Archive for the ‘Politics’ category

The Deal

January 15, 2012

I am 64 years old. I have never been as disgusted with the political situation in the United States as I am now. On a scale from 1 to 10, I score all of the Republican candidates and Barack Obama at -1.

In other words, unfit and unqualified to serve.

Hell, I refuse to support Obama because I consider him to be a serial liar and a war criminal who supports indefinite detention, torture, and extrajudicial assassination. He’s flat out insane and dangerous. There is only one place he should be and it is not the White House. It is a prison cell.

The mind blowing fact about the campaigns of the various candidates is the absence of any acknowledgement and discussion of the important issues of these difficult times.

(1) Why empire?

(2) Why no civil liberties?

(3) Why are 2.3 million people locked up?

(4) Why haven’t all drugs been legalized?

(5) Why isn’t anything being done about unemployment?

(6) Why not single-payer health insurance for all?

(7) Why not free college and graduate education?

(8) Why forfeiture?

(9) Why no prosecutions of war criminals and criminal banksters?

(10) Why haven’t the TBTF banks been allowed to fail or taken over and broken up?

(11) Why the extreme and increasing disproportional distribution of income and what can be done to reverse it?

(12) Why oil?

(13) Why nuclear?

(14) Why coal?

(15) Why poverty?

These are some, but not all of the problems that beset us and I neither want to hear, nor will I listen to all these stupid jerk candidates babbling about bullshit.

Fortunately, OWS is starting to change the dialogue, and that gives me hope.

Which brings me to The Deal.

Listen to this tune by the Grateful Dead with OWS as The Deal.

OWS is The Deal.

The Deal

Source: The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics by David Dodd.

Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia
Copyright Ice Nine Publishing.

Since it cost a lot to win
and even more to lose
You and me bound to spend some time
wondring what to choose

Goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down

I been gambling here abouts
for ten good solid years
If I told you all that went down
it would burn off both your ears

It goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down

Since you poured the wine for me
and tightend up my shoes
I hate to leave you sittin there
composin lonesome blues

It goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down
Don’t you let that deal go down, no
Don’t you let your deal go down

Cross posted from my law blog.

Sycophant King

November 21, 2011

Occupy Mordor
by Jamison Wieser on flickr Creative Commons
h/t to Crane-Station to save my marriage 🙂

Sycophant King

He favors tailored navy blue suits that look exactly the same

And white shirts decorated with solid silk ties

Perfectly pinched below the Gordian knot

That binds him to the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.

He majored in deception and has picked many a pocket clean

Wearing his practiced smile of starched white teeth

Flashing like a strobe in an after hours club.

He reached the top the old fashioned way —

Kissing ass

Taking credit for other people’s ideas

Daggering them in the back with whispers made of lies.

No one knows what he really thinks and neither does he

Because he thinks like the people he seeks to please.

Now that he’s reached the top there is nothing left to steal

No one with whom to share a thought

Only angry ghosts seeking revenge.

Who shall shed a tear

For the sycophant king?

Cross posted at my new law blog, Firedoglake/MyFDL, and the Smirking Chimp.

Think And Act Holistically, Globally, And Cooperatively

October 17, 2011

As most of you know, I have a written a book titled Namaste: If Not Now, When? In a step by step, chapter by chapter basis, I provided a process for revolution beginning with transforming the self, extending the boundaries of the self outward to include others, and finally transforming the world.

What future will we create together? I want to encourage all of us to start dreaming about and imagining that future because we cannot create what we cannot first imagine.

One thing is certain. We cannot and should not return to the way things were before the economic crash. Our economy was based on middle class consumption, from purchasing houses to home entertainment centers and everything else offered for sale on credit. We gorged ourselves on stuff like pigs at a feed trough while almost everyone else in the world struggled to survive on less than a dollar a day.

The great reckoning is under way and far from over. I see an economic tsunami building that within the next 18 months will sweep away our financial system and dramatically increase financial, food, and health insecurity here and throughout the world.

In one of my later chapters, I introduced and briefly discussed microcredit and micropower concepts. Today, thanks to Liz Berry who got me thinking about it, I want to focus on cooperatives.

Wikipedia defines a cooperative as:

a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. A cooperative is defined by the International Cooperative Alliance’s Statement on the Cooperative Identity as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise”. A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled equally by the people who use its services or by the people who work there. Various aspects regarding cooperative enterprise are the focus of study in the field of cooperative economics.

According to the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), “co-operatives provide over 100 million jobs around the world, 20% more than multinational enterprises”. For example, check out these statistics.

1. 45.3 million people in Asia are members of credit unions.

2. 4 out of 10 Canadians are members of at least one coop and coops employ 155,000 people. Coops are the largest employer in Quebec.

