In June of 2014, in Pardon Me, I wrote:
The groundwork has been laid. A fog of cynical apathy has descended over America. So outrageous and frequent have been the lawlessness and crimes of Mr. Obama and his sycophants that Americans, for the most part, merely shrug in tired resignation at each new revelation. Scandals that would have ruined any previous president are now barely reported, and if known, evoke little more than a disgusted, resigned shake of the head and a muttered “so what else is new?” The Congress, its constitutional role and prerogatives usurped, lacks the courage to do more than profess faux outrage for the occasional news camera, while multiple committees and sub committees conduct “investigations” that amount to little more that congressional posturing before the cameras.
It is difficult indeed to imagine how the Congress could muster the political will to impeach Mr. Obama. It’s harder still to imagine how the Senate, particularly should it remain in Democrat hands, would ever convict. Could even the nuclear annihilation of Tel Aviv or an American city be sufficient? And should the next president also be a democrat, there will surely be no prosecutions, even if there were not wholesale pardons.
Unlike the American people and our allies, Barack Obama and his functionaries have little to fear. Mr. Obama has a golf bag full of pardons, and he will not be afraid to use them.
Oh, and it won’t be necessary for the left to chant ‘free Mumia’ anymore either.
And in “Watchin’ TV In A Burning House, in May of 2015, I wrote:
Consider this: there are so many scandals, so many betrayals of America, that we can’t keep track of them all or keep them all straight. As soon as a new one comes to light, the Obamites begin the years long process of stonewalling and the DOJ will never prosecute any of its own. I suspect that even now, Mr. Obama and his DOJ are preparing pardons on a level never before imagined.
How can it be that this is happening in America?
There are many reasons, starting with an utterly lawless President of the United States, dribbling down the chain to a judiciary that is only marginally willing to do its constitutional part in reigning in that lawlessness, continuing downward to an almost entirely feckless Congress, unable to muster the spinal stiffness necessary to assert its constitutional authority. And the blame doesn’t stop there. A substantial portion of the American people have entirely abandoned the Constitution and the rule of law in favor of endless governmental handouts, and the rest continue to reelect the fools, knaves and scoundrels that refuse to restrain an imperial presidency.
I hate to say “I told you so,” but I told you so. Presidents have near-total pardon/commutation powers. There are only two certain limitations: they cannot pardon those convicted of state-level crimes; their pardon powers affect only federal crimes. They cannot pardon governmental officials in the process of impeachment, or that have been impeached. Legal scholars disagree on other related issues. For example, can a President pardon himself? Maybe. Can a President pardon for crimes not yet committed? More legal scholars think he cannot, for if he could, he would in essence be writing law, or at least, foreclosing entire avenues of law the Congress might wish to establish.
But a president with a pen and a phone, a president that recognizes no restraints on his powers and has no respect for the Constitution? What limits him?
The invaluable Heather MacDonald explains the latest outrage at National Review:
President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 214 federal prisoners yesterday [08-03-16], part of his ongoing crusade against a criminal-justice system he regularly declares racist and draconian. The White House trumpeted the fact that this was the largest one-day grant of clemency since 1900. Some of the prisoners will be released now; others will have to stay in prison a while longer for more drug rehabilitation.
So it’s a contest? That’s how it works? This is just another tally mark on Mr. Obama’s legacy scorecard?
The vast majority of prisoners exemplify the so-called nonviolent-drug-offender category, a primary focus of ‘criminal-justice reform’ advocates. But a search of the commutation database [go here for Mr. Obama’s Pardons/commutations from November, 2011 to the present] comes up with 156 hits for ‘firearms’ (some of those hits are multiple counts for the same offender). Wilson Henderson, of Hollywood, Fla., for example, was convicted of ‘use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime,’ according to the Justice Department press release. Kenneth Evans, of Fort Worth, Texas, was convicted of ‘use and carry firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting.’ Mark Anthony Clark, of Rockford, Ill., was convicted of ‘possession of a firearm by a felon/fugitive from justice and aiding and abetting,’ as well as of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams of meth.
Many of the commuttees possessed stolen firearms or firearms with their serial numbers obliterated. Some were in violation of National Firearms Registration, which can mean possession of a federally prohibited weapon, such as a machine gun, silencer, or sawed-off shotgun. We don’t know how many guns the offenders actually had; a commuttee during a previous batch of commutations had 40.
Nor does the Justice Department’s press release disclose the actual incidence of firearm possession by these federal convicts. Gun possession can be used to increase a federal sentence under the federal sentencing guidelines without a prosecutor’s actually bringing a formal charge. A gun charge can also be plea-bargained away.
For those interested in taking the link to the Government’s listing of Mr. Obama’s pardons, it’s important to keep in mind that the official recitation of the charges on which a felon was convicted is far from the number and severity of crimes they committed. For example, during my days as a detective investigating burglaries from motor vehicles, I would commonly arrest people for committing hundreds of burglaries with many related offenses, including destruction of property and even arson, all felonies. However, we would virtually always bargain those stratospheric numbers to three or four felonies of our choosing. The official conviction record would indicate only an eight-year sentence for three felonies, while they could have faced multiple lifetimes in prison for the hundreds of felonies they actually committed. We did this to get complete cooperation from the criminals, to recover as much of the stolen property as possible–to return it to its amazed owners–and to identify and convict other criminals.
