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Greed is a false god

2:49 pm in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Today is Easter Sunday.

Whether or not you celebrate Easter, resurrection is an ancient myth that was old before humans invented writing. The Ancient Egyptian story of the resurrection of Osiris dates back to a time long before Menes unified the Two Lands creating the fabled Old Kingdom of Egypt in approximately 3,000 BC.

Jesus was a rabbi and the core principle of his teachings is the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Rabbi Hillel, who lived and died before Jesus was born, expressed the Golden Rule:

That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Law. The rest is commentary. Now go and learn.

Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and incompatible with the Golden Rule.

Nevertheless, greed is the so-called invisible hand that regulates the free market and, according to neoliberals, the only acceptable form of regulation. Not only is unrestricted greed an acceptable business plan, it has become the only acceptable business plan. Thus, has greed been accorded godlike status.

And we wonder why the world is so messed up.

On this day that we celebrate resurrection and rebirth, we would do well to recommit ourselves to living the Golden Rule. Believing it is not enough. Breath it. Live it. Become it, now.

Rabbi Hillel also said,

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?

We are in this together.

Greed is not a path to prosperity. It is a path to corruption, exploitation, enslavement and chaos.

We all know know it.

Now let’s do something about it.

Should Obama Resign or Announce That He Will Not Seek A Second Term?

7:41 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

For many reasons, I have concluded that Barack Obama cannot win a second term and the time has come for the nation to focus on choosing his successor rather than arguing incessantly regarding whether he is a man of good character with honorable intentions who has been victimized by evil Republicans, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing applying the shock doctrine to eviscerate organized labor, eliminate the safety net, and so impoverish everyone except the rich that they are willing to work for peanuts in sweat shops to avoid starving to death.

The bottom line is the Main Street economy is moribund, real unemployment is over 20%, there is little demand for products and services because millions of people lack money to spend, the president’s pivot to creating jobs is not going to git ‘er done, and his proposed austerity measures constitute a clear and present danger to our health, safety, and prosperity.

The time has come for him to go and for we the people to put aside our petty differences and get down to the serious business of electing a candidate who will represent our best interests rather than the best interests of the banks, corporations, and the military industrial complex.

I vastly prefer resignation to announcing that he will not seek a second term because of what he might do before his term in office ends. While I do not believe he would push the War-with-Iran button as a lame duck president, which is something he might do if he is running for reelection and his political fortunes continue to founder, I am worried about Catfood Commission II. I think the commission members would be far less likely to carry out their mission, which is to gut social security, Medicare, and Medicaid, if Obama resigned.

Why risk political oblivion by disturbing the third rail in the midst of a pitched battle for the presidency between as yet undetermined candidates?

I am concerned that even if he announces that he will not seek a second term, he will continue to push the commission to carry out its mission, and that is the scenario that I hope to prevent.

We the people need to have an informed and thorough discussion about, but not limited to:

1. Whether corporations or people should determine our nation’s future;

2. Whether our nation should continue to engage in endless war for natural resources;

3. Whether we need to bring our troops home and close more than 800 military bases in foreign countries;

4. Whether it is time to end the Global War On Terror:

5. Whether globalization and free trade agreements are in our best interests;

6. Whether we are a nation that follows the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and practices equal justice under law or a nation that ignores civil rights in favor of maintaining a vast surveillance state while exempting the rich from the Rule of Law;

7. Whether we will be a nation that believes it is more important to protect insurance company and Big PhRMA profits than it is to provide affordable health care to everyone regardless of race, color, gender, or religious belief;

8. Whether the banks should be held accountable for the housing bubble, crashing the economy, and Forfeiture Gate instead of blaming the victims of criminal frauds and theft;

9. Whether the torturers and the people who lied us into the aggressive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should be held accountable or rewarded for their war crimes;

10. Whether saving the environment is more important than maximizing corporate profits;

11. Whether public education should be abolished and replaced with privatized education; and

12. Whether government should be privatized to the maximum extent possible and its assets, including highways, buildings, parks, and forests sold to the highest bidder.

We absolutely need to have a national discussion regarding these and many other issues and the pressure to do so will continue to build until we do it peacefully or violently.

Barack Obama is an impediment to that discussion.

If not now, when?

Namaste

Cross Posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.

Author’s Note: I am going to add this to the final manuscript of Namaste: If not Now, When?

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 13 The Price of Arrogance

12:07 pm in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Author’s Note: Each chapter of this book can be read as a stand-alone and it is not necessary that they be read in numerical order. All of the previous chapters are posted here in my Diaries or at my blog (http://masonbennu.wordpress.com/) I welcome comments and will respond as time allows. Thanks for reading.

