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 with them. I help clean the temple grounds and then go out 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. They have walked 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.

Thought I knew something.

I know things. At least I think I know or knew. I know things I do not care to share although I consider them important things to know. I know about the New Testament and I know about the first 5 books called the Torah/Pentateuch. I know about Buddhism and Islam and Hinduism. I know about good and evil and kindness and unkind. The list is endless of what I think I know. I know law, cars and handguns. I know heartache, joy, envy and admiration and more .
In a time far far away, I met Reverend Steve Swanson a Lutheran minister at the Resurrection Lutheran Church. His charity made me admire Christians. His willingness to support my efforts helping gang kids that were scorned and feared made me want to understand his kind better. I read the New Testament for the first time after I met Steve and Father Leslie an equally kind Episcopal priest.
The area of social services is filled with Christian organizations and people who give to those in need without regard for country of origin, race or religion.
So many kind and beautiful and loving people.
Today my experience with many Christians makes me wonder if I learned anything about Christianity. Their language is not of compassion and love but of anger and resentments. They post about the war on Christianity and Christmas. They say that the serious problems of today originate with a lack of their God in the government, and the schools and sexual freedom and socialism. Many freely post ugly memes about Muslims and Sharia law while hailing patriotism and military force.
It is not just a small group of religious persons I refer to. It is many I personally encounter and they seem more interested in getting me to take Jesus in my heart than saving people from abject poverty, hunger and violence. I am doing fine, worry about your Christian brothers and sisters from the south, clamoring for shelter
If I were ever to take Jesus into my heart, that moment passed when I left social services and Chicago and moved to the bible belt. Because today I am just an object tolerated and admired but not accepted and loved. (Most of my friends would surely dispute my characterization so please note these are my thoughts alone and not the opinions of management.)
I know nothing about a world where the environment and people are expendable. I always believed that entry to heaven was through good works not correct religion. All that I thought I know is in doubt.
Israel is not the Jewish homeland I thought it was. Religious Jews and Christians do not behave with the moral authority I once credited them with. My hate for Palestinians is long gone and my admiration for the Israeli military gone with it.
My father took me to the library every week since I was old enough to remember and made me read. I read hundreds of books as a child on many subjects. Tons of biographies and history. I went to school and sat in class bored but attentive. I passed every test ever given me including the law school admission test and the bar exams.
But despite tears spent in study and experience I am reduced to fighting for my intellectual and spiritual survivor with folks that have never said they needed to examine themselves in the course of growing up and getting right. They do not cite to me the Great Books as influences in their world views. I deeply admired the principles of the great civil rights leaders I read about especially Dr Martin Luther KIng Jr. I have never abandoned the idea of peace, love and understanding.
But the enthusiasm we shared in my younger days of saving people who had less than us is gone. There are no Dr. Kings or Rev Steve Swansons or Father Leslies. The churches of my youth like the University Church in Hyde Park seem like part of a fictional short story now.
I do not know you people who can argue for incarceration and walls. I do not know you who scoff at the destruction of wildlife and wilderness.
I am trained as a Buddhist teacher and could teach how to meditate and to incorporate a deep and abiding morality into everyday actions. I could teach techniques for self-liberation, developing compassion and freedom from craving. But, not much is more impenetrable than a closed mind.

“In the spiritual search doubt is beneficial, a closed mind is not. Doubt used wisely assists enlightenment; a closed mind assists ignorance.”  Ian Gardner

If there is a God, I thank her for the Greta Thunberg, David Hogg and other young people that stand up for the quality of life, liberty and safety.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  Jesus Christ   (No exceptions/no substitutions)

 

Not too late for redemption! If we dig in and let go of our fears of losing the United States to those people. You know them, the poor, smelly Hispanics coming here to take advantage of our wealth, education and generosity. I know they look different and speak a different language, but I know many of you will not park more than 100 steps in the supermarket parking lot in the heat. But you have bee told and it is true that many have braved conditions you would never ever submit to in order to become our neighbor. They walked and sometimes crawled through dirt, desert and water to slip under the barbed wires of the countries standing between them and us. And they will be so grateful that they will work harder and cheaper than anyone else you know. They will clean your toilets, wash your dishes, and care for your kids. They will work any shift at any job just to give their child good education.