It appears that these commutations are primarily an effort by Mr. Obama to wipe away federal drug laws, laws he has been unable to erase by legislative means. We know this because most of these people are not convicted of random crimes, but of a small class of drug offenses. Be aware that if these felons were serving life sentences–and many of them were–they were not merely hapless, lower level street criminals put in jail for possession of small amounts of drugs or smoking a joint. These were among the most dangerous, violent, experienced drug criminals in circulation. They were not victims of excessive, unreasonable sentences. They deserved far, far more punishment. Many people, including Mr. Obama, forget or refuse to recognize one of the most important functions of prison, as he has done when he recently observed that it costs $80 billion a year to incarcerate so many criminals. The greatest value of prisons is not rehabilitation, but separation; while incarcerated, the worst criminals among us, true psychopaths and sociopaths, are not committing crimes. They’re not making more victims. Allowing such monsters to roam free among us costs far more, financially, than the pocket change–to him–amount that so faux-concerns Mr. Obama. The cost in rape, torture, injury, maiming, and death is incalculable.
Many advocates of criminal-justice reform believe in maximum gun control, yet the White House press releases on the president’s commutations have been silent on the widespread incidence of illegal gun possession. It would seem that once someone becomes a member of the oppressed prisoner class, the gun issue becomes irrelevant.
Gun control has nothing to do with crime control. It’s all about taking away the constitutional rights of the law-abiding. It’s all about eliminating the fundamental, unalienable right to self-defense and giving absolute life and death powers to the likes of Barack Obama.
The Justice Department press release also does not reveal the offenders’ criminal history, history of violence, ties to drug cartels, or the sentencing judge’s recommendation. Written requests to the president from federal attorneys to make the process more transparent have gone unanswered.
Again, you can if you wish, gentle readers, find that information at the link. I warn you, be prepared to become very, very angry, very, very rapidly. As you read the resumes of monsters–remember, you’re not seeing their voluminous criminal records, all the misery and destruction they have caused–ask yourself how anxious you would be to have any of those people move into your neighborhood, or the neighborhoods of any you love.
Perhaps it would be interesting to see how Federal Prosecutors feel about Mr. Obama’s opening of the prison gates. After all, they are intimately involved with the people being released. They know just who and what they are. Fox News reports:
The head of the association representing career federal prosecutors unloaded Thursday on President Obama’s decision to cut short the sentences of 214 prisoners, accusing the administration of violating its own clemency guidelines.
Obama’s was the most commutations ever issued on a single day, according to political scientist P.S. Ruckman Jr., who tracks presidential commutations. His total now stands at 562, more than the previous nine presidents combined.
‘These aren’t little, nonviolent offenders.
“The previous nine presidents combined.” That’s back to John F. Kennedy, who served from 1961-1963, more than half a century. Quite an accomplishment.
Steve Cook, president of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, told LifeZette that 55 of the prisoners have firearms convictions — in many cases not just possessing a weapon but using it help carry out drug distribution operations. Others have criminal backgrounds that should have raised red flags, he said.
‘The reason some of this should shock people is when this clemency program was announced, the public was told in order to qualify, applicants had to meet six very specific criteria,’ he said, adding that even a cursory review suggests many should have failed that test.
Cook noted that two men who received a break were serving time for ‘engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise,’ which he said indicates they were drug kingpins.
Another criterion set forth by the Obama administration in 2014 was that prisoners eligible for commuted sentences should not have extensive criminal records. But he said one prisoner who got a break in a previous round of clemency had eight felony drug convictions on his record.
‘I don’t know where in the country this would not be considered a significant criminal history,’ he said.
Nor do I, Mr. Cook. Commutations and pardons are intended to be instruments of mercy and encouragement. They are intended to be granted only to those denied justice, people who were wrongfully convicted, pursued by overzealous prosecutors, or who were the victims of serious irregularities in the justice system, irregularities overlooked by the courts. Alternately, they should be granted only to non-violent offenders, people who have served a significant portion of their sentences, and who have demonstrated genuine remorse and contrition, people that are highly likely to not only never again commit crimes, but to be a benefit to their communities.
Accordingly, each individual case should be carefully considered, which is why there are rules, regulations and procedures in place to ensure pardons and commutations are not given to the undeserving and dangerous. As I noted in Barack Obama: The Hardest Working Man In Politics, and Barack Obama: How Does He Fit All Of That Into 24-Hour Days? Mr. Obama is not, by any definition, a hard worker. On the days when there is anything on his official schedule, he may show up for work in the mid to late morning, take a two or three hour lunch, and knock off for the day around fourish. As I noted in Barack Obama, Muslims and Intelligence, Mr. Obama refuses, more than half the time, to attend his daily intelligence briefing, though he claims to read it. By comparison, George W. Bush never missed a daily intelligence brief.
What does this mean? Barack Obama is a President that can’t be bothered to regularly come in to work, or to get daily intelligence information vital to the nation’s security. By refusing to meet with the briefers, he denies himself the clarifications and explanations absolutely vital to understanding the raw data written in the briefs. How likely is it that Mr. Obama, a man who only occasionally shows up for work, who can’t be bothered about half the time to pay attention to the nation’s security, personally reviewed each of the records of those criminals? How likely is it he carefully considered the societal costs of the release of each of them?
What’s most likely is he simply told his aides to pick a large number of drug offenders, particularly black drug offenders, and he’s turning them loose so he can claim records for his legacy.
Cook said he is bracing himself for further commutations, as Obama has promised. He said he believes the White House will review some 30,000 cases.
‘My theory is when they went in and looked [at the applications], there were not significant numbers of low-level, nonviolent offenders who didn’t have significant criminal histories,’ he said. ‘I don’t know how much worse it can get.
We’re about to find out, Mr. Cook. I’m sure it can get much, much worse, and it will. Mr. Obama has until January to rewrite the nation’s criminal laws, and if Hillary Clinton is elected–Donald Trump seems to be working hard to ensure it–the destruction will have just begun.