The Weekly Tendown April 10-16 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dear Internet:

Yesterday, not too far from my house, the current leader in the race to be the Republican candidate for President of the United States spoke to a receptive crowd of his intellectual equals.

I'm being unfair?  Donald Trump isn't really the current favorite to be the GOP nominee - it's gotta be Mitt or Newt or Huckabee or some other non-Trump?


...for the first time in three months, when Mike Huckabee had a tenpoint
lead over Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, PPP has found a candidate who puts
serious distance between himself and the rest of the field: Donald Trump.

Trump leads with 26% over Huckabee’s 17%, Romney’s 15%, Newt Gingrich’s 11%,
Palin’s 8%, Ron Paul’s 5%, and Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann’s 4%.
23% of these voters say they would not be willing to vote for a candidate who stated
clearly that Obama was born in the U.S. 38% say they would, and a 39% plurality are
not sure.

Among the hardcore birthers, Trump leads with 37%, almost three times as
much support as anyone else.

So, good luck with that.  I am entirely for a Trump/Palin ticket.  Hell, I'd be fine with them winning the thing.  If that's who we are, let's show the full reptilian face.

Here's Tendown 72.

1. Count Five?  Really?  

Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice this week.

Unless this is your first Tendown, you probably know my view that virtually every piece of conventional wisdom about the steroid scandal is wrong.  We've spent the past ten years massively shifting wealth upward, torturing those suspected of crimes, prosecuting 2 and perhaps now 3 wars that we've decided to pay for by slicing social services, and trying to put Barry Bonds in jail for hitting too many home runs.  Not unlike the way a Christian conservative sees the repeal of "don't ask don't tell" as a sign of the apocalypse; I see making a national priority the targeting of baseball players for taking the wrong kind of drugs as a sign of the decline and fall of the American Empire.

But that's the big picture.  In the small picture - Barry Bonds was convicted of a very specific crime this week; a jury decision that, given the nature of the crime, we can analyze almost in its entirely through reading the instructions given to that jury.

Which are below.  The instructions themselves are italicized and I have not edited them.  I will insert my comments in bold.


(18 U.S.C. § 1503)

The defendant is charged in Count Five with obstruction of justice in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1503. In order for the defendant to be found guilty of Count 5, the government must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. The defendant corruptly, that is, for the purpose of obstructing justice,
2. obstructed, influenced, or impeded, or endeavored to obstruct, influence, or impede the
grand jury proceeding in which defendant testified,
3. by knowingly giving material testimony that was intentionally evasive, false, or

A statement was material if it had a natural tendency to influence, or was capable of influencing,
the decision of the grand jury.

The government alleges that the underlined portion of the following statements constitute
material testimony that was intentionally evasive, false or misleading. In order for the defendant to be
found guilty of Count 5, you must all agree that one or more of the following statements was material
and intentionally evasive, false or misleading, with all of you unanimously agreeing as to which
statement or statements so qualify:

1. The Statement Contained in Count One
2. The Statement Contained in Count Two
3. The Statement Contained in Count Three

So, recognize the elements of obstruction of justice.  The testimony you're about to read from Bonds has to be intentionally targeted to obstruct justice.  It can't just be that Bonds doesn't know how to answer a question or is embarrassed or uncomfortable.  He has to be trying to obstruct justice.  Further, the testimony has to be material - meaning it has to be important to that particular case.  What was that case?  That grand jury was targeting BALCO - whose founder, Victor Conte, eventually did four months in jail.  So - somewhere in this transcript below, Bonds had to be intentionally trying to obstruct justice in a way that could have influenced the grand jury - which again, wasn't after him - it was after BALCO.  This isn't a perjury question - it's not "Barry lied".

4. Statement A:

Q: Let me move on to a different topic. And I think you’ve testified to this. But I want to make
sure it’s crystal clear. Every time you got the flax seed oil and the cream, did you get it in person
from Greg?

A: Yes.

Q: Is that fair?

A: Yes.

Q: And where would you typically get it? Where would you guys be when he would hand
it to you generally?

