Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Your Les Paul guitar is illegal

The Holder Justice Department staged a raid on the factories and headquarters of Gibson Guitars in Nashville and Memphis. They confiscated guitars, wood and documents in an effort to implicate the historic luthier in an illegal exotic woods scandal. This is the second time this has happened to Gibson, oddly other guitar makers that use the exact same materials have not been raided. If you are wondering why, consider that Gibson's CEO Henry Juszkiewicz is a Republican donor. Chris Martin, CEO of CF Martin Guitars, a darling of the green crowd, is an Obama supporter. Martin, while also implicated in using protected exotic woods has not been investigated - or raided.

In a statement Juszkiewicz suggested the Feds are using the aggressive enforcement of overly broad laws to snare the company.

The Justice Department refused to speak to - anyone.

While the notion that the Justice Department is being used to exact political revenge is nothing new, especially for this regime, the idea that simply owning a guitar made with these woods puts the musician and collector in jeopardy is distressing.

When a musician crosses an international border with an instrument made of that restricted wood, he will be required to have correct and complete documentation proving the age of the instrument or the origin of the materials. It could confiscated by a zealous customs agent - these guitars can be worth $2000 to $200,000 - as well as face fines and even prosecution.

As an owner of high end guitars that were bought new from the manufacturer I have never been given any document declaring the source of the materials used in it's creation. I never received anything from GM or Chrysler in this regard either. As for the age of the guitar it usually buried cryptically in the serial number and takes significant digging to determine the exact manufacture date if it is possible at all. This places a high burden on the owner of an instrument that doesn't apply to other manufactured goods.

The implications are disturbing to say the least - are rock stars exempt? When will they rise up in opposition? I guess it depends whether it's Toby Keith and Ted Nuggent who gets nailed or Tom Petty and Bon Jovi.

~ from the article linked above: ~ Consider the recent experience of Pascal Vieillard, whose Atlanta-area company, A-440 Pianos, imported several antique Bösendorfers. Mr. Vieillard asked officials at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species how to fill out the correct paperwork—which simply encouraged them to alert U.S. Customs to give his shipment added scrutiny.

There was never any question that the instruments were old enough to have grandfathered ivory keys. But Mr. Vieillard didn't have his paperwork straight when two-dozen federal agents came calling.

Facing criminal charges that might have put him in prison for years, Mr. Vieillard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the Lacey Act, and was handed a $17,500 fine and three years probation.

This is bad, very bad...


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What is wrong with this guy???

My God I can't believe this guy...

Everyday President Obama succeeds. Yes, he succeeds in lowering my respect for him when I thought I was already at rock bottom. What is it this time? The first so-called black president who was going to heal the racial divide in this country chooses to slap white people upside the head by displaying this painting in the West Wing.

Clearly he only intends to stir things up, not bridge the divide. This painting should be on display, and yes, maybe in the White House, but not in the West Wing. By displaying it in his offices he is making a personal statement that whites should not be forgiven - ever. Tell me, does he have any paintings/art depicting the Arabs destroying the Twin Towers? I thought not...

He has done nothing to help heal the black community, in fact his economic and welfare policies have further devastated blacks in this country. Black youth unemployment is markedly worse under his reign and the issue receives zero attention from his administration. Lately we have seen a disturbing trend in black youth mob violence directed randomly on whites, including to women and children. Is this really the time to endorse this kind of imagery at the Presidential level, especially by this President.

I really can't stand this man.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We Can Only Hope!

This is the first I've heard rumblings of a possible bid for the White House for Rep. Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin Congressman is now the Chairman of the House Budget Committee and has been more visible on the public airwaves than ever before. He successfully passed a rather revolutionary budget through the House this year that received a lot of press. Alas, it received zero consideration in the upper chamber. Harry Reid killed it immediately in the Senate, no hearings, no vote. It did however raise his stock among conservatives and Republicans - as well as the ire of the progressives.

I can't remember the last time I heard a politician talk - about anything - that blew me away. Ryan does it nearly every time I hear him speak. It's not soaring rhetoric or nebulous promises coming from this politician, it's answers, directions, thought-out solutions to real problems. He does criticize the liberals, Democrats and hyper-partisans, but it is not with malice or scorn. It is done with an air of a difference of opinion, rather than a unveiled hints that the other side is somehow evil.

Do I suspect Ryan's answers and solutions are the perfect remedy for America? I don't know. It seems clear though we have tried the Nanny-state prescription since LBJ and we are dying as an economy and as a culture. Ryan's solutions seem to lean towards making the country a place for business to thrive which brings along jobs and prosperity rather than a place for government to thrive. Just who is served by a bigger and bigger, more costly government? Well, it's mostly the government itself and those "bitter clingers" from government-created welfare Moms to corporate chieftains whose lives and businesses are built around government largess.

I would be seriously enthused by a Ryan for President campaign, I would volunteer and I would open my wallet. It is time for something different.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bat Shit Crazy

So, yesterday when an e-mail was circulating the office deriding President Obama for the stock market's woes the defensive mode kicked in almost instantaneously. The replies began flying...

