Banning “What if You’re a Drug Dealer” Policies

One of the things that makes Jefferson Beauregard Sessions completely unemployable in government except for the State of Alabama or Donald Trump’s cabinet is the way his heart goes pitter patter for the most unjust and unconstitutional violations of personal rights.  He just gets all swooney in the knees for civil asset forfeiture, which I describe as “what if you’re a drug dealer” policies.  Progressives hate this.  Real conservatives hate this.  Anybody who understands the various positive qualities of the Constitution and the wisdom of the Bill of Rights hate this.  Morons like Sessions think it’s a tool in the law enforcement arsenal.  Yeah sure, like Duterte style summary execution.

The basic idea is that law enforcement can, if you should come into their steely line of sight, look at you and legally ask themselves “what if you’re a drug dealer?” so that even if you have not been convicted of a crime, even if you haven’t been accused of anything having to do with drugs, they can assume that you are a drug dealer.  And that means that all of your property and assets are open for confiscation like the U.S. Army marching through Georgia in 1864.

Moreover, the way it’s practiced in some places, not only all of your assets and property may be assumed to have been acquired with dirty, dirty drug money, your friends and family can be assumed to have property acquired that way too.  ‘Cause natch if you’re a drug dealer you probably bought that car your Mom drives with meth money.

And then even after you are completely exonerated of whatever brought you into unfortunate contact with law enforcement, you and your Mom can spend years fighting in court to get your shit back.

It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of law enforcement policy.

Well, while Sessions tries to bring civil asset forfeiture others, like NM and NE are ending the practice and guarding their citizens from it.

In Texas and the vast majority of U.S. states, forfeiture is driven by profit motives. Law enforcement agencies echo Sessions in saying the practice helps crack down on drug cartels, allowing cops to seize contraband and property that could serve as evidence in criminal cases. Lee McGrath, the senior legislative counsel at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm that tracks forfeiture trends, says that this is not how forfeiture works in practice. Police, sheriffs, and local prosecutors seize small sums of money and other valuables—including electronics, cars, and houses—then sue the owners of those items so they can take ownership themselves. Most people whose property is taken don’t have the right to an attorney to fight for their belongings, since they haven’t been charged with a criminal offense. A 2014 Washington Post investigation that analyzed 400 federal court cases involving civil forfeiture uncovered that the majority of people who’d been victimized by the practice were nonwhite. Additional investigations have yielded similar findings in OklahomaCalifornia, and Pennsylvania.

 

 

Wake Me When We Hit Bottom (Again?)

The President is crazy, I didn’t say that Sens. Jack Reed and Susan Collins did.

We know the damn House is out of its mind, it’s just out of the spotlight lately.  It’s been over the bend since Boehner took the gavel back.  Handing it to the beady eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin only made it worse.

The Senate is crazy too:

They stopped a black man from appointing a Supreme Court seat.

They inexplicably approved Betsy DeVos, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Tom Price, Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry for dog catcher and other minor government functionary jobs.  (I am in denial that they were approved for real cabinet positions, with responsibilities.)

They’ve engaged in a mass delusion surrounding Obamacare that rivals the collective madness of the Salem Witch Trials for a community seeing bad spirits where they so desire to see such evil.  Thusly, they’ve spent seven years demeaning a market-based healthcare insurance reform system as a government takeover of healthcare and such lie has led to numerous other lies that have led us to the current state of nonsensical governance in that formerly esteemed body.  In such a toxic atmosphere words do not even have meaning anymore.

This has been a policymaking process built, from the beginning, atop lies. Lies about what the bills do and don’t do. Lies about what is wrong with Obamacare and lies about what the GOP’s legislation would do to fix it. Lies about what Republicans are trying to achieve and lies about which problems they seek to solve.

They’re promising to rid the land of evil spirits and ready to hang millions of people in order to do so.

And they’ll do it on schedule and under budget, all the while claiming that the hanged people are happier now that their evil spirits have been exorcised.

The Transgender Announcement Was Worse Than We Thought

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Because it turned out to be in response to a budget issue in the House and the GOP Congressbitches that were concerned about the cost of gender reassignment and hormone treatments only asked Cheetolini to weigh in on the budget issue.

