Supreme Court To Hear Case Against UnConstitutional Asset Forfeitures Against Citizens Awaiting Trial

If citizens awaiting trial are truly innocent until they have been proven guilty in court, why does the state have the power to commence their punishment (and cripple their chances of a solid legal defense) from the moment of their indictment?

The Supreme Court will hear a case this week that could shape the future of Federal forfeiture laws, laws that allow the state to seize and freeze the assets of the accused. Aside from violating the 5th Amendment (which guarantees the government cannot seize personal property without due process), as well as the 6th Amendment (which ensures the accused a right to legal counsel of their choosing), forfeiture laws also effectively return the burden of proof to the accused by robbing them of the wealth they could otherwise use to pay for a robust legal defense.

Before the high court is the case of Kerri and Brian Kaley, a New York couple who in 2007 were charged in a seven-count indictment with illegally receiving obsolete or overstocked medical equipment tossed aside by Ethicon, the device company that employed Kerri Kaley, and conspiring to resell the equipment to a Miami-based distributor.

At no time has Ethicon ever alleged that the Kaleys stole any of the equipment the company had voluntarily disposed of. Rather, the couple learned in 2005 that they were the target of a Federal investigation into the growing “gray market” for unneeded medical devices caught in the bureaucratic limbo between vendors, which didn’t want them anymore, and hospitals, which routinely render unused devices obsolete by adopting newer, pricier equipment as it becomes available.

The Kaleys had retained Miami criminal defense attorney Howard Srebnick, who has remained on the case throughout its long history. The couple had planned to finance their long and expensive legal battle chiefly via a $500,000 home equity loan against their property, which they converted to certificates of deposit. After their indictment, the government seized all of that with the expectation that the Kaleys would never get the money back once they had been found guilty (or had pleaded to some of the charges).

As Reason succinctly stated in a Wednesday piece, the pre-trial forfeiture assures prosecutors that the Kaleys “can no longer afford to pay the lawyers they chose and trust, the people who have been representing them for eight years and are familiar with the details of their case.”

According to The Miami Herald, Srebnick, the Kaley’s longtime attorney, will argue before the Supreme Court that his clients:

…should be allowed to keep their bank accounts and other worldly possessions unless prosecutors can show before trial that the evidence supporting an indictment justifies the seizure of those assets.

For decades, prosecutors have only needed to point to a federal grand jury indictment to argue that defendants’ assets are traceable to the criminal allegations and therefore can be seized. And judges have almost always ruled in the prosecution’s favor because of the presumption that the grand jury found “probable cause” that a crime was committed.

The Kaleys’ chances, though, appeared to be better than those of many defendants. In a related but separate case arising out of the Federal investigation, fellow Ethicon employee Jennifer Gruenstrass went to trial and was found not guilty.

Nothing To See Here: Just The National Parks Director Admitting Obama White House Was In On Persecution Plan

Appearing Wednesday at a joint hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Natural Resources Committee, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis found himself admitting that President Barack Obama was well aware of the strategy the Park Service was implementing to turn away veterans from open-air memorials as soon as the government shutdown went into effect:

In the video, Congressman John Mica (R-Fla.), who sits on the Oversight Committee, questions Jarvis specifically about the public outcry over his agency barricading and policing the high-visibility sites at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

MICA: Now you said you take full responsibility for that action. Is that correct?

JARVIS: That’s correct.

MICA: And did you discuss this with the Secretary of the Interior, [Sally] Jewell, at any time?

JARVIS: Yes, I did.

MICA: … Then you didn’t discuss it with anyone in the White House, did you?

JARVIS: Ahm, in — several times on the phone with the White House, I presented with the Secretary my decision, but there was never the reverse. There was never any [unintelligible] coming in. [Mica cuts him off.]

MICA: So you discussed with officials in the White House your action, and you also discussed it with her.

Jarvis appeared to be ready to qualify the nature of those discussions — likely in an effort to absolve the President of any culpability in concocting the “make ’em hurt” strategy — but Mica had already gotten the information he wanted and was ready to move on.

