The wee wee bush

Rome News-Tribune - - EDITORIALS AND OPINION -

From The Char­lotte Ob­server

epend­ing on which Found­ing Fa­ther or long-ago Supreme Court jus­tice you cite, the pres­i­dent of the United States has par­don power to pro­vide mercy in case of an overly harsh crim­i­nal code; to pro­vide jus­tice to the wrong­fully con­victed; and to help the coun­try heal af­ter par­tic­u­larly bru­tal pe­ri­ods of un­rest. Nowhere will you find it is sup­posed to be used to un­der­mine the law and cod­ify the mis­treat­ment of a group of peo­ple based on their eth­nic­ity.

Be­cause it is nearly un­ques­tioned, maybe no other pres­i­den­tial power re­veals and re­lies upon the char­ac­ter of the per­son in White House as much. That’s why Don­ald Trump’s par­don of for­mer sher­iff Joe Ar­paio is so dis­turb­ing and dam­ag­ing.

Trump is far from the first pres­i­dent to issue a ques­tion­able par­don. An­drew John­son par­doned ev­ery Con­fed­er­ate sol­dier. Bill Clin­ton par­doned his half-brother, who had been con­victed on drug-re­lated charges, and bil­lion­aire Mark Rich, who had been ac­cused of tax eva­sion and fraud and had fled the coun­try. Ge­orge H.W. Bush par­doned a Pak­istani drug dealer, as well as Cas­par Wein­berger, a cen­tral fig­ure in the Iran-Con­tra af­fair. Jimmy Carter com­muted Patty Hearst’s prison sen­tence for a bank rob­bery con­vic­tion and Clin­ton fully par­doned her. (Clin­ton also par­doned NASCAR leg­end Rick Hen­drick.) Barack Obama par­doned the still-un­re­pen­tant Os­car Lopez Rivera, who helped lead bomb­ings in the 1970s that killed six in a fight for Puerto Ri­can in­de­pen­dence.

Trump’s par­don of Ar­paio stands out among them all be­cause it is a di­rect re­buke to a fed­eral judge who was pre­par­ing to sen­tence the ousted sher­iff for ig­nor­ing fed­eral or­ders to stop racially pro­fil­ing Lati­nos in Ari­zona. He rou­tinely had peo­ple arrested, with­out ev­i­dence, be­cause he and his deputies sus­pected they might be un­doc­u­mented, and housed them in de­ten­tion cen­ters that ac­tivists — and even Ar­paio — com­pared to con­cen­tra­tion camps. His par­don means he won’t serve a sin­gle day in prison, un­like Chelsea Man­ning, who served seven years be­hind bars for leak­ing doc­u­ments, and comes dur­ing an already racially sen­si­tive pe­riod in our coun­try’s his­tory. Trump did not wait the usual five years to par­don Ar­paio, nor did he tell his Jus­tice Depart­ment to con­duct the kind of back­ground in­ves­ti­ga­tion that is rou­tine be­fore most par­dons are issued.

The Phoenix New Times de­tailed Ar­paio’s dis­turb­ing his­tory in a se­ries of sto­ries and tweets, in­clud­ing his un­law­ful ar­rests of reporters, his hir­ing of a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor to track a fed­eral judge, his fail­ure to in­ves­ti­gate hun­dreds of child sexual abuse cases, and his stew­ard­ship of fa­cil­i­ties that had an un­usu­ally high num­ber of deaths.

Most tellingly, the par­don comes af­ter Trump re­port­edly asked At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions if the Ar­paio case could be scut­tled. It’s the sec­ond high-pro­file crim­i­nal case in which Trump might have tried to ob­struct. The par­don, along with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to scale back law en­force­ment over­sight and Con­gress’s re­fusal to rein the pres­i­dent in, sends a clear mes­sage: that law­less­ness, in ser­vice of well-con­nected men and to the detri­ment of already-vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, is quickly be­com­ing the rule, not the ex­cep­tion. n the early days I was liv­ing in West Rome on Arm­strong Street. There was a wo­man who lived down the street who al­ways gave me the idea that that she was so much bet­ter than most folks. She drew a check from the gov­ern­ment each month, so she was one of the few who had money.

I was a small boy at that time and even to­day can’t un­der­stand her dis­like of me. I never told my mother about things she did and said to me. If I had told my mother, as the old say­ing goes, there would have been hell to pay.

