Closing Thought–28Dec20

During this pandemic many Americans as well as the rest of the world has been struggling to make ends meet…..our government sent checks out to many Americans as an assistance as well as many for profit corporations got cash…..something I did not…but why would the government subsidize a sports team during the pandemic?

I know WTF?

Yep the government sent funds to a hockey team….

The Pittsburgh Penguins, an NHL team valued at $650 million, received a $4.82 million loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the CARES Act passed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Larry Brooks at the New York Post, the hockey team was the only one of the 123 teams that make up the Big Four North American Men’s Sports Leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) to get a loan from the aid program, which was supposed to help small businesses keep employees on the payroll.

They Are F*cking Guilty!

Our dear Orange Dude has pardon everyone who has dirt on his worthless ass…..and there are a few things that I want to pass on….

The people pardoned are criminals.

If they accept the pardon then they are admitting that they are truly criminals and guilty of the charges levelled on them.

But let’s learn about pardons for those unsure what they are and do….

The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, grants the president the power of executive clemency. Executive clemency includes the power to pardon, in which the president overturns a federal conviction and restores “an individual to the state of innocence that existed before the conviction.”[3] Executive clemency also includes the power of commutation, which allows a president to shorten or reduce a federal prison sentence.

Other powers of executive clemency include postponing a sentence or punishment (a reprieve) and remitting fines.[4]

The Constitution imposes two major limits on the power of executive clemency. The first is that clemency is limited to federal offenses. The president cannot pardon individuals for civil or state offenses. The second is that the president may not use this power to intervene in impeachment proceedings.

A special office in the Department of Justice is dedicated to assisting the president in matters related to executive clemency. It is called the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Requests for pardons, commutations, and remissions begin with the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

Next the reasons for presidential pardons according to scholar P.S. Ruckman…..

First category of explanations are ‘legal’ or ‘technical’ in nature. Generally such explanations relate to (1) the potential, probable or certain innocence of the petitioner (2) mitigating factors or (3) concern for proportionate punishment. [W.H.] Humbert’s [1941] study, for example, found the following factors cited in clemency statements: (1) irregularities at trial, insufficient evidence, conflicting testimony, mistaken identity, grave doubt as to the justice of convictions, disclosure of new evidence, confessions of true offenders (2) absence of premeditation, the heat of passion or extreme provocation, insanity, intoxication (3) technical guilt, pettiness of the crime, excessive punishment, sufficient punishment, and a desire to equalize punishment for all participants in the crime.

A second category of formal, public clemency explanations concerns humanitarian compassion or mercy. Clemency rationales in this category are criticized more frequently, but the appeals to sympathy and emotion in this category of explanations may serve as a powerful shield to the executive. Many pardons, for example, have been issued to federal prisoners near death (Adler 1989; Humbert 1941). […] In some instances, pardons have been issued to those whose health threatened that of other inmates (Humbert 1941). A well-argued statement emphasizing the extreme age, ignorance, or questionable degree of sanity in the recipient of clemency may sway sympathy as well as any ‘death bed’ scenario.

A third and final category of formal, public clemency explanations concerns judgments on reform, or rehabilitation. Explanations in this category may well provide the greatest potential for controversy. As Moore (1993) notes, presidents run certain risks when they attempt to assess the reality and degree of a prisoner’s `transformation.’ […] In the past, presidents have been swayed by the religious conversion of prisoners, charity work (Clark 1984), and promises “never to violate the law again” (Humbert 1941, 124).

Next question is why do we have this situation….it begins with the Framers…..

The concept of governmental relief from the punishment that would otherwise apply to a criminal act has deep historical roots, with some scholars tracing it as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. An English form of pardon power vested in the king, the ‘prerogative of mercy,’ first appeared during the reign of King Ine of Wessex (688-725 A.D.). Over time, perceived abuses ‘such as royal sales of pardons or use of pardons as bribery to join the military’ prompted Parliament to impose limitations on the pardon power. The king’s power to pardon nevertheless endured through the American colonial period and applied in the colonies themselves through delegation to colonial authorities.

Following the American Revolution, the English legal tradition of a pardon power held by the executive directly influenced the pardon provision included in the U.S. Constitution. At the Constitutional Convention, the two major plans offered—the Virginia and New Jersey plans—did not address pardons. However, in a ‘sketch’ of suggested amendments to the Virginia plan, Alexander Hamilton included a pardon power vested in an ‘Executive authority of the United States’ that extended to ‘all offences except Treason,’ with a pardon for treason requiring Senate approval. It appears that the rationale for the treason limitation was, at least in part, that the head of the executive branch should not be able to absolve himself and possible conspirators of a crime threatening ‘the immediate being of the society.’ Hamilton’s proposal was included in a subsequent draft of the Constitution, though the requirement of Senate approval for a pardon of treason was replaced with an exception for impeachment, apparently with the thought that exempting impeachment was sufficient to protect against abuse.

