FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How the Grinch Stole the Pardons

by ELAINE CASSEL

Two years ago, the Supreme Court was the Grinch that stole Christmas, stealing the election right out of the hands of the voters and giving the gift of the presidency to their appointee, George II.

This year, it is George II himself who stole Christmas, issuing seven presidential pardons that, like most of what George II does, makes a mockery of substance and the process. Presidential pardons, a constitutional power that allows a President to demonstrate compassion and give hope to people caught in the federal government’s increasingly broad criminal injustice net, got a bad name with Clinton’s pardon of financier Marc Rich. But Clinton, at the end of his second term, made some moving pardons, including some caught in the federal government’s draconian drug laws.

But the Bush pardons say much about Bush, besides his ability to distort every Presidential act into a bad joke. The choice points out how personal and business interests drove his choices. Let’s see, he pardoned a moonshiner, no doubt feeling compassion for a fellow boozer and violator of alcohol-related laws (recall Bush’s drunk driving conviction that was swept under the rug, not to mention his own daughter’s criminal offenses related to alcohol). A man was fined, fined mind you, for making a false statement to the Social Security Administration. Well, given the way this Administration obfuscates the truth, Bush can certainly identify with a liar. He pardoned two men who stole from businesses–one who stole grain and one who stole copper wire. Well, one does not have to look far beyond Enron to see how Bush has compassion for guys who loot businesses.

And, oh yes, Bush, who escaped the onus of military service and now is so anxious to send tends of thousands of Americans to war against Iraq (and can Korea and Iran be far behind), pardoned a Jehovah’s Witnesses minister who failed to report for induction in 1957. This pardon fills two squares–Bush’s hypocrisy about military service and his “faith-based” initiative. Let’s hope our young people remember when Bush sends them to face off against hand-to-hand combat and nerve gas.

Finally, the one I like the best, is the pardon of a man for altering an odometer. I had the misfortune of catching Tim Russert slavishly courting Laura Bush on television last Sunday. She, answering the question of a young girl who wrote her asking if she and the Pres had horses at the ranch, replied that no, they did not have horses. Because, she says, my husband is a “windshield cowboy.” Meaning, of course, that he rides around the terrain in his macho pick-up truck. Then, too, altering odometers and defrauding unsuspecting purchasers falls into the wink to fraud represented by Enron, Harvey Pitt, Henry Kissinger, Cheney and Haliburton-need I go on?

In contrast, a short story in the December 25, 2002 New York Times caught my eye and really got me going on this pardon rant. A Dutch court convicted a doctor of assisting in a patient’s suicide (against the law there, in contrast to euthanasia, which is not). But the doctor received no punishment, the judge finding that he acted out of “compassion” for his patient.

I could go on about the lack of compassion among President and government for people and environment, the Congress, with the help of the Senate’s new Teflon-coated Republican leader, Bill Frist, making sure that parents whose children are rendered brain-damaged by mercury in Eli Lilly (his biggest campaign contributor) vaccines are left without legal remedy, the D.C. Court of Appeals striking down a DHHS Medicaid waiver that allowed Maine to negotiate drug discounts for its neediest citizens who are not eligible for Medicaid (a waiver approved during the Clinton administration), the announcement of rules that open up the National Parks to oil drilling and mining.

But I digress.

The Bush Administration grinches stole Christmas this year and will do so for years to come, the effects lingering long after its elves are (if ever) gone. It is up to us to (and I know it sounds corny but it is our only hope to survive what is sure to be a grim couple of years), to keep Christmas, its spirit of compassion and hope, in our hearts. Because in the near term, that is the only place it is going to be kept.

ELAINE CASSEL practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia. She also teaches law and psychology and is the author of Criminal Behavior (Allyn & Bacon, 2001). She is a contributer to CounterPunch. Cassel can reached at cassel@counterpunch.org.

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail