President Obie

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


obama-martial-law-marine-law-enforcement-battalions-police-stateIn 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.

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  • truebearing

    Arlo Guthrie, and the rest of the 60′s High Priests of self-righteousness and hubris, called a culture fascist that wasn’t, then replaced it with one that is. Deluded and arrogant, they promoted protesting as an automatic path to enlightenment. They babbled about peace, but destroyed everything they could, starting with teaching the youth to see their parents as enemies and oppressors. They divided the generations, the families, the genders, the races, and national unity. As usual, the only thing the Left did well was destroy what was good.

    I remember well the people who most fervently embraced the counterculture in the 60s, and they were invariably the most self-righteous, arrogant, and narcissistic people around. While many who opposed the Vietnam War were sincere, a large number were cowardly, narcissistic kids who were motivated far more by fear than any moral principles. The 60′s produced a generation that was the antithesis to “the greatest generation” of WWII.

    • Berceuse

      That first sentence of your post is brilliant and bears repeating: “Arlo Guthrie, and the rest of the 60′s High Priests of self-righteousness and hubris, called a culture fascist that wasn’t, then replaced it with one that is.” Very well said.

      • truebearing

        Thanks.

        For too long the Left has had its way with painting the 60′s as some kind of utopia, foreshadowing what life could be if only we’d all reject religion, tradition, common sense, and sanity. Like everything else the Left has promoted, their memories of the 60′s is a lie, but countless professors are still living in their romanticized delusions and ignoring the fact that the 60′s was the beginning of the end of everything they claimed to support.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Narcissism is the key word. The left is congealed narcissism.

      • truebearing

        “congealed narcissism”

        Perfect description. Like tar that blocks any light.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          And is really hard to scrape out.

    • Seek

      Absurd. Arlo Guthrie in particular is a born-again Catholic. More broadly, the counterculture, by instinct anti-bureaucratic and libertarian, isn’t the problem. The tyrants are much more black and other nonwhite. And they are some of the least creative people around. They’re hardly the sorts of hippies who have built companies like Apple and Google into the institutions they are now.

      • truebearing

        Google and Apple are run by people sympathetic to Obama, who is a textbook example of a fascist. The owners of Google are powermongers and fascistic to the core. Wake up.

        With all due respect, your comment made no sense.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        I’m not talking about Guthrie as he is today. There are plenty of counterculture types who swung to the right.

        The tyrants are mostly upscale white liberals. They’re the people who set this up and keep it running. As for their creativity? I wouldn’t claim that Bill Ayers is all that incredibly creative.

    • American1969

      ***Applause!***
      Spot on, truebearing! Here, here!

    • Steve Bryant

      well said

  • The March Hare

    “The judge has since retired to a more fitting post as a member of the Governor’s Advisory Panel on License Plate Reader technology.”

    By rights, the judge should have ended up making license plates.

    • Drakken

      The day will come were judges like this, and many others like him, where they will either be lined up against wall or hung from the nearest lamp post. These self righteous control freaks make it possible that people will only be regulated to death for only so long. Are you kidding me? Putting a veteran in jail for 3 years for property improvement?

  • TheOrdinaryMan

    So what was the act, do you think, that inspired Phillips to write, and Scott McKenzie to sing, “San Francisco–be sure to wear….”? If you believe the song, it was two middle-aged hippies doin’ it(on a public bench) at the corner of Haight & Ashbury. But more likely, it was someone sleeping in the caretaker’s office at Kezar Stadium; or someone getting arrested for watching a 49er game from the balcony of a friend’s house, at the top of the hill; because the friend was killing mice in his own backyard.

  • logdon

    My hero of the counterculture was Bob Dylan because ultimately he wasn’t the counterculture.

  • johnlittle

    Well said Mr. Greenfield. The not so new mantra for American’s is, as you suggest, “Let things slide.” American educators are in line for the highest awards given to the mantra’s achievers.

    In part, the slide advocators were at the forefront of the integration movement in the second half of the past century. The slogan “I am somebody” suggested that little needed to be done to advance the disparate segments of our culture. All we needed to do was slide. For elaboration here read Archimedes.

