From Right to Left – A Call for Reform of Civil Assett Forfeiture

civil asset forfeiture paved with good intentions

“This system—where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain clarence_thomas_u_s_supreme_court_justiceit for their own use—has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses. These forfeiture operations frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings.” – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

From the Heritage Foundation on the Right to the American Civil Liberties Union on the left come urgent calls for civil asset forfeiture law reform.

From the Right

“Civil asset forfeiture is based on a fiction, albeit one of ancient lineage, that property can be guilty of a crime and thereby forfeited to the sovereign regardless of whether any individual is ever charged with (and much less convicted of) a crime related to that property. It is a fiction because things obviously cannot think or act, but there is a laudable goal behind this fiction: the development of a means to deprive criminals of the fruits of their nefarious labor, sometimes in cases where it may be clear that particular property was used in a crime, but where the “kingpin”—be it a drug dealer, fraudster, foreign kleptocrat, or terrorist—is impossible to identify or is outside the United States, and to use some of those funds to compensate the victims of crime… in many instances, what began as a means to a laudable end has become an end in itself.” – John Malcolm, The Heritage Foundation, 20 April 2015

From the Left

“Police abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws has shaken our nation’s conscience. Civil forfeiture allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government.

Forfeiture was originally presented as a way to cripple large-scale criminal enterprises by diverting their resources. But today, aided by deeply flawed federal and state laws, many police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than crime-fighting. For people whose property has been seized through civil asset forfeiture, legally regaining such property is notoriously difficult and expensive, with costs sometimes exceeding the value of the property.” – American Civil Liberties Union

Public Opinion Agrees with the Left and the Right

“Eighty-four percent (84%) of Americans oppose civil asset forfeiture–police “taking a person’s money or property that is suspected to have been involved in a drug crime before the person is convicted of a crime,” according to a new Cato Institute/YouGov survey of 2,000 Americans. Only 16% think police ought to be allowed to seize property before a person is convicted.” – The Cato Institute, 13 December 2016

The Opposition: Law Enforcement Agencies

James Mclaughlin, executive director of the Police Chiefs Association said, “We oppose really all changes to asset forfeiture. We always do.”

The governor did not sign into law Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform.

Weighing Cost vs. Benefits of Civil Asset Forfeiture

Greg Glod, a senior policy analyst with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, said there is no data that shows that seizing assets has put a huge dent in drug cartel operations.

“If you look at how much money has actually been forfeited, it seems like a

COST VS BENEFITS
Loss of Liberty has no benefits

lot, but when you average cash that’s forfeited, it’s generally from $0 to $5,000,” he said. “And overall, it’s only in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and we know how much drug cartel money actually comes through here. So it really has not, from those statistics, done a lot to actually disrupt cartel members and their drug-trafficking organizations.”

Follow the Money

  • District attorneys across Texas in 2016 were in court fighting for more than $55 million in seized cash to be forfeited to the state, according to reports counties submitted to the Attorney General’s office.
  • At the end of 2016, district attorneys statewide had a total balance of more than $36 million in forfeited money, according to reports counties submitted to the Attorney General’s office.

Legislative Actions

The 2017 Texas Legislature took up the issue by proposing bills to eliminate the practice of Civil Asset Forfeiture. State Senator Konni Burton (R-Fort Worth) introduced SB 380 and State Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) put forward HB 1394 on this matter.

I will work for a constitutional amendment to the U.S. Constitution by way of a Convention of States and an amendment to the Texas Constitution through our 2019 Texas Legislature.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

Inevitable stock market crash, says Mark Faber. Is this possible or even probable?

Inevitable stock market crash, says Mark Faber. Is this possible or even probable? His forecast:

 

mark faber prediction of market crash
click on image above for link to CNBC news story

 

Mr. Faber isn’t a prophet. He’s a student of history. His basic message is simply this: The U.S. is overdue for an economic correction.

I point to biblical economics and to a secular Russian economist’s research to highlight the 7-year and 50-year natural cycles of economic booms and busts.

First, the biblical model for economics.

Deuteronomy chapter 15 addresses cancellation of debts every seven years. Federal law provides Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection to cancel personal debts through a 7-year cycle.

