Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required

For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.

“How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.

“They’re going after people who are really not criminals,” said David Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia. “They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law.”

[Read more…]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

‘Best Deterrent to Lone Wolf Attackers Is an Armed Citizenry’

How can a lone wolf terrorist be stopped? Judge Andrew Napolitano pointed out this morning that there’s a big difference between gun rights in the United States and Canada.

Napolitano said loners with guns are a “devious” way for terrorists to strike.

“It’s one guy getting out of a car and starting to shoot. What is the best deterrent to that? An armed citizenry. People able to protect themselves. We have a Second Amendment in this country. They do not have the equivalent of that in Canada,” said Napolitano.

The attacker, now identified as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was not stopped until he made it all the way into the Parliament building. He nearly got to lawmakers, but was shot dead by a heroic Sergeant-at-Arms.

Steve Doocy and Napolitano also highlighted the state of Oklahoma, where a company executive with a firearm was able to stop the beheading suspect before he could murder more people about a month ago. The heroic employee was also a sheriff’s deputy.

The soldier who was shot and killed at the National War Memoral in Ottawa yesterday was holding a ceremonial gun that was not loaded, according to reports.

“That is insane. For a cop or a soldier to carry a gun that doesn’t work? … He was a sitting duck,” the judge argued.

[Read more…]

Think the government must convict you of a crime before it can punish you for it? Think again.

Most Americans probably believe that the government must first convict you of a crime before it can impose a sentence on you for that crime. This is incorrect: When federal prosecutors throw a bunch of charges at someone but the jury convicts on only some of those charges, a federal judge can still sentence the defendant on the charges for which he was acquitted. In fact, the judge can even consider crimes for which the defendant has never been charged.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Jones v. U.S., a case that would have addressed the issue. The National Law Journal summarizes the facts:

[A] District of Columbia jury found Antwuan Ball, Desmond Thurston and Joseph Jones guilty in 2007 of selling between two and 11 grams of cocaine, relatively small amounts. They were acquitted on racketeering and other charges that they were part of an extensive narcotics conspiracy.

Yet, when U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts sentenced the three, he said he “saw clear evidence of a drug conspiracy,” and sentenced Ball, Thurston and Jones to 18, 16 and 15 years in prison, respectively — four times higher than the highest sentences given for others who sold similar amounts of cocaine, according to filings with the Supreme Court.

There have been other cases like this, including at least two in which federal judges sentenced defendants for murders for which they were never even charged, never mind convicted. So not only can a judge sentence a defendant for crimes for which a jury acquitted, he can sentence a defendant for crimes for which prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to charge.

[Read more…]

There’s no sugar-coating Obama’s economy

During his 60 Minutes interview late last month, President Obama put an old and familiar rhetorical question to the voters: “Ronald Reagan used to ask the question, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’…And the answer is, the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office.”

Most members of the public do not share this view, according to this week’s Washington Post/ABC News poll. Only 22 percent surveyed agreed that they are “better off financially” than they were when Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 — including only 37 percent of Democratic partisans. This says a lot about how people feel, because six years ago, the nation was embroiled in the very financial crisis that Obama still cites to absolve himself from blame for America’s continued economic doldrums.

When pressed in the same interview, Obama had to concede that most Americans aren’t feeling the recovery he has been touting ever since the so-called “Recovery Summer” of 2010. That’s because for workers, there hasn’t been much of a recovery.

The U.S. economy did experience robust economic growth in the second quarter, but on Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported a drop in retail sales in September — a potentially worrying sign as the holiday shopping season approaches. Furthermore, fears are growing that the weak global economy could weigh down the U.S.

The stock market boom had been a sign of growing confidence among investors, but even that has been recently cast into doubt by repeated triple-digit bear-raids on the Dow that have wiped out all of the market’s gains for 2014.

[Read more…]

Friday, October 17, 2014

Socialists Push For $20 Minimum Wage But Won’t Pay Workers That Much

The Freedom Socialist Party wants the minimum wage to be $20 an hour. However, they don’t feel compelled to compensate their own workers with that kind of cash.

The party is looking for a web developer, and posted a job listing on Craigslist a week ago and Indeed.com yesterday, and it’s been raising eyebrows on social media.

Although the average annual salary of a web developer in the U.S. is around $62,500, the Freedom Socialist Party only wants to pay $13 an hour, which would be $26,000 a year. Except that the party won’t hire someone full-time, so their next web developer’s total compensation won’t even be that modest chunk of change. Perhaps they’re just trying to protect their employees from the temptations of “capitalist greed.”

One could argue that it’s not fair to pick on small organizations like the Freedom Socialist Party, because they can’t afford high-pay web developers. Given the requirements they list, chances are they’re looking for a high school or college student who is just starting out in the field. But, these are exact reasons why people argue against artificially high minimum wages. It’s not “capitalist greed,” but an understanding that it puts a barrier between small organizations with limited funding and low-skill workers who want to earn experience.

[Read more…]