Chapter 13

The Price of Arrogance

Several years later, I was trying another big case with hot media attention and fear no longer played a role in my professional or personal life. I loved being in trial and it seemed like I always was in trial. I was very good, so good that I had not lost a trial in five years, and I loved the adrenaline rush from the high-wire act so much that I did not know what to do with myself when I was not in trial.

I had developed an addiction, but did not yet know it.

I was trying a triple-homicide case. My client, whom I shall call Steve, was accused of invading a home with another person, whom I shall call Robert, and shooting to death a man, his girlfriend, and their 11-year-old son. Robert was represented by the great Anthony Savage, but not even he was able to pull off an acquittal. The jury convicted Robert of three counts of aggravated premeditated murder and the judge sentenced him to life in prison without possibility of parole.

The jury convicted Robert based on the testimony of three snitches who testified that they accompanied Robert and Steve to the residence and waited in the car acting as lookouts while Robert and Steve went inside. They said Robert and Steve believed that the victim was a drug dealer and a pimp and they wanted to steal his drugs and money and teach him a lesson. They denied participating in or overhearing any discussions about killing anyone and they said Steve left town right after the homicides.

Police arrested Steve in Arizona just before Robert’s trial was scheduled to begin and the prosecutor decided to proceed with Robert’s trial due to speedy trial considerations rather than wait for Steve’s extradition from Arizona. After the jury convicted Robert, not even the biggest longshot Louie at Hialeah would have placed a fin on the possibility of Steve’s acquittal, but to me, it was the supreme challenge of my career and I was determined to make the most of it. Defeat was not an option.

I attacked the heart of the prosecution’s case; I put on an alibi defense claiming Steve was already in Arizona when the murders occurred and I accused the three snitches of committing the murders and making up the story about Robert and Steve’s participation.

After my opening statement, the prosecutor and the media sneered at my defense. Even Steve, whom I believed to be innocent, thought we did not have a chance, given the extensive negative publicity generated by Robert’s trial.

Nevertheless, after I finished carving up the last of the three snitches with an extremely confrontational cross-examination that produced a quavering voice and tears of rage, I could literally feel the wheel turning.

After the prosecution rested, the judge looked at me and said, “Is the defense ready to proceed?”

I stood and said, “Yes, Your Honor.”

“Who you gonna call?”

“Ghostbusters,” I answered without thinking.

He just stared at me for what seemed like an eternity and I just stared back at him with an equally blank stare.

Suddenly, Juror Number 6, a clinical psychologist who would eventually be selected foreperson of the jury, snorted out loud, pitched forward in her chair, and began laughing hysterically.

The jury deliberated seven days and on Friday afternoon at 4:30 pm it delivered its verdict:

Not Guilty, Not Guilty, Not Guilty.

As I walked out of the King County Courthouse floating on air. I was strutting down the sidewalk on James Street holding my head high thinking I was the greatest trial lawyer who ever lived, when all of a sudden I found myself lying on my back staring at the sky unable to breathe or move.

How can this be? I wondered.

A man with a badge wearing a blue uniform was bending over peering at me and grinning. “Counselor,” he said as he reached down, grabbed my belt, and pulled me up enabling my lungs to reinflate, “you need to take it easy on the parking meters. They’re city property, you know.”

Cross-Posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.

Namaste: If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author. You may not sell or offer to sell it for any form of consideration. I retain full rights to publication.

My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.

Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.

Heh.

Namaste

Masoninblue

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 6 Golden Rule Applications

9:09 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Chapter 6

Golden Rule Applications

Pharaoh Nebkaure ruled in favor of Khun-Inpu even though he was an outsider, a mere peasant who had technically trespassed on land that belonged to a rich and influential nobleman and his donkey had trampled the nobleman’s wheat and eaten his grain. Despite Khun-Inpu’s humble and foreign background, pharaoh recognized that he was an honorable man with good intentions who was forced into trespassing on the nobleman’s land by the foreman who then used the trespass as a justification to assault Khun-Inpu and steal his donkey and his goods. As the Lord of Ma’at, who was said to decree with his mouth the Ma’at in his heart, pharaoh had little choice but to rule in Khun-Inpu’s favor, even though he was loathe to do so and Khun-Inpu had to respectfully remind him of his responsibilities eight times and threaten to take his own life to seek justice in the land of the dead to get him to act.

