"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chris Hayes: "GOP platform comes out hard against the Lacey Act of 1900"

Last night on Twitter, Chris Hayes who hosts Up with Chris Hayes, a weekend opinion television show on MSNBC.tweeted:
"GOP platform comes out hard against the Lacey Act of 1900"
It was one of those moments where you just sit there and say how far back is this Republican Platform going to take us when the Platform comes out against a Act passed in 1900?  Truthfully, I had no clue what the Lacey Act was so I decided to research to find out why this act was important starting with the initial question "What is the Lacey Act?"

Found this overview of the Lacy Act which has been amended several times to stiffen the act:

The Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378, protects both plants and wildlife by creating civil and criminal penalties for a wide array of violations. Most notably, the Act prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold. Thus, the Act underscores other federal, state, and foreign laws protecting wildlife by making it a separate offense to take, possess, transport, or sell wildlife that has been taken in violation of those laws. The Act prohibits the falsification of documents for most shipments of wildlife (a criminal penalty) and prohibits the failure to mark wildlife shipments (civil penalty). The Lacey Act is administered by the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture through their respective agencies. These include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. 
The Lacey Act was first introduced by Iowa Congressman John Lacey in the House of Representatives in the spring of 1900. It was signed into law by President William McKinley on May 25, 1900. The original Act was directed more at the preservation of game and wild birds by making it a federal crime to poach game in one state with the purpose of selling the bounty in another. It was also concerned with the potential problems of the introduction of non-native, or exotic species of birds and animals into native ecosystems. Finally, it sought to buttress state laws already in existence for the protection of game and birds. 
The Lacey Act has been amended several times since its inception in 1900. The most significant ones occurred in 1969, 1981, and 1988. The 1969 amendments expanded to include amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, and crustaceans. The maximum penalty was increased to $10,000 with possible imprisonment for one year. Additionally, the mental state required for a criminal violation was increased to "knowingly and willfully;" civil penalties were expanded to apply to negligent violations. 
In 1981, Congress removed the heightened proof standard of "willfully" from the statute, making "knowingly" the standard. This came in response to an increased illegal trade in fish and wildlife both domestically and abroad. Indigenous plants were also added to the protected species. With regard to penalty, the maximum civil fine was raised to $10,000 and a bifurcated felony/misdemeanor scheme was created under the statute based on the conduct of the offender and the market value of the species at issue. Under the felony portion of the statute, the maximum penalty was set at $20,000 and/or five years imprisonment; misdemeanor violations were set at $10,000 and/or up to one-year imprisonment. The amendments also allowed for warrantless arrest for felony violations under the Act and expansion of the role of federal wildlife agents. 
In 1988, the role of guiding or outfitting services were added to cover a new threat to big game species under the ambit of "sale." Prior to the amendment, big game guides who provided illegal hunts were immune to prosecution for violation based on commercial activity. The amendments also created a separate and distinct violation for the intended falsification of documents pertaining to the exporting, importing, or transporting of wildlife, fish, or plants. The felony provision of this part of the act was amended such that one could be convicted if he or she either knew of the import or export of the species or where he or she was involved in the sale or purchase of wildlife, fish, or plants with a market value greater than $350. 
The Lacey Act now stands as one of the broadest and most comprehensive forces in the federal arsenal to combat wildlife crime. With increasing activity in international and domestic wildlife trafficking, the Act has evolved to become an important weapon to protect animals domestically and abroad.

After reading the overview of the act, it made no sense why this act was in the 2012 RNC Platform.  First question that popped in my mind was what is the real reason for this being in the platform.  With a little research, discovered it was about Gibson Guitars who had been raided by the DOJ for violating this act. After first reading the Fox News account which seemed to be a white wash for Gibson Guitars as it was more of an opinion piece which should not shock anyone out of Fox News today.  John Roberts who did the story for Fox News didn't bother to report the facts which were readily available.    

The lack of truth by Fox News anchors and reporters with only a few exceptions like Shepherd Smith in this election is astounding.  Used to rely on reports from the Media Research Center for checking articles until I discovered that their reports were very slanted right and at times contained more opinions then facts.  What is wrong with telling the truth by the conservative media?  Is it because if they told the truth, they would have to admit that Romney/Ryan are an extremely flawed ticket and the 2012 GOP Platform is out of touch with mainstream America.  Went to Media Matters to see what they had to say about this investigation.  Double checked to make sure their report was correct.  Fox News once again used bogus information to report the news without checking basic facts.    

