by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
I’m not new to writing about political issues. I spent pretty much the entirety of the Obama administration pointing out his disdain of transparency, his refusal to challenge the rich and powerful even after they inflicted significant harm on the American public, and his dangerous expansion of militarism across the globe. Over the course of those eight years, I solidified and refined my views on a wide variety of issues that are important to me. Though I’ve been extremely troubled by the people Trump has decided to surround himself with, and the fact he’s essentially outsourced his economic policy to the boys at vampire squid Goldman Sachs, I’ve held off on my harshest criticism while waiting to see where he comes down on a wider variety of issues. At this point, I think I’ve seen enough.
Trump and his spokespeople recently have made their opinions known on a variety of issues on which I hold strong beliefs. The three I will focus on today are: 1) Civil Asset Forfeiture. 2) Private Prisons. 3) Legalization of Recreational Marijuana. On all three of these issues, Trump has taken an authoritarian, unethical and quite unpopular position. Rather than challenge the oligarchs who’ve run this country into the ground, he’s appointed them to be his top advisors. Now he wants to make life increasingly unfree and miserable for average Americans. Not a very populist agenda.
I’m not a cheerleader for political figures and I find cult of personality worship to be an extraordinarily grotesque and destructive practice. We all have issues we care about. The things that matter to me may not be what matter to you, but it’s important that we remain consistent in whatever principles we hold dear, irrespective of who happens to be in power at any given moment. One of the reasons Obama was able to do so much harm is because he was given a pass by millions of phony liberals who suddenly didn’t care about war crimes once Mr. Hope & Change became President. If you’re a Trump supporter who wants to see him succeed, it’s your job to hold him to account on these issues, otherwise he will go down in flames.
I have a long history of writing on these three issues. My opinions aren’t new, and don’t change based on who gets elected. Let’s start with civil asset forfeiture, a topic I’ve written at least 10-20 articles on. I outlined my position quite clearly in my very first post on the topic all the way back in 2013. Here’s a brief excerpt from the piece, Why You Should Never, Ever Drive Through Tenaha, Texas.
In a nutshell, civil forfeiture is the practice of confiscating items from people, ranging from cash, cars, even homes based on no criminal conviction or charges, merely suspicion. This practice first became widespread for use against pirates, as a way to take possession of contraband goods despite the fact that the ships’ owners in many cases were located thousands of miles away and couldn’t easily be prosecuted. As is often the case, what starts out reasonable becomes a gigantic organized crime ring of criminality, particularly in a society where the rule of law no longer exists for the “elite,” yet anything goes when it comes to pillaging the average citizen.
One of the major reasons these programs have become so abused is that the police departments themselves are able to keep much of the confiscated money. So they actually have a perverse incentive to steal. As might be expected, a program that is often< touted as being effective against going after major drug kingpins, actually targets the poor and disenfranchised more than anything else./blockquote>
Obama was terrible on this issue, as I highlighted time and time again. It appears Trump wants to be even worse. As Reuters reported earlier this month:
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday there was “no reason” to curb law enforcement agencies that seize cash, vehicles and other assets of people suspected of crimes, a practice that some lawmakers and activists have criticized for denying legal rights.
The issue of civil asset forfeiture, created to disrupt the activities of organized crime groups, arose when sheriffs from around the United States told Trump at a White House meeting that they were under pressure to ease the practice.
“I’d like to look into that,” Trump said. “There’s no reason for that.”
In 2016, a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill, which did not become law, that would have required the government to do more to show that seized property was connected to a crime. Critics have said suspects have few avenues to challenge the seizures and that forfeiture laws were sometimes abused. Police in some cases seize property from people who are never charged or convicted.
Trump, a Republican, asked acting U.S. Attorney General Dana Boente, who was at the gathering, whether executive orders or legislation were needed to support forfeiture. Boente said that was unnecessary but law enforcement agencies needed encouragement.
Trump voiced disagreement with lawmakers who want to change asset forfeiture laws, and some of the sheriffs laughed when Trump suggested he might want to “destroy” the career of one Texas legislator.
He said members of the U.S. Congress would “get beat up really badly by the voters” if they interfered with law enforcement’s activities.