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The Sheriff Joe Pardon Fertilizer Storm and Masacree 

The choice is either to be amused or appalled by the apocalyptic criticism of President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I think I’ll go with option one.

Much of the wailing and gnashing of teeth comes from the left, and is to be expected and, to the extent possible, ignored. If Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi had not gone full-goose bozo on this one we would have been justified in wondering if the Earth had drifted out of its orbit. But some of the carping comes from Republican establishment figures and is pathetic, for example Jeff and the other Senate flake from Arizona.

Short circuiting the legal system, end run around justice, destruction of the rule of law, they gasp.

Steady on, girls. Judicial overreach is a lot bigger threat to a justice system worthy of the name than Trump’s decision to weigh Arpaio’s long career of public service and effective crime fighting against what was clearly a political prosecution. Various lawyers in black muumuus (aka judges) decided they didn’t like laws preventing folks across the planet from waltzing into America whenever they felt like it and ordered Sheriff Joe not to enforce these laws. Joe refused to go along with the gag, and got a contempt of court conviction for his devotion to duty.

The whole sorry business reminds me of the funny vignette in one of Mae West’s movies, can’t remember which one. Mae’s character stands before a judge, giving him the patented Mae West sass. Hizzoner asks, “Young woman, are you trying to show your contempt for this court.” The reply, with lots of lip and hip, was, “No, your honor. I’m trying to hide it.”

Funny on the silver screen. Less funny in real life when judges order law enforcement officials not to enforce laws these judges don’t fancy. Or when judges prosecute people who are on the other side of the political equation for political reasons, slapping them with contempt of court convictions when these judges do contemptable things. If we’re going to go much further down this road, perhaps it’s time to remodel the flag. Replace the field of 50 stars with a bunch of bananas. Yes, there are rules law enforcement officials must adhere too. But the same is true for judges.

To the surprise of no one, another critic of Trump’s perfectly legal pardon is House Speaker Paul Ryan, who set aside his green eye shades and spread sheets long enough to proclaim, “Law enforcement officers have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

Well, Paul, who the hell said it should? I’ll include this one in my upcoming definitive work, to be entitled, Paul Ryan, King of Non-Sequiturs. On the ever-expanding list of the things that Paul Ryan doesn’t understand is that the right of citizens of other countries in America illegally to stay here, undisturbed, for as long as they wish is an invention of activist judges. These rights need not be respected as they don’t exist. Trump’s perfectly reasonable pardon says nothing about the rights of real Americans, save for the rights of American law enforcement officials to do their jobs without interference from political judges.

One of the more nit-picky objections to the pardon is that the Justice Department didn’t review it and give its approval. But that this pardon is justified is so obvious it didn’t need a room full of overpaid government lawyers dilating over it for weeks, consulting legal tomes and writing lengthy memos to each other before rendering a decision based on God knows what. After all, didn’t Bill Clinton’s Justice Department give two thumbs-up to an assortment of villains, whom Billy-Bob then pardoned on his way out of 1600 with the furnishings? So much for sound legal advice.

Of course the mainstream media is really hamming it up on this one. Hospital emergency rooms in major media towns are reporting a deluge of cases of acute hyperventilation. There has been a sharp increase in spontaneous fainting on the coasts, and fainting couches are in great demand in university towns. Sampling some of the febrile stories about the reaction to this pardon, I thought to compare it to the clamor made when President Obama pardoned drug dealers in battalion-sized units, allowing them to return to school yards and street corners where he apparently believes they belong. I haven’t found anything yet. But I’m still looking. I’ll get back to you.

Larry Thornberry
Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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