Breaking news, Cook County Prosecutor on leave after accused of biting man at adult store

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-prosecutor-on-leave-after-accused-of-biting-adult-store-worker-20120925,0,7705102.story

I love this kind of stuff. Partly because I have watched government try to control, regulate and restrict adult entertainment. So I am amused when a lawman or prosecutor gets caught in  flagrante delicto, ( in the very act of committing a misdeed : in the midst of sexual activity.)

I oppose most regulations over individuals. I would like my governments to monitor, regulate and restrict stuff like pollution, transportation, garbage, and services or products which pose a danger to the quality of our societal well-being. Thus, if you are sending a stream of toxins in the air, and I may have to breathe it, you should be monitored, regulated or restricted.

On the other hand if you wish to quietly participate in activities to entertain, refrain from activities meant to entertain, or quietly self-destruct, I am your advocate. If the act has no victim, there should be no penalty imposed by government. Seems so obvious to me. Yet, prostitution is illegal as is drug use. This criminalization of activities has the effect of pushing them underground and creating entrepreneurial criminals to fill the void. Besides the obvious lack of victims there is a lack of quality, security and taxation. And in this way do we send otherwise good people into the waiting hands of black-markets with their attendant gangs, pimps and cartels.

Victims of drug rip-offs will not report their loss. Prostitutes and their customers will not report  related crimes. It is an environment designed for the amoral to thrive.

There was a time when societies would rely upon distorted, anecdotal evidence to create laws which were well-intentioned but simply ineffective or unresponsive to a real problem. In todays’ world, there is access to global information, empirical studies, and historical evidence which should be the foundation of regulation and legislation. So why do we pursue actions which are demonstrably ineffective? What is the impetus to penalize and incarcerate persons “guilty” of victimless crimes? I have heard the arguments about the impact of availability of drugs or porn on the fabric of society. NONE of which holds up to the evidence. Morality and self-interests are the controlling motivations behind these laws. Pay-offs to protect an economic interest or pandering to psuedo-religious  constituencies is the only motivation that makes sense.

So the only way to prevent that is to remove religion and corporations from influencing legislation. It is not enough to get government out of religion, religion must get out of government. And as my bumper sticker says on my van, I will believe corporation are people when Texas executes one. We do not permit non-citizens to vote or to legally effect elections and we shouldn’t let corporations either.

NYC Subway Ads Call for Defeat of Jihad ‘Savages’

http://news.yahoo.com/nyc-subway-ads-call-defeat-jihad-savages-161817278–abc-news-topstories.html

“The American Freedom Defense Initiative is principally a venture made up of Gellar and author Robert Spencer, who runs the website Jihad Watch. The organization is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Gellar noted they have more than 30,000 Facebook followers, donors, and participants in their events.”

I totally get where this lady is coming from. It is intoxicating to be outrageous and have a following. Russ Martin the Dallas radio talk show host, sold t-shirts back at the beginning of the Iraq war that said Give War a Chance. Myself, I saw no reason to give war a chance. Didn’t seem to make any sense at all. The only value I could see in it was the publicity cache.

This lady is getting attention, far out of proportion to what is warranted. The message certainly is ugly. But, the ad doesn’t say Hate Islam. It says Defeat Jihad, which is one aspect of Islam which has come to connote and seem savage.

She is stirring the pot. Her prior acts have persuaded the Klan Watch that her organization is a hate group. The Klan Watch of the Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t usually list you without reasons. But she is expressing what many like her believe. And I have to support that.  While I despise hate groups and what they stand for I respect the right to hate. I can hate the message but it serves me ill to hate the messenger. Of course those that know me know that if the acts of violence come to me I will meet them with resistance.

I wonder if she joined her brethren in Tennessee last week for the White Supremacist convention. (White supremacists to gather in Tenn. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012/09/14/white-supremacists-to-gather-in-tenn/57779764/1 ) Can you imagine such a gathering. Some saying sig heils and some saying “niggers did this”, and “wetbacks did that”, and “those sand nigger and their burqua wearing bitches are all terrorists”. I mean who wouldn’t call that a good time after a case of beer and some salty nuts?

We must allow this message of hate to be broadcast. But we should never stop being vigilant against the acts of violence they incite. It is a price to be paid in a society that values free speech. Yes, yes, I know that calling this a free society can be an exaggeration at times.

I honestly do not understand this Christian right feeling so put upon or so frightened by other cultures. What a terrible spiritual prison to be incarcerated in. I have hated with the best of them. I reveled in it. It felt right. Just like a lot of bad things I have done, which also felt right when I was doing them. As I look back I marvel at the lack of awareness I suffered in my arrogance and in self-will. What religious person looks forward to walking in the sunshine of the spirit with hate in their heart.

