Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Wahlberg. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Wahlberg. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Times Editorial on Wahlberg

We have had our say on Mark Wahlberg's pardon application for some time now (see previous posts here). In Today's New York Times, Frank Bruni give us his two cents worth on the topic. Bruni believes Wahlberg is now "confronting" the fact that "life" is not so easily "manipulated" because his application has "rightly" been the focus of "negative" attention.

Bruni understands that the 43-year old Wahlberg committed his offenses when he was but 16 years of age. While Wahlberg's offenses involved physical violence and - it is said - "racial slurs," they were not considered serious enough to result in a jail sentence of more than 45 days. Bruni notes that, more than two decades ago, as rapper "Marky Mark," Wahlberg "was known for using crude language about women" and was "implicated in brawls." The cynic might note ...

Today, however, "several prominent Hollywood producers" insist Wahlberg's reputation "in the industry" is "sterling." He has also donated a considerable amount of time and energy for charitable causes. But Bruni dismisses all of Wahlberg's generosity because "he can afford that in a way that very few ex-cons can." Or, as Bruni puts it:
Financial generosity shouldn’t be a factor in his (or anyone else’s) favor: That’s just the criminal-justice system’s version of income inequality.
Ironically, Bruni is critical of Wahlberg for not having "reached out to the Vietnamese community in Dorchester or to the victims of his crimes." We assume that Wahlberg could, in a way that "very few ex-felons can."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bruni: Creative, But Still Wrong

We have already commented on Frank Bruni's commentary on Mark Wahlberg's clemency application (see posts here), but Bruni is doubling down on his wrong-headed analysis and his downward slide is something to see!

Bruni proudly wields a colorless anecdote re Wahlberg's use of eye glasses which he (Bruni), evidently, believes sheds profound light on the substantive merit of Wahlberg's pardon application. After spending a couple of "days" with Wahlberg, years ago, Bruni has concluded Wahlberg exhibited a pattern of bad behavior, almost four decades ago, when he was 16-years old, and when he committed an offense so heinous that he served only 45 days in prison.

In the Morning Joe clip (below), Bruni says Wahlberg's argument for pardon is that, well, "he was 16 at the time." And that is when it becomes perfectly obvious that, for whatever reason, Mr. Bruni just can't think clearly, or very fairly, about this case.

Bruni admits "everyone" says Wahberg is a "great person to work with and an outstanding guy" and that he "probably is a different man." Yes, "probably" is as far as Bruni is willing to wander away from the comfort of his ginormous blind spot. But he then tosses those critical reference points (at least for those who believe in - and are truly interested in - rehabilitation) like a classically over-zealous prosecutor forsaking a handful of frivolous charges in plea bargain negotiations with an indigent defendant. Notably, to date, Bruni and his ilk can't find a single person - not even an anonymous person - to slam Wahlberg's character and reputation ... in the current decade ! Dear Reader, do you realize how hard it is these days to not be able to find an anonymous slanderer?!

For centuries, presidents and governors have considered community service and social good works in clemency decision making, without Bruni's permission and insight:
It's easy to give back money when you make that much money and if we start factoring in financial contributions into pardons, that's just income inequality transferred into criminal justice. I don't think we need to do that. 
The giant ball of flame barrels through a field of straw men. It may be easy to give, but many don't.  As long as we are waxing sociological, "ease" is certainly a relative notion. "Financial contributions" here means donations to organizations that do things like provide counselling and programs to high risk youth. And, of course, the "factoring" consideration would pack a lot of serious journalistic punch were "financial contributions" required. But they are not. They are simply fairly considered with a host of whatever other arguments an applicant can make for penitence, rehabilitation, social responsibility and integration back into society as a law-abiding and productive citizen. 

Presidents have granted pardons to farmers, for all sorts of crimes, that landed then in federal prison, for much longer periods of time, so they could return to their fields for harvest. A President, Bruni would keep them in over-crowded, expensive prisons, protecting himself from 1) any accusation of agricultural bias and 2) any possible negative interpretation of his decision-making concocted by the worst, most uninformed. Signals are more important to Bruni than the boring, raw merits of a pardon application - like the fact that one of the victims thinks Wahlberg should be pardoned. Boring, irrelevant stuff. Admittedly, it appears we have a lot of governors like Bruni!