Now you know the why and how…..

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What Is The Worst Pardon?

Keeping with my pardon meme for the day…..a little history…..

There are always presidential pardons before the out going president leaves the White House…..let’s look at the worse presidential pardons in our history?

Political Pundits and television talking heads have been speculating widely and wildly about who Donald Trump will pardon before he leaves office on January 20, 2021. Will he pardon Rudy Giuliani? Paul Manafort? Steve Bannon? His children? Himself?

It is customary for an outgoing President to grant 11th hour pardons, sometimes to surprising recipients. But Donald Trump is anything but customary, and thus that pardon-guessing game offers a goldmine of interesting and in some cases alarming speculation regarding who and why.

This Christmastime gift giveaway shows us just how valuable a presidential get-out-of-jail card can be. Plus it gives a president opportunities to accomplish multiple personal and political goals.

Of course, not all presidential pardons are created equal. To be sure, justice and mercy are worthy and occasional goals. But the end-of-term pardons often reveal other, less savory objectives. Some pardons seem to be given in exchange for money (directly or as tax-free donations to a presidential library fund or other cause of interest for the outgoing president), some to settle scores, some to reward partisan loyalists.

The president’s pardon power is broad and derives from the U.S. Constitution. The only two areas where the pardon power is forbidden are a) in cases of impeachment; and b) for state, rather than federal, offenses. The question of a pardon prior to an indictment or finding of guilt was decided in the case of the Nixon pardon in 1974, when Gerald Ford granted his predecessor a “full, free, and absolute pardon” even before Nixon was charged formally with a crime (he was, however, named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a criminal case that landed several people in his administration in jail).

The intentions of the Framers of the Constitution gave the newly invented president the pardon power to ensure justice and, as Alexander Hamilton noted a few years after the adoption of the Constitution, “restore domestic tranquility of the commonwealth.” But not every Founder was in support of giving the president this absolute power. George Mason, a convention delegate from Virginia, warned that a president might “make dangerous use of it” by pardoning crimes in which he might be a co-conspirator.

I think in the future Trump will go down with the worst pardons ever….but he will be in bad company either way.

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Stim Bill Hits A Snag

But looks like it may be a good snag.

I was planning to focus on presidential pardon stuff today but this development is too important to pass on…..

We all have heard about the President playing politics about people should get $2000 in their forthcoming checks…..Trump decided that he would veto the spending bill because there were no checks for us mere mortals……well all that changed over the weekend….

After a delay of nearly a week, President Trump on Sunday night backed down, as many had begged him to do, and signed the COVID relief bill. That means the government won’t shut down, as would have happened had he not signed by Monday night, Politico reports. It also means Americans will start getting their relief checks—the $600 figure that Trump was not happy about—but CNBC reports that the House is voting to increase that figure to the $2,000 Trump wants, and Trump said Sunday night that the Senate will be voting on that as well. CNN accuses Trump of causing “chaos” with his delay, since unemployment aid lapsed before he signed. Trump was also not happy with what he called “pork” in the $1.4 trillion government funding bill that was passed alongside the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill, a point he addressed in a statement released Sunday night.

“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” the statement says (Politico notes Congress does not need to abide by that request). “On Monday the House will vote to increase payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000,” the statement continues. “Additionally, Congress has promised that Section 230, which so unfairly benefits Big Tech at the expense of the American people, will be reviewed and either be terminated or substantially reformed. Likewise, the House and Senate have agreed to focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud which took place in the November 3 Presidential election. The Senate will start the process for a vote that increases checks to $2,000, repeals Section 230, and starts an investigation into voter fraud.”

A bit of compromise…..something that is in short supply….but I do not trust the Congress to do the right thing or even the honest thing.

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Pardon Me?

The begin the last week of this totally horrible year….we can only hope that the New year and new president will help make things better.

Let’s start the week with all this pardon stuff.

The big story over the week of Christmas was the presidential pardons issued by this now defunct president……

The first batch included a couple baby killers…..some corrupt criminal representatives….

President Trump on Tuesday pardoned 15 people, including Republican allies, a 2016 campaign official ensnared in the Russia probe, and former government contractors convicted in a massacre in Iraq. The pardons included former Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, the AP reports. Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Trump to be president, was sentenced to two years and two months in federal prison after admitting he helped his son and others dodge $800,000 in stock market losses when he learned that a drug trial by a small pharmaceutical company had failed. Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing campaign funds and spending the money on everything from outings with friends to his daughter’s birthday party. He was due to start serving the sentence next month.

Trump also pardoned former Rep. Steve Stockman, who started serving a 10-year sentence for crimes including fraud and money laundering in 2018, reports the New York Times. Trump also announced pardons for George Papadopoulos, his 2016 campaign adviser whose conversation unwittingly helped trigger the Russia investigation, and attorney Alex van der Zwaan, the first person convicted in the Mueller probe. In the group announced Tuesday night were four former government contractors convicted in a 2007 massacre in Baghdad that left more a dozen Iraqi civilians dead and caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone. Supporters of the former Blackwater contractors had lobbied for pardons, arguing that the men had been excessively punished.