A In front of my locker, sitting in my chair.

Q: Did he ever come to your home and give it to you?

A: Oh, no, no, no. It was always at the ballpark.

So, clearly it's not this one.  The government asked questions.  Bonds answered them.

5. Statement B:

Q: …Do you remember how often he recommended to you about, approximately, that you take
this cream, this lotion?

A: I can’t recall. I don’t – I wish I could. I just can’t . . . I just know it wasn’t often. I just think
it was more when I was exhausted or tired than like a regular regimen. You know, it was like
if I was really sore or something, really tired…that’s – that’s --- that’s all I can remember about

Q: … would you say it was more or less often or about the same as the amount of times you took
the liquid, the flax seed oil, the thing you understood to be flax seed oil?

A: I don’t know. I never kept track of that stuff. I’m sorry. I didn’t sit there and monitor that

Almost as clearly, it's not this one.  Bonds doesn't provide a numerical answer; he says he doesn't recall, which is an answer to the question.  If answering "I don't recall" when giving sworn testimony is a felony, Alberto Gonzalez would be doing life.

6. Statement C:

Q: Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?

A: I’ve only had one doctor touch me. And that’s my only personal doctor. Greg, like I said, we
don’t get into each others’ personal lives. We’re friends, but I don’t – we don’t sit around and
talk baseball, because he knows I don’t want – don’t come to my house talking baseball. If you
want to come to my house and talk about fishing, some other stuff, we’ll be good friends, you
come around talking about baseball, you go on. I don’t talk about his business. You know what
I mean? …

Q: Right.

A: That’s what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that – you know, that – I was
a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a
famous father. I just don’t get into other people’s business because of my father’s situation, you

Apparently, this is our winner.  Here's the foreman:

 "When you're in front of a grand jury you have to answer. ... He gave a story rather than a yes-or-no answer,''

So - is that a felony?  

Beyond a reasonable doubt - which means you are as certain as you can reasonably be, is Bonds intentionally obstructing justice with his answer to that question?  And does that answer, to that question, have the natural tendency to influence, or was capable of influencing,
the decision of the grand jury.  Is that answer the difference between a grand jury indicting BALCO and not?  And to what extent is Bonds attempting to do that - to what extent is that answer actually obstructing justice?  Enough to make it a felony?  Would you expect it to be a felony if you did it?

You walk into grand jury testimony by yourself, without a lawyer because that's how it works, and you answer that question in that way.  Remember, you're not under indictment, you're testifying in front of a grand jury going after BALCO. Would you expect the result would be you are convicted of a felony almost 8 years later?  That answer - right there - that's the crime that Bonds committed.  Assuming it's not overturned, and assuming the government doesn't ever get a conviction on the other charges, when we think about Bonds historically and some sportswriter opposes his induction to the Hall of Fame because of his conviction - remember, his entire crime is contained in that passage you just read.  That's Barry Bonds's felony.  

7. Statement D:

Q: Did Greg ever give you testosterone in injectable form for you to take?

A: No.

Q: Would you have taken it if he gave it to you?

A: He wouldn’t jeopardize our friendship that way.

Now, obviously it's not this question, as Bonds answered directly (and this ends the jury instruction for count 5, there are no more relevant portions of his grand jury testimony to this count) and the specific question is clearly another way to get to the material in statement C.  The government asked Bonds if Anderson gave him anything that required a syringe - and, presumably dissatisfied with the response, then asked if Anderson gave him testosterone that required a syringe.  Bonds says no.

If you are the government, and you believe that statement C will influence the decision of the grand jury, and you clearly have the ability to ask questions that will cause Bonds to clarify that point, you would - right?  If after statement D, you still feel like that third statement is out there, deliberately trying to obstruct your ability to get a grand jury to justly decide whether to indict BALCO, then aren't you asking "did Greg ever give you X in injectable form for you to take?" in as many different ways, with as many different possibilities as are needed in order to remove the obstruction from the justice you're pursuing?  You just asked the question with the word testosterone - if you have more examples, you would use them, right?  

