Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Congressional steroid hearings an abuse of power

We're at war. The nation's credit system and housing markets are headed down the toilet. One quarter of Americans don't have healthcare and about 2 million Americans are locked up behind bars. But Congress and the nation's media today will focus their rapt attention on steroids and baseball, with "Rocket" Roger Clemens scheduled to testify under oath, risking perjury charges if he lies.

Let me repeat that: Clemens will testify under oath to Congress. We couldn't get Condi Rice to testify under oath about 9/11, and myriad Bush administration officials under the GOP Congress were allowed to appear before Congress without risk of perjury charges if they lied. But now Congress will give a baseball pitcher the third degree? I can just see the D.C. pols thinking, "We've got to get that guy's testimony straight. The fate of the republic is at stake."

No wonder Congress polls lower, even, than the President! What a bunch of grandstanding fools.

I'll give Clemens this: If he testifies under oath at risk of perjury that his ex-trainer did not give him steroids, the chief argument of his critics will be taken away. Senator Mitchell and others have said that Brian McNamee's testimony was credible because he risked perjury charges if he lied. But if, after this hearing, Clemens is in the same position and there's no other evidence besides the informant, all you have is a he-said, he-said situation where no one can prove what happened.

Which is why this witch hunt was a bad idea in the first place, and why it was improper for the Justice Department to participate in this PR-driven investigation.

I'd still like to know why the Justice Department and Congress don't pay this much attention to the just as clear evidence of widespread steroid use among law enforcement?

Just to have mentioned it, and this is naught but suspicions from afar, but I couldn't help but suspect foul play when I saw in the New York Times that the pharmacist who allegedly sold steroids to New York City police officers in an ongoing scandal turned up dead. I kid you not, officials ruled it a suicide (because they found a note and a gun) even though police said he died from "gunshot wounds to the chest and head."

Have you ever heard of a suicide with two shots to the chest and the head? If the guy accusing Roger Clemens turned up dead under these circumstances, do you think there'd be a bigger media hoopla than the one-day story in passing that constituted coverage of this pharmacist's death?

I bring up the NYC police case because the Department of Justice (and hence Congress) actually has an historic role investigating police corruption. But under the Bush administration, DOJ has turned a blind eye to police use of steroids and focused on high-profile athletes. That may make bigger headlines, but the approach results in little public safety benefit, especially when you consider that the "path not taken" in the steroids investigation would have been to go after corrupt cops.

Using Congressional investigative authority to create perjury traps for athletes is a joke when the government doesn't have to play by the same rules.

UPDATE: Here's an oddity from the long, grueling hearing: I got to watch the last half of it, and there was a clear pattern among the Congressional questioners. With the exception of drug war zealot Indiana Republican Mark Souder, all the GOP members appeared sympathetic to Clemens, while the Democrats appeared more accusatory of the baseball star. That pattern culminated when, in his closing remarks, Chairman Henry Waxman, a Democrat, actually apologized to Brian McNamee for comments by his colleagues, even though all they'd said was that he is a liar and a drug dealer, both things to which he's already admitted.

I don't understand why Congressional loyalties would fall along partisan lines? What am I missing that explains this pattern?

The rest of the "new" evidence that came to light was hearsay that would never hold up in court, so unlike the ESPN talking heads I don't expect any perjury charges to arise from this episode in either direction.

Waxman told the press the hearing was held because Roger Clemens insisted on it, but that's not how I see it. I think the hearing was held because the Mitchell report irresponsibly named Clemens based on the word of an informant coerced with threats of incarceration. After that horse was out of the barn, all Clemens could do was try and clear his name. At this point, whoever you believe, Roger Clemens has done everything he could possibly do to try to achieve that increasingly unlikely goal.


Anonymous said...

It is indeed time for change. We need to seriously vote these fools out of office!

Anonymous said...

'I kid you not, officials ruled it a suicide (because they found a note and a gun) even though police said he died from "gunshot wounds to the chest and head."'

Reminds me of this - 2:17 into the video:

Anonymous said...

Back in the mid-1960s there was a wire service report of a death in the South, ruled a suicide, with a deadpan line to the effect that he was shot nine times in the back from a six-shot revolver.

It was in the paper, so how couldn't it be true?

