Wednesday, January 01, 2014
In 1967, folk singer Arlo Guthrie played a song on a left-wing New York City radio station that was supposed to sum up the cultural difference between the culture and the counterculture.
On one side of the moral equation in Alice’s Restaurant you had Office Obie and the nameless army officers who were rule-bound fascists and on the other side you had the easygoing hippies who believed in community, hanging out and letting things slide. Culture would drag you into court for littering with twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy photographs as evidence while counterculture would shrug and invite you to dinner.
That’s still the image that the left likes to wear like an old pair of jeans. It’s still just a bunch of easygoing fellows out to build community and take on Officer Obie’s senseless repressive rules. But then the counterculture became the culture and the left became Officer Obie.
Or President Obie.
If there’s anyone who’s going to drag you into court with twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy photographs as proof; it’s going to be the Officer Obies of the EPA. Except that a straightforward thing like littering would be much too sensible for environmental enforcement groups to bother with. They’re more likely to arrest you for collecting rainwater on your own property, making a guitar out of unfinished wood or cleaning up trash from your own property.
EPA Administrator Al Armendariaz, whose fiefdom included five states, told staffers that his philosophy of enforcement was borrowed from the Romans.”They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.”
Compared to the Officer Obies of the ruling counterculture, the original model seems like the soul of reason. If you ran afoul of Officer Armendariz, or Caesar Armendariz as he liked to be called, you would be very lucky to come away with nothing more than a twenty-five dollar fine and a few hours in jail.
A mere two decades after Arlo Guthrie began singing about being arrested on Thanksgiving for littering by Officer Obie; John Pozsgai was sentenced to three years in jail for “discharging pollutants into waters of the United States” for the crime of adding topsoil to his land.
And you can be sure that the evidence for the legal case which went on in varying forms for twenty years consisted of a lot more than a mere twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with a paragraph of text on the back.
There’s a folk song in there, but it’s not one that Arlo Guthrie would sing or that any liberal would listen to because every progressive who grins when hearing Arlo joke about a federal case being made out of throwing some garbage off a cliff would want to hang him in real life.
Bill Ellen, a Vietnam veteran and conservationist who ran a shelter for injured wildlife, spent six months in jail for making duck ponds based on a 1989 reinterpretation of environmental law which stated that land which had water on it for seven days was considered Federally protected wetlands.
“That’s as close as you can come to restitution for them, the ducks,” the judge in the case declared. The judge has since retired to a more fitting post as a member of the Governor’s Advisory Panel on License Plate Reader technology.
There’s probably a folk song in that, but no one would ever air it.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane F. Barrett called it “a premeditated environmental crime” and declared victory even though Ellen was only sentenced to six months in jail instead of three years.
“It might be true that five years ago Ellen wouldn’t have to go to jail. But we’re living in a different world now,” she admitted.
And that different world is the world that progressives have made. They have made America into a nightmarish place where you don’t just go to jail for trashing public property, but for cleaning up your own.
Ellen’s own Officer Obie has moved on to be the Director of the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Maryland. Despite donating a few thousand dollars to Obama, she has yet to get the US Attorney gig that she had her eye on.
Doubtlessly though President Obie is sure to find a place for any legal eagle who can try to send a Marine Corps vet with two young children to jail for three years over a duck pond.
But the final Officer Obie touch was yet to come.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reviewed the case and declared; “That Ellen believes that an offense of this magnitude is trivial or unimportant ironically exemplifies the need not to foreclose punishment by imprisonment.”
The need to sentence a man to prison for a trivial offense because he believes rightly that it is a trivial offense is the definition of irony only behind the Iron Curtain. But in a more fitting definition of irony, the judge responsible for writing that decision lost his shot at a Supreme Court spot because he couldn’t stop talking to the New York Times about being considered for the Supreme Court.
The justice of the Officer Obies, Judge Obies and President Obies may be blind, deaf and dumb; but sometimes a higher court than the Supreme Court intervenes with its own judgment.
The different world that U.S. Attorney Jane F. Barrett gleefully inhabits where a man may be sent to jail for a duck pond wasn’t made by Officer Obie, but by Arlo Guthrie and his listeners. If the laws of the culture made sense but were guilty of overreach, the laws of the counterculture are all overreach with no sense.
Seven years after Gibson Guitars worked with Arlo Guthrie to reconstruct Woody Guthrie’s guitar and sell reproductions of it, a gang of Officer Obies burst into its Nashville factory with guns drawn looking for wood. And they did it again two years later accusing Gibson of making guitars out of wood that was not finished by Indian workers.
Both times the raids happened under the regime of President Obie who is the living culmination of everything that the counterculture hoped for. And what they hoped for was Officer Obie writ large with a teleprompter in one hand and an infinite rule book in the other.
ObamaCare or ObieCare is based on a million regulations that no one understands holding up an oppressive system based on wishful thinking that can’t work. President Obie is the perfect leader for an ideology that wants its fascist overreaches and abuses of power cloaked in cheerful grins and empty talk about sharing and community whose practical implications are defined in implementable legalese on Page 2809, subparagraph 81b, footnote 311 which no one has read.
The counterculture heroes aren’t rebels anymore. They are the protectors of the values of the counterculture who suppress opposition by dissenters who don’t want to buy health insurance, uppity photographers who don’t want to take pictures at gay weddings and free spirits who build duck ponds without the proper permits.
Under the liberal Officer Obies, you can’t get what you want at Alice’s Restaurant. Not unless it meets State and Federal regulations, has listed calorie counts and doesn’t contain any transfats. You can’t get the health plan you want under ObieCare and you can’t get much of anything else either except a lecture, a reeducation program or a prison term.