Shutdown Shuts Down: Dems And RINOs Win, Conservatives Lose In Congress’ Capitulation To Obama

The Senate is ending the government shutdown. By the time you read this, the Senate will likely have voted on a bill to fund the government through January 15 of next year and to raise the Federal debt limit until February 7. The only GOP “win” in the Senate bill involves new requirements that Obamacare buyers seeking government subsidies must prove their qualifications by demonstrating low income.

With a House vote expected later in the evening, President Barack Obama is expected to sign off on the bill before the Thursday debt limit “deadline,” as forecast by the U.S. Treasury.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is not expected to delay or attempt to amend whatever the Senate is passing. “We fought the good fight; we just didn’t win,” he said Wednesday on a Cincinnati radio show. “There’s no reason for our members to vote ‘no’ today,” he said later.

Boehner’s full capitulation comes just a day after House Republicans attempted to counter the Senate bill by cobbling together their own last-minute plan before realizing the votes to see it through simply weren’t there.

Even Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who had stood firm against the debt limit deal unless Congress voted to defund Obamacare, stood aside Wednesday to allow the Senate to expedite a vote – even though   Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cannot bring the measure before the full Senate for consideration today without unanimous consent.

Judging from conservative comments across the internet, there’s a great deal of ambivalence among Republicans as to whether Cruz is to be praised or blamed for his role in the shutdown debate – including Wednesday’s go-along.

On one hand, Cruz mobilized whatever conservative support might have been latent among Congressional GOP leaders and their constituents. He did strike early and often – when tapping into public opinion to defund Obamacare and pressuring Congress to listen to the people’s will would have mattered. He had little GOP support, as the ensuing weeks proved.

On the other hand, there’s no denying that Cruz kept up his tough talk while dialing down his walk, once it became clear that he and Mike Lee (and maybe Rand Paul) were becoming an increasingly isolated three-man army within their own party’s Senate bloc. He or Lee or anyone could filibuster today’s Senate vote and bide more time for leveraged compromise, if leveraged compromise were in the offing.

But the majority of spineless Senate Republicans simply wouldn’t sit at Cruz’ table. A unified pushback against the Democrats never stood a chance of coming together from the balkanized ranks of Republican Senators.

And it’s important to remember there’s little gain in vilifying the few Congressmen who put up a principled fight, when the entire charade was perpetrated from the far left. If Obama and Reid and lock-step Democrats weren’t hell-bent on borrowing more money – Obamacare concessions be damned – there would never have been a fight between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate in the first place.

Instead, we’re on track to make debt-ceiling history once again. Now that Obama and the Dems have carte blanche, we should be ticking past the $17 trillion threshold any day now.

Boehner Blinks; Even MSM Says Debt Deadline Not ‘Gloom And Doom’; We’ve Defaulted Before; After Debt Fight, President Pivots To Immigration Reform; Texas Lt. Gov Says Impeach Obama; ATF Whistleblower Training: Leak And Face The Firing Squad – Wednesday Morning News Roundup 10-16-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

  • House Speaker John Boehner is considering letting the House take the initial vote today on a Senate-prepared bill to lift the debt ceiling and restart funding for the shuttered federal government–apparently even if House conservatives object. Source: National Journal…

 

  • All of the grave doom-and-gloom warnings aside, the federal government is unlikely to run out of money Thursday even if the latest hopes for a budget deal don’t pan out. Instead, Thursday is actually the day the Treasury Department will run out of accounting maneuvers that will allow it to continue to borrow money. Source: NBC News…

 

  • Although President Barack Obama and the establishment media routinely describe a potential federal default as “unprecedented,” the United States government has flaked on its debt service several times, and one expert says the current default has already begun. Source: The Daily Caller…

 

  • President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that stalled immigration reform would be a top priority once the fiscal crisis has been resolved. “Once that’s done, you know, the day after, I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform,” he told the Los Angeles affiliate of Spanish-language television network Univision. Source: Reuters…

 