Through all my angry and hateful times I could still recognize the power and rightness of Martin Luther King and his message. If the Muslims who encounter the message of hate and they retaliate, then they would be part of the self-fulfilling prophesy that Jihad equals Islam.

I hope like the Nazi march in Skokie IL, the number of actual Nazi sympathizers is so negligible as to embarrass those of us waiting to disrupt them. You speak and travel freely. I will do likewise and when I run into this paid for message of hate, I hope I give it no more than a nominal amount of attention and then move on to better things.

Second in my 2 part series on gun control which first aired on my show years ago.

What follows was directed at the liberals in my audience. I have excerpted tiny parts in past blogs. This is the wellspring from which it sprung, wordy but I hope worthy.

Why is it that in a country where so many of my friends would zealously guard my right of free speech, so few want to preserve my other rights? If the pen is mightier than the sword, then speech is more dangerous than a gun, and worse in the hands of amateurs. One man with a gun can do only so much damage. Then he is apprehended or terminated. Tim McVeigh, the century’s greatest American criminal didn’t even have a gun, but he killed over a hundred people and injured hundreds of others. He paid the ultimate price for his acts. But the people that preached the hate that the McVeighs hear and take to heart, can’t be executed. In fact many of us who would prosecute McVeigh would protect the Nazi criminals that inflamed him, because their weapon is speech. While you despise what they stand for you respect the right of these militant maladjusted mutants to poison the well that these weak minded McVeighs drink from, while paradoxically spurning my right to protect myself from these 3rd Reich rapping rejects.

It has been argued that I can trust my government to protect me when it can’t protect itself. It is argued that our democracy can’t be thwarted by narrow minded bigots intent on the overthrow of a principled democracy. Yet you stammer in protest at the election of right wing, moral majority politicians who would lay waste to Roe VS Wade. While you stand tall for your recently discovered right to abortion, you have no heart to defend my long established right to bear arms.

You need not embrace my rights for yourself. In fact, you are free to not exercise any of your fundamental rights. But I respectfully request that you refrain from actively attempting to usurp my rights. I know you are driven by fear. It is a valid fear of violent assault against your home and family. I am afraid of the same thing! I fear the violence that visits when bad or good people lose their mental or moral compass and strike violently whether intentionally or negligently into my life. It is not only bad people who do bad things, good people under the influence of mental illness, drugs, alcohol, or passion do very bad things too. I know you want to keep the zombies and demons of darkness from descending on your home and family. We share the fear. You would feel better disarming us of firearms, but I would slip into the chaos of paranoia because I think dangerous people are more prevalent than guns.

Bad things have been happening for far longer than guns have been around. Evil has been with us before we even knew how to craft a weapon. You would ask me to trust you that no harm will come to me if I let you take my guns? Then ask yourself if you can protect me. Can you silence the crescendo of hate that has been directed at Jews, Blacks & other minorities? Can free speech prevent the rise of another Hitler? Hitler rose to power via politics. He took over Germany not by force, but by ballot boxes filled with the votes of people who were drawn to a leader who made them feel better about themselves at the cost of their humanity.

Are we Americans so superior spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually and morally to Germans? They build better cars and guns and electronics than we do. They are better educated. They have survived many more years of alterations to their economy, agriculture and infrastructure. Our 200 years of management are infantile and poor compared to the richness and maturity of the European culture. We aren’t smarter or more sound of mind, body and spirit than they, our language no more articulate or our heritage richer. What we have that all of Europe lacks is a constitution, and its accompanying inalienable rights. All these rights are dependent upon each other. Like the nutritional chart which requires contributions from all the food groups to have a healthy body, it takes a foundation of rights to have a healthy democracy. Many European cities have a richness of dialogue through numerous daily newspapers that is not present anymore in most American cities.  England doesn’t trust its citizens despite the intellectual lip service that flows bohemian like from its media. The media can incite fear which may result in suppression of freedom, or exhortations to violence. So you say, a gun in my hand is a danger. I say hate speech is far more dangerous and explosive. The ability to inflame others through speech is a far greater threat to my well being than a crazed criminal with a gun. I am not a caricature or a cartoon. I am a Jew. and we have been run out of every country we ever resided in, and the bigots followed us here, ready and willing to scapegoat us once again for their miseries. Or just as bad, they are ready to convert us in the name of Jesus Christ, invoking powers greater than Hitler or any human hubris. They would strip me of all I have stood for now, 5,772 years, convinced that you can save me by destroying my culture which is rich in intellect and character and a wealth of spirit.

