Tuesday, August 7, 2012

US Government Extortion

I have these loose odds and ends lying around here that just need to be picked up and tied off...

One of the most popular posts I've run here concerned the raids on Gibson's guitar factory in Nashville, by armed SWAT agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service. From almost a year ago:
I noticed on the news today that the offices and factories of Gibson Guitars in Nashville and Memphis Tennessee were both raided yesterday (8/24) by armed federal agents, forcing a shutdown of operations, and sending employees home.  Since I remembered hearing about Gibson being raided in 2009, this caught my attention. 
I've been trying to keep my eyes and ears open on this, to see what eventually happened.  Yesterday, Gibson agreed to settle out of court, paying $350,000 to  the DOJ, and further relinquishes claims to about $261,000 worth of wood seized by the government.
“Gibson has acknowledged that it failed to act on information that the Madagascar ebony it was purchasing may have violated laws intended to limit overharvesting and conserve valuable wood species from Madagascar, a country which has been severely impacted by deforestation,” Ignacia Moreno, head of the department’s environment and natural resources division, said in the statement.
Simple case, right?  Gibson f'ed up and got caught.  Not so fast.  Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz put it this way:
“We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve,” he said in statement released via the company’s @gibsonguitar Twitter account late Monday.

“We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted, and a matter that could have been addressed with a simple contact (by) a caring human being representing the government,” the statement said. “Instead, the Government used violent and hostile means with the full force of the U.S. Government and several armed law enforcement agencies costing the taxpayers millions of dollars and putting a job-creating U.S. manufacture (sic) at risk and at an unfair disadvantage.”
You may remember that after last years' raid, it was pointed out that other manufacturers use the same woods as Gibson but are left alone.  The theory was raised that perhaps Gibson was singled out for being non-union and not a donor to democratic candidates, unlike Martin and other guitar makers.  Are union thugs at the root of this? 

I think everyone has that stereotype image of a stoic entrepreneur fighting a long battle in court and eventually having their honor restored.  A more realistic scenario is that you look at the costs of battling the unlimited resources of the federal prosecutors vs. cutting your losses and settling.  Settling becomes the practical way to keep your business and not spend your life in court proceedings.  Any resemblance to extortion is purely coincidental.

In another loose end, it seems that emails indicate that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was the prime driver behind ending retirement benefits for 20,000 non-unionized workers at Delphi.  Delphi used to be called Delco and was a subsidiary of Peoples Automotive Collective Number One, back when they were GM.  For the last 13 years, Delphi has been an independent company.  
The move, made in 2009 while the Obama administration implemented its auto bailout plan, appears to have been made solely because those retirees were not members of labor unions.

The internal government emails contradict sworn testimony, in federal court and before Congress, given by several Obama administration figures. They also indicate that the administration misled lawmakers and the courts about the sequence of events surrounding the termination of those non-union pensions, and that administration figures violated federal law.
So union members get protected while everyone else gets their pensions cut off.  "You should join the union. We wouldn't want nothing bad should happen to you."

Finally, the Blaze reports on the investigations of billionaire Sheldon Adelson.  National security editor (and former Three Letter Agency analyst) Buck Sexton reports that the billionaire has said that he will donate potentially unlimited amounts of money to get Mitt Romney elected - much as billionaire George Soros has donated essentially unlimited amounts of money to buy and take over the Democratic Party.
The casino company owned by Mitt Romney’s wealthiest supporter, Sheldon Adelson, is now in the Department of Justice’s crosshairs. That revelation is making the media rounds today, as someone in the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney’s office leaked word of a money laundering investigation involving Los Vegas Sands Corp. to the Wall Street Journal.
Not that they're actually leaking word that Adelson was personally involved, it's just a coincidence that an unattractive probe of a big donor to Mitt Romney would start up just around the conventions. It's just a random, unintended consequence that rabid Evil Party websites like Firedog Lake would refer to Adelson as "Daddy Whorebucks" (nope, not gonna link to them).

But wait, they've been doing this for a while.  A few weeks ago, another Romney donor made the "enemies list" over at wh.gov.
Frank VanderSloot was one of eight Republican donors named on Obama’s enemies list this past April. Fast forward a few months, and Mr. VanderSloot suddenly finds himself in the middle of two different audits from the federal government.

Mr. VanderSloot, who is 63 and has been working since his teens, says neither he nor his accountants recall his being subject to a federal tax audit before. He was once required to send documents on a line item inquiry into his charitable donations, which resulted in no changes to his taxes. But nothing more—that is until now, shortly after he wrote a big check to a Romney-supporting Super PAC.

Two weeks after receiving the IRS letter, Mr. VanderSloot received another—this one from the Department of Labor. He was informed it would be doing an audit of workers he employs on his Idaho-based cattle ranch under the federal visa program for temporary agriculture workers.
Executive use of the powers of the office - the DOJ, the IRS, and the Treasury Department - should make everyone's blood run cold.  Unlike congressman or senators, whom we elect to represent our little districts, the executive is supposed to represent us all.  They're supposed to be above all that, not thugs.  When the DOJ has the time to investigate minor crimes of illegal aliens on farms or in hotels, but won't do anything about stopping the flood coming over the border, it's simply wrong on all levels.  When the DOJ has the time to send armed agents against a guitar maker but won't answer the simplest questions about the arms they sent to some of the worst of humanity through Fast and Furious, it seems felonious.  These examples are nothing but using the powers of the executive branch for extortion against political enemies. 
Actor Cesare Danova as Mayor Carmine DePasto in Animal House, "So, if you mention extortion again, I'll have your legs broken"


1 comment:

RegT said...

Which is why, as much as we may hate choosing the lesser of two evils once again, it is imperative that we do so in this election.