Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Gibson Guitar Raid

A couple of years ago an American guitar manufacturer was raided by the feds for reasons that seemed to make no sense at the time. Investors Business Daily has put the pieces together and, in light of what we now know about the corruption that permeates this administration, those raids seem to make perfect sense:
The inexplicable raid nearly two years ago on a guitar maker for using allegedly illegal wood that its competitors also used was another [example of] targeting by this administration of its political enemies.

On Aug. 24, 2011, federal agents executed four search warrants on Gibson Guitar Corp. facilities in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. One of the top makers of acoustic and electric guitars, including the iconic Les Paul introduced in 1952, Gibson was accused of using wood illegally obtained in violation of the century-old Lacey Act, which outlaws trafficking in flora and fauna, the harvesting of which had broken foreign laws.

In one raid, the feds hauled away ebony fingerboards, alleging they violated Madagascar law. Gibson responded by obtaining the sworn word of the African island's government that no law had been broken.

In another raid, the feds found materials imported from India, claiming they too moved across the globe in violation of Indian law. Gibson's response was that the feds had simply misinterpreted Indian law.

Interestingly, one of Gibson's leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin's catalog, several of their guitars contain "East Indian Rosewood," which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson's guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?
Gibson claimed they were innocent and had violated no law either domestic or foreign. Nor had they done anything different than their competitor, so why were they being harassed like some Jewish business in the early years of the Nazi persecutions? IBD offers insight:
Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson's chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles. Nothing happened to Martin and Co. but Gibson endured "two hostile raids on its factories by agents carrying weapons and attired in SWAT gear where employees were forced out of the premises, production was shut down, goods were seized as contraband and threats were made that would have forced the business to close."
Gibson's support for Republicans cost them dearly, as IBD explains:
Gibson, fearing a bankrupting legal battle, settled and agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty to the U.S. Government. It also agreed to make a "community service payment" of $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation — to be used on research projects or tree-conservation activities.

The feds in return agreed to let Gibson resume importing wood while they sought "clarification" from India.
This is America under Mr. Obama. You play ball or you get punished. It's how thugs run protection rackets and how tyrants run countries. The Obama administration may very well turn out to be the most corrupt in the history of the United States, and while we should all decline the angry (and surprising) adjuration of the otherwise demure Andrea Tantaros to "punch Obama voters in the face" one can certainly sympathize with the outrage that elicited it.
Andrea Tantaros
Half the American electorate have foisted upon the rest of us a man lacking any discernable qualification for the job of President. He had never had a job in the private sector, never actually served in any executive or leadership position, was never accountable to anyone, and whose own personal history was, and still is, shrouded in mystery.

The president these voters have selected seems to lack any understanding of how government should behave in a free society, and whatever his own personal virtues might be, he has appointed people to run his administration who evidently have nothing but contempt for the niceties of the law, the constitution, and the truth.

These voters, in many cases, supported Mr. Obama for no weightier reason than that they thought it'd be "cool" to be part of the history-making election of the first black president, or they wished to clothe themselves in racial piety and demonstrate to themselves and others that they weren't racists.

At least those voters have the excuse, perhaps, of just being irresponsible. The voters who knew what Mr. Obama's ideological inclinations and ambitions were, what he would do and how he would do it, and voted for him anyway, or voted for him because that's precisely what they wanted from him, were something worse than irresponsible.