This will be achieved while you work up a good moral superiority. Sorry, I can’t give up my guns. I won’t give up my guns. I won’t be marched to ovens whether they kill with gas or with religious kindness. I respect your rights to proselytize your religion or your hate. I respect your right to believe differently from me and your right to persuade others to your point of view, whether I agree with it or not. But, I ain’t gonna trust you not to misuse your rights, and you are welcome not to trust me to misuse my gun. I will defend to the death your right to speak freely and in exchange, for you to preserve my right to protect my family and home from the criminals and crazies, dope fiends and zealots.I want you to defend my right to defend my life and liberty.
 

I have gotten feedback on my blog

Much of it favorable and encouraging. One that was critical but encouraging. Lots of MIAs. I am going to continue musing, pondering and pontificating until further notice. I still have some stuff stashed and I find I am given a wealth of new material in the daily news. That was exactly how the radio show rolled. The comment section of the blog gives all the readers an opportunity to vent also. Why not? I used to handle hostile phone calls on the air.

I posted a crude examination of gum control today. I gotta figure some people were unhappy with my position but only one private message rebutted. My friends can do better than that.

Time to revisit some thoughts on gun control

Do I believe in any form of gun control? Nothing is simple, much less people. So how do I simplify an issue like gun control. The very purpose of writing this blog is because my viewpoint is not represented in any media. Those who would be advocates for my gun rights say that the problem isn’t guns but it is that federal prosecutors don’t prosecute enough gun cases, it is criminals, it is liberals. My detractors of gun rights argue it is the lack of government regulations, registration and prohibitions which is the problem.

I don’t need government to fix the problem of too much government. Gun control measures will not be thwarted nor assisted by more reliance on government. Nor do I  believe there is an unassailable right to keep and bear arms. I don’t believe that the drafters of the constitution would counsel against reasonable restraints on firearms in the midst of our present crisis.
I am not talking about giving up my right to have guns. I am talking about my rights being saddled with responsibility. I believe in accountability. Citizenship is not an insular event. By definition it is participation in a larger community. But every time the issue of responsibility comes along everyone hides behind the skirts of the 2nd amendment. This ain’t your momma. this is adulthood. We got a right to work, and pray. but you can’t hold a church service in the middle of the street with traffic. You can’t work where you weren’t hired. Every action has a reaction. Every gift has a cost, every blessing has its burden. To accommodate legitimate concerns about the transfer of weapons, I don’t need to give up a single bullet or gun.

A study of rats conducted years ago showed that as the available room for their movement was limited and their community enlarged, the rats became increasingly aggressive and anti-social. So too are our pressing urban environments (big cities) causing anti-social behavior in humans. The frontier days are gone.

I suggest that liberals and gun control advocates are not crazy or mean or delusional. They are scared and sincere in their desire to stem the tide of violence. If gun owners want to reduce the polarization with our fellow unarmed Americans we can opt for personal accountability. We can quit patronizing gun bazaars called “gun shows” and then refusing to acknowledge that we create an inviting arena for bad people to circumvent any controls on their access to guns. This isn’t about the casual exchange of firearms in our little town square. This is about the overnight creation of a super gun store in the middle of a big city, that folds up its tent at the end of the day and dissolves into the mist.
I don’t have a problem with knowing who I sell a gun to. I don’t demand an absolute right to sell or give my gun away to whomever I wish. As long as there is a legitimate market for my weapons.  You can argue for unfettered constitutional rights, but you can’t yell fire in a theatre. No right is absolute when it conflicts with the rights of others. What right is served by an unregulated stream of firearm sales? What harm would come of some regulation of the secondary market place? Forget the anxiety that the “gun control” people want to take away the guns and that this is a movement towards the center where the liberal lurks in darkness waiting to take our guns.

We aren’t giving the guns up. So despite our fear of national registration and confiscation of our guns it isn’t going to happen. Not because there are not those who will seek it, but because we will not give it. It is way past the point where they can recall our guns.
There are compromises which may be appropriate and there may be concessions which are legitimate. There is a crisis of violence in our country. We are having a real bad time of it. And a responsible and accountable gun community doesn’t have to barricade the doors against the rest of the country. We can do our share to preserve our freedoms and rights. We can retain the actual right to own and possess while giving up the unnecessary ability to sell our guns any damn time, to any damn body we please.