    Americans botched their greatest moment by failing to integrate our nation for the future and not just for the moment.

    Cordially, John Little, Sr

    • bigjulie

      It wasn’t even “integration” per se, but wholesale attempts by those suffering from terminal “White Guilt” to convert an entire race of people to little more than an agglomeration of kept zoo animals. Alleviate past sufferings by setting them up so they would not have to work to improve themselves or even feed, clothe or shelter themselves. For those who could not succeed in school, they even featured artificial success (called “affirmative action”) which was “awarded”, not earned, by the white-guilt, liberal powers-that-be controlling the schools.
      Despite all that, there were still minority people who succeeded on their own…people like Justice Thomas and Dr. Ben Carson. Of course, the Left threw rocks at these people, not because they were black, but because they were not the “right kind of black”…i.e. not examples of the results of everything the Left tried to do to alleviate their “guilt”…not “house ni**ers” for Liberalism which is what the Left was trying to create.
      And now we have little creations like the NSA, trying to save us from ourselves. We have one last opportunity, folks! This entire obscenity was created almost wholly by Democrats and RINOs! If we do not get rid of every last damned Democrat and RINO we can in 2014, we are DOOMED!

    • https://twitter.com/#!/zerses Moirrainefortruth

      I think you mistook what really is happening here…
      .
      The left is the cop… the hippies are WE who want nothing but freedom, for all, for law, for our rights for our very lives.
      .
      We had freedom for all – for one shining moment. I didn’t see much prejudice in many places in the United States and then some allowed it out of the deep south and the inner city and it started to infect the rural areas AGAIN and the hate spread far and wide with the advent of the internet and of twitter and instagram.
      .
      God wants us to let things slide and not be the morality cop that leaders from Obama, to mayors, to city administrators to business personnel, to “services”, to “insurance” and they are all bad, inept, wrong and harm many.
      .
      The true free market died a horrid death years ago, we have almost no way to be a free, self sustaining community or family unit at all, we must go to grocery stores and not see what poisons they are putting into thigns that we would not and could not and they PAY money to get those horrid chemicals and put it in there to stop it from “decaying” or keep it ‘healthy’ which it does not in any way do.
      .
      God meant for us to be connected as humans. I grow this, you have that, you need this, I want that, but HE NEVER to us to and indeed condemned usury (INTEREST!) and said that anyone who told his neighbor that he could not borrow even if it meant it was destroyed was a slothful and ungrateful servant indeed.
      .
      I am on your side, but I think the story had much more to say my way than the way you seem to have taken it.
      .
      God Bless you – Happy New Year 2014

  • carpe diem 36

    do you see a difference between what america is now and north Korea? I do not. what have they wrought? Pres. Obie is an aberration, a misrepresentation, a fraud and a cruel joke. if all this is not frightening enough for people to vote to stop him and his cronies in EPA and the Senate we are doomed, we will be No. Korea writ big.

  • PaleAle

    Every day, our freedoms are being annexed, a little here, a little there, until we no longer have any freedom.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/zerses Moirrainefortruth

      I am glad ONE other person sees that it’s already past the “going to be” stage for freedom here.
      .
      Our freedoms and our individual rights have been taken by the elitists who believe we are imbecilic or worse.

      • Drakken

        Well 1/2 the population in the US just proved that they are imbecilic for electing Obummer twice.

        • creeper

          Nowhere near “1/2 the population”. 1/2 the voters…maybe.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/zerses Moirrainefortruth

    We need an article outlining the take down, legally, of a pirate who stole our country, spent our money and then told us lies about where it all went and we can’t get JUST ONE LAWYER TO DO THAT?
    .
    YE BLIND MICE!!!! SHEEEPPPPP.

