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Bah, humbug! ‘Xmas tree tax’ is what’s wrong, people November 9, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings, Politics.
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First of all, the Obama Administration is not proposing a 15-cent tax on your Christmas Tree, as the marketers of political claptrap would have you believe.

As this straight-arrow Associated Press account will tell you, it’s all part of an Ag Dept standing operation. The National Christmas Tree Association  has been asking for three years for authority to require of its members who grow trees a 15-cent-per-tree assessment to pay for a national campaign promoting the purchase of natural, piney smelling, needle-shedding things to hang your ornaments from. It reeks a little of using Uncle Sam to strong-arm the farmers who don’t want the campaign, but that’s another issue.

The standing program was used for the “Got Milk’ campaign the dairy industry mounted, the ‘Other White Meat’ program’ the pig industry got going and 16 others. The growers want an ad campaign to battle the people like WalMart who sell imported aritificial Christmas trees they make from oil. These latter folks also sell little aerosol cans made in Mexico that let you spray scent to make these things smell like “real” trees.

But the Heritage Foundation, which I guess has annointed itself the protector of stuff made outside of this country for people to buy to celebrate an American tradition, got all hot and bothered that the poor consumer would have to fork over $35.15 this year for a tree — if they were buying a real one — from the tree stand that bought the trees from the farmer who grew the trees whose trade organization wants to collect 15 cents a tree from the farmer to try to save his dying business. If you follow.

The Heritage Foundation, all in the spirit of Christmas and stuff, sees this as a readymade missile to file at President Obama — you remember him — that (really a Muslim) guy in the White House who has nothing better to do than dream up a “tax” on Christmas, he being all hellbent on stamping out that little annoyance along with Chevrolet (oh, sorry. He saved Chevy), Apple Pie and, well, freedom itself.

So this fine defender of all our freedoms — this Heritage Foundation — gets everyone all lathered up against the plan the thousands of U.S. farmers came up with to impose a fee upon themselves to pay for advertising to try to talk us all back into buying real trees grown on American soil, instead of  phony ones that look crappier every year made in Thailand by machines that pour plastic refined from oil bought maybe from Malaysia into molds and so forth.

In this Christmasy spirit,  this Heritage Foundation slips up our chimney with — the Big Lie. Just what we all wanted in our holiday stocking — a big, stinky, rotting fish of a campaign that probably is going to overwhelm all that piney spray the kids are sure to have gotten ahold of by now.

And the paid repeaters of partisan crapola blog this to living death until the USDA puts the whole thing on hold. But not before the Houston Chronicle concludes:

Obama backs off on plan to destroy Christmas

Oh Mama! My favorite part of this whole dog-chases-tail pile of baloney?

These two guys in the AP story, after all the facts in the matter were laid out:

Conservative critics were unbowed. David Addington, a former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and now a vice president at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said in a post on the think tank’s website that the money coming into the federal government constitutes a tax.

“The American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn’t need any help from the government,” Addington said.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., piled on.

“This new tax is a smack in the face to each and every American who celebrates Christmas, and may be the best example to date of President Obama’s obsession with taxing and regulating hard-working American families,” he said.

Now Addington is substituting his opinion about the current state of the Christmas tree’s image — he thinks it needs no help — with that of the farmers who are growing the things, selling fewer and fewer each year and want to ante up 15 cents a tree for advertising they dream up to try to talk us back out into the freezing cold every December instead of picking a tree in a heated store while sucking down some giveaway cider.

I’m dumb, but I’m guessing the tree farmer guys were going to take the 15 cents a tree out of their end, if for no other reason than to not have to lug around a big sack of quarters and nickels and dimes  to make change, a process that surely would require them to take off their gloves a hundred times a night in the 20 degree cold. Not having to do that would be worth 15 cents a tree out of my end.  I’m guessing Addington never had to make change in the freezing figgging cold.

Then there’s this Scalise guy from some district down in Louisiana that’s probably pumping the oil that’s going to Thailand to make the phony trees, and he’s taking the whole argument up to a presidential “obsession” with taxing everything up to and including the tinsel, the tinker toys and the toy soldiers.

They both know what they are pushing out is a pile of that same ingredient the reindeer leave in the gutter while they’re waiting for the Fat Guy to glom down another couple of cookies and milk.

They know its crapola. Yet they still cling to the line, no matter how absolutely ridiculous they sound.

Hey nimrods — here’s my thought for the day. We all have a choice, given the current deck out there. And for the sake of argument, I’m going to give you the Obama Christmas Tree tax hoax for a moment.

So here’s the choice:

1 — I pay the 15 cent tax Obama wants to foist on us all to help out a couple thousand struggling farmers and my tree costs $35.15 forever.

2 — Or I get to pay the 9% NATIONAL SALES TAX your front-running alternative Herman Cain is proposing and my tree  costs me  $38.15.

