Trump and Sessions Want to Steal Your Money and Break State Laws

Bill Day for Cagle Cartoons

Feeling suckered yet, Trump voters? No. You’re right. “Survey says” you’re happy with your vote and no, Steve Harvey did not get that wrong. And yet, the billionaire who told you he would drain the swamp, and not tell you he would then fill it with Goldman-Sachs executives and his other billionaire friends have been taking you to the cleaners and then some.

I do not expect to convince a single Trump voter to say they screwed up. Part of that is many were conservative Republicans who were never going to vote for any Democrat, Hillary, Bernie or the ghost of FDR. George Wallace, maybe. But the other part is this campaign and the fervor behind Trump, which got so emotional, it’s almost impossible for his supporters to admit they were wrong. For them, it may be a wrong decision that happened in the primaries rather than November, but still wrong.

What has he done so far? Mostly, nothing, but he has tried to take away health insurance from over 25 million Americans so he can give his rich pals a tax break. Pre-existing condition? The now-dead Senate bill would have made THAT even worse. Even the health insurance companies admit there’s no way anyone with a pre-existing condition would be able to afford insurance, well, unlike you’re one of Donnie’s billionaire friends.

Now Trump wants a vote on just ending Obamacare. He is willing, to just strip millions of Americans of their insurance, just because he’s pissed that his own party — in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House — could not come up with something better than what we have now. Of course, it is possible to do something better, but it wouldn’t benefit his rich friends, so who cares?

Then there’s the wonderful world of Jeff Sessions, the attorney general who loves big government and hates you. Did you vote in favor legalizing marijuana in your state? Sessions doesn’t care. He’s going to make sure you get arrested no matter how many people in your state voted for that, even for medicinal marijuana. Why? Jeff Sessions doesn’t believe in it and your millions of state votes count for nothing when just one man in the Trump government says big government uber alles.

States rights? Not when Jeff thinks they’re wrong. Democracy? Well, here’s the Trump version: millions of your votes vs. one Jeff. In Trump democracy, one Jeff trumps all of you.

And now we have what would seem like the most anti-democratic, unconstitutional plan of all: Jeff plans to take your money, take your car and take your house. Kind of an opposite day Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes. And what does he need to do this? The House? The Senate? The consent of the people? No. Just one guy out of 330 million. Just Jeff.

Welcome to the wonderful world of asset forfeiture where the government takes things from people who are not only not found guilty of anything, but even from people who have never been charged with a crime. It’s one of those rare things that conservatives and liberals agree on. They hate it. If you want to call it communism, go ahead. If the government took the assets of an oil company, we’d be screaming blue bloody murder, but since its just you, no big deal to Trump and Sessions.

This was dying out a bit under Obama, but Sessions says it’s back bigger and better and by that I mean worse than ever. Asset forfeiture was originally intended to punish those guilty of crimes and take their ill gotten gains, such as drug dealers and money launderers. But something happened. That something was under civil forfeiture, a cop can stop you for anything, actually even nothing and if he or she decides to take any cash you have on you, or your car or house or business, they can. Think this can’t happen to you? 80% of those who lose property under federal forfeiture laws are never even charged with a crime.

Here’s the kind of things they do according to a report from the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm, and spotlighted in a column by George Will: a small motel in Massachusetts was used a few times by drug dealers. It was NOT a drug hotel. Even according to the police. It’s just a cheap roadside place. Not even one of those hourly sex dumps. Just a place where a trucker can catch a nap for $56, or a family that can’t afford more, can stay. Over 23 years, 30 people have been arrested for drug dealing. A little more than one arrest a year. According to the Institute for Justice that was 5/100ths of 1% of the rooms rented in that time. Though there was no evidence or even any claim by police that motel owner Russ Caswell knew anything about any of these deals, and zero claim he had anything to do with any of it, they seized the motel with the idea of selling it for $1.5 million with 80% of that money to go to…the police department.

