rare. So whatever your reason for failing to understand the nature of the anger/rage now, get over it. Your dad was a cop, you were a cop, your best friend told you it is a hoax, your president fed you a line of bullshit or whatever, I urge you either find your sense of connection to the rage or shut up. Everyone of us must demand, despite our own perceptions, bias or prejudice, that police misconduct must stop, things must change and we are the reason it will change. We will give voice to the disenfranchised, voiceless, victims of social and legal inequities. Be with them or shut up. There is no room left for more brutality and misconduct without retort and consequence. Screw blue flu. We will provide safety and security if need be for all our fellows who are vulnerable to police brutality, be that a person of color or white, male or female. This is the moment in history where we can make a difference.

Difficult Times (an ode to my sister)

The following is a disjointed, rambling stream of conscious blog written in the early early hours of the day. I am jet-lagged and sleep deprived but I persist.

Half political, half sentimental follows.
I was on Facebook overnight unable to sleep and bored. It occurred to me how comforting that my sister hates trump. My whole family actually hates him. But my younger of two sisters I refer to has been the back-up matriarch of our family with her demand for control, her attention to detail and her love and affection. It is a bonus and I love that she is not only an extraordinary care-taker but frequently surpasses me, on social media, expressing her total disdain for trump and her admiration for progressive values.

I am the baby of a family of 4 siblings. I have had my challenges with each of my 2 sisters and one brother. I considered resigning from my family of origin at one time but ultimately decided that I belonged.

It is helpful that this sister has been the glue which was needed as my parents aged and died. I have seen memes for family members to show appreciation for each other but my sister deserves more than a meme.

When our parents pass it often leaves us children, despite being grown, feeling vulnerable and abandoned. It is my gift to be a member of a family that has a core of affection and cohesion which sheltered me from the ill-effects of parental loss.

I am mentioning this because I know so many families now torn by politics and many more who fight with each other over the late-life care and passing of their parents. My family has successfully navigated the loss of both parents and the election of trump. Two potential family crises.

My sister Karen was the rock during my mom’s final health crisis. I am spared long term guilt, about being a son so distant, about my mom’s care because my sister was ever attentive and present. I was constantly assured my mom was in good hands getting the best care.

I am the only tattooed, drug addict, gun toting Buddhist in my family. But no matter how strange and far I stray from my origins, I have never been shunned/rejected by my family. Sadly so many of my peers have not been so lucky.

Values are important to me. My 3 siblings all have humanistic, progressive values at their core. We don’t fight over gay rights or universal access to health care or civil rights for all. (They hate guns but none of us is as rabid as we used to be on the subject)
I don’t envy those that come home to visit a household airing Fox News.

May all families know the affection and respect of shared values. May all families navigate the loss of parents with dignity and love for each other. May all splintered families find healing when the dust of politics settles.

Would I ever return to being a Buddhist monk?

The question has been asked of me many times. I have asked me many times. Here in Thailand there is opportunity to ordain again. But here in Thailand I do not think so.

In case you did not know, I was ordained as a novice 10 years ago. I lived in a Thai temple in Arizona for a little over 4 months. I lived there with 3 Thai monks, two who were bilingual. I was a bull in a china shop but I was serious and dedicated. I had planned to stay longer but some events required my attention and I could not do so as a monastic.

Monks live by very strict rules. 227 rules actually. They affect every area of life, dress, eating, grooming, traveling, socializing and much more. As I am in Thailand for my first time if I were to ordain, I would be limiting my ability to travel around. New monks are generally required to be in the company of a senior monk. They rarely can travel at night. They cannot go to entertainment venues, such as a Muy Thai match (Thai martial art)

As it is, I am very connected to the things that matter most to me about being a monk. I am with them constantly learning more and more about the history and ceremonies and teachings of the Buddha. My constant companions are monks who are all in university and are preparing to graduate. Each one has been in the monastic life for at least 10 years, starting when they were as young as 12 as novices.

Traveling and eating together I am constantly asking them questions. And they are practicing their English so they are forcing me to think about how I explain many things including English slang. Sometimes we have to resort to an Internet translator.

The monks are also teaching me some basic Thai words, and how to get around and how to integrate into a monastic community as a lay-person (non-monk). They are telling me stories about their countries of origin, Myanmar and Laos.

