Welcome to the Homepage of Alan Stuart Graf
Civil Rights, Environmental and Disability Lawyer
Legal Practice Limited to Oregon and Tennessee
Lover of Bluegrass Music and Traditional Mountain Music
See www.hippielawyer.libsyn.com for the music
Check out my new book: "I Inhaled, Rantings, Ramblings and Ravings of a Hippie Lawyer"
now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other distributors in e-book or hard copy.
March 3, 2015
Just the other day I received an email from an old friend telling me that she remembered the music and times we spent together and that she really appreciated me, my guitar playing and our friendship. There is an old expression "make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold." In a few days I turn 65 years old and in looking back at my life, I treasure all of the times I made real deep connections with folks. That is the stuff the sticks in your memories, and that is the stuff that you will remember the moment you pass on to the deep mystery. Its your emotional retirement fund, a fund that you can draw from when you remember that special moment in time when two created something bigger than one plus one--a friendship.
February 27, 2015
Today, I found myself in an unlikely place and time. Being a lawyer I need to keep up with my continuing legal education credits, so I registered for a course in International Litigation, and Transactions held in North Miami. This morning I listened to a CEO of a company called "The Legacy Company" rate and rave about how much he hated President Obama and how regulation was killing the entrepreneurial spirit of America.
What was interesting to me was that this fellow completely ignored the speaker next to him who was a federal agent who told us that international drug trafficking was now taking a back seat to human trafficking. The agent also spoke about how many companies continue to be found guilty of environmental crimes. So it appeared to me that diluting or removing regulations that this CEO of the Legacy Company recommended would actually lead to more criminality. The whining that regulation was driving business overseas is just whining from people who are filthy rich and want to get richer at the expense of the civilized world. Mega-businesses have shown that they are inherently untrustworthy. The bottom line of a mega-corporation, a soul-less entity, is to make more money. There is NO internal incentive to improve conditions for humanity or to improve the environment contained within the corporate charter. There is a concept entitled "The Tragedy of The Commons." The Commons is our shared wealth of resources: the air, the water, the land and the sea. It also includes the chemical- environmental, and magical interconnection of life and how each species plays a part in the greater good. Corporations have no recognition of the Commons, yet draw from the resources of the Commons, as if they were entitled to do so, without ever paying for those withdrawals. Yet the whining and complaining continues from these corporate free-loaders. Thus, the tragedy of The Commons.
February 18, 2015
I run a bluegrass jam circle. The circle is open to everyone who brings an instrument and/or who wants to sing. We mostly play Appalachian traditional mountain music, but we play other songs as well. As the evening proceeds, the people in the circle start to feel more and more comfortable with each other. A certain level of camaraderie takes place. Each person starts to enjoy and appreciate what others are doing and the circle becomes more centered on the music taking place, than any particular person's contribution. The customers sit around the circle, clap and hoot and holler and by the end of the night, the circle has become an intimate gathering, where people look at each other in the eyes, express gratitude towards each other, get loose and be funny and silly. Its a gathering at a bar and grill that is down home and perhaps even a spiritual event. You never know where it can happen, where boundaries can break down and where people share their common humanity. That's one good reason why I love to pick it.
February 13, 2015
Regarding the retirement of John Stewart from the Daily Show:
January 27, 2015
When you find yourself down, depressed, disillusioned and disappointed in yourself and in your life, there is a way out. Look around you and figure out how you can elevate and assist someone else. There are millions, perhaps billions of people here on the planet that could use your assistance. Assistance can take the form of simply providing someone the right time of day. Or you can take it further and make a real, genuine and authentic connection with another human being. When that happens in whatever form, maybe just for a moment you will forget yourself and your own misery.
January 9, 2015
I am Charlie.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell
I agree. Today and tomorrow, I am Charlie.