  • A surprising statement from one of Texas’ top leaders: President Obama should be impeached. This came from Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who is running for re-election and appeared at a Tea Party candidates forum. Dewhurst called his comments those of a private citizen, but when pressed on that issue by the Texas Observer, he refused to back down.  “That happens to be my view, that the man has committed crimes that do not warrant his staying in office.” Source: CBS Dallas-Ft. Worth…

 

  • After months of anguished debate over mass shootings, gun control and Second Amendment rights, the Justice Department finds itself on the defensive after a training manual surfaced that suggests federal agents could face a firing squad for leaking government secrets. The online manual for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — complete with a photo of a turn-of-the-century firing squad — was obtained by The Washington Times from a concerned federal law enforcement official, and it immediately drew protests from watchdogs who said it showed a lack of sensitivity to gun violence and the continuing hostile environment toward whistleblowers. Source: The Washington Times…

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Senate Shutdown Proposal Would Exempt Unions From Mandatory Obamacare Tax For One Year

The Senate version of an agreement to end the Federal government shutdown includes a concession to appease unions whose nonplussed leaders became more critical of the Affordable Care Act — a piece of legislation they once ardently supported — in the run-up to its Oct. 1 implementation.

According to The Hill, the Senate agreement would delay an Obamacare tax — the so-called “reinsurance” fee — by one year.

Originally conceived as a three-year implementation tax, the reinsurance fee is designed to stabilize individual Obamacare premiums by generating revenue that is supposed to be pumped into the funding pool as more sick people enroll for new insurance policies, which by law must accept patients with pre-existing illnesses.

From The Hill:

The reinsurance tax figured prominently in discussions at a recent AFL-CIO convention, where workers passed a resolution demanding changes to ObamaCare.

The White House recently denied labor’s top priority on ObamaCare, ruling that union health plans are not eligible for the new subsidies because they are already helped by the tax code.

Democrats could be pushing to delay the reinsurance fee for one year as an olive branch after that apparent slight, though it could also create trouble for insurers on the marketplaces.

Even though the tax is mandatory for all group health plans, unions have successfully twisted the arms of many of Obamacare’s longtime Congressional supporters, persuading Senate backers of the exemption that union enrollees’ policy premiums will needlessly increase — despite the fact that the tax is mandatory for all group health plans.

Under the law, companies that offer health coverage are required to pay a reinsurance fee of $63 per covered person next year, with the fee tapering off over the subsequent two years.

This Graph Illustrates Who Holds America’s $17 Trillion Debt – Including The One-Third Held By Foreign Countries

NPR may have had its reasons for putting together this grid explaining how the Nation’s $16.8 trillion is divvied up – it’s featured in a story that begins “If Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling soon, the U.S. government won’t be able to pay its debts” – but anyone who approaches the infographic with an open mind can come away with their own conclusions.

pm-gov_debt_v-624

In some ways, the image reads like a history lesson in how the U.S. government grew to the bloated monstrosity that future generations will inherit. The Federal government (for NPR’s purposes, the Federal Reserve is included here) owns nearly half of U.S. debt, including $2.6 trillion in Social Security obligations. More than $1 trillion is tied up in Federal and military retirement funds and the Fed itself holds $2.1 trillion.

Many of these obligations stem from the decisions of previous Presidential Administrations and Congressional acts that instituted or expanded government programs – the Clinton-era manipulation of Social Security to keep the Federal budget balanced, not to mention the original creation of the Social Security program itself, are two of many examples.

Foreign banks and governments hold about $5.5 trillion in U.S. debt, amounting to nearly one-third of the $16.8 trillion total. As everyone knows, China holds the most financial sway with $1.3 trillion, followed closely by Japan with $1.1 trillion.

For some numeric perspective, the Federal debt increased an astronomical $4.89 trillion under President George W. Bush, and has increased $6.1 trillion more in the nearly five years that President Barack Obama has been in office. The Federal debt stood at $10.6 trillion when Bush left office.

As Obama continues to drive a hard bargain on insisting that Congressional Democrats get their way in raising the Federal debt limit, here’s Senator Barack Obama in 2006 condemning President Barack Obama’s present rhetoric on raising the debt ceiling:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. … I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.