As part of the monastic community, I arise at 4.45 AM or earlier so I will chant the morning chants at 5AM with them. I help clean the temple grounds and then go out at 6AM on the alms rounds with them. I know the difficulties I would face were I to try walking barefoot for 2 miles everyday to collect alms/food. I usually have morning meals with the monks. Their last meal must be completed by mid-day. But unlike them, I can leave the temple in the late afternoon and get something more to eat. But of course I too must be in bed early to rest up for the next morning. So what would I benefit from ordination. Probably ego. As a lay-person I am essentially an attendant to the monks until the completion of the lunch meal. Then we often go out touring in the afternoon or helping me with errands like immigration.

If I travel Thailand as a monk I will be presented with the difficulty of eating my meal before noon. We have had to cut short some morning touring to eat and sometimes they just pass on the meal because it got too late, which would make me crazy. They cannot wear sunglasses or play musical instruments. Their robes are well-suited for most days but quite another matter in very hot or very cold weather. Monks generally hang their robes out around the temple to dry. I go to a laundry service because underpants should not be part of a temple clothes-dry line.

The monks wear sandals or flip flops when walking after alms are completed. Whether hiking in mountains, or walking the city they must walk the many miles with me that way. I am quite spoiled podiatrically speaking, and suffer if I do not have my vibram soled shoes when walking on hard surfaces.

In addition, while I am proficient at certain Pali chanting, I do not have it memorized, I am also not conversant with many additional chants used by the monks for specific moments. There is the blessing given on the alms round many times but sadly I do not have any skill in chanting it……yet. Pali is considered the language of the Buddha and was used to teach the Buddha’s lessons to his listeners. From Britannica “Pāli language, classical and liturgical language of the Theravāda Buddhist canon, a Middle Indo-Aryan language of north Indian origin. On the whole, Pāli seems closely related to the Old Indo-Aryan Vedic and Sanskrit dialects but is apparently not directly descended from either of these.”

So the truth is, at least for now, I have many of the benefits of being a monk but not the limitations. As a first time visitor to Asia, I think it is best for all that I not ordain again. Perhaps my next visit.

An open heart? A heavy heart!

I been trying to write this post. I have the feelings clear but have struggled days/hours for words. I discovered over the years that I had a secret from myself. Something strange happens to me constantly. I have an issue with empathy or in my case, maybe over empathy.

Years ago, when I was small, I knew a psychological and emotional pain deep down. I was afraid of my dad, of other kids, and of teachers. So early on I began to empathize with suffering. Around the age of 17, I began to fill out physically. And then I began to fight back. But it was mostly psychological.

If I see a dead animal by the side of the road, I imagine their death and I pray it was swift and painless. I see so many dead squirrels and rabbits on my bike rides. Also armadillos, and opossums. I hit an animal on the highway in Missouri at 70 mph and it messed up my mind for hours.

When I see films of animals in the wild being killed I feel empathy and pain (and change the channel). As a lawyer, when I lost clients’ cases I felt empathy and pain. If they went to prison, I tell you it felt like a part of me went too.

The world is now experiencing a series of crises. And I have trouble on a daily basis with the consternation and frustration that I am losing the world I seek to occupy. In its stead there is an ambiance of fear, anger and open hostility towards the values and communities that I hold dear.

I am not aligned with conservative values and ideology. But I never harbored such hostility towards the actions and speech of the conservative leaders. At the helm, is now Trump.

I have spent the past 10 years doing the Buddhist practice of generating loving/kindness, and the development of compassion. I made tremendous progress in the way I thought and acted. I learned to pause when agitated. I learned to think before I retaliated. Retaliated for some offense that often was merely my perception and not reality.

I do not hurt any living beings intentionally. I do not feel superior rights to the animal kingdom. I have not earned the right to practice dominion over the earth and all beings contained therein. I do not believe that my need for gasoline means I can justify or support the military actions against oil states. It can get murky at times. Do I have an open heart for terrorists, child abusers, opioid manufacturers?

The Buddhas did not seem to be too troubled by the bad actor. They would continue to have compassion for the evil, mean-spirited, the greedy and the profane. I am no Buddha but I can aspire to be like one.

