Post-Election Hysteria Even Worse Than The Campaign Season

Plenty of words have been written about the election of Donald Trump, but I would offer a few more.

The liberal reaction has been, in my view, absolutely ludicrous. Some have asked “what do I tell my children?” Others have vowed to “fight even harder” or not to “let them win,” whoever them are. There are reports (though many completely contrived) of Trump supporters harassing people of color and immigrants, but what is lost to these liberals are the many abuses heaped on Trump supporters over the course of the election season, and after. It’s as if those people don’t matter. And thus I have reached my point – the only people who matter to liberals are those who accept their worldview or are willing to be subjected to it.

These liberals are pretending to have transcended politics entirely. This is no longer “about republicans and democrats,” but about what it means to have elected such a wicked man, regardless of party. Sure. Of course that it your position. The whole of America ought to lift you up on to the pedestal from which you were recently thrown off. It is absolute poppycock, to be sure. They have referred to Trump as vulgar, racist, misogynist, bigoted, xenophobic, homophobic, etc., but called their own candidate merely “flawed.” HA! Flawed!? Hillary Clinton is a truly corrupt and despicable person. She has been investigated for fraud (Whitewater and Cattle Futures), mishandling Top Secret information (email scandals), selling her position as Secretary of State (Clinton Foundation), and has paid fines for breaking elections laws. She spent 35 years degrading and ruining the lives of women who dared to accuse her equally despicable husband of harassment, assault, and/or rape. She’s also, if you’ll dare to remember, called certain blacks “super predators.” She was against gay marriage until just a few years ago when it became politically advantageous for her to change her views. She was for the Iraq war until she was against it. She supported the overthrow of Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. She essentially did nothing in the whole of the Syrian crisis. She supported a deal with Iran that almost certainly guarantees the largest supporter of terrorism in the world – a nuclear weapon. She rails against corporate influence in politics, but has taken literally tens of millions from them in just a few years. She even gave a speech where she told a group of financiers that you have to have both a “private position, and a public position.” In other words, say whatever it takes to get the power. Then do as you please. She is a wretch of a person, not merely “flawed.”

So, when liberals, preceding the election, acted as though she was immensely qualified and capable of being President of the United States, they directly or tacitly supported corruption, abuse of power, criminality, and the very real destruction of the lives of dozens of women. My dear liberal friends, you have no moral authority whatsoever to condemn anyone who voted for Trump.

On the matter of the supposed up-tick in acts of discrimination or violence against minorities – if they are actually happening (as reports have found some to be fraud) – I want to offer a few thoughts. First, Trump garnered about the same percentage of Hispanic votes as Romney and McCain. But Trump received nearly 10 percent of the black vote. Small as that sounds, it is nearly double what any Republican has gotten in a good long while. Why? Because minorities have been discriminated against by Democrats for 40 years, but in a very subtle way. George W. Bush called it the “soft tyranny of lowered expectations.” The liberal view of minorities is inherently racist, while the republican view is inherently egalitarian. Liberals have said, without saying aloud, that these poor blacks can do nothing without us. They need us to tell run their lives for them because they are incapable of doing it on their own.

And minorities were promised, in exchange for their allegiance, better schools, more jobs, equality, and the like. But unemployment rates and graduation rates among these groups is more than double whites or Asians. And minorities largely complied – black voters turnout for democrats on an order north of 95%. Hispanics between 75%-80%. Despite all of the liberal promises, not much has changed – and certainly little for the better. So they decided to give this new guy, Trump, a chance. It can’t be any worse, right? And in the case where a few extra percent of white voters turn out for Trump, they are quickly labeled racists and other derogatory names.

Donald Trump has been in the public arena for 30 plus years. Before this election, how many reports or allegations of racism did you hear about him? Instead, he received awards from the NAACP for his friendliness to the black community. The assertions of discrimination in housing complexes may be true, but most people are smart enough to ask “but was Trump in charge of that? Or was it a bad manager?”

Additionally, when you constantly make white people feel guilty for even having been born – that they are “privileged” in every way that no other group is – you alienate them. When you tell whites that their success was because of privilege rather than because they worked hard, or got an education, or avoided breaking the law. (Let’s also ignore that there is plenty of poverty and incarceration amongst whites.) This is an unequivocally a racist belief. Irony of ironies.

The point in all of this, if I haven’t been clear, is that liberals are blind to the truth. They are quick to cast blame on any source, but themselves. They name call and shame others, then when the others turn on them, they shout even louder expecting that to fix all.

Solutions: you get the government you deserve. If you want better choices, pick better people. Break free of the two-party system and vote your conscience. You cannot put up terrible choices and then get bitter over the fact that your bad choice lost to another bad choice. I have now voted for a third party candidate in three presidential elections. I encourage you to do the same – unless you’re happy with the likes of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as choices.

Lessons on Loss and Hope – An Experience With Divorce.

Divorce is terrible…sometimes…in some ways. I was five when my parents divorced. I got off the bus on the last day of school to find a moving van in my driveway. My mom and sister had already left. My dad told me we were going to Ohio to live with my grandfather because he and my mom were divorcing. I had no idea what that meant -divorce.

