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Roger Clemens walks

June 23, 2012

[J.P.’s Moment of Common Sense on Broad View, KBZZ 1270 AM and 96.1 FM in Reno. Listen to Broad View live Saturdays at 2:00 PM Pacific Time.]

This past Monday, Roger Clemens was acquitted of all perjury charges.  The government’s been after Mr. Clemens since February of 2008 when he testified in front of Congress about steroid use in baseball.  He insisted he never used them.  The government didn’t like that because it contradicts their favorite storyline which goes like this: wealthy sports heroes are cheaters who endanger little kids by being bad role models.  Congress likes to periodically invite some really famous ones to publicly humiliate themselves by admitting they’re cheaters in sworn testimony.

It’s ritual humiliation for the fun and enjoyment of politicians—a cheap and easy way for congresscritters to get headlines in newspapers.

Except Roger Clemens didn’t cooperate.  He sat there and listened to prima donnas like Democrat Henry Waxman and Democrat Elijah Cummings call him a liar, then vigorously defended himself.  He said he never used any kind of performance-enhancing drug.  Clemens was so vehement that Waxman finally told him to shut up.

Okay, he didn’t exactly tell him to shut up.  What he did was pound his gavel until Clemens stopped talking, and then yell, “Excuse me, but this is not your time to argue with me!”

Which might be the perfect motto for the Democrat Party—they should make bumper stickers.

Remember, this was 2008, when Democrats still controlled both the House and Senate and were driving the country off a financial cliff.  Bush was president and had been warning Congress about the looming mortgage bubble for seven years but Democrats like Barney Fife... er, I mean Barney Frank kept telling Bush to suck eggs; they weren’t gonna change a damn thing about the mortgage system.  Their intransigence eventually led to plummeting home prices, tens of millions of Americans in foreclosure, tens of millions of Americans losing their jobs, and, according to recent data from the Federal Reserve, a 39% drop in net worth for the average American family.

And what were the Democrats doing?  Holding hearings about whether baseball players were using steroids and hormones to improve their throwing and hitting.  Gosh, good thing we have Congress watching out for the serious stuff, right?

They used 93 federal agents and 4 lawyers from the U.S. Attorney’s office over the course of four years to interview 179 people for Roger Clemens’ trial.  It’s impossible to pinpoint how much this boondoggle witch hunt cost taxpayers but knowledgeable people estimate at least $4 million dollars.  At least.  Which sounds bad until you hear about other witch hunts.  The government hounded Barry Bonds for eight years at a cost Business Insider estimated at $55 million and finally managed to convict him of one humorously lame count of obstruction for an answer to a question he gave eight years earlier that government persecutors—er, sorry, I mean prosecutors—found unnecessarily vague.

The feds also investigated Lance Armstrong for years, without filing any charges, and spent years going after Marion Jones.  Remember her?  She won a bunch of medals at the 2000 Olympics in Australia but had to give them back and spend six months in jail for lying to federal agents about using performance enhancing drugs.  Meanwhile, all kinds of athletes have admitted using the same stuff, including two of the witnesses against Roger Clemens, and nothing whatsoever happened to them.  You see, it isn’t a crime to use steroids or hormones.  Millions of people use them.  Growth hormones help people with injuries heal faster.

The issue of whether professional athletes should use them is an issue for the people who run sports leagues, not the government.  A year ago I wrote a column about how perjury charges are a tool for oppression and persecution.  If somebody in the government decides they don’t like you, like those Democrat congresscritters decided they didn’t like Roger Clemens, but they can’t find any crime you committed, they can grill you under oath, repeatedly if they want, and then conjure up some phantasmical perjury charges to make your life a living hell.  Eight years of hell for Barry Bonds, four years of hell for Roger Clemens, two years of hell for Lance Armstrong, and the list is much longer than that.  The list includes Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, and Conrad Black, all three of whom were highly accomplished successful human beings who irritated somebody in the government and spent time in prison for it... not for committing any kind of underlying crime against society but for supposedly misleading federal agents while being questioned.

This is Big Brother stuff—scary stuff—so none of us should make the mistake of thinking the Roger Clemens story is merely a sports story.  Roger Clemens’s story is about government tyranny and the legal system being used by vindictive politicians and government bureaucrats to ruin and destroy people.

Here’s the latest example: last week, down in Florida, the wife of George Zimmerman was charged with perjury.  Once again, like the other cases I’ve listed, she has committed no underlying crime.  Shellie Zimmerman simply found herself on the wrong side of a power-hungry state prosecutor who wants leverage against her husband.  Under oath during a bond hearing, she said she didn’t know how much money they had in a PayPal account but if given a phone she could call somebody and get the answer.  The prosecutor—Angela Corey is her name—filed charges of perjury because she believes Mrs. Zimmerman should know how much money is in that account.

Let me ask you something: do you know exactly how much is in your bank accounts?  According to Angela Corey, you better.

Americans should be outraged.  If threatening family members with prison can be used as a tool by prosecutors, how can anybody count on a fair trial?  If Roger Clemens can be persecuted for more than four years for making Henry Waxman look bad (which really doesn’t take much if you’ve ever seen Waxman’s face), who among us is safe?

That’s... today’s dose of common sense.

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”—Thomas Jefferson

“The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.”—Charles de Montesquieu

From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

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