Can anyone imagine President Obama ruling in favor of Khun-Inpu in any matter? Or Chief Justice Roberts and justices Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court? How about your local circuit court or superior court judges? I didn’t think so.

One could argue that President Obama’s decision to look forward and not backward is an example of applying the Golden Rule because his decision accurately reflects how he would like to be treated by his successor in office for his war crimes for waging aggressive war, using drones to slaughter innocent people, and condoning the use of rendition and torture. However, Ma’at does not permit the Golden Rule to be twisted and perverted to reach and justify an unfair and unjust result. Nemti-Nakht learned that lesson the hard way.

War is justifiable only in self-defense. The war in Afghanistan is a war of aggression because Afghanistan did not invade the United States and had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. The United States cannot create a necessity to act in self-defense by killing innocent Afghans to provoke them to attack U.S. soldiers who invaded and occupied their land without consent.

Applying the Golden Rule in more mundane circumstances has proven to be difficult at times. Scholars have engaged in endless discussions and written many books about it. Consider, for example, the vexing relationship phenomenon commonly referred to as men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The answer to this predicament, of course, is to realize that your partner might not want to be treated the same way you would like to be treated in a given situation, so you ask before you act, or do a little detective work first. This behavioral adjustment actually affirms the rule because it respects the other person’s right to be different, which is mutually beneficial and generally beneficial to the relationship.

If we tweak our hypothetical relationship between two emotionally healthy and well adjusted adults, however, and make one person an addict, treating that person the way they want to be treated by supplying them with alcohol, for example, enables and reinforces the addiction to the everlasting sorrow of both people and their relationship. Plug in narcissist or any other major character disorder, including the discovery that your darling “Lovey” is a serial killer or even worse, President of the United States, and you will readily make the connection. This type of situation may be resolved by a negative expression of the rule; that is, refraining from doing something to another person (enabling the addiction) because you would want him or her to refrain from enabling your own addiction. Under either formulation of the rule, the action taken or avoided is driven by the desire to be of service to another as opposed to acting selfishly. One must, of course, be ever vigilant to the infinite number of ways in which a selfish outcome can be disguised by an ingenious mind as acting in the best interest of another person or the common good.

Free market economics, globalization, and the trickle-down theory are examples of acting selfishly supposedly for the benefit of the many, but there is no evidence to support such a belief. For example, the disparity in income between rich and poor in the United States is greater today than it has been since before the Great Depression that began in 1929. Free market economics, globalization, tax breaks for the rich, and the trickle-down theory of economics have made the rich richer and destroyed the middle class in the United States. Greed is not good for anyone and the Gentle One who warned that it would be easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven knew that greed destroys human beings. He wanted people to strive to be spiritually rich, not monetarily rich.

Imagine how much better this world would be if everyone in it honored the goddess Ma’at, others, and themselves by practicing the spirit of the Golden Rule. As Rabbi Hillel said, “That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” Christians and Muslims can substitute the New Testament or the Koran for the Torah; the meaning is the same.

The catastrophic problems we face today are the natural and probable consequence of a conscious awareness focused on constructing a self-important identity out of self-differentiation. To say that I am not “X,” however, does little to satisfy my craving to know who I am. It does, however, feed my desire to feel special, and the more special I feel the more unique I become. Satisfaction is missing, however, because now that I have convinced myself that I am unique, I feel entitled to be acknowledged as unique without realizing that I have birthed an addiction that I must continue to feed to avoid an identity crisis. Yet, I need an identity crisis, perhaps many, to reach the Aha Moment when I finally accept that my search for identity through a process of self-differentiation from others necessarily leads to selfishness, isolation, and existential dread because my uniqueness invariably disappears without the existence, attention, and agreement of others to sustain it. Albert Einstein said,

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

In what sense do I exist, if not in relation to something else?

Am I not who I am because I am a part of the whole?

And if I am part of the whole, am I not part of you and you part of me?

How can this not be true of all humanity?

When we harm others, do we not harm and diminish ourselves?

How can this not be true of all life?

If it is true of all life, how can it not be true of all spirit?

Is this not the essence of the Golden Rule?

As above, so below.

Are we humans not who we are because we are a part of the whole and does not the whole include our mother, Gaia, and is she not part of all that exists beyond her?

Are we not confronted today by dreadful circumstances of our own making that are forcing us to evolve to a higher level of consciousness in which we define ourselves holistically, accept responsibility individually and collectively for creating the miseries that plague us, pledge to once and for all destroy the Tower of Babble dissolving the boundaries that separate us, and place the good of the many above the good of the few?

