Flavin’s Corner
3-2-01

Excuse Me?

Section 2 - Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
From Article II of The Constitution of The United States of America.

There has never been an adequate treatment of the subject of pardon. [It] has been a neglected orphan, allowed to grow without benefit of careful grooming which has been accorded other branches of law (Survey, vii, ix).
From a 1939 report by the U.S. Attorney General (quoted by P.S. Ruckman, Jr. in “Federal Executive Clemency in United States, 1789-1995: A Preliminary Report”).

Last year, government spending shot up 8 percent. That is far more than our economy grew, far more than personal income grew and far more than the rate of inflation. If you continue on that road, you will spend the surplus and have to dip into Social Security to pay other bills.
From President George W. Bush's Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress, 2-27-01.

[Loud moans, groans, and sighs...]
Audience response to the above remark.

Outrage over Clinton’s eleventh hour pardons continue, the Bush administration is wasting little time stressing moral (read: “Christian”) values while attempting to rob the American people of our budget surplus, and there’s a chance The X-Files won’t be back next year.  Excuse me?  Our collective priorities are embarrassingly shallow and selfish, our attention span seems limited to scandal and the misfortunes of others, and it appears that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  I wonder if history will pardon our silliness?

The 140 pardons and 36 commuted sentences granted by Clinton on Jan. 20, 2001 shouldn’t be deemed remarkable, yet Americans feel this was somehow an unusual event.  It wasn’t.  It’s what presidents do.  Even my gal-pal is upset over the pardon of financier Marc Rich, and asks, “How many other felons were pardoned?”  A fair question, though of dubious legal providence, as Rich was only indicted and never convicted.  The essence of the question unfortunately ignores the basic right of a president to grant clemency at will (providing the paperwork is in order).  Questions of correctness are moot, as what’s done is done, despite asinine threats of remedial repair by Republicans.  Legal?  Yup, the paperwork was in order.  In some orgy of indulgence and indulgences during Clinton’s last night in the Oval Office did older babes Denise Rich and Beth Dozoretz trade sexual favors, while Hugh Rodham razored out lines of cocaine and Roger Clinton opened bottles of peach brandy?  It won’t come out on video or DVD, so who cares?  The Bush administration is coming after our Social Security funds to grease the Republican/Big Business/Christian/Right-Wing machine, and the plan is we’re supposed to be concerned with ANYTHING other than the robbing of America.  And, it looks like the plan is working.  There’s no excuse for us.

Our evolving justice system is renowned for its fairness in most areas (though, of course, we’re still working on equality before the courts), and the unique power afforded governors and the president to grant a stay of execution, pardon, or clemency, is part of our national character.  It’s been a shining beacon at the darkest hour for many and remains the last hope of the desperate.  Sometimes, as in the case of a convicted felon ever legally owning a gun again, it’s the only possibility. [For a California webpage to petition for pardon, click here.]

The pardons granted to Confederate soldiers and Viet Nam draft evaders are examples of a nation forgiving itself.  When Ford pardoned Nixon many broke out in song, though the lyrics sung then were oddly not that dissimilar to today’s Eminem spewings.  Iran-Contra?  Those Christmas Eve pardons by Bush are being studied as premeditated seasonal decisions and are just ready examples of what a president can do.  Bush’s commutation of a notorious Pakistani heroin dealer’s sentence is still not understood–he won’t comment on Aslam P. Adam.  Clinton’s pardons of 16 members of the radical Puerto Rican FALN came as a shock to many, yet few today even remember the debate, though Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) does, apparently.

Was the pardon of Marc Rich correct?  The correctness of the act can only be determined by Clinton, as the power was his and his alone.  As “Slick Willie,” it seems highly improbable he was bribed in any demonstrably evidential way.  That a vast majority of Americans wouldn’t invite Rich to a kegger cookout is beside the point; he’s guilty of white-collar crime, an offense I can sooner overlook than one of domestic violence or drunk driving.  So Rich has a Swiss company that dealt with Iran for oil during a US embargo (and, gee, Reagan can play with the hostages until Carter is no longer president, but that’s supposedly okay).  The Texas oil-resellers finked to the Feds (friends of Bush?), and when the charges started flying, Rich left the US for Switzerland.  Extradition was sought, the Swiss determined it was a simple tax problem, and refused assistance in any arrest or prosecution.  He was safe and notoriety abounded.

At the same time he was hustling Irani oil, he was bilking Malaysia out of 10 billion dollars in speculations on future tin pricing.  He’s a money-guy, successful and ruthless, though not without heart, as his estimated 80 million dollars given to assist in the evacuation of Jews from Ethiopia and Yemen earned him the thanks of a significant number of high-placed Israelis.  Who’s to say why Clinton pardoned him?  It’s one thing for agenda-driven Republicans to be concerned, but the media and the American people?  Excuse me?  Don’t we have other things to be concerned with?

Referring to Sen. Clinton as “Slick Hillie,” The New York Observer has called for her resignation because of the pardons of four Hasidic Jews in a community that overwhelmingly voted for her.  Such hypercritical crap!  Any responsible newspaper wouldn’t bother leveling allegations against Sen. Clinton, but would explore why entire New York communities qualify for public welfare.  Because of religion?  Because they can’t come into contact with average Americans?  This is justification for welfare?  Oh well, The New York Observer just wants to sell newspapers and couldn’t care a less about the truth.

Bush’s speech before Congress was a wake-up for America, but I’m guessing most are still sleeping.  No one seems concerned with his inappropriate smiles and giggles while talking about religion.  He’s a good ol’ boy, right?  One of us!  He mispronounces words just like other people we know!  Well, Bush does remind me of wet-brain alcoholics who’ve suffered damage from too much booze, and all that lip-chewing, tongue poking out, and head jitters resemble the facial mannerisms of someone who’s had a serious cocaine addiction at one point.  Ah, the people’s president!

Excuse me, but if Fox TV doesn’t work something out with The X-Files creator, Chris Carter, this season could be the last for Agents Scully and Mulder.  The Truth Is Out There and we need to know the truth now more than ever.

Wondering how much Natalie Cole got paid,
Rick      

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