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Tree screed is 'pa rum pum pum' … dumb

A tree at Schroeder’s Forevergreens in Neshkoro, Wis., was picked as the official White House Christmas tree. A 15-cent tree surcharge sent the Heritage Foundation into a tizzy.

Associated Press

A tree at Schroeder’s Forevergreens in Neshkoro, Wis., was picked as the official White House Christmas tree. A 15-cent tree surcharge sent the Heritage Foundation into a tizzy.

President Barack Obama could bring peace to the Middle East, persuade Pakistan, North Korea and Russia to get rid of their nukes, solve the European debt crisis, lower the unemployment rate to zero, reverse global warming, assassinate al-Qaida's Ayman al-Zawahiri, and counsel Vanessa and Kobe Bryant to reconcile. He would still be accused by the Republican hand-wringing fringe of being a meddling, Red-loving lefty pacifist closeted Muslim with Marxist material dialectic tendencies.

Forget taxing the rich. Now the conservative Heritage Foundation has accused Obama of extending the long, sticky fingers of the federal government into the pockets of Christmas tree farmers. One of the think tank's thinkers, David Addington, has accused Obama's Agriculture Department of dictatorially imposing a 15-cent tax on the sale of Christmas trees.

Oh, the yuletide tyranny of it all!

The Heritage Foundation is one of Washington's toniest think tanks. Not just anyone can find a perch to be one of their thinkers, thinking away all day long at the Heritage Foundation. And so when a chap like Addington thinks Obama is persecuting Christmas tree growers, you have to believe the foundation is more than getting its money's worth for all that cerebration.

There's only one itsy-bitsy problem with Addington's conclusion. It's a small thing really. Addington is full of … uh, balderdash.

Obama didn't wake up one day and think to himself: "What a bully idea! I think I'll start taxing Christmas tree growers. They're all probably millionaires, anyway."

With artificial tree sales gaining in popularity, it was the National Christmas Tree Association, after winning approval of 70 percent of its members, that asked the Agriculture Department for help in developing a national advertising campaign to encourage people to buy real trees.

The 15-cent surcharge on sales of the estimated 25 to 30 million trees sold annually would be used to develop the awareness effort. It is essentially the same sort of government marketing campaigns created for 18 other commodities such as beef, milk and cotton that are funded by similar surcharges instituted by those industries. Think: "Got Scotch pine?"

If Addington wants to call the 15 cents a tax, fine, even if it was the industry and not those socialists in the Obama administration who wanted to impose the surcharge fee on themselves.

But Addington often has had a problem with definitions.

It was Addington, then serving as Vice President Dick Cheney's Renfield, who penned the now notorious White House memo that argued torturing terrorism suspects in violation of the U.S. Constitution was just good, clean fun.

And it was also Addington who claimed terrorism suspects have no rights to the courts.

So it's understandable the Cheney administration's Sancho Panza of waterboarding would confuse an industry-requested surcharge on their product to fund a marketing campaign with a government-inspired tax.

Addington is free to think up an addled and inaccurate explanation of the tree surcharge. You probably get a thought bonus for this kind of palaver at the Heritage Foundation.

The problem is accusations that Obama is the anti-Christmas, anti-tree grower anti-Christian soon went viral. And let's face it, for some gullible folks out there who still believe the president of the United States was born in Kenya to Josef Stalin and Angela Davis, the nonexistent plot against Christmas tree farmers was too delicious to ignore.

Some things just aren't worth the hassle.

Imagine you are Barack Obama and you find yourself spending your time dealing with a dysfunctional Congress that makes Lord of the Flies look like a paragon of efficient parliamentary comity. Then one day an aide explains that some dolt over at the Heritage Foundation who thinks torturing people is legal just accused you of trying to impose a tax on Christmas trees. And now it's only a matter of time before the right-wing radio dial gets all lathered up over a secret Islamic presidential conspiracy to undermine one of the foremost Christian dates on the calendar.

Little wonder then that the Agriculture Department soon announced it was going to delay the Christmas tree marketing plan.

And so an industry that employs about 100,000 people and includes 15,000 Christmas tree farms will be denied some modest government help because of the Heritage Foundation's ideological Homer Simpson.

Doh, doh, doh!

Tree screed is 'pa rum pum pum' … dumb 12/22/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 22, 2011 6:46pm]

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