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.

Debate is dead. Long live the King!

Let us no longer debate the merits of the trump presidency. The evidence of his lies is overwhelming and those of my friends who support him have not undertaken to challenge his integrity despite overwhelming evidence in the actual interview and tweets of his own making. You cannot ask of anyone, to hold Clinton or anyone else accountable as a substitute and diversion of trump’s lies. You embarrass yourselves to continue to defend the lies. Today, he claims $91 billion went to Puerto Rico relief. In fact, $11 billion has been sent to the island so far — far less than the more than $120 billion the federal government has spent (and continues to spend) in response to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
 
How can I defend or debate his presidency when not one of you will acknowledge a single lie much less the plethora of lies he drools out from his mouth. He sickens the populace that engages in fact checking.
 
I have been friends and colleagues with Puerto Ricans my entire life, unlike the president. I actually know where PR is and most important, I know what it is. A US territory. Not a separate country or place. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/02/gidley-puerto-rico-country-1249076
 
If you are going to remain unwilling to engage in a dialogue that recognizes and acknowledges his lies, there can be no debate. Debate at its finest is an educational process where viewpoints supported by facts are presented. The antithesis of debate is the reliance upon lies and character assassination to prevail. Thus since you will not resort to the legitimate tools of debate I must drown trump in invectives and vitriol.
 
Ultimately, my dear conservatives, issues like gun control will be implemented without your input because the decision-makers will find it fruitless to discuss an issue which is devoid of facts.
 
From the pro-trump conservative website The New American, “Trump has accused top FBI officials of “treason.” Among other individuals excoriated by Trump, former FBI boss James Comey was dubbed a “terrible guy,” and former CIA boss (and an admitted supporter of the Soviet-controlled Communist Party USA in the 1970s) John Brennan was slammed as a “sick person.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, meanwhile, was slammed by Trump as a “criminal,” while the chorus in Congress and beyond demanding his resignation continues to grow. Trump has also lashed out repeatedly at what he calls the “criminal Deep State.”
 
Perhaps more importantly, following the end of Mueller’s investigation, Trump again said there was “treason” — potentially a capital offense — going on in what had transpired. “There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things — I would say treasonous things — against our country,” the president told reporters, without specifying exactly who he was talking about. “And hopefully people that have done such harm to our country — we’ve gone through a period of really bad things happening — those people will certainly be looked at. I’ve been looking at them for a long time.”
I wish I could be counted amongst the enemies of trump who will be investigated and denounced and perhaps tried for treason. I wish my voice were loud enough, influential enough to be a candidate for such an attack. I would welcome the forum of a trial where a jury of fellow citizens would be forced by oath to hear “FACTS” and dispense with prejudice and decide who has the greater credibility. I would prevail!.
Senator Joseph McCarthy tried to rid the country of his enemies andt opponents by red-baiting them.  He was initially embraced with enthusiasm by the small-minded. But eventually, enough Americans realized that efforts to purge/silence the country of its own neighbors was really an evil effort, lacking in morality and void of integrity. So too shall trump come to know that whatever blood he causes to be shed or persons to be harmed by neighbors or government, he himself will fall in the battle he wages against truth and justice.
King trump will continue to damage the very fabric of our culture and society. But ultimately if truth gets the final say, he will be exposed as the emperor without the clothes of decency and integrity and certainly and figuratively his presidency will bleed to death of a thousand cuts of his deceit.

Am I what they say I am.

When I was 14 years old I was beaten unconscious by a first generation 17 year old Palestinian boy in the swimming pool during swim class at South Shore High School. The reason I was beaten, the 6 Day War in Israel. Several Jewish boys watched as I was beaten. (I was 5′ tall and weighed 115 pounds) After I was resuscitated I approached the Jewish kids and stated as best I recall “I was beaten because I am Jewish and you didn’t help me. I hope they march you all to the ovens some day. I will take 6 of them before they get me.”
I was angry at those Jewish kids. I made a decision to be armed some day. I am not angry at Jews anymore, or Palestinians but I sure as hell am armed. I believed then that Anti-Semitism could get me killed. I believe it just as strongly today. The drums of hate are beating. The rhetoric of trump is the dog whistle to violent white nationalists. If they hate Blacks and Gays, They hate Jews.
What is my point? This is not a mere election between progressive vs conservative policies. This may be survival….. “ranging for revenge, with Ate by his side come hot from hell, shall in these confines with a Monarch’s voice cry ‘Havok!’ and let slip the dogs of war.” Shakespeare.
They are saying we are the violent ones and they are selling the story, quite successfully, that liberals are dangerous. I am mindful that fear has a similar effect on me as it does on the Right. I want to be secure in my home and community. I must balance my Buddhist sensibilities with history of resisting anti-Semitism, Racism, misogyny, and homophobia. The good people on the right are not coming to save us from the violent chants of white supremacists. No one in the republican congress is standing with us.
Tomorrow I may feel kinder and gentler. But trump praised a physical assault of a reporter and he is justifying the heinous torture/murder of a Middle Eastern man who lived amongst us. And his supporters laugh. He encourages violence against us. How do I wake up secure in home and country with this going on? How do I default to loving kindness and compassion when I feel the hot breath of hate on my neck?
Until I figure it out, I am prepared to take some with me when they come to march me to the figurative or literal ovens. Still gonna ride my bike, go to 12 step meetings and flirt with women. Live life yes. Am I going to be what they say I am? I cannot honestly say yet.