Bruni says we can't give Wahlberg a pardon ... not because the crime was so horrible, not because the application is weak, or horribly flawed, not because Wahlberg hasn't changed, not because he does not deserve a pardon ... but "because we give so few of them." Brilliant. This is the exact bone-headed argument that Scott Walker uses to justify his "policy" of granting no pardons at all. As he puts it, if he does justice in one case, others will demand the same. God forbid there would be a break out of justice on Walker's (or President Bruni's) watch. 

Then, the coup de grace. Bruni says - sounding really authoritative, informed - "The whole point of pardons is to remove restrictions that keep people from rebuilding productive lives." Because such restrictions have had "almost no effect" on Wahlberg, he is (in Bruni's mind) ineligible for clemency. Pure unadulterated, inexcusable nonsense. He could hardly be more wrong. One could write a doctoral dissertation on the categories and levels of error therein.

Bruni - at this point - is so far in over his head he can only resort to re-convening the court now closed for almost four decades, serving as judge and jury and accusing Wahberg of committing a "vicious racial hate crime." A great sound bite for a six-minute segment and drive -by viewers with little appetite for the yawns prompted by rigorous discussions of fairness and justice. Bruni's "arguments" are the rough equivalent of a football player on the way to a sure touchdown, and dropping the ball before actually crossing the goal line, in an attempt to look really cool, impressive. Epic fail. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

AP Writer's Epic Fail: The Wahlberg Application

Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press has produced a piece re Mark Wahlberg's application for clemency which begins with the odd observation that the application "has focused fresh attention on excusing criminal acts." Odd, of course, because Mr. Wahlberg has served his time (45 days, back when he was 18 years old, in the 1980's). Wahlberg has not flaunted, bragged about / glorified his troubled past (as many do). He has expressed remorse repeatedly. A life-time of responsible, law-abiding behavior followed his conviction, as well as a world of charitable good works.

Mr. Wahlberg is not asking to be sprung from prison. He is not being asked to be declared "innocent." He is simply asking the state to officially recognize that which is beyond dispute - he is most certainly no longer the young punk that committed those criminal acts. To officially recognize responsibility, penitence and rehabilitation is not to "excuse" anything, in any sense of the language!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Massachusetts: Wahlberg's Clemency Petition and "Special Treatment"

Mark Wahlberg
Readers can view a reasonably redacted version of Mark Wahlberg's petition for pardon for crimes he committed in 1988, at the age of 16. Simply click here to open a .pdf file.

Apparently there are some that are already barking about the possibility that Wahlberg's pardon would be evidence of distasteful celebrity "special treatment."

As well they should. But there are at least two things worth nothing in response to such concerns:

1. There is no good reason in this world to deny an individual - who happens to be a celebrity - just and fair treatment in the eyes of the law. Wahlberg served his time and has, apparently, been a law abiding citizen for almost three decades. He most certainly has as much of a right to argue his case for penitence and rehabilitation as anyone else on this planet.

2. Wahlberg's pardon, should it arrive on the scene, would only appear awkwardly "special" because governors of the State of Massachusetts (both Democrat and Republican) have been so especially wretched in their neglect of their constitutional duty to participate in the criminal justice system as executives in a system of separation of powers and checks and balances. A Wahlberg pardon, in a pile of 10 would indeed look pretty ugly. In a pile of 300, not so much. In a pile of 300, regularly spread over the course of an eight-year term (like the current Governor's), even better. But, thanks to the neglect of the current Governor, the options are not very favorable, for Wahlberg or the appearance of fairness and impartiality.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Massachusetts: An Epic All-American Failure (of Government)

Wrong State. Wrong Time.
A 16-year old kid, high on marijuana and narcotics, hits a guy on the head with a stick while trying to steal alcohol from a convenience store. In an effort to avoid the police, the same kid punches another guy in the face. After conviction (as an adult), the kid is sentenced to three months in jail but released about serving just over forty days. That was all back in 1988. The kid is now a 43 year old man, married and has four children of his own. He is more than a little apologetic for his behavior ... almost three decades ago.