3. 23 million people in France are members of one or more co-operatives or approximately 38% of the population. 75% of all agricultural producers are members of at least one co-operative and 1 in every 3 persons is a member of co-operative bank. 21,000 coops employ more than 1 million people.

4. 1 out every 4 people in Germany belongs to a coop and 440,000 people are employed by coops.

5. In Japan 1 out of every 3 people belongs to a coop.

6. 40% of the adult population of New Zealand belong to coops and mutuals.

7. 239 million people belong to coops in India.

8. Almost 50% of the population of Norway belongs to at least 1 coop.

9. 50% of the population of Singapore belong to coops.

10. In the United States, more than 29,000 co-operatives operate in every sector of the economy and in every congressional district; Americans hold over 350 million co-operative memberships. 900 rural electric cooperatives provide electricity to 42 million people in 47 states. 30,000 coops employ more than 2 million people.

The ICA lists the following 7 principles for cooperatives:

1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership

Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control

Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.

3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence

Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter to agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

5th Principle: Education, Training and Information

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

6th Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7th Principle: Concern for Community

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

There is no better time than now, before the economic tsunami crashes our financial shores and fractures our fragile economy, to think and act holistically, globally, and cooperatively.

If not now, when?

Namaste.

Cross posted at Firedoglake/MyFDL and the Smirking Chimp.

Author’s Note: I will be incorporating this essay as a chapter in Namaste: If Not Now, When?

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 for non-commercial purposes, 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.

Previous chapters are posted here and at Firedoglake/MyFDL.

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 3 years.

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

Heh.

Namaste.

Masoninblue

We Must Reduce The Human Birth Rate And Develop Microcredit And Micropower Networks

September 27, 2011

Grateful Dead Shakedown Street

I do not believe Europe is pursuing a solution that will solve its economic crisis. Austerity suits Goldman Sachs’s and J.P. Morgan’s strategy of enrichment through asset stripping at the expense of governments and their increasingly impoverished taxpayers, but it will only increase unemployment and government deficits. I predict the collapse of the European economy as well as our own from the ramifications of European collapse and our pigheaded plunge into austerity.

In The View From The Center Of The Universe (Riverhead Books 2006) at p. 261, Dr. Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams state:

The world is at a turning point. Not the turning point of this election cycle, not even the turning point of a lifetime., but a turning point that can happen only once in the evolution of a planet. Some may dismiss this as a ridiculous exaggeration, since it is so unlikely that such a momentous turning point would occur in our short lifetimes. Unlikely or not, it is here. If we take our cosmic role seriously and let our largest selves find the sanest way across the mountains we can come down the other side having created a stable and wise long term civilization that will allow our descendants to benefit from the amazingly benign conditions of our beautiful planet. If we don’t they may curse us forever.

The human population of the world has exploded since 1900 and now stands at nearly 7 billion people. For the previous 2,000 years before 1900, it had increased very slowly and no one had lived through a doubling of the population. However, since 1900, it has quadrupled. Primack and Abrams point out at page 254,

Experts dispute how many people the earth can support, but no one seriously proposes that the earth can sustain another population doubling.

Meanwhile, selfish, über rich, nihilistic, and willfully ignorant humans addicted to greed, money, and power are endangering our mother, Gaia. The industrial revolution is headed toward collapse driven by the systematic rape and exploitation of Gaia’s natural resources, principally oil and other fossil fuels, by behemoth multinational corporations owned by Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and the other too big to fail banks (TBTF).

Muhammad Yunnus and Jeremy Rifkin have shown us a way to cross the mountains and create a stable, sustainable, and wise long-term civilization.

Yunnus created the first microcredit program in Bangladesh. In 1976 when he was an economics professor at Chittagong University he created the Grameen (Village) Bank to lend money to poor people, mostly women, to use in generating income without requiring collateral.

With assistance from his students, he began by selecting the poorest of the poor and organizing borrowers into small homogenous groups of five people. He would lend a small amount of money to 2 members of each group to use in generating income and require them to repay the loan at 16% interest in weekly installments over the course of a year. The purpose of creating a group was provide a support network for the borrower and a group incentive or peer pressure to repay the loan in timely fashion. Eligibility for a subsequent loan was dependent on having repaid the existing loan.

Ongoing support was provided by the bank staff to assist the people in each group to self-select quick income generating activities that employ the skills that borrowers already posses. Loans and ongoing supervision, which included raising political and social consciousness and providing education about basic economics, sanitation, health, and family planning were accomplished by meeting with the borrowers in their homes, rather than making them travel to the city. To maximize transparency, meetings with groups of borrowers took place in a common area in village centers.

As borrowers repaid their loans successfully, the program was gradually expanded to provide credit for housing, construction of sanitary latrines, installation of tubewells that supply drinking water and irrigation for kitchen gardens.