I do not know how long I will aspire to an open heart. I was on a good run until recent political events. But the Buddhist vows I took, which I take seriously are as follows

To refrain taking life
To refrain from stealing, taking that which has not been freely given
To refrain from sexual misconduct
To refrain from lies or false speech and To refrain from taking intoxicating substances.

Buddhism is a very moral practice as is 12 steps. The Buddhist meditation is to develop wisdom and reflect on loving kindness which is designed to develop compassion.  I am committed to grow in a moral and compassionate manner. Very much like other moral dictates found in religions.

What is your practice? Are you Christian? Jewish? Do you Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  Do you ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Do you exclude foreigners as “non-neighbors”? Do you exclude homosexuals? Do you exclude criminals?   “When an alien resides with you in your land, do not mistreat such a one. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God.”

Are you truly on the path? Do you know the path? 

The LORD said to Moses Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy.

 Each of you revere your mother and father, and keep my sabbaths. I, the LORD, am your God. Do not turn aside to idols, nor make molten gods for yourselves. I, the LORD, am your God.

When you sacrifice your communion sacrifice to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that it is acceptable on your behalf. It must be eaten on the day of your sacrifice or on the following day. Whatever is left over until the third day shall be burned in fire. If any of it is eaten on the third day, it will be a desecrated offering and not be accepted; whoever eats of it then shall bear the penalty for having profaned what is sacred to the LORD. Such a one shall be cut off from the people.

 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.

Likewise, you shall not pick your vineyard bare, nor gather up the grapes that have fallen. These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien. I, the LORD, am your God.

 You shall not steal. You shall not deceive or speak falsely to one another. You shall not swear falsely by my name, thus profaning the name of your God.i I am the LORD. You shall not exploit your neighbor. You shall not commit robbery. You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your laborer. You shall not insult the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you shall fear your God. I am the LORD.

You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your neighbor justly. You shall not go about spreading slander among your people; nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am the LORD.

 You shall not hate any of your kindred in your heart. Reprove your neighbor openly so that you do not incur sin because of that person.

Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Keep my statutes: do not breed any of your domestic animals with others of a different species; do not sow a field of yours with two different kinds of seed; and do not put on a garment woven with two different kinds of thread.

 If a man has sexual relations with a female slave who has been acquired by another man but has not yet been redeemed or given her freedom, an investigation shall be made. They shall not be put to death, because she has not been freed.   The man shall bring to the entrance of the tent of meeting as his reparation to the LORD a ram as a reparation offering.   With the ram of the reparation offering the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the wrong the man has committed, so that he will be forgiven for the wrong he has committed.

When you come into the land and plant any fruit tree there, first look upon its fruit as if it were uncircumcised. For three years, it shall be uncircumcised for you; it may not be eaten.    In the fourth year, however, all of its fruit shall be dedicated to the LORD in joyous celebration. Not until the fifth year may you eat its fruit, to increase the yield for you. I, the LORD, am your God.

Do not eat anything with the blood still in it. Do not recite charms or practice soothsaying. Do not clip your hair at the temples, nor spoil the edges of your beard. Do not lacerate your bodies for the dead, and do not tattoo yourselves. I am the LORD.  You shall not degrade your daughter by making a prostitute of her; otherwise the land will prostitute itself and become full of lewdness. Keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary. I am the LORD.  

Do not turn to ghosts or consult spirits, by which you will be defiled. I, the LORD, am your God. Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the old, and fear your God. I am the LORD.

Do not act dishonestly in using measures of length or weight or capacity. You shall have a true scale and true weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Be careful, then, to observe all my statutes and decrees. I am the LORD.

Look up Leviticus 19:9–18: if you need verification. Examine the 5 Book of Moses

I close as usual with blessings for all. May all beings be free from all harm. May all being live their lives free from danger and may they be safe and comfortable,  Free from disease, disaster and pain. May all who have physical and/or mental limitations be aided by those who do not.  May all who are lonely find companions. May those in areas of great turmoil, famine and terror find peace and comfort and may those who create conflict and suffering be transformed.

I rested on my laurels, turned out it was a cactus.

Everybody, without exception has struggled with relationships. That would include family, friends, lovers and colleagues, et al. Some relationships seem to evolve easily but all hit bumps on the road. Some relationships are a struggle from the beginning but we need to manage them and accommodate them because of circumstances.
 