But Trump did not stop there….the second round includes more Trump loyalists….

President Trump’s pardon-palooza continued for a second night Wednesday, when he issued another 26 pardons—including ones for Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, who were convicted of multiple crimes after being indicted during Robert Mueller’s investigation. Trump commuted longtime friend Stone’s sentence in July, days before he was due to report to prison to serve a 40-month sentence for crimes including lying to Congress and witness tampering. Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was serving a 7.5-year sentence for crimes including tax fraud and was moved to home confinement in May. Trump also pardoned Charles Kushner, father of son-in-law Jared Kushner, CNN reports.

The elder Kushner was released from prison in 2006 after serving 14 months for crimes including tax evasion and retaliating against a federal witness. The case was prosecuted by then-US Attorney for New Jersey Chris Christie. The New York Times calls the Kushner pardon “one of the most anticipated of the Trump presidency.” Others pardoned Wednesday include Margaret Hunter, whose husband former GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, was pardoned Tuesday for campaign finance fraud. Trump also commuted three sentences Wednesday, bringing the total number of people given clemency over the last two days to 49, per the AP. Tuesday’s pardons included two other people convicted as a result of the Mueller probe.

Let’s not forget the slug Kushner and his criminal father….

On the one hand, President Trump’s latest batch of pardons was excellent news for the Kushner family. On the other hand, it has brought renewed attention to why Charles Kushner—the father of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner—needed a pardon in the first place. It’s not a pretty tale. In fact, “it’s one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted when I was US attorney,” none other than Chris Christie said in a 2019 PBS interview, per Fox News. Details and related pardon coverage:

  • The crimes: The elder Kushner, 66, is a New Jersey developer who served 14 months in prison more than a decade ago after being convicted of tax fraud and of making illegal campaign contributions, reports But the “loathsome” part Christie was talking about refers to a bizarre sting operation Kushner carried out on his own brother-in-law
  • The trap: Kushner admitted that he paid $25,000 to have a prostitute visit and seduce the husband of his sister in a motel room, and Kushner then sent the videotape to his sister. Why? Christie’s office maintained Kushner was trying to intimidate his sister and keep her from testifying before a grand jury against him in the federal investigation. At the time, Charles Kushner also was having a nasty dispute with another sibling, brother Murray, a former business partner. Their sister had taken Murray’s side, per
  • Justification: “Since completing his sentence in 2006, Mr. Kushner has been devoted to important philanthropic organizations and causes, such as Saint Barnabas Medical Center and United Cerebral Palsy,” says the president’s statement on the pardon. “This record of reform and charity overshadows Mr. Kushner’s conviction and 2 year sentence for preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.”

Then the Blackwater murderers…..

  • Blackwater reaction: Trump also pardoned four figures who worked as guards for the private military contractor Blackwater. All were convicted after 14 Iraqi civilians were killed and 17 wounded in a 2007 Baghdad ambush, per NPR. In Baghdad, news of the pardons brought sentiment like this: “I have always known that his murderers would get away with it somehow even after they were prosecuted,” a former schoolmate of a slain medical student tells the Washington Post. “The pardon was inevitable.”
  • Blackwater II: The same Post story also incorporates the view of supporters of the men, who say they were unjustly vilified and imprisoned by their own government. The story details the different accounts of what happened when gunfire broke out that day in Nisour Square.

Is the “Pardon Palozza” over or does he, Trump, want to free more criminals on society?

Should we really fret over these Trumpian pardons?

… the news set in that President Trump had pardoned almost everyone involved in the Russia scandal, I saw an editor at one of the big political publications say that with this step President Trump had taken one more step in erasing the Mueller probe. This is wrong. And explaining why it’s wrong gives me another opportunity to reaffirm my belief that knowledge, a public accounting of what happened is far more important than punishment for individual wrongdoers

What Trump completed was the the cover-up, the pay offs he’d promised, either explicitly or implicitly, in exchange for the silence of his coconspirators. As it happens, only Paul Manafort was even still in prison or serving time. For the rest it was just symbolism. But again, what is important is a public accounting of the facts.

From that perspective, these pardons mean fairly little. I’ve heard some claim that the upside of these pardons is that now the key players can’t plead the fifth. Even narrowly speaking I believe that is not true since most or all could face state jeopardy. But more broadly it’s a fallacy of legal literalism. Sure they can’t plead the fifth. But they can lie. They can claim they don’t remember. And they will. Don’t think this means anyone can be compelled to cooperate.

The Pardons are A Disgrace. But Don’t Sweat It.

My further thoughts on Trump’s pardons….or any pardon for that matter…..a future post.

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