I’m gonna go with the Christmas-hating Obama plan and use the money I save on a Pez dispenser.

And maybe wonder just how big an idiot you think I am when I roll into the voting booth in 11 months, because this kind of conniving, con jobbery is what’s wrong dudes.

Try addressing a real problem, honestly, with a solution where the math would get by Miss Ponder in Grade 3 . I don’t think you’ve got the tools, sport.

And I’m tired of your lies — and your ham-handed manipulations.

Worse yet, I’m telling Santa!

Obama’s call to arms January 25, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Obama, Politics.
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There will be those who say “how?” With a deficit in the trillions, and an accumulated pile far beyond even counting, when you come right down to it. With 9.5 % of us still out of a job.

But the President clearly “gets it.” He has some ideas, but realizes he and those on his side of our great political divide do not have all the ideas needed to build a new and greater nation — and world. He has some goals, in a line that comports to the world as he sees it. But knows this ranking is not the only set of priorities.

He calls it a “Sputnik moment” and it is that — a crossroads where we all choose whether to fight amongst ourselves for power and glory and bitty sized more of what there is, all on the way down to a scarcity world we should not care to visit; or together find a way to bear the burdens needed to restore sanity to a budget, while grooming a new generation of American leaders and innovators and building a new economic juggernaut — using people, enterprises and ideas from whatever color lips, in whatever dialect.

There are “big things” to be done. No one alone, no party in or out, can manage the task.

It is time to replace bitterness with diligence. And start laying the first course.

You can tax me now — or tax me later November 11, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Politics.
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Twin stories from Bloomberg — here on Obama and there on Bernanke’s Bucks — have some unsettling news for the hundreds of millions out there waiting for an economic boost to follow the GOP ascent to House leadership, or from the Federal Reserve’s $600 billion buy of Treasuries.

Investors think they are going to get their cash reward with extended tax cuts, like the new climate for investments and see hope for a smaller U.S. budget deficit.

But the view is pessimistic when it comes to any GOP impact on the overall economy, job gains or credit.

And they think  — a whopping 76 percent of them — that Ben’s money move will have absolutely no effect on unemployment in the U.S. And by a 56-41 margin — with 3% too busy bidding up gold to answer — they said the Fed move would not bolster the U.S. economy in the coming year.

They know the purchasing power simply is not there — not across the board as it needs to be to sustain healthy production.

I say this and note this poll not to depress, but in the hope that it helps us all get to the place we need to be: One where we do not expect things to get radically better, radically soon — and govern our expectations well.

The devastation from the Crash of 2008 requires rebuilding the economy and we must demand from our elected officials plans for that — not snake oil promises or pledges or pablum suggesting they can do this overnight.

They can’t — we can’t. Anyone who says they have a magic elixir is lying, rendering them part of the problem.

Oh — I forgot to mention that those investors don’t like Obama.

Phyllis Diller with gams August 2, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings, Politics.
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There’s only so much you can say about this woman, who becomes every day more of a sad figure as she flits about the political landscape, adding a zinger line here, accepting a party favor there, and generally adding to the evidence that there is nothing she would not do for money — or applause.

She wouldn’t last a half-hour in most of the playgrounds we all frequented and her taunts and asides into the spitoon just all play to the basest in even the fringe. At least Pat Buchanan made you stop and think every once in a while.

This act just makes you wince and wish she wasn’t so photogenic so the cable guys would just lay off and let her go home and clean the fish.

I’m left wondering … May 16, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Education, Obama, Politics.
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… exactly what the point  of all the high drama was in this school in Rhode Island where the boss opted for the plan firing all the teachers to institute reform. Now, the teachers’ union has caved, accepts the plan for a longer school day, more tutoring and other stuff that, quite frankly, sounds awfully thin. Seems the teachers wanted 3 times what the district was willing to pay for extra hours devoted to duty.

So was it, after all, just about money?

The story notes that 700 people had applied for the suddenly vacant jobs, which the bounced staff also had the ability to take a shot at. While I’m generally a labor guy, this strikes me somehow as a lost opportunity, as there just might have been a bunch of people in that line of 700 who could have made a difference — not just in this school, but, by a powerful example, in a lot of other places.

And I also am a big teacher fan generally, knowing from my childhood as the son of a teacher just how tough and time-consuming the job is if the teacher is doing more than punching the clock. And if you’ll recall, this was a school where just 7% of the 11th grade students could pass the math test. And that’s 11th grade — a point at which you can be sure a slew of the more general failures had already cashed and fled to the streets. A wholesale experiment would not have been a big risk of tossing the baby with the bath.

I dunno. What happens in the classroom is but 30% of the learning process, they say — and  think they’re right. We’ve got to ratchet up what happens there, and figure out better what works better there. But my appetite is very limited for education reform as it is pitched today, because it rarely ventures very far from the schoolhouse.

It all has to reach the parents somehow. And we can’t fire them.