Now you can come after me and revile me. But I am not the enemy. I am just a simple-minded guy who doesn’t understand why I am living in a foxhole all the time with my head up our collective ass spouting sound bites about the assault of the 2nd amendment and blaming our predicament on liberals. My issue is the preservation of self-defense, hunting rights and sporting rights. So if I can make changes in the law and behaviors and still keep my real rights then I am ready to take my medicine. In the meantime, I own a gun safe. I do not leave any gun unattended in my car or home. Just a little something we all could be doing to prevent guns falling into the wrong hands.

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Know what I mean?

From whence comes this compulsion of religious or philosophical mandates on how all others shall live? I know my friend Gary Coursey would know the answer but I don’t. It boggles my mind that so many religions dictate what is not just good, but what is empirically good for all persons in all situations. See, I do not encourage abortion. But I never had an inclination to tell anyone else how to treat their body in reference to this. I mean with or without reference to religious dogma, I never thought for a second it was my place to impose rules on how you treat your body. Now I get that right to lifers believe it isn’t about your body but about the unborn, but who is really already born because they believe it.

I do not tell others what to smoke, drink, sex or otherwise conduct themselves in private. I do believe there should be rules for public behavior but I have little use for rules governing your private affairs. I have some suggestions. Don’t drink, don’t drug, don’t smoke, don’t overeat, recycle, etc. But that is a far cry from mandating legislation to impose my value system. If everyone could have their way and establish laws which comported to their beliefs, we couldn’t do shit!

The gun folks want their guns, someone else wants to ban them. Druggies wanna get high, others want to prohibit it. And the list goes on ad nauseam. There is no unassailable position. There is no high-ground which can be staked out so as to prevent disagreement.

I was taught by Mrs Levenson in the 7th grade that the right to pursue happiness meant to do what you want as long as you did not harm others. I didn’t like Mrs Levenson, she was mean. But I paid attention in class, perhaps out of fear, I am not sure.

I once was arrested for the possession of $10 worth of marijuana. I was charged with felony possession and went to court. The judge told me that I was facing 6-15 years in prison. I was 17 years old. I realized then and there that Mrs Levenson was wrong. I believed her but she was wrong, and that fact has been driven home over and over through the years.

I owned a nightclub in Texas. A man got drunk and passed out in my place. In my ignorance,  I told the manager to let him rest until he got sober. NOPE! That is against the law. You cannot have a drunk in your bar. It is illegal. You have to wake them up and throw them out.

It is against the law for consenting adults to have sex for money. Mrs Levenson did not teach me these things. She left me a bright-eyed though sleepy youth, who thought that the constitution of the US would allow me the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as long as I did not infringe on the rights of others.

In honor of my Monty Python day I will end as follows.

“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any  pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?

I’m not a roman mum, I’m a kike, a yid, a heebie, a hook-nose, I’m kosher mum, I’m a Red Sea pedestrian, and proud of it!

I don’t wanna talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction!Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

Thus it is that Mony Python has summed up my sentiments of my youth. When I was 14, I was beaten viciously at South Shore High School in Chicago. The reason was that I was Jewish and the perpetrator was a first generation Palestinian classmate of mine. He broke me of ever attending a gym class again and I was one of the very few Jewish kids in my school who flunked Gym.

So, off I went to preparatory boarding school in New Hampshire. There I was to be nestled amongst my Christian peers from the Eastern US. Those fine young men introduced me to a whole new level of anti-Semitism. They had new derogatory names for Jews I had not yet heard. Out of the frying pan and into the fire Mum, (an informal British English term for mother).

Man I worked up some serious hate for religion. I asked my minster pals to put their crosses away when I would visit them in their offices. I felt like a vampire when I would get too close. But through the actions of people like Rev. Steve Swanson and others who helped the social service agency I founded in 1976, Local Motion,  I began to heal, slowly. Years of 12 step recovery helped me to see religious people in a more generous light.

But politics and religion do not mix for me. I do not hate Palestinians anymore or Christians. But I will resist this wave of sentiment to define the United States as a Christian country. Posturing itself as defenders of the good religion against the bad religions. It is only a matter of time before Jews will once again be the official bad religion.

Monty Python, “Noooooobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”


Surprise? Overcrowding In Federal Prisons Harms Inmates, Guards: GAO Report

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/prison-overcrowding-report_n_1883919.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D205953

We have become the largest penal colony in the world. Who would have thought that while we are busy policing the world, we would raise the largest population of criminals in the world? Are we the worse ever? Are we just the most punitive? Are we actually in the grip of forces which are dictated by the economics of criminalization? Is it far-fetched to believe that there is an unspoken alliance, conspiracy bias which is exercised every day by a self -perpetuating system of legislators making laws, police arresting people for breaking the laws, judges and prosecutors processing the laws/defendants, correctional companies/facilities housing the criminals and then probation and parole officers providing post incarceration monitoring?

