You’re Never Pure Enough

You’re Never Pure Enough November 21, 2011

Warner Todd Huston, one of the more irrational wingnuts you’ll ever run across (and yes, I know that’s like declaring one of the Spice Girls more annoying than the others), reveals the core problem with fanatics of all stripes — no one is ever pure enough for them. He’s upset because conservative columnist and talk show host Michael Medved isn’t buying in to his paranoid delusions about that terrible Christmas tree tax.

The subject of Obama’s tax on the Christian Christmas icon, the Christmas tree came up on his Tuesday radio program. Obama floated the idea that a 15 cents per tree federal tax should be put on Christmas trees this year to fund another bloated boondoggle government agency.

Michael Medved reveald his complete unconcern over this intrusion of the federal government on our Christian holiday. He argued on his radio show that this tax on Christmas trees is no big deal because it’s “only fifteen cents per tree.”

Of course a principled conservative would be against this idiotic tax even if it were but one penny per hundred trees!!

The amount of this tax is immaterial to the principle of the matter. The central problem here is that the money was going to go to fund a new federal program. THAT is what we should be standing against not the low rate of the tax.

The point is there is no need for this tax, no need for this program to advertise Christmas trees (even if the Christmas tree industry wants the tax), and most especially no need for yet another bloated federal bureaucracy for Christmas trees!

As they say, there is nothing so permanent as a government program and this one would be just another government boondoggle that would grow and grow until it cost us billions a day like so many other useless government agencies.

Worse, how long would it be until this new unnecessary government agency would begin to ask for more money and more powers over Christmas with the faux justification that it is promoting it?

Well of course. Just like that huge bloated federal bureaucracy that administers the “Got Milk?” campaign for the dairy industry, costing us “billions a day,” right? And those jackbooted thugs who run the massive Pork The Other White Meat Administration. You know who else tried to promote Christmas trees? Adolf Hitler. I’m sure Glenn Beck will be along any minute now to explain how the Holocaust began with a tax on Christmas trees.

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  • dingojack

    “… the Christian Christmas icon… ”

    Well since Prince Albert promoted this pagan icon in the 1850’s anyway, but I’m sure a nice Jewish momma’s boy like Jesus just loved to haul an oversized Lebanon Pine into his mudbrick shithole every December to celebrate his fake birth with his fake virginal Jewish Momma.

    “The point is there is no need for this tax, no need for this program to advertise Christmas trees (even if the Christmas tree industry wants the tax)”

    So Mr Hutton knows better than those that actually sell the product what the industry needs? Apparently the market doesn’t know what it needs (except when it does).

    Fundies – knowing nothing since 33ce!

    Dingo

  • The fact the Christmas tree is a pagan symbol that was originally decorated with animal entrails is totally lost on this guy isn’t it?

    I love getting the faithful apoplectic by pointing out the pagan roots of all their beloved symbology and traditions.

  • Stevarious

    Jeremiah 10: 1, 3-4:

    This is what the LORD says: Do not learn the ways of the nations… For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.

    Why do christians hate the bible???

  • Chiroptera

    Huston: Of course a principled conservative….

    Oxymoron?

    Or maybe just a moron.

  • Abby Normal

    I know this isn’t the point of the article, but why do we need a government program for Christmas tree advertising… or milk, or pork for that matter? Would it violate anti-trust laws if the industries ran their own advertising consortiums?

  • Stevarious, I am impressed. That Bible quote sounded too good to be true, so I looked it up in the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible just to be sure you weren’t making it up for a joke. I hereby award you one (1) internets.

  • dingojack

    “… they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. … they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.”

    They didn’t do this to the contraption Jesus was fastened to surely?

    And that contraption wouldn’t be a christian symbol of veneration, would it? Clearly it couldn’t, that would be – unbiblical!!!

    🙂 Dingo

  • Fifteen cents per tree? It’s been a long time since I paid less than $40 for a tree, so an extra fifteen cents wouldn’t even be noticeable — and certainly not worth complaining about. I’d gladly pay such a tax to fund a legitimate government program.

  • dochopper

    The Ultra Conservative XTIAN side of our Family thought my Parents were Heathens of the highest order because “WE” had a Christmas Tree.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    The quote from Jeremiah is about idols, not holiday decorations. Look at verse 10:5:

    They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

    It’s no reproach against a Christmas tree that it cannot speak or move under its own power, or that it cannot do good or evil. On the other hand, these would be perfect objections to lodge against a pagan idol.

  • The quote from Jeremiah is about idols, not holiday decorations. Look at verse 10:5:…

    Okay, you’re right. I won’t spread the quote mine. At least I got a decent laugh out of it, and I really needed a laugh, today.

  • Michael Heath

    Abby Normal writes:

    I know this isn’t the point of the article, but why do we need a government program for Christmas tree advertising… or milk, or pork for that matter? Would it violate anti-trust laws if the industries ran their own advertising consortiums?

    One of the most popular schemes we see is local hotel taxes in tourist or convention areas which is used to promote the area in general. Revenues are then spent by a local governing agency if it’s a legitimate tax, or as Abby refers to, in this case a tourism consortium. The return on investment for these sorts of taxes is frequently well worth the investment. It’s also an example of how local conservatives act very differently than state/federal conservatives since they often lead efforts to collect and even raise these tax rates, which is true in my area where are already high rate was raised even higher.

  • You know, that’s the biggest problem with the Bible. It’s SO unclear.

    I really don’t see Jeremiah as a reproach about idols at all. Personally, it looks pretty random to me. General angst that one not do anything that might take away the focus on god(s).

