Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Russia vs America

Glenn Reynolds is looking into the currenrt situation in Russia with abhorence.

He quotes an article by Gary Kasparov on how bad things are:

Illegal expropriation is becoming institutional policy. The Duma rubberstamps Putin decrees. In the criminal courts they have brought back an old Soviet law allowing the state to confiscate the property of the convicted. Not to be outdone, tax authorities can now seize money and property from corporations or individuals without a court decision.
The article then goes on to complain about how little the European protectors of civil society care:
What is remarkable is how little official reaction there has been to Russia's slide into despotism, while institutions such as the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and human rights organizations are openly critical of Mr. Putin. It's hard to think of a time and place in which there has been such a disconnect between NGO outrage and governmental silence.
Glen of course thinks this is very bad. He says:
Sigh. Europe has other priorities.
Well how bad could it be? Let us compare it with what goes on in America. Let us start with Glenn's own State of Tennessee.

Here is a case where officers take stuff at the side of the road from motorists suspected of a drug crime. Nothing illegal about that. No need for a conviction in Tennessee. What the officers did that was illegal was to just take the money and avoid doing the paperwork. That is bad. Let's see what the Knoxville News-Sentinel has to say about a stop done to Soddy-Daisy resident Eddie W. Witt:
Officers worked out a deal for Witt to contribute $9,649.25 to the sheriff's office drug fund in exchange for keeping his vehicle and the remaining $10,000. The Department of Safety has no record of the Witt seizure, spokeswoman Beth Denton said.

"That's nothing out of the ordinary," Jones said. "It's done every day." Ordinary or not, the practice doesn't conform to state law, a Tennessee Department of Safety lawyer said.
Nothing out of the ordinary. Russia is not looking so bad.

In another article on the case the Knoxville News-Sentinel had this to say:

"([9th District Attorney General.ed] McCluen ) made it clear he was just getting out of our way and letting us present our case," Beard said. "He could have made (it difficult for us) if he had wanted too."

"My goal and Eddie's goal, was to get ( Aikens and Curtis ) criminally charged," Beard said. "I want to see them in prison, and so does Eddie. We would also like to see the law changed. The forfeiture and seizure laws not only allow law enforcement to shake folks down, they encourage it, and it is perfectly legal."
Perfectly legal. Take that you Russians.

But wait, as the man in the infomercial says, there is more. Let us look at the case of a Doctor writing too many of the wrong kind of drugs to patients supposedly in pain:
A local doctor investigated for his prescription-writing practices has settled a forfeiture case brought against him by the federal government. Dr. Ghassan Haj-Hamed's attorney, Bob Carran, said he hopes the settlement will end any questions about the doctor's practice.
Seems perfectly normal. Why does this even merit the slightest bit of attention. Nothing unusual here at all. Well let's see what the doctor says about why he settled:
The doctor settled the case because he felt compelled to, Carran said. When the government can take away or seize everything someone has even before bringing a criminal charge against him, and then follow up by sending him tax bills he can't pay because the government has his property, it "inevitably puts the person in a position where they have to settle," Carran said. "Dr. Haj-Hamed settled. He's giving up some of the property, but he's getting back enough to pay his tax bills and the debts he incurred while his property was seized."
So much easier than a regular prosecution. More profitable too. I could go on and on. But let me just give you a very short precis of a few more cases.

Here is one about a Colorado Attorney General who was against requiring a conviction before siezing property. There was some worry that he might just pass cases on to the Feds whose rules are very easy and give kickbacks to the locals who bring them fresh meat.

Here is one where the Feds do local policing along the border not to catch border jumpers or contraband coming across the borders but in order to get the proceeds of, ta da, forfeiture. You see protecting the borders is not their most important job. Collecting money is.

Well it seems like a pretty good deal. For the government. I call it a new form of taxation. The roadside tax. You know. Give us all your money or you are walking home. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Another good thing about all this money is that the police become at least a partially self funding agency. If the government which is supposed to control the purse strings of its police doesn't give the police enough money they can just go out and take it. Here is a look at how this functions in Tennessee.

Here is a look at how the siezures range from Chevys to gold teeth. Say. Weren't the Nazis big on gold teeth? Them is some very hungry police. Very efficient. Nothing escapes their eagle eyed attention. Vacuum cleaners should make such a clean sweep.

Well some sanity may be returning. Misdemeanor amounts of drugs can no longer trigger siezures. But wait the twitching has not stopped. One police office complains that this will mean a significant cut in revenue. Truly a man who is in some serious pain. His siezures have been reduced.

Over in Kentucky they gave out plaques and $329,843.60 to the police agencies who had collected $1.95 million. I guess the Feds got the rest.

Well I could go on. But you get the idea. America has set the tone and Russia is not doing anything that "the freest most liberal country in the world" is not doing. Why should any body let alone the Europeans be concerned?

Now I have written to Glenn asking him to bring a spotlight on these cases so we can clean up the root cause, the drug war exception to the Constitution. So far no response. Zero. Nada. All I can say is:

Sigh. Glenn has other priorities.


blueenclave said...

Dear M. Simon:
I recommend that you check out the Democratic Freedom Caucus. The group is

Doug said...

At least this selective enforcement is only used against lowlife scumbags.
Rush Limbaugh

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