If you cannot bow to the Buddha, you cannot be a Buddha.

So I just got off the phone with my friend Jerry. Jerry and I met 7 years ago and our friendship has revolved around 12 step recovery and hiking. Jerry doesn’t much like easy hikes. So we often hiked long and hard for hours on end. Jerry works in the defense industry and is very conservative. As friends are want to do, we discussed every topic under the sun.

We talked politics frequently and we did again today. We don’t talk as often as we used to because he has late stage cancer and between the pain and the nausea he is not often talkative. But as we talked today I was reminded that despite being worlds apart politically, neither one of us ever had to disrespect the other’s beliefs. We have always done a great job of accepting each other. We often threw each other’s candidates under the bus, but not each other.

So what makes some people civil and others not so? Why does someone have to disparage others who do not agree with them? What is so satisfying about feeling superior?

An author I like, Henri Nouwen authored 40 books on spirituality as well as countless articles on theology and psychology. Nouwen was a Catholic priest. He once said “As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.”

Billy Graham offered this bon mot on judging. “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”

I spent years in courts hearing judgments passed that I knew in my heart did not reflect my reality. I used to warn clients charged with crimes, that judges were so removed from the reality of the streets, that they would be well-advised to expect harsh results. Judges handed out prison time like candy. Juries were supposed to be my client’s peers but rarely came close. I left the practice of law for reasons related to the persistent ill-affects of judging.

Ever since I joined Facebook I hear persistent negativity spewed freely. Liberals this, Conservatives that. The harshest refrains are never true. They are junk. They rise out of the depths of ignorance and self-righteousness. Yes, that is a judgment I just made. I need to make judgments of sorts constantly. I need to judge situations and persons and decisions. I need to determine what is healthy and what is not. I need to decide who should be in my life and who should not. The judging I speak of is most often found in the political and ideological arena.

I had a radio show for several years. I interviewed dozens of guests from all walks of life. Some were nuts. Some were holders of opinions I found despicable. (I interviewed the Westboro Church family.) I interviewed the chief law enforcement spokesperson for The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He offered nothing but platitudes. I felt bad for him because he was so lacking in empirical data and made statements that were hollow about controlling violence. As my guest I did what I often do and tried to help him make his points. It was hopeless. I interviewed his nemesis John Lott. Lott is armed for interviews with statistics and anecdotes and is quite persuasive. I hear he has been discredited but in my experience those that attack him are very partisan.

I interviewed people who believe the US government blew up the Twin Towers. Gosh I actually interviewed quite a few conspiracy theorists. I tend to disbelieve conspiracies but I never found it necessary to put any of my guests down. I challenged them all. Friend or foe, I tried to facilitate discussions that illuminated the various opinions on the subject. I have interviewed cops and criminals, prisoner support groups, advocates for convicted sex offenders, supporters of 12 steps and disbelievers in 12 steps. That was then, this is now.

The transition to social media has been most pleasant in connecting with friends from all periods and places in my life. I love visiting with pals throughout the day who I might otherwise not communicate with. The photos and jokes and news is a welcome addition to my day.

But the flaming, judging and general pride in opinions leaves me wanting to  wash away the dirty feeling. Buddhism has taught me some resistance to judgments. I learned humility in the monastery living amongst monks. I learned to bow to another human. Something I could hardly imagine doing in the past. But I think it makes a good point when said… “If you cannot bow to the Buddha, you cannot be a Buddha. It is arrogance.” Shunryu Suzuki.

So Jerry and I have weathered the same kinds of discussions that have caused unfriending. His tolerance of my liberal views has made his friendship all the more dear to me. His advocacy for political viewpoints I have never held or admired, taught me to listen beneath the words. Loving kindness makes me feel better about myself in a way that self-righteousness never has. Who knew? If you had told me I never would have believed it. I had to love my way into a new way of living.

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.