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Growing Use of Civil Forfeiture Creates Nightmares for Small Business Owners
Townhall.com ^ | November 18, 2013 | Matthew Needham

Posted on 11/18/2013 5:50:47 AM PST by Kaslin

Imagine that you run a grocery store with your daughter, a store you have owned for thirty years. Imagine that just last year the IRS found no violations in an audit of your store. Now imagine that, despite continuing your sound business practices, you awake one day to find the IRS has seized your entire bank account. The IRS has used a technique called civil forfeiture against you and you find your Constitutional guarantee of innocence until proven guilty has been completely reversed. That is the nightmare that Terry Dehko and his daughter Sandy Thomas found themselves in on January 22, 2013.

Since he bought it in 1978, Terry Dehko has owned Schott’s Supermarket in Fraser, Michigan. His daughter, Sandy, began working at the store when she was 12 and now helps her father run it. The IRS has not argued before a court of law that Terry and Sandy have committed a crime, but that has not stopped it from seizing their entire bank account, worth over $35,000.

The IRS claims that Terry and Sandy violated federal anti-money laundering laws by making regular deposits of cash in amounts less than $10,000. Since banks are required to report deposits larger than $10,000 to the IRS, a firm that consistently makes deposits less than this minimum may draw the attention of the IRS.

Dehko and Thomas state that they have nothing to hide and have offered a simple explanation. Their insurance policy, aimed at small businesses like their grocery store, protects them from theft, but only up to $10,000. Since any dollar over 10,000 left in the store is liable to uninsurable theft, Terry and Sandy make sure their revenues are deposited in their bank account before accumulating above $10,000.

The IRS seized Terry’s and Sandy’s assets using a process called civil forfeiture, which is a power government bodies may use to seize property that is suspected to have been used in a crime. While the IRS has not proved in a court of law that Terry and Sandy committed fraud, it has been able to seize their assets because it suspects that they may have done so.

Worsening the situation is a lack of due process for victims of civil forfeiture. While Terry and Sandy have explained their sounds business practices since their property was seized in January, they have not been able to argue their case before a court of law. Property owners who have their assets seized do not have a clear path to a speedy trial before a judge. Instead, they are required to file a lawsuit intervening in the forfeiture case. Civil forfeiture has made the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” a complete joke.

The Institute for Justice, a national civil liberties law firm, have come to the defense of Terry Dehko and Sandy Thomas. The Institute will assist them in two lawsuits related to the case. In the first, Dehko and Thomas will fight the forfeiture of their assets by demonstrating that their case deposits were for the purpose of sound business practices, rather than the evasion of money laundering laws. In the second, they are fighting the government’s ability to use civil forfeiture. A victory could mean protections for property rights of small-business owners all across the country.

Civil forfeiture is on the rise throughout the United States. According to the Institute for Justice, the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund held $93.7 million of seized assets in 1986. In 2008, that fund was greater than $1 billion.

In a recent profile of the case inthe Economist, Thomas stated that prosecutors offered her and Dehko 20% of their seized assets in a plea bargain, with the government to keep the remaining 80%. Thomas and Dehko declined, because “if [they] settle, it looks like [they’re] guilty of something, which [they’re] not.”

Michigan’s civil forfeiture laws are particularly heinous. In their 2010 report “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” the Institute for Justice gave Michigan a “D-” grade for their forfeiture laws. The Institute found the standard of evidence used in Michigan for forfeiture cases “is significantly lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard required to actually convict someone of criminal activity.” Furthermore, assets seized through civil forfeiture go towards “law enforcement efforts, creating an incentive to pursue forfeiture more vigorously than combating other criminal activity.” Between 2001 and 2008, more than $149 million were seized through this process in Michigan.

In their 2010 report, the Institute for Justice identifies a few avenues for reform. Property owners subject to civil forfeiture should have access to a prompt trial before a judge. They should also be presumed innocent until proven guilty. To prevent conflicts of interest, seized assets should be separated from the budgets of law enforcement.

These arbitrary seizures of private property must be stopped. Civil forfeiture as it exists today has no place in the American legal system, where citizens are innocent until proven guilty and granted due process to prove their innocence. People subject to civil forfeiture are powerless against law enforcement agencies who gain from these takings. Until civil forfeiture is abolished or radically reformed, more innocent Americans will face nightmares similar to that of Terry Dehko and Sandy Thomas.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: civilforfeiture; civilliberties; constitutionalrights; irsabuse; lawsuits; privateproperty; smallbusiness; theydidbuildit
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1 posted on 11/18/2013 5:50:47 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
they at one point spoke out against the One and his regime..ON TWITTER....the NSA picked it up and the IRS....went into action..

