Very shortly after the Obama administration took office the feds raided Gibson Guitar Corp., confiscating Gibson property. Over three years later THAT incident has yet to be resolved, charges filed, or property returned. Nearly a year ago the American guitar company was raided again and materials and property confiscated (read the background information involving this non-case case), and to this day nothing has been done in this second raid. Gibson Guitar Corp. has gotten no answers from the feds, and their property is still being held.
Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp. … and a republican… believes his non-Obama/democrat political leanings and political contributions might have something to do with the federal targeting of the non-union plant … especially since other guitar companies with the same business practices and materials sources have not been raided. To top it all off, AG Eric Holder’s DOJ suggested Gibson ship out manufacturing labor overseas (I won’t go into how a percentage of the alleged jobs created by Obama are actually overseas and not here). During this time the musical artists that treasure their high-end Gibson guitars, some either personally designing or having Gibson design signature guitars for them, have been relatively quiet, possibly out of fear. However, their silence may have not mattered, as their fears might be coming true…
Lawmakers are scrambling to save the summer concert season from federal agents poised to seize the instruments of rock and country stars because the wood used to make them may have been illegally harvested–and without their knowledge.
“I don’t want the musicians from Nashville who are flying to Canada to perform this summer to worry about the government seizing their guitars,” said Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.
Alexander, whose state is home to famed Gibson Guitars used by bands and stars like Van Halen, the Allman Brothers, Sheryl Crow, Ted Nugent and Paul McCartney, said Friday that he and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden are working to protect the artists, their instruments and makers and eventually change the law governing illegal wood harvesting.
“Senator Wyden and I are going to write the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a letter in the next couple of weeks and try to make it clear that wood harvested before 2008 to make musical instruments can’t be seized by the federal government,” Alexander said in a statement. “The Justice Department and Fish and Wildlife have said they have no intention of doing that, but Sen. Wyden and I are going to make it absolutely clear. We hope to get a clear ruling within a few weeks, and if we can’t get a clear ruling, we’ll introduce legislation to change the Lacey Act.”
The 112-year-old Lacey Act regulates the trade in bird feathers for hats and was amended in 2008 to cover wood and plants. The goal: make sure the woods used were not exported in violation of another country’s laws.
Their goal is to protect wooden instruments built with materials imported before 2008, when the Act was expanded. “This law was never intended to apply to those instruments,” said Alexander.
They are also working to help companies like Gibson–raided by the Feds recently–figure out what imports are legal.
Wyden and Alexander met with representatives from the music industry, wood import business and environmental and conservation groups Thursday to settle on a solution.
The Gibson Guitar case is more complex than a simple news blurb about being in violation of the Lacey Act, and accused of using “illegal wood” to manufacture their guitars. The company has proven they have not been in violation, and filled out and filed all appropriate documents regarding the wood materials while being even more careful since the 2009 raid … and the CEO Henry Juszkiewicz continues to question why other guitar and other instrument companies that get the same wood from the same place have not been targeted, as they have been, by the feds.
A couple years ago Henry posted something chiding Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh’s film “Che”. In the post Henry offered a video clip from Andy Garcia’s more accurate film version of the Cuban Revolution under Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. The scene depicted a communist revolutionary hench-woman Miliciana Muñoz (played by Elizabeth Peña) appearing at Fico Fellove’s (played by Garcia) night club with armed comrades and confiscating a saxophone. The YouTube video from Henry’s original post has since been blocked as “private” but below the fold you will find a nutshell summary of the scene. The Gibson Guitar Corp. case reminds me of it…
In one trenchantly telling scene, a representative of the Revolution — excellently portrayed by actress Elizabeth Peña (whose smugness-oozing nostrils and lips are put to good use here), accompanied by menacingly armed comrades constituting a “delegation from the Musician’s Union”, all in joylessly drab proletarian olive drab fatigues — comes to Fico’s nightclub during a rehearsal for a show and immediately commands in an imperious voice:
“Stop that music!”
Fico does not back down. He walks up and demands to know:
“By what authority do you have to come here and stop my rehearsal?”
The “delegate”, aptly named Miliciana Muñoz, answers:
“The government gave me the the authority. You see, you own this beautiful cabaret, but we own this orchestra.”
“Really. If I tell the orchestra not to play, they can’t play.”
Fico turns to his musicians, for confirmation.
“Is that so?”
They answer him, regretfully:
“Fico. We’re in the Union: They control the Union.”
Fico turns back to Miliciana:
“I see. Then on what grounds do you have to come here and stop my show?”
Then Miliciana makes an outrageously strange demand:
“You just can’t use the saxophone in the orchestra anymore.”
Fico is understandably taken aback.
“The saxophone is the instrument of the Imperialists.”
Fico raises his voice in exasperation:
“The saxophone was invented by a man named ‘Sax’! In Belgium!”
“Do you know…” Miliciana lectures him smugly, “…what the Belgian Imperialists are doing in the Congo!? They’re a bunch of murderers!”
“You don’t say…?”
Miliciana arches her back and barks out:
“NO — I DO SAY! And I am saying that if you want the orchestra to play, then you have to go without the saxophone! Otherwise, I will stop the show!”
Fico looks at her incredulously, yet resigned, for now that the Revolution is in charge, he has no power.
In this wonderfully juicy scene of the confrontation between this representative of Castro’s government and the capitalist nightclub owner, there is revealed a glimpse of the absurdly puritanical fanaticism — and thuggery to back that fanaticism up — in revolutionary Communism…
And just a reminder that during this time Holder and the DOJ, along with the ATF, were deeply involved with the illegal sales of perhaps thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels that would result in escalating the violence in Mexico, the deaths of US Border Patrol agents, countless innocent Mexican citizens, and yet unaccounted for guns still on the streets here and in Mexico….
I don’t know about you, but I feel so much safer with the Obama administration’s “boot on the neck” of Gibson Guitar Corp.
Cross-posted @ CW