I have seen far fewer dollars and jobs fiercely defended against rational economic forces so why should I exclude the probability that we are a criminal culture by economic design? It is a self-perpetuating sytem, not unlike industrial/military complexes. Look around you America. How does it feel to have created the largest collection of criminal in the history of mankind?

It’s good news week? Give a listen

Hedgehoppers Anonymous- Good News Week circa 1965

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrEHDV1e460

It’s good news week
Someone’s dropped a bomb somewhere
Contaminating atmosphere
And blackening the sky

It’s good news week
Someone’s found a way to give
The rotting dead a will to live
Go on and never die

Have you heard the news
What did it say?
Who’s won that race?
What’s the weather like today?

It’s good news week
Lots of blood in Asia now
They’ve butchered up the sacred cow
They’ve got a lot to eat

It’s good news week
Doctors finding many ways
Of wrapping brains on metal trays
To keep us from the heat

It’s good news week
Someone’s dropped a bomb somewhere
Contaminating atmosphere
And blackening the sky

It’s good news week
Someone’s found a way to give
The rotting dead a will to live
Go on and never die

Have you heard the news
What did it say?
Who’s won that race?
What’s the weather like today?
What’s the weather like today?

It’s good news week
Lots of blood in Asia now
They’ve butchered up the sacred cow
They’ve got a lot to eat

It’s good news week
Doctors finding many ways
Of wrapping brains on metal trays
To keep us from the heat
To keep us from the heat
To keep us from the heat

 

It’s like a jungle sometimes

I could ask, “is it just me?” but it isn’t. The news is getting grimmer. That doesn’t mean the world is grimmer just the news. These things, pedophilia, rape, torture, murder, hit and runs and on and on. It is clearly an effective flow of information propagated by the electronic media. So there have been murders, rapists, cruel dictators, inconceivable and almost immeasurable brutality perpetrated on the innocent and guilty alike. Then we got the deforestation, climate change, drought, etc.

It is enough to make me feel helpless and despondent about these times and even more anxious about the times my children will live through. My daughters know times are tough. They know that we need to reduce waste and water consumption, so that they can thrive and survive in the future. They seem aware that if my generation doesn’t take measures now, the price will be paid by those that follow.

http://www.wfaa.com/news/crime/Victim-describes–169690796.html Home assault

http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Garland-soccer-coach-charged-with-sexual-assault-of-a-child-169673766.html

http://www.wfaa.com/news/national/169587966.html  Man rapes 73 yo in Central Park

I just have to stick to my practice of meditation, acceptance and non-attachment so that I do not let the tentacles of despair become wrapped around my soul. But I would be remiss of I also did not recognize these events and effects and acknowledge their power to affect the quality of my life.

Oh yea, watch the video, read the lyrics posted below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdqjTtiG6CI Grandmaster Flash and The Furious 5-The Message                     

It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

Broken glass everywhere
People pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, I can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with the baseball bat
I tried to get away, but I couldn’t get far
Cause a man with a tow-truck repossessed my car

Chorus:
Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head, ah huh-huh-huh
[2nd and 5th: ah huh-huh-huh]
[4th: say what?]
It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

Standing on the front stoop, hangin’ out the window
Watching all the cars go by, roaring as the breezes blow
Crazy lady livin’ in a bag
Eating out of garbage pails, used to be a fag-hag
Said she danced the tango, skipped the light fandango
The Zircon Princess seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peepshow, watching all the creeps
So she can tell the stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got social security
She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own

[2nd Chorus]
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/g/grandmaster+flash/the+message_20062225.html ]
My brother’s doing bad on my mother’s TV
She says: “You watch it too much, it’s just not healthy!”
“All My Children” in the daytime, “Dallas” at night
Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors they ring my phone
And scare my wife when I’m not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
I can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
Neon King Kong standin’ on my back
Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacrophiliac
A mid-ranged migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I’m going insane, I swear I might hijack a plane

My son said: “Daddy I don’t wonna go to school
Cause the teacher’s a jerk!”, he must think I’m a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
I’ll dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
They pushed that girl in front of the train
Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again
Stabbed that man right in his heart
Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
I can’t walk through the park, cause it’s crazy after dark
Keep my hand on my gun, cause they got me on the run
I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jar
Hear them say: “You want some more livin’ on a seesaw?”