Do not do it for them. Do it for you. For your country which will someday be Hispanic again. And you can take comfort knowing that you made sure your children and grandchildren are led by the Hispanic politicians who learned love and tolerance from us. The country will be led by well-educated, well-traveled Christians who will protect the air and water your grandchild will have.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson

Now it is time to plant the seeds that will surround our newcomers in the love and acceptance and tolerance that is the due of all who want and need what we have. And if the Muslim wants to obey Sharia Law, know that your Jewish Orthodox neighbor may still follow halakhah, Jewish Law. How can you demand adherence to your biblical tenets while ignoring mine? So if you believe the bible demands it then you should also live amongst those who will abide by it. Your neighborhood will deny gays marriage and abortion will be outlawed, in your neighborhood of fellow believes.

I will likely be found in a community of Buddhists, Christians and Jews, Gays and transgenders  and many others who believe in live and let live. I will thoroughly enjoy the ethnic food selection and the multitude of languages and cultures on daily display.

In exchange for your cooperation, I will personally stop the war on Christmas including continue to get students a week off for Christmas. I will demand children be given the right to silently pray in school and that they continue to have Sunday off to go to church!

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

Martin Luther King, Jr.

In closing, I thought I knew much but I may know nothing.

Let us bow our heads and pray.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

God, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

What would Buddha do? Would Buddha kick your ass?

I seem to befuddle a number of you about how I self-identify as a Buddhist and a gangster (figuratively not literally). In fact, that is the tip of the yin yang universe I identify with. I also consider myself a warrior and a healer, a superficial intellect, a brilliantly poor student, and more. I have made peace with my inclinations and intentions which are almost always guided by principles of kindness/compassion and fairness.
 
I have no illusions about where I have been and where I am now. I do not practice Buddhism with an intention to become an enlightened being, escape suffering and find Nirvana. I practice Buddhism because I found it to be what I needed. I tested the practices especially meditation and I found them reliable and effective in alleviating the causes of my difficulties which are mostly self-inflicted and psychological. Sometimes it is also effective to bark and bite a motherfucker when triggered. May not be as socially acceptable but I can make it work for me.
 
Those friends closest to me report that I am generally more calm and patient since I began meditating. I am also older and less physically intimidating than I used to be. But I am sincere when you hear me say that I will fuck someone up.
 
The monks knew this about me when they allowed me to ordain and live among them. They had no illusions about my propensity for aggression and even violence. But to wrap myself in the saffron robes of a monk was like wrapping oneself in a reverse bomb suit used to protect a bomb removal expert. I found the robes contained the explosion within. It did not extinguish my ability to wage war but it surely ameliorated it. And although I am no longer living as a monk and I do not wear the robes, the effect was undeniably positive and enduring. It will take many more years before I will have as much experience in meditation as I do in martial arts. I can rely upon muscle memory when I draw my handgun. It takes far more effort to sit and eat mindfully.
I have an extensive vocabulary to convey hostility. The language of peace often leaves me speechless. I admit, love and peace do not need an extensive vocabulary.  But to be very clear, I am not without the tools of skillful speech. I safely navigated the inner-city for many years without being harmed or harming anyone. When I worked with street gangs, the kids responded well to the verbal deescalation techniques that I used. In fact they reacted far better than the myriad of mean drunks I have had to neutralize.
If you know me and are waiting for me to reside in a perpetual state of calm, then you are a believer in miracles, not conversions.  I have no plans to walk on water or levitate in this lifetime. What seems to be a safe bet is that I will keep practicing Buddhism, lawyering, fatherhood, 12 steps and bicycling.
“It is better to be a warrior tending to his garden than a gardener in a war.” Chinese proverb

Dear fondest memories,

I participate in Facebook on various pages and groups. One is for my old neighborhood, in Chicago, Hyde Park. This weekend we had a long exchange about an issue important to me and it stimulated me to finish this dialogue I have been working on. I intended this for public consumption but it may be too personal to all but those that lived it. My previous blog posts have touched on many aspects of my youth and its indiscretions and failures. I fail sometimes to pay homage to the environment which I thrived and drowned in.