We must learn to move beyond merely tolerating others to trusting others as we would trust ourselves. This is the principle of mutuality that is central to the Golden Rule. Although this will prove to be difficult, keep in mind that the prophet Muhammad said, “Do good to those who are worthy of it and to those who are not; if he is a good man, then because he is good, and if he is not, then because you are.”

As in the Sufi parable of the three blind men who each describe an elephant differently because their descriptions are based on touching different part of its body, we must accept and recognize that the One is more than the sum of its many parts. There are many paths to the One and we should respect all of them. As Helen Keller said, “I do not want the peace which passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace.”

Let us see ourselves as coequal Ambassadors of the One for whom nationalism, patriotism, the vast array of the rest of the isms, and the formal structure of religion no longer matter. We revere all that exists, as it is as much a part of us as we are a part of it. We celebrate our existence and pledge to heal, protect, and preserve Gaia for she is part of us, our mother, our home, and Garden of Eden.

As T.S. Eliot said,

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Cross-Posted at my blog and Smirking Chimp.

If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor.

Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.

Heh.

Namaste

Masoninblue

Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 5, Whatever Happened To The Golden Rule?

11:08 am in Uncategorized by Masoninblue

Chapter 5

Whatever Happened to the Golden Rule?

Edward Arlington Robinson wrote,

Miniver Cheevy
Child of scorn
Wished that he’d never been born
And he had reasons.

The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is a corollary of Ma’at and a foundational principle of most religions. The Hebrew sage, Rabbi Hillel, who recognized that brotherly love is the fundamental principle of Jewish moral law. (Lev. xix. 18), explained the importance of the Golden Rule when he said,

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah, ; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

Matthew, a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, described the importance of the Golden Rule in the following exchange between Jesus and a Pharisee lawyer questioning his authority.

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The prophet Mohamed expressed the Golden Rule as,

That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.

The Golden Rule has long recognized what scientists sequencing the human genome have recently confirmed. Humans are 99.5% genetically the same, no matter the color of our skin, the language we speak, our gender, sexual preference, age, race, ethnicity, or religious belief. Some scientists do not believe human genetics support the concept of racial differences. In other words, differences in skin color are no more significant to them than differences in eye or hair color and, therefore, an emphasis on categorizing people by the color of their skin is inherently flawed, reckless, and dangerous. In fact, there is considerably more genetic variation among brown skinned people than there is among white skinned people since Homo Sapiens sapiens originated in southern Africa in the border area between Namibia and South Africa approximately 200,000 years ago and emerged out of northeast Africa about 80,000 years ago. Natural selection favors people with brown skin in the hot sun-drenched tropics. White skin is the result of a genetic mutation that originated in humans after they emerged out of Africa and settled in northern Europe and north central Asia. Differences in skin color have no effect on intelligence. Differences in behavior are due to being raised in different cultures with different values and access to clean water, a nutritious and balanced diet, and education. For all of these reasons, these scientists believe racism is the inevitable result of a long and sorry history of classifying people by skin color. I agree.

Therefore, the “enemy” that our brothers and sisters encounter on a battlefield in a distant foreign land who wears a turban and speaks a foreign language is 99.5% exactly like them. They just look a little different and it does not take a great leap of faith or intuition to realize that they want to be treated by other people the same way our brothers and sisters in uniform want to be treated. They resent the presence of our brothers and sisters in uniform in their country killing their brothers and sisters just as we would resent their presence in our country killing our brothers and sisters. Because we are fundamentally the same, when we demonize the other, we demonize ourselves.Whenever we kill another person, no matter the reason, we kill part of ourselves.

Ubuntu is a Zulu word that describes the foundation of African societies. In essence, it means that a person is a person through other persons. Desmond Tutu said ubuntu is about community:

When we see another, we should recognize ourselves and the God in whom all people are made. My humanity is caught up in your humanity. I am a human being only because you are a human being. There is no such thing as a solitary human being . . . And for that reason, the highest value is accorded to harmony, communal harmony, and anger and revenge and bitterness are corrosive of this harmony. And in a sense, it is the best form of self-interest to forgive you, because if I do not, my anger against you, which goes toward dehumanizing you, dehumanizes me in the process. The minute you are diminished, whether I like it or not, I am diminished. And so if I can enhance your humanity, ipso facto, my humanity is enhanced. When another person is diminished, I am diminished.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow when I present Namaste: Chapter 6, Golden Rule Applications.

Cross-posted at my blog and Smirking Chimp

If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor.

Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.

Heh.

Namaste

Masoninblue