Friday, February 10, 2017

Trump Sides With The Sheriffs on Their Racket

By George Will

The technique has been called (by this columnist) “immunity through profusion.” By keeping the molten lava of falsehoods flowing, the volcano that is Donald Trump can inundate the public and overwhelm his auditors’ capacity to produce a comparable flow of corrections. This technique was on display the other day when the president met with some sheriffs.
He treated them to a whopper that is one of his hardy perennials, market-tested during the campaign: He said the U.S. murder rate is “the highest it’s been in 47 years.” (Not even close: The rate — killings per 100,000 residents — is far below the rates in the 1970s and 1980s.) This Trump Truth (Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s axiom: Anything said three times in Washington becomes a fact) distracted attention from his assertion to the sheriffs that there is “no reason” to reform law enforcement’s civil forfeiture practices.
There is no reason for the sheriffs to want to reform a racket that lines their pockets. For the rest of us, strengthening the rule of law and eliminating moral hazard are each sufficient reasons.
Civil forfeiture is the power to seize property suspected of being produced by, or involved in, crime. If property is suspected of being involved in criminal activity, law enforcement can seize it. Once seized, the property’s owners bear the burden of proving that they were not involved in such activity, which can be a costly and protracted procedure. So, civil forfeiture proceeds on the guilty-until-proven-innocent principle. Civil forfeiture forces property owners, often people of modest means, to hire lawyers and do battle against a government with unlimited resources.
And here is why the sheriffs probably purred contentedly when Trump endorsed civil forfeiture law — if something so devoid of due process can be dignified as law: Predatory law enforcement agencies can pocket the proceeds from the sale of property they seize.
Read the rest here.


  1. I do not find guilt to be a sufficient reason for forfeiture, either.

  2. Like Paul Ryan, George Will is considered "establishment," so he takes heat from libertarians who support Trump. Will and Ryan may be wrong on several issues, but if you look closely at their disagreements with Trump, it's Trump who is on the wrong side. Trump is wrong, or nearly insane, when it comes to asset forfeiture. Trump is also horrible on tariffs and libertarians should only hope that Ryan has enough backbone to block Trump from putting them forward.

    And even if you closely look at Trump's disagreements with McCain, it's Trump who is more in the wrong. Trump just attacked McCain for not being pro-military enough because he dared criticize a mission that resulted in the deaths of several civilians but missed the main target entirely.

    Oh, and let's not forget McCain's disagreement with Trump that we shouldn't torture. We should torture because we're not "weak" and it projects strength to the enemy.

    Trump has a way of making crazed neocons like McCain and General Mattis appear sane.

  3. I definitely cannot defend this one. Most people are tired of this and the speed trap scams when really awful people go unpunished.