Leviticus 25 provides for the 50th year of Jubilee at the end of seven sevens.

The seventh year of each cycle is called the Shemitah and you can read books and listen to podcasts that tell you all about this phenomenon.

Russian economist Nikolai Kondratieff studied history and the behavior of markets. The Russian leadership wanted him to prove the U.S. could not survive the Great Depression. Kondratieff’s research proved otherwise, so Stalin executed the messenger in 1938., but he couldn’t silence the message.

Economic downturns are painful. And necessary. And predictable.

In Texas, public school systems will be the hardest hit institutions due to dependencies on property tax revenue and extreme public indebtedness. Here in Rockwall, 65% of our property taxes go to the public school system.

The Appraisal Board can appraise all they wish, but fact of the matter is this: if a property owner can’t pay his or her taxes, that government entity will run short of cash quickly.

In this coming economic cycle, many governments will break down due to insolvency, including state governments.

How do you prepare for the inevitable?

  1. First and foremost, have faith in God. Read and study the Bible.
  2. Second, Learn from history as does Mr. Faber.
  3. Third, get out of debt as fast as you can and have ready cash on hand.
  4. Recognize how economic cycles are pretty much like day and night. A sunrise follows every sunset. Instead of losing hope, look forward expectantly to the next economic ‘sunrise’.

The Bible points to specific strategies that can help you.

What’s my plan? I will follow my own advice.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

Speaker Joe Straus: You claim to be Republican, but your actions suggest otherwise

republican majority

Mr. Speaker, I read the duties of the Speaker of the House from your own website. Nowhere on that list of duties do I see a duty to autocratically obstruct the will of the people, as expressed by the majority seating before you.

I know you as a gentleman. Will you remain a gentleman in the special session?

If you believe Governor Greg Abbott’s agenda unpopular, bring all the items to the floor for a vote to prove your point.

Powers & Duties

The speaker is the presiding officer of the house of representatives. The Texas Constitution requires the house of representatives, each time a new legislature convenes, to choose one of its own members to serve as speaker.

As presiding officer, the speaker maintains order during floor debate, recognizing legislators who wish to speak and ruling on procedural matters. The constitution also requires the speaker to sign all bills and joint resolutions passed by the legislature. As a member of the house of representatives, the speaker may vote on all questions before the house.

The other duties and responsibilities of the speaker are determined by the members of the house in the House Rules of Procedure, which are adopted by a majority vote of the members at the beginning of each regular session of the legislature. The members give the speaker the authority to appoint the membership of each standing committee, subject to rules on seniority, and to designate the chair and vice chair for each committee. Under the rules, the speaker is responsible for referring all proposed legislation to committee, subject to the committee jurisdictions set forth in the rules. The rules also allow the speaker to appoint conference committees, to create select committees, and to direct committees to conduct interim studies when the legislature is not in session.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

State Sen. Bob Hall: Senate Bill 1356, A Real Solution to “Texting While Driving”

The following is from an email from Texas SD-2 Senator Bob Hall. I fully agree with SB 1356. Please read his message and respond with your input. Pilots in command and drivers behind the wheel bear responsibility for harm to fellow travelers, whether airborne or zipping down a public thoroughfare. – John White, Rockwall, Texas

bob hall banner

Senate Bill 1356, A Real Solution to “Texting While Driving”

The Texas House has passed and the Senate has considered in committee legislation that would create a misdemeanor offense of using a handheld device to read, write, or send a text-based communication while operating a moving vehicle that is not stopped. Regrettably, the proposed solution will actually increase vehicle accidents.

Distracted driving that results in a vehicle accident (18 percent of all accidents) is a serious problem that needs a serious solution. But research does not support the banning of hand-held electronic devices to solve this issue. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (a premier organization on the issue) has multiple studies that show no decrease in accidents when cell phone bans were implemented. In fact, in many instances, accidents actually increased after the ban. Also, the data shows that prohibiting the use of cell phones has done little to stop the use of cell phones while driving. Banning is not the answer.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2013 show distracted driving accounted for 10 percent of all fatal crashes. Of that 10 percent of accidents, only 14 percent of crashes involved the use of a cell phone. In other words, 86 percent of fatal “distracted driving” accidents were caused by activity other than cell phones which was only 1.5 percent of all accidents.

