Phil Ochs said it all already, a long time ago. Listen to me, it’s true

Oh I marched to the battle of New Orleans
At the end of the early British war
The young land started growing
The young blood started flowing
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

For I’ve killed my share of Indians
In a thousand different fights
I was there at the Little Big Horn
I heard many men lying I saw many more dying
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all

For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes I even killed my brothers
And so many others But I ain’t marchin’ anymore

For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore


For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning I knew that I was learning
That I ain’t marchin’ anymore

Now the labor leader’s screamin’
when they close the missile plants,
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore,
Call it “Peace” or call it “Treason,”
Call it “Love” or call it “Reason,”
But I ain’t marchin’ any more,
No I ain’t marchin’ any more

 These are 3 more Ochs songs on Youtube

İ cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I’d lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don’t talk about revolution
That’s going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I’m glad the commies were thrown out
of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
as long as they don’t move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can’t understand how their minds work
What’s the matter don’t they watch Les Crain?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

I read New republic and Nation
I’ve learned to take every view
You know, I’ve memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I’m almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There’s no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

I vote for the democratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I’ll send all the money you ask for
But don’t ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I’ve grown older and wiser
And that’s why I’m turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal

Right Action for me, today, in this moment.

I had a chat with a friend this morning. The subject of truth-telling came up. I advised that since I took Buddhist vows I have not lied. The Buddhist vows or “precepts” are as follows

1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from the taking of life.

2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from stealing or taking that which is not freely given.

3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct.

4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from lying or gossip.

5. Suramerayamajjapamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami: I observe the precept of abstaining from intoxicants.

Since I declared my intention to practice Buddhism I have tried to adhere to these vows. I fail at times but not for lack of trying. Neither I nor anyone in my immediate family has purposely violated the first precept and so much as killed an insect since we formally took the precepts.

Why would a Jewish-American choose the practice of Buddhism? Why would a man with my history undertake any religious practice?  I heard the Buddhist pronouncement that life was suffering. As Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote “The search for a spiritual path is born out of suffering. It does not start with lights and ecstasy, but with the hard tacks of pain, disappointment, and confusion. However, for suffering to give birth to a genuine spiritual search, it must amount to more than something passively received from without. It has to trigger an inner realization, a perception which pierces through the facile complacency of our usual encounter with the world to glimpse the insecurity perpetually gaping underfoot. When this insight dawns, even if only momentarily, it can precipitate a profound personal crisis. It overturns accustomed goals and values, mocks our routine preoccupations, leaves old enjoyments stubbornly unsatisfying.”

I experienced this and now I confine myself to behaviors and undertakings which increase the likelihood of success without regret. That would be success without the accompanying dissatisfaction at having had to harm anyone financially, psychologically and emotionally. I live with those very type of regrets as relates to my 2 former spouses and anyone else who drew close enough to my flame to get burned.

It is 20 years ago today that I was wed to now ex-wife Laurie. I would have to look far and wide to find someone more deserving of  great kindness and happiness. Despite believing that, I let myself slowly drift from the straight and narrow and into a spiritual abyss which I did not escape from for many years. I can say with certainty that she gave me every opportunity and resource to live a normal rich and rewarding existence. She offered solid ground upon which love could thrive. So here is what I learned. I had demons which lurked, waiting always to undermine good choices. I had unresolved issues which were always waiting to manifest in my behaviors. I had mental-illness ready to unravel any progress I might exercise.

And but for 2 little girls, now my daughters, who needed me less than I needed them, I would have spun out. But God gave me strength of character to protect the weak and needy. While my attributes were inadequate to bring me salvation, my resolve to act honorably was resolute enough to bring me to a place of willingness to take the actions needed to protect them.

Thus is born the seeds of sobriety and Buddhism in my spirit.