Mr. Trump elected to announce the ban in order to resolve a quietly brewing fight on Capitol Hill over whether taxpayer money should pay for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members. The dispute had threatened to kill a $790 billion defense and security spending package scheduled for a vote this week.

Someone on MSNBC said it was like someone noticed a gash in the dining room table and Trump lit it on fire.  Completely unnecessary.  But Trump saw it as an opportunity to kiss his evangelical base on the right tushy cheek (non-homo).  But no doubt Ivanka was a moderating influence on this issue and Trump actually wanted to round all transgender Americans up and put them in reeducation camps.  Because he cares so much about LGBTQ people.

Like Atrios says:

When you have power over people, it doesn’t much matter what’s in your heart, it matters what you do (mostly) and what you say (some).

Also if you have power over people and you choose to be a bigot, that says all that needs to be said about what’s in your heart.

On the plus side those of us who have always thought the Log Cabin Republicans were just stupid collaborators with their own jailers can shake our heads in double plus smugness.

And don’t get me started on the disappointment of Caitlin Jenner.  No really.

 

Trump Continues to Dive and Create New Moral and Ethical Bottoms

On Monday he gave his stump speech to the Boy Scouts. That’s the only speech he has, his usual stemwinder about how great he is and how great the things he does are and how bad his enemies are –  including the former president, whose legacy he tries to tarnish, and supposed arch criminal Hillary Clinton, his perennial opponent who is walking her dog and living her life.

People were immediately, appropriately, upset and offended at his asinine politicization of a speech to a nonpartisan institution.  But it wasn’t until Tuesday that some of the worst parts of his speech were pored over in shock.  He actually spoke to the Boy Scouts about a sex yacht used by another NY real estate developer.

When people decry Trump in alarmed terms as non-presidential, doing and saying things that no president would do, it’s still not alarmed enough because clearly he’s doing and saying things no responsible adult would say.  The story about the sex yacht followed by “you’re Boy Scouts, you know the world” was something you might say in a closed door speech to former sailors, not on a hot mic in public… to young boys you don’t know.   This wasn’t the Friar’s Club for fucks sake.  There’s a reason they don’t hire a comic from The Comedy Store to do a speech like that – it’s inappropriate.  But that’s who is in the White House – a very bad house comic with no sense of the right material for the room – who has the nuclear codes.

Today in his constant search for enemies to rail against in order to keep his hard core followers angry and blinkered he decided to make policy by Tweet and toss all transgender soldiers out of our military service.  This is a group of people who fought to be included and just made it in 2016 by announcement from the Joint Chiefs.  No doubt they were talking on Fox and Friends this morning about the costs of the military paying for gender reassignment surgery and Trump made an announcement without consulting anybody (as he claims to have consulted his generals and experts).  This is awful, un-American and not the way to do things, of course!  It may have been an impulsive thing. But maybe not.  Because this rhetoric ratchets up the culture wars that separate us and keep us from making progress on real issues.

Whether it was impulsive or planned, his play is to fan the flames of hate and resentment in order to separate certain Americans from the herd and get the rest of the herd fighting each other.  It’s the politics of resentment championed by Nixon, polished to a fine sheen by Gingrich and Luntz and practiced by the GOP not as a strategy but as a way of life.  We’re the good guys, they’re the bad and disgusting guys who are ruining everything for the real Americans.  It’s a confused world in which morality is turned on its head and guys with 3 marriages and some profound moral failings can talk about yacht sex to the Boy Scouts, because it was straight sex – remember?  Locker room talk? While the real perversity they inveigh against is the the always moving point of the counterculture spear – currently transgender people and their icky body part issues. Transgenders in the military, or going to the bathroom anywhere, are the new gay marriage.

As conservative media turns on him for his selfish attacks on his own Attorney General, he shouts out that he’s with them on all their absolutely worst most shameful and un-American instincts.  He may not understand the nuances of the conservative agenda, but he knows how to hate and how much people who hate love to hate.

Having to Root for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to Keep a Job He’s a Nightmare At is Painful

But precisely because he’s pushing a hardcore, neo-lithic, conservative agenda that is execrable, he may survive.  It’s pretty odd that a year ago Sessions was the only Senator who would stand on a podium anywhere with Trump and now he’s got a bunch of Trump Knives (the best knives!) in his back.  So much for that loyalty Trump always trumpets.

