Archive for the ‘Revolution’ 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.

Occupy: What To Do If You Are Subpoenaed To Testify Before A Federal Grand Jury

October 17, 2011

Author’s Note: I published this at Firedoglake/MyFDL on October 6, 2010 just after people, who had protested at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis in 2008, were subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Chicago investigating them to determine if they had provided material support to terrorists and/or a terrorist group.

I am reposting it here a little over a year later because I suspect it may be useful information to some of my readers, especially those in the Occupy Everywhere movement.

I was a criminal defense lawyer for 30 years and a law professor for 3 years. I represented many clients over the years in federal court, so I have a lot of experience representing people subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury.

State grand juries generally work the same way but are significantly less often used aggressively as federal prosecutors typically use them.


A grand jury consists of 17 to 23 citizens who generally meet once per week for a term of 18 months to hear witness testimony, review documentary evidence, and vote on issuing indictments, which is the formal legal term for the government’s charging document in a criminal case. The indictment lists the defendant(s) and each charge is set out separately in what lawyers refer to as counts identifying the criminal statute alleged to have been violated, the name(s) of the defendant(s) who is alleged to have violated the statute, the on-or-about date of the offense, and a very short description of the act that is alleged to constitute the crime.

Pursuant to the Fifth Amendment, all federal felony prosecutions must be by grand jury indictment, unless the defendant waives his right to be prosecuted by indictment and agrees to be prosecuted by information. This means federal prosecutors present their cases to a grand jury together with the indictment and ask the grand jury to review and approve the indictment.

The members of the grand jury vote on whether the government has presented sufficient evidence to establish probable cause that the defendant(s) committed the crime(s) charged in each count of the indictment. Twelve members must vote to approve the indictment, and if that happens, the foreperson of the grand jury signs and returns, or hands down the indictment, which is filed in the District Court Clerk’s Office. Grand juries rarely ever refuse to indict.

Grand juries meet in secret and its members take an oath never to discuss what happens inside the grand jury room. The only other people present in the room when the grand jury is in session are a court reporter who transcribes the proceedings, a federal prosecutor who presents the government’s case, the case agent who is the law enforcement officer in charge of the investigation, and the witness who is testifying. Witnesses may appear with counsel, but their attorney must wait outside the grand jury room while the witness is testifying. The witness must answer all questions truthfully under penalty of perjury. The witness can request a recess in response to a question in order to consult with counsel outside the grand jury room. The witness may refuse to answer any question on the ground that a truthful answer might tend to incriminate the witness, or lead to the discovery of evidence that might tend to incriminate the witness. Since the Fifth Amendment protects this privilege to refuse to answer, no witness can be punished for refusing to answer a question on the basis of asserting the Fifth Amendment. Properly subpoenaed witnesses who refuse to appear before the grand jury, or who appear but refuse to answer questions without asserting the Fifth Amendment, may be held in contempt of the grand jury and jailed until such time as they agree to answer the question, or the grand jury term expires, whichever happens first.

Let’s say Sally Jones is subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury on November 19, 2010. She contacts a lawyer and retains him to represent her. What does the lawyer do?

The lawyer contacts the federal prosecutor and asks her whether his client is a target, subject, or witness. Targets are people whom the prosecutor intends to charge in the indictment. Subjects are people whom the prosecutor might charge, but would prefer to use to strengthen the government’s case against the target(s). By use, I mean to testify against the target(s) at the grand jury and at the subsequent trial, if the target refuses to plead guilty and insists on going to trial. Witnesses have no potential exposure to liability in the underlying case.

If the prosecutor tells the attorney that the client is a target, the attorney tells the prosecutor that his client will be taking the Fifth to all questions and requests that his client be excused or released from the subpoena. Prosecutors usually agree to the request as there is no reason to have the target come in and refuse to answer questions. That would waste everyone’s time and a refusal to answer questions cannot be held against the witness who asserts the privilege. In other words, the grand jury cannot consider a witness’s refusal to answer as evidence of guilt.

If the prosecutor tells the attorney that the client is a subject, the attorney will typically respond by asking the prosecutor what he wants in exchange for immunity. What does this mean?