The borrowers own 90% of the Grameen Bank. The government owns the remaining 10%. Since inception, the bank has loaned $11.11 billion.

The Grameen Bank’s microcredit program has been a phenomenal success with a 95% repayment rate on loans and in 2006, Dr. Yunnus and the Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In Jeremy Rifkin’s new book, The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World (Palgrave MacMillan 2011), he emphasizes the democratization of energy by the use of micropower to generate and store hydrogen in order to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels and create a sustainable lifestyle that literally transforms the world.

From his new book released today:

In the mid 1990s it dawned on me that a new convergence of communication and energy was in the offing. Internet technology and renewable energies were about to merge to create a powerful new infrastructure for a Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) that would change the world. In the coming era hundreds of millions of people will produce their own green energy in their homes, offices, and factories and share it with each other in an energy internet just like we now create and share information online. The democratization of energy will bring with it a fundamental reordering of human relationships impacting the very way we conduct business,govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life.

We do not have much time to take back our government from the criminal banksters and prevent the economic collapse and plunge into the black hole of world wide depression.

October2011.org

Cross-posted at Firedoglake/MyFDL and the Smirking Chimp

The Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional And Insane

September 22, 2011

I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases. Period.

I have many reasons. Here are a few of them.

First and foremost, I oppose it because it is immoral. That it is imposed following a jury trial and appellate review, does not wash the defendant’s blood off the jury’s hands and, by extension, our hands because state sanctioned premeditated murder is still premeditated murder. No government ever should be in the business of killing its own people.

Second, death penalty cases typically cost more than three times the cost of incarcerating a defendant to life without possibility of parole.

Third, the death penalty has no deterrent effect. It does not reduce homicide rates. In fact, the opposite is true. Homicide rates are highest in the states that have a death penalty and lowest in the states that do not have a death penalty.

Fourth, our criminal justice system is so infected with racism, corrupt, and broken that it is impossible to know for certain if any given defendant committed the crime charged and, if he did, whether he deserves the death penalty, as opposed to life without parole.

Most people do not know that under our laws there is no murder, however heinous or depraved, that automatically results in a death sentence. When a jury convicts a defendant of a death eligible offense, the case proceeds to a sentencing phase in which the jury ultimately must decide whether the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating evidence (typically the murder and the defendant’s prior record, if any) so outweighs the mitigating evidence (evidence about the defendant and his role in committing the murder) that the defendant should forfeit his life. Assuring consistency that similarly situated defendants convicted of committing similar murders are consistently sentenced to life without possibility of parole instead of death, or vice versa, has proven to be impossible within states, let alone between states.

In Callins v. Collins, 510 U.S. 1141 (1994), Justice Harry Blackmun dissented from the United States Supreme Court’s denial of review in a death penalty case stating,

From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. For more than 20 years I have endeavored — indeed, I have struggled — along with a majority of this Court, to develop procedural and substantive rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor. Rather than continue to coddle the Court’s delusion that the desired level of fairness has been achieved and the need for regulation eviscerated, I feel morally and intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed. It is virtually self-evident to me now that no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent constitutional deficiencies. The basic question — does the system accurately and consistently determine which defendants “deserve” to die? — cannot be answered in the affirmative. It is not simply that this Court has allowed vague aggravating circumstances to be employed, see, e. g., Arave v. Creech, 507 U. S. 463 (1993), relevant mitigating evidence to be disregarded, see, e. g., Johnson v. Texas, 509 U. S. 350 (1993), and vital judicial review to be blocked, see, e. g., Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U. S. 722 (1991). The problem is that the inevitability of factual, legal, and moral error gives us a system that we know must wrongly kill some defendants, a system that fails to deliver the fair, consistent, and reliable sentences of death required by the Constitution.

He concluded,

Perhaps one day this Court will develop procedural rules or verbal formulas that actually will provide consistency, fairness, and reliability in a capital sentencing scheme. I am not optimistic that such a day will come. I am more optimistic, though, that this Court eventually will conclude that the effort to eliminate arbitrariness while preserving fairness “in the infliction of [death] is so plainly doomed to failure that it—and the death penalty— must be abandoned altogether.” Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U. S. 420, 442 (1980) (Marshall, J., concurring in judgment). I may not live to see that day, but I have faith that eventually it will arrive. The path the Court has chosen lessens us all. I dissent.

Justice Blackmun was a conservative Republican who believed strongly in the death penalty when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. As you can see, he finally reached the conclusion that it is impossible to fairly and equitably decide who lives and who dies. I reached the same conclusion, based on my 30 years of experience as a lawyer specializing in death penalty defense and forensics.

Justice Blackmun died in 1999.