How quaint this modern America




2 posted on 11/18/2013 5:55:39 AM PST by MeshugeMikey ( Visit http://icantenroll.com/ In Glitch We Trust....;o})
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To: Kaslin

This enrages me. I am glad someone took their case and I hope the IRS gets their asses handed to them


3 posted on 11/18/2013 5:55:40 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: Kaslin

His best bet is to get one or both of his senators on his side. A call from a senator’s office works miracles. My senator got a federal agency to release a drug shipment I’d received from Switzerland. It was legally seized as Congress had passed a law to stop people form importing cheaper drugs that were available in the US. Didn’t matter. One phone call, I got my Celebrex. (There was such an uproar Congress cancelled the law.)


4 posted on 11/18/2013 5:55:43 AM PST by Gen.Blather
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To: Kaslin
The time to complain about this was back in the 80's when they started doing this to people suspected of being involved with illegal drugs. Instead, we cheered. And now here we are.
5 posted on 11/18/2013 6:02:59 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: MeshugeMikey

Calypso Louie!

On my way to Florida, I stayed one night at a hotel near Montgomery. There was a large contingent of folks who were in town for a Calypso Louie speech.

It was slightly weird to see the crew tromping around at 7:30 a m with their suits, bow ties, and the gals with African robes and head gear.


6 posted on 11/18/2013 6:03:15 AM PST by nascarnation (Wish everyone you see a "Gay Kwanzaa")
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To: Gen.Blather

Yet another great reason to completly abolish and do away with the IRS, it’s broken and like the “Humpty Dumptey” odumbocare fiasco will never nor should it be be put back to gether again.


7 posted on 11/18/2013 6:08:35 AM PST by DaveA37
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To: Kaslin

So if I understand correctly, the IRS took their money because they didn’t exceed the level set by law. Sort of like giving you a speeding ticket for driving a few mph under the limit because you were intentionally trying to not exceed the speed limit. Because you were obviously trying to avoid being ticketed by not exceeding the limit.
This is damned insanity.


8 posted on 11/18/2013 6:11:15 AM PST by Nik Naym (It's not my fault... I have compulsive smartass disorder.)
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To: Wolfie
Instead, we cheered.

I don't know who this "we" is that you refer to, but it doesn't include me.

A lot of folks saw where it was going.

9 posted on 11/18/2013 6:12:15 AM PST by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: nascarnation
Calypso Barack Obama.... starring as Calypso Louie.

when I saw the time magazine cover It knew it was a natural for another Barry obama Parody... x I remember the black muslims" I ran into in Oakland many years ago now...with the males all wearing bowties..

Barry SOetero would have fit right in with that crowd.

Somehow I doubt there have been many civil forfeitures amongst the NOI bidenss owners...since THE ONE was annointed!!!




10 posted on 11/18/2013 6:13:25 AM PST by MeshugeMikey ( Visit http://icantenroll.com/ In Glitch We Trust....;o})
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To: yldstrk
Activities such as this have been going on since the early 90s. Without abatement.
The Gov't toadies do not even have to "prove" you are committing a crime - they merely have to show that you are pursuing actions that may resemble actions pursued by someone who has the intent to commit an illegal activity, i.e. money laundering.

Once the IRS gets on this trail then the penalty clock starts...and the garnishments...and the account freezes...and the account seizures...all the while the penalty clock is running and interest accrues.

And this ALL happens with no required submission of evidence that an actual actionable crime was or has been or is being perpetrated.

Its beyond human comprehension that this is allowed in the U.S.A.
11 posted on 11/18/2013 6:13:45 AM PST by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus sum -- "The Taliban is inside the building")
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To: Nik Naym
Sort of like giving you a speeding ticket for driving a few mph under the limit because you were intentionally trying to not exceed the speed limit.

Not quite. It's illegal to exceed the speed limit.

It's NOT illegal to deposit more than $10k. It's just that the bank has to report it.

12 posted on 11/18/2013 6:14:19 AM PST by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: Wolfie

!!!


13 posted on 11/18/2013 6:21:40 AM PST by DariusBane (Liberty and Risk. Flip sides of the same coin. So how much risk will YOU accept?)
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To: Izzy Dunne

Some of “us” did, but clearly not enough. It was one of those “not my ox being gored” things.