 

Union Wants Obama To Waive Federal Employees’ Monthly Bills, Rent, Mortgage Payments Until Shutdown Ends

J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), is asking the White House to give Federal workers a major break during the government shutdown by declaring the Congressional impasse a National emergency.

In a letter to President Barack Obama late last week, Cox asked the President to declare the shutdown an emergency so that employees could become eligible for the kind of temporary financial breaks normally associated with victims of catastrophes like hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes.

Specifically, Cox asked Obama to “call upon the financial and business community to provide arrangements for skip mortgage payments, skip rent payments, skip car loan payments, skip education and other loan payments until this is all over.” He also asked that Federal employees be given free temporary access to free healthcare, gasoline, public transportation, and utilities until “their paychecks have been restored,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

From the story:

He [Cox] proposed that the White House intervene to declare the shutdown a federal emergency, which would allow workers to collect zero-interest loans from FEMA and force businesses to extend lines of credit to employees.

…Federal workers collected half-paychecks for their last pay period and will not be paid again until after the shutdown ends. House Republicans passed legislation that would allow workers to receive retroactive pay, which would provide workers with lump sum checks at the end of the shutdown.

An AFL-CIO member, the AFGE funds a political action committee that spent the vast majority of its more than $1.1 million campaign contribution allotment on Democrats in the 2012 elections.

The Dream Of Insurance For All: Make Less Money, And Government Will Pick Up The Tab

I was talking with friends and new acquaintances at the local Oktoberfest celebration last week when the topic of Obamacare came up. One couple, a young husband and wife, offered that they earn a comfortable, but not affluent, living. They’re presently uninsured and, newly married, were already planning to shop for health insurance as the new year approaches. The wife, owner of a growing food cart business, is self employed but earns the majority of the couple’s income. The husband earns a salary as an office assistant in a small law group.

I’m paraphrasing here, but when we started talking Obamacare, the husband told us:

You know, my wife and I have been talking about it, and I’m seriously considering going to my bosses and asking them either to give me a dramatic pay raise so we can afford some kind of good insurance of our own choosing, or to give me a dramatic pay cut, so that our combined income qualifies us for subsidies on a half-decent Obamacare insurance plan. With the money we make right now, we can’t afford the Obamacare ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ premiums unless we qualify for subsidies, and we have no idea if the private plans we’re looking at now will be affordable once the insurance company revises its pricing structure to make up for whatever it could lose if not enough healthy people sign up for its Obamacare coverage.

Like I said, that’s a paraphrase, but that’s the essence of this young couple’s dilemma.

Apparently, their concern is one that’s increasingly shared by many others in the Nation’s middle and lower-middle classes.

A weekend article in the San Francisco Chronicle documented the new phenomenon of people asking for less money just to have President Barack Obama’s affordable insurance.

“People whose 2014 income will be a little too high to get subsidized health insurance from Covered California [the State-managed Obamacare exchange] next year should start thinking now about ways to lower it to increase their odds of getting the valuable tax subsidy,” the story advises.

It goes on:

Take, for example, Jacqueline Proctor of San Francisco. She and her husband are in their early 60s. They have been paying $7,200 a year for a bare-bones Kaiser Permanentehealth plan with a $5,000 per person annual deductible. “Kaiser told us the plan does not comply with Obamacare and the substitute will cost more than twice as much,” about $15,000 per year, she says.

This new plan, Kaiser’s cheapest offering for 2014, would consume about 25 percent of their after-tax income. The new plan still has a $5,000 deductible but provides coverage for things her current policy does not, such as maternity care, healthy child visits and coverage for dependents up to age 26. Proctor has no use for such coverage, since her son is 30.

Premiums are also going up for many people next year because insurers can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or impose lifetime coverage caps.

All of this has to come out in the wash, and there’s no way for Obamacare to be affordable to someone without making health care payments completely untenable for somebody else.

Nothing illustrates just how regressive a scheme Obamacare is than watching willing participants in the workforce adjust their expectations of the American dream to accommodate a new personal goal in the era of socialized medicine: the goal of earning less money than they have in the past.