[4th Chorus]

A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smiling on you but he’s frowning too
Because only God knows what you’ll go through
You’ll grow in the ghetto, living second rate
And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate
The places you’re playin’, where you stay
Looks like one great big alley way
You’ll admire all the number book takers
Thugs, pimps, pushers and the big money makers
Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens
And you wanna grow up to be just like them, huh,
Smugglers, scrambles, burglars, gamblers
Pickpockets, peddlers even panhandlers
You say: “I’m cool, I’m no fool!”
But then you wind up dropping out of high school
Now you’re unemployed, all non-void
Walking ’round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
Turned stickup kid, look what you’ve done did
Got sent up for a eight year bid
Now your manhood is took and you’re a may tag
Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
Being used and abused to serve like hell
Till one day you was found hung dead in a cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young

Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under

Yo Mell, you see that girl there?
Yo, that sounded like Cowboy man
Cool
Yo, what’s up Money?
Yo, where’s Cooly an Raheim?
They is downstairs coooling out
So what’s up for tonight y’all?
We could go down to Phoenix
We could go check out “Junebug” man
Hey yo, you know that girl Betty?
Yeah man
Come on, come all man
Not like it
That’s what I heard man
What’s this happening, what’s this?
What’s goin’ on?
Freeze
Don’t nobody move or nothin’
Y’all know what this is (What’s happend?)
Get ’em up, get ’em up (What?)
Oh man, we’re (Right in there) Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
What is that, a gang?
No
Shut up
I don’t wanna hear your mouth
Shut up
Officer, officer, what is the problem?
You the problem
Hey, you ain’t gotta push me man
Get in the car, get in the car
Get in the god…
I said, “Get in the car”
Why is he?

 

Compassion and empathy….who got it….where you get it

September 11 was an extraordinary time, event and tragedy in US history. I was touched by the outpouring of compassion shown all over the US. But years later I am still asking, where is the compassion and empathy for those in other countries. People talk to me or I over hear them talking to others and something is amiss. What is it about boundaries, borders or divisions that weakens a persons compassion for others?

There has been (and of course always will be) peoples in other lands suffering terrible violence, starvation and oppression. Why doesn’t our collective heart bleed for them? Why is their suffering tenable? Why are we even responsible for some of that suffering?

I often hear that our actions are justified when we rain violence on others, because we are taking measures to prevent violence being visited on us here. Nearly 3000 died here. Do you know how many we have killed since then? Do you know how many of those we killed were considered innocents even by our own military? (Do you care?)

If this were an eye for an eye kind of world, there would be few Americans remaining. We admit to violating international laws, treaties and agreements in the name of necessity. But we are swift to deny others that same rationale. Consider how our drug war has caused tens of thousands of deaths at the hands of drug lords we created in the pursuit of a failed policy. That failure is acknowledged by our own government. I do not make this judgement, this is the recognition voiced by the government of the U.S. Not one year in the course of the drug war have we ever brought supply below demand.

But forget our transgressions, if they be such, and ponder the fate of peoples all over the globe that live in abject poverty, oppression and fear. Is it too much to think about because it is so overwhelming. Is our maximum capacity met at about 3000 fatalities before we shut down our ability to empathize? Is there something magical or natural about our national boundaries and kinship that limits compassion and empathy? Do we care as much about the casualties of our coalition forces in Afghanistan? From England (427 lost), Canada (158) and France (88) and more. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan recorded in the first four months of 2012 are, 579 civilian deaths and 1,216 civilian injuries. Most of these casualties were inflicted by the Taliban, many by us.

I spoke about this with a friend today. She asserts that we were transformed by 9/11. We coalesced as a nation as a result of this tragedy. I see that. But, I want us to be transformed even more.  I have been taught to pray for loving/kindness for those beyond our borders, often, and without judgement, . I feel bad for our enemies and their suffering. I wish all living beings be free from suffering and be happy.

So what! And, so what is my beef with the world? I just feel alone and like I am just part of a small number of people when I express these sentiments. Back in the 60s I felt empowered and part of a large number of folks who felt that compassion for friend and foe. Where did it go and was it ever even there?

So, no disrespect to our brethren who died in the line of duty doing the best they can to secure our safety. No disrespect to those who met a terrible fate in the World Towers and all the first responders who died or have taken ill from as a result of their efforts in what we now know was a toxic wasteland. Nope, no disrespect and all due respect. This musing is about us, not them.

Write and they will come

Not very likely they will come to read, but I am eager to see where this goes, quickly. My friend Bruce sent this Youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaMxZ4uROp0&feature=youtu.be

It is a must see. But I digress. My recent musings on family life resulted in Rachael making the girls ride bicycles with me. So yesterday we all took off on the bike trail for White Rock Lake. We probably rode 22 miles. I enjoyed it although keeping an eye on 3 novice riders can be unnerving. But I do so enjoy having them with me when I do stuff I enjoy except for stuff I enjoy doing without them.