Sessions is deeply committed to an awful, counterproductive ideological agenda which his ideological brethren in the KKK and the Senate appreciate even if Trump doesn’t even understand it all and couldn’t care less.  With the help of his colleagues Sessions could string Trump out and just hold on through the August recess, surviving or forcing Trump to do the dirty, dirty job of firing his most loyal and conservative cabinet member – in a convoluted scheme to try to save his own skin by firing Bob Mueller.  It illustrates how desperate Trump is that he’d even consider this self-destructive and incriminating plan.

You see, Trump used Sessions’ credibility as an old fashioned racist, redneck to get the votes of all sorts of white guys named Billy Bob who own AR-15s.  And Sessions, a completely third-rate back-bencher  from Alabama that nobody but nobody was ever going to nominate for anything in D.C., since he was rejected for a federal bench in 1986 for being too racist, got to be Attorney General and implement the greatest knuckle dragging policies of the 1950s.  He’s a throw back to Bull Connor and nobody responsible lets those people have power anymore.  So letting that go just to make Trump happy is not in the cards for Sessions.  It’s war.

Trump is under 50% approval in a lot of very red states.  His mission to destroy Sessions will not help him.  Trump wants to fire him during the recess and name a flunky Attorney General who can serve till the end of the year.  If he is unable to do that, and a new AG has to be approved by the Senate, Republican senators will be forced to choose sides and make it impossible to evade questions of aiding and abetting Trump’s effort to save his family from scrutiny, investigation and paying a price for shitting on every fucking norm of government service.  Worse than the Comey firing we’ll be in uncharted territory.  A most terrifying terra incognito indeed.

While the rest of us sit back and watch the circular firing squad, trying to stay out of the cross fire and hoping that somebody on that side of the aisle has some qualms about descending into a family run autocracy.

In Other News (That is Not Being Covered)

Congress was on the verge of actually debating the 2001 Authorization to Allow Military Force and dealing with the endless state of war we’ve been in since.

Speaker Ryan could not allow that to happen because there’s no rational reason for a Republican to take power away from Trump, of course not.

The Nation allows you 10 articles a month, I think, but is totally worth a subscription in my humble.

Paul Ryan Hands Donald Trump a Blank Check for Endless War

Trump’s recklessness, ill-conceived alliances, and deference to generals and defense contractors has caused Democrats and Republicans to fret about handing him unlimited authority to order military strikes and interventions. To that end, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee secured bipartisan support on the House Appropriations Committee for her amendment to revoke the 2001 authorization for use of military force that three successive administrations have employed as a justification for military adventures abroad. Under the amendment, which Democrats and Republicans agreed to attach to the defense-spending bill, the 16-year-old AUMF would cease to be operative after eight months and Congress would have to debate whether to approve a new authorization…

Then, according to Lee, Ryan intervened. Early Wednesday morning, the House Rules Committee stripped the amendment from the spending bill.

Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat and also did everything in his power to keep seats open on lower courts as well.  Trump and the conservative base are the undeserving beneficiaries of this premeditated partisan and ideologically based theft.

Trump is nominating unacceptable people to seats like John Bush, who was just approved to sit on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  There’s a pipeline of such arch conservatives who at best are corporatists and at worst have advocated hate and inequality.

From the Advocate:

Bush, apparently no relation to the two President Bushes, has criticized rulings that struck down antisodomy laws, objected to gender-neutral language on passport applications, and likened legal abortion to slavery, notes the Human Rights Campaign. The Senate today confirmed his lifetime appointment by a vote of 51-47, all Republicans voting for him and Democrats against him, with Democrat Debbie Stabenow and Republican John McCain absent.

Ryan, McConnell and Republicans in general are granting the conservative movement their wet dream of ideological control of the courts.  Notice that every Republican voted for Bush.  Collins, Murkowski, the few so-called “moderates” went along.  They’ve gone along with everything that hasn’t been a firestorm in the press like healthcare.  If people in wheelchairs aren’t being arrested in their offices, they’re pushovers for the conservative agenda.

Republicans have been very organized in regard to the courts for decades now, understanding that if you have the courts, you have society, no matter how elections go. They’re setting up a real conflict between very conservative courts stuck in the 19th century and a society that moves forward.