But, hey, a crime is a crime. A criminal is a criminal. Can't do the time, don't do the crime! We gotta be / stay "tough" on crime and not coddle criminals, let them loose in the streets. Blah. Blah. Sure. But this same kid did not continue in a life of crime. He went on to become successful in the music industry and in Hollywood. He could have easily stopped there, having taken care of himself - as many do. But he also went on to raise millions for charities, and to donate time and efforts for philanthropic causes, noting:
"I want people to remember my past so that I can serve as an example of how lives can be turned around and how people can be redeemed ... Rather than ignore or deny my troubled past, I have used the public spotlight to speak openly about the mistakes I made as a teenager so that others do not make those same mistakes."

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rehabilitation. Redemption. Mercy: The REAL Story

Today, California Governor Jerry Brown granted 91 pardons. He has now granted well over a thousand. Among the recipients today, one Robert Downey, Jr. According to the Los Angeles Times:
Downey has a long history of problems with drugs and the law, including repeated arrests in 1996. In June 1996, he was pulled over by police in Malibu for speeding. They found him under the influence, with a gun, cocaine and heroin in the truck. Then in July, the then-31-year-old actor turned up in the house of a neighbor, passed out in a spare bedroom ... in 1999, [he] was sentenced to three years in state prison. He was released one year later, and three months after that, was arrested in a Palm Springs hotel room where cocaine also was found. He bounced between jail and rehabilitation clinics for several years ... In total, the actor served 15 months behind bars, and in 2002, he completed his parole.
Now, everyone who is paying any attention at all knows Downey has turned a big corner. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge concludes that he has since “lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character, and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen.” The Goevernor recently inducted him into the California Hall of Fame, alongside Charles M. Schulz. Here is the REAL story:

Rehabilitation - It's real.

Redemption - Can be earned.

Forgiveness - Should happen, regularly.

The Editor of this blog has informed journalists for years that the regular use of clemency actually decreases the possibility of "controversy." The response is, very often, silence. They just don't seem to get it - or want to get it.

If Governor Brown, pardons a celebrity, a well "connected" chap, or donor, so what? First, celebrities, well "connected" chaps and donors can be deserving of mercy, just as well as anyone else. They are not (or should not be) disqualified from justice. Second, Brown has not been a merciless jerk. On the other hand, when Schwarzenegger shuns checks and balances, then uses last-minute clemency to favor a "connected" son, it stinks to high heaven. Indeed, the only thing worse than a consistently merciless jerk, is a consistently merciless jerk who grants corrupt pardons at midnight (see Bill Clinton).  Mark Wahlberg may very well deserve mercy, but, in the state he is in (Massachusetts), pardons happen about as often as lightening strikes in the same place 3 times in 5 seconds. It's probably not going to happen. And, if it does, it will be fiercely criticized - as it should be. See story here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Massachusetts: Channeling Johnny Lee

The Associated Press reports that Gov. Charlie Baker has "ordered the state board of pardons to withdraw guidelines put into effect last year by then-Gov. Deval Patrick." These guidelines are then described as having made "it easier to appeal for clemency." More specifically, they "made commutations possible for those serving harsh sentences for nonviolent offenses and allowed pardons for those who could show they've made an extraordinary contribution to their community."

The critical nature of these guidelines was never more evident that in the fact that had just about ZERO impact. Gov. Patrick sat on his hands while the State's system of separation of powers and checks and balances was operating. Judging from his inaction, we are left to conclude the legislative and judicial branches of Massachusetts are perfect. Criminal processes are, likewise, without flaw. Offenders of the law are all guilty of the very worst, unforgivable violations and, certainly, no one ever experiences anything like true rehabilitation. Once a criminal, always a criminal. Eternal punishment is no horror. It is State policy.

That is exactly what a governor says when he /she fails to pardon.

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