December 31, 2014--New Years Eve Resolutions
A number of years ago, when I first graduated from law school, I worked as a clerk for a few different local state judges. I had a good relationship with the first one, but the second judge and I just didn't hit it off. So one day, he called me into his office and told me I was fired. I was blown and thought that the consequences of getting fired by a judge could ruin my legal reputation and my entire nascent legal career. So I groveled and begged and made the case that he never told me what he didn't like about me before he gave me the axe. I argued that he didn't give me a chance to change and improve myself. Being a good man and a good judge, he agreed that he had not given me a chance to change. So he changed his mind, told me I was on probation and gave me a list of all the stuff he didn't like about my job performance. And, I took advantage of that criticism, and made the appropriate changes. He kept me on the job and we became friends through these changes. I would later stop by his office when at the courthouse to say hello as those events brought us closer together as people.
So here we are at the end of a year and the beginning of the next year. In the Jewish Religion, at the beginning of the Jewish New Year, it is said that God gives you a chance to straighten up your act. You get to wipe the slate clean and start anew. So, I am thinking that we can make this white peoples' new year anything we want it to be. It could be a meaningless event, or a get shit-faced event or it could be a clean-slate-I-am-going-to-get-it-together this year's event. Knowing myself, the reality is that I might make a lofty promise that may or may not come to pass. Now if my job depended upon it, I would do better than try, right? What if my life depended upon my choices, or what if other peoples' lives depended upon the choices I make for the coming year? Is that what's happening or do we need some God or Goddess to declare tonight that we are all on probation? Or must the consequences be so obvious and instantaneous to have any personal meaning? That sounds like the definition of maturity. It all boils down to Wah-Wah, or Shit-Yeah.
December 28, 2014Being sick---I have been struggling with a chest cold/cough that doesn't seem to want to go away despite three rounds of antibiotics, cortisone and other medicines. From an emotional level, I have felt sorry for myself, complained a lot and spent some time wallowing in my own misery. But last night during one long late night coughing spell I remembered reading something years ago about the mythological nature of sickness. When you are sick for a long time, you withdraw from that busy beaver life, frenetic, scheduled, looking forward to the next event lifestyle-to a more quiet, enduring level of consciousness, where your mythological beings start to arise from slumber and your vision changes to one where, the frivolous and meaningless fillers in your life retreat to the back burner. Your inner self starts to feel like it finally has a chance to be heard amidst the chatter. Look, maybe I am just trying to woo-woo/rationalize myself out of being miserable. But can anyone relate to this?
December 28, 2014
The struggles of authors, musicians and artists: We don't as a society award and recognize sufficiently our artists, musicians and authors. To embark upon a road where you depend upon your creativity to pay the bills is an almost foolhardy venture. Yet, I can think of nothing more important to the human race than the gift of art. For all of our neurosis, wars, games, and dumb shit stuff that we do--we still produce art. Art is a good reason and justification for the continuing existence of our species. Having just published a book and having it bomb as to sales and reviews, I have gotten a better understanding as to what it means to be an artist and having to complete in the market place with your art. You start to feel like an insurance salesman having to promote your soul just so you can make the next car payment. So, what I am asking is that any of you who read this, think about telling your creative brothers and sisters that you really appreciate their art and their life's works. They will appreciate your appreciation. Its an investment in the future.
December 27, 2014
Along the lines of my critique of police and the police state that I write about below, today hundreds of policeman turned their backs on the Mayor New York City during a funeral for one of the slain policemen. The reasoning behind this massive show of disrespect was that the Mayor had allegedly encouraged anti-police sentiment by telling his African-American son to be careful when around police. The police have become an entity that is different from any other governmental body of civil servants. What if members of the Internal Revenue Service turned their backs on the U.S. Congress for criticizing them? Would anyone think that is absurd? Why do the police as a governmental entity believe that they are above criticism? And that any sort of critique of their performance allegedly encourages violence against them? They have the badges, their guns and the force of the law behind them. Historically, they are pretty much unaccountable in regards to grand jury proceedings for use of excessive force as we have seen recently in Ferguson and Staten Island. So, now the police have taken a step further. By their massive demonstration of disrespect to a Mayor who believes in the First Amendment, they tell us that they are behind reproach. They cannot be criticized. They are all powerful and anyone who questions them should leave office. This is not what the forefathers of this country envisioned in putting together the Bill of Rights. Community policing turns on trust, trust by the community to the police. If the police hold themselves out as beyond reproach, there will be no trust, and their job of keeping the peace will be that much more difficult.