Carbon Footprint

I acquired an electric bike today. An E Moto Velocity 2.0. It requires that I pedal but it will provide electrical assist when asked. I have been on a bike almost daily, except for rain. I have lost weight and saved gas. I had to spend money for a new helmet and lights and clothes so I will be seen readily. My first ride starts at 6.45 AM and it is still dark out. I am terrified of cars but I am determined to try becoming a bike commuter. There aren’t many electric bikes in Dallas. Most are sold on the west coast in places like San Francisco and Seattle and Portland. I hope to remain safe and healthy and to improve my carbon footprint. Most of you know that I already drive a Prius. This is just one more step in trying to be environmentally conscious. Hippies ain’t all dead or living in CA. Some of us escaped to the hinterlands.

My children are also vegetarians. there are two reasons for this. One, they abhor the mistreatment of animals for food production. The second is that the carbon-footprint of meat is much larger than vegetables.

In an article in USA Today by Elizabeth Weise, Gail Feenstra, she interviewed a food systems analyst at the University of California-Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute.

Meat is less efficient because we eat the animal that eats the grain instead of eating the grain ourselves. It takes about 15 pounds of feed to make 1 pound of beef, 6 pounds of feed for 1 pound of pork and 5 pounds of feed for 1 pound of chicken, the Department of Agriculture estimates. For catfish, it’s about 2 pounds of feed per pound of fish.

Add to the feed the cost of raising, transporting and producing cattle, and beef is by far the least energy-efficient meat. Nathan Fiala, a doctoral candidate in environmental economics at the University of California-Irvine, estimates it requires about 15 pounds of carbon dioxide to produce 1 pound of beef.

“A family of four that gives up eating beef one day a week has basically traded in their pickup for a Prius,” he says.

My children assert that adults should be implementing environmentally sound and ecologically beneficial practices, such as recycling. They think that we adults should take responsibility for what condition we leave the earth to subsequent generations, like themselves. I find it hard to argue with them. But in the main, most people I know have no environmental conscious practices. Most don’t recycle, or conserve water, or drive cars which consume minimal amounts of gas. Most commercial buildings do not provide recycle bins or auto-shut off lights etc.

So, yea, I bought this bicycle used, although it was never ridden. Just like we buy used clothing and housewares. We take our own bags to the grocery store and try not to buy products that are packaged wastefully. We could do so much more, but we are doing something. And I am proud of my vegetarian, ecologically conscientious daughters.

A militarized border and friendly fire. No surprise here.

Napolitano says “This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women confront, the dangers they willingly undertake, while protecting our nation’s borders,” she said. “Together, we stand in solidarity with their families and friends, and pray for the continued safety of all who serve our country.” Ken says, these are not the kinds of risks and dangers that should be undertaken. “we” stand in “solidarity” because you government folks like having your small army roaming around the country hunting illegal aliens. Some of us non-government people object to the militarization of law enforcement and we object to death by friendly fire and we object to empty platitudes muttered by professional politicians trying to cover their collective asses!

And then it says “Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano traveled to Arizona on Friday to express her condolences to the fallen agent’s family and to meet with local officials.” And hey, while you are here, you can squeeze in a side trip to visit your home and friends. I mean as long as you had to fly here special at my expense, I insist you take some down-time and have some R&R.

Will this society never wake up? Did you know that Buddha means the Awakened One?

The Obama administration continues to pursue a failed drug enforcement policy. Hypocritical garbage. What are the odds of that Obama was the only member of his close advisory staff that smoked marijuana? What are the odds that several don’t still smoke or live with persons who smoke? How many drink liquor in order to adjust their attitude, feelings or sense of well-being?

Any government/administration which continues to prosecute pot users/dealers is undeserving of support. In the interest of full disclosure, I do not smoke pot. I do not drink liquor. I do not use recreational drugs. But I am real clear on this issue. No amount of persecution or prosecution will eliminate or even reduce the amount of substance abuse. Education and treatment have a better record of bringing about positive change in dependency and addiction.

A society which allows liquor for recreational use and bans pot is a society which has chosen to ignore all evidence of the cost/benefit analysis of substance use. How can we continue to criminalize our own children, friends and colleagues for succumbing to the desire to alter their mood? Where did the hippies disappear to? Why are we so rarely heard from? People are being sent to prison for this! We were right to rise up angry in the 60s. And we should be outraged now.

California governor signs bill giving juvenile prisoners a second chance

This is a story so near and dear to my heart for a few reasons.