I have days where I am in love with everyone I meet. My words flow smoothly and freely and none are offended. Other days I reflect on and wonder, what the hell happened?. Who are these people and why are they , “mad”, “disappointed” “hostile” with me.
 
I can let human interactions dictate how I feel about myself. I am constantly examining how, what and why did I do, say or act in a certain way. Was it right? Selfish? Judgmental? Kind? Compassionate? You get what I am saying.
 
I know I am a good person but I also know I am capable of insensitivity, cruelty and obliviousness to the feelings of others. I know cause they often tell me so. But I am none of those behaviors purposely. So it is imperative that I do a self-inventory, daily to see how I am behaving, growing, or stagnating. Then you hear me write about coping fatigue. Meaning I am tired of examining my actions and motives. I just want to show up and let life unfold without effort.
 
But when I meditate and sit mindfully, I see clearly, it is my circus and they are my monkeys. Without vigilance I can be exasperating and difficult to the very people I cherish or seek positive interactions with.
 
IT is not enough to be smart and sensible. “Compassion and wisdom need to function together, combined with skillfulness, tolerance and patience. If we give ourselves the time and space to really observe our own thoughts and actions, good can come about. We give ourselves and others a lot of space in which to function properly; rather than act selfishly, we act selflessly.” VENERABLE KHANDRO RINPOCHE
 
I am tired of coping, seriously. I tire of going to meditation, the gym, AA meetings, and bike rides in the hellacious heat. But the reward is a healthier spiritual, emotional and physical life. Relationships can adversely affect or compliment this life and the effort to improve them is valuable and necessary.

You may be right, I may be crazy

I spent my teen years strolling the streets of the south side of Chicago. All times of day and night. Stoned, sober, rain, shine, cold, hot it just did not matter. If I could avoid home, I did. What I marvel at now is how scared I was much of the time.

I was fascinated by the streets, the sounds, the smells and the sights. I can recall walking alone and fights breaking out in alleyways between 2 guys for reasons I know not. Police cars would cruise by real slow measuring up whether to stop and frisk me. I was often carrying marijuana and I was always scared of a police search. ( I calculate that I have been stopped and searched by police over 40 times.)

Another common sight was groups of young boys on their stingray bicycles with banana seats and high handle bars with colorful streamers at the handle bar ends.

Frankly I have always found the inner-city of Chicago to be fascinating and terrifying. Gardens growing in front of small older homes next door to boarded up homes with fallen chain link fences and discarded beer bottles. (Homes there now often sport a large red X sign on the building front. Chicago assigns red “X” signs to tell firefighters and other first-responders that it is structurally unsound and should take precautions when responding to emergencies there. It’s also a reminder to anyone who might wander into this vacant building that they should stay out.)  Older Black women are watering those pretty gardens or sitting on porches with their hand fans. At the end of the block is a park with young men playing basketball, while another group sits on the park benches drinking wine and smoking pot.

I knew all the gang signs in case I was challenged, but frankly I was either simply chased or ignored. But I knew that a any teen boy or a woman alone were likely prey. The inner-city has no shortage of predators. But the more I lived there the more I saw why. Kids were being groomed to be hard. Show no weakness or you will be picked on. Look like lunch and you will be eaten.

For some, jail and prison time were like badges of courage and considered a necessary stop on the road to street success. The manifestation of toughness starts with the way you move and the way you dress. I certainly dressed for success. I wore sunglasses night and day, jeans and button down Italian knits, Florsheim shoes or sneakers. In jacket weather I wore leather jackets, one that went to the hips only and one that went to the thighs. I stole both jackets from parties I went to. I never had clothing money then.

My basic menu was a loaf of french bread and cream cheese. I bought the bread and stole the cream cheese. Sometimes I would be able to steal a pack of deli meat like bologna or roast beef (the cheap kind). My dining room was usually a park bench or some front stoop of a 3 flat. The other food source was going to restaurants and running out on the check. I did not really run, I kind of casually walked out as though I had just paid the bill. One time an owner followed me to the street. He let me know he had a handgun in his rear pocket and was screaming at me. I feigned confusion and luckily I had enough to pay the bill.