  • “Distracted driving” is more serious than just cell phone use.
  • Distracted driving includes all distractions.
  • Texting bans do not reduce accidents.
  • 2013 Data:
    • Total injured – 2,213,000 (100 percent)
    • Distracted driving – 424,000 (18 percent)
    • Cell phone use – 34,000 (1.5 percent)

Senate Bill 1356 would provide that any person causing a collision from the operation of a moving motor vehicle commits an offense if the person is engaged in an activity that is not related to the operation of the motor vehicle and interferes with the driver’s ability to pay attention to the road. An offense would be a Class C misdemeanor for minimal damage, or a state jail felony if the collision results in serious bodily injury or death.

The bill would prohibit local authorities from regulating or prohibiting distracted driving, ending the patchwork of regulation we currently have in place. Existing statutes prohibiting the cell phone use by minor drivers and cell phone use in school zones would not be affected.

If we want to improve vehicle safety and reduce the problem of distracted driving, we must address the whole distracted driving issue, not just a fraction of it. An accident caused by a distraction other than cell phone use is no less serious than the one caused by an individual on their cell phone. And, if the statistics are correct, it is much more likely to occur.

That is why I have filed Senate Bill 1356 which would address the reduction of distracted driving accidents by focusing on the punishment of the consequences, rather than the banning of any specific activity. Driving is a serious responsibility and failure to recognize that should be treated seriously.

If you have input on this item, please provide them to my Legislative Director, Kathi Seay.  She can be reached by email at Kathi.Seay@senate.texas.gov or by phone at 512.463.0102.

If you are interested in reading other pending bills and sending any comments to our office, they may be found at http://www.legis.texas.gov/.

As always, I appreciate the opportunity to represent you in the Texas Senate.

Sincerely,

Senator Bob Hall

Stop the For-Profit Marketing of ABORTIONS by Planned Parenthood


Source: LiveAction Facebook “Planned Parenthood Workers Speak Out: Abortion Quotas”

Planned Parenthood is a faux non-profit organization that actually strives to maximize profits.

Demand your state legislators DEFUND Planned Parenthood.

CALL their offices.

WRITE emails and/or letters.

Texas House District 33 Justin Holland

Texas House Contact http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=33

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/justinaholland

Texas Senate District 2 Bob Hall 

Texas Senate Contact http://www.senate.texas.gov/member.php?d=2

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/VoteBobHall/

Speaker of the House Joe Straus

Texas House Contact http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=121 

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SpeakerJoeStraus/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf 

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick 

Texas Capitol Contact https://www.ltgov.state.tx.us/

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sen.dan.patrick

Mental Illness Among Us – What’s the Cure?

Mental Illness

What is mental illness? Let’s start with what it’s not. While there are biological factors that manifest as ‘mental illness’, I leave the classification of organic mental illness for another blog. Mental retardation, for the purposes of this writing, falls under the organic category.

While there are biological factors that manifest as mental illness, I leave the classification of organic mental illness for another blog. Instead, let’s consider behavioral problems for which there is no organic cause.

Neurosis, psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and like classifications hinder rather than help an affected person’s recovery.

From this point forward, I base my observations on the findings and practice of Dr. logo-william-glasser-instituteWilliam Glasser, author of Reality Therapy and founder of the William Glasser Institute. “Reality Therapy is the method of counseling that Dr. Glasser has been teaching since 1965. Reality therapy is firmly based on choice theory and its successful application is dependent on a strong understanding of choice theory.

Choice Theory

According to Dr. Glasser, “all we do is behave, almost all behavior is chosen, and we are choice-theory-book-coverdriven by our genes to satisfy five basic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.”

Dr. Glasser says “the most important need is love and belonging, as closeness and connectedness with the people we care about is a requisite for satisfying all of the needs.”

Choice Theory is available from Amazon.com via this link.

 

The Underlying Problem

The prevalent root of all mental illness is a person’s inability to satisfy his or her own needs. In a word: irresponsibility.

We see college students who race to ‘safe places’ where someone meets their needs by attributing their disease to the actions or values of another person or persons.

Currently, an anarchist movement chiefly associated with the Democrat Party spawns street riots, looting, assaults on innocent persons, and property damage in the millions of dollars.