  • dingojack

    Mr. Raging Bee (#8) – Oh Noes!!eleventy!! A tax of 3/8th of a percent!! That’s almost higher than the taxes paid the top 100 companies in America! It’s socialism I’s tells ya, socialism!!

    🙂 Dingo

  • This was appropriate: http://xkcd.com/980/

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    @Ogre:

    Then why mention the fact that they can’t talk or move on their own, and that one shouldn’t be afraid of them because they can do no evil? Was there a general perception at the time that objects carved out of trees could or should be able to do these things?

    Right at the top of that chapter (10:2) the Lord says “Learn not the way of the heathen”. The number one thing that Jehovah objected to about the heathen was that they made idols of their gods and worshiped them.

  • Hercules (or is that really Bluebottle??)

    While you are right that it’s idle idols that Jeremiah is getting at in his jeremiad, all those things like being “upright as the palm tree”, being carried, not doing evil and so on are also true of christmas trees (apart from the bit about them being unable to do good: I know I’ve met some really kind generous trees in my time.)

  • I know this isn’t the point of the article, but why do we need a government program for Christmas tree advertising… or milk, or pork for that matter? Would it violate anti-trust laws if the industries ran their own advertising consortiums?

    I’m sure the industry would be happy to run its own advertising campaign, but there’s a free rider problem. If a bunch of milk producers get together and want to advertize milk, then all milk producers will benefit, even if they don’t pay for the advertizing. The point of the programs run through the USDA is to have everyone pay equally and benefit equally.

    Maybe it’s not the government’s business to help these industries advertize, but it’s solving a problem that would persist if the industry were left to its own devices, which is why the industry likes it. At any rate, whatever you think about it, it’s not worth getting worked up over, much less foaming at the mouth about “bureaucrats” and “boondoggles”.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    @richardelguru:

    I’m sorry, I just can’t get behind any sort of argument that smacks of quote mining, even if it’s deployed whimsically.

    That sort of thing may work for the Charlies . . . .

  • Clay

    If you think of The Crazy as a form of plumage, it makes a little more sense.

  • @Hercules,

    Which is what I’ve been saying all along. The Bible can be interpreted to mean ANYTHING to anyone. Literally anything. Justification for genocide, murder, everything is in the Bible, if you look closely enough.

    Unfortunately, it must be ‘interpreted’ because to read it literally makes no sense at all.

    Therefore, it’s pretty useless.

    If I or anyone else interprets that verse to be about Christmas Trees, there’s not a bloody thing you can do about it. Nowhere in that entire chapter are the words ‘idol’ said. Of course, it does talk about all the gods, which kinds of leads one to wonder what other gods are there?

  • Modusoperandi

    It’s okay to have Christmas trees, even though they’re pagan, because we worship the boxes under the tree and not tree itself.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    @Ogre:

    If I or anyone else interprets that verse to be about Christmas Trees, there’s not a bloody thing you can do about it.

    Sure there is. I can present arguments that you are wrong. I can’t force you to accept them, but that’s the nature of argument. You argue in favor of your interpretation, I argue in favor of mine, and maybe we simply argue to a stalemate and maybe one or the other of us changes some minds along the way.

    I happen to think that there is a fact about what the author of Jeremiah intended refer to in verses 10:3-4, and that what is written in the surrounding verses can be used to clarify that intention. It may be that we can’t recover the author’s intention with 100% precision, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t one, or that the interpretation of the text is entirely up for grabs. That’s way too postmodernist for me.

  • lofgren

    Obviously the verse is not about the modern Christmas tree tradition. It seems to me that it is warning against ostentatious symbols and rituals displacing modest faith. In spirit if not in fact it seems to condemn the extravagance of modern Christmas practices such as decorating trees and conspicuous consumption.

  • jakc

    The commodity checkoffs are not government programs per se; the government authorizes commodity groups to impose a fee (after approval by growers) and the USDA adopts rules to administer the program, but the growers run the ad campaign. In this case, the USDA rules have been delayed but will go into effect, probably next year. The main objection to these programs is that they are mandatory, though usually with an exception for small producers (under 500 trees for the tree growers). Sometimes the objection comes from small producers who don’t want to be associated with industrial producers (a free-range producer who doesn’t want to support ad campaigns run by CAFOs), but I imagine a lot of the Tea Partiers will object to these. These are the kind of programs run by Farm Bureau – any rural Republican who loses the support of the Farm Bureau isn’t likely to win (it’s hard for rural Democrats to win without Farm Bureau too). What’s sad is these conservative commentators don’t seem to realize that it’s their guys who wanted the checkoffs. The only reason Obama doesn’t lose votes on this is because these guys weren’t going to vote for Obama anyway.

  • Stevarious

    Stevarious, I am impressed. That Bible quote sounded too good to be true, so I looked it up in the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible just to be sure you weren’t making it up for a joke. I hereby award you one (1) internets.

    Ah, I knew it was a quotemine when I quoted it. But it sure is one of my favorites. Just further proof that the bible can literally mean whatever you want it to mean depending on how you quote it.

    (I’m not giving back the internets! It’s mine I tells you! My precious!)

  • scifi1

    Meanwhile, Ben Stein (remember him?) is all over it(!)

    Seriously, my head hurt reading this.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150880050460523&set=a.10150880050435523.755551.638690522&type=1&theater

  • juice

    the core problem with fanatics of all stripes — no one is ever pure enough for them

    *cough*pz myers*cough*