December 23, 2014
Here is a critique of my analysis noted below about the police serving and being protected by their corporate masters-and my response to that critique:
I'm sorry Alan, I can't agree with your analysis. The primary role of the police is to enforce the criminal laws and to keep the peace by deterring crime. It's a difficult and often thankless job, but it is necessary. There are some who abuse the power that comes with the badge, and we certainly need greater accountability in those cases, but without the police, the weak would always be at the mercy of the strong. Creativity may be a close cousin to chaos and anarchy, but it is not the same thing.
Your point is well taken. And I don't intend my analysis to come off as black and white. But if the police are there to protect the weak against the strong, why isn't the focus of the police on mega-corporate crime? Don't you think that releasing mega-toxins into the atmosphere and water reach the level of crimes against humanity? How about how Wall Street caused the last great recession and has since been awarded less regulation instead of punishment for their crimes. The main job of the police is to police the rabble (that's us) and keep the 99% contained. Yeh, they also serve in protecting us against violent criminals. But how about Dick Cheney? He allowed torture to happen. He encouraged it and now he defends it on national tv. The Times agrees with me in part. Yesterday they came out with an editorial recommending prosecution for Cheney. How would you feel if any murderer was allowed to be free and advocate for his position? How would you feel if that torturer was rewarded for their crimes against humanity? That happens only when the murderer and torturer is rich and corporate based.
The weakening and fatal dilution of the Fourth Amendment has stemmed from the decisions of conservative judges who mostly represent rich corporate interests. Why did the Brennans and Marshalls resist giving police too much power, but lose that struggle to the Rhenquists and Scalias? Because police power and corporate interests are mostly one and the same.
I stand by my analysis that that police's main reason for being is to serve as the King's army and enact the will of the King, who currently serves his corporate masters.
December 22, 2014
The NY Times reports that the police union leader is saying the Mayor of New York is responsible for the murders of the two policeman, because he "sided with the protestors." Wow, the absurdity of this statement also contains some truth to it. It tells us what the real role of the police are. The primary role of the police in Western society is to be the border patrol between the rich and the poor. The police are there to protect the one percent against the 99% rising up and claiming what is rightfully theirs. Reagan fired the traffic controllers, but no government official would ever dream of firing the police. They are the materialist society's sacred cows which includes capitalist, communist, socialist and fascist societies that are based upon tight economic control. HG Wells wrote a book entitled the Time Machine where a time traveler journeys into the future and discovers that humans have evolved into two species: the flower children and the Morlocks. The flower children live in the daylight care free lives eating, playing and writing poetry. They are fed and taken care of the Morlocks who live underground. But when the air raid sirens go off, the flower children mindlessly enter tunnels which take them underground to where the Morlocks live and they are then eaten by the Morlocks.
HG Well gave us a sci-fi hyperbole of Western Culture. The police (Morlocks) are there to protect us (the flower children) from ourselves. The cops are given extraordinary powers, guns, badges and the force of law. We see clearly from the recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island, to name just a few, that there is no accountability for the deadly use of force by the police. We empower them be fully powered and use their power in an unfettered and unrestricted manner. The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution is in name only and is a homeopathic version of its former self. The 1% want to keep it that way. This is simple outgrowth of feudal society, the primary goal of which is to maintain the socio-economic status as it is. Vertical movement in the economic system is promised but it is more the exception than the rule. That is why the Hunger Games have been so popular, because those movies also state the obvious. Only the very skilled and lucky are able to break out of the societal role assigned to them.
The police are there to keep law and order. Chaos, anarchy and the close cousin, creativity is frowned up. The blue code is strong and formidable and would not show its ugly face unless the police knew that they were completely supported and protected by the ruling class. What the police are saying is that First Amendment activities are a threat to their ability to maintain the line between the rich and the poor. In this regard, the police are correct.