It was the mid-1980’s and divorce was still pretty uncommon. I didn’t know anyone whose parents were divorced. I learned over the next several months and years what divorce meant. It meant that your parents argued with each other. It meant they said disparaging things about the other. It meant that I would see my dad four days a month and no more – even if he asked and my mom didn’t have a reason to say “no.” It meant years of trying to figure out what went wrong and whether I was to blame. It meant knowing nothing, but being expected to just accept the situation. I learned that it meant that your heart and soul would be crushed…for years.

Years later, when I married, I resolved that my marriage would not turn out like my parents’ had. I pledged to be a loving, supportive, dutiful husband. I would do what I could to make sure my wife knew she was loved, beautiful, and appreciated. When we had children, I vowed they would never have to know the pain of being limited to seeing one of their parents only for a few days a month. They would never have to be concerned about whether they were to blame. I believed that I would be the break in the chain – that my marriage would be life-long and the model for marriage.

But here I am, fourteen years later – divorced; seeing my kids eight days a month. Sometimes overnight, sometimes just for a few hours at a time. I had to go through months of negotiating with my former spouse over holidays, custody arrangements, support payments, and asset division. It was sometimes reasonable, sometimes not. There were nasty, emotional emails. There were heated, angry arguments.

As I went through this process, I found myself closer to my mother. A woman with whom I had a somewhat strained relationship with for a variety of reasons. A woman who, for years, I blamed for breaking up my family. A woman I have now forgiven for things that, given time and long conversations, I now understand. I now understand that happiness doesn’t mean giving up yourself for the sake of someone else. It means being able to be yourself with someone else. I understand that my children were not, and would not benefit, from having a father who had become so melancholy that they thought he didn’t love them. I understand that the model I was setting for marriage was not something I wanted them to emulate when the time comes for them to marry – distance, emotional disconnected, and a lack of true intimacy.

I anguished for months and years about divorcing. I wanted to, but felt I couldn’t. I wasn’t trapped by family. I was trapped by guilt. The guilt of wondering if my divorce would result in the sort of long-lasting bitterness and depression I experienced for 20 years. But when I found myself having to choose between thoughts of divorce or more drastic action, I knew I had to make a decision to save my own life. I knew that would be immensely difficult. But I also knew that my kids needed their dad and I needed them.

When my ex and I finally decided that we were divorcing, I moved out. It was literally as though 100 pounds had been lifted from my body. I felt physically lighter. And I knew the world might not collapse when my youngest son said, “look, daddy smiles now.” It crushed my heart to know he was seeing my pain all that time, but it also reassured me that my decision might not have been the worst one I’ve made. I recognize that the past is not doomed to repeat itself – at least not in the same way. I am optimistic for the future. A future of happiness, self-worth, and the love of my kids. And who knows – maybe, just maybe, I’ll try again and get it right.

A Response to the Toledo Blade – Reform Asset Forfeiture

I write in response to the October 16, 2015 editorial entitled, “Reform Asset Forfeiture.” The editorial discussed two proposed pieces of legislation working their way through the Ohio and Michigan legislatures. The goal of the legislation is to limit asset forfeiture to instances only after the “owner” has been convicted of a crime, and even after conviction, to further raise the burden of proving forfeitability to clear and convincing from its current standard of a preponderance of the evidence.

I have worked on more than 100 asset forfeiture cases over the last several years – both as a federal agent and as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in one of the country’s busiest districts. It is frustrating to work in a field of the law that very few understand and many others distort. Most anti-forfeiture articles point to stories of supposed abuse by police agencies in the misuse of the seized assets, or the alleged lack of due process. The former is exaggerated and the latter is just plain wrong.
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Jesus was not a Businessman

An article was brought to my attention today, which originally ran April 13, 2015 in the New York Times. The article reports on Gravity, a payment processing company in Seattle. Apparently, Gravity’s co-founder, Dan Price, decided to raise the minimum starting wage at Gravity to $70,000 per year. He intends to raise wages over a three year period.

As you can imagine customers, commentators, and employees had something to say about the move. And not everyone was happy about it. When asked why he decided to make this change, Price discussed the income inequality between employers and executives. To his credit, Price has reduced his $1M per year salary to $70,000, something most do-gooders would not even begin to consider.

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Civil Asset Forfeiture 101

I came across an article today at ZeroHedge.com entitled, “Land of the Unfree – Police and Prosecutors Fight Aggressively to Retain Barbaric Right of Civil Asset Forfeiture.” Like most articles on the topic, it is replete with misstatements of the law, conflation of state and federal laws, and an ignorance of history. But before I get into the article, let me first tell you what civil asset forfeiture (“CAF”) is.