And that’s another reason why civil forfeiture stinks. The people doing it, profit by it. The government claim was the motel was used to facilitate a crime, but so was the phone company if someone called to set it up, or Google if they sent an e-mail, but a little guy is easier to roll over, and that’s what happens.

One guy was pulled over and forced to hand over what he just won in Vegas. Another lost the $11,000 he was taking to buy a car on Craigslist. These people had proof the money was theirs and obtained legally and was to be used for legal purposes. They were never charged with a crime. There was no crime. It was just government lining its pockets by stealing from its citizens.

So if Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals and libertarians are all against this, who’s in favor? Police departments. Its ready, easy cash. Sessions likes it. Hell, Loretta lynch liked it too. She didn’t see any problem with stealing people’s money. The Justice Department, ironically named in this case, and your local Barney Fife like it. Everyone else is appalled. Eric Holder pretty much ended it. Lynch said it’s okay. Sessions LOVES it.

The government is picking your pocket. The DEA according to its own audit collected $3.2 billion from people who were never charged with a crime. Think Sessions hates state laws about marijuana? Here’s what he intends to do with forfeiture. If a cop grabs cash he finds on you, however legally it is yours, even if the cop’s state has ended forfeiture in cases where no one is charged, Sessions wants to let the local cop hand the money or property to a fed. The fed will then kick back 80% to the local department, even…again, if state law says such seizures are illegal.

It seems the Trump administration which goes on out loud about localism and returning powers to the states and blah, blah, blah, is actually going completely in the opposite direction. When voters in a state or legislators there make a law Trump and Sessions don’t like, they just find a way to tell those voters to go to hell.

Last year in Oklahoma, police stole $53,000 from the manager of a Christian rock band that was on tour. When the cops finally did call the Christian band to check the man’s story, the cops just shouted, ”you’re wrong! You’re wrong!” into the phone, refusing to believe the perfectly-obvious and easily-proven because they wanted the money. They finally had to give it up, but the state put up quite the fight and it was only because of the national publicity this got for it being a religious organization that the Muskogee county cops who stole the money, finally returned it, but you and I are not going to get front page treatment from the Washington Post, and that’s what it took before Oklahoma finally decided maybe it was wrong this one time, but local police in the last decade and a half have stolen $2.5 billion from innocent Americans simply because they could, and few get a penny of it back, no matter how innocent they are.

In Camden County, Georgia, police were stopping people, stealing their cash, including Michael Annan who had his life savings of $43,720 in cash in the car. I can see why police might be suspicious, but it turns out Michael is one of those guys who doesn’t trust banks. He shouldn’t trust the cops in Camden County either. They grabbed his money even though there was no evidence of wrongdoing. A later investigation by state authorities found where the confiscated money went in that county. Sheriff Bill Smith bought a $90,000 sports car and a $79,000 boat.

No one..well, except maybe an actual drug dealer, is against using forfeiture when people are charged and convicted of a crime, but as I said, 80% of these federal cases see no one even charged. It’s, ‘we’ve got your money, you can’t have it back, now move along.’ Many people are threatened, and scared as hell, they just go.

Many are minorities from the film, that surprises no one, and most are out-of-towners where they are arrested ,which assures they won’t be hanging around making a stink or that they might be related to the mayor.

So here we are Trump voters. Is this what you expected? Losing your insurance? Arrested for a joint? A federal government that doesn’t give a fig for what you voted for locally. That stomps on states’ rights? And now, even when it’s illegal to do so in a state or city, providing a way for your money to be stolen by government with the help of the attorney general himself.

Hey, you don’t have to say I wish I had voted for Hillary to think this is wrong. You can say I wish I had voted for one of 16 other republicans or written in your dog’s name. Heck, your dog is probably more honest and his relatives won’t cause nearly as many problems, unless it’s a Russian wolfhound, but I ask you again…

Is this what you were expecting? Or do you feel suckered by a guy who said he cared about you just long enough to get your votes, then takes your rights, your money, yeah, your blunt, your home, your business and your health insurance and reward his rich friends?

Drain the swamp? We’re drowning in it.

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