I worked in the juvenile and criminal justice systems in Chicago, as a social worker and a lawyer. I represented kids who killed. I represented some who were killed also but that isn’t what this is about. When I got to know my clients through my representation, I discovered that almost all of them were just kids, in bad situations with bad influences and lack of impulse control without a genuine recognition of the depths of the consequences which accompany criminal acts.

The scientific evidence is undisputed,

“With an immature prefrontal cortex, even if teens understand that something is dangerous, they may still go ahead and engage in the risky behavior”

Bottom line, kids are not adults. It is folly to treat them “as if” they are. Juvenile killers are not culpable in the same way that the criminal justice system anticipates and identifies criminal behavior.  Known to some by the legal Latin term, “mens rea” and more commonly as culpability, criminal behavior required not only the act but the evil heart. When juvenile gang members started committing more homicides in the 70s, a group of sociologists in Chicago predicted the coming of juvenile super-criminals in the 1980s. A young, teen-age criminal was being birthed into society who would act violently without conscience or reservation. It turns out that super-criminal never materialized but the criminal statutes were already in place in anticipation.

It is against the law to impose the death penalty on someone who does not understand the nature of the punishment. Thus we do not execute the insane, the retarded and the kids. But we are locking them up and throwing away the key. People change as they age. A kid will jump out the second story bedroom window to see how it feels. A young man will jump out of an airplane to see how it feels. A man in his thirties will ride his Harley fast in violation of the law and safety. A man in his forties generally thinks that jumping out of second floor windows is crazy. A fifty year old man does not see the point of paying to risk his life jumping out of airplanes. Hell no, no way. With age comes judgement.

South Side pastor leads march against violence

How about marching to change the drug laws?,0,371873.story

How about we get at some causes of violence? Why don’t these pastors draw a line in the sand and confront the government about the effects of the war on drugs creating a criminal sub-culture that has more money, more influence and more role models that the church can does?

What is the point of it all. Inner-cities are ravaged by violence. Communities are left to the survivors who are not in prison or dead. The inner-city is no longer a participant of the American Dream. The time when  residents in poverty felt upwardly mobile and a marginalized part of white society is gone. There is the culture of the ghetto and there is middle America. They may never meet again anywhere except on the battlefield.

The religious leaders should be leading the march on government against the laws and policies which have created the most powerful narco-terrorist organizations in Mexico, Columbia and the US. Take away the black market for drugs, diminish the incentive that leads to a thriving underclass of  smugglers, dealers and manufacturers of illegal drugs. Put the cash left over into creating quality schools and jobs in the inner-city. Return the fathers and grandfathers who rot in prisons for non-violent drug crimes. That is a march I can get with. I will wear the t-shirt, chant the slogans and stand in the cold outside of the government halls with you.

I ran across this arrgogant twit today

This is the kind of crap that makes it easier for non-religious people to feel good about themselves.  This opinion piece is filled with suppositions, errors and arrogance. So why republish it? Because I am struck by its tone, its use of language and the effort intended to degrade another’s beliefs. In the name of organized religious. Ironic that the defense uses the very tools that cause the rejection of religion.
 Examples follow and the bold italics are mine.
“I’m spiritual, but not religious,” represents some of the most retrogressive aspects of contemporary society
Those in the spiritual-but-not-religious camp are peddling the notion that by being independent – by choosing an “individual relationship” to some concept of “higher power”, energy, oneness or something-or-other – they are in a deeper, more profound relationship than one that is coerced via a large institution like a church.
The trouble is that “spiritual but not religious” offers no positive exposition or understanding or explanation of a body of belief or set of principles of any kind.
I wanted to reply to Mr. Miller but I didn’t see anywhere to do so on the CNN page. I have a religious practice and I understand issues related to the “pick and choose” notion of spirituality often referred to as New Age.  But I guess it is opinions like this that make me rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.
Yes, a citation to Billy Joel followed by more BJ
“You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd.
We ain’t too pretty, we ain’t too proud.
We might be laughing a bit too loud,
aw, but that never hurt no one”
I do not know Alan Miller. Probably a nice twit but twit he do seem to be.