Friday night we surprised the girls (and ourselves) by picking them up from school and going to dinner and a cheap flick. The movie was called Neighborhood Watch. Funny in parts but more “penis/dick” jokes than any movie I have ever seen. Not the stuff you want to view with teenage girls.

But I digress from my digressions. So we arrive home from our bike ride yesterday and Alex, the 16 yo, lays down on the wooden steps leading to the front door. Light-headed and tired. Her sister made it to the hallway towards her bedroom, then dropped. She wasn’t tired she said, but her legs were wobbly. Rachael was ready for the next event and hastened everyone to get up and get ready to go eat. This is the new Wonder Woman running around our home. So to make everyone just a little more miserable we took them to the bike store to try out some better bikes. I may sound cruel but I threw in pizzas and frozen yogurt in the deal.

So if nothing else, putting pen to paper or keyboard to screen as the case may be, has already resulted in some reward. Family day on bikes.

From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be.”

Always a poignant song, no matter the numbers of years since its release. Simon and Garfunkel’s  Sparrow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc5JLrpXpkE

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Who’s traveled far and cries for rest?
“Not I,” said the Oak Tree,
“I won’t share my branches with
no sparrow’s nest,
And my blanket of leaves won’t warm
her cold breast.”

Who will love a little Sparrow
And who will speak a kindly word?
“Not I,” said the Swan,
“The entire idea is utterly absurd,
I’d be laughed at and scorned if the
other Swans heard.”

Who will take pity in his heart,
And who will feed a starving sparrow?
“Not I,” said the Golden Wheat,
“I would if I could but I cannot I know,
I need all my grain to prosper and grow.”

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Will no one write her eulogy?
“I will,” said the Earth,
“For all I’ve created returns unto me,
From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be.”

Could it have been sung, said any clearer? The existentialist might end with “all man’s purposes come to naught in death” In any event, the Eastern orientation of life seems to be much more accepting and preparatory for death. The Western version of life is to escape death, including the appearance of aging. It is frequently said that we are a society which does not honor its elders. As I approach elderhood, I would like to be honored, respected and cared for. I apologize to my elders for any neglect I may have visited upon them as a result of my brash indifference to age, wisdom and maturation.

Back to the song. I reiterate how poignant this song was and is. A call to observe the behavior and excuses of those who would neglect they that have needs. I am reminded of what Fats Dominoe said “I hear you knockin’
But you can’t come in
I hear you knockin’
Go back where you been”

So how shall I treat my fellow-man. Shall I be guided by the Golden Rule? Or is it a karmic awareness that be my compass? Or is it kill or be killed? Is it true as some theologians and philosophers say, that without a fear of hell or karma that there is no moral compulsion to do good? Your thoughts?

 

What is the measure of a right life?

I struggle to get it right. But what is right?

What will determine whether I had a good life or not. Is it to be a spiritual analysis? Did I abide by the Golden Rule, or pass the test of a karmic challenge, or was I properly restrained by religious dogma? Will it be an IQ test or economic analysis? (Historically I am a good test taker.) The Buddha said that a right life is to develop insight into the truth of reality. The eight parts of the path to liberation are grouped into three essential elements of Buddhist practice—moral conduct, mental discipline, and wisdom.

Here is a synopsis of what has happened. I lived fast, tried to die young and have a good looking corpse. The strategy failed for a couple of reasons. First, I outlived the time frame of die young. I lost some of my delight with the idea of dying. I created possibilities and achieved them. There became this idea I could affect not just my life positively, but others.

I got addicted and from my recovery I found salvation. I lost salvation. I created effects but they were not always positive. I created exes, like ex-wives and ex-lovers. I did good, but I didn’t know how to do better. I gave up trying to be better but never gave up trying to be good. I took a road less traveled. I went against advice of counsel. There became little tolerance for pain. Intolerance led to escape and escape led to spiritual and financial ruin.

Now, I have trained myself to accept what is. I have practiced being better and I am better. I have embraced the counsel of others. I have given permission to teachers and guides to lead me. I became a mentee, a student, a sponsee and a client. It began when I accepted a teacher to give me a program of recovery.

A second man/teacher guided me up the mountains. Over and over, time and again, at the break of dawn, without question, I followed him up mountains and through canyons, dodged rattlesnakes, and along the paths, shared our life stories.

Then another of my teachers ordained and wrapped me in the saffron robes of a Buddhist monk and assigned me a small bed to sleep in. Like religious men from centuries ago, I rose early, every day, for months, to chant and sit in silence.