When I was 14, my family moved from an area in Chicago called South Shore to Hyde Park (HP) a neighborhood 10 minutes north. Kind of like moving from the Earth to Mars.

So for my first 14 years, I got used to anti-Semitism and racial animus in South Shore. There were white kids in my high school, known as “greasers” that hated Jews and Blacks. Jews were generally not friends with Blacks but there was rarely any hostilities between them.  Of course that is a shallow description but all that is needed for the moment. The South Shore high school was populated with the traditional cliques “popular” kids, nerds, athletes, etc. There was an additional cliquish element. Jewish high school fraternities and sororities which mimicked the Greek system. These were ranked by cool. The more popular attracted cooler kids and athletes. I joined a fraternity, Phi Omega Pi, (POPS). We were considered slightly cooler than kids who were unable to be admitted to and rejected from the fraternities. We met weekly, and had social activities like house parties and athletic leagues. I barely navigated the social chasm between my black friends and white friends.

And so it went until I was sent away to New Hampshire for educational rehabilitation. All fodder for more blogging someday.

When I landed upon the shores of Hyde Park, I found a new world. One of the first things I noticed was the presence of the counter-culture which would become known as the “60s” and hippies. The center of this culture seemed to reside on “57th Street”, in the shadow of the University of Chicago.

Shortly after we moved to HP, I ran away from home, again. It was the summer of 1968, I was 15. I was new to the neighborhood and did not know many kids. I had just finished my 3rd year of high school but my first year of a New Hampshire boarding school.

First order of business as a runaway was to seek shelter. I had heard if I went and hung out on 57th street, I would hear about “crash pads”, apartments where runaways would be welcome to sleep.

So I went there and hung out all that day and evening. None of the young people I asked  knew of a crash pad. It got late and people started going home. I had no where to go. I had a toothbrush and a few dollars. When the local restaurant locked its doors and the streets cleared, a guy about 4 years older than me named Arsene offered to let me crash at his parents’ home a block away. His parents were out of town and he and his friend Otis were going there. He let me sleep there until his family returned a few days later. By then I had met other kids and had got my bearings. We remained friends and I remain grateful for his intervention and invitation.

Strangely, I do not remember much about the summer after that. I do not know where I stayed or who I stayed with. But I did not go home. I did not go to the Democratic National Riots in Grant Park although it was a short train ride away.

As I integrated into my new hood, I enjoyed some of the differences. Nobody called me a dirty Jew anymore. Black kids and white kids mingled freely. Athletes were rarely held in the highest esteem. Some kids were notably smart without being picked on. Teens and young adults gravitated to this 57th street and shared food and marijuana. The summer of love greeted us. I grew my hair and dropped acid, LSD. I smoked a lot of pot. We walked a short ways to hang out on Lake Michigan and at the famed Museum of Science and Industry. Many of the young men and women were musical, math or science prodigies, gang members, writers and artists. It was by no means a community immune from the ravages of urban ills like racial and sexual violence, police misconduct and addiction. In fact, HP bordered three of the most poverty stricken areas in the United States.

Summer ended. It was time to go back to boarding school. I agreed to meet my mom and a suitcase at the corner by my now beloved 57th Street and go to the airport to go back to boarding school. The local kids were going back to school but I could not stay in Chicago as I was not enrolled in any local school. So I ended my days on the run and returned to Tilton School. That story ought to be good for some more blog posts.

Within hours of getting back to the school in Tilton NH. the hassle started. My long hair became an object of derision just as my being a Midwesterner had always been. I found some hip kids to pal around with but my fate was sealed quickly. I was expelled 3 weeks after school began and returned to Chicago.

The public high school near my parents was called Kenwood. Calling it a high school is a stretch. It was an old grade school which housed only freshmen, sophomore and junior year students. Gym class required we walk 4 blocks to the local YMCA and the lunch room was the auditorium. No lunch tables.

