Friday, February 10, 2017

Trump's Blessing; More Unrestrained Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil Asset Forfeiture has become a very hot topic as of late, mostly because of egregious acts by law enforcement to enrich their departments, and in some cases themselves.  Today I stumbled upon an article in Reason.com detailing a conversation between county sheriffs from around the country and our President Trump.  What is most disheartening is the complete lack of comprehension by our idiot-in-chief that the system in place is being abused and puts a monetary motive before the rights of the individual.  I'm not advocating for drug dealers here, I'm simply saying that the practice is actually being motivated not by wanting to keep the US safe from those who would seek to undermine its laws, but purely on increasing the budget of police departments at the expense of those citizens who may choose to carry large amounts of cash; last I was aware, carrying cash, in any amount, was not a crime in and of itself.

See for yourself:
As Nick Gillespie noted, Trump's knee-jerk support for civil asset forfeiture is troubling, especially in light of a growing bipartisan consensus that the practice should be reformed or abolished because it hurts innocent property owners and warps law enforcement priorities. Worse, the White House transcript of the president's remarks about forfeiture shows he literally does not know what he is talking about, which suggests this "law and order" president is happy to go along with whatever cops want, even if he has no idea what it is.
What is the most telling is the way that President Trump seemed to completely miss the intention of what Civil Asset Forfeiture actually seizes:
Even though Aubrey talks about "tak[ing] money from dope dealers" and Boente refers to "narcotics proceeds and other proceeds of crime," Trump initially seems to think asset forfeiture is what happens when police seize "a huge stash of drugs." He is puzzled that anyone would say the cops should return a pile of cocaine or heroin to a drug dealer, because "you would think they'd want this stuff taken away."
Eventually Trump seems to get that it's money (or other assets) the cops are taking, but he still assumes it's money lying next to a huge stash of drugs—as opposed to, say, the savings of a hapless college student, the winnings of innocent poker players, or the bank account of a convenience store owner whose deposits the IRS deemed suspiciously small. Trump is baffled as to why anyone would want to stop the cops from taking drug dealers' profits.
Time will only tell how law enforcement will view this Presidential blessing to seize innocent people's money and property, but there are states working to both make it easier, like Oklahoma, or harder, like California & Florida, for Civil Asset Forfeiture to be executed in such carte blanche fashion.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Conscience of an Agent

The immigration debate has become a real test of conscience to the average American trying to go out and do their job as a TSA agent, border guard or other law enforcement agent that were included under the recent Executive Order.  Unfortunately those caught up in having to do their jobs seem to be failing the moral test over and over again, and I only hope that those with the ethical mind and heart to do what is right will stand up for American values, Constitutional rights and human dignity in a time where divisive rhetoric is heavily weighing on interpersonal relationships while drummed up fears of the Muslim Boogie-Man cast a shadow on critical thinking, common sense and family values.

The question we need to ask ourselves is: What will we do? This is not a hypothetical question. Most of us will not face the stark choice employees at airports faced over the weekend. But we are all democratic citizens. Ultimately, our government can only act if we allow it to act. Under our Constitution, the people rule. Our elected officials, including the president, are accountable to us. We possess the power to reject actions we see as out of bounds. We are used to doing this in elections, but democratic tools go further. Even once an election is over, we can exercise our First Amendment rights to contact elected officials, speak, write and protest.

Chris Edelson; Ordinary Americans carried out inhumane acts for Trump - Baltimore Sun

Sunday, January 01, 2017

What is this page; why is it here?

A letter from the author,

I've recently found more and more that Facebook is nothing more than an unregulated arena of intellectual futility; a cesspool of fake news, factless claims and hyper partisan opinions. Simply, it's become a place to argue with people who do and don't think like you, using talking points created to distract you from the heart of an issue while not talking about the government policies which actually shape the world around us. To say the least, it's a disheartening place that is only redeemed through videos of cats & dogs being hearteningly adorable.

I'm not going to make the claim that I have all the answers, that I am the smartest guy in the room or that I have an insider's-look into the world of Washington D.C. I will say that of the 35 years I've been on this planet, I've watched both political parties rip America apart in different ways; cater to moneyed special interests and corporate policy-shapers, put their financial gain before their own constituents and whose policy positions will blow like a changing wind when a gust of cash hit's their campaign coffers. It doesn't matter which side we are talking about; Democrats and Republicans both do it, but claiming their is an equal participation is still, probably, a false equivalency.

The United States has lasted 240+ years through a separation of powers, a peaceful transfer of power post-election and through a press that has helped shape the conversations of the hour by both catalyzing and mitigating the discussion of the day. Those mechanisms seemed to have been put in the crosshairs after the Presidential Coup of 2016. I use the word 'coup' not lightly, but accurately, although the purpose of this blog is not to further document the laundry list of empty promises and lies that Donald J. Trump made to the American people, but to highlight the policies he is in fact attempting to put in place and how they are in stark contrast to the values that made the United States into the global destination for persons of all demographics from all corners of this 4.5 billion year old planet we call earth.

So who am I is probably where I should start;
  • A millennial, born with the dual privilege of being a white male with a diverse ethnic history of both Arab and European descent.
  • Raised in a northern midwestern state; a heavily Catholic, heavily white suburb of a major city that was a former heavyweight in industrial & automotive manufacturing.
  • The product of a suburban, stay-at-home mother and a hard working, blue-collar tool & die maker father with a lifetime of practical work experience.
  • College educated and working in heavy equipment as an Automation Engineer; a STEM field that replaces human labor with robots.
  • A student of psychology, sociology, history and current events who appreciates getting to the heart of issues when having a constructive discussion on American politics, government policy & economics.
  • I am not spiritual; irreligious and hostile towards unscientific claims, I attempt to find the facts and quote scientific data when I can, although I'm not opposed to educated opinion.