I went on meditation retreats and opened my heart and mind to new ways of coping. And I became willing to hope for change. I became the teacher, the mentor and the sponsor.

Today, were I called into eternal sleep, would I go with the acceptance of someone who has lived right? Pain is in resistance. My body is feeling the effects of aging. My financial fortune has evaporated. My mountain mentor committed suicide. I have few financial prospects and my daughters while wonderful are growing up and away. Affection is rare from these kids who once hugged and kissed me often.

Now the daughters are interested in things I have no interest in and vice versa. Their mom, Rachael and I divorced.  A 17 year life together gone in a matter of minutes.

Is it enough to strive to be good? Is it enough, even as you fall short in the eyes of those closest to you? When the grade-books come out for the semester in the class of life, will I get any points for effort or will it all be based on the final exam. I once thought I was willing to go to any lengths to be better. Sometimes, now, it is all I can do to not be worse. Despite going to bed early and early to rise, I have yet to be healthy, wealthy and wise. The good news is I am not unhealthy, poor and stupid.

Salvation is a fleeting possession. I want to acquire it but I don’t know if I am willing to give chase. It is a moving target which I should have hunted more rigorously when I was fleeter of foot and mind.

But at the end of the day, my belief system has at its core, that my best efforts are all that is required. And in my heart I have tried to be a good man, father, husband, friend, counselor and adversary. If I were told my time was up, the thing I would most regret is that I didn’t spend more time in acceptance of life on life’s terms. I would have had a lot more serious regrets if this same question had been asked of me years ago.

Please feel free to send me a copy of the test of life and the corresponding answer key. (How much harder than law school could it be?) It isn’t that I am looking to cheat. It is just that I want to see the correct answers so it will become clear if I passed or failed.

 

A monk has died in Texas

When I lived as a novice I was trained to treat all monks as my seniors and to treat monks as family. Ajahn Poomin, abbot of Wat Treethepdhammaram, El Paso, Texas was a car traveling monk and he traveled extensively by car to many locations. So, he dropped into our Tucson temple (Wat Buddhametta) often on his way hither and thither. As a temple leader he was given the respect accorded to monks of his rank. Like many monks from Thailand he rarely showed his English skills unless necessary. Once he came to me to discuss a legal matter and I discovered he was fluent but reserved. After that he was always friendly and gracious. (Novice Anglo monks are treated, how shall I say,….. like a kid.)

Doesn’t matter if you have a law degree, head of household or are older than the monks, you are just a rookie. What simple lessons are derived from that experience, Humility, Obedience, Discipline.

So here it is, sometime after I disrobed and have returned to the life of a lay person and I find I am very touched by his loss. It is as though a relative has passed away. I marvel sometimes at the force of the change that took place living in the temple. I rarely reside in anger and resentment like I used to. I would often harbor ill-feelings with little reason, for long periods of time. Now I find those negative thoughts to be fleeting in contrast to the past. I find that negative thoughts embarrass me after my practice of Buddhist meditation/chanting loving/kindness over the years.

Where I once thought casually about the death of those I didn’t know or didn’t care about, now I find the presence of pain in suffering in living beings evokes the wish that all beings be free from all suffering. And I hope that Ajahn Poomin has an excellent rebirth and that his footprints do not fade soon.

 

 

This just in!!!

My children were told by their school teachers that State law says that “each textbook,  must be covered by the student under the direction of the teacher.” It does not require school districts to supply students with said cover.

The teachers told my children that they would have to serve detention if they came to school with uncovered texts. I have found nothing in the law but will prusue this. Have you ever heard such a thing?

 

This is some funny stuff.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-makers-of-flame-retardants-sever-ties-with-industryfunded-front-group-20120831,0,4251794.story

Translation, The makers severed themselves from themselves. That is some very advanced Buddhist practice. I tried it after months of meditation and was unsuccessful.

Where, how , what does the industry expect the response will be when you say that an organization, comprised only of yourselves and ruled only by you, has been severed from you. As if they want to distance themselves from self. Stunning way to try to disassociate yourself from a fraudulent effort that was perpetrated perpetually over several years.

My hand is not in the cookie jar despite what you think you see. Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

This can’t really be a crime.

FBI: Man arrested in Streamwood threatened to blow up Iowa mall

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/streamwood/chi-fbi-man-arrested-in-streamwood-threatened-to-blow-up-iowa-mall-20120831,0,142183.story

Isn’t this like the zen koan, if a tree fall in the forest and there is no one there does it still make a sound?