One day I watched a man back a truck up into her yard. He un­loaded some bushes. I can re­mem­ber it as if it was yes­ter­day in­stead of so long ago. I passed by go­ing to the store for my mother and won­dered about the bushes. On my way home she called out to me. I looked at her won­der­ing what she wanted. This was the first time she ever called out to me. She pointed to me and said, “Ad­cock, come here.” She never called me by my first name, only my last. I hes­i­tated, not un­der­stand­ing what was hap­pen­ing to make her call me. I stopped short of her yard. I had no in­ten­tions of go­ing into her yard. “Yes,” I said, “did you want me?” “See those bushes?” point­ing to them. “Yes ma’am,” I said. “I will give you two dol­lars if you will dig holes for those bushes. Do you think you can do that?” she asked. “Yes ma’am,” I said, “let me carry this stuff to my mother.”

I ran home as fast as I could. I told my mother what I was go­ing to do. I didn’t tell her how much money she was go­ing to pay me. My Fa­ther had passed away a few months prior to this and things were rough around our house. I knew that two dol­lars would buy a lot of gro­ceries. I ran back so I could get to dig­ging. She had waited for me and had placed a brick on the places where she wanted the holes dug. I want you to imag­ine a lit­tle skinny 11-yearold boy swing­ing a man-size pick. The dirt was rough, hard packed. I kept at it, and fi­nally had the holes dug. I went up and knocked on her door. She came and looked out at me. “What,” she asked, “you don’t think you are through?”

“Yes all the holes are dug deep enough for you to place the bushes in.” I said. “Well, put them in the holes and plant them,” she slammed the door shut.

I walked back out to where the bushes were. I looked at my blis­tered hands. She had said dig the holes, noth­ing was said about me plant­ing them. I knew that I would not get the two dol­lars if I didn’t. I had been al­most all day dig­ging the holes and now I was hav­ing to plant the bushes. Fi­nally I got them planted and again knocked on her door. She came out and didn’t say any­thing as she looked at the bushes.

“Wait and I will get your money,” she said. It took a few min­utes but she came back and handed me a dol­lar. I would not take it. I said, “You promised me two dol­lars.”

“You, Ad­cock, will take this dol­lar for this, it’s all you will get.” She turned and threw the dol­lar at me. I heard her slam the door and yell, “Ad­cock, you get out of my yard or I will call the po­lice to you.”

I picked up the dol­lar in my bleed­ing hand and left her yard. There was a field across the road from her house. I stood up and went back across the street with the in­tent to pull the bushes out of the ground. Just as I en­tered the yard she came run­ning though the door yelling at me.

“I want my dol­lar,” I said. “I am call­ing the po­lice to you,” she yelled, run­ning back into the house.

I went home know­ing that it would do no good to get into trou­ble with her. I gave the dol­lar to my mother and be­gan to doc­tor my hands. My mother ques­tioned me to see if I had any prob­lem with the wo­man. I let on that ev­ery­thing was okay. Af­ter sup­per I went out on the porch and fell asleep in the swing. My mother woke me up and told me to go to bed. I started around the house to the out­house. That’s when the thought struck me. In those day there were no street light in the area. If you walked at night, you car­ried a light un­less it was a moon­lighted night. I turned and headed for the fresh planted bushes. I be­gan to wee wee first around the root of the bushes and then on the leaves. I only had enough wee wee for two bushes. I hur­ried back home and got into bed. No one had seen me so I was safe. I was able to water the bushes reg­u­lar. I kept watch on the two bushes that was wa­tered with wee wee. The leaves be­gan to turn yel­low and to fall off. The two bushes that had not been wa­tered with wee wee be­gan to bloom. The wee wee bushes died and she had them dug up and re­planted. For some odd rea­son those two also died. While we lived there she had those two bushes re­placed sev­eral times.

I would see her af­ter I got grown and went on the po­lice depart­ment, and I couldn’t help but smile and say to my­self “Do not water your bushes with wee wee.” LONIE AD­COCK Jim Pow­ell of Young Har­ris

Let­ters to the ed­i­tor: Ro­man Fo­rum, Post Of­fice Box 1633, Rome, GA 30162-1633 or email romenewstri­

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