Eve of December 20, 2014
We come upon the end of the year celebrating the festival of lights and the holiday of Christmas, the birth of Jesus. Both holidays have become commercialized and contain aspects of disingenuous expressions of good will towards all, as some folks that express those alleged feelings continue to exploit those around them. But the fakery, the commerciality and the un-authenticity of Christmas should not distract us or take away from the genuine part of it. The good will that comes with this celebration of the birth of Jesus, the heightened generosity of people who are not normally generous and the greater appreciation of the people around you, friends and family, are expressions of humanity's higher self. Instead of engaging in self doubt or skepticism about the holiday season, its better to see its potential as again a time and place where we, humanity, can restart, recharge, clear the deck and start a new. We have a choice, we can hold on to grudges, hold on to past sour attitudes, OR start a new with a fresh, loving mind. And we can use this holiday opportunity to reach out to people you didn't feel comfortable with connecting with before. Each pebble we throw into the global field of consciousness, creates a ripple in our collective minds and hearts. If enough positive pebbles are thrown, it can become a wave of love that heals and strikes a note within our heart. And on that note, I reach out to all of you my friends and family and wish you the best in the year to come in whatever endeavor, struggle or venture you may undertake. Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
December 20, 2014
President Obama is showing that in the last two years of an eight-year term, a US President can actually be effective and live up to his election rhetoric. This latest move by Obama in recognizing Cuba and starting the process of normalization is big. You can tell just by the multiple positive reactions from our southern neighbors. Howdy there South American neighbors! Pragmatism over fundamentalism is the big winner. Obama's agreement with the Chinese to start to take action to reduce carbon emissions is another big one. And his moves over immigration and advocating for net neutrality, remind me of why I voted for this guy in the first place. The Republicans are the party of NO. "Working with them" is an illusion and it appears that finally some Democratic President understands the futility of this.
Here is a section from the Epilogue of my book "I Inhaled, Rantings, Ramblings and Ravings of a Hippie Lawyer" that says this in another way:
We got some bigger challenges on our plate that involve our collective fate, destiny, and legacy as humans on this big wonderful planet. The two big ones I see are climate change and fundamentalism. If you are paying attention, you know what I mean about climate change and, in particular, how our consumer-based lifestyles are demolishing the planet.
And fundamentalism goes hand in hand with climate change. It’s a huge defect of the human psyche, in which one believes that his/her beliefs are absolute and there are no other valid viewpoints. Look at the Middle East. People are killing each other because of slightly, even hair-splitting-ly different religious views. And check out "our" Tea Party. They will oppose anything President Obama proposes, mostly because he is a really intelligent and savvy African-American, which, in and of itself, is threatening to them. It is their worn out, old, stupid, racist way or the highway.
And, on the home front, the collective ability to rationalize lifestyles that are killing the planet is a subset of our fundamentalist approach to self-assessment. It simply comes down to the fact that we are not being honest with ourselves.
December 18, 2014
“Love involves energy exchange. Love involves
the flow of one stream of consciousness into another. Love is a
creation of something new and different from the old. The old does
not die in the process of love, it just becomes something new and
different. That is also the process of living and dying.”
Excerpt From: Alan Stuart Graf. “I inhaled: Rantings, Ramblings and Ravings of a Hippie Lawyer.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=931300408
December 16, 2014
I just read about the slaughter of over 100 children in Pakistan--in the name of religion by the Taliban. If this is what religion is about, can I say I hate religion. I hate fundamentalism, I despise the views of some that their way is righteous, righteous enough to justify the slaughter of children. Is there any humanity, any heart, any justification for this? I understand that this was a tit for tat repaying of the slaughter of innocents by the Pakistani government. But where does it end? Where does it begin? When will we as a species, race, people decide that enough is enough? I am deeply saddened and my heart goes out to the families of these lost children. I pray that something will change, possibly within the internal wiring of the human race and stop this killing.
December 11, 2014
George Washington has been rumored to have said
Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]..I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require....for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country. Washington's charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, September 14, 1775
After the battle of Trento in December 1776, Washington discovered that some of his troops were going to run some the British Empires mercenaries through the "gauntlet" and he intervened and issued the following order to his troops regarding prisoners of war:
Treat then with humanity, and let then have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands.
I thank an anonymous writer in the NY Times for the quote used above.