These mentally ill people demand free education, free housing, free food, and free medical care because they cannot provide these things themselves.

The Cure

As Dr. Glasser teaches, the mentally ill person needs connection with a healthy, good-quality person who will reinforce the truth. They need this connection.

Constraining them in county jails and state mental hospitals inhibits any possibility of this vital long-term personal connection with someone who can love them.

Yes, there are chemical treatments that alleviate the symptoms but do nothing to heal the person.

Outlook

Widespread mental illness due to widespread personal irresponsibility has overtaken college campuses and sharply defined the boundary between two major political parties along the line of irresponsibility which may be described as a yearning for more socialism.

Extreme leftists generally associated with the Democrat Party refuse to accept the fact of President Donald Trump. Fortunately, California excluded, most of our people are rational thinkers who understand the perils of extraordinary national debt and trade imbalances with other nations.

Extreme leftists threaten extreme measures to deny the present reality of a Republican majority in the Congress and White House. Madeleine Albright says she is prepared to “register as a Muslim” to protest President Trump’s moratorium on Muslim immigration. New York Times economist Paul Krugman claims President Trump is mentally ill.

Last fall a number of professional actors and singers threatened to leave America if Donald Trump became president. He did. They didn’t. Acceptance of Mr. Trump as president by Miley Cyrus and some of the others is actually a healthy outcome, not so for those who remain in denial.

Our major cities have become harbors for the homeless, some homeless due to financial disaster, most due to irresponsibility, all too often the products of government welfare.

Action

Healthy citizens must become engaged in the broad problem of mental illness. If for no other reason, to prevent suicides.

Texas is 49th in per capita spending on mental health. I urge state lawmakers to parse out the various roles of the Texas Dept. of Health and Human Services, set mental health all on its own to focus on healing our people. I believe those cases requiring short-term hospitalization should be in the care of professional hospitals, not state warehouses of humanity.

Learn. Be aware of the homeless around you. Support legislation to better address the issues of homelessness, suicide, and irresponsibility.

Visit with your county and city law enforcement officers to learn about their interactions with mental patients in your community.

Suggested resources

REALITY THERAPY Glasser’s classic bestseller, with more than 500,000 copies sold, examines his alternative reality-therapy-book-coverto Freudian psychoanalytic procedures, explains the procedure, contrasts it to conventional treatment, and describes different individual cases in which it was successful.

COUNSELING WITH CHOICE THEORY In Counseling with Choice Theory, Dr. William Glasser takes readers into his consulting room and illustrates, through a series of conversations with his patients, exactly how he puts counseling-and-choice-theory-book-coverhis popular therapeutic theories into practice.

These vivid, almost novelistic case histories bring Dr. Glasser’s therapy to life and show readers how to get rid of the controlling, punishing I know what’s right for you psychology that crops up in most situations when people face conflict with one another.

Practical and readable, Counseling with Choice Theory is Dr. Glasser’s most accessible book in years.

CHOICE THEORY: A NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONAL FREEDOM Dr. William Glasser offers a new psychology that, if practiced, could reverse our widespread inability to get along with one another, an inability that is the source of almost all unhappiness.

choice-theory-book-coverFor progress in human relationships, he explains that we must give up the punishing, relationship, destroying external control psychology. For example, if you are in an unhappy relationship right now, he proposes that one or both of you could be using external control psychology on the other. He goes further. And suggests that misery is always related to a current unsatisfying relationship. Contrary to what you may believe, your troubles are always now, never in the past. No one can change what happened yesterday.

 

History and Facts behind HB375 Constitutional Carry

What are the facts around Constitutional Carry bill HB375? This video lays out a clear and cogent argument to pass this bill.

Texas is a grassroots population that makes good choices when given good information.

Contact state lawmakers to urge them to support Constitutional Carry legislation introduced by State Representative Jonathan Stickland.

Texas State Senator Bob Hall (SD-2) official email http://bit.ly/2j0eylG

Texas State Representative Justin Holland (HD-33) official email http://bit.ly/2jmd4Rc

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick official email http://bit.ly/1FqCkYL

Speaker Joe Straus official email http://bit.ly/2j6litb