  • Jeff Ludwig

    Thanks for this prescient article. This morning I began the New Year by listening to DiBlasio’s speech at his swearing in as Mayor of New York. He talked about universal pre-K and after school programs. This is the tip of the iceberg of a real problem of leadership — namely governmental overreach — that is depicted with such literary clarity in this article. In the article, Mr. Greenfield states, “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.” This is the real problem with the DiBlasio program and all those SDS “reformers” of the 1960′s counter culture. DiBlasio got under my skin when he talked about the “crisis of inequality” in New York. He said that everybody’s dreams should count and be enacted. What crisis? Whose dreams are being suppressed? I taught in a high school where one teacher labored endlessly to have a computer lab installed. Yet, many students put glue in the keyboards or in the “mice” used to move the cursors. Many would stay attentive to the software more than 10 minutes at a stretch. I gently suggested to one young lady to move her cursor to a certain spot, at which point, out of nowhere, she cursed me out, threw her chair, and stormed out of the room slamming the door. (It was just another normal day.) He kept repeating the line, “We will not wait.” To me, it had an ominous ring. I’m not in the top 1% of earners, and never have been, but I always followed my dreams without DiBlasio and without Pres. Obie. So did all my cousins, my brother, my friends, etc. etc. I know so many people of color, people from Asia, Hispanic people, etc. who have followed their dreams as well….long before Pres. Obie and His Honor, Mayor DiBullio. But I ask myself as was asked in a recent article on frontpagemag.com, what about all the people who do not know about the counter culture era? It seems that many are buying into this rhetoric without understanding its true implications. May God have mercy on us all.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      We will not wait means he’s going to ram through his radical programs on behalf of the welfare collective.

  • It’sAllAboutLiberty!

    No brainer: Barack Obama’s Alinsky ‘Rules For Radicals’ chaos, Weather Underground revolutionary terrorists & Chicago7 counter-culture Amerika “occupy” the White House – twitpic.com/dg8euf

  • gawxxx

    that “higher court ” “IS” the supreme judge ! humans ! , what fools to believe that we could govern ourselves ! without “HIM” , fools we are! , sad very sad .

  • Daniel Greenfield

    from a comment on another site

    Andy58-in-nh

    You can’t get anything at all,
    At Barry O’s Health Care mall
    You can’t get anything at all,
    At Barry O’s Health Care mall
    Walk right up, take your place in line
    By the time the doc sees you
    You’ll be dead or blind…
    Oh, you can’t get anything at all,
    At Barry O’s Health Care mall
    (Excepting: Congress)
    At Barry O’s Health Care mall!

    http://www.gopbriefingroom.com/index.php?topic=124881.0

    • Douglas J. Bender

      “If you like your Obamaphone, you can keep your Obamaphone.”

  • http://www.abay.vn/Ve-quoc-te/ve-may-bay-di-tay-ban-nha Nhóm Đào Tạo

    bie is an aberration, a misrepresentation, a fraud and a cruel joke. if
    all this is not frightening enough for people to vote to stop him and
    his cronies in EPA and the Senate we are doomed, we will be No.

    ve may bay di London
    ve may bay di Berlin

  • banne

    Great article Mr Greenfield.

  • Hass

    I don’t understand the Culture of NY. Can someone tell me how is it that the Welfare Recipients have more clout than the taxpayers?
    Are there more Leechers than Taxpayers who vote?

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Combine leeches with stupid taxpayers who get their worldview from the media… and add on low voter turnout and elections that feed the even lower turnout Dem primaries directly into higher office…

  • Race_Dissident

    “If the laws of the culture made sense but were guilty of overreach, the laws of the counterculture are all overreach with no sense.”
    Perfect.

  • American1969

    Screw the Hippies and other anti-American trash from the 1960′s.
    Aside from the Patriots that served their country, that generation is the most spoiled, narcissistic bunch of people with chips on their shoulders.

    • mkat68

      Or as Grampa Simpson once said of Homer, “The only mistake our generation ever made was creating THAT generation!”

  • Debbie G

    I guess this makes the Tea Party the counter-counterculture revolutionists. (did I get that right?)

  • Steve Bryant

    Daniel Greenfield is rapidly becoming the voice of conservative though in the 21st century. Great piece!