Anonymous said...

It just boggles my mind and seriously, we need to vote them out of office.

Anonymous said...

I assume that the Democrats are all supporting McNamee out of allegiance to their former Senate majority leader George Mitchell.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. I see children victimized every day, watch families fall apart because of substance abuse. Why are we spending our resources questioning people about performance enhancing drugs when in the overall picture it doesn't change anything. What is Viagra? A performance enhancing drug..???!!! Who cares?!!When was the last time anyone on Capitol Hill talked to someone that was afraid to go home at night or didn't know how they would feed their kids. Spend our money on people that are innocent, not on people that we will watch regardless of the outcome!!!

Anonymous said...

I would like to know why my hard earned tax money is being wasted on Roger Clemens (and other baseball players) trial about steroid use. Doesn't congress have anything better to do with their time? With all of the problems going on in the US right now I would like to know why this is even going on in congress. This issue should be dealt with by the baseball commissioner only. Why do we care what these players are injecting into their butts?

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm a native Houstonian and someone that has met Roger Clemens on several occasions, and people have been accusing him of juicing for years. Big deal! I honestly believe he was juicing (as do many, many others), but like you said...WHO THE HELL CARES!! I'm sick of the government wasting resources on this crap! The US govt. is in SERIOUS need of repair.

I almost feel like its some sort of diversion to get the media attention away from the senators that are voting to give immunity to the telecom companies and further trample the constitution.

Anonymous said...

It is somewhat reassuring to know that folks on diverse sides of the criminal justice issues that face this State/Nation can agree what a farce and waste of time this congressional hearing is.

Vote all of them out of there, both parties, and let's put some common men and women in Congress.

What a waste of time and money.

Anonymous said...

grits, you commented on the criticism of roger falling along party lines...maybe it's showing how roger donated to political campaigns. gosh knows that as much money as the rocket has made, he could have some effect on the politicos at the witch hunt, oops, i mean hearings....and yeah, you're right about "WHO CARES????"

Anonymous said...

I remember after the results of the last election were announced a media rep predicted "silly" committee investigations chaired by Waxman. The rep was right on with his comment. What a waste!

Retired 2004

Unknown said...

With our immoral War on Terror and War on Drugs, how else can congress critters posture on the higher moral ground - without offending any of their sponsors. Pro athletes have to learn how the game is played and contribute heavily to well connected legisliars. Then they will leave them alone in peace [or pieces - depending on what the drugs do their bodies].

Anonymous said...

I guess ol' Rusty is bummed that he came out swinging so hard for someone whose credibility was shredded.

Yeah, it's a waste, but substantively it's fairly obvious that everyone there is a liar.

Sorry Rusty, on DeGuerin gets to look good in congressional hearings.

Anonymous said...

Why has no one asked the guy -- under oath -- testifying against Clemens if he is being blackmailed into giving false testimony?

If then takes the 5th, the whole kangaroo court collapses.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 2/13/2008 09:52:00 PM I can't even send an applaude loud enough to say AMEN! I am so sick and tired of the government wasting my money on stuff of ill importance. If he was or is what...why didn't they go this ridiculous distance with Marion Jones who was indicted after she confessed? Whatever, this is sickening and a waste of time and money...why don't they give so much of the energy to the TYC issue?

Anonymous said...

I agree with so many of you who wrote; why is the Senate even addressing the use of HGH. An adult has the right to take a medication and he/she knows full well the things this could do to their body. If you look at the contraindications and cautions on any FDA approved drug,it would scare you beyond words. This is Roger Clemmens body and he has the right to do with his body whatever he choses. Senate should really be trying to solve the important issues i.e. how to get out of Iraq, how to get medical care for our people and how in the world are we ever going to pay China back. They can not have my first grandchild.

This is the most absurd hearing the Senate has held in years. We need to get these old fogies out of office and impose term limits on every elected official in government. Including the Supreme Court should have term limits. There are no life time jobs such as they are given.

To the Senate, get off Roger Clemmens case and do something to make us proud of you. He has not hurt anyone but himself if he did take HGH. There was a high school coach who gave his football players this hormone and they won State that year. He finally got caught and was fired, let's fire the Senate and rehire!!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if they test for steroids while your on texas probation