I suspect if one thing was changed, this type of civil forfeiture would disappear, “the seized funds going into LEO budgets” and speedy court hearing. Congress could alter this, but the holderites WhiteyHut might veto, this obvious “graft SOP”.


14 posted on 11/18/2013 6:28:58 AM PST by X-spurt (CRUZ missile - armed and ready.)
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To: yldstrk
Pretty soon these IRS azzholes will be in charge of health care and civil forfeit sure of your bank account by electronic transfer will be something they will use/.
15 posted on 11/18/2013 6:29:25 AM PST by Venturer (Keep Obama and you aint seen nothing yet.)
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To: Kaslin

The IRS claims that Terry and Sandy violated federal anti-money laundering laws by making regular deposits of cash in amounts less than $10,000. Since banks are required to report deposits larger than $10,000 to the IRS, a firm that consistently makes deposits less than this minimum may draw the attention of the IRS.


Is that like getting a ticket for consistently going just below the speed limit?

I am reading more and more cases like this and it is a total farce. The las says $10,000. This means that if you continually make deposits of $9,999.99 that you may arouse suspicion, but you have done nothing illegal. This points out something else: The article states “...violated federal anti-money laundering laws by making regular deposits of cash in amounts less than $10,000.” I believe that is incorrect. It is completely legal to deposit that amount of money as many times as you want. It’s a free country. The law only states that deposits over that amount must be reported.

The deposits may draw attention, just as creative tax deductions may draw attention, but I’ve never heard of the IRS locking down someone’s assets because they think they may be taking deductions they shouldn’t be taking.

This stinks to high heaven. It’s why my assets are not in bank accounts. They can’t take your silver, gold and real estate without a bit more trouble on their part.


16 posted on 11/18/2013 6:34:30 AM PST by cuban leaf
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To: Kaslin

‘Collateral Damage’ in the War on Drugs.


17 posted on 11/18/2013 6:36:08 AM PST by Ditto
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To: Venturer

I will go without health insurance, notice how the administration played a game of semantics by using “health insurance” and “health care” interchangeably? I will still get treated, I am not signing up for obama care.


18 posted on 11/18/2013 6:41:26 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: Izzy Dunne

Good point but the insurance policy at the store would not cover theft about #10K. Thus the deposits to make sure if the store was robbed they had an insurable amount that would be covered. The IRS follows Roman law. You have to prove yourself innocent.


19 posted on 11/18/2013 6:48:30 AM PST by prof.h.mandingo (Buck v. Bell (1927) An idea whose time has come (for extreme liberalism))
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To: Kaslin
Civil forfeiture as it exists today has no place in the American legal system...

Since the government - through laws like FATCA - is now trying to claim that even human persons categorized as American Citizens are the property of the state, it stands to reason that they would not have any qualms about seizing assets owned by their own property.

20 posted on 11/18/2013 6:52:35 AM PST by Mr. Jeeves (CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
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To: Tainan
Its beyond human comprehension that this is allowed in the U.S.A.

Since there is no significant Republican opposition to it (indeed, they continue to cheerlead the War on Drugs that birthed it with unabated vigor) this is one of the key pieces of evidence that the Republicans are not a real opposition party at all, but a gang of actors hired to pacify potential enemies of the state until all the pieces of the planned dictatorship are firmly in place.

21 posted on 11/18/2013 6:55:33 AM PST by Mr. Jeeves (CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
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To: Wolfie
I complained way back then.

I knew it would lead to our present Police State.

People scoffed at me then. How do you like me NOW?

22 posted on 11/18/2013 6:58:56 AM PST by Lazamataz (Early 2009 to 7/21/2013 - RIP my little girl Cathy. You were the best cat ever. You will be missed.)
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To: cuban leaf
"The law only states that deposits over that amount must be reported."

Hmmmm....if only deposits OVER $10K have to be reported, and all their deposits were LESS THAN $10K, how did the feds know??? Who reported these lower value deposits???

23 posted on 11/18/2013 7:00:34 AM PST by Wonder Warthog
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To: Tainan
Its beyond human comprehension that this is allowed in the U.S.A.

What is this 'U.S.A.' of which you speak? Are you referring to the U.S.S.A.?

24 posted on 11/18/2013 7:01:26 AM PST by Lazamataz (Early 2009 to 7/21/2013 - RIP my little girl Cathy. You were the best cat ever. You will be missed.)
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To: Wonder Warthog

Who reported these lower value deposits???