I turned 16 and a few months later I dropped out of school, left home and focused my time researching recreational drugs and their effect on a 16 year old white Jewish male. I shot heroin, sniffed glue and snorted coke and ingested barbiturates. I marched against the war, got arrested for pot and theft, advocated overthrowing the government and offing the Pigs (police). Lost my virginity, aided and abetted the Black Panther Party and was found to be mentally unfit for military service.

Also while I was 16, I met Tony James at a local church, by the University. Inside the church in a large room was a food service/coffee house, where anyone was welcome to buy a snack and sit and study, or hang out. Cheap, warm and welcomed, count me in. More on the church to follow.

Tony was on the run from home like me. We banded together to survive. We hung out till nighttime then slept wherever we could. Sometimes in church basements, friends apartments or the homes of adults that took pity on us. We dodged authorities and dealt drugs together. Tony had been in jail a few times already for theft and he introduced me to burglarizing homes.

We could be relied upon to have stolen stereos and marijuana to sell. I saved money and we got our own apartment and lived as outlaws. He was tall and black. I was short and white. We proclaimed, Mighty mighty Spade and Whitey. Some weekends we would travel the short distance to the famed blues lounges where Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters performed. We stood toe to toe against violent predators. But in the end, like so many youthful HP tales, it ended badly. He and his girlfriend ripped off my money and to hide his betrayal, he spread rumors intended to cause me physical harm.

Hyde Park was my most formative years. My time there was relatively short. I moved on to the north side when I was around 20 years old. My friends still lived in Hyde Park and I visited often but I was slowly pulling away. I did return in 1983 to assume the position of drug counselor to local adolescents for the BRASS Foundation and then as the manager/counselor of the alcohol and drug detox unit at the Hyde Park Hospital. I left again when I was accepted into law school in 1985.

All this to say that I carry the experience of Hyde Park in my blood and bones. It shaped my life indelibly. The rest of my life would be a testament to it. I became a social worker to disturbed adolescents because a local church helped me turn my life around. I became a lawyer because I knew the fear of being arrested at 17 for drugs and facing a lengthy prison sentence. I became an activist for legalization of marijuana, an environmentalist and a humanist. I worked as a drug counselor in the inner-city. The YMCA of Chicago hired me to work in a racially riven community to try and ameliorate and mitigate the ill effects of the racial hostilities there. (That did not work out well.)

I learned in HP that I would never be alone standing up to racial and economic inequality.  I saw that the inequality cut into the fabric of our society, schools, courts and jobs. I would never be silent or tolerate bullies. I saw the arising of consciousness and the deadening of souls from drugs.

I am still friends with most of my pals from that time and place. We continue to share compassion and empathy for other humans and animals. Sadly, many lived too fast and died too young. Hard drugs and alcohol decimated my posse. The survivors have a bond that remains unbroken after 50 plus years. We had Lake Michigan to play in and watch sunrises. The University of Chicago introduced us to smart kids from all around the planet and to score drugs from. I burgled and terrorized them. The university was a helluva source of jobs though. I got fired as a dishwasher there.

I know many people who go back to where they were raised and knock on the doors of old pals. I cannot do that. They died or they moved. One of the last of the originals, was an original. His name was Tony Roberts. He was the smartest, hottest mess I ever befriended. He was black, fat and the most prolific martial artistic I knew. He could talk the birds (and ladies) from the trees but he could not abandon a life of lies and fantasies that he surrounded himself with. He could be the epitome of the whole sub-culture of the over under-achievers that proliferated my teen age years. No persons were ever smarter and more talented and did less with their lives than my pals.

Although I have blogged about this institution before, a special word about the University Church for the Disciples of Christ. Also known by its coffee house name, The Blue Gargoyle. It is where I was to meet the seminarian/social worker Loel Callahan who would jump start my return to society. He modeled for me the path to what was to be my career in social work.

The church is where I met the original members of the University of Chicago’s Gay Lib and the Women’s Lib clubs, who came to the church for needed meeting space when the University turned them away as undesirables. I met the young students who became CADRE, the Chicago Area Draft Resistance, an important group of young men who opposed the Vietnam war. The inviting atmosphere was not lost on various black gangs who met and fought each other and really did spill blood inside and outside the church. Most important to me is that I was the first leader of the youth group which was comprised of a bunch of great big beautiful fuck ups, and not so fucked up. While turning me from a life of crime was like turning an aircraft carrier, the role I had in this program was the beginning.