CAF is a legal mechanism by which property is seized by a governmental agency (I’m going to confine my comments to Federal law) on the basis that the property is proceeds of a criminal activity, or was used to facilitate the criminal activity. Let me give two examples to demonstrate the difference. If a crook steals your credit card info and uses it to buy a diamond bracelet, that bracelet is “proceeds” of the act of stealing and using your credit card information (See, 18 U.S.C. 1029). If a drug smuggler hollows out portions of his car in order to conceal illegal narcotics, that car is “involved in” the offense because it facilitates the smuggling. (See, 21 U.S.C. 841).  The statutes used by the federal government to seize property in this way are 18 U.S.C. 981 and 21 U.S.C. 851. (Customs and Border Protection also seizes property for customs violations pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1595a.) The forfeiture statutes have very specific processes for seizing and forfeiting property. It is not just a matter of an agent wanting to drive a nice car, so he takes one from some innocent, unsuspecting citizen without cause. That doesn’t happen. Do federal agents get it wrong on occasion? Sure. Accidents happen. But mistakes are rare given the scope of the program.

Now, to the article. Rather spend a paragraph on each thing the author (Mike Krieger) gets wrong, I’ll bullet-point them and provide a brief explanation of how he’s wrong. Here we go…

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Is Hillary Qualified?

This week, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the Presidency. She has been labeled by many as the presumptive Democrat nominee. But I’ve always been struck by the question of “why?” Why is Hillary so seemingly beloved by Democrats? What is it that she’s done to warrant their affections? What are her qualifications?

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Hobby Lobby And Contraception

It seems the older I get, the less tolerant I become of the things that irritate me.  One of those things that has become a flashpoint for me is baseless rhetoric.  You know what I’m talking about…Republicans are Nazis…Liberals want a communist utopia, etc, etc.  Election years are terrible for this sort of stuff, but a close second is when the US Supreme Court rules on a controversial issue. Depending on what side you fall, the decision is either a cause for celebration or mourning. Today, if my Facebook feed is any indication, is one of those days.

Let me recap it for you. The Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Slip Op. No. 13-354 (June 30, 2014), which decided whether a closely-held corporation could opt out of a government mandate regarding the provision of certain birth control drugs on the grounds of the religious beliefs of the corporation’s owner. In this case, Hobby Lobby is a family-owned business whose owners are devoutly religious. Among other beliefs, they oppose abortion. At issue was whether Hobby Lobby should be compelled to provide four methods of contraception (Hobby Lobby will continue to provide the other 16 drugs that prevent fertilization in the first place), which prevent the implantation of an already fertilized egg.  Hobby Lobby’s owners argued that their beliefs are that life begins at fertilization and that if they are forced to provide four certain contraceptives, they would be indirectly supporting the killing of a living being, which they refused to do.

The Court held that the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act prevented the Department of Health and Human Services (the agency responsible for promulgating the rules for Obamacare) from requiring a “closely held corporation” from violating the religious beliefs of its owners. The Court said that owners of closely held corporations would otherwise be left with the choice of violating their religious beliefs, or forgoing engaging in a business enterprise. The Court also held that the definition of “persons” under the RFRA includes corporations for two reasons: (1) the statute specifically states as much; and (2) “person” has included corporations for decades and there was no intent by Congress to depart from that definition. But more specifically, corporations have been held to “exercise religion” for at least 50 years via prior Court decisions. So the notion that this case is somehow an anomaly or a departure from existing law is unsupported by the facts.

Now that I’ve given a down and dirty recap of the case, let me get back to the topic of rhetoric. According to some on social media and the traditional media, this case represents an “assault on women’s reproductive rights;” “the most tragic display of jurisprudence in history;” or the “privatization of personal sexual choices.”  Each of these assertions, however, is complete and total nonsense.

This decision is a narrow one. It applies only to closely-held corporations which are most often in the form of general partnerships, sole proprietorships and LLC’s.  It does not apply to public corporations or those owned by investment groups.It does not “set women back.” This decision does not take away a right that previously existed, nor does it require corporations to get involved in your sex life. The particular drugs challenged by Hobby Lobby are not the types of birth control that women use for other conditions. These drugs prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, which the owners consider abortion. Of course, someone will drag out the proverbial victim of rape or incest, but those instances are exceedingly rare. And if a woman is found in that terrible circumstance, there are numerous ways to obtain the pregnancy ending drugs at reduced cost or free. The overwhelming majority of abortions (approximately 98%) are ones of convenience. Maybe you might argue that there are good reasons for ending the pregnancy, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is to say that the rhetoric surrounding this decision is completely overblown.

Most of the comments I’ve seen are from individuals that I have no doubt, have not even bothered to read the Court’s opinion; have complete lack of knowledge about the history of corporate personhood; and ignore the economic realities surrounding the ease of acquiring birth control in many different forms. Unfortunately, many of the people espousing these uninformed comments are the same people who regularly complain about the partisanship in politics today. They’ll whine about work not getting done in Congress, but then accuse Republicans of obstructionism, racism, ageism, and cronyism, all the while ignoring the same failings by Democrat politicians. I just wish people started thinking about the “beliefs” they have; why they have them; and whether one belief contradicts another. I also wish people would start being honest about what they really think. Stop telling me you want to work together when what you really mean is that you’ll work together so long as we do what you want.

It’s a bit of a ramble, I know. You’ll get over it.