Many of us who are paying attention understand that these recent revelations about the CIA aren't anything new other than revealing that they have raised their level of immoral conduct to where there there is no level of misconduct or torture that cannot be justified. These latest revelations are additions to a long line of bad deeds which include assassinations, interfering with elections and years of installing or keeping ruthless dictators in power who are friendly to "our interests." The term "our interests" is really more associated with the interests of the mega-international corporations who are there to feed the addictive consumerism of the masses. Around 1975, there was a great movie that was put out entitled "Three Days of the Condor" starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. In it the CIA puts out a hit on an entire building of lower CIA operatives. Why? Because these operatives discovered the bigger secret plan which was to manipulate Mid-East countries through assassinations, interfering with elections and keeping in power ruthless dictators in power. At the end of the movie, Robert Redford, is about to enter the New York Times building and tell all. A top CIA operative tells him basically that he shouldn't do this and points to all the people in the streets of Manhattan. The operative tells Robert the following "these folks don't want to know what means we use to protect their interests--as long as the energy keeps flowing, they would rather be kept in the dark and allow us continue what we do."
December 9, 2014
Today the long awaited report on CIA torture came out. To anyone paying attention the details of torture by the CIA and their systematic lying to Congress, coverups and secret renditions are no surprise. I guess the best part of this is that it is a government report admitting wrong doing. In my book "I Inhaled, Rantings, Ramblings and Ravings of a Hippie Lawyer" I have a chapter entitled We Beat the Nazis and They is Us." Here is a section from that chapter:
In the process of fighting the Nazis, we became a little more like them. I credit Stephen Gaskin for giving me this insight, and I agree. We didn't have a CIA before World War II. After the War, our clandestine covert activities exploded. Fueled by our sense of self-righteousness from being the good guys who won, we justified untold dirty deeds in Central America, destroying fledgling democracies in Guatemala (the unseating of Arbenz), and we supported and maintained ruthless military dictators in Nicaragua, Cuba and Iran (to mention a few).
So the development of the CIA to a secret unfettered untamed organization with an agenda all of its own fueled by a untouchable sense of self-righteousness, is something that has been going on, growing and being cultivated for a long, long time. It always amazes me to see Western style broadcasters all sharing the basic unspoken assumption that we, mostly white Western Civilization are the righteous amidst a planet of barbarians. But pit one group's self-righteous and even religious based motivations against another, and you end up with a present day version of the Crusades. This time though, the weaponry developed by those "righteous" Western Civilized folks with a history of being handed out like candy to ruthless dictators, now in the hands of whoever threw them from power exponentially raises the stakes of these global conflicts. I wonder how long can hate endure? A long, long time. Nelson Mandela understood this concept probably better than most. And he had justification for hating, but he understood, that fueling and feeding the hate was a never ending cycle that he chose to rise above and requested from his people the same. A true Tzaddick in the Jewish tradition.
I applaud the New York Times editorial board for talking about full disclosure yet forgiveness. But perhaps forgiveness is best given by the people most injured by the years of Western Imperialism and CIA torture-- The drone attacks, the smart bomb casualties, and the children who are listed as "collateral damage." Can you forgive us as we ask
Oh CIA what have you done in our name?
December 8, 2014
There have been times in the history of humanity, where, as Carl Jung would have put it, a groundswell of consciousness comes about. In the dream state, at times we can all tap into the collective subconscious mind of humanity. And the demonstrations against the police and ultimately against those who fund and empower the police are a manifestation of this collective subconscious. This came about when Eastern Europe rebelled against its Soviet masters and the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. There are those who play on the fears of the masses and use those fears to manipulate so that they can remain in power. Only through our own efforts at raising our own self awareness, can we understand and empower ourselves to rise about the massvie manipulations.
The videos recently posted on Youtube of the police riots in Berkeley, bring us back full circle to the free speech movement in Berkeley almost a half a century ago. Those of us now getting older may feel worried that the world is not as stable as we would like it to be. But stability is also a sign of stagnation and change, true fundamental change can only happen with a disturbance in the pond of collective consciousness. Creativity and anarchy are close cousins while order and stability resist.
Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)(former name)
"Leonard Weinglass in Defense of Civil Liberties 2006 Award"
Oregon Trial Lawyers 2005
Arthur J. Bryant Public Justice Award.