Archive for the ‘US government’ Category

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Present-day highwaymen is what I’d call them

September 10, 2014

The Institute for Justice has been running a campaign to end civil forfeiture — a topic I mentioned recently with the video about the ‘forfeiture machine’ in Philadelphia.

The IJ contributed to a three-part series in The Washington Post titled Stop and seize. The first installment is a long article but the thing that jumped out at me was this bit (fairly early on).

A thriving subculture of road officers on the network now competes to see who can seize the most cash and contraband, describing their exploits in the network’s chat rooms and sharing “trophy shots” of money and drugs. Some police advocate highway interdiction as a way of raising revenue for cash-strapped municipalities.

“All of our home towns are sitting on a tax-liberating gold mine,” Deputy Ron Hain of Kane County, Ill., wrote in a self-published book under a pseudonym. Hain is a marketing specialist for Desert Snow, a leading interdiction training firm based in Guthrie, Okla., whose founders also created Black Asphalt.

Hain’s book calls for “turning our police forces into present-day Robin Hoods.”

Evidently we’re all fair game now, according to Deputy Hain.

Here are Part 2 and Part 3.

As I often say, RTWT.

And when you have time, pay a visit to the IJ’s EndForfeiture site.

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What he said (4)

August 24, 2014

Jeff sends a link to this post by Kevin Williamson at NR’s The Corner. (It’s the whole post, since it’s not easily excerpted.)

In the Wrong Business, Part 247

The school board of Centinela Valley Union High School District in Los Angeles County is firing its superintendent, Jose Fernandez.

He was paid $750,000 a year. 

That’s three-quarters of a million dollars a year — not to manage some sprawling big-city school system (which would be questionable enough) but to oversee five schools and an independent-study program in the suburbs. 

But not to worry: He was previously paid only about a half-million a year. As the Los Angeles Times reports, “Fernandez’s unusually high compensation was in part the result of a one-time payout of $230,000 he used to increase his pension credits, which would give him a higher annual pension upon his retirement.”

So they were paying him an outrageous sum of money today in order to pay him an even more outrageous sum in the future.

These thieves are why we’re broke.

Amen, brother.

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Policing the police (2)

August 19, 2014

Here’s some follow-up on a post from last December about equipping police officers with body cameras.

Gee, what a surprise!</sarcasm>

What Happens When Police Officers Wear Body Cameras

Use of force by police officers declined 60% in first year since introduction of cameras in Rialto, Calif.

With all eyes on Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the death of Michael Brown, a renewed focus is being put on police transparency. Is the solution body-mounted cameras for police officers?

Sometimes, like the moments leading up to when a police officer decides to shoot someone, transparency is an unalloyed good. And especially lately, technology has progressed to a point that it makes this kind of transparency not just possible, but routine.

So it is in Rialto, Calif., where an entire police force is wearing so-called body-mounted cameras, no bigger than pagers, that record everything that transpires between officers and citizens. In the first year after the cameras’ introduction, the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%.

It isn’t known how many police departments are making regular use of cameras, though it is being considered as a way of perhaps altering the course of events in places such as Ferguson, Mo., where an officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager.

What happens when police wear cameras isn’t simply that tamper-proof recording devices provide an objective record of an encounter—though some of the reduction in complaints is apparently because of citizens declining to contest video evidence of their behavior—but a modification of the psychology of everyone involved.

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Cops into Robbers

August 12, 2014

Today the Institute for Justice will announce a major federal lawsuit on behalf of a group of Philadelphians seeking to end the city’s particularly shocking system of seizing nearly $6 million in property from thousands of its citizens each year.

"Settle" for half the market value indeed. What a racket!

Thank Heaven for IJ; there are No Rights without Property Rights.

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Rand Paul’s FAIR Act

July 26, 2014

It’s legislation like this that impresses me with Rand Paul. As Matt Welch (with Reason) once said, "You have to remind yourself that Senator Paul’s a Republican."

What a guy. Go get ‘em, Tiger.

Sen. Paul Introduces the FAIR Act
Jul 24, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul yesterday introduced S. 2644, the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, which would protect the rights of citizens and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in seizing property without due process of law. Under current law, law enforcement agencies may take property suspected of involvement in crime without ever charging, let alone convicting, the property owner. In addition, state agencies routinely use federal asset forfeiture laws; ignoring state regulations to confiscate and receive financial proceeds from forfeited property.
 
The FAIR Act would change federal law and protect the rights of property owners by requiring that the government prove its case with clear and convincing evidence before forfeiting seized property. State law enforcement agencies will have to abide by state law when forfeiting seized property. Finally, the legislation would remove the profit incentive for forfeiture by redirecting forfeitures assets from the Attorney General’s Asset Forfeiture Fund to the Treasury’s General Fund.
 
“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime. The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime,” Sen. Paul said
 
Click HERE for the FAIR Act legislation text.

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Dear Congressman Smith

April 12, 2014

As a Missouri citizen, I was embarrassed to learn that you’re a Republican for Missouri’s 8th district. Now to be honest, I wouldn’t expect a Republican from the Boot Heel to support a repeal of marijuana prohibition. That’s no surprise.

What was a surprise was reading about your asking the current administration to override the will of those states that have repealed marijuana prohibitions.

Republicans Demand That the Feds Impose Pot Prohibition on States That Have Opted Out

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder was grilled once again about his response to marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. He correctly responded that the Justice Department has “a vast amount of discretion” in deciding how to enforce the Controlled Substances Act and argued that his decision to focus on eight “federal enforcement priorities” in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or general use is “consistent with the aims of the statute.” Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) was not buying it. “Federal law takes precedence” over state law, Smith said. “The state of Colorado is undermining…federal law, correct? Why do you fail to enforce the laws of the land?”

What will your constituents think about your wanting the US Department of Justice to crack down on those states that dare to exercise their own authority? Whatever happened to the idea of limited government, Mr. Smith? And what about the states as ‘laboratories of democracy’? Hmm?

But take those as rhetorical questions. I suspect your questioning of A.G. Holder about marijuana laws will play pretty well in most of Cape Girardeau.

So let me change my tack. Do those concepts of limited government and state sovereignty only apply to gun laws and not to drug laws?

What will you be saying if Missouri nullifies federal gun control laws and the DOJ doesn’t attempt to overrule it? Will you say that Missouri is "undermining… federal law"? Will you ask Mr. Holder why he’s failing to enforce the "laws of the land" by not enforcing federal gun laws in Missouri?

I think Ima join both NORML and the NRA, just to make a damned point.

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Tax Day Is Coming

April 12, 2014

There’s a little bit of strong language in this clip.

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