“If they can adjust (their income), they should,” Karen Pollitz, senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Chronicle. “It’s not cheating, it’s allowed.”

No one wants to make less money to do a job that hasn’t changed. Who isn’t betting that middle-class tax fraud increases exponentially in 2014?

Jerry Brown’s Gun Control Vetoes Don’t Go Far Enough

Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a slew of draconian gun bills last week, calling proposals that further narrow the State’s definition of “assault” weapons an “infringement on gun owners’ rights.”

“I don’t believe that this bill’s blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement,” he remarked in vetoing a proposed restriction on any rifle with a removable magazine.

Noting that California already has “some of the strictest gun laws in the country,” Brown vetoed seven gun control bills that had passed the California Assembly.

Those included the rifle bill, as well as proposals that sought to criminalize failure to report missing or stolen firearms, retool the legal definition of a shotgun and restrict the transfer of “unsafe” handguns.

But he also signed into law four other gun control bills, approving a new extension on how long the U.S. Department of Justice can prolong the wait on background checks and limiting the sale of add-ons that increase ammo capacity.

Most devastating to California firearms owners, though, was Brown’s approval of a bill that bans the sale of all forms of lead ammunition — on the grounds that lead pollutes the environment.

Even as he approved that measure, AB 711, Brown offered a perplexing semi-apology to outdoorsmen, the very group most likely to be dramatically affected by the ban. In his signing statement, Brown wrote:

Lead poses a danger to wildlife… Since 2007, California has prohibited it in the eight counties within the [endangered California] condor range.

…I am concerned, however, the impression left from this bill is that hunters and sportsmen and women in California are not conservationists. I know that is not the case. Hunters and anglers are the original conservationists. Since the 1930s, hunters have done more than any other community to conserve species and their habitats, and that is a lasting conservation legacy.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation condemned  the lead ban, noting the new restriction “amounts to a virtual ban on hunting because the federal government considers most types of non-lead ammunition to be ‘armor-piercing’ and limits its manufacture and sale.”

The governor’s legislative update page lists all the new gun laws. For a plain-language rundown, check out this article at The Truth About Guns.

Palin’s Facebook Salvo: Obama Has Committed ‘Impeachable’ Offenses

Sarah Palin let rip on President Barack Obama Monday afternoon, calling his attack strategy on House Republicans’ efforts to fund the government — a process the Constitution expressly allots to the House of Representatives — an “impeachable offense.”

In a posting-cum-editorial titled “Obama’s Debt Default is on His Shoulders While We Shoulder His Impeachable Offenses,” Palin derided Obama’s assertion last week that the government would not be incurring additional Federal debt if Congress again raises the debt limit:

Apparently the president thinks he can furlough reality when talking about the debt limit. To suggest that raising the debt limit doesn’t incur more debt is laughably absurd. The very reason why you raise the debt limit is so that you can incur more debt. Otherwise what’s the point?

It’s also shameful to see him scaremongering the markets with his talk of default. There is no way we can default if we follow the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4, requires that we service our debt first. We currently collect more than enough tax revenue to service our debt if we do that first. However, we don’t have enough money to continue to finance our ever-growing federal government (with our $17 trillion dollar national debt that has increased over 50% since Obama took office). That’s why President Obama wants to increase the debt limit. He doesn’t want to make the tough decisions to rein in government spending.

Palin obviously exercised restraint by keeping her list of “impeachable offenses” short — presumably for the sake of brevity.

To enumerate the impeachable offenses that have attended the Benghazi coverup, the IRS-Tea Party scandal, the enrichment of the surveillance state and warrantless searches on millions of Americans, the preferential treatment afforded Islamist terrorists and the countries that breed them, Fast and Furious and, most recently, the arbitrary and spiteful persecution of Americans during the shutdown (Obama had the audacity to stage a PR stunt making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Monday even as he was a no-show at the Washington, D.C. veterans’ demonstration over the weekend) — well, that would take a book.

Read Palin’s full post on her Facebook page. If you’re Facebook averse (a sensible way for private individuals to be), Breitbart has copy/pasted the full text here.