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Aquarian Weekly 3/7/01 REALITY CHECK


“The President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” -U.S. Constitution Article II Section 2

There was a time, not too long ago–or maybe eons ago, it’s hard to tell now–that I found myself in a Bayridge, Brooklyn loft listening to a plot to kidnap Casper Weinberger. There were always plots back then, concocted by the type of people who laughed at any talk of reason, especially at 3:00 am after two consecutive days of serious drinking. So I sloughed it off as speed-addled gibberish, finished my beer and got the hell out of there.

“Grab Weinberger out of his three-story luxury home, throw him in a potato gunny and drag him to the crack boulevards in downtown D.C., then we’ll get the real story.”

That was the plan, and I would have volunteered to wrap the rope around the damn sack if I thought it would accomplish anything beyond garnering us a federal sentence. But not even Ollie North would be doing that kind of time. Ollie took the fifth, and so did Bill Clinton’s friends and lovers last week. And anyone else he diddled in the Lincoln bedroom those last precious hours in the White House.

But overt posturing about ideologies and party politics never did jazz me. Those things are nothing more than a smokescreen for the rich and powerful, and all the grass roots movements, protests or odd kidnapping would never slow them down.

The Iran-Contra boys got off easy. George Bush sr. saw to that. He was, after all, a CIA man first, and “once CIA, always CIA.” So Casper and Ollie’s cabin boy, Elliott Abrams, and Reagan’s security advisor, Robert C. McFarlane, who thought it was a good idea to swallow the Valium mother lode rather than rot in prison, all received cushy pardons from the president for pissing on the constitution. This was Bush’s parting gift to the bleeding hearts that dared question the judgment of The Great Communicator.

But those were top-level political criminals, not like the cheap whores Bill Clinton pardoned. Dime-store hoods like Marc Rich and chubby crackers like Hugh Rodham are pond scum compared to the depth of human mucus presidents dine with daily.

And no matter how much the bored national press tries to hype this daily litany of street trash the president set free, William Jefferson Clinton only carries the notorious, if not eminently predictable tradition, of abusing absolute power.

The Clinton’s were bought and sold long before they left Little Rock. Every president is, and will always be. Criminals are as much a part of our national landscape as public servants. Except criminals have money to burn, and politicians need flammable funds by the boatload, especially big-time politicians.

Big Bill wanted to make his “money people” happy. They pushed him over the top in New Hampshire in ’92 and promises were made, promises he couldn’t keep, like the one Joseph Kennedy made to the Chicago mob and Richard Daley to swing Illinois to his boy Jack so daddy could fuck the government for yanking his ambassador status back in World War II.

Federal executive clemency allowed George Washington’s pardon of all participants in the Whiskey Rebellion, Abe Lincoln and his successor, Andrew Johnson’s full and complete pardon to “all and every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion” known as the Civil War.

Violent drunks and confederates aside, it is Gerald Ford’s pardoning of this nation’s greatest criminal Richard Nixon, and now Clinton’s obvious fire sale of freedom for campaign funds, legal fees and key votes for the wife, that has the dander dancing again.

But to call anything administered in the name of complete and absolute power illegal or immoral is missing the point of this, or any other, republic.

Big Bill knew he was meat on the way out. His legacy was humping, and his would-be successor used every angle to avoid mentioning it in a doomed campaign. Another Bush was breathing down his neck, and it was time to pay the piper. Hollywood money machines need to be greased, and Hollywood isn’t just a city in California. The constitution clearly allows it, so the argument is with the system not the use of it.

In the case of Rich and his flamboyant ex-wife, who dumped millions into Clinton endeavors, and more importantly, the state of Israel, the answer was easy. The Clinton’s bought off a 20-year fugitive to bolster significant Jewish votes for Hillary’s senate run. Should the Clinton’s apologize for bartering deals to hold onto power if the constitution provides such unchecked autonomy?

The second article of the constitution also hands military power over to its government’s executive branch. The Korean and Viet Nam police actions were the result of presidential decrees, cleverly sidestepping the messy business of having the legislative branch declare war. Thousands of Americans lost their lives in these little power plays, everything from Truman’s miscalculations to LBJ’s escalations to Reagan and Bush’s wars of convenience.

Bill Clinton is the same man who crawled from the Arkansas slime nine years ago. The public voted him in, and the constitution allowed him to run amok. The uproar is not with the past, but the current state of law allowing anyone in the United States government absolute power.

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