If it's a material fact - and you can clearly ask more questions - and you can get Bonds to answer very directly and specifically as demonstrated in statement D - what is the reason why you don't do so?

Either it's not a material fact, not important enough to continue to follow up on (meaning it isn't obstruction of justice) - or you are satisfied  that the answer to the testosterone question has clarified the previous answer (meaning it isn't obstruction of justice)- or you know that obstruction of justice might be a card you can play later; might give you an extra piece of leverage later, if your real target isn't the drug pusher, Victor Conte, who will only get 4 months in jail, but instead Bonds.  And maybe you don't want further clarification.  You want an answer that seems evasive on the record.  Because you're setting a trap.  You're not looking for justice - you're setting a trap.  

Could be any of those three possibilities.  But are we seriously going to say that what Barry Bonds did in answering that question should be regarded as a felony?

2. 9 Things The Rich Don't Want You to Know About Taxes
The one piece I want you to read this week is here, by David Cay Johnston.

When it comes to state and local taxes, the poor bear a heavier burden than the rich in every state except Vermont, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy calculated from official data. In Alabama, for example, the burden on the poor is more than twice that of the top 1 percent. The one-fifth of Alabama families making less than $13,000 pay almost 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes, compared with less than 4 percent for those who make $229,000 or more. 

Despite skyrocketing incomes, the federal tax burden on the richest 400 has been slashed, thanks to a variety of loopholes, allowable deductions and other tools. The actual share of their income paid in taxes, according to the IRS, is 16.6 percent. Adding payroll taxes barely nudges that number.

Compare that to the vast majority of Americans, whose share of their income going to federal taxes increased from 13.1 percent in 1961 to 22.5 percent in 2007. 

Corporate profits in 2008, the latest year for which data is available, were $1,830 billion, up almost 12 percent from $1,638.7 in 2000. Yet even though corporate tax rates have not been cut, corporate income-tax revenues fell to $230 billion from $249 billion—an 8 percent decline, thanks to a number of loopholes. The official 2010 profit numbers are not added up and released by the government, but the amount paid in corporate taxes is: In 2010 they fell further, to $191 billion -- a decline of more than 23 percent compared with 2000. 

3. Every NBA Dunk Contest Dunker - On A Poster
You can buy it here.

4.  Roulette
Go ahead, trust me.

5. $83.30

 This is our Publix receipt from Friday;  thanks to the planning of my Lady Type Friend, we saved 80 bucks, cutting our bill by a third, for a large grocery shopping trip.

I've otherwise been productive this week, that's my top 10 best baseball players at each position; this is my NBA playoff picks.

I was also able to wrangle this cat:

from his escape outside Tuesday afternoon.  Ed is not easily wrangled.

6. Your Newest Reality Show Stars
The San Francisco Giants have won 4 straight to pull into second in the NL West.

And their reality show debuted on Showtime.  It's good and you can see episode one here.

7. You Don't Want to be a Vegetarian if You Live in Crete
They won't let you adopt a child.

8. Thank You, President-Elect Trump
Last year, CEO pay went up 27%; worker pay 2%.

9. Good God, We're Running Out of Water!
There are some subjects on which I will click every time; Ginnifer Goodwin, onion ringsthe german suplex.

To that list add, "anything that says we're running out of water, 'cause that scares me thirsty every time."

Probably, you should read The Big Thirst:

The world has 6.9 billion people. At least 1.1 billion of us don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water -- that’s one out of six people in the world. Another 1.8 billion people don’t have access to water in their homes or yard, but do have access within a kilometer. So at least 40 percent of the world either doesn’t have good access to water, or has to walk to get it.
In the next fifteen years, by 2025, the world will add 1.2 billion people. By 2050, we will add 2.4 billion people. So between now and forty years from now, more new people will join the total population than were alive worldwide in 1900. They will be thirsty.

10. 4-17-10
My dad died a year ago today.  He missed the World Series.  
That's all for this time.  I'll be back the next time...if there is a next time...

Your pal,


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