I suspect it came out of the audit. Or the bank “voluntarily” reports this stuff.

What really burns my biscuits about this whole thing is that there is not enough probable cause for law enforcement to do ANYTHING that impacts the people’s lives. The deposits can raise suspicion and cause an investigation to see if there is any “there” there. But to preemptively seize people’s assets is draconian.

It started with the 55 mph speed limit and has only gotten worse. The government is the enemy. Kinda sad, really.


25 posted on 11/18/2013 7:03:39 AM PST by cuban leaf
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To: Kaslin

Here’s the truth. The leftists hate private enterprise. In their minds, all the means of production should be in the hands of the government. (see communist manifesto)
They can’t seize all businesses, just yet, so they take a big piece at a time and call it something else: “asset forfeiture.”

That’s the American way. Deny what you’re doing. Give it a nice-sounding name. Keep doing what you were already doing.


26 posted on 11/18/2013 7:03:42 AM PST by I want the USA back (Media: completely irresponsible traitors. Complicit in the destruction of our country.)
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To: Gen.Blather
His best bet is to get one or both of his senators on his side.

It might be good for him, but it is legally illegitimate and does nothing to fix the process. This family is patriotic enough to take this fight to where it rightly belongs in order to get the system fixed.

G_d bless them.

27 posted on 11/18/2013 7:05:51 AM PST by Carry_Okie ("Single payer" is Medicaid for all; they'll pull the sheet over your head when you're done.)
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To: Tainan
Activities such as this have been going on since the early 90s. Without abatement.

It is a direct result of the drug war.

28 posted on 11/18/2013 7:07:22 AM PST by Carry_Okie ("Single payer" is Medicaid for all; they'll pull the sheet over your head when you're done.)
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To: cuban leaf
This means that if you continually make deposits of $9,999.99 that you may arouse suspicion, but you have done nothing illegal.

Which goes to another problem: How did the IRS know that they were making sub-$10K deposits? Where was the search warrant for acquiring that information?

I'd sue their asses off.

29 posted on 11/18/2013 7:10:17 AM PST by Carry_Okie ("Single payer" is Medicaid for all; they'll pull the sheet over your head when you're done.)
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To: Mr. Jeeves
FATCA - is now trying to claim that even human persons categorized as American Citizens are the property of the state,

Citation please.

30 posted on 11/18/2013 7:11:31 AM PST by Carry_Okie ("Single payer" is Medicaid for all; they'll pull the sheet over your head when you're done.)
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To: Izzy Dunne

I don’t think the grocers cared if the Bank reported the >$10K transactions to the IRS. Their insurance policy required them to have <$10K at the store, so that was the reason for all the transactions that fell just short of $10K. The IRS just assumes such activity is to skirt their rules.


31 posted on 11/18/2013 7:20:33 AM PST by Cyber Liberty (We're At That Awkward Stage: It's too late to vote them out, too early to shoot the bastards.)
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To: Kaslin

Civil Asset Forfeiture is primarily a product of the War on Drugs, although racketeering initiatives may also have been a motivation.

When you combine asset forfeiture with an increasingly greedy government at all levels and an increasingly militarized police force... well the picture is clearly not one of increasing liberty and freedom, is it?


32 posted on 11/18/2013 7:32:00 AM PST by Pearls Before Swine
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To: Wolfie

“The time to complain about this was back in the 80’s when they started doing this to people suspected of being involved with illegal drugs. Instead, we cheered. And now here we are.”

You are totally right. I have been opposed to asset forfeiture since its inception. Its unconstitutional for one thing. If you get convicted of a crime you do the time and pay the fine. Its not supposed to mean the govt can take everything you have in the world and auction it off.


33 posted on 11/18/2013 7:38:19 AM PST by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: cuban leaf

Reporting lower values?

If the bank sees you consistently less than the limit, they can (not sure if must), report that as suspicious.

“It’s to stop money laundering.”


34 posted on 11/18/2013 7:41:40 AM PST by Scrambler Bob ( Concerning bo -- that refers to the president. If I capitalize it, I mean the dog.)
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To: Kaslin

If you like your money, you can keep your money, period.


35 posted on 11/18/2013 7:41:52 AM PST by fella ("As it was before Noah so shall it be again,")
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To: Kaslin
Forfeiture Endangers American Rights.
36 posted on 11/18/2013 7:43:11 AM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Wolfie

You can’t get statists to understand that these forfeiture laws are a bad idea until their pockets get picked. They can’t get their hands around the idea that giving them the power to do it to someone else also gives these agencies the power to do it to them.


