Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bernard Goldberg's Unmerciful Ignorance

In this wildly unimpressive piece, Bernard Goldberg tries his hand at analysis of the clemency power which the Federalist Papers deemed so important to our system of criminal justice. Goldberg is no clemency expert, or even a student of the topic. He just knows what he reads in the newspapers, when freakish and rare "pardon scandals" attract the attention of everyone else. Imagine the quality that is about to follow!

First, Goldberg starts a ripping on Haley Barbour - thanks, Haley, you have done the pardon power so much good! Of course, this blog has done quite a bit of Haley Barbour ripping - but always at the expense of Haley Barbour, never at the expense of the pardon power. Golberg says "when Governor Haley Barbour pardoned a number of murderers on his last day in office, he was acting in the proud tradition of several other political hacks."

The impressive list that follows? Four names. Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, Mike Huckabee and George Ryan. Yep, no mention of Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush or Reagan. Go figure.

But, even with such a small landscape to work, Mr. Goldberg quickly establishes himself as an idiot. He appears to think Michael Dukakis pardoned Willie Horton. He did not. He actually says, Mike Huckabee "pardoned" Maurice Clemmons. He did not. Goldberg reports that George Ryan commuted 160 death sentences, but does not say why. Does Goldberg not know?

Goldberg rightly takes Barbour to task for waiting until he was "all packed up and ready to leave the key under the mat" before he started granting pardons. But he then puts on his theologian's hat and writes:
... even though Christians are supposed to hate the sin, but love the sinner, that doesn’t mean they’re supposed to park their brains and their common sense in the deep freeze.
Yep, just when you think the wrecked car could not be more damaged, it explodes into flames. Apparently Barbour gets his notion of what Christians are "supposed" to do from Hallmark greetings cards, or inspirational calendars. Armed with a head full of such gibberish, Goldberg rips on Pope John II (one of the true ignoramouses re what Christians are "supposed" to do). John II lobbied for the commutation of Darrell Mease’s death sentence. Says Goldberg:
Mease had murdered three people, including a young paraplegic, but the Pope became convinced that he had experienced a religious conversion ... The irony is that Mease, who was a meth user and dealer, was also a religious bigot who despised Catholics.
Could Goldberg's application of Christianish inspirational calenders be any more rigorous, and on point? I mean, sure there is that little Apostle Paul exception in the New Testament - you know the Roman who persecuted Christians "beyond measure," participated in the stoning/murder of a Saint (Stephen) - but come on! Who does the Pope think he is? Loving those that hate him! Jeeeez!

Goldberg concludes that "the only people who are ever entitled to forgive a criminal are God [and] the criminal’s victims. It appears that Alexander Hamilton often thought he was something like God, so we choose to side with him, as opposed to Goldberg.

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