As is the case with the target, the subject also can assert the Fifth and refuse to answer questions. There is an exception, however, and it’s called immunity. In other words, the prosecutor promises not to charge the subject with any crime based on the answers provided by the subject, unless the subject lies, in which case the prosecutor reserves the right to prosecute the subject for perjury. Once immunized, the subject no longer can assert the Fifth Amendment because her answers no longer have the potential of incriminating her, due to the immunity promise. Therefore, the witness has to answer, or be held in contempt for refusing to answer. As I said previously, that means she goes to jail and stays there until she answers or the grand jury term expires, whichever happens first. This is a tough situation to be in.

Usually a prosecutor wants some blood too and insists on the client pleading guilty to some offense that will involve some prison time. Welcome to the let’s-make-a-deal game, or plea bargaining. The prosecutor’s offer will typically be contingent on reviewing a proffer of what the client would say regarding her involvement in the crime(s) that the prosecutor is investigating. The proffer is initially provided by the client’s attorney in a rough summary form. That is usually followed up by a meeting with the prosecutor and the case agent at the prosecutor’s office. Attorney and client show up at the appointed hour. They review and sign a document that exempts their discussions and the information that the client is about to reveal from being used against the client in the future, unless the client lies, or blurts out a confession to some other crime for which she is not being investigated such as a murder, for example. Sometimes the client will be required to submit to a polygraph, although that is a relatively rare event. Then the negotiations begin in earnest. Eventually, an agreement will be reached, or the talks will break down and the client will be indicted along with the target(s) or forced to sit out the grand jury term in jail for contempt in refusing to answer.

What about the antiwar protesters in Minneapolis and Chicago who have been subpoenaed to appear and testify before the grand jury investigating potential violations of the laws prohibiting terrorism or materially contributing to terrorism?

Each person needs to consult with counsel and hopefully lawyers will come to their assistance and provide representation on a pro bono basis, because this looks like a political prosecution and fishing expedition to intimidate people exercising their constitutional right to dissent from government policy. There probably aren’t any targets at this point. Targets obviously should take the Fifth. There may not even be any subjects. Whatever the case may be, anyone who has any potential exposure should seriously consider refusing to answer questions on the ground that their answer might tend to incriminate them. The District Court Clerk’s Office will appoint counsel to represent anyone who cannot afford counsel.

No one has to explain why they believe their answer might tend to incriminate them because forcing them to answer in order to explain why they are asserting the privilege would defeat the purpose of the privilege, right? Y’all can see that, I hope. Nevertheless, refusing to answer a question like what’s your name, might reasonably be expected to cause a certain detectable level of unpleasantness that could morph into a go-to-jail card for contempt. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a lawyer to assist in negotiating potential troublesome areas where an assertion of the privilege might be legitimate but still create a problem if the expected answer would not reasonably be expected to reveal incriminating information.

I noticed in the piece that I read that people have announced that they are not going to appear in response to the subpoena. That could result and probably will result in the arrest of everyone who refuses to appear unless their appearance is excused ahead of time. This is another reason for everyone to get a lawyer as the lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor that the client did not violate any law and doesn’t have any information that anyone else violated any laws.

The dangerous legal bramble bush in this case is the definition of what constitutes “material support” for terrorism. That is the danger zone for each witness because the prosecution and the defense probably will disagree as to what it means. The court will look at the statutory definition, but I believe there may still be a gray area where reasonable people might disagree regarding whether certain conduct constitutes material support. Ironically, this uncertainty should expand the scope of the Fifth Amendment privilege to cover any activity involving planning and organizing protests that might be construed as providing material support for terrorism. The First Amendment Freedom of Speech Clause also comes into play, so sorting this out may get a little dicey.

People who are offered immunity deals in exchange for cooperation and testimony will be in a tough spot because they have to answer questions or be held in contempt and go to jail. Some people may decide to do that on principle, but I urge people to withhold making a decision about that until they have consulted with counsel.

For all of these reasons, I strongly encourage everyone who has been subpoenaed to please consult with a lawyer before deciding on a course of action. Although I’ve packed lots of information in this diary, I haven’t covered everything by any means. I’ll try to answer questions in the comments. I encourage any lawyers who read this to please join the discussion and comment, as the spirit moves you.


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?


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.




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.

Cross-posted at Firedoglake/MyFDL and the Smirking Chimp