37 posted on 11/18/2013 7:48:43 AM PST by Orangedog (An optimist is someone who tells you to 'cheer up' when things are going his way)
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To: cuban leaf

“The IRS claims that Terry and Sandy violated federal anti-money laundering laws by making regular deposits of cash in amounts less than $10,000.”

Everybody that gets a paycheck does that. And what the companies that pay them and require direct deposit?


38 posted on 11/18/2013 7:59:23 AM PST by fella ("As it was before Noah so shall it be again,")
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To: fella

Or we decide to take it from you.


39 posted on 11/18/2013 8:01:14 AM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: fella

The other dirty little secret about this law is that when it was passed, $10,000 was a LOT of money. It isn’t any more.


40 posted on 11/18/2013 8:15:35 AM PST by cuban leaf
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To: Kaslin
Civil forfeiture as it exists today has no place in the American legal system, where citizens are innocent until proven guilty and granted due process to prove their innocence.

Great piece but this isn't entirely correct. In our system, the state must prove guilt, rather than the accused proving innocence. But this case is important to small business owners everywhere and I hope they prevail.

41 posted on 11/18/2013 8:16:28 AM PST by Colonel_Flagg (Some people meet their heroes. I raised mine. Go Army.)
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To: cuban leaf

“The other dirty little secret about this law is that when it was passed, $10,000 was a LOT of money. It isn’t any more.”

And through the cost of living ruse you get paid more and more but it buys less and less.


42 posted on 11/18/2013 8:30:16 AM PST by fella ("As it was before Noah so shall it be again,")
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To: Colonel_Flagg

Not when it comes to civil forfeiture. The defendant must prove innocence, more specifically, that is his assets were not gained through illegal behavior. No criminal charges (the kind where the State must prove guilt) even need to be filed. It’s a tidy system.


43 posted on 11/18/2013 8:30:23 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: Wonder Warthog

Ya wanna another laugh? If you consistenly deposit amounts just under 10K to avoid the reporting, the Feds will hit you with “structuring” charges.


44 posted on 11/18/2013 8:32:55 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: All


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45 posted on 11/18/2013 8:34:31 AM PST by musicman (Until I see the REAL Long Form Vault BC, he's just "PRES__ENT" Obama = Without "ID")
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To: Springman; cyclotic; netmilsmom; RatsDawg; PGalt; FreedomHammer; queenkathy; madison10; ...
Ultimately property rights and personal rights are the same thing.

-Calvin Coolidge

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Michigan legislative action thread
46 posted on 11/18/2013 8:41:11 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: yldstrk

In essence Oabmacare for anyone who purchases it is actually catastrophic insurance.

The High Deductibles will not help anyone who seeks preventive medicine, they will have to pay for it.

Only those who are given free insurance through Medicare will be insured for preventive medicine and have no deductibles.

Obamacare is insurance for the people in this country who have been depending on society to feed them , house them, and baby sit them for generations, with the rest of us paying for it.

Obamacare is for the poor and the useless, with the Middle Class paying the bill. It is insurance for the typical Obama voter. With those in the Middle Class who voted for it, being too stupid to understand that until they get hit broadside with that wad of dung being tossed at them.


47 posted on 11/18/2013 8:54:11 AM PST by Venturer (Keep Obama and you aint seen nothing yet.)
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To: Wolfie

Put down the crack pipe and step away from the keyboard. Bureaucracies by nature usurp power and everything does not relate back to drugs.


48 posted on 11/18/2013 9:25:00 AM PST by MrEdd (iHeck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: Wolfie
The time to complain about this was back in the 80's when they started doing this to people suspected of being involved with illegal drugs. Instead, we cheered. And now here we are.

Some of us weren't cheering. We saw exactly where this was heading and spoke out about it.

Congratulations to all you drug warriors out there, you've sure done a bang up job of destroying the Constitution!

 

49 posted on 11/18/2013 9:47:09 AM PST by zeugma (Is it evil of me to teach my bird to say "here kitty, kitty"?)
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To: MrEdd
Bureaucracies by nature usurp power and everything does not relate back to drugs.

This one most certainly does.

50 posted on 11/18/2013 9:50:58 AM PST by Lazamataz (Early 2009 to 7/21/2013 - RIP my little girl Cathy. You were the best cat ever. You will be missed.)
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