So I have flashbacks of days long gone. I still love the memories. Watching the world in my youth unfold in front of me taught me so much about life. I should have modified my behavior at times to respect my fear. I should have stayed out of inner-city alleys and taverns. It is only looking back that I can appreciate the value of following my curiosity rather than my fear.

My favorite book which I first read when I was about 9 years old was Knock on Any Door by Willard Motley. His description of Chicago’s skid row and lower-income communities was so graphic that when I was old enough to seek out those same streets, off I went.

I am now the book. Or a book. I am a story of sights, sounds and smells. I wish I had the skill to depict it as I experienced it. I wish we could grasp what abject poverty feels like in its glory and in its shame. Often imitated but never duplicated, the south side of our many large cities is a marvelous tapestry of brilliance, imagination and pain because if you look closely, beneath the fallen tear drops of grief are blood stains of violence covering crushed dreams. But keep moving and you will hear the beautiful staccato of jazz riffs and rap and then the rubbing sounds of local writers’ erasers as they craft great American songs and stories.

I’m not dead yet. I will be back.

 

Mom’s first birthday away.

I am not prone to melancholy. I am generally even keel. But today is the first time my mom is not around on a September 13th to wish her happy birthday. Today I am reminded that it took me too long to become the son she could be proud of. It took me too long to see the chaos and difficulties I imposed on my family especially back in the old days with jails, addiction and academic and economic failures..
I have no reason to fear going to jail again but I will fear that my mom is not around to bail me out. Because she is the only person I could trust to help me out of any jam. I rarely asked but she never failed.
I never fucked up enough for her to give up. She could be indifferent and aloof emotionally to family and friends. Why? I do not know. But she physically tried to protect me from bodily harm and tried to put herself between me and my father the one time when he seemed to have lost control while disciplining me.
My dad could be violent but the only time he put a hand on my mom was that day And that same day I tried to kill him. Yes, I mean that on that day when I was 10, I made an full on attempt to poison him. 
I never doubted from that day that if he got physical with her again, I would do him great bodily harm. But that was the only time he touched her in anger and we never had to find out if I could improve my plan.
I am in full-on melancholy that I made so many apologies and amends to so many people over the years and it never occurred to me to do the same for her. Yes, I changed and acted better and was a better son. But it would have taken many more years of right behavior to have begun to make up for what I put my mom through. Not just as a kid but with my divorces, money problems, fights with family members in front of her and more.
From early grade school my mom had to visit school teachers and listen to the myriad of complaints about my lack of scholastic accomplishments and my behavioral issues. She heard it all but all she seemed to remember from it was the part where they said I was smart and she did not dwell, at least openly, about what a shame my behavior was.
Nothing prepared my mom for taking me, when I was 17, to the Cook County felony courthouse and watching as the judge admonished us that I was facing 6 to 15 years in prison. What was she to think as the plainclothes Chicago Police officers warned her on the way out of the courthouse that I was living amongst a criminal element that would get me killed or result in further charges.
Imagine having a teen-age son who only comes home when he is physically broken with mono and has no place left to go. And imagine that shortly after you get him health care and bring him back to good health, he disappears back into the streets.
Yea, I owed. I will always owe.
Remember To Sir With Love. Some lyrics,
“And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn, but what can I give you in return?
If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start
But I would rather you let me give my heart “
The melancholy is impermanent. It will fade. More often I will remember my mom’s last 5 days and how she looked so pretty to me. I will recall how I would talk to her early each day after the caretaker left and my sister had not yet arrived, I would speak to her. She was already in a drug stupor when I arrived so we did not converse. But in case she could hear me, I talked to her. I like to assume that somewhere in that drug addled mind she heard love from me and my sisters.
I tell you that she died the perfect death. She was getting good medical care. Her kids were with her. Her granddaughter was laying beside her and she just stopped breathing. It was a month ago.
The point is not that I suck at being a son or that I dwell in recriminations. The point is that when my best caretaker died, then did I have to face my fear of living without a security blanket. Now I know that when I am called to be an adult I am, more than ever, keenly aware of how much of a child I still am. The narrative about me as a son should highlight that when I stroll down memory lane, there will always be ample evidence that I am one of the lucky ones who got a mom who will always be remembered with great love and affection, because she earned it.