Essentially it was said in so many words that the President didn't have anything to do with the stock market (and even if he did - it was still all Bush's fault). Another couple of e-mails went on to chronicle the Dow's performance under the last 3 Presidents trying to show that Democrats were the superior guardians of the equities.

The President, any President doesn't directly have control over the direction of the stock market day to day, but their policies and the rhetoric absolutely contribute to trends and sometimes even short term developments. Still, that was not what struck me about the e-mail chain. It was one that said - the markets wouldn't be any different today if McCain and that "Bat Shit Crazy" Palin had been elected.

I was struck by how a generally well informed, intelligent person could just label someone they know absolutely nothing about - or rather knows only what CNN, Newsweek and the New York Times has told him - such a derogatory term. In none of e-mail responses did anyone say that "Marxist" Obama or any other , inflammatory descriptor. But it was OK to to just flame Sarah Palin, hell it is expected, right?

I see it all the time with my smart, above average intelligence friends (family) and associates when it comes to Palin. None of them have taken one minute to actually look into this woman's accomplishments. These are the same people who hate (or strongly dislike) Republicans, which is one strike against her immediately. But do they know that it was Sarah Palin who took on the established, entrenched Republicans in her state as a Republican herself and corrected decades of problems. She was a real and consistent problem solver who didn't stand on convention. Palin was a get it done type of leader - pretty much exactly what we need now. That was a picture never painted in the early days of 2008. What they know is what the media and the celebrity class has told them. They don't like her because they aren't supposed to.

Before she had the misfortune of being selected as John McCain's running mate in a year that the Messiah himself was running (oops, I just used a derogatory term, didn't I) Palin was a successful governor of a small state. Her disarming beauty and folksy mannerisms automatically disqualified her among the elites and the intellectuals. Ya sure, she is a dumb hick, dontcha know. Yes, she was out of her element in 2008, she was not ready, she probably should have had more prep and less "handling". But nothing she said or did deserved the drubbing she took, particularly in light of the fact that the media has still not vetted Barack Obama.

Unfortunately "Bat Shit Crazy" is one of the mildest things said about her by her detractors.

I was of the mind that she is so damaged that she didn't stand a chance if she ran for President. I don't know if I've changed my mind yet, but I actually admire her fortitude and her ability to shake it off and keep going. I've said it before that if by some circumstance she becomes the nominee I wouldn't hesitate to vote for her.

Here's the deal:
The progressive attacks will be coordinated and vicious, no matter whom the nominee is this election cycle. One has to wonder who will be able to withstand the pending storm. I believe Sarah Palin has been vetted. None of the others have been prepped to level they'll need to withstand a vicious, blistering attack from every flank. No stone will be left unturned in trying to discredit, embarrass or shame the Republican nominee. The left knows they can't run on their record this time, so destroying their opponent is the only thing they have.

You could say, yeah, well, that's politics. The Republicans play that game too. They did it to Clinton and Gore and John Kerry. Don't make me laugh. Major media constituents votes 90 to 10 for Democrats every time, you can't tell me it's the same thing. President Obama was never scrutinized or demonized like Bush, or Palin, not even close. In fact no politician has ever received the treatment Palin and her family endured in 2008. It's only gotten worse since.

I really like a few of the declared candidates on the Republican side and I like some that haven't declared and likely won't this time. I'd take anyone of them over Obama. The question is are any of them Bat Shit Crazy enough to withstand the coming onslaught?


Friday, August 05, 2011

Escape to God's Country

It's been a strange year...

Every summer for the last 4 or 5 years my son, his friend and I head up to northern Wisconsin for a little fishing and escapism. This year more than most I really needed it. (Yes, we are albino deer country. I hope to see one with my own eyes)

I feel overwhelmed and blessed at the same time. Life, as many of us who have lived more than a few decades know intuitively, speeds up as we get older. Is it because we are going downhill in more ways than one or is it because we don't get to take breaks like we once did? My breaks are few and far between for all kinds of reasons - no need to go into that now - but I not only looked forward to this one, I really needed it!

It seems health is on everybody's mind this year. I had a scare of my own and I've seen my dear mother, my mother and father-in-law, my younger brother and some friends at work all having health scares or issues. My wife had surgery twice. I can safely say we've reached our maximum out of pocket this year.

Of course the national economy and the politics that surround it have filled our hearts with dread as it seems there is no end in sight for this constant stream of bad news. At work we as as busy as I've ever seen but we are not growing the business - we are bracing ourselves for compliance audits. A huge percentage of our work is non-productive CYA work. Not saying it is all necessarily wrong or pointless, but the deadlines are crazy and arbitrary - that's all I'm saying.

On the blessed side I saw both my kids graduate this year, one with honors and one in a blaze of A's and B's on his way out. I couldn't be happier or more proud! Of course I am very happy that both of my wife's surgeries turned out well and she looks to have full recovery in her sights. On the personal side I started writing songs again!!! I am busily recording a new album. It gives me great joy and something to look forward to week in and week out. Nearly all the songs have a personal redemption angle to them. I wrote them in a six week period and tried not to over analyze them as I finished. We have 4 in the bag and I'm really excited to get them out there.

So this little escape to beautiful northern Wisconsin couldn't have come at better time. Hopefully we'll have great weather and the fish will be biting!