The easiest item to check was the part that Fox said on their broadcast that the owner of Gibson Guitars, Henry Juszkiewicz, was a Republican who has donated to Republican campaigns.  Figured that must be the reason for the Lacey Act being part of the Platform to help out a big donor.  After researching the FEC records for the latest which took all of three minutes, I discovered that he was not a big Republican donor as he had only given $2300 to Mike Huckabee in 2007, donated to a Democrat candidate for Congress in 2011, and the rest of his $48,000+ donations starting in 2007 went to the Consumer Electronics Association PAC.  Why can't Fox News do a basic search to discover if Juszkiewicz really was a Republican donor to various campaigns instead of assuming?  Since 2007, Juszkiewicz gave only $2300 to ONE Republican candidate which makes you wonder who does the research at Fox News.  Why should anyone believe anything they say when they couldn't get that simple fact right?

Here is the real news behind the Gibson Guitar DOJ Investigation which seems to have led to the GOP Platform coming down hard on the Lacey Act of 1900.  Did the GOP Platform Committee use the Fox News reporting calling the investigation political as the basis for that part of the 2012 GOP Platform attacking the Lacey Act?  
Following up on a series of one-sided reports suggesting that the Department of Justice's investigation of Gibson Guitar over charges of illegal logging was unwarranted, Fox News senior national correspondent John Roberts has now explicitly declared: "[T]here doesn't appear to be any illegal logging here."
HEMMER: What do they say is behind all this John?' 
ROBERTS: It is an amendment to the 1900 Lacey Act that was passed in 2008 to help protect against any illegal logging. But there doesn't appear to be any illegal logging here. The Indian government says that they wood that it exported to Gibson and other luthiers across the country is legal. But the U.S. government says "No it's not legal to import into the United States." This of course has created a massive amount of confusion. So much so that the National Association of Music Merchants wrote a letter to the president and to members of Congress complaining about the "unintended consequences of the Lacey Act that we feel are damaging to our industry and the economy." I asked Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee about that. He was a cosponsor of the 2008 amendment. He told me that "some changes may be needed here."
Fox's coverage on the Gibson Guitar's case has been skewed from the very beginning and Roberts' report is the logical culmination of its coverage so far. 
An affidavit filed by career Fish and Wildlife Service official John Rayfield spells out the government's case for searching Gibson property, as Reuters reported on August 25. The affidavit details a recent shipment of Indian ebony wood that was intercepted by Customs officials for possible Lacey Act violations and referred to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Customs entry form listed California importer Luthier Mercantile International as the final destination for the shipment, when in fact, it was bound for Nashville for Gibson Guitars, according to the affidavit. 
But that wasn't the only problem. The affidavit states that the Customs form falsely labeled the wood as veneer sheets and listed a false tariff code "to match the false description." The Indian export declaration also allegedly misrepresented the shipment, classifying it under the tariff code for finished parts of musical instruments. The reason this matters is that, according to the affidavit, veneer sheets (less than 6mm) and finished parts are legal to export under Indian law, but unfinished wood larger than 6mm is not. Juszkiewicz contends that the U.S. government has misinterpreted Indian law. 
But rather than ascertain the facts, Fox has portrayed the case as an attack against Gibson Guitar's CEO Henry Juszkiewicz for his political leanings. In fact, Bret Baier, host of Fox News' Special Report has stated, "There is an element of politics here. The CEO of Gibson Guitars is a Republican who has donated to the Republican campaigns." 
However, Juszkiewicz's political donations do not indicate that he is a major Republican donor. 
The case has also been used as a platform to push GOP talking points on government regulations.
And now Roberts has determined that Gibson apparently did not violate the law. One wonders how he came to that reasoned opinion: Long hours of research into U.S. law? A trip to India to research Indian law on the subject? A close examination of the Fish and Wildlife Service affidavit? 
Or is it just Fox's default position the Obama administration must be wrong, a position that is held by both its opinion and its supposedly "straight news" divisions? 
Source:  Media Matters
Media Matters discovered that Juszkiewicz was not a big Republican donor, took me three minutes, and yet Fox News labeled him as a donor to Republican campaigns and why the Obama Administration was after Gibson Guitars.  More of the lies by Fox News to make Obama look bad?

Found this little gem about Fox News not being allowed in Canada from 2011 which speaks volumes about Fox News and the conservative pundits:
Fox News will not be moving into Canada after all! The reason: Canada regulators announced last week they would reject efforts by Canada's right wing Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to repeal a law that forbids lying on broadcast news.
The Prime Minster wanted to repeal a law forbidding lying on broadcast news?  Why?  So that they could bring in Fox News and the conservative pundits like Beck, Rush, and Hannity who tend to stretch the truth and at times outright lie.  The bust of Churchill being returned to England by Obama lie comes to mind when it was only moved in the White House and replaced in the Oval Office with a bust of Lincoln.  Bringing Fox News and the conservative pundits to broadcast stations is the only reason that I could think of because it doesn't make sense to repeal a law saying broadcast news people cannot lie on the air.  If only that were true in the United States.   

1 comment:

SJ Reidhead said...

If it's on FOX it must be true. It is decreed that it must be "Truth" like Rush is truth and Beck is "Truth". Who cares about factual accuracy when we need truth?

The Pink Flamingo