Wednesday, November 09, 2011

And there went out a decree ...

The short answer is "none." The longer answer -- well, that's why we have a Fair 'n' Balanced Network, isn't it?

Our story so far:

One of Christmas' most recognizable symbols apparently needs a PR campaign -- and a new tax to pay for it.

"One of the most recognizable" -- meaning what? Rudolph? The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come? The little dude in swaddling clothes?

The Obama administration has imposed a 15-cent tax on Christmas trees in order to pay for a new board tasked with promoting the Christmas tree industry.

Aha! That's why we get to run the picture of the scary Kenyan Muslim socialist sizing up his next victim.

The new fee and board were announced in the Federal Register on Tuesday, to be effective Wednesday. According to the Agriculture Department announcement, the government will impose a 15-cent-per-tree charge on "producers and importers" of fresh Christmas trees, provided they sell or import more than 500 trees a year.

The change quickly drew opposition from Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who vowed to fight what he described as a "Grinch" move by the administration. "It is shocking that President Obama tried to sneak through this new tax on Christmas trees," Scalise said in a statement Wednesday.

It might be if he had, but -- oh, hell. Is this giving it away?

The proposed Christmas Tree Promotion, Research, and Information Order (Proposed Order), was submitted to the Department of Agriculture (Department) by the Christmas Tree Checkoff Task Force, an industry wide group of producers and importers that support this proposed program.

At least, that's what the Federal Register reported a year ago. The decree did not go out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. The Xpesmasse tree lobby wrote to the Ag Department and asked to be allowed to tax itself, which -- you'd like to think -- is the sort of thing your everyday caesar would be too busy pillaging and looting to concern himself with. What's taking effect today is a test run of this "industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for fresh cut Christmas trees." But that would take all the fun out of it if you're ...

Heritage Foundation Vice President David Addington, who first reported on the rule on his blog Tuesday evening, said there are two problems with the new fee. First, he said it's likely the 15 percent fee will be passed on to consumers. Second, he said it's inappropriate for the government to be putting its "thumb on the scale," helping out the fresh-tree sellers and not the artificial-tree sellers.

Do you wonder if anybody at Fox even asks whether there's a difference between "15 cents" and "15 percent"? Or are you more concerned that nobody's interested in a difference between "think-tank blogs" and "gospel truth"?

When historians come to write up the War on Xpesmasse, this particular skirmish isn't likely to get much attention. It's noted here for two reasons. One, however small the war looks to you, it's an existential struggle for the other side. They are not interested in negotiating, and no farmstead is too small for a little random despoiling and some light war crimes. Be forewarned.

Two, the intellectual wing of the pitchforks-n-torches gang at Fox is given to deducing large social-political conclusions from inconclusive (or simply specious) evidence. The National Review's pet historian, for example, has drawn on the bogus pronoun-count phenomenon to declare the incumbent guilty of personalizing both policy and the presidency itself. I have yet to see any indication -- or hear a competently made argument -- that Obama personalizes policy more or less than other presidents have, or even why the concept should make me more or less fearful of the Kenyan Muslim apocalypse. That doesn't mean there's nothing worth studying under "personalization"; it means the first place I'd look is the sort of thinking that gives rise to the Two Minues Hate photo and story shown here. 

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