I am about to return to the neighborhood and break bread with old pals. I have been doing this every year as long as I can remember. I don’t have high school reunions to go to, having never graduated, but I have my friends from the teen years in Hyde Park. We come from wherever we now live to celebrate our friendship, community and history.

I imagine every neighborhood has its great moments, good people and love. But for just a brief moment between 1968 and the mid 1970s, I was a part of one of the greatest cultural movements/experiments in history. I was in the right place and it must have been the right time. Simultaneously, I was in the wrong place and it must have been the wrong time.

The appropriate song….

 

 

 

 

History repeated. Justice denied.

I have here updated and edited a Wikipedia post on the following event. Like acts of genocide, like the Holocaust, we need to remember. Remember so as to honor victims and to effect cultural change in the policies and training of police work.
20 years ago, In the early morning of February 4, 1999, Amadu Diallo, a Haitian immigrant, was returning from a meal as he approached his apartment building. At about 12:40 a.m., police officers Edward McMellon, Sean Carroll, Kenneth Boss and Richard Murphy, who were all in street clothes, entered the building vestibule that Amadu entered and testified that they loudly identified themselves as NYPD officers, and flashed their neck badges in the darkened hallway. The lightbulb was out and Diallo was backlit by the inside vestibule light, showing only a silhouette. Diallo then reached into his jacket and withdrew his wallet. The officers opened fire on Diallo, claiming that they believed he  had furtively gestured and was holding a gun. During the shooting, officer McMellon tripped backward off the front stairs, causing the other officers to believe he had been shot. The four officers continued until they had fired 41 shots with semi-automatic handguns. More than half the shots fired missed, but Diallo was hit 19 times.
An investigation found no weapon on or near Diallo; only his wallet. The internal affairs department ruled the officers had acted legally and within policy, based on what a reasonable police officer would have done in the same circumstances with the information they had.
On March 25, 1999, a Bronx grand jury indicted the four officers on charges of second-degree murder and reckless endangerment. On December 16, an appellate court ordered a change of venue to Albany, New York, based on pretrial publicity made a fair trial in New York City impossible. On February 25, 2000, a jury in Albany acquitted the officers of all charges. Officer Kenneth Boss had been previously involved in an incident where an unarmed black man, 22-year-old Patrick Bailey, died after Boss shot him on October 31, 1997. In 2012, Boss was the only remaining officer working for the NYPD. Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly restored Boss’ ability to carry a firearm and he received a promotion to sergeant despite objections from Diallo’s mother and civil rights activists.

Years later in Arizona an officer was acquitted of second-degree murder charges, and officials released graphic video showing Daniel Shaver crawling on his hands and knees and begging for his life in the moments before he was shot and killed by police in January 2016.  Shaver died in one of at least 963 fatal police shootings in 2016, according to a Washington Post database.

The shooting of Laquan McDonald took place in Chicago IL on October 20, 2014,  when the 17-year-old African American was fatally shot by Officer Jason Van Dyke. McDonald was reported to have been behaving erratically while walking down the street, and holding a folding knife with a three-inch blade. Initial police reports described the incident such that Van Dyke was not charged in the shooting at that time.

When the police released a dash cam video of the shooting thirteen months later, on November 24, 2015, it showed McDonald had been walking away from the police when he was shot. Officer Van Dyke was charged with murder and was released on bail on November 30. On October 5, 2018, Van Dyke was found guilty at trial of second degree murder, and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a handgun. He received a light prison sentence.

 

As Sonny and Cher sing,

Grandmas sit in chairs and reminisce
Boys keep chasing girls to get a kiss
The cars keep going faster all the time
Bums still cry, “Hey buddy, have you got a dime?”

And the beat goes on, the beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da

I grow weary of trying to stimulate the public into recognizing